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Summary Act 5

SCENE 1

A Goth exhorts Lucius to lead on when a second Goth appears with Aaron in custody. Though Aaron has a baby with him, Lucius doesn’t hesitate to give the orders to have the baby strung up and hung side by side Aaron. Aaron pleads for the baby’s life, arguing that the baby is of royal blood. Aaron adds that if Lucius spares the baby’s life he will impart an intelligence that will be of great benefit to Lucius. Lucius agrees to hear Aaron out, and Aaron conveys the following intelligence: that the baby is the offspring of his—Aaron’s—and Tamora’s love affair, that it was Demetrius and Chiron who ravished and physically disfigured Lavinia, that it was he—Aaron—who unilaterally fooled Titus Andronicus into believing that his sons would be redeemed in return for his chopped off hand, and that the only thing he now regrets is that he won’t be alive to commit a thousand more villainies similar to the ones he has already committed. Outraged, and arguing that a quick death by hanging is too easy a punishment, Lucius commutes Aaron’s execution and has him gagged lest his ungodly talk corrupt decent minds more than it already has. Anon, the Roman messenger Aemilius arrives to deliver the following message: Saturninus would like to discuss the terms of a truce if Lucius is willing; the negotiations will be held at Lucius’ father’s house. Lucius agrees to take part in the discussions.

SCENE 2

Respectively disguised as Revenge, Rape, and Murder, Tamora, Chiron, and Demetrius repair to Titus Andronicus’ house where they appeal to Titus to let them help him exact vengeance. At first, suspecting them to be the Empress and her sons, Titus refuses their offer, but their insistence that they are indeed Revenge, Rape, and Murder, and not Tamora, Chiron, and Demetrius persuades Titus otherwise. By and by, for maximum effect, they decide to have a banquet at Titus’ house where Lucius and some of the highest ranking Goths will be present to witness Titus have his way with Tamora, her sons, and Saturninus. Presently, Revenge, Rape, and Murder prepare to go and fetch the Emperor, the Emperess and her sons when Titus, who has sent his brother Marcus to fetch Lucius, persuades Revenge to let him—Titus—have custody of Rape and Murder while Revenge is away. After a consultation, during which Tamora reminds Chiron and Demetrius to play their parts without any mental lapses, Revenge agrees to do as Titus says and leaves by herself. Alas, Chiron and Demetrius play their parts but to no avail. Titus has them bound and gagged, telling them that he knew all along that they were Chiron, Demetrius, and Tamora. With Lavinia by his side to assist him in collecting their spilled blood in a basin, Titus slits their throats, but not before telling them of his plan to kill them and then of grinding their bones and mixing the resulting powder with their blood to make pies of them which will then be fed to their mother in the upcoming banquet.

SCENE 3

Having arrived at his father’s house, Lucius prepares to take his place at the dinner table when he encounters Saturninus. Sensing Lucius’ anger towards Saturninus, Marcus acts as mediator and bestows them to their seats. Anon, Titus greets his guests by serving the dishes himself. His royal guests wonder why Titus is going through so much trouble to do all the work himself. Titus replies he has cause. Presently Titus asks Saturninus if Virginius was right to kill his own daughter who had been raped. When Saturninus replies yes, that otherwise Virginius would perpetually be reminded of his daughter’s shame, Titus proceeds to kill his own daughter Lavinia, arguing that he had as much cause if not more than Virginius in killing his own daughter. The incredulity of his guests notwithstanding, Titus urges them to enjoy their meals. When Tamora asks Titus just what his cause was for killing Lavinia, Titus tells the assembled audience that it was Chiron and Demetrius who had raped and physically disfigured Lavinia. When Saturninus demands that the accused be brought before him, Titus informs Tamora that the dish she has been feeding on is Chiron and Demetrius before stabbing her to death. Subsequently, Saturninus stabs Titus to death, which in turn compels Lucius to stab Saturninus to death. As everyone, including the Roman tribunes who are in attendance, gaze in horror, Marcus and Lucius deliver an oratory which will at the very least explain why the Andronici have done what they have done. Indeed, if the Romans deem their deeds beyond the pale despite the oratory, Marcus and Lucius promise to end their lives by hurling themselves off a cliff. By and by, they deliver their oratory, explaining how Marcius and Quintus were wrongly framed and executed for Bassianus’ murder, how Titus lost his hand believing Aaron’s lie that the emperor would redeem his sons’ lives in return for his chopped off hand, and how Lavinia was brutally raped and disfigured by Chiron and Demetrius with Tamora’s blessing. The oratory proves so moving that the Romans proclaim Lucius their new emperor. Graciously accepting the appointment, Lucius wastes no time in ordering Aaron to be buried up to his chest and left to die and Tamora’s corpse to be left to rot and scavenged by birds. Presently, he retires with his family to pay obsequies to Titus and Lavinia.

William Shakespeare