Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Titus Andronicus: Creator William Shakespeare, created between 1588 and 1593
Source Fictional
Family Sons: Lucius, Quintus, Martius, Mutius
Daughter: Lavinia
Brother: Marcus Andronicus
Nephew: Publius
Grandson: Young Lucius
Role Roman nobleman and general
Portrayed by Anthony Hopkins and Trevor Peacock among others

Titus Andronicus is the main character and tragic hero in William Shakespeare’s play of the same name, Titus Andronicus, a Senecan tragedy.[1] Titus is a Roman nobleman and a general in the war who distinguished himself in ten years of service against the Goths.[1] Despite his exemplary service the war’s toll on him is sufficient that he declined the emperorship. Nonetheless, he begins the play as an exemplary citizen. However faith in the traditions of the Roman system of government eventually leads to his death as others seek revenge.[1]


Some sources claim that the name Andronicus comes from Andronicus Comnenus, a 12th-century Byzantine emperor, who shared Titus’ proclivity for shooting arrows with messages attached.[2] When Anthony Hopkins played a stylized version of the character in the 1999 film Titus, he described the character as a combination of King Lear and Hannibal Lecter.[3] Although Titus Andronicus is the main character, some productions have adapted the play to be seen through Young Lucius.[4]

The play begins with Titus returning home after many years at war with the Goths, bringing with him the remaining 4 of his 25 sons. Titus is selected by the people of Rome to be the new emperor but refuses this offer due to his already advanced age. In his stead he chooses the former emperor’s eldest son Saturninus. By the ceremonial sacrifice of his most noble captive, Alarbus – the eldest son of Tamora, Queen of the Goths – Titus unknowingly sparks off a series of events that are motivated by the desire for revenge. Throughout the play Titus seeks revenge on Tamora for injustices against his family while simultaneously being the target of Tamora’s own quest for revenge. Titus murders five people during the play, including one of his sons and his daughter. Displaying strict adherence to Roman law he murders his son, Mutius, for defying the order he has given for his daughter Lavinia to marry the new emperor Saturninus. The second act of filicide occurs at the end of the play when Titus murders Lavinia so that she will not have to live with the shame of having been raped and mutilated on Tamora’s orders by her sons Chiron and Demetrius. In Titus’ final act of revenge upon Tamora he kills Chiron and Demetrius and uses their blood and bones as the ingredients of a pie. “Let me go grind their bones to powder small, / And with this hateful liquor temper it, / And in that paste let their vile heads be baked”(5.3.197-199).[5] Titus serves this pie to Tamora before killing her. As is customary in a Shakespearean tragedy and as a Senecan hero,[1] Titus Andronicus also dies in the end, killed by Saturninus who is then in turn killed by Titus’ last remaining son, Lucius, bringing to an end the cycle of revenge that has prolonged the play.


“Titus Andronicus: Characters”. Spark Notes. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
Stoll, Elmer Edgar, ed. (1922). The Tragedy of Titus Andronicus, Volume 30. The MacMillan Company. p. xvi. Retrieved 2014-04-24.
Holden, Stephen (1999-12-24). “Titus (1999): Film Review; It’s a Sort of Family Dinner, Your Majesty”. The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-24.
“Titus Andronicus”. British Universities Film & Video Council. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
“Titus Andronicus (full text)”. MIT.edu. Retrieved 2014-04-24

9 responses to “Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

  1. This is one classical tale of revenge. Titus ended up hurting many others including himself. People should rethink twice about revenge.

  2. Revenge is dangerous. This makes people do any and everything they can do or think of to attain the unobtainable. Titus went to insane lengths for his wrath to come to a complete however as is the case with many people that pursue revenge their vengeance is not satisfied and in the end theres nothing. This is the same conclusion for Brad Pitts role in seven. However Brad Pitts character does not die. His fate was that of sitting in a jail cell thinking about killing someone that killed his wife. Achieving revenge never brings back a loved one but why do so many human beings fall into the trap and give in to revenge?

  3. All Titus seemed to have wanted was revenge. So much of revenge that he would even kill his children. I find it so crazy that people will not let anything get in their way of something they really want.

  4. This reminds me of the television show Revenge, where the maincharacter is getting revenge on her father, but so many people are getting hurt in the process, none that have anything to do with whats actually going on. Revenge is not always a good thing.

  5. This film had great meaning behind it. Chasing for what you want and need sometimes leads to people chasing revenge instead of going on about your business learning to forget about how people are. This film taught me to focus on making myself better from learning experiences instead of finding a revenge on someone that in the end won’t be good.

  6. Titus Andronicus is one of much action and spectacle. The majority of the characters actions are motivated by revenge which is an essential theme throughout the film. The film was great and I enjoyed watching it.

  7. I watched this movie with my daughter, there was a very interesting plot. Unfortunately the plot of revenge has many unforeseen consequences, this movie proves that revenge does not have a positive outcome.

  8. this was a good film I enjoyed watching it, there was a good them and a good lesson learned, revenge is not always the smartest thing to act upon because in the end everyone ended up damaged.

  9. So many themes are thrown at us in this film, the main one being revenge. When it comes to Shakespeare he all too well knows about tragedy. In this film one can see that no good comes from revenge. In the end everyone is only damaged in the pursue of revenge. The downfall to revenge is that it is not only the people involved that get hurt by this plot for revenge but also innocent people loose a lot. Titus had no clue of the ill that was coming for him until it was too late just as the same for Tamora.

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