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Titus Andronicus

William Shakespeare
Summary

Act II, Scenes i-iii

Summary Act II, Scenes i-iii

Summary

Aaron rejoices that Tamora is now the empress. As her lover, he anticipates better opportunities for himself. His thoughts are interrupted by a brawl between Chiron and Demetrius, who argue over which of them deserves Lavinia's love. Aaron counsels them to stop arguing and instead to catch her the next day during the hunt and to both rape her. When Titus, Titus's sons, Saturninus, Tamora, Bassianus, Lavinia, and Marcus gather the next day for the hunt, Chiron and Demetrius reaffirm their intention "to pluck a dainty doe to ground" (II.ii.26).

Away from the hunting party, Aaron buries a bag of gold under a tree. Tamora finds him and urges him to make love to her. However, Aaron is ruled by vengeance and asks her to deliver a letter to Saturninus. The couple is spotted in their physical intimacy by Bassianus and Lavinia, who proceed to roundly insult Tamora, with Lavinia being surprisingly coarse. Chiron and Demetrius enter and stab Bassianus to death in defense of their mother's honor. When Tamora wants to stab Lavinia too, her sons stop her, wishing to keep her alive until they have satisfied their lust on her. Tamora assents, ignoring Lavinia's heartrending request that Tamora kill her immediately instead.

Aaron leads Titus's sons Quintus and Martius to where he claims a panther is asleep. They both fall into the pit where Chiron and Demetrius left Bassianus's body. Aaron then leads Saturninus to the pit, where Tamora hands him the letter Aaron had previously written, and which incriminates Quintus and Martius as Bassianus's murderers. The bag of gold that Aaron buried is conveniently uncovered and taken as proof that Titus's sons were going to pay a huntsman to do the deed. Titus tries to free his sons to no avail; they are taken away by Saturninus to await execution.