Kills Titus

Author: joe

Thursday, 04 November, 2010 - 23:10

- on the passion of exile.

Lastly, myself unkindly banished,
The gates shut on me, and turn'd weeping out,
To beg relief among Rome's enemies;
Who drown'd their enmity in my true tears,
And op'd their arms to embrace me as a friend.
I am the turned-forth, be it known to you,
That have preserv'd her welfare in my blood
And from her bosom took the enemy's point,
Sheathing the steel in my advent'rous body.
Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

Titus Andronicus is a bloody story: Saturninus' sons rape and mutilate Lavinia, Titus' daughter - she haunts the play with a mute horror. In turn the felons are murdered and served up to their parents, baked in a pie. Even as the grisly knowledge that they have consumed their own children penetrates them, Titus, who has just stabbed his daughter Lavinia in the heart in order to dispel the shame brought on them by the rape, then kills Tamora, the wife of Saturninus, who in turn kills Titus, whereupon Lucius kills Saturninus, the final act of regicide. This is not to mention the hand-loppings, the son-killings, the bone-grindings, the child-dealings - even the black and bloody fly-swattings.

Perhaps in this wild and thirsty Rome, Lucius' exile among the Goths was a welcome relief. The banished self is turned out and weeps, divided from its place of belonging; he fears the wrath of the hostile outside; and yet the enemy that is the world does not single out a vulnerable soul with malice or hatred; nor is the lonely wanderer met with a cold hand of indifference; rather the face of the stranger softens with mutual tears, the antagonist's arms open in an embrace, friendship is proffered. The former home is now seditious, the agent of displacement, expulsion, estrangement; and yet the outcast carries his origins' welfare in his blood, his hearth in his heart. The fugitive wins over the exterior wilderness for the territory of his motherland - with empathy rather than might. The threat of the foreign, against the quick of the familiar, is tranformed by the refugee's bond with his new host. The separation from the homestead is not a disastrous splitting of a weak stem from the root, but the start of a turning-forth, safeguarding the source, incorporating the weapons the world turns towards home, blunting the blade: the adventures of a body between its horizon and its source.

Categories: William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, exile, empathy, vengeance, enemy, death, body, horizon, home, origin, gap,
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