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Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan (eds), The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition

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2.4Sc. 4

Editor’s NoteEnter the Empress Tamora's sons Chiron and Demetrius with Lavinia, Editor’s Noteher hands cut off and her tongue cut out, and ravished

demetrius So now go tell, an if thy tongue can speak,

2Who 'twas that cut thy tongue and ravished thee.

Editor’s Note3

chiron Write down thy mind, bewray thy meaning so,

4An if thy stumps will let thee play the scribe.


demetrius See how with signs and tokens she can scrawl.

Editor’s Note6

chiron. Go home, call for sweet water, wash thy hands.


demetrius She hath no tongue to call, nor hands to wash,

8And so let's leave her to her silent walks.

Editor’s Note9

chiron An 'twere my cause, I should go hang myself.

Editor’s Note10

demetrius If thou hadst hands to help thee knit the cord.

Exeunt Chiron and Demetrius [Wind horns.] Enter Marcus from hunting
Editor’s Note11

marcus [to Lavinia] Who is this—my niece that flies away so fast?

Editor’s Note12Cousin, a word. Where is your husband?

Editor’s Note13If I do dream, would all my wealth would wake me.

Link 14If I do wake, some planet strike me down

15That I may slumber an eternal sleep.

Editor’s Note16Speak, gentle niece. What stern ungentle hands

17Hath lopped and hewed and made thy body bare

18Of her two branches, those sweet ornaments

19Whose circling shadows kings have sought to sleep in,

20And might not gain so great a happiness

Editor’s Note21As half thy love. Why dost not speak to me?

Editor’s Note22Alas, a crimson river of warm blood,

23Like to a bubbling fountain stirred with wind,

24Doth rise and fall between thy rosèd lips,

25Coming and going with thy honey breath.

Editor’s Note26But sure some Tereus hath deflowered thee

Editor’s Note27And, lest thou shouldst detect him, cut thy tongue.

28Ah, now thou turn'st away thy face for shame,

29And, notwithstanding all this loss of blood,

Editor’s Note30As from a conduit with three issuing spouts,

Editor’s Note31Yet do thy cheeks look red as Titan's face

32Blushing to be encountered with a cloud.

33Shall I speak for thee? Shall I say 'tis so?

Editor’s Note34O that I knew thy heart, and knew the beast,

35That I might rail at him to ease my mind!

Editor’s Note36Sorrow concealèd, like an oven stopped,

pg 21337Doth burn the heart to cinders where it is.

38Fair Philomel, why she but lost her tongue

Editor’s Note39And in a tedious sampler sewed her mind.

Editor’s Note40But, lovely niece, that mean is cut from thee.

41A craftier Tereus, cousin, hast thou met,

42And he hath cut those pretty fingers off

43That could have better sewed than Philomel.

44O, had the monster seen those lily hands

45Tremble like aspen leaves upon a lute

46And make the silken strings delight to kiss them,

47He would not then have touched them for his life.

48Or had he heard the heavenly harmony

Link 49Which that sweet tongue hath made,

50He would have dropped his knife and fell asleep,

Editor’s Note51As Cerberus at the Thracian poet's feet.

52Come, let us go and make thy father blind,

53For such a sight will blind a father's eye.

54One hour's storm will drown the fragrant meads;

55What will whole months of tears thy father's eyes?

56Do not draw back, for we will mourn with thee.

57O, could our mourning ease thy misery!

Editor’s NoteExeunt [together]

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
4.0 Enter The tree (if there is one) and pit may or may not still be visible.
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4.0.2 hands … tongue In performance these mutilations have sometimes been represented in a heavily stylistic and symbolic way, or in a brutally realistic one.
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4.0.2 ravished Normally represented by blood, and dishevelled or torn clothes; in early modern convention, having her hair loose and hanging down would have indicated rape and/or madness.
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4.3 bewray reveal
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4.6 sweet perfumed
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4.9 cause case
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4.10 knit knot
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4.11 flies away Lavinia in some way must try to avoid him, and either he blocks her escape or she is too weak and disoriented to get away.
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4.12 Cousin kinswoman, niece
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4.12 husband? Between his question and 'If', Marcus must through some action by Lavinia become aware of the amputation of her hands, and physically react to it.
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4.13 would … me i.e. I would give all I have to find that this was not true
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4.16 Speak tell
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4.21 speak to me After his question Lavinia may try to speak, or spit blood, or simply turn so that he and the audience see the blood streaming from her mouth.
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4.22–57 Alas … misery A key issue for modern performances has been how to balance the spectacle of a woman's violated body with the poetic language of this long rhetorical male speech. The physical distance between him and her varies, between productions and also at different moments.
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4.26 Tereus See note to 3.43.
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4.27 detect expose
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4.30 conduit water-spout
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4.31 Titan the sun-god
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4.34 heart what is in your heart
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4.36 stopped stopped up
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4.39 tedious laboriously executed
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4.39 sampler Philomel told her tale and identified her ravisher by embroidering on a sampler (tapestry)
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4.40 mean means
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4.51 Cerberus … Thracian poet Orpheus (the poet), on his way to rescue Eurydice, put Cerberus, the three-headed watchdog, to sleep by playing his lyre.
Editor’s Note
4.57.1 together Marcus often behaves protectively, helping and sheltering her, or even carrying her.
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