%%No pictures, please. If there was ever a work we didn't need to see pictures of, this is it.
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->''"Shakespeare as a young writer seems to have gone through a brief Creator/QuentinTarantino phase."''
-->--''The Reduced Shakespeare Company''

Creator/WilliamShakespeare's first and most gruesome, gory, bloody, ''et cetera'', tragedy. As S. Clarke Hulse says, ''Titus Andronicus'' is a play with "14 killings, 9 of them on stage, 6 severed members, 1 rape (or 2 or 3, depending on how you count), 1 live burial, 1 case of insanity and 1 of cannibalism--an average of 5.2 atrocities per act, or one for every 97 lines."

Fun times.

Here's a very basic outline: Titus comes back to Rome with his captives -- Tamora, queen of the Goths, her three sons, and her lover Aaron the Moor -- in tow. He has lost all but four of his twenty-five sons in the war with the Goths. To honour his dead sons' spirits, Titus sacrifices Tamora's eldest son. Tamora, needless to say, ain't happy.

The emperor of Rome, Saturninus, chooses Tamora as his empress, after his brother, Bassianus, runs off with his intended bride Lavinia -- who, by a staggering coincidence, is Titus' daughter. (Her surviving brothers help her escape and now it's twenty-two sons down, three to go. Does it count if Titus kills them himself?)

You still with me?

Marrying Tamora proves to be a really, REALLY dumb idea. Tamora has Bassianus killed and frames two of Titus' sons for it. Tamora is still not satisfied, [[RapeAsDrama so she gets her two surviving sons, Chiron and Demetrius, to gang rape Lavinia.]] [[MoralEventHorizon Then to make sure she can't tell anyone who it was who raped her, Tamora's sons cut out Lavinia's tongue and chop off her hands.]] After Titus's two innocent sons are found and incriminated, Aaron says they will be spared if Titus cuts off his own hand. Titus does this, but they are beheaded anyway. Titus is hit hard by their deaths. His last son Lucius is banished from Rome for trying to bust his brothers out of prison before the execution. He joins the Goths and attempts to attack Rome.

With the revelation of Lavinia's rape and horrific mutilation, Titus sinks lower into despair and begins to act strangely. Many people think he's gone mad.

Turns out he was faking so he could go about snooping. When he finds out who is behind it all, he kills Tamora's last two sons, cooks them in a giant pie ''à la'' SweeneyTodd, and serves them to Tamora without her knowing. The last scene is a bloody battle in which Titus kills Tamora and Lavinia ([[MercyKill for her own good]]) before being killed by Saturninus, at which point Lucius promptly commits regicide. Only a few characters remain alive, one of whom is Lucius, who is then made the new Emperor of Rome, a fair and wise ruler for all.

Oh, and Lucius buries Aaron up to his neck and lets him starve to death. (It was [[PayEvilUntoEvil deserved]], however.)

[[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotForKids Why aren't they teaching more Shakespeare in schools?]]

The play was made into a movie by Julie Taymor under the title ''Film/{{Titus}}''.

In troping terms, Titus Andronicus tried to be {{Cincinnatus}} only for it to backfire spectacularly.

!! Tropes in ''Titus Andronicus'':
* AffectionateParody: Some people think that the reason this play was so violent was because Shakespeare was having a go at Marlowe's often gruesome plays. Indeed, there are some scholars who argue that Shakespeare wrote ''Titus'' with such an outrageous amount of {{Gorn}} (even for the time period) that he actually [[RefugeInAudacity intended for it to be a comedy]]. See the bit about the knife and the fly if you're skeptical. Noted Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt reworked it into a comedy.
* AlienLunch: The infamous pie served to Tamora.
* AmbiguousTimePeriod: The chronology of the tragedies puts this play "during the reign of a a fictional (late?) Roman emperor" with the plays between it being Cymbeline, early first century AD, and Hamlet, c. ninth-tenth century AD.
* AnachronismStew: There was no Roman emperor who fought a war against the Goths (who invaded during the declining years of the Empire)[[labelnote:*]]strictly speaking, no emperor fought them and ''survived'' - both Claudius II and Valens led armies against the Goths, but both died on the battlefield. At any rate, the idea of a victorious emperor dragging a captive Gothic princess back to Rome is complete fiction[[/labelnote]], and a Tribune (a political office from the era of the Roman Republic) wouldn't have served alongside the emperor. Possibly justified in some cases as the chronology of the tragedies places Titus Andronicus "during the reign of a fictional (late?) Roman emperor" with the plays it is between being Cymbeline, early first century AD, and Hamlet, c. ninth-tenth century AD.
* AndIMustScream: Lavinia. Much of the play revolves around her attempts to communicate the names of her attackers.
* AssholeVictim: The majority of the victims in the play are very unpleasant people to begin with (except Lavinia). Chiron and Demetrius deserve special mention.
* BaitTheDog: Chiron and Demetrius are just two teenagers until Aaron gives them an idea.
* BigBadDuumvirate: Aaron and Tamora. Between the two of them, they mastermind every bad thing that happens in the play.
* BlackAndGreyMorality: Tamora, Aaron, Chiron, and Demetrius cross the [[MoralEventHorizon Moral Event Horizon]] early on when they [[spoiler: rape and mutilate Lavinia]]. But Titus also commits a number of atrocities including ritually killing Tamora's eldest son in front of her, [[spoiler: baking Chiron and Demetrius into pies, tricking Tamora into eating her own sons, and [[ValuesDissonance honor killing Lavinia after she's been raped. Notably, this was considered ValuesDissonance even in Shakespeare's time!]]]]
* BlackComedy: According to some scholars and directors, anyway. Still, even when it's been successfully staged this way, it's a ''very'' dark comedy at best.
* BloodyHilarious: Part of the argument for it being a BlackComedy is that the gory scenes seem meant to be played like this.
* BreakTheCutie: Poor Lavinia, about the only innocent character in the play, becomes the victim of [[spoiler: rape, dismemberment, being regarded as DefiledForever, and eventually HonorRelatedKilling]].
%% * CainAndAbel: Bassianus and Saturninus.
* CardCarryingVillain: Aaron. In a monologue, he states that he did "a thousand dreadful things" and the only thing he regrets that he cannot do "ten thousand more."
* CharactersDroppingLikeFlies: The entire play is a veritable bloodbath featuring not only murder but also rape, torture and cannibalism with more than a 70% kill rate for named characters.
* TheChessmaster: Aaron masterminded practically every evil plot in the play, and when he is finally caught, he [[RefugeInAudacity proudly boasts about it.]]
* ChocolateBaby: Tamora and Aaron have one, much to Chiron and Demetrius' displeasure.
* ColdBloodedTorture:
** The rape and mutilation of Lavinia is not shown onstage, but the way Chiron and Demetrius taunt her about it after the fact is ''horrifying.''
-->'''Demetrius:''' So now go tell, an if thy tongue can speak,
--->Who 'twas that cut thy tongue and ravish'd thee.
-->'''Chiron:''' Write down thy mind, bewray thy meaning so,
--->An if they stumps will let thee play the scribe.
-->'''Demetrius:''' See, how with signs and tokens she can scrawl.
-->'''Chiron:''' Go home, call for sweet water, wash thy hands.
-->'''Demetrius:''' She hath no tongue to call, nor hands to wash,
--->And so let's leave her to her silent walks.
-->'''Chiron:''' An 'twere my case, I should go hang myself.
-->'''Demetrius:''' If thou hadst hands to help thee knit the cord.
** Aaron being buried up to his neck in the sand and left to die.
* CruelMercy: Lucius spares Aaron from hanging, because after hearing what a monster the guy is, he feels that a quick hanging death would be too kind. After Titus' revenge is complete, Lucius gives him a much more fitting painful end.
* CycleOfRevenge: Tamora's attempts to avenge her son on Titus lead to Titus's attempts to get revenge on Tamora.... and so on, and so on. This engine essentially drives the entire plot.
* CynicismCatalyst: At the start of the play, twenty-one of Titus' 25 sons are dead. It's the mutilation of Lavinia, though, that tips him over the edge into madness, angst, and [[HollywoodAtheist atheism]].
* DefiledForever: [[spoiler: Lavinia]] is seen this way after becoming the victim of rape, ultimately leading to her [[spoiler: honor-related killing]]. Naturally this is a severe case of ValuesDissonance.
%% * DueToTheDead: In the ''evil'' form.
%% * EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas: Chiron and Demetrius.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: Aaron loves [[MoralityPet his baby son.]]
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Chiron and Demetrius have no compunctions about raping and dismembering Lavinia or [[spoiler: killing Aaron's baby son]], but they are still taken aback when Aaron [[spoiler: murders the nurse]]. And Aaron has no compunctions about [[spoiler: murdering the nurse]] (and practically every other misdeed in the play), but he'll also fight to the death to save his son's life.
%% * EvilMatriarch: Tamora
* FamilyUnfriendlyViolence: You would have to be blind, deaf, dumb, and stupid not to know how this trope applies.
* FateWorseThanDeath: Lavinia would rather die than be raped by Chiron and Demetrius. Unfortunately for her, Tamora knew it. This was also Titus' excuse for OffingTheOffspring.
* ForTheEvulz: Aaron. "If one good deed in all my life I did / I do repent it from my very soul."
* GenreBlindness: Chiron and Demetrius should have known that preventing Lavinia from speaking or writing wouldn't be enough to stop her from accusing them; [[Literature/TheMetamorphoses Io didn't need hands or a tongue to tell her father what had happened to her...]]
* {{Gorn}}: Human sacrifice, rape, murder, dismemberment, mutilation, cannibalism, torture, and more are integral to the plot, and most of these take place graphically on stage.
* HistoricalFiction: A little bizarre to think of it this way but perfectly true. That said, the "historical" events it is based on [[BasedOnAGreatBigLie are very disputable]].
%% * HonorRelatedAbuse: Lavinia's death.
* IAteWhat: Tamora is served a pie baked from [[spoiler: her murdered sons Chiron and Demetrius]] in a ghastly attempt to evoke this reaction.
* IBangedYourMom: [[ZerothLawOfTropeExamples Yes. Really!]]
-->'''Demetrius:''' Villain, what hast thou done?
-->'''Aaron:''' That which thou canst not undo.
-->'''Chiron:''' Thou hast undone our mother.
-->'''Aaron:''' Villain, I have ''done'' thy mother.
* ImAHumanitarian: Titus's Chiron and Demetrius pies.
* JustDesserts: Titus does this to Chiron and Demetrius, baking them into pies.
* KillEmAll: Six named characters are left alive by the end, and one of them gets killed soon after.
* KnightTemplarParent: Tamora. She will come after you and your children!
* LastOfHisKind: Lucius is the only survivor of his siblings (and Titus' children) at the end of the play. Might we add, [[MassiveNumberedSiblings he had 24 brothers and a sister, though only four of them were still alive at the start of the play]].
* LifeOrLimbDecision: Titus has to choose between his hand and his sons. He cuts off his hand only to have his sons killed anyway.
* MakeUpIsEvil: Aaron derides other characters for their make-up.
* MamasBabyPapasMaybe: The question is settled by the ChocolateBaby.
* MercyKill: Titus' explanation for killing Lavinia.
%% * MoralityPet: Aaron's son
%% * NastyParty: The climax.
* NatureAdoresAVirgin: Lavinia is loved by all until she goes for a walk in the woods.
* NotSoDifferent: Titus and Tamora. Both "love" their kids. Both power-hungry. Both willing to kill other people's children in revenge. Both sick nut-jobs.
* ObfuscatingInsanity: Titus really ''is'' insane... just not ''as'' insane as he convinced Tamora and her sons he was.
* OffingTheOffspring: Titus murders both Mutius and Lavinia.
* OutnumberedSibling: Titus had 25 sons and one daughter. But the ratio is down to 4:1 by the start of the play, and keeps 'improving' (but falls back to 1:0 in the end).
* PapaWolf:
** Titus goes back and forth, he [[OffingTheOffspring kills one of his sons]] for [[HonorRelatedAbuse dishonoring the family]] but goes into a RoaringRampageOfRevenge over his other children.
** Aaron, after his son is born. Of course, since this is Aaron, his plan to protect his son mostly consists of murdering people.
* PayEvilUntoEvil: The mainspring that drives the entire plot.
* RapeAndRevenge: Lavinia may no longer be physically capable of killing Chiron and Demetrius herself, but she can sure as hell hold the bowl to catch their blood while her father butchers them.
* RapeAsDrama: [[spoiler: Lavinia]] becomes the victim of this. Although she is seen as DefiledForever, it is still regarded as a heinous crime.
* RevengeByProxy: Tamora ''could'' just kill Titus for sacrificing her son, but she chooses instead to murder Bassianus and subject Lavinia to a FateWorseThanDeath.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Titus goes on one after his daughter is disfigured and raped.
* ScaryBlackMan: Aaron is somehow scarier than the other villains. And he's a Moor.
* TheSecretOfLongPorkPies: Titus serves Tamora an elaborate pie that has ''two'' very special secret ingredients.
* ShoutOut: The infamous climax of the play is almost definitely an intentional reference to the story of the House of Atreus in [[Myth/ClassicalMythology Greek Mythology]], in which the CycleOfRevenge between the brothers Atreus and Thyestes involves--among other things--[[IAteWhat Atreus tricking Thyestes into eating his own sons]].
* SinisterScimitar: Aaron's weapon of choice, though he only threatens to use it against those who would kill his son.
* SophisticatedAsHell: Due to the play's AntiquatedLinguistics (to twenty-first-century sensibilities) and the use of "to do" meaning "to have sex with" still having colloquial connotations (even to twenty-first-century sensibilities), "Villain, I have done thy mother" qualifies as this.
* TorturePorn: About as much as you can get on stage. Proving that even this trope meets TheZerothLawOfTropeExamples.
%% * ThoseTwoGuys: Quintus and Martius.
* ThoseTwoBadGuys: In the scene immediately after they rape Lavinia, Chiron and Demetrius both explain what just happened and demonstrate by that explanation how [[ColdBloodedTorture sadistic]] they are.
* TraumaCongaLine: Titus and his family is subjected to this. By the end of the play, it's hard to blame the guy for snapping.
* WhatTheHellHero: Titus's sons and his brother give him this when he handed Lavinia, already engaged to her true love, to the new emperor. They become even frustrated when Titus refuses to bury the son he ended up stabbing.
* WhereDaWhiteWomenAt: Aaron and Tamora all the way.
* YourMom: The infamous line "I have done thy mother".