%% ZeroContextExample entries are not allowed on wiki pages. All such entries have been commented out. Add context to the entries before uncommenting them.

[[quoteright:304:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/c0b1e18b3219bfd3372424caed861a89_william_shakespeare_the_queen_6.jpg]]

->''"Shakespeare as a young writer seems to have gone through a brief Creator/QuentinTarantino phase."''
-->--''The Reduced Shakespeare Company''

''The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus'' is considered to be Creator/WilliamShakespeare's first tragedy. It is set in UsefulNotes/TheRomanEmpire albeit a very fantastic and fictional version that is melange of different periods and settings. It is noted to have been produced and performed by 1594. It is arguably one of the few Shakespeare plays (alongside ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream'' and perhaps ''Theatre/TheTempest'') that is entirely original to Shakespeare[[note]]There is in addition to the play, a prose book on Titus Andronicus, and a popular ballad that has survived, and all three are dated to 1594, but nobody knows for sure whether the play, the prose, or the ballad came first, and which came second, and so on[[/note]]. Some scholars argue that the first parts of the play was co-written by George Peele, though some dispute this.

At the start of the play, there is a SuccessionCrisis for the Imperial Throne. The brothers Saturnius and Bassianus compete for the crown, seeking the support and backing of the popular general Titus Andronicus, currently on campaign against the Goths. When Titus returns from his campaign, he brings as captives, Tamora Queen of the Goths, her sons Chiron, Demetrius, Alarbus, and Aaron the Moor. 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, Alarbus. On arriving in Rome, Titus declines the Crown and backs Saturninus and consents to a marriage alliance between the new Emperor and his daughter Lavinia. Lavinia is already betrothed to Bassianus, and the latter elopes with her. Her brothers support Bassianus against their father's wishes, and in a scuffle, Titus kills one of his own sons, Mutius. In the wake of this, Saturninus announces that he will wed the captive Queen Tamora, who counsels pardon and peace. But now having suddenly gone from captive to queen, she seeks to plot her revenge on the House of Andronicus, aided in part by the scheming Aaron the Moor, who has his own agenda and drive. The resulting GambitPileup will bring rot and ruin to Rome itself.

This is one of Shakespeare's most controversial and contentious plays, albeit for different reasons than say, ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice'', owing less to its subject matter, and more to its style, presentation, and heavy sex and violence. It was rarely performed and revived until the second half of the 20th Century, when Peter Brook in 1955 mounted a famous production starring Creator/LaurenceOlivier. More recently, it was adapted by Julie Taymor under the title ''Film/{{Titus}}'', with Creator/AnthonyHopkins in the title role.

----
! Tropes in ''Titus Andronicus'':
* AffectionateParody: A few critics 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. Others dispute this, noting many other tragedies from the period with violence of similar nature, and likewise the presence of BlackComedy mixed with gruesome violence was a pretty common Elizabethan-Jacobean trope.
* 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 is raped, has her arms cut off, and then her tongue cut out by Tamora's sons. Despite being unable to speak, she communicates her plight to her father Titus, and uncle Marcus, by alluding to books that refer to what happened to her, and then using her mouth and limbs to draw the names of her assailants in the sand.
* AssholeVictim: The majority of the victims in the play are very unpleasant people to begin with (except Lavinia). Chiron and Demetrius deserve special mention, albeit they do get one redeeming moment where they agree to help hide Aaron's child with Tamora.
* BigBadDuumvirate: Aaron and Tamora. Between the two of them, they mastermind every bad thing that happens in the play.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: This is one of the darkest Shakespeare plays, where there are arguably about three good characters (all of them children): Lavinia, Young Lucius, and Aaron's baby.
** Saturninus and Bassianus were brothers who would have fought a CivilWar against each other had it not been for Titus Andronicus pulling a KingmakerScenario. Titus Andronicus is a pious Roman war hero which means killing and subjugating Goths, performing HumanSacrifice of a captive son of the enemy queen, and killing one of his own sons, Mutius in the first act. Then he kills his own daughter Lavinia, because she is DefiledForever but does so only after she helps him commit and aid his revenge. And in the end, Titus as part of his revenge appoints one of his surviving sons to raise an army among the very Goths he subjugated to march on Rome, which politically marks him out to be just as much a renegade and warlord as the rest of the cast.
** Tamora, Aaron, Chiron, and Demetrius cross the line early on when they rape and mutilate Lavinia. But all of them have some virtues, with Aaron going out of his way to save his son, and Chiron and Demetrius, after some threats and convincing, agree to help save their step-brother.
* 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. Some of the comedy would be intentional since Titus Andronicus goes LaughingMad and admits that he's so sunk in grief that he can't take it seriously anymore, and of course in the scene of his revenge, the stage directions spell out that he's dressed as a chef and Saturninus and Tamora ask him why he's dressed like that.
* BreakTheCutie: Poor Lavinia, about the only innocent character in the play, becomes the victim of rape, dismemberment, being regarded as DefiledForever, and eventually [[HonorRelatedAbuse being murdered by her own father out of "shame"]].
* CardCarryingVillain: Aaron. In a monologue near the end he states that he did "a thousand dreadful things" and the only thing he regrets that he cannot do "ten thousand more." His only virtue is that he loves his child and does what he can to save them.
* 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 thy 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: Lavinia is seen this way after becoming the victim of rape, ultimately leading to her honor-related killing. Weirdly enough, Titus Andronicus cites the case of Verginia, an incident in the early Republic from Titus Livy's ''Ab urbe condita'' who was killed by her father in fear of a Patrician pulling DroitDuSeigneur, whereas Titus kills her after the rape, and after she aids his revenge.
* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas: Chiron and Demetrius love their mother and do all their villainy to help with her vengeance.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: Aaron loves [[MoralityPet his baby son]].
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Chiron and Demetrius have no compunctions about raping and dismembering Lavinia or killing Aaron's baby son, but they are still taken aback when Aaron murders the nurse. And Aaron has no compunctions about 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, who is motivated by the deaths of some of her sons, and uses her living sons as her tools of vengeance.
* FamilialCannibalismSurprise: Titus serving Tamora meat pies made from her sons is the TropeCodifier.
* 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.
* HonorRelatedAbuse: Titus kills his daughter Lavinia immediately on achieving vengeance for her rape and mutilation. It can be played as a MercyKill due to her disability and trauma, but his line invokes her "shame" as the motive.
* IAteWhat: Tamora is served a pie baked from her murdered sons Chiron and Demetrius in a ghastly attempt to evoke this reaction.
* IBangedYourMom: [[JustForFun/TheZerothLawOfTropeExamples 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. That's actually a bigger survival rate than other Shakespeare tragedies (compared to say, ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'' and ''Theatre/KingLear''), and much milder than John Webster and Cyril Tourneur's works.
* KnightTemplarParent: Tamora. She will come after you and your children! Mind you Titus is even worse, at least Tamora didn't kill her own children, whereas Titus killed his son Mutius, and his daughter Lavinia.
* LastOfHisKind: Lucius is the only survivor of his siblings (and Titus's 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. Aaron the Moor comes up with a baby-swap and gets Tamora's children to agree to it, and also kills the Nurse and Midwife since ItsTheOnlyWayToBeSure.
* 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. Titus kills his own children bear in mind, whereas Tamora doesn't.
* 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: 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.
* RevengeIsADishBestServed: Titus serves Tamora her own sons in revenge for Lavinia.
* 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, albeit he loves his own son, and he's also a sly, ironic, trickster character.
* 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.
* 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.
* YourMom: The infamous line "I have done thy mother."
----