Titus Andronicus: Characters
Aaron is described as Aaron the Moor. He is a black man who is Tamora’s attendant. Aaron is at the heart of much of the crimes and violence in the play. He is an ingenious plotter who likes to create mayhem in order to advance his position in life and bring about the fall of the Roman emperor. He sets out to seduce Tamora and as a result of her willing participation, their baby is born. Aaron is behind the plot that results in the rape and mutilation of Lavinia. He deceives Titus, telling him that if he forfeit a hand, his sons who have been accused of murder will be returned safely to him. Instead, Saturnius sends Titus their heads and returns his severed hand, and the whole scheme is much to Aaron’s pleasure. Aaron is ruthless and amoral. He loves doing evil. He kills the nurse so she will not gossip about his and Tamora’s black baby. Aaron is also fiercely protective of his baby, using his wits to ensure that Demetrius does not kill the child. Eventually Aaron is caught, but he repents of nothing. His only wish is that he had been able to do more evil. Lucius decides that he is to be punished by being buried up to his chest and starved of food.
Aemilius is described as noble Roman. He appears in the later part of the play, announcing that Lucius is leading an army in a march on Rome. He is also present during the final scene, at the banquet.
Alarbus is the eldest son of Tamora. He is brought to Rome as a prisoner of war. Lucius demands of his father that Alarbus be handed over and killed, and Titus accedes to his request.
Marcus Andronicus is a tribune of the Roman people, and the brother of Titus Andronicus. He plays a conciliatory role in the dispute between Saturnius and Bassianus over who should become emperor. He is recognized by Bassianus as a man of integrity and in general is the voice of reason and sanity, although he shares in Titus’s grief and also desires revenge against those who have harmed Lavinia. At the end of the play he is a survivor of the carnage, and he urges the Romans to overcome their differences and become a unified people again. He also asks the Roman people to judge the actions of Titus and himself, and says he will abide by their verdict.
Titus Andronicus has led the Romans in ten years of wars with the Goths. He returns to Rome triumphant, although many of his sons have been killed in battle. He is a popular figure in Rome and is elected emperor, but he refuses the position, saying that a younger man should be chosen. Titus sets in motion the cycle of revenge killings when he authorizes the killing of Alarbus, a Goth prisoner of war.He also kills his son Mutius, who has tried to prevent his father from opposing Bassianus’s seizing of Lavinia. Titus thus shows himself to be a mixture of character traits. He shows wisdom and magnanimity in dealing with the succession crisis and in pledging allegiance to Saturnius, when he could have become emperor himself (Saturnius does not trust him, however, and treats him cruelly.) But Titus is also impulsive and reckless, as his killing of Mutius shows. He is therefore not without some responsibility for the mayhem that follows. Marcus loses a hand when he allows Aaron to cut it off; he had been willing to lose the hand in exchange for the emperor’s sparing of the life of his two sons. He is cruelly disappointed in that, and when he also discovers Lavinia’s fate, he spends the rest of the play expressing his grief and plotting his revenge.
Bassianus is Saturnius’s brother. At the beginning of the play he lays claim to the position of emperor, challenging the claim of his elder brother. He believes he deserves the crown due his merits, and that these are more important than the fact that his brother is the first-born son of the late emperor. Bassianus eventually agrees to submit his claim to the popular will, and he accepts the situation when Saturnius is crowned emperor. Bassianus, perhaps to gain revenge on Saturnius, seizes Lavinia for his bride, who had been chosen as a wife by Saturnius. Bassianus is murdered by Demetrius and Chiron as part of a plot to rape Lavinia.
Caius is one of Titus’s kinsmen.
Chiron is the son of Tamora, the younger brother of Demetrius. He is an unscrupulous, wicked character. Along with Demetrius he desires Lavinia, even though she is already betrothed to Bassianus. He agrees to Aaron’s scheme, and he and Demetrius kill Bassianus and rape and mutilate Lavinia. When he discovers that Tamora has given birth to a black baby, he wants to kill the child in order to protect his mother from disgrace, and is only talked out of it, along with Demetrius, by Aaron. Eventually, Chiron is identified as the killer and rapist and together with Demetrius has his throat cut by Titus. His remains are cooked and served up to Tamora at Titus’s feast.
Demetrius is the son of Tamora, the elder brother of Chiron. In terms of character and action, there is little to choose between him and his brother. They are equal in wickedness and act together. Like Chiron, Demetrius wants Lavinia; it is he who strikes the first blow against Bassianus. Like Chiron, Demetrius wants to kill Aaron’s child, and is stopped only by Aaron’s intervention. Appropriately enough, Demetrius dies at the same time as Chiron and by the same method. Finally apprehended for his crimes, he and his brother have their throats cut by Titus.
Lavinia is the daughter of Titus Andronicus. Although originally claimed as a bride by Saturnius, she is instead married off to Bassianus. After her husband is murdered, Lavinia is raped and mutilated by Chiron and Demetrius. Her hands are cut off and her tongue cut out. She therefore cannot communicate to anyone who her assailants were. Eventually, encouraged by Titus and Marcus, she does manage to write the names Chiron and Demetrius, as well as the word “rape,” in the sand, using a staff between her teeth and guiding it with her stumps. Lavinia holds a basin to receive the blood of Chiron and Demetrius when their throats are cut by Titus. Lavinia is killed by Titus at the feast, because, he says, she has been shamed and the sight of her causes him endless grief.
Lucius is one of Titus’s sons. He supports Bassianus’s seizure of Lavinia, even though his father opposes it. Lucius rebukes his father for killing his son Mutius and also insists that Mutius be buried in the family tomb, again against his father’s wishes. Lucius is willing to give up a hand to save the lives of his brothers who are accused of killing Bassianus. After Titus’s two sons are executed and their severed heads sent to him, Titus orders Lucius to leave Rome and raise an army of Goths. Lucius eventually returns at the head of the army. He is present at the final banquet and kills Saturniusafter Saturnius kills Titus. Lucius is then proclaimed emperor, and he promises to rule in a just way.
Young Lucius is Lucius’s son and Titus’s grandson. He takes part in the shooting of arrows to which messages are attached into the streets of Rome.
Martius is the son of Titus Andronicus. Along with Quintus, he is falsely accused of murdering Bassianus and is executed. His head is sent to Titus.
Mutius is one of Titus’s sons. He tries to prevent his father from opposing Bassianus’s seizing of Lavinia, but this angers Titus, who kills him.
The Nurse brings the black baby, Aaron and Tamara’s son, to Aaron, Chiron, and Demetrius. Aaron kills her to stop her gossiping about the illegitimate birth.
Publius is the son of Marcus Andronicus, and Titus’s nephew. He takes part in the shooting of arrows to which messages are attached into the streets of Rome. He also tells his father he will keep a close watch on Titus because they both fear he may be mad. It is Publius who arrests Chiron and Demetrius.
Quintus is the son of Titus Andronicus. Along with Martius, he is falsely accused of murdering Bassianus and is executed. His head is sent to Titus.
Saturnius is the first-born son of the late emperor so he believes he should be the next emperor. He is challenged by his brother Bassianus, but eventually, after Titus Andronicus, the people’s choice, has rejected the crown, Saturnius is duly crowned emperor. However, he does not trust Titus. Saturnius marries Tamora and immediately falls under her influence. She seems the stronger of the two. Saturnius believes that Titus’s two sons murdered Bassianus and has no hesitation in ordering their execution and sending their severed heads to Titus. When Lucius leads an army of Goths on Rome, Saturnius fears for his position, but Tamora reassures him that she will get Titus to hold Lucius back. At the feast, Saturnius kills Titus after Titus has killed Tamora, and he is then killed by Lucius.
Sempronius is one of Titus’s kinsmen.
Tamora is the queen of the Goths who is captured by Titus Andronicus in the wars and brought back to Rome along with her three sons. Titus’s killing of Alarbus, her eldest son, leaves her with a desire for revenge, and with the help of Aaron she plots against Titus and his family throughout the play. Tamora is a ruthless woman who thinks only of how to get what she wants. She is elevated to a position of power when Saturnius marries her and she becomes empress. This does not stop her, however, fromtaking Aaron as her lover, and she has a son by him. Tamora is eventually killed by Titus at the banquet, after she has eaten the pie Titus has cooked for her that contains the remains of her two sons, Chiron and Demetrius.
Valentine is one of Titus’s kinsmen.