Everyone in this play might be evil, or at least a pretty terrible person.
Aaron, the Moor, is bragging about his advancement in the world because of how “close” (wink, wink) he is to Tamora.
Just then, Tamora’s sons, Demetrius and Chiron, bust on to the scene, swords drawn and ready to fight. Demetrius taunts Chiron for his brazen youthfulness. Chiron resents being taunted for being young because Demetrius is not that much older. Anyway, he fights for his true love, Lavinia. Demetrius scoffs at the very idea of this and they come to blows. Then, Demetrius taunts Chiron for being a bad fighter, angering him more.
At this point, Aaron steps forward and tries to put a stop to their fighting by telling them they are dishonoring their mother. They don’t care because they fight for love. He reminds them again and again that it is dangerous to fight so openly over the love of the emperor’s sister-in-law. They still don’t care because love. Then, Aaron makes his winning argument by pointing out that they don’t really need to win her love, they just need to sleep with her. And just like that all talk of love is thrown out the window and they decide some sexy times will be more than enough.
Aaron lays out the plot: Lavinia and Bassianus will be separated from the group during the hunt. When that happens, Tamora will pick a fight with them and the sons will have to defend their mother. It is then that they will take turns with Lavinia, ensuring afterwards that she cannot say anything against them.
Cue evil laugh.
Titus gets everyone out of bed for the hunt. Saturninus complains that this is too early for Tamora and other newly wedded ladies. Lavinia scoffs that she has been up for hours.
They all go off hunting.
Aaron buries a bag of gold as he wonders aloud how foolish this would look to an outsider. To see a man burying a bag of gold that he will never own. But, this bag of gold will serve his evil plots.
Tamora shows up and goes on about what a beautiful day it is, a beautiful day for escapades with her lover. Aaron, however, has no time for her lusty desires, vengeance fills his heart. He reminds her that they are going to kill Bassianus and maim Lavinia. Now Tamora is even more in love with Aaron, but he still has no time for her shenanigans. Bassianus is coming.
Aaron runs off and Bassianus and Lavinia taunt Tamora about how she is definitely and openly cheating on the emperor. Lavinia decides that Tamora is not worth their time and they should just go. Bassianus swears to tell his brother what is going on.
Demetrius and Chiron come in and ask their mother what is wrong. She bursts into tears and explains that Bassianus and Lavinia told her horrible stories about the dreadful creatures that haunted this spot at night and how they were going tie her up there to be eaten by all manner of horrible creature. She begs her sons to defend her, which they do by stabbing and killing Bassianus.
Tamora wants to go ahead and kill Lavinia, but her boys stop her. They want to have their fun with Lavinia first. This seems fair so Tamora turns her over to them. Lavinia begs for her life and her womanhood. She begs for pity, but her pleas fall on deaf ears. Tamora is still pretty upset that Titus killed her son after she begged for his life. Lavinia begs for death, but again she is denied. They dump Bassianus in a hole and drag Lavinia off.
Now, we enter the three stooges part of the scene where Aaron brings Titus’ sons, Quintus and Martius, to the hole with Bassianus in it. They think they are coming to see an panther, but Martius falls in the hole. Quintus notices blood around the hole and the branches that were covering it. Aaron takes off, revealing in an aside that he’s going to bring the emperor there to frame the other two. Martius yells at Quintus for not helping him, but Quintus is too scared of something else happening to be useful. Martius tells him to get Aaron to help. This is when Quintus notices that Aaron is gone. Now Quintus is really upset. Martius reveals that Bassianus is dead in the hole with him. Quintus tries to help him out, but is too weak and falls in himself.
Aaron leads Saturninus to the hole. He is surprised to find out that Titus’ sons are down there with his dead brother. That’s when Tamora comes in with Titus and his other son, Lucius. She’s SUPER shocked to hear that Bassianus is dead. She laments that she didn’t find this letter earlier. The letter explains how someone plans to murder Bassianus and pays the grave digger with some buried gold. Wouldn’t you know it? There was gold buried right where that definitely real letter said it would be. Saturninus decides that since they’re in the hole, they must be the murderers. So, Quintus and Martius are dragged off to prison. Titus begs for mercy in vain.
Demetrius and Chiron taunt Lavinia because she has no tongue and no hands…because they chopped them off. After they leave, Lavinia’s uncle Marcus enters the scene. He is shocked to see his beautiful niece in such a state. He asks her to speak, but soon realizes her tongue is gone and she can’t. He gets very upset and accurately guesses that she has been defiled by a man as well. He draws a connection between Lavinia and Philomela. Of course, as he points out, Philomela only lost her tongue, but Lavinia lost her tongue and her hands, making her punishment worse. (This is a little like rubbing salt in the wound if you ask me, but whatever.) Marcus says he will take her to her father who will be overcome by grief at the sight of her.
Uncle Marcus is not the most comforting person to have around during a personal crisis.