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Titus Andronicus

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TITUS ANDRONICUS. Several plays of the Shakespeare canon preserve a mystery due to almost total absence of external evidence; in the case of

Andronicus' for publication. 46 Feb. 1594) on the same day on which Sussex s company is last recorded as acting it, and his manuscript, printed later in the year, would seem to be that which they acted. We have no reason to be lieve that Shakespeare revised any plays either for this company or for Pembroke's company, which is said also to have performed the piece. The text of the play in the Shakespeare Folio of 1623 must, on the other hand, be that acted by the Lord Chamberlain's company in June, 1594, or later. Since the differences between these versions, however, are relatively quite un important (Act III, sc. ii is added in the Folio), it appears as likely on bibliographical as on stylistic grounds that Shakespeare had no more than a slight part in the play.

No direct source for 'Titus Andronicus' has been discovered. Its relation to two later continental works. 'Aran en Titus' (Aaron and Titus) by the Dutch poet Jan Vos (printed 1641) and a German play of Titus Andronicus and the arrogant empress (ca. 1620), has been learnedly discussed by H. De W. Fuller (Pub lications Modern Language Association 1-65, 1901) ; but it seems probable that these foreign works, as well as another German play of which traces exist, are based upon perversions of the extant 'Titus Andronicus' text, as dis seminated by traveling English actors, and not, as Fuller argues, upon two hypothetical earlier English plays. Early 17th century allusions to 'Titus Andronicus,) though not very numerous, are such as to prove that the play was popular with the masses of the public. Later, John Downes, writing of the performances of Sir William Davenant's company after the Resto ration, mentions 'Titus Andronicus) among several others which ((being old plays, were acted but now and then; yet being well per formed were very satisfactory to the town?" In 1687 Edward Ravenscroft published an adaptation 'Titus Andronicus, or the Rape of Lavinia. Acted at the Theatre Royal,' with a preface containing some important remarks concerning the old play. Among the more un conventional modern theories regarding the authorship of 'Titus Andronicus' may be noted Grosart's argument that it was written by Greene, 'Englische Studien' (1896); J. M. Robertson's that it is essentially Peele's 'Did Shakespeare write Titus Andronicus' (1905), and an ill-considered recent hypothesis of H. D. Gray that the play was originally by Shakespeare, revised by Greene and Peel; Memorial Volume' (1916).