O, Brothers, Where Art Thou?

Titus Andronicus has four different sets of brothers.  I think this is more than any other play (except maybe for a history play (in those War of the Roses plays, the families can get pretty unwieldy).

We have

  • Saturninus and Bassianus: sons to the late Emperor and rivals for his imperial seat
  • Marcus and Titus: a Tribune and the General
  • Mutius, Martius, Quintus, and Lucius: Titus’ four surviving sons (out of 25 total sons)
  • Chiron and Demetrius: sons to Tamora, Queen of the Goths.

Out of those ten characters, only two survive, Lucius and Marcus; and, though related, they are not brothers.

What is Shakespeare trying to say about brothers or brotherhood?  Is he making some nature vs. nurture statement?

I haven’t a clue.

Or is this really a play about being a child, or maybe about being a parent?

At the end of the play, two children/offspring survive: Young Lucius and Aaron’s baby.  Since Aaron has been promised by Lucius that he will “nourish and bring (the boy) up” (V.i.84), in a sense, these two have become brothers. [Is this why Taymor has young Lucius carry the baby into the sunrise at the end of her Titus?]

Why all these brothers?  What is Shakespeare’s theme?

Again, I haven’t a clue… any thoughts?

Comment?