Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardy M. Cook
Not Peer Reviewed

Lucrece (Quarto, 1594)


LVcius Tarquinius (for his excessiue pride surnamed Superbus)
after hee had caused his owne father in law Seruius Tullius to be cruelly murdred, and contrarie to the Romaine lawes and cu­ stomes, not requiring or staying for the peoples suffrages, had possessed himselfe of the kingdome: went accompanyed with his sonnes and other Noble men of Rome, to besiege Ardea, during which siege, the principall men of the Army meeting one euening at the Tent of Sextus Tarquini­ us the Kings sonne, in their discourses after supper euery one commended the vertues of his ownewife: among whom Colatinus extolled the incom­ parable chastity of his wife Lucretia. In that pleasant humor they all po­ sted to Rome, and intending by theyr secret and sodaine arriuall to make triall of that which euery one had before auouched, onely Colatinus finds his wife (though it were late in the night) spinning amongest her maides, the other Ladies were all found dauncing and reuelling, or in seuerall dis­ ports: whereupon the Noble men yeelded Colatinus the victory, and his wife the Fame. At that time Sextus Tarquinius being enflamed with Lucrece beauty, yet smoothering his passions for the present, departed with the rest backe to the Campe: from whence he shortly after priuily withdrew himselfe, and was (according to his estate) royally entertayned and lodged by Lucrece at Colatium. The same night he tretcherouslie stealeth into her Chamber, violently rauisht her, and early in the mor­ ning speedeth away. Lucrece in this lamentable plight, hastily dispatch­ eth Messengers, one to Rome for her father, another to the Campe for Colatine. They came, the one accompanyed with Iunius Brutus, the o­ ther with Publius Valerius: and finding Lucrece attired in mourning habite, demanded the cause of her sorrow. Shee first taking an oath of them for her reuenge, reuealed the Actor, and whole maner of his dea­ ling, and withall sodainely stabbed her selfe. Which done, with one con­ sent they all vowed to roote out the whole hated family of the Tarquins: and bearing the dead body to Rome, Brutus acquainted the people with the doer and manner of the vile deede: with a bitter inuectiue against the tyranny of the King, wherewith the people were so moued, that with one consent and a general acclamation, the Tarquins were all exiled, and the state gouernment changed from Kings to Consuls.