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Not Peer Reviewed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 owne wife: 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.