Possibly Shakespeare’s earliest tragedy, Titus Andronicus is also his bloodiest. The play opens as the Emperor of Rome has died. As the emperor’s sons argue over who will succeed him, Marcus Andronicus, the Tribune of the People, declares that the people want his brother, Titus Andronicus. Titus, a successful general, is just returning to Rome after being away at war for ten years. He has brought with him the Queen of the Goths, Tamora, and her three sons. To avenge the death of his own sons, he sacrifices Tamora’s eldest son, Alarbus, setting off a vengeful chain of murder, rape, and mutilation. In the end, everybody dies, and Titus’ son Lucius becomes the new emperor. Titus Andronicus is not the great work of literature that the later tragedies would be, but it is a gory and graphic illustration that vengeance is no substitute for justice.