Saturninus is a complex and intriguing character in William Shakespeare's play, Titus Andronicus. Although he starts off as a seemingly noble and honorable man, his true nature is gradually revealed as the play unfolds.
Saturninus is the eldest son of the late Emperor of Rome and is chosen to be the new emperor after his father's death. This unexpected rise to power puts him in a position of authority and influence, but it also exposes his flaws and weaknesses. He is easily swayed by others and lacks the necessary skills to govern effectively.
One of the defining moments in Saturninus' character development occurs when he is presented with the opportunity to choose a queen. He initially selects Lavinia, the daughter of the play's protagonist, Titus Andronicus. However, when his brother Bassianus also expresses his desire to marry Lavinia, Saturninus quickly changes his mind and decides to marry Tamora, the Queen of the Goths.
This pivotal moment marks a turning point in Saturninus' character arc. He goes from being a somewhat honorable figure to a power-hungry and ruthless ruler. He becomes infatuated with Tamora and becomes her puppet in her quest for revenge against Titus Andronicus and his family.
Saturninus becomes increasingly cruel and sadistic as the play progresses. He orders the execution of innocent characters and revels in their suffering. His lust for power blinds him to the consequences of his actions and ultimately leads to his downfall.
In the climactic final act of the play, Saturninus is killed by Titus Andronicus himself. This serves as a fitting end to his story, as he becomes a victim of his own ambition and cruelty.
Despite his flaws, Saturninus is a fascinating character who highlights the dangers of unchecked power and the destructive nature of revenge. His transformation from a seemingly noble leader to a tyrant serves as a cautionary tale and contributes to the overall themes of the play.