The Complete Works of William Shakespeare The Tragedy of Coriolanus
Part 1 out of 3
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Rome and the neighbourhood; Corioli and the neighbourhood; Antium
ACT I. SCENE I.
Rome. A street
Enter a company of mutinous citizens, with staves, clubs, and
FIRST CITIZEN. Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.
ALL. Speak, speak.
FIRST CITIZEN. You are all resolv'd rather to die than to
ALL. Resolv'd, resolv'd.
FIRST CITIZEN. First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to
ALL. We know't, we know't.
FIRST CITIZEN. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own
price. Is't a verdict?
ALL. No more talking on't; let it be done. Away, away!
SECOND CITIZEN. One word, good citizens.
FIRST CITIZEN. We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians
What authority surfeits on would relieve us; if they would
us but the superfluity while it were wholesome, we might
they relieved us humanely; but they think we are too dear.
leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an
inventory to particularize their abundance; our sufferance is
gain to them. Let us revenge this with our pikes ere we
rakes; for the gods know I speak this in hunger for bread,
thirst for revenge.
SECOND CITIZEN. Would you proceed especially against Caius
FIRST CITIZEN. Against him first; he's a very dog to the
SECOND CITIZEN. Consider you what services he has done for his
FIRST CITIZEN. Very well, and could be content to give him good
report for't but that he pays himself with being proud.
SECOND CITIZEN. Nay, but speak not maliciously.
FIRST CITIZEN. I say unto you, what he hath done famously he
to that end; though soft-conscienc'd men can be content to
was for his country, he did it to please his mother and to be
partly proud, which he is, even to the altitude of his
SECOND CITIZEN. What he cannot help in his nature you account a
vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.
FIRST CITIZEN. If I must not, I need not be barren of
he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition. [Shouts
within] What shouts are these? The other side o' th' city is
risen. Why stay we prating here? To th' Capitol!
ALL. Come, come.
FIRST CITIZEN. Soft! who comes here?
Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA
SECOND CITIZEN. Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always
FIRST CITIZEN. He's one honest enough; would all the rest were
MENENIUS. What work's, my countrymen, in hand? Where go you
With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray you.
FIRST CITIZEN. Our business is not unknown to th' Senate; they
had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do, which now
show 'em in deeds. They say poor suitors have strong breaths;
they shall know we have strong arms too.
MENENIUS. Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest
Will you undo yourselves?
FIRST CITIZEN. We cannot, sir; we are undone already.
MENENIUS. I tell you, friends, most charitable care
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
Against the Roman state; whose course will on
The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
Of more strong link asunder than can ever
Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,
The gods, not the patricians, make it, and
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
You are transported by calamity
Thither where more attends you; and you slander
The helms o' th' state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies.
FIRST CITIZEN. Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er car'd for
yet. Suffer us to famish, and their storehouses cramm'd with
grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers; repeal
any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide
piercing statutes daily to chain up and restrain the poor. If
wars eat us not up, they will; and there's all the love they
MENENIUS. Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accus'd of folly. I shall tell you
A pretty tale. It may be you have heard it;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
To stale't a little more.
FIRST CITIZEN. Well, I'll hear it, sir; yet you must not think
fob off our disgrace with a tale. But, an't please you,
MENENIUS. There was a time when all the body's members
Rebell'd against the belly; thus accus'd it:
That only like a gulf it did remain
I' th' midst o' th' body, idle and unactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest; where th' other instruments
Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
And, mutually participate, did minister
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answer'd-
FIRST CITIZEN. Well, sir, what answer made the belly?
MENENIUS. Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile,
Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus-
For look you, I may make the belly smile
As well as speak- it tauntingly replied
To th' discontented members, the mutinous parts
That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
As you malign our senators for that
They are not such as you.
FIRST CITIZEN. Your belly's answer- What?
The kingly crowned head, the vigilant eye,
The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,
With other muniments and petty helps
Is this our fabric, if that they-
MENENIUS. What then?
Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? What then?
FIRST CITIZEN. Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,
Who is the sink o' th' body-
MENENIUS. Well, what then?
FIRST CITIZEN. The former agents, if they did complain,
What could the belly answer?
MENENIUS. I will tell you;
If you'll bestow a small- of what you have little-
Patience awhile, you'st hear the belly's answer.
FIRST CITIZEN. Y'are long about it.
MENENIUS. Note me this, good friend:
Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answered.
'True is it, my incorporate friends,' quoth he
'That I receive the general food at first
Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
Because I am the storehouse and the shop
Of the whole body. But, if you do remember,
I send it through the rivers of your blood,
Even to the court, the heart, to th' seat o' th' brain;
And, through the cranks and offices of man,
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live. And though that all at once
You, my good friends'- this says the belly; mark me.
FIRST CITIZEN. Ay, sir; well, well.
MENENIUS. 'Though all at once cannot
See what I do deliver out to each,
Yet I can make my audit up, that all
From me do back receive the flour of all,
And leave me but the bran.' What say you to' t?
FIRST CITIZEN. It was an answer. How apply you this?
MENENIUS. The senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members; for, examine
Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly
Touching the weal o' th' common, you shall find
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you,
And no way from yourselves. What do you think,
You, the great toe of this assembly?
FIRST CITIZEN. I the great toe? Why the great toe?
MENENIUS. For that, being one o' th' lowest, basest, poorest,
Of this most wise rebellion, thou goest foremost.
Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
Lead'st first to win some vantage.
But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs.
Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;
The one side must have bale.
Enter CAIUS MARCIUS
Hail, noble Marcius!
MARCIUS. Thanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues
That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?
FIRST CITIZEN. We have ever your good word.
MARCIUS. He that will give good words to thee will flatter
Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,
That like nor peace nor war? The one affrights you,
The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;
Where foxes, geese; you are no surer, no,
Than is the coal of fire upon the ice
Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is
To make him worthy whose offence subdues him,
And curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness
Deserves your hate; and your affections are
A sick man's appetite, who desires most that
Which would increase his evil. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead,
And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye?
With every minute you do change a mind
And call him noble that was now your hate,
Him vile that was your garland. What's the matter
That in these several places of the city
You cry against the noble Senate, who,
Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else
Would feed on one another? What's their seeking?
MENENIUS. For corn at their own rates, whereof they say
The city is well stor'd.
MARCIUS. Hang 'em! They say!
They'll sit by th' fire and presume to know
What's done i' th' Capitol, who's like to rise,
Who thrives and who declines; side factions, and give out
Conjectural marriages, making parties strong,
And feebling such as stand not in their liking
Below their cobbled shoes. They say there's grain enough!
Would the nobility lay aside their ruth
And let me use my sword, I'd make a quarry
With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high
As I could pick my lance.
MENENIUS. Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
For though abundantly they lack discretion,
Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
What says the other troop?
MARCIUS. They are dissolv'd. Hang 'em!
They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs-
That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not
Corn for the rich men only. With these shreds
They vented their complainings; which being answer'd,
And a petition granted them- a strange one,
To break the heart of generosity
And make bold power look pale- they threw their caps
As they would hang them on the horns o' th' moon,
Shouting their emulation.
MENENIUS. What is granted them?
MARCIUS. Five tribunes, to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
Of their own choice. One's Junius Brutus-
Sicinius Velutus, and I know not. 'Sdeath!
The rabble should have first unroof'd the city
Ere so prevail'd with me; it will in time
Win upon power and throw forth greater themes
For insurrection's arguing.
MENENIUS. This is strange.
MARCIUS. Go get you home, you fragments.
Enter a MESSENGER, hastily
MESSENGER. Where's Caius Marcius?
MARCIUS. Here. What's the matter?
MESSENGER. The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.
MARCIUS. I am glad on't; then we shall ha' means to vent
Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.
Enter COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, with other SENATORS;
JUNIUS BRUTUS and SICINIUS VELUTUS
FIRST SENATOR. Marcius, 'tis true that you have lately told us:
The Volsces are in arms.
MARCIUS. They have a leader,
Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to't.
I sin in envying his nobility;
And were I anything but what I am,
I would wish me only he.
COMINIUS. You have fought together?
MARCIUS. Were half to half the world by th' ears, and he
Upon my party, I'd revolt, to make
Only my wars with him. He is a lion
That I am proud to hunt.
FIRST SENATOR. Then, worthy Marcius,
Attend upon Cominius to these wars.
COMINIUS. It is your former promise.
MARCIUS. Sir, it is;
And I am constant. Titus Lartius, thou
Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face.
What, art thou stiff? Stand'st out?
LARTIUS. No, Caius Marcius;
I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with t'other
Ere stay behind this business.
MENENIUS. O, true bred!
FIRST SENATOR. Your company to th' Capitol; where, I know,
Our greatest friends attend us.
LARTIUS. [To COMINIUS] Lead you on.
[To MARCIUS] Follow Cominius; we must follow you;
Right worthy your priority.
COMINIUS. Noble Marcius!
FIRST SENATOR. [To the Citizens] Hence to your homes; be
MARCIUS. Nay, let them follow.
The Volsces have much corn: take these rats thither
To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutineers,
Your valour puts well forth; pray follow.
Ciitzens steal away. Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS
SICINIUS. Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?
BRUTUS. He has no equal.
SICINIUS. When we were chosen tribunes for the people-
BRUTUS. Mark'd you his lip and eyes?
SICINIUS. Nay, but his taunts!
BRUTUS. Being mov'd, he will not spare to gird the gods.
SICINIUS. Bemock the modest moon.
BRUTUS. The present wars devour him! He is grown
Too proud to be so valiant.
SICINIUS. Such a nature,
Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
Which he treads on at noon. But I do wonder
His insolence can brook to be commanded
BRUTUS. Fame, at the which he aims-
In whom already he is well grac'd- cannot
Better be held nor more attain'd than by
A place below the first; for what miscarries
Shall be the general's fault, though he perform
To th' utmost of a man, and giddy censure
Will then cry out of Marcius 'O, if he
Had borne the business!'
SICINIUS. Besides, if things go well,
Opinion, that so sticks on Marcius, shall
Of his demerits rob Cominius.
Half all Cominius' honours are to Marcius,
Though Marcius earn'd them not; and all his faults
To Marcius shall be honours, though indeed
In aught he merit not.
SICINIUS. Let's hence and hear
How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,
More than his singularity, he goes
Upon this present action.
BRUTUS. Let's along. Exeunt
Corioli. The Senate House.
Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS with SENATORS of Corioli
FIRST SENATOR. So, your opinion is, Aufidius,
That they of Rome are ent'red in our counsels
And know how we proceed.
AUFIDIUS. Is it not yours?
What ever have been thought on in this state
That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome
Had circumvention? 'Tis not four days gone
Since I heard thence; these are the words- I think
I have the letter here; yes, here it is:
[Reads] 'They have press'd a power, but it is not known
Whether for east or west. The dearth is great;
The people mutinous; and it is rumour'd,
Cominius, Marcius your old enemy,
Who is of Rome worse hated than of you,
And Titus Lartius, a most valiant Roman,
These three lead on this preparation
Whither 'tis bent. Most likely 'tis for you;
Consider of it.'
FIRST SENATOR. Our army's in the field;
We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready
To answer us.
AUFIDIUS. Nor did you think it folly
To keep your great pretences veil'd till when
They needs must show themselves; which in the hatching,
It seem'd, appear'd to Rome. By the discovery
We shall be short'ned in our aim, which was
To take in many towns ere almost Rome
Should know we were afoot.
SECOND SENATOR. Noble Aufidius,
Take your commission; hie you to your bands;
Let us alone to guard Corioli.
If they set down before's, for the remove
Bring up your army; but I think you'll find
Th' have not prepar'd for us.
AUFIDIUS. O, doubt not that!
I speak from certainties. Nay more,
Some parcels of their power are forth already,
And only hitherward. I leave your honours.
If we and Caius Marcius chance to meet,
'Tis sworn between us we shall ever strike
Till one can do no more.
ALL. The gods assist you!
AUFIDIUS. And keep your honours safe!
FIRST SENATOR. Farewell.
SECOND SENATOR. Farewell.
ALL. Farewell. Exeunt
Rome. MARCIUS' house
Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA, mother and wife to MARCIUS;
they set them down on two low stools and sew
VOLUMNIA. I pray you, daughter, sing, or express yourself in a
comfortable sort. If my son were my husband, I should
rejoice in that absence wherein he won honour than in the
embracements of his bed where he would show most love. When
he was but tender-bodied, and the only son of my womb; when
with comeliness pluck'd all gaze his way; when, for a day of
kings' entreaties, a mother should not sell him an hour from
beholding; I, considering how honour would become such a
that it was no better than picture-like to hang by th' wall,
renown made it not stir- was pleas'd to let him seek danger
he was to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him, from whence
return'd his brows bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I
sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child
now in first seeing he had proved himself a man.
VIRGILIA. But had he died in the business, madam, how then?
VOLUMNIA. Then his good report should have been my son; I
would have found issue. Hear me profess sincerely: had I a
sons, each in my love alike, and none less dear than thine
good Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their
than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.
Enter a GENTLEWOMAN
GENTLEWOMAN. Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.
VIRGILIA. Beseech you give me leave to retire myself.
VOLUMNIA. Indeed you shall not.
Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum;
See him pluck Aufidius down by th' hair;
As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him.
Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus:
'Come on, you cowards! You were got in fear,
Though you were born in Rome.' His bloody brow
With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes,
Like to a harvest-man that's task'd to mow
Or all or lose his hire.
VIRGILIA. His bloody brow? O Jupiter, no blood!
VOLUMNIA. Away, you fool! It more becomes a man
Than gilt his trophy. The breasts of Hecuba,
When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier
Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood
At Grecian sword, contemning. Tell Valeria
We are fit to bid her welcome. Exit GENTLEWOMAN
VIRGILIA. Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!
VOLUMNIA. He'll beat Aufidius' head below his knee
And tread upon his neck.
Re-enter GENTLEWOMAN, With VALERIA and an usher
VALERIA. My ladies both, good day to you.
VOLUMNIA. Sweet madam!
VIRGILIA. I am glad to see your ladyship.
VALERIA. How do you both? You are manifest housekeepers. What
you sewing here? A fine spot, in good faith. How does your
VIRGILIA. I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.
VOLUMNIA. He had rather see the swords and hear a drum than
upon his schoolmaster.
VALERIA. O' my word, the father's son! I'll swear 'tis a very
pretty boy. O' my troth, I look'd upon him a Wednesday half
hour together; has such a confirm'd countenance! I saw him
after a gilded butterfly; and when he caught it he let it go
again, and after it again, and over and over he comes, and up
again, catch'd it again; or whether his fall enrag'd him, or
'twas, he did so set his teeth and tear it. O, I warrant, how
VOLUMNIA. One on's father's moods.
VALERIA. Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.
VIRGILIA. A crack, madam.
VALERIA. Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play
idle huswife with me this afternoon.
VIRGILIA. No, good madam; I will not out of doors.
VALERIA. Not out of doors!
VOLUMNIA. She shall, she shall.
VIRGILIA. Indeed, no, by your patience; I'll not over the
till my lord return from the wars.
VALERIA. Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably; come, you
must go visit the good lady that lies in.
VIRGILIA. I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her with
prayers; but I cannot go thither.
VOLUMNIA. Why, I pray you?
VIRGILIA. 'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.
VALERIA. You would be another Penelope; yet they say all the
she spun in Ulysses' absence did but fill Ithaca full of
Come, I would your cambric were sensible as your finger, that
might leave pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.
VIRGILIA. No, good madam, pardon me; indeed I will not forth.
VALERIA. In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell you excellent
of your husband.
VIRGILIA. O, good madam, there can be none yet.
VALERIA. Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news from
VIRGILIA. Indeed, madam?
VALERIA. In earnest, it's true; I heard a senator speak it.
is: the Volsces have an army forth; against whom Cominius the
general is gone, with one part of our Roman power. Your lord
Titus Lartius are set down before their city Corioli; they
nothing doubt prevailing and to make it brief wars. This is
on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.
VIRGILIA. Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in
VOLUMNIA. Let her alone, lady; as she is now, she will but
our better mirth.
VALERIA. In troth, I think she would. Fare you well, then.
good sweet lady. Prithee, Virgilia, turn thy solemness out o'
door and go along with us.
VIRGILIA. No, at a word, madam; indeed I must not. I wish you
VALERIA. Well then, farewell. Exeunt
Enter MARCIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, with drum and colours,
with CAPTAINS and soldiers. To them a MESSENGER
MARCIUS. Yonder comes news; a wager- they have met.
LARTIUS. My horse to yours- no.
MARCIUS. 'Tis done.
MARCIUS. Say, has our general met the enemy?
MESSENGER. They lie in view, but have not spoke as yet.
LARTIUS. So, the good horse is mine.
MARCIUS. I'll buy him of you.
LARTIUS. No, I'll nor sell nor give him; lend you him I will
For half a hundred years. Summon the town.
MARCIUS. How far off lie these armies?
MESSENGER. Within this mile and half.
MARCIUS. Then shall we hear their 'larum, and they ours.
Now, Mars, I prithee, make us quick in work,
That we with smoking swords may march from hence
To help our fielded friends! Come, blow thy blast.
They sound a parley. Enter two SENATORS with others,
on the walls of Corioli
Tullus Aufidius, is he within your walls?
FIRST SENATOR. No, nor a man that fears you less than he:
That's lesser than a little. [Drum afar off] Hark, our
Are bringing forth our youth. We'll break our walls
Rather than they shall pound us up; our gates,
Which yet seem shut, we have but pinn'd with rushes;
They'll open of themselves. [Alarum far off] Hark you far
There is Aufidius. List what work he makes
Amongst your cloven army.
MARCIUS. O, they are at it!
LARTIUS. Their noise be our instruction. Ladders, ho!
Enter the army of the Volsces
MARCIUS. They fear us not, but issue forth their city.
Now put your shields before your hearts, and fight
With hearts more proof than shields. Advance, brave Titus.
They do disdain us much beyond our thoughts,
Which makes me sweat with wrath. Come on, my fellows.
He that retires, I'll take him for a Volsce,
And he shall feel mine edge.
Alarum. The Romans are beat back to their trenches.
Re-enter MARCIUS, cursing
MARCIUS. All the contagion of the south light on you,
You shames of Rome! you herd of- Boils and plagues
Plaster you o'er, that you may be abhorr'd
Farther than seen, and one infect another
Against the wind a mile! You souls of geese
That bear the shapes of men, how have you run
From slaves that apes would beat! Pluto and hell!
All hurt behind! Backs red, and faces pale
With flight and agued fear! Mend and charge home,
Or, by the fires of heaven, I'll leave the foe
And make my wars on you. Look to't. Come on;
If you'll stand fast we'll beat them to their wives,
As they us to our trenches. Follow me.
Another alarum. The Volsces fly, and MARCIUS follows
them to the gates
So, now the gates are ope; now prove good seconds;
'Tis for the followers fortune widens them,
Not for the fliers. Mark me, and do the like.
[MARCIUS enters the gates]
FIRST SOLDIER. Fool-hardiness; not I.
SECOND SOLDIER. Not I. [MARCIUS is shut in]
FIRST SOLDIER. See, they have shut him in.
ALL. To th' pot, I warrant him. [Alarum continues]
Re-enter TITUS LARTIUS
LARTIUS. What is become of Marcius?
ALL. Slain, sir, doubtless.
FIRST SOLDIER. Following the fliers at the very heels,
With them he enters; who, upon the sudden,
Clapp'd to their gates. He is himself alone,
To answer all the city.
LARTIUS. O noble fellow!
Who sensibly outdares his senseless sword,
And when it bows stand'st up. Thou art left, Marcius;
A carbuncle entire, as big as thou art,
Were not so rich a jewel. Thou wast a soldier
Even to Cato's wish, not fierce and terrible
Only in strokes; but with thy grim looks and
The thunder-like percussion of thy sounds
Thou mad'st thine enemies shake, as if the world
Were feverous and did tremble.
Re-enter MARCIUS, bleeding, assaulted by the enemy
FIRST SOLDIER. Look, sir.
LARTIUS. O, 'tis Marcius!
Let's fetch him off, or make remain alike.
[They fight, and all enter the city]
Within Corioli. A street
Enter certain Romans, with spoils
FIRST ROMAN. This will I carry to Rome.
SECOND ROMAN. And I this.
THIRD ROMAN. A murrain on 't! I took this for silver.
[Alarum continues still afar off]
Enter MARCIUS and TITUS LARTIUS With a trumpeter
MARCIUS. See here these movers that do prize their hours
At a crack'd drachma! Cushions, leaden spoons,
Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would
Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves,
Ere yet the fight be done, pack up. Down with them!
And hark, what noise the general makes! To him!
There is the man of my soul's hate, Aufidius,
Piercing our Romans; then, valiant Titus, take
Convenient numbers to make good the city;
Whilst I, with those that have the spirit, will haste
To help Cominius.
LARTIUS. Worthy sir, thou bleed'st;
Thy exercise hath been too violent
For a second course of fight.
MARCIUS. Sir, praise me not;
My work hath yet not warm'd me. Fare you well;
The blood I drop is rather physical
Than dangerous to me. To Aufidius thus
I will appear, and fight.
LARTIUS. Now the fair goddess, Fortune,
Fall deep in love with thee, and her great charms
Misguide thy opposers' swords! Bold gentleman,
Prosperity be thy page!
MARCIUS. Thy friend no less
Than those she placeth highest! So farewell.
LARTIUS. Thou worthiest Marcius! Exit MARCIUS
Go sound thy trumpet in the market-place;
Call thither all the officers o' th' town,
Where they shall know our mind. Away! Exeunt
Near the camp of COMINIUS
Enter COMINIUS, as it were in retire, with soldiers
COMINIUS. Breathe you, my friends. Well fought; we are come off
Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands
Nor cowardly in retire. Believe me, sirs,
We shall be charg'd again. Whiles we have struck,
By interims and conveying gusts we have heard
The charges of our friends. The Roman gods,
Lead their successes as we wish our own,
That both our powers, with smiling fronts encount'ring,
May give you thankful sacrifice!
Enter A MESSENGER
MESSENGER. The citizens of Corioli have issued
And given to Lartius and to Marcius battle;
I saw our party to their trenches driven,
And then I came away.
COMINIUS. Though thou speak'st truth,
Methinks thou speak'st not well. How long is't since?
MESSENGER. Above an hour, my lord.
COMINIUS. 'Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums.
How couldst thou in a mile confound an hour,
And bring thy news so late?
MESSENGER. Spies of the Volsces
Held me in chase, that I was forc'd to wheel
Three or four miles about; else had I, sir,
Half an hour since brought my report.
COMINIUS. Who's yonder
That does appear as he were flay'd? O gods!
He has the stamp of Marcius, and I have
Before-time seen him thus.
MARCIUS. Come I too late?
COMINIUS. The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabor
More than I know the sound of Marcius' tongue
From every meaner man.
MARCIUS. Come I too late?
COMINIUS. Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,
But mantled in your own.
MARCIUS. O! let me clip ye
In arms as sound as when I woo'd, in heart
As merry as when our nuptial day was done,
And tapers burn'd to bedward.
COMINIUS. Flower of warriors,
How is't with Titus Lartius?
MARCIUS. As with a man busied about decrees:
Condemning some to death and some to exile;
Ransoming him or pitying, threat'ning th' other;
Holding Corioli in the name of Rome
Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,
To let him slip at will.
COMINIUS. Where is that slave
Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?
Where is he? Call him hither.
MARCIUS. Let him alone;
He did inform the truth. But for our gentlemen,
The common file- a plague! tribunes for them!
The mouse ne'er shunn'd the cat as they did budge
From rascals worse than they.
COMINIUS. But how prevail'd you?
MARCIUS. Will the time serve to tell? I do not think.
Where is the enemy? Are you lords o' th' field?
If not, why cease you till you are so?
We have at disadvantage fought, and did
Retire to win our purpose.
MARCIUS. How lies their battle? Know you on which side
They have plac'd their men of trust?
COMINIUS. As I guess, Marcius,
Their bands i' th' vaward are the Antiates,
Of their best trust; o'er them Aufidius,
Their very heart of hope.
MARCIUS. I do beseech you,
By all the battles wherein we have fought,
By th' blood we have shed together, by th' vows
We have made to endure friends, that you directly
Set me against Aufidius and his Antiates;
And that you not delay the present, but,
Filling the air with swords advanc'd and darts,
We prove this very hour.
COMINIUS. Though I could wish
You were conducted to a gentle bath
And balms applied to you, yet dare I never
Deny your asking: take your choice of those
That best can aid your action.
MARCIUS. Those are they
That most are willing. If any such be here-
As it were sin to doubt- that love this painting
Wherein you see me smear'd; if any fear
Lesser his person than an ill report;
If any think brave death outweighs bad life
And that his country's dearer than himself;
Let him alone, or so many so minded,
Wave thus to express his disposition,
And follow Marcius. [They all shout and wave their
swords, take him up in their arms and cast up their caps]
O, me alone! Make you a sword of me?
If these shows be not outward, which of you
But is four Volsces? None of you but is
Able to bear against the great Aufidius
A shield as hard as his. A certain number,
Though thanks to all, must I select from all; the rest
Shall bear the business in some other fight,
As cause will be obey'd. Please you to march;
And four shall quickly draw out my command,
Which men are best inclin'd.
COMINIUS. March on, my fellows;
Make good this ostentation, and you shall
Divide in all with us. Exeunt
The gates of Corioli
TITUS LARTIUS, having set a guard upon Corioli, going with drum
toward COMINIUS and CAIUS MARCIUS, enters with a LIEUTENANT,
and a scout
LARTIUS. So, let the ports be guarded; keep your duties
As I have set them down. If I do send, dispatch
Those centuries to our aid; the rest will serve
For a short holding. If we lose the field
We cannot keep the town.
LIEUTENANT. Fear not our care, sir.
LARTIUS. Hence, and shut your gates upon's.
Our guider, come; to th' Roman camp conduct us. Exeunt
A field of battle between the Roman and the Volscian camps
Alarum, as in battle. Enter MARCIUS and AUFIDIUS at several doors
MARCIUS. I'll fight with none but thee, for I do hate thee
Worse than a promise-breaker.
AUFIDIUS. We hate alike:
Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor
More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.
MARCIUS. Let the first budger die the other's slave,
And the gods doom him after!
AUFIDIUS. If I fly, Marcius,
Halloa me like a hare.
MARCIUS. Within these three hours, Tullus,
Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,
And made what work I pleas'd. 'Tis not my blood
Wherein thou seest me mask'd. For thy revenge
Wrench up thy power to th' highest.
AUFIDIUS. Wert thou the Hector
That was the whip of your bragg'd progeny,
Thou shouldst not scape me here.
Here they fight, and certain Volsces come in the aid
of AUFIDIUS. MARCIUS fights till they be driven in
Officious, and not valiant, you have sham'd me
In your condemned seconds. Exeunt
The Roman camp
Flourish. Alarum. A retreat is sounded. Enter, at one door,
COMINIUS with the Romans; at another door, MARCIUS, with his arm
in a scarf
COMINIUS. If I should tell thee o'er this thy day's work,
Thou't not believe thy deeds; but I'll report it
Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles;
Where great patricians shall attend, and shrug,
I' th' end admire; where ladies shall be frighted
And, gladly quak'd, hear more; where the dull tribunes,
That with the fusty plebeians hate thine honours,
Shall say against their hearts 'We thank the gods
Our Rome hath such a soldier.'
Yet cam'st thou to a morsel of this feast,
Having fully din'd before.
Enter TITUS LARTIUS, with his power, from the pursuit
LARTIUS. O General,
Here is the steed, we the caparison.
Hadst thou beheld-
MARCIUS. Pray now, no more; my mother,
Who has a charter to extol her blood,
When she does praise me grieves me. I have done
As you have done- that's what I can; induc'd
As you have been- that's for my country.
He that has but effected his good will
Hath overta'en mine act.
COMINIUS. You shall not be
The grave of your deserving; Rome must know
The value of her own. 'Twere a concealment
Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement,
To hide your doings and to silence that
Which, to the spire and top of praises vouch'd,
Would seem but modest. Therefore, I beseech you,
In sign of what you are, not to reward
What you have done, before our army hear me.
MARCIUS. I have some wounds upon me, and they smart
To hear themselves rememb'red.
COMINIUS. Should they not,
Well might they fester 'gainst ingratitude
And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses-
Whereof we have ta'en good, and good store- of all
The treasure in this field achiev'd and city,
We render you the tenth; to be ta'en forth
Before the common distribution at
Your only choice.
MARCIUS. I thank you, General,
But cannot make my heart consent to take
A bribe to pay my sword. I do refuse it,
And stand upon my common part with those
That have beheld the doing.
A long flourish. They all cry 'Marcius, Marcius!'
cast up their caps and lances. COMINIUS and LARTIUS stand bare
May these same instruments which you profane
Never sound more! When drums and trumpets shall
I' th' field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be
Made all of false-fac'd soothing. When steel grows
Soft as the parasite's silk, let him be made
An overture for th' wars. No more, I say.
For that I have not wash'd my nose that bled,
Or foil'd some debile wretch, which without note
Here's many else have done, you shout me forth
In acclamations hyperbolical,
As if I lov'd my little should be dieted
In praises sauc'd with lies.
COMINIUS. Too modest are you;
More cruel to your good report than grateful
To us that give you truly. By your patience,
If 'gainst yourself you be incens'd, we'll put you-
Like one that means his proper harm- in manacles,
Then reason safely with you. Therefore be it known,
As to us, to all the world, that Caius Marcius
Wears this war's garland; in token of the which,
My noble steed, known to the camp, I give him,
With all his trim belonging; and from this time,
For what he did before Corioli, call him
With all th' applause-and clamour of the host,
Caius Marcius Coriolanus.
Bear th' addition nobly ever!
[Flourish. Trumpets sound, and drums]
ALL. Caius Marcius Coriolanus!
CORIOLANUS. I will go wash;
And when my face is fair you shall perceive
Whether I blush or no. Howbeit, I thank you;
I mean to stride your steed, and at all times
To undercrest your good addition
To th' fairness of my power.
COMINIUS. So, to our tent;
Where, ere we do repose us, we will write
To Rome of our success. You, Titus Lartius,
Must to Corioli back. Send us to Rome
The best, with whom we may articulate
For their own good and ours.
LARTIUS. I shall, my lord.
CORIOLANUS. The gods begin to mock me. I, that now
Refus'd most princely gifts, am bound to beg
Of my Lord General.
COMINIUS. Take't- 'tis yours; what is't?
CORIOLANUS. I sometime lay here in Corioli
At a poor man's house; he us'd me kindly.
He cried to me; I saw him prisoner;
But then Aufidius was within my view,
And wrath o'erwhelm'd my pity. I request you
To give my poor host freedom.
COMINIUS. O, well begg'd!
Were he the butcher of my son, he should
Be free as is the wind. Deliver him, Titus.
LARTIUS. Marcius, his name?
CORIOLANUS. By Jupiter, forgot!
I am weary; yea, my memory is tir'd.
Have we no wine here?
COMINIUS. Go we to our tent.
The blood upon your visage dries; 'tis time
It should be look'd to. Come. Exeunt
The camp of the Volsces
A flourish. Cornets. Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS bloody, with two or
AUFIDIUS. The town is ta'en.
FIRST SOLDIER. 'Twill be deliver'd back on good condition.
I would I were a Roman; for I cannot,
Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition?
What good condition can a treaty find
I' th' part that is at mercy? Five times, Marcius,
I have fought with thee; so often hast thou beat me;
And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter
As often as we eat. By th' elements,
If e'er again I meet him beard to beard,
He's mine or I am his. Mine emulation
Hath not that honour in't it had; for where
I thought to crush him in an equal force,
True sword to sword, I'll potch at him some way,
Or wrath or craft may get him.
FIRST SOLDIER. He's the devil.
AUFIDIUS. Bolder, though not so subtle. My valour's poison'd
With only suff'ring stain by him; for him
Shall fly out of itself. Nor sleep nor sanctuary,
Being naked, sick, nor fane nor Capitol,
The prayers of priests nor times of sacrifice,
Embarquements all of fury, shall lift up
Their rotten privilege and custom 'gainst
My hate to Marcius. Where I find him, were it
At home, upon my brother's guard, even there,
Against the hospitable canon, would I
Wash my fierce hand in's heart. Go you to th' city;
Learn how 'tis held, and what they are that must
Be hostages for Rome.
FIRST SOLDIER. Will not you go?
AUFIDIUS. I am attended at the cypress grove; I pray you-
'Tis south the city mills- bring me word thither
How the world goes, that to the pace of it
I may spur on my journey.
FIRST SOLDIER. I shall, sir. Exeunt
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ACT II. SCENE I.
Rome. A public place
Enter MENENIUS, with the two Tribunes of the people, SICINIUS and
MENENIUS. The augurer tells me we shall have news tonight.
BRUTUS. Good or bad?
MENENIUS. Not according to the prayer of the people, for they
SICINIUS. Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.
MENENIUS. Pray you, who does the wolf love?
SICINIUS. The lamb.
MENENIUS. Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians would the
BRUTUS. He's a lamb indeed, that baas like a bear.
MENENIUS. He's a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You two
old men; tell me one thing that I shall ask you.
BOTH TRIBUNES. Well, sir.
MENENIUS. In what enormity is Marcius poor in that you two have
BRUTUS. He's poor in no one fault, but stor'd with all.
SICINIUS. Especially in pride.
BRUTUS. And topping all others in boasting.
MENENIUS. This is strange now. Do you two know how you are
here in the city- I mean of us o' th' right-hand file? Do
BOTH TRIBUNES. Why, how are we censur'd?
MENENIUS. Because you talk of pride now- will you not be angry?
BOTH TRIBUNES. Well, well, sir, well.
MENENIUS. Why, 'tis no great matter; for a very little thief of
occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience. Give your
dispositions the reins, and be angry at your pleasures- at
least, if you take it as a pleasure to you in being so. You
Marcius for being proud?
BRUTUS. We do it not alone, sir.
MENENIUS. I know you can do very little alone; for your helps
many, or else your actions would grow wondrous single: your
abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone. You talk
pride. O that you could turn your eyes toward the napes of
necks, and make but an interior survey of your good selves! O
that you could!
BOTH TRIBUNES. What then, sir?
MENENIUS. Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,
proud, violent, testy magistrates-alias fools- as any in
SICINIUS. Menenius, you are known well enough too.
MENENIUS. I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that
a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying Tiber in't;
be something imperfect in favouring the first complaint,
and tinder-like upon too trivial motion; one that converses
with the buttock of the night than with the forehead of the
morning. What I think I utter, and spend my malice in my
Meeting two such wealsmen as you are- I cannot call you
Lycurguses- if the drink you give me touch my palate
make a crooked face at it. I cannot say your worships have
deliver'd the matter well, when I find the ass in compound
the major part of your syllables; and though I must be
bear with those that say you are reverend grave men, yet they
deadly that tell you you have good faces. If you see this in
map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known well enough
What harm can your bisson conspectuities glean out of this
character, if I be known well enough too?
BRUTUS. Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.
MENENIUS. You know neither me, yourselves, nor any thing. You
ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs; you wear out a good
wholesome forenoon in hearing a cause between an orange-wife
a fosset-seller, and then rejourn the controversy of
to a second day of audience. When you are hearing a matter
between party and party, if you chance to be pinch'd with the
colic, you make faces like mummers, set up the bloody flag
against all patience, and, in roaring for a chamber-pot,
the controversy bleeding, the more entangled by your hearing.
the peace you make in their cause is calling both the parties
knaves. You are a pair of strange ones.
BRUTUS. Come, come, you are well understood to be a perfecter
for the table than a necessary bencher in the Capitol.
MENENIUS. Our very priests must become mockers, if they shall
encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When you speak
best unto the purpose, it is not worth the wagging of your
beards; and your beards deserve not so honourable a grave as
stuff a botcher's cushion or to be entomb'd in an ass's
pack-saddle. Yet you must be saying Marcius is proud; who, in
cheap estimation, is worth all your predecessors since
though peradventure some of the best of 'em were hereditary
hangmen. God-den to your worships. More of your conversation
would infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly
plebeians. I will be bold to take my leave of you.
[BRUTUS and SICINIUS go aside]
Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, and VALERIA
How now, my as fair as noble ladies- and the moon, were she
earthly, no nobler- whither do you follow your eyes so fast?
VOLUMNIA. Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; for
love of Juno, let's go.
MENENIUS. Ha! Marcius coming home?
VOLUMNIA. Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous
MENENIUS. Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!
Marcius coming home!
VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA. Nay, 'tis true.
VOLUMNIA. Look, here's a letter from him; the state hath
his wife another; and I think there's one at home for you.
MENENIUS. I will make my very house reel to-night. A letter for
VIRGILIA. Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw't.
MENENIUS. A letter for me! It gives me an estate of seven
health; in which time I will make a lip at the physician. The
most sovereign prescription in Galen is but empiricutic and,
this preservative, of no better report than a horse-drench.
not wounded? He was wont to come home wounded.
VIRGILIA. O, no, no, no.
VOLUMNIA. O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for't.
MENENIUS. So do I too, if it be not too much. Brings a victory
his pocket? The wounds become him.
VOLUMNIA. On's brows, Menenius, he comes the third time home
the oaken garland.
MENENIUS. Has he disciplin'd Aufidius soundly?
VOLUMNIA. Titus Lartius writes they fought together, but
MENENIUS. And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him that; an
had stay'd by him, I would not have been so fidius'd for all
chests in Corioli and the gold that's in them. Is the Senate
possess'd of this?
VOLUMNIA. Good ladies, let's go. Yes, yes, yes: the Senate has
letters from the general, wherein he gives my son the whole
of the war; he hath in this action outdone his former deeds
VALERIA. In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.
MENENIUS. Wondrous! Ay, I warrant you, and not without his true
VIRGILIA. The gods grant them true!
VOLUMNIA. True! pow, waw.
MENENIUS. True! I'll be sworn they are true. Where is he
[To the TRIBUNES] God save your good worships! Marcius is
home; he has more cause to be proud. Where is he wounded?
VOLUMNIA. I' th' shoulder and i' th' left arm; there will be
cicatrices to show the people when he shall stand for his
He received in the repulse of Tarquin seven hurts i' th'
MENENIUS. One i' th' neck and two i' th' thigh- there's nine
VOLUMNIA. He had before this last expedition twenty-five wounds
MENENIUS. Now it's twenty-seven; every gash was an enemy's
[A shout and flourish] Hark! the trumpets.
VOLUMNIA. These are the ushers of Marcius. Before him he
noise, and behind him he leaves tears;
Death, that dark spirit, in's nervy arm doth lie,
Which, being advanc'd, declines, and then men die.
A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter COMINIUS the
GENERAL, and TITUS LARTIUS; between them,
CORIOLANUS, crown'd with an oaken garland; with
CAPTAINS and soldiers and a HERALD
HERALD. Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight
Within Corioli gates, where he hath won,
With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these
In honour follows Coriolanus.
Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus! [Flourish]
ALL. Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
CORIOLANUS. No more of this, it does offend my heart.
Pray now, no more.
COMINIUS. Look, sir, your mother!
You have, I know, petition'd all the gods
For my prosperity! [Kneels]
VOLUMNIA. Nay, my good soldier, up;
My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and
By deed-achieving honour newly nam'd-
What is it? Coriolanus must I call thee?
But, O, thy wife!
CORIOLANUS. My gracious silence, hail!
Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home,
That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,
Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
And mothers that lack sons.
MENENIUS. Now the gods crown thee!
CORIOLANUS. And live you yet? [To VALERIA] O my sweet lady,
VOLUMNIA. I know not where to turn.
O, welcome home! And welcome, General.
And y'are welcome all.
MENENIUS. A hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep
And I could laugh; I am light and heavy. Welcome!
A curse begin at very root on's heart
That is not glad to see thee! You are three
That Rome should dote on; yet, by the faith of men,
We have some old crab trees here at home that will not
Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors.
We call a nettle but a nettle, and
The faults of fools but folly.
COMINIUS. Ever right.
CORIOLANUS. Menenius ever, ever.
HERALD. Give way there, and go on.
CORIOLANUS. [To his wife and mother] Your hand, and yours.
Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
The good patricians must be visited;
From whom I have receiv'd not only greetings,
But with them change of honours.
VOLUMNIA. I have lived
To see inherited my very wishes,
And the buildings of my fancy; only
There's one thing wanting, which I doubt not but
Our Rome will cast upon thee.
CORIOLANUS. Know, good mother,
I had rather be their servant in my way
Than sway with them in theirs.
COMINIUS. On, to the Capitol.
[Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before]
BRUTUS and SICINIUS come forward
BRUTUS. All tongues speak of him and the bleared sights
Are spectacled to see him. Your prattling nurse
Into a rapture lets her baby cry
While she chats him; the kitchen malkin pins
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck,
Clamb'ring the walls to eye him; stalls, bulks, windows,
Are smother'd up, leads fill'd and ridges hors'd
With variable complexions, all agreeing
In earnestness to see him. Seld-shown flamens
Do press among the popular throngs and puff
To win a vulgar station; our veil'd dames
Commit the war of white and damask in
Their nicely gawded cheeks to th' wanton spoil
Of Phoebus' burning kisses. Such a pother,
As if that whatsoever god who leads him
Were slily crept into his human powers,
And gave him graceful posture.
SICINIUS. On the sudden
I warrant him consul.
BRUTUS. Then our office may
During his power go sleep.
SICINIUS. He cannot temp'rately transport his honours
From where he should begin and end, but will
Lose those he hath won.
BRUTUS. In that there's comfort.
SICINIUS. Doubt not
The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
Upon their ancient malice will forget
With the least cause these his new honours; which
That he will give them make our as little question
As he is proud to do't.
BRUTUS. I heard him swear,
Were he to stand for consul, never would he
Appear i' th' market-place, nor on him put
The napless vesture of humility;
Nor, showing, as the manner is, his wounds
To th' people, beg their stinking breaths.
SICINIUS. 'Tis right.
BRUTUS. It was his word. O, he would miss it rather
Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him
And the desire of the nobles.
SICINIUS. I wish no better
Than have him hold that purpose, and to put it
BRUTUS. 'Tis most like he will.
SICINIUS. It shall be to him then as our good wills:
A sure destruction.
BRUTUS. So it must fall out
To him or our authorities. For an end,
We must suggest the people in what hatred
He still hath held them; that to's power he would
Have made them mules, silenc'd their pleaders, and
Dispropertied their freedoms; holding them
In human action and capacity
Of no more soul nor fitness for the world
Than camels in their war, who have their provand
Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows
For sinking under them.
SICINIUS. This, as you say, suggested
At some time when his soaring insolence
Shall touch the people- which time shall not want,
If he be put upon't, and that's as easy
As to set dogs on sheep- will be his fire
To kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze
Shall darken him for ever.
Enter A MESSENGER
BRUTUS. What's the matter?
MESSENGER. You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought
That Marcius shall be consul.
I have seen the dumb men throng to see him and
The blind to hear him speak; matrons flung gloves,
Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers,
Upon him as he pass'd; the nobles bended
As to Jove's statue, and the commons made
A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts.
I never saw the like.
BRUTUS. Let's to the Capitol,
And carry with us ears and eyes for th' time,
But hearts for the event.
SICINIUS. Have with you. Exeunt
Rome. The Capitol
Enter two OFFICERS, to lay cushions, as it were in the Capitol
FIRST OFFICER. Come, come, they are almost here. How many stand
SECOND OFFICER. Three, they say; but 'tis thought of every one
Coriolanus will carry it.
FIRST OFFICER. That's a brave fellow; but he's vengeance proud
loves not the common people.
SECOND OFFICER. Faith, there have been many great men that have
flatter'd the people, who ne'er loved them; and there be many
that they have loved, they know not wherefore; so that, if
love they know not why, they hate upon no better a ground.
Therefore, for Coriolanus neither to care whether they love
hate him manifests the true knowledge he has in their
disposition, and out of his noble carelessness lets them
FIRST OFFICER. If he did not care whether he had their love or
he waved indifferently 'twixt doing them neither good nor
but he seeks their hate with greater devotion than they can
render it him, and leaves nothing undone that may fully
him their opposite. Now to seem to affect the malice and
displeasure of the people is as bad as that which he
flatter them for their love.
SECOND OFFICER. He hath deserved worthily of his country; and
ascent is not by such easy degrees as those who, having been
supple and courteous to the people, bonneted, without any
deed to have them at all, into their estimation and report;
he hath so planted his honours in their eyes and his actions
their hearts that for their tongues to be silent and not
so much were a kind of ingrateful injury; to report otherwise
were a malice that, giving itself the lie, would pluck
and rebuke from every ear that heard it.
FIRST OFFICER. No more of him; he's a worthy man. Make way,
A sennet. Enter the PATRICIANS and the TRIBUNES
OF THE PEOPLE, LICTORS before them; CORIOLANUS,
MENENIUS, COMINIUS the Consul. SICINIUS and
BRUTUS take their places by themselves.
MENENIUS. Having determin'd of the Volsces, and
To send for Titus Lartius, it remains,
As the main point of this our after-meeting,
To gratify his noble service that
Hath thus stood for his country. Therefore please you,
Most reverend and grave elders, to desire
The present consul and last general
In our well-found successes to report
A little of that worthy work perform'd
By Caius Marcius Coriolanus; whom
We met here both to thank and to remember
With honours like himself. [CORIOLANUS sits]
FIRST SENATOR. Speak, good Cominius.
Leave nothing out for length, and make us think
Rather our state's defective for requital
Than we to stretch it out. Masters o' th' people,
We do request your kindest ears; and, after,
Your loving motion toward the common body,
To yield what passes here.
SICINIUS. We are convented
Upon a pleasing treaty, and have hearts
Inclinable to honour and advance
The theme of our assembly.
BRUTUS. Which the rather
We shall be bless'd to do, if he remember
A kinder value of the people than
He hath hereto priz'd them at.
MENENIUS. That's off, that's off;
I would you rather had been silent. Please you
To hear Cominius speak?
BRUTUS. Most willingly.
But yet my caution was more pertinent
Than the rebuke you give it.
MENENIUS. He loves your people;
But tie him not to be their bedfellow.
Worthy Cominius, speak.
[CORIOLANUS rises, and offers to go away]
Nay, keep your place.
FIRST SENATOR. Sit, Coriolanus, never shame to hear
What you have nobly done.
CORIOLANUS. Your Honours' pardon.
I had rather have my wounds to heal again
Than hear say how I got them.
BRUTUS. Sir, I hope
My words disbench'd you not.
CORIOLANUS. No, sir; yet oft,
When blows have made me stay, I fled from words.
You sooth'd not, therefore hurt not. But your people,
I love them as they weigh-
MENENIUS. Pray now, sit down.
CORIOLANUS. I had rather have one scratch my head i' th' sun
When the alarum were struck than idly sit
To hear my nothings monster'd. Exit
MENENIUS. Masters of the people,
Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter-
That's thousand to one good one- when you now see
He had rather venture all his limbs for honour
Than one on's ears to hear it? Proceed, Cominius.
COMINIUS. I shall lack voice; the deeds of Coriolanus
Should not be utter'd feebly. It is held
That valour is the chiefest virtue and
Most dignifies the haver. If it be,
The man I speak of cannot in the world
Be singly counterpois'd. At sixteen years,
When Tarquin made a head for Rome, he fought
Beyond the mark of others; our then Dictator,
Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight
When with his Amazonian chin he drove
The bristled lips before him; he bestrid
An o'erpress'd Roman and i' th' consul's view
Slew three opposers; Tarquin's self he met,
And struck him on his knee. In that day's feats,
When he might act the woman in the scene,
He prov'd best man i' th' field, and for his meed
Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age
Man-ent'red thus, he waxed like a sea,
And in the brunt of seventeen battles since
He lurch'd all swords of the garland. For this last,
Before and in Corioli, let me say
I cannot speak him home. He stopp'd the fliers,
And by his rare example made the coward
Turn terror into sport; as weeds before
A vessel under sail, so men obey'd
And fell below his stem. His sword, death's stamp,
Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot
He was a thing of blood, whose every motion
Was tim'd with dying cries. Alone he ent'red
The mortal gate of th' city, which he painted
With shunless destiny; aidless came off,
And with a sudden re-enforcement struck
Corioli like a planet. Now all's his.
When by and by the din of war 'gan pierce
His ready sense, then straight his doubled spirit
Re-quick'ned what in flesh was fatigate,
And to the battle came he; where he did
Run reeking o'er the lives of men, as if
'Twere a perpetual spoil; and till we call'd
Both field and city ours he never stood
To ease his breast with panting.
MENENIUS. Worthy man!
FIRST SENATOR. He cannot but with measure fit the honours
Which we devise him.
COMINIUS. Our spoils he kick'd at,
And look'd upon things precious as they were
The common muck of the world. He covets less
Than misery itself would give, rewards
His deeds with doing them, and is content
To spend the time to end it.
MENENIUS. He's right noble;
Let him be call'd for.
FIRST SENATOR. Call Coriolanus.
OFFICER. He doth appear.
MENENIUS. The Senate, Coriolanus, are well pleas'd
To make thee consul.
CORIOLANUS. I do owe them still
My life and services.
MENENIUS. It then remains
That you do speak to the people.
CORIOLANUS. I do beseech you
Let me o'erleap that custom; for I cannot
Put on the gown, stand naked, and entreat them
For my wounds' sake to give their suffrage. Please you
That I may pass this doing.
SICINIUS. Sir, the people
Must have their voices; neither will they bate
One jot of ceremony.
MENENIUS. Put them not to't.
Pray you go fit you to the custom, and
Take to you, as your predecessors have,
Your honour with your form.
CORIOLANUS. It is a part
That I shall blush in acting, and might well
Be taken from the people.
BRUTUS. Mark you that?
CORIOLANUS. To brag unto them 'Thus I did, and thus!'
Show them th' unaching scars which I should hide,
As if I had receiv'd them for the hire
Of their breath only!
MENENIUS. Do not stand upon't.
We recommend to you, Tribunes of the People,
Our purpose to them; and to our noble consul
Wish we all joy and honour.
SENATORS. To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!
[Flourish. Cornets. Then exeunt all
but SICINIUS and BRUTUS]
BRUTUS. You see how he intends to use the people.
SICINIUS. May they perceive's intent! He will require them
As if he did contemn what he requested
Should be in them to give.
BRUTUS. Come, we'll inform them
Of our proceedings here. On th' market-place
I know they do attend us. Exeunt
Rome. The Forum
Enter seven or eight citizens
FIRST CITIZEN. Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not
SECOND CITIZEN. We may, sir, if we will.
THIRD CITIZEN. We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a
power that we have no power to do; for if he show us his
and tell us his deeds, we are to put our tongues into those
wounds and speak for them; so, if he tell us his noble deeds,
must also tell him our noble acceptance of them. Ingratitude
monstrous, and for the multitude to be ingrateful were to
monster of the multitude; of the which we being members
bring ourselves to be monstrous members.
FIRST CITIZEN. And to make us no better thought of, a little
will serve; for once we stood up about the corn, he himself
not to call us the many-headed multitude.
THIRD CITIZEN. We have been call'd so of many; not that our
are some brown, some black, some auburn, some bald, but that
wits are so diversely colour'd; and truly I think if all our
were to issue out of one skull, they would fly east, west,
south, and their consent of one direct way should be at once
all the points o' th' compass.
SECOND CITIZEN. Think you so? Which way do you judge my wit
THIRD CITIZEN. Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another
will- 'tis strongly wedg'd up in a block-head; but if it were
liberty 'twould sure southward.
SECOND CITIZEN. Why that way?
THIRD CITIZEN. To lose itself in a fog; where being three parts
melted away with rotten dews, the fourth would return for
conscience' sake, to help to get thee a wife.
SECOND CITIZEN. You are never without your tricks; you may, you
THIRD CITIZEN. Are you all resolv'd to give your voices? But
no matter, the greater part carries it. I say, if he would
incline to the people, there was never a worthier man.
Enter CORIOLANUS, in a gown of humility,
Here he comes, and in the gown of humility. Mark his
We are not to stay all together, but to come by him where he
stands, by ones, by twos, and by threes. He's to make his
requests by particulars, wherein every one of us has a single
honour, in giving him our own voices with our own tongues;
therefore follow me, and I'll direct you how you shall go by
ALL. Content, content. Exeunt citizens
MENENIUS. O sir, you are not right; have you not known
The worthiest men have done't?
CORIOLANUS. What must I say?
'I pray, sir'- Plague upon't! I cannot bring
My tongue to such a pace. 'Look, sir, my wounds
I got them in my country's service, when
Some certain of your brethren roar'd and ran
From th' noise of our own drums.'
MENENIUS. O me, the gods!
You must not speak of that. You must desire them
To think upon you.
CORIOLANUS. Think upon me? Hang 'em!
I would they would forget me, like the virtues
Which our divines lose by 'em.
MENENIUS. You'll mar all.
I'll leave you. Pray you speak to 'em, I pray you,
In wholesome manner. Exit
Re-enter three of the citizens
CORIOLANUS. Bid them wash their faces
And keep their teeth clean. So, here comes a brace.
You know the cause, sir, of my standing here.
THIRD CITIZEN. We do, sir; tell us what hath brought you to't.
CORIOLANUS. Mine own desert.
SECOND CITIZEN. Your own desert?
CORIOLANUS. Ay, not mine own desire.
THIRD CITIZEN. How, not your own desire?
CORIOLANUS. No, sir, 'twas never my desire yet to trouble the
THIRD CITIZEN. You must think, if we give you anything, we hope
gain by you.
CORIOLANUS. Well then, I pray, your price o' th' consulship?
FIRST CITIZEN. The price is to ask it kindly.
CORIOLANUS. Kindly, sir, I pray let me ha't. I have wounds to
you, which shall be yours in private. Your good voice, sir;
SECOND CITIZEN. You shall ha' it, worthy sir.
CORIOLANUS. A match, sir. There's in all two worthy voices
I have your alms. Adieu.
THIRD CITIZEN. But this is something odd.
SECOND CITIZEN. An 'twere to give again- but 'tis no matter.
Exeunt the three citizens
Re-enter two other citizens
CORIOLANUS. Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your
voices that I may be consul, I have here the customary gown.
FOURTH CITIZEN. You have deserved nobly of your country, and
have not deserved nobly.
CORIOLANUS. Your enigma?
FOURTH CITIZEN. You have been a scourge to her enemies; you
been a rod to her friends. You have not indeed loved the
CORIOLANUS. You should account me the more virtuous, that I
not been common in my love. I will, sir, flatter my sworn
brother, the people, to earn a dearer estimation of them;
condition they account gentle; and since the wisdom of their
choice is rather to have my hat than my heart, I will
the insinuating nod and be off to them most counterfeitly.
is, sir, I will counterfeit the bewitchment of some popular
and give it bountiful to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you
may be consul.
FIFTH CITIZEN. We hope to find you our friend; and therefore
you our voices heartily.
FOURTH CITIZEN. You have received many wounds for your country.
CORIOLANUS. I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I
will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no farther.
BOTH CITIZENS. The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!
CORIOLANUS. Most sweet voices!
Better it is to die, better to starve,
Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.
Why in this wolvish toge should I stand here
To beg of Hob and Dick that do appear
Their needless vouches? Custom calls me to't.
What custom wills, in all things should we do't,
The dust on antique time would lie unswept,
And mountainous error be too highly heap'd
For truth to o'erpeer. Rather than fool it so,
Let the high office and the honour go
To one that would do thus. I am half through:
The one part suffered, the other will I do.
Re-enter three citizens more
Here come more voices.
Your voices. For your voices I have fought;
Watch'd for your voices; for your voices bear
Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six
I have seen and heard of; for your voices have
Done many things, some less, some more. Your voices?
Indeed, I would be consul.
SIXTH CITIZEN. He has done nobly, and cannot go without any
SEVENTH CITIZEN. Therefore let him be consul. The gods give him
joy, and make him good friend to the people!
ALL. Amen, amen. God save thee, noble consul!
CORIOLANUS. Worthy voices!
Re-enter MENENIUS with BRUTUS and SICINIUS
MENENIUS. You have stood your limitation, and the tribunes
Endue you with the people's voice. Remains
That, in th' official marks invested, you
Anon do meet the Senate.
CORIOLANUS. Is this done?
SICINIUS. The custom of request you have discharg'd.
The people do admit you, and are summon'd
To meet anon, upon your approbation.
CORIOLANUS. Where? At the Senate House?
SICINIUS. There, Coriolanus.
CORIOLANUS. May I change these garments?
SICINIUS. You may, sir.
CORIOLANUS. That I'll straight do, and, knowing myself again,
Repair to th' Senate House.
MENENIUS. I'll keep you company. Will you along?
BRUTUS. We stay here for the people.
SICINIUS. Fare you well.
Exeunt CORIOLANUS and MENENIUS
He has it now; and by his looks methinks
'Tis warm at's heart.
BRUTUS. With a proud heart he wore
His humble weeds. Will you dismiss the people?
SICINIUS. How now, my masters! Have you chose this man?
FIRST CITIZEN. He has our voices, sir.
BRUTUS. We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.
SECOND CITIZEN. Amen, sir. To my poor unworthy notice,
He mock'd us when he begg'd our voices.
THIRD CITIZEN. Certainly;
He flouted us downright.
FIRST CITIZEN. No, 'tis his kind of speech- he did not mock us.
SECOND CITIZEN. Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says
He us'd us scornfully. He should have show'd us
His marks of merit, wounds receiv'd for's country.
SICINIUS. Why, so he did, I am sure.
ALL. No, no; no man saw 'em.
THIRD CITIZEN. He said he had wounds which he could show in
And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
'I would be consul,' says he; 'aged custom
But by your voices will not so permit me;
Your voices therefore.' When we granted that,
Here was 'I thank you for your voices. Thank you,
Your most sweet voices. Now you have left your voices,
I have no further with you.' Was not this mockery?
SICINIUS. Why either were you ignorant to see't,
Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness
To yield your voices?
BRUTUS. Could you not have told him-
As you were lesson'd- when he had no power
But was a petty servant to the state,
He was your enemy; ever spake against
Your liberties and the charters that you bear
I' th' body of the weal; and now, arriving
A place of potency and sway o' th' state,
If he should still malignantly remain
Fast foe to th' plebeii, your voices might
Be curses to yourselves? You should have said
That as his worthy deeds did claim no less
Than what he stood for, so his gracious nature
Would think upon you for your voices, and
Translate his malice towards you into love,
Standing your friendly lord.
SICINIUS. Thus to have said,
As you were fore-advis'd, had touch'd his spirit
And tried his inclination; from him pluck'd
Either his gracious promise, which you might,
As cause had call'd you up, have held him to;
Or else it would have gall'd his surly nature,
Which easily endures not article
Tying him to aught. So, putting him to rage,
You should have ta'en th' advantage of his choler
And pass'd him unelected.
BRUTUS. Did you perceive
He did solicit you in free contempt
When he did need your loves; and do you think
That his contempt shall not be bruising to you
When he hath power to crush? Why, had your bodies
No heart among you? Or had you tongues to cry
Against the rectorship of judgment?
SICINIUS. Have you
Ere now denied the asker, and now again,
Of him that did not ask but mock, bestow
Your su'd-for tongues?
THIRD CITIZEN. He's not confirm'd: we may deny him yet.
SECOND CITIZENS. And will deny him;
I'll have five hundred voices of that sound.
FIRST CITIZEN. I twice five hundred, and their friends to piece
BRUTUS. Get you hence instantly, and tell those friends
They have chose a consul that will from them take
Their liberties, make them of no more voice
Than dogs, that are as often beat for barking
As therefore kept to do so.
SICINIUS. Let them assemble;
And, on a safer judgment, all revoke
Your ignorant election. Enforce his pride
And his old hate unto you; besides, forget not
With what contempt he wore the humble weed;
How in his suit he scorn'd you; but your loves,
Thinking upon his services, took from you
Th' apprehension of his present portance,
Which, most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion
After the inveterate hate he bears you.
A fault on us, your tribunes, that we labour'd,
No impediment between, but that you must
Cast your election on him.
SICINIUS. Say you chose him
More after our commandment than as guided
By your own true affections; and that your minds,
Pre-occupied with what you rather must do
Than what you should, made you against the grain
To voice him consul. Lay the fault on us.
BRUTUS. Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you,
How youngly he began to serve his country,
How long continued; and what stock he springs of-
The noble house o' th' Marcians; from whence came
That Ancus Marcius, Numa's daughter's son,
Who, after great Hostilius, here was king;
Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,
That our best water brought by conduits hither;
And Censorinus, nobly named so,
Twice being by the people chosen censor,
Was his great ancestor.
SICINIUS. One thus descended,
That hath beside well in his person wrought
To be set high in place, we did commend
To your remembrances; but you have found,
Scaling his present bearing with his past,
That he's your fixed enemy, and revoke
Your sudden approbation.
BRUTUS. Say you ne'er had done't-
Harp on that still- but by our putting on;
And presently, when you have drawn your number,
Repair to th' Capitol.
CITIZENS. We will so; almost all
Repent in their election. Exeunt plebeians
BRUTUS. Let them go on;
This mutiny were better put in hazard
Than stay, past doubt, for greater.
If, as his nature is, he fall in rage
With their refusal, both observe and answer
The vantage of his anger.
SICINIUS. To th' Capitol, come.
We will be there before the stream o' th' people;
And this shall seem, as partly 'tis, their own,
Which we have goaded onward. Exeunt
ACT III. SCENE I.
Rome. A street
Cornets. Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, all the GENTRY, COMINIUS,
TITUS LARTIUS, and other SENATORS
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