The Tragedy of Coriolanus
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DRAMATIS PERSONAE (Persons Represented):
- CAIUS MARCIUS CORIOLANUS, a noble Roman
- TITUS LARTIUS, General against the Volscians
- COMINIUS, General against the Volscians
- MENENIUS AGRIPPA, Friend to Coriolanus
- SICINIUS VELUTUS, Tribune of the People
- JUNIUS BRUTUS, Tribune of the People
- YOUNG MARCIUS, son to Coriolanus
- A ROMAN HERALD
- TULLUS AUFIDIUS, General of the Volscians
- LIEUTENANT, to Aufidius
- Conspirators with Aufidius
- A CITIZEN of Antium
- TWO VOLSCIAN GUARDS
- VOLUMNIA, Mother to Coriolanus
- VIRGILIA, Wife to Coriolanus
- VALERIA, Friend to Virgilia
- GENTLEWOMAN attending on Virgilia
- Roman and Volscian Senators, Patricians, Aediles, Lictors,
- Soldiers, Citizens, Messengers, Servants to Aufidius, and other
SCENE: Partly in Rome, and partly in the territories of the Volscians and Antiates.
- 1 ACT I.
- 1.1 SCENE I. Rome. A street.
- 1.2 SCENE II. Corioli. The Senate House.
- 1.3 SCENE III. Rome. An apartment in MARCIUS' house.
- 1.4 SCENE IV. Before Corioli.
- 1.5 SCENE V. Within Corioli. A street.
- 1.6 SCENE VI. Near the camp of COMINIUS.
- 1.7 SCENE VII. The gates of Corioli.
- 1.8 SCENE VIII. A field of battle between the Roman and the Volscian camps.
- 1.9 SCENE IX. The Roman camp.
- 1.10 SCENE X. The camp of the Volsces.
- 2 ACT II.
- 3 ACT III.
- 4 ACT IV.
- 4.1 SCENE I. Rome. Before a gate of the city.
- 4.2 SCENE II. Rome. A street near the gate.
- 4.3 SCENE III. A highway between Rome and Antium.
- 4.4 SCENE IV. Antium. Before AUFIDIUS'S house.
- 4.5 SCENE V. Antium. A hall in AUFIDIUS'S house.
- 4.6 SCENE VI. Rome. A public place.
- 4.7 SCENE VII. A camp at a short distance from Rome.
- 5 ACT V.
SCENE I. Rome. A street.
[Enter a company of mutinous citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons.]
- Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.
- Speak, speak.
- You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?
- Resolved, resolved.
- First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.
- We know't, we know't.
- Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is't a
- No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!
- One word, good citizens.
- We are accounted poor citizens; the patricians good.
- What authority surfeits on would relieve us; if they would yield
- us but the superfluity, while it were wholesome, we might guess
- they relieved us humanely; but they think we are too dear: the
- leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an
- inventory to particularize their abundance; our sufferance is a
- gain to them.—Let us revenge this with our pikes ere we become
- rakes: for the gods know I speak this in hunger for bread, not in
- thirst for revenge.
- Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?
- Against him first: he's a very dog to the commonalty.
- Consider you what services he has done for his country?
- Very well; and could be content to give him good report for't,
- but that he pays himself with being proud.
- Nay, but speak not maliciously.
- I say unto you, what he hath done famously he did it to that end:
- though soft-conscienced men can be content to say it 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 virtue.
- What he cannot help in his nature you account a vice in him. You
- must in no way say he is covetous.
- If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations; he hath
- faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition. [Shouts within.]
- What shouts are these? The other side o' the city is risen: why
- stay we prating here? to the Capitol!
- Come, come.
- Soft! who comes here?
- Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved the people.
- He's one honest enough; would all the rest were so!
[Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA.]
- What work's, my countrymen, in hand? where go you
- With bats and clubs? the matter? speak, I pray you.
- Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have had inkling
- this fortnight what we intend to do, which now we'll show 'em in
- deeds. They say poor suitors have strong breaths; they shall know
- we have strong arms too.
- Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,
- Will you undo yourselves?
- We cannot, sir; we are undone already.
- 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.
- Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us yet. Suffer us
- to famish, and their storehouses crammed with grain; make edicts
- for usury, to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act
- established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes
- daily to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not
- up, they will; and there's all the love they bear us.
- 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.
- Well, I'll hear it, sir; yet you must not think to fob off our
- disgrace with a tale: but, an't please you, deliver.
- 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' the midst o' the 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 answered,—
- Well, sir, what answer made the belly?
- 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 the 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.
- 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,—
- What then?—
- 'Fore me, this fellow speaks!—what then? what then?
- Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,
- Who is the sink o' the body,—
- Well, what then?
- The former agents, if they did complain,
- What could the belly answer?
- I will tell you;
- If you'll bestow a small,—of what you have little,—
- Patience awhile, you'll hear the belly's answer.
- You are long about it.
- Note me this, good friend;
- Your most grave belly was deliberate,
- Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer'd:
- '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 the seat o' the 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,—
- Ay, sir; well, well.
- '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?
- It was an answer: how apply you this?
- 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' the 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?
- I the great toe? why the great toe?
- For that, being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest,
- Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st 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!
- Thanks.—What's the matter, you dissentious rogues
- That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
- Make yourselves scabs?
- We have ever your good word.
- 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 ic,
- 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?
- For corn at their own rates; whereof they say
- The city is well stor'd.
- Hang 'em! They say!
- They'll sit by th' fire and presume to know
- What's done i' the 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.
- 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?
- They are dissolved: 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' the moon,
- Shouting their emulation.
- What is granted them?
- 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.
- This is strange.
- Go get you home, you fragments!
[Enter a MESSENGER, hastily.]
- Where's Caius Marcius?
- Here: what's the matter?
- The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.
- I am glad on't: then we shall ha' means to vent
- Our musty superfluity.—See, our best elders.
[Enter COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other SENATORS; JUNIUS BRUTUS
- and SICINIUS VELUTUS.]
- Marcius, 'tis true that you have lately told us:—
- The Volsces are in arms.
- 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.
- You have fought together.
- Were half to half the world by the 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.
- Then, worthy Marcius,
- Attend upon Cominius to these wars.
- It is your former promise.
- 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?
- No, Caius Marcius;
- I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with the other
- Ere stay behind this business.
- O, true bred!
- Your company to the Capitol; where, I know,
- Our greatest friends attend us.
- Lead you on.
- Follow, Cominius; we must follow you;
- Right worthy your priority.
- Noble Marcius!
- Hence to your homes; be gone!
[To the Citizens.]
- 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.
[Exeunt Senators, COM., MAR, TIT., and MENEN. Citizens steal
- Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?
- He has no equal.
- When we were chosen tribunes for the people,—
- Mark'd you his lip and eyes?
- Nay, but his taunts!
- Being mov'd, he will not spare to gird the gods.
- Bemock the modest moon.
- The present wars devour him: he is grown
- Too proud to be so valiant.
- 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
- Under Cominius.
- 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!'
- 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.
- Let's hence and hear
- How the dispatch is made; and in what fashion,
- More than in singularity, he goes
- Upon this present action.
- Let's along.
SCENE II. Corioli. The Senate House.
[Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS and certain SENATORS.]
- So, your opinion is, Aufidius,
- That they of Rome are enter'd in our counsels
- And know how we proceed.
- 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:
- 'They have pressed 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.'
- Our army's in the field:
- We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready
- To answer us.
- 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 shorten'd in our aim; which was,
- To take in many towns ere, almost, Rome
- Should know we were afoot.
- 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
- They've not prepared for us.
- 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.
- The gods assist you!
- And keep your honours safe!
SCENE III. Rome. An apartment in MARCIUS' house.
[Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA; they sit down on two low stools and sew.]
- I pray you, daughter, sing, or express yourself in a more
- comfortable sort; if my son were my husband, I should freelier
- rejoice in that absence wherein he won honour than in the
- embracements of his bed where he would show most love. When yet
- he was but tender-bodied, and the only son of my womb; when youth
- with comeliness pluck'd all gaze his way; when, for a day of
- kings' entreaties, a mother should not sell him an hour from her
- beholding; I,—considering how honour would become such a person;
- that it was no better than picture-like to hang by th' wall if
- renown made it not stir;—was pleased to let him seek danger
- where he was to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence
- he returned his brows bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I
- sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child than
- now in first seeing he had proved himself a man.
- But had he died in the business, madam? how then?
- Then his good report should have been my son; I therein
- would have found issue. Hear me profess sincerely,—had I a dozen
- sons, each in my love alike, and none less dear than thine and my
- good Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country
- than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.
[Enter a GENTLEWOMAN.]
- Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.
- Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.
- Indeed you shall not.
- Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum;
- See him pluck Aufidius down by the 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 tasked to mow
- Or all, or lose his hire.
- His bloody brow! O Jupiter, no blood!
- Away, you fool! It more becomes a man
- Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba,
- When she did suckle Hector, looked not lovelier
- Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood
- At Grecian swords contending.—Tell Valeria
- We are fit to bid her welcome.
- Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!
- He'll beat Aufidius' head below his knee,
- And tread upon his neck.
[Re-enter GENTLEWOMAN, with VALERIA and her Usher.]
- My ladies both, good-day to you.
- Sweet madam.
- I am glad to see your ladyship.
- How do you both? you are manifest housekeepers. What are
- you sewing here? A fine spot, in good faith.—How does your
- little son?
- I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.
- He had rather see the swords and hear a drum than look upon his
- O' my word, the father's son: I'll swear 'tis a very pretty boy.
- O' my troth, I looked upon him o' Wednesday, half an hour
- together: has such a confirmed countenance. I saw him run 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; catched
- it again; or whether his fall enraged him, or how 'twas, he did
- so set his teeth and tear it; O, I warrant, how he mammocked it!
- One on's father's moods.
- Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.
- A crack, madam.
- Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play the idle
- huswife with me this afternoon.
- No, good madam; I will not out of doors.
- Not out of doors!
- She shall, she shall.
- Indeed, no, by your patience; I'll not over the threshold till my
- lord return from the wars.
- Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably; come, you must go
- visit the good lady that lies in.
- I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her with my prayers;
- but I cannot go thither.
- Why, I pray you?
- 'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.
- You would be another Penelope; yet they say all the yarn she spun
- in Ulysses' absence did but fill Ithaca full of moths. Come; I
- would your cambric were sensible as your finger, that you might
- leave pricking it for pity.—Come, you shall go with us.
- No, good madam, pardon me; indeed I will not forth.
- In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell you excellent news
- of your husband.
- O, good madam, there can be none yet.
- Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news from him last
- Indeed, madam?
- In earnest, it's true; I heard a senator speak it. Thus it
- is:—the Volsces have an army forth; against whom Cominius the
- general is gone, with one part of our Roman power: your lord and
- Titus Lartius are set down before their city Corioli; they
- nothing doubt prevailing, and to make it brief wars. This is
- true, on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.
- Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in everything
- Let her alone, lady; as she is now, she will but disease our
- better mirth.
- In troth, I think she would.—Fare you well, then.—Come,
- good sweet lady.—Pr'ythee, Virgilia, turn thy solemness out o'
- door and go along with us.
- No, at a word, madam; indeed I must not. I wish you much mirth.
- Well then, farewell.
SCENE IV. Before Corioli.
[Enter, with drum and colours, MARCIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, Officers, and soldiers.]
- Yonder comes news:—a wager they have met.
- My horse to yours, no.
- 'Tis done.
[Enter a Messenger.]
- Say, has our general met the enemy?
- They lie in view; but have not spoke as yet.
- So, the good horse is mine.
- I'll buy him of you.
- No, I'll nor sell nor give him: lend you him I will
- For half a hundred years.—Summon the town.
- How far off lie these armies?
- Within this mile and half.
- Then shall we hear their 'larum, and they ours.—
- Now, Mars, I pr'ythee, 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, on the Walls, some Senators and
Tullus Aufidius, is he within your walls?
- No, nor a man that fears you less than he,
- That's lesser than a little.
[Drum afar off]
- Hark, our drums
- 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 off!
- There is Aufidius; list what work he makes
- Amongst your cloven army.
- O, they are at it!
- Their noise be our instruction.—Ladders, ho!
[The Volsces enter and pass over.]
- 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.
[Alarums, and exeunt Romeans and Volsces fighting. Romans are
- beaten back to their trenches. Re-enter 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.
[Another alarum. The Volsces and Romans re-enter, and the fight
- is renewed. The Volsces retire into Corioli, 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.
[He enters the gates]
- Fool-hardiness: not I.
- Nor I.
[MARCIUS is shut in.]
- See, they have shut him in.
- To th' pot, I warrant him.
[Re-enter TITUS LARTIUS.]
- What is become of Marcius?
- Slain, sir, doubtless.
- 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.
- O noble fellow!
- Who sensible, outdares his senseless sword,
- And when it bows stands 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.]
- Look, sir.
- O, 'tis Marcius!
- Let's fetch him off, or make remain alike.
[They fight, and all enter the city.]
SCENE V. Within Corioli. A street.
[Enter certain Romans, with spoils.]
- This will I carry to Rome.
- And I this.
- A murrain on't! I took this for silver.
[Alarum continues still afar off.]
[Enter MARCIUS and TITUS LARTIUS with a trumpet.]
- 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.
- Worthy sir, thou bleed'st;
- Thy exercise hath been too violent
- For a second course of fight.
- 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.
- 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!
- Thy friend no less
- Than those she placeth highest!—So farewell.
- Thou worthiest Marcius!—
Go, sound thy trumpet in the market-place;
- Call thither all the officers o' the town,
- Where they shall know our mind: away!
SCENE VI. Near the camp of COMINIUS.
[Enter COMINIUS and Foreces, retreating.]
- 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 encountering,
- May give you thankful sacrifice!—
[Enter A 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.
- Though thou speak'st truth,
- Methinks thou speak'st not well. How long is't since?
- Above an hour, my lord.
- 'Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums:
- How couldst thou in a mile confound an hour,
- And bring thy news so late?
- 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.
- 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.
- [Within.] Come I too late?
- The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabor
- More than I know the sound of Marcius' tongue
- From every meaner man.
- Come I too late?
- Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,
- But mantled in your own.
- 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.
- Flower of warriors,
- How is't with Titus Lartius?
- As with a man busied about decrees:
- Condemning some to death and some to exile;
- Ransoming him or pitying, threat'ning the other;
- Holding Corioli in the name of Rome,
- Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,
- To let him slip at will.
- Where is that slave
- Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?
- Where's he? call him hither.
- Let him alone;
- He did inform the truth: but for our gentlemen,
- The common file,—a plague!—tribunes for them!—
- The mouse ne'er shunned the cat as they did budge
- From rascals worse than they.
- But how prevail'd you?
- Will the time serve to tell? I do not think.
- Where is the enemy? are you lords o' the field?
- If not, why cease you till you are so?
- We have at disadvantage fought, and did
- Retire, to win our purpose.
- How lies their battle? know you on which side
- They have placed their men of trust?
- As I guess, Marcius,
- Their bands in the vaward are the Antiates,
- Of their best trust; o'er them Aufidius,
- Their very heart of hope.
- I do beseech you,
- By all the battles wherein we have fought,
- By the blood we have shed together, by the 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.
- 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.
- 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 [waving his hand], 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.
- March on, my fellows;
- Make good this ostentation, and you shall
- Divide in all with us.
SCENE VII. The gates of Corioli.
[TITUS LARTIUS, having set a guard upon Corioli, going with drum and trumpet toward COMINIUS and CAIUS MARCIUS, enters with a LIEUTENANT, a party of Soldiers, and a Scout.]
- So, let the ports be guarded: keep your duties
- As I have set them down. If I do send, despatch
- Those centuries to our aid; the rest will serve
- For a short holding: if we lose the field
- We cannot keep the town.
- Fear not our care, sir.
- Hence, and shut your gates upon's.—
- Our guider, come; to the Roman camp conduct us.
SCENE VIII. A field of battle between the Roman and the Volscian camps.
[Alarum. Enter, from opposite sides, MARCIUS and AUFIDIUS.]
- I'll fight with none but thee, for I do hate thee
- Worse than a promise-breaker.
- We hate alike:
- Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor
- More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.
- Let the first budger die the other's slave,
- And the gods doom him after!
- If I fly, Marcius,
- Halloo me like a hare.
- 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 the highest.
- Wert thou the Hector
- That was the whip of your bragg'd progeny,
- Thou shouldst not scape me here.—
[They fight, and certain Volsces come to the aid of AUFIDIUS.]
Officious, and not valiant,—you have sham'd me
- In your condemned seconds.
[Exeunt fighting, driven in by MAR.]
SCENE IX. The Roman camp.
[Alarum. A retreat is sounded. Flourish. Enter, at one side, COMINIUS and Romans; at the other side, MARCIUS, with his arm in a scarf, and other Romans.]
- 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' the 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 dined before.
[Enter TITUS LARTIUS, with his power, from the pursuit.]
- O general,
- Here is the steed, we the caparison:
- Hadst thou beheld,—
- 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; induced
- As you have been,—that's for my country:
- He that has but effected his good will
- Hath overta'en mine act.
- 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.
- I have some wounds upon me, and they smart
- To hear themselves remember'd.
- 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.
- 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' the 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 a coverture for the 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 loved my little should be dieted
- In praises sauc'd with lies.
- 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 the applause—and clamour of the host,
- 'Caius Marcius Coriolanus.'—
- Bear the addition nobly ever!
[Flourish. Trumpets sound, and drums]
- Caius Marcius 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 the fairness of my power.
- 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.
- I shall, my lord.
- The gods begin to mock me. I, that now
- Refus'd most princely gifts, am bound to beg
- Of my lord general.
- Take't: 'tis yours.—What is't?
- I sometime lay here in Corioli
- At a poor man's house; he used me kindly:
- He cried to me; I saw him prisoner;
- But then Aufidius was within my view,
- And wrath o'erwhelmed my pity: I request you
- To give my poor host freedom.
- O, well begg'd!
- Were he the butcher of my son, he should
- Be free as is the wind. Deliver him, Titus.
- Marcius, his name?
- By Jupiter, forgot:—
- I am weary; yea, my memory is tir'd.—
- Have we no wine here?
- Go we to our tent:
- The blood upon your visage dries; 'tis time
- It should be look'd to: come.
SCENE X. The camp of the Volsces.
[A flourish. Cornets. Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, bloody, with two or three soldiers.]
- The town is ta'en.
- 'Twill be delivered 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' the 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 the 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.
- He's the devil.
- Bolder, though not so subtle. My valour's poisoned
- With only suffering 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 the city;
- Learn how 'tis held; and what they are that must
- Be hostages for Rome.
- Will not you go?
- 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.
- I shall, sir.
SCENE I. Rome. A public place
[Enter MENENIUS, SICINIUS, and BRUTUS.]
- The augurer tells me we shall have news tonight.
- Good or bad?
- Not according to the prayer of the people, for they love not
- Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.
- Pray you, who does the wolf love?
- The lamb.
- Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians would the noble
- He's a lamb indeed, that baas like a bear.
- He's a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You two are old men:
- tell me one thing that I shall ask you.
- Well, sir.
- In what enormity is Marcius poor in, that you two have not
- in abundance?
- He's poor in no one fault, but stored with all.
- Especially in pride.
- And topping all others in boasting.
- This is strange now: do you two know how you are censured here in
- the city, I mean of us o' the right-hand file? Do you?
- Why, how are we censured?
- Because you talk of pride now,—will you not be angry?
- Well, well, sir, well.
- 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 the least, if you
- take it as a pleasure to you in being so. You blame Marcius for
- being proud?
- We do it not alone, sir.
- I know you can do very little alone; for your helps are many, or
- else your actions would grow wondrous single: your abilities are
- too infant-like for doing much alone. You talk of pride: O that
- you could turn your eyes toward the napes of your necks, and make
- but an interior survey of your good selves! O that you could!
- What then, sir?
- Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting, proud,
- violent, testy magistrates,—alias fools,—as any in Rome.
- Menenius, you are known well enough too.
- I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that loves a cup
- of hot wine with not a drop of allaying Tiber in't; said to
- be something imperfect in favouring the first complaint, hasty
- and tinder-like upon too trivial motion; one that converses more
- with the buttock of the night than with the forehead of the
- morning. What I think I utter, and spend my malice in my breath.
- Meeting two such wealsmen as you are,—I cannot call you
- Lycurguses,—if the drink you give me touch my palate adversely,
- I make a crooked face at it. I cannot say your worships have
- delivered the matter well when I find the ass in compound with
- the major part of your syllables; and though I must be content to
- bear with those that say you are reverend grave men, yet they lie
- deadly that tell you have good faces. If you see this in the map
- of my microcosm, follows it that I am known well enough too? What
- harm can your bisson conspectuities glean out of this character,
- if I be known well enough too?
- Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.
- You know neither me, yourselves, nor anything. You are ambitious
- for poor knaves' caps and legs; you wear out a good wholesome
- forenoon in hearing a cause between an orange-wife and a
- fosset-seller, and then rejourn the controversy of threepence
- to a second day of audience.—When you are hearing a matter
- between party and party, if you chance to be pinched with the
- colic, you make faces like mummers, set up the bloody flag
- against all patience, and, in roaring for a chamber-pot, dismiss
- the controversy bleeding, the more entangled by your hearing: all
- the peace you make in their cause is calling both the parties
- knaves. You are a pair of strange ones.
- Come, come, you are well understood to be a perfecter giber
- for the table than a necessary bencher in the Capitol.
- 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 to stuff a botcher's
- cushion or to be entombed in an ass's pack-saddle. Yet you must
- be saying, Marcius is proud; who, in a cheap estimation, is worth
- all your predecessors since Deucalion; 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 retire.]
[Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, VALERIA, &c.]
How now, my as fair as noble ladies,—and the moon, were she
- earthly, no nobler,—whither do you follow your eyes so fast?
- Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; for the love of
- Juno, let's go.
- Ha! Marcius coming home!
- Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous approbation.
- Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee.—Hoo! Marcius coming
- Nay, 'tis true.
- Look, here's a letter from him: the state hath another,
- his wife another; and I think there's one at home for you.
- I will make my very house reel to-night.—A letter for me?
- Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw it.
- A letter for me! It gives me an estate of seven years'
- health; in which time I will make a lip at the physician: the
- most sovereign prescription in Galen is but empiricutic, and, to
- this preservative, of no better report than a horse-drench. Is he
- not wounded? he was wont to come home wounded.
- O, no, no, no.
- O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for't.
- So do I too, if it be not too much.—Brings a victory in
- his pocket?—The wounds become him.
- On's brows: Menenius, he comes the third time home with the oaken
- Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?
- Titus Lartius writes,—they fought together, but Aufidius
- got off.
- And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him that: an he
- had stayed by him, I would not have been so fidiused for all the
- chests in Corioli and the gold that's in them. Is the Senate
- possessed of this?
- Good ladies, let's go.—Yes, yes, yes; the Senate has letters
- from the general, wherein he gives my son the whole name of the
- war: he hath in this action outdone his former deeds doubly.
- In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.
- Wondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not without his true purchasing.
- The gods grant them true!
- True! pow, wow.
- True! I'll be sworn they are true. Where is he wounded?—[To the
- TRIBUNES, who come forward.] God save your good worships! Marcius
- is coming home; he has more cause to be proud.—Where is he
- I' the shoulder and i' the left arm; there will be large
- cicatrices to show the people when he shall stand for his place.
- He received in the repulse of Tarquin seven hurts i' the body.
- One i' the neck and two i' the thigh,—there's nine that I
- He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five wounds upon him.
- Now it's twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy's grave.
[A shout and flourish.]
- Hark! the trumpets.
- These are the ushers of Marcius: before him
- He carries 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 and TITUS LARTIUS;
- between them, CORIOLANUS, crowned with an oaken garland; with
- CAPTAINS and Soldiers and a 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!
- Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
- No more of this, it does offend my heart;
- Pray now, no more.
- Look, sir, your mother!
- You have, I know, petition'd all the gods
- For my prosperity!
- 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!
- 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.
- Now the gods crown thee!
- And live you yet? [To VALERIA]—O my sweet lady, pardon.
- I know not where to turn.—O, welcome home;—and welcome,
- general;—and you are welcome all.
- 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.
- Ever right.
- Menenius ever, ever.
- Give way there, and go on!
- [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.
- 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.
- Know, good mother,
- I had rather be their servant in my way
- Than sway with them in theirs.
- On, to the Capitol.
[Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before. The tribunes
- 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 the 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.
- On the sudden
- I warrant him consul.
- Then our office may
- During his power go sleep.
- He cannot temp'rately transport his honours
- From where he should begin and end; but will
- Lose those he hath won.
- In that there's comfort.
- 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 as little question
- As he is proud to do't.
- I heard him swear,
- Were he to stand for consul, never would he
- Appear i' the market-place, nor on him put
- The napless vesture of humility;
- Nor, showing, as the manner is, his wounds
- To the people, beg their stinking breaths.
- 'Tis right.
- 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.
- I wish no better
- Than have him hold that purpose, and to put it
- In execution.
- 'Tis most like he will.
- It shall be to him then, as our good wills,
- A sure destruction.
- 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.
- This, as you say, suggested
- At some time when his soaring insolence
- Shall touch the people,—which time shall not want,
- If it 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.]
- What's the matter?
- 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.
- Let's to the Capitol;
- And carry with us ears and eyes for the time,
- But hearts for the event.
- Have with you.
SCENE II. Rome. The Capitol.
[Enter two OFFICERS, to lay cushions.]
- Come, come; they are almost here. How many stand for consulships?
- Three, they say; but 'tis thought of every one Coriolanus will
- carry it.
- That's a brave fellow; but he's vengeance proud and loves not the
- common people.
- Faith, there have been many great men that have flattered the
- people, who ne'er loved them; and there be many that they have
- loved, they know not wherefore; so that, if they love they know
- not why, they hate upon no better a ground: therefore, for
- Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate him
- manifests the true knowledge he has in their disposition; and,
- out of his noble carelessness, lets them plainly see't.
- If he did not care whether he had their love or no, he waved
- indifferently 'twixt doing them neither good nor harm; but he
- seeks their hate with greater devotion than they can render it
- him; and leaves nothing undone that may fully discover him their
- opposite. Now to seem to affect the malice and displeasure of the
- people is as bad as that which he dislikes,—to flatter them for
- their love.
- He hath deserved worthily of his country: and his ascent is not
- by such easy degrees as those who, having been supple and
- courteous to the people, bonnetted, without any further deed to
- have them at all, into their estimation and report: but he hath
- so planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions in their
- hearts, that for their tongues to be silent, and not confess
- so much, were a kind of ingrateful injury; to report otherwise
- were a malice that, giving itself the lie, would pluck reproof
- and rebuke from every ear that heard it.
- No more of him; he is a worthy man.: make way, they are coming.
[A sennet. Enter, with Lictors before them, COMINIUS the Consul,
- MENENIUS, CORIOLANUS, Senators, SICINIUS and BRUTUS. The Senators
take their places; the Tribunes take theirs also by themselves.]
- Having determined 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.
- 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' the people,
- We do request your kindest ears; and, after,
- Your loving motion toward the common body,
- To yield what passes here.
- We are convented
- Upon a pleasing treaty; and have hearts
- Inclinable to honour and advance
- The theme of our assembly.
- 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.
- That's off, that's off;
- I would you rather had been silent. Please you
- To hear Cominius speak?
- Most willingly.
- But yet my caution was more pertinent
- Than the rebuke you give it.
- 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.
- Sit, Coriolanus; never shame to hear
- What you have nobly done.
- Your Honours' pardon:
- I had rather have my wounds to heal again
- Than hear say how I got them.
- Sir, I hope
- My words disbench'd you not.
- 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.
- Pray now, sit down.
- I had rather have one scratch my head i' the sun
- When the alarum were struck, than idly sit
- To hear my nothings monster'd.
- Masters o' 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.
- 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' the 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 proved best man i' the field, and for his meed
- Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age
- Man-enter'd 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 timed with dying cries: alone he enter'd
- The mortal gate of the 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.
- Worthy man!
- He cannot but with measure fit the honours
- Which we devise him.
- Our spoils he kick'd at;
- And looked 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.
- He's right noble:
- Let him be call'd for.
- Call Coriolanus.
- He doth appear.
- The Senate, Coriolanus, are well pleas'd
- To make thee consul.
- I do owe them still
- My life and services.
- It then remains
- That you do speak to the people.
- 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.
- Sir, the people
- Must have their voices; neither will they bate
- One jot of ceremony.
- 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.
- It is a part
- That I shall blush in acting, and might well
- Be taken from the people.
- Mark you that?
- To brag unto them,—thus I did, and thus;—
- Show them the unaching scars which I should hide,
- As if I had receiv'd them for the hire
- Of their breath only!
- 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.
- To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!
[Flourish. Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS.]
- You see how he intends to use the people.
- May they perceive's intent! He will require them
- As if he did contemn what he requested
- Should be in them to give.
- Come, we'll inform them
- Of our proceedings here: on the market-place
- I know they do attend us.
SCENE III. Rome. The Forum.
[Enter several citizens.]
- Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.
- We may, sir, if we will.
- 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 wounds 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, we must also tell him
- our noble acceptance of them. Ingratitude is monstrous: and for
- the multitude to be ingrateful were to make a monster of the
- multitude; of the which we being members, should bring ourselves
- to be monstrous members.
- And to make us no better thought of, a little help will serve;
- for once we stood up about the corn, he himself stuck not to call
- us the many-headed multitude.
- We have been called so of many; not that our heads are some
- brown, some black, some auburn, some bald, but that our wits are
- so diversely coloured; and truly I think if all our wits were to
- issue out of one skull, they would fly east, west, north, south;
- and their consent of one direct way should be at once to all the
- points o' the compass.
- Think you so? Which way do you judge my wit would fly?
- Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man's will,—'tis
- strongly wedged up in a block-head; but if it were at liberty
- 'twould, sure, southward.
- Why that way?
- 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.
- You are never without your tricks:—you may, you may.
- Are you all resolved to give your voices? But that's no matter,
- the greater part carries it. I say, if he would incline to the
- people, there was never a worthier man. Here he comes, and in the
- gown of humility. Mark his behaviour. 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 him.
- Content, content.
[Enter CORIOLANUS and MENENIUS.]
- O sir, you are not right; have you not known
- The worthiest men have done't!
- 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 the noise of our own drums.'
- O me, the gods!
- You must not speak of that: you must desire them
- To think upon you.
- Think upon me! Hang 'em!
- I would they would forget me, like the virtues
- Which our divines lose by 'em.
- You'll mar all:
- I'll leave you. Pray you speak to 'em, I pray you,
- In wholesome manner.
- Bid them wash their faces
- And keep their teeth clean.
So, here comes a brace:
[Re-enter two citizens.]
You know the cause, sirs, of my standing here.
- We do, sir; tell us what hath brought you to't.
- Mine own desert.
- Your own desert?
- Ay, not mine own desire.
- How! not your own desire!
- No, sir, 'twas never my desire yet to trouble the poor with
- You must think, if we give you anything, we hope to gain by you.
- Well then, I pray, your price o' the consulship?
- The price is to ask it kindly.
- Kindly! sir, I pray, let me ha't: I have wounds to show you,
- which shall be yours in private.—Your good voice, sir; what
- say you?
- You shall ha' it, worthy sir.
- A match, sir.—There's in all two worthy voices begg'd.—I have
- your alms: adieu.
- But this is something odd.
- An 'twere to give again,— but 'tis no matter.
[Exeunt two citizens.]
[Re-enter other two citizens.]
- Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your voices that I
- may be consul, I have here the customary gown.
- You have deserved nobly of your country, and you have not
- deserved nobly.
- Your enigma?
- You have been a scourge to her enemies; you have been a rod to
- her friends: you have not indeed loved the common people.
- You should account me the more virtuous, that I have not been
- common in my love. I will, sir, flatter my sworn brother, the
- people, to earn a dearer estimation of them; 'tis a condition
- they account gentle: and since the wisdom of their choice is
- rather to have my hat than my heart, I will practise the
- insinuating nod and be off to them most counterfeitly: that is,
- sir, I will counterfeit the bewitchment of some popular man
- and give it bountifully to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you,
- I may be consul.
- We hope to find you our friend; and therefore give you our voices
- You have received many wounds for your country.
- I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I will make
- much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.
- The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!
- 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 suffer'd, the other will I do.
- Here come more voices.
[Re-enter other three citizens.]
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.
- He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest man's voice.
- Therefore let him be consul: the gods give him joy, and make him
- good friend to the people!
ALL THREE CITIZENS.
- Amen, amen.—God save thee, noble consul!
- Worthy voices!
[Re-enter MENENIUS, with BRUTUS and SICINIUS.]
- You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes
- Endue you with the people's voice:—remains
- That, in the official marks invested, you
- Anon do meet the senate.
- Is this done?
- The custom of request you have discharg'd:
- The people do admit you; and are summon'd
- To meet anon, upon your approbation.
- Where? at the senate-house?
- There, Coriolanus.
- May I change these garments?
- You may, sir.
- That I'll straight do; and, knowing myself again,
- Repair to the senate-house.
- I'll keep you company.—Will you along?
- We stay here for the people.
- Fare you well.
[Exeunt CORIOLANUS and MENENIUS.]
He has it now; and by his looks methinks
- 'Tis warm at his heart.
- With a proud heart he wore his humble weeds.
- Will you dismiss the people?
- How now, my masters! have you chose this man?
- He has our voices, sir.
- We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.
- Amen, sir:—to my poor unworthy notice,
- He mocked us when he begg'd our voices.
- He flouted us downright.
- No, 'tis his kind of speech,—he did not mock us.
- Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says
- He us'd us scornfully: he should have show'd us
- His marks of merit, wounds received for's country.
- Why, so he did, I am sure.
- No, no; no man saw 'em.
- He said he had wounds, which he could show in private;
- 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?
- Why either were you ignorant to see't?
- Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness
- To yield your voices?
- 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' the body of the weal: and now, arriving
- A place of potency and sway o' the state,
- If he should still malignantly remain
- Fast foe to the 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.
- 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 the advantage of his choler
- And pass'd him unelected.
- 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?
- Have you
- Ere now denied the asker, and now again,
- Of him that did not ask but mock, bestow
- Your su'd-for tongues?
- He's not confirm'd: we may deny him yet.
- And will deny him:
- I'll have five hundred voices of that sound.
- I twice five hundred, and their friends to piece 'em.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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' the 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, darling of the people,
- And nobly nam'd so, twice being censor,
- Was his great ancestor.
- 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.
- 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 the Capitol.
- We will so; almost all
- Repent in their election.
- 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.
- To the Capitol,
- Come: we will be there before the stream o' the people;
- And this shall seem, as partly 'tis, their own,
- Which we have goaded onward.
SCENE I. Rome. A street
[Cornets. Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS,
- Senators, and Patricians.]
- Tullus Aufidius, then, had made new head?
- He had, my lord; and that it was which caus'd
- Our swifter composition.
- So then the Volsces stand but as at first;
- Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road
- Upon's again.
- They are worn, lord consul, so
- That we shall hardly in our ages see
- Their banners wave again.
- Saw you Aufidius?
- On safeguard he came to me; and did curse
- Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely
- Yielded the town; he is retir'd to Antium.
- Spoke he of me?
- He did, my lord.
- How? What?
- How often he had met you, sword to sword;
- That of all things upon the earth he hated
- Your person most; that he would pawn his fortunes
- To hopeless restitution, so he might
- Be call'd your vanquisher.
- At Antium lives he?
- At Antium.
- I wish I had a cause to seek him there,
- To oppose his hatred fully.—Welcome home. [To Laertes.]
[Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS.]
Behold! these are the tribunes of the people;
- The tongues o' the common mouth. I do despise them,
- For they do prank them in authority,
- Against all noble sufferance.
- Pass no further.
- Ha! what is that?
- It will be dangerous to go on: no further.
- What makes this change?
- The matter?
- Hath he not pass'd the noble and the commons?
- Cominius, no.
- Have I had children's voices?
- Tribunes, give way; he shall to the market-place.
- The people are incens'd against him.
- Or all will fall in broil.
- Are these your herd?—
- Must these have voices, that can yield them now,
- And straight disclaim their tongues?—What are your offices?
- You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth?
- Have you not set them on?
- Be calm, be calm.
- It is a purpos'd thing, and grows by plot,
- To curb the will of the nobility:
- Suffer't, and live with such as cannot rule,
- Nor ever will be rul'd.
- Call't not a plot:
- The people cry you mock'd them; and of late,
- When corn was given them gratis, you repin'd;
- Scandal'd the suppliants for the people,—call'd them
- Time-pleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.
- Why, this was known before.
- Not to them all.
- Have you inform'd them sithence?
- How! I inform them!
- You are like to do such business.
- Not unlike,
- Each way, to better yours.
- Why, then, should I be consul? By yond clouds,
- Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
- Your fellow tribune.
- You show too much of that
- For which the people stir: if you will pass
- To where you are bound, you must inquire your way,
- Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit;
- Or never be so noble as a consul,
- Nor yoke with him for tribune.
- Let's be calm.
- The people are abus'd; set on. This palt'ring
- Becomes not Rome; nor has Coriolanus
- Deserv'd this so dishonour'd rub, laid falsely
- I' the plain way of his merit.
- Tell me of corn!
- This was my speech, and I will speak't again,—
- Not now, not now.
- Not in this heat, sir, now.
- Now, as I live, I will.—My nobler friends,
- I crave their pardons:
- For the mutable, rank-scented many, let them
- Regard me as I do not flatter, and
- Therein behold themselves: I say again,
- In soothing them we nourish 'gainst our senate
- The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
- Which we ourselves have plough'd for, sow'd, and scatter'd,
- By mingling them with us, the honour'd number,
- Who lack not virtue, no, nor power, but that
- Which they have given to beggars.
- Well, no more.
- No more words, we beseech you.
- How! no more!
- As for my country I have shed my blood,
- Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs
- Coin words till their decay against those measles
- Which we disdain should tetter us, yet sought
- The very way to catch them.
- You speak o' the people
- As if you were a god, to punish, not
- A man of their infirmity.
- 'Twere well
- We let the people know't.
- What, what? his choler?
- Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,
- By Jove, 'twould be my mind!
- It is a mind
- That shall remain a poison where it is,
- Not poison any further.
- Shall remain!—
- Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you
- His absolute 'shall'?
- 'Twas from the canon.
- O good, but most unwise patricians! why,
- You grave but reckless senators, have you thus
- Given Hydra leave to choose an officer,
- That with his peremptory 'shall,' being but
- The horn and noise o' the monster, wants not spirit
- To say he'll turn your current in a ditch,
- And make your channel his? If he have power,
- Then vail your ignorance: if none, awake
- Your dangerous lenity. If you are learn'd,
- Be not as common fools; if you are not,
- Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians,
- If they be senators: and they are no less
- When, both your voices blended, the great'st taste
- Most palates theirs. They choose their magistrate;
- And such a one as he, who puts his 'shall,'
- His popular 'shall,' against a graver bench
- Than ever frown'd in Greece. By Jove himself,
- It makes the consuls base: and my soul aches
- To know, when two authorities are up,
- Neither supreme, how soon confusion
- May enter 'twixt the gap of both and take
- The one by the other.
- Well, on to the market-place.
- Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth
- The corn o' the storehouse gratis, as 'twas us'd
- Sometime in Greece,—
- Well, well, no more of that.
- Though there the people had more absolute power,—
- I say they nourish'd disobedience, fed
- The ruin of the state.
- Why shall the people give
- One that speaks thus their voice?
- I'll give my reasons,
- More worthier than their voices. They know the corn
- Was not our recompense, resting well assur'd
- They ne'er did service for't; being press'd to the war,
- Even when the navel of the state was touch'd,
- They would not thread the gates,—this kind of service
- Did not deserve corn gratis: being i' the war,
- Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they show'd
- Most valour, spoke not for them. The accusation
- Which they have often made against the senate,
- All cause unborn, could never be the motive
- Of our so frank donation. Well, what then?
- How shall this bisson multitude digest
- The senate's courtesy? Let deeds express
- What's like to be their words:—'We did request it;
- We are the greater poll, and in true fear
- They gave us our demands:'— Thus we debase
- The nature of our seats, and make the rabble
- Call our cares fears; which will in time
- Break ope the locks o' the senate and bring in
- The crows to peck the eagles.—
- Come, enough.
- Enough, with over-measure.
- No, take more:
- What may be sworn by, both divine and human,
- Seal what I end withal!—This double worship,—
- Where one part does disdain with cause, the other
- Insult without all reason; where gentry, title, wisdom,
- Cannot conclude but by the yea and no
- Of general ignorance—it must omit
- Real necessities, and give way the while
- To unstable slightness: purpose so barr'd, it follows,
- Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore, beseech you,—
- You that will be less fearful than discreet;
- That love the fundamental part of state
- More than you doubt the change on't; that prefer
- A noble life before a long, and wish
- To jump a body with a dangerous physic
- That's sure of death without it,—at once pluck out
- The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick
- The sweet which is their poison: your dishonour
- Mangles true judgment, and bereaves the state
- Of that integrity which should become't;
- Not having the power to do the good it would,
- For the ill which doth control't.
- Has said enough.
- Has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer
- As traitors do.
- Thou wretch, despite o'erwhelm thee!—
- What should the people do with these bald tribunes?
- On whom depending, their obedience fails
- To the greater bench: in a rebellion,
- When what's not meet, but what must be, was law,
- Then were they chosen; in a better hour
- Let what is meet be said it must be meet,
- And throw their power i' the dust.
- Manifest treason!
- This a consul? no.
- The aediles, ho!—Let him be apprehended.
- Go call the people [Exit BRUTUS.]; in whose name myself
- Attach thee as a traitorous innovator,
- A foe to the public weal. Obey, I charge thee,
- And follow to thine answer.
- Hence, old goat!
SENATORS and PATRICIANS.
- We'll surety him.
- Aged sir, hands off.
- Hence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bones
- Out of thy garments.
- Help, ye citizens!
[Re-enter Brutus, with the AEDILES and a rabble of Citizens.]
- On both sides more respect.
- Here's he that would take from you all your power.
- Seize him, aediles.
- Down with him! down with him!
- Weapons, weapons, weapons!
[They all bustle about CORIOLANUS.]
Tribunes! patricians! citizens!—What, ho!—
- Sicinius, Brutus, Coriolanus, Citizens!
- Peace, peace, peace; stay, hold, peace!
- What is about to be?—I am out of breath;
- Confusion's near: I cannot speak.—You tribunes
- To the people,—Coriolanus, patience:—
- Speak, good Sicinius.
- Hear me, people: peace!
- Let's hear our tribune: peace!—
- Speak, speak, speak.
- You are at point to lose your liberties;
- Marcius would have all from you; Marcius,
- Whom late you have nam'd for consul.
- Fie, fie, fie!
- This is the way to kindle, not to quench.
- To unbuild the city, and to lay all flat.
- What is the city but the people?
- The people are the city.
- By the consent of all, we were establish'd
- The people's magistrates.
- You so remain.
- And so are like to do.
- That is the way to lay the city flat;
- To bring the roof to the foundation,
- And bury all which yet distinctly ranges,
- In heaps and piles of ruin.
- This deserves death.
- Or let us stand to our authority,
- Or let us lose it.—We do here pronounce,
- Upon the part o' the people, in whose power
- We were elected theirs, Marcius is worthy
- Of present death.
- Therefore lay hold of him;
- Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence
- Into destruction cast him.
- Aediles, seize him!
- Yield, Marcius, yield!
- Hear me one word;
- Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.
- Peace, peace!
- Be that you seem, truly your country's friends,
- And temperately proceed to what you would
- Thus violently redress.
- Sir, those cold ways,
- That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous
- Where the disease is violent.—Lay hands upon him
- And bear him to the rock.
- No; I'll die here. [Draws his sword.]
- There's some among you have beheld me fighting;
- Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.
- Down with that sword!—Tribunes, withdraw awhile.
- Lay hands upon him.
- Help Marcius, help,
- You that be noble; help him, young and old!
- Down with him, down with him!
[In this mutiny the TRIBUNES, the AEDILES, and the people are
- beat in.]
- Go, get you to your house; be gone, away!
- All will be nought else.
- Get you gone.
- Stand fast;
- We have as many friends as enemies.
- Shall it be put to that?
- The gods forbid:
- I pr'ythee, noble friend, home to thy house;
- Leave us to cure this cause.
- For 'tis a sore upon us
- You cannot tent yourself; be gone, beseech you.
- Come, sir, along with us.
- I would they were barbarians,—as they are,
- Though in Rome litter'd,—not Romans,—as they are not,
- Though calv'd i' the porch o' the Capitol.
- Be gone;
- Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;
- One time will owe another.
- On fair ground
- I could beat forty of them.
- I could myself
- Take up a brace o' the best of them; yea, the two tribunes.
- But now 'tis odds beyond arithmetic;
- And manhood is call'd foolery when it stands
- Against a falling fabric.—Will you hence,
- Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend
- Like interrupted waters, and o'erbear
- What they are used to bear.
- Pray you be gone:
- I'll try whether my old wit be in request
- With those that have but little: this must be patch'd
- With cloth of any colour.
- Nay, come away.
[Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, and others.]
- This man has marr'd his fortune.
- His nature is too noble for the world:
- He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
- Or Jove for's power to thunder. His heart's his mouth:
- What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent;
- And, being angry, does forget that ever
- He heard the name of death.
[A noise within.]
Here's goodly work!
- I would they were a-bed!
- I would they were in Tiber!
- What the vengeance, could he not speak 'em fair?
[Re-enter BRUTUS and SICINIUS, with the rabble.]
- Where is this viper
- That would depopulate the city and
- Be every man himself?
- You worthy tribunes,—
- He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock
- With rigorous hands: he hath resisted law,
- And therefore law shall scorn him further trial
- Than the severity of the public power,
- Which he so sets at nought.
- He shall well know
- The noble tribunes are the people's mouths,
- And we their hands.
- He shall, sure on't.
- Sir, sir,—
- Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt
- With modest warrant.
- Sir, how comes't that you
- Have holp to make this rescue?
- Hear me speak:—
- As I do know the consul's worthiness,
- So can I name his faults,—
- Consul!—what consul?
- The consul Coriolanus.
- He consul!
- No, no, no, no, no.
- If, by the tribunes' leave, and yours, good people,
- I may be heard, I would crave a word or two;
- The which shall turn you to no further harm
- Than so much loss of time.
- Speak briefly, then;
- For we are peremptory to dispatch
- This viperous traitor: to eject him hence
- Were but one danger; and to keep him here
- Our certain death: therefore it is decreed
- He dies to-night.
- Now the good gods forbid
- That our renowned Rome, whose gratitude
- Towards her deserved children is enroll'd
- In Jove's own book, like an unnatural dam
- Should now eat up her own!
- He's a disease that must be cut away.
- O, he's a limb that has but a disease;
- Mortal, to cut it off; to cure it, easy.
- What has he done to Rome that's worthy death?
- Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost,—
- Which I dare vouch is more than that he hath
- By many an ounce,—he dropt it for his country;
- And what is left, to lose it by his country
- Were to us all, that do't and suffer it
- A brand to the end o' the world.
- This is clean kam.
- Merely awry: when he did love his country,
- It honour'd him.
- The service of the foot,
- Being once gangren'd, is not then respected
- For what before it was.
- We'll hear no more.—
- Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence;
- Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
- Spread further.
- One word more, one word.
- This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find
- The harm of unscann'd swiftness, will, too late,
- Tie leaden pounds to's heels. Proceed by process;
- Lest parties,—as he is belov'd,—break out,
- And sack great Rome with Romans.
- If it were so,—
- What do ye talk?
- Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
- Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted?—come,—
- Consider this:—he has been bred i' the wars
- Since 'a could draw a sword, and is ill school'd
- In bolted language; meal and bran together
- He throws without distinction. Give me leave,
- I'll go to him and undertake to bring him
- Where he shall answer, by a lawful form,
- In peace, to his utmost peril.
- Noble tribunes,
- It is the humane way: the other course
- Will prove too bloody; and the end of it
- Unknown to the beginning.
- Noble Menenius,
- Be you then as the people's officer.—
- Masters, lay down your weapons.
- Go not home.
- Meet on the market-place.—We'll attend you there:
- Where, if you bring not Marcius, we'll proceed
- In our first way.
- I'll bring him to you.—
- [To the SENATORS.] Let me desire your company: he must come,
- Or what is worst will follow.
- Pray you let's to him.
SCENE II. Rome. A room in CORIOLANUS'S house.
[Enter CORIOLANUS and Patricians.]
- Let them pull all about mine ears; present me
- Death on the wheel, or at wild horses' heels;
- Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock,
- That the precipitation might down stretch
- Below the beam of sight; yet will I still
- Be thus to them.
- You do the nobler.
- I muse my mother
- Does not approve me further, who was wont
- To call them woollen vassals, things created
- To buy and sell with groats; to show bare heads
- In congregations, to yawn, be still, and wonder,
- When one but of my ordinance stood up
- To speak of peace or war.
I talk of you: [To Volumnia.]
- Why did you wish me milder? Would you have me
- False to my nature? Rather say, I play
- The man I am.
- O, sir, sir, sir,
- I would have had you put your power well on
- Before you had worn it out.
- Let go.
- You might have been enough the man you are
- With striving less to be so: lesser had been
- The thwartings of your dispositions, if
- You had not show'd them how ye were dispos'd,
- Ere they lack'd power to cross you.
- Let them hang.
- Ay, and burn too.
[Enter MENENIUS with the SENATORS.]
- Come, come, you have been too rough, something too rough;
- You must return and mend it.
- There's no remedy;
- Unless, by not so doing, our good city
- Cleave in the midst, and perish.
- Pray be counsell'd;
- I have a heart as little apt as yours,
- But yet a brain that leads my use of anger
- To better vantage.
- Well said, noble woman!
- Before he should thus stoop to the herd, but that
- The violent fit o' the time craves it as physic
- For the whole state, I would put mine armour on,
- Which I can scarcely bear.
- What must I do?
- Return to the tribunes.
- Well, what then? what then?
- Repent what you have spoke.
- For them?—I cannot do it to the gods;
- Must I then do't to them?
- You are too absolute;
- Though therein you can never be too noble
- But when extremities speak. I have heard you say
- Honour and policy, like unsever'd friends,
- I' the war do grow together: grant that, and tell me
- In peace what each of them by th' other lose
- That they combine not there.
- Tush, tush!
- A good demand.
- If it be honour in your wars to seem
- The same you are not,—which for your best ends
- You adopt your policy,—how is it less or worse
- That it shall hold companionship in peace
- With honour as in war; since that to both
- It stands in like request?
- Why force you this?
- Because that now it lies you on to speak
- To the people; not by your own instruction,
- Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you,
- But with such words that are but rooted in
- Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables
- Of no allowance, to your bosom's truth.
- Now, this no more dishonours you at all
- Than to take in a town with gentle words,
- Which else would put you to your fortune and
- The hazard of much blood.
- I would dissemble with my nature where
- My fortunes and my friends at stake requir'd
- I should do so in honour: I am in this
- Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles;
- And you will rather show our general louts
- How you can frown, than spend a fawn upon 'em
- For the inheritance of their loves and safeguard
- Of what that want might ruin.
- Noble lady!—
- Come, go with us; speak fair: you may salve so,
- Not what is dangerous present, but the loss
- Of what is past.
- I pr'ythee now, my son,
- Go to them with this bonnet in thy hand;
- And thus far having stretch'd it,—here be with them,—
- Thy knee bussing the stones,—for in such busines
- Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant
- More learned than the ears,—waving thy head,
- Which often, thus correcting thy stout heart,
- Now humble as the ripest mulberry
- That will not hold the handling: or say to them
- Thou art their soldier, and, being bred in broils,
- Hast not the soft way which, thou dost confess,
- Were fit for thee to use, as they to claim,
- In asking their good loves; but thou wilt frame
- Thyself, forsooth, hereafter theirs, so far
- As thou hast power and person.
- This but done
- Even as she speaks, why, their hearts were yours:
- For they have pardons, being ask'd, as free
- As words to little purpose.
- Pr'ythee now,
- Go, and be rul'd; although I know thou had'st rather
- Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf
- Than flatter him in a bower.
Here is Cominius.
- I have been i' the market-place; and, sir, 'tis fit
- You make strong party, or defend yourself
- By calmness or by absence: all's in anger.
- Only fair speech.
- I think 'twill serve, if he
- Can thereto frame his spirit.
- He must, and will.—
- Pr'ythee now, say you will, and go about it.
- Must I go show them my unbarb'd sconce? must I
- With my base tongue, give to my noble heart
- A lie, that it must bear? Well, I will do't:
- Yet, were there but this single plot to lose,
- This mould of Marcius, they to dust should grind it,
- And throw't against the wind.—To the market-place:—
- You have put me now to such a part which never
- I shall discharge to the life.
- Come, come, we'll prompt you.
- I pr'ythee now, sweet son,—as thou hast said
- My praises made thee first a soldier, so,
- To have my praise for this, perform a part
- Thou hast not done before.
- Well, I must do't:
- Away, my disposition, and possess me
- Some harlot's spirit! My throat of war be turn'd,
- Which quired with my drum, into a pipe
- Small as an eunuch, or the virgin voice
- That babies lulls asleep! the smiles of knaves
- Tent in my cheeks; and school-boys' tears take up
- The glasses of my sight! a beggar's tongue
- Make motion through my lips; and my arm'd knees,
- Who bow'd but in my stirrup, bend like his
- That hath receiv'd an alms!—I will not do't;
- Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth,
- And by my body's action teach my mind
- A most inherent baseness.
- At thy choice, then:
- To beg of thee, it is my more dishonour
- Than thou of them. Come all to ruin: let
- Thy mother rather feel thy pride than fear
- Thy dangerous stoutness; for I mock at death
- With as big heart as thou. Do as thou list.
- Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck'dst it from me;
- But owe thy pride thyself.
- Pray, be content:
- Mother, I am going to the market-place;
- Chide me no more. I'll mountebank their loves,
- Cog their hearts from them, and come home belov'd
- Of all the trades in Rome. Look, I am going.
- Commend me to my wife. I'll return consul;
- Or never trust to what my tongue can do
- I' the way of flattery further.
- Do your will.
- Away! The tribunes do attend you: arm yourself
- To answer mildly; for they are prepar'd
- With accusations, as I hear, more strong
- Than are upon you yet.
- The word is, mildly.—Pray you let us go:
- Let them accuse me by invention, I
- Will answer in mine honour.
- Ay, but mildly.
- Well, mildly be it then; mildly.
SCENE III. Rome. The Forum.
[Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS.]
- In this point charge him home, that he affects
- Tyrannical power: if he evade us there,
- Enforce him with his envy to the people;
- And that the spoil got on the Antiates
- Was ne'er distributed.
[Enter an AEDILE.]
What, will he come?
- He's coming.
- How accompanied?
- With old Menenius, and those senators
- That always favour'd him.
- Have you a catalogue
- Of all the voices that we have procur'd,
- Set down by the poll?
- I have; 'tis ready.
- Have you collected them by tribes?
- I have.
- Assemble presently the people hither:
- And when they hear me say 'It shall be so
- I' the right and strength o' the commons,' be it either
- For death, for fine, or banishment, then let them,
- If I say fine, cry 'Fine!'- if death, cry 'Death;'
- Insisting on the old prerogative
- And power i' the truth o' the cause.
- I shall inform them.
- And when such time they have begun to cry,
- Let them not cease, but with a din confus'd
- Enforce the present execution
- Of what we chance to sentence.
- Very well.
- Make them be strong, and ready for this hint,
- When we shall hap to give't them.
- Go about it.
- Put him to choler straight: he hath been us'd
- Ever to conquer, and to have his worth
- Of contradiction; being once chaf'd, he cannot
- Be rein'd again to temperance; then he speaks
- What's in his heart; and that is there which looks
- With us to break his neck.
- Well, here he comes.
[Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, COMINIUS, Senators, and Patricians.]
- Calmly, I do beseech you.
- Ay, as an ostler, that for the poorest piece
- Will bear the knave by the volume.—The honoured gods
- Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice
- Supplied with worthy men! plant love among's!
- Throng our large temples with the shows of peace,
- And not our streets with war!
- Amen, amen!
- A noble wish.
[Re-enter the AEDILE, with Citizens.]
- Draw near, ye people.
- List to your tribunes; audience: peace, I say!
- First, hear me speak.
- Well, say.—Peace, ho!
- Shall I be charg'd no further than this present?
- Must all determine here?
- I do demand,
- If you submit you to the people's voices,
- Allow their officers, and are content
- To suffer lawful censure for such faults
- As shall be proved upon you.
- I am content.
- Lo, citizens, he says he is content:
- The warlike service he has done, consider; think
- Upon the wounds his body bears, which show
- Like graves i' the holy churchyard.
- Scratches with briers,
- Scars to move laughter only.
- Consider further,
- That when he speaks not like a citizen,
- You find him like a soldier: do not take
- His rougher accents for malicious sounds,
- But, as I say, such as become a soldier,
- Rather than envy you.
- Well, well, no more.
- What is the matter,
- That being pass'd for consul with full voice,
- I am so dishonour'd that the very hour
- You take it off again?
- Answer to us.
- Say then: 'tis true, I ought so.
- We charge you that you have contriv'd to take
- From Rome all season'd office, and to wind
- Yourself into a power tyrannical;
- For which you are a traitor to the people.
- How! traitor!
- Nay, temperately; your promise.
- The fires i' the lowest hell fold in the people!
- Call me their traitor!—Thou injurious tribune!
- Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths,
- In thy hands clutch'd as many millions, in
- Thy lying tongue both numbers, I would say,
- Thou liest unto thee with a voice as free
- As I do pray the gods.
- Mark you this, people?
- To the rock, to the rock, with him!
- We need not put new matter to his charge:
- What you have seen him do and heard him speak,
- Beating your officers, cursing yourselves,
- Opposing laws with strokes, and here defying
- Those whose great power must try him; even this,
- So criminal and in such capital kind,
- Deserves the extremest death.
- But since he hath
- Serv'd well for Rome,—
- What do you prate of service?
- I talk of that that know it.
- Is this the promise that you made your mother?
- Know, I pray you,—
- I'll know no further:
- Let them pronounce the steep Tarpeian death,
- Vagabond exile, flaying, pent to linger
- But with a grain a day, I would not buy
- Their mercy at the price of one fair word,
- Nor check my courage for what they can give,
- To have't with saying Good-morrow.
- For that he has,—
- As much as in him lies,—from time to time
- Envied against the people, seeking means
- To pluck away their power; as now at last
- Given hostile strokes, and that not in the presence
- Of dreaded justice, but on the ministers
- That do distribute it;—in the name o' the people,
- And in the power of us the tribunes, we,
- Even from this instant, banish him our city,
- In peril of precipitation
- From off the rock Tarpeian, never more
- To enter our Rome gates: I' the people's name,
- I say it shall be so.
- It shall be so, it shall be so; let him away;
- He's banished, and it shall be so.
- Hear me, my masters and my common friends,—
- He's sentenc'd; no more hearing.
- Let me speak:
- I have been consul, and can show for Rome
- Her enemies' marks upon me. I do love
- My country's good with a respect more tender,
- More holy and profound, than mine own life,
- My dear wife's estimate, her womb's increase,
- And treasure of my loins; then if I would
- Speak that,—
- We know your drift. Speak what?
- There's no more to be said, but he is banish'd,
- As enemy to the people and his country:
- It shall be so.
- It shall be so, it shall be so.
- You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
- As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
- As the dead carcasses of unburied men
- That do corrupt my air,—I banish you;
- And here remain with your uncertainty!
- Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
- Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
- Fan you into despair! Have the power still
- To banish your defenders; till at length
- Your ignorance,—which finds not till it feels,—
- Making but reservation of yourselves,—
- Still your own foes,—deliver you, as most
- Abated captives to some nation
- That won you without blows! Despising,
- For you, the city, thus I turn my back:
- There is a world elsewhere.
[Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, MENENIUS, Senators, and
- The people's enemy is gone, is gone!
- Our enemy is banish'd, he is gone! Hoo! hoo!
[Shouting, and throwing up their caps.]
- Go, see him out at gates, and follow him,
- As he hath follow'd you, with all despite;
- Give him deserv'd vexation. Let a guard
- Attend us through the city.
- Come, come, let's see him out at gates; come.
- The gods preserve our noble tribunes! Come.
SCENE I. Rome. Before a gate of the city.
[Enter CORIOLANUS, VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, MENENIUS, COMINIUS,and several young Patricians.]
- Come, leave your tears; a brief farewell:—he beast
- With many heads butts me away.—Nay, mother,
- Where is your ancient courage? you were us'd
- To say extremities was the trier of spirits;
- That common chances common men could bear;
- That when the sea was calm all boats alike
- Show'd mastership in floating; fortune's blows,
- When most struck home, being gentle wounded, craves
- A noble cunning; you were us'd to load me
- With precepts that would make invincible
- The heart that conn'd them.
- O heavens! O heavens!
- Nay, I pr'ythee, woman,—
- Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome,
- And occupations perish!
- What, what, what!
- I shall be lov'd when I am lack'd. Nay, mother,
- Resume that spirit when you were wont to say,
- If you had been the wife of Hercules,
- Six of his labours you'd have done, and sav'd
- Your husband so much sweat.—Cominius,
- Droop not; adieu.—Farewell, my wife,—my mother:
- I'll do well yet.—Thou old and true Menenius,
- Thy tears are salter than a younger man's,
- And venomous to thine eyes.—My sometime general,
- I have seen thee stern, and thou hast oft beheld
- Heart-hard'ning spectacles; tell these sad women
- 'Tis fond to wail inevitable strokes,
- As 'tis to laugh at 'em.—My mother, you wot well
- My hazards still have been your solace: and
- Believe't not lightly,—though I go alone,
- Like to a lonely dragon, that his fen
- Makes fear'd and talk'd of more than seen,—your son
- Will or exceed the common or be caught
- With cautelous baits and practice.
- My first son,
- Whither wilt thou go? Take good Cominius
- With thee awhile: determine on some course
- More than a wild exposture to each chance
- That starts i' the way before thee.
- O the gods!
- I'll follow thee a month, devise with thee
- Where thou shalt rest, that thou mayst hear of us,
- And we of thee: so, if the time thrust forth
- A cause for thy repeal, we shall not send
- O'er the vast world to seek a single man;
- And lose advantage, which doth ever cool
- I' the absence of the needer.
- Fare ye well:
- Thou hast years upon thee; and thou art too full
- Of the wars' surfeits to go rove with one
- That's yet unbruis'd: bring me but out at gate.—
- Come, my sweet wife, my dearest mother, and
- My friends of noble touch; when I am forth,
- Bid me farewell, and smile. I pray you, come.
- While I remain above the ground, you shall
- Hear from me still; and never of me aught
- But what is like me formerly.
- That's worthily
- As any ear can hear.—Come, let's not weep.—
- If I could shake off but one seven years
- From these old arms and legs, by the good gods,
- I'd with thee every foot.
- Give me thy hand:—
SCENE II. Rome. A street near the gate.
[Enter SICINIUS, BRUTUS, and an AEDILE.]
- Bid them all home; he's gone, and we'll no further.—
- The nobility are vex'd, whom we see have sided
- In his behalf.
- Now we have shown our power,
- Let us seem humbler after it is done
- Than when it was a-doing.
- Bid them home:
- Say their great enemy is gone, and they
- Stand in their ancient strength.
- Dismiss them home.
Here comes his mother.
- Let's not meet her.
- They say she's mad.
- They have ta'en note of us: keep on your way.
[Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, and MENENIUS.]
- O, you're well met: the hoarded plague o' the gods
- Requite your love!
- Peace, peace, be not so loud.
- If that I could for weeping, you should hear,—
- Nay, and you shall hear some.—[To BRUTUS.] Will you be gone?
- You shall stay too[To SICINIUS.]: I would I had the power
- To say so to my husband.
- Are you mankind?
- Ay, fool; is that a shame?—Note but this, fool.—
- Was not a man my father? Hadst thou foxship
- To banish him that struck more blows for Rome
- Than thou hast spoken words?—
- O blessed heavens!
- Moe noble blows than ever thou wise words;
- And for Rome's good.—I'll tell thee what;—yet go;—
- Nay, but thou shalt stay too:—I would my son
- Were in Arabia, and thy tribe before him,
- His good sword in his hand.
- What then?
- What then!
- He'd make an end of thy posterity.
- Bastards and all.—
- Good man, the wounds that he does bear for Rome!
- Come, come, peace.
- I would he had continu'd to his country
- As he began, and not unknit himself
- The noble knot he made.
- I would he had.
- I would he had! 'Twas you incens'd the rabble;—
- Cats, that can judge as fitly of his worth
- As I can of those mysteries which heaven
- Will not have earth to know.
- Pray, let us go.
- Now, pray, sir, get you gone:
- You have done a brave deed. Ere you go, hear this,—
- As far as doth the Capitol exceed
- The meanest house in Rome, so far my son,—
- This lady's husband here; this, do you see?—
- Whom you have banish'd does exceed you all.
- Well, well, we'll leave you.
- Why stay we to be baited
- With one that wants her wits?
- Take my prayers with you.—
I would the gods had nothing else to do
- But to confirm my curses! Could I meet 'em
- But once a day, it would unclog my heart
- Of what lies heavy to't.
- You have told them home,
- And, by my troth, you have cause. You'll sup with me?
- Anger's my meat; I sup upon myself,
- And so shall starve with feeding.—Come, let's go:
- Leave this faint puling and lament as I do,
- In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.
- Fie, fie, fie!
SCENE III. A highway between Rome and Antium.
[Enter a ROMAN and a VOLSCE, meeting.]
- I know you well, sir, and you know me; your name, I think,
- is Adrian.
- It is so, sir: truly, I have forgot you.
- I am a Roman; and my services are, as you are, against 'em: know
- you me yet?
- Nicanor? no!
- The same, sir.
- You had more beard when I last saw you; but your favour is
- well approved by your tongue. What's the news in Rome? I have a
- note from the Volscian state, to find you out there; you have
- well saved me a day's journey.
- There hath been in Rome strange insurrections: the people
- against the senators, patricians, and nobles.
- Hath been! is it ended, then? Our state thinks not so;
- they are in a most warlike preparation, and hope to come upon
- them in the heat of their division.
- The main blaze of it is past, but a small thing would make it
- flame again; for the nobles receive so to heart the banishment
- of that worthy Coriolanus that they are in a ripe aptness to take
- all power from the people, and to pluck from them their tribunes
- for ever. This lies glowing, I can tell you, and is almost mature
- for the violent breaking out.
- Coriolanus banished!
- Banished, sir.
- You will be welcome with this intelligence, Nicanor.
- The day serves well for them now. I have heard it said the
- fittest time to corrupt a man's wife is when she's fallen out
- with her husband. Your noble Tullus Aufidius will appear well in
- these wars, his great opposer, Coriolanus, being now in no
- request of his country.
- He cannot choose. I am most fortunate thus accidentally to
- encounter you; you have ended my business, and I will merrily
- accompany you home.
- I shall between this and supper tell you most strange things
- from Rome; all tending to the good of their adversaries. Have you
- an army ready, say you?
- A most royal one; the centurions and their charges, distinctly
- billeted, already in the entertainment, and to be on foot at an
- hour's warning.
- I am joyful to hear of their readiness, and am the man, I think,
- that shall set them in present action. So, sir, heartily well
- met, and most glad of your company.
- You take my part from me, sir; I have the most cause to be
- glad of yours.
- Well, let us go together.
SCENE IV. Antium. Before AUFIDIUS'S house.
[Enter CORIOLANUS, in mean apparel, disguised and muffled.]
- A goodly city is this Antium. City,
- 'Tis I that made thy widows: many an heir
- Of these fair edifices 'fore my wars
- Have I heard groan and drop: then know me not.
- Lest that thy wives with spits and boys with stones,
- In puny battle slay me.
[Enter a CITIZEN.]
Save you, sir.
- And you.
- Direct me, if it be your will,
- Where great Aufidius lies; is he in Antium?
- He is, and feasts the nobles of the state
- At his house this night.
- Which is his house, beseech you?
- This, here, before you.
- Thank you, sir; farewell.
O world, thy slippery turns! Friends now fast sworn,
- Whose double bosoms seems to wear one heart,
- Whose hours, whose bed, whose meal and exercise
- Are still together, who twin, as 'twere, in love
- Unseparable, shall within this hour,
- On a dissension of a doit, break out
- To bitterest enmity; so fellest foes,
- Whose passions and whose plots have broke their sleep
- To take the one the other, by some chance,
- Some trick not worth an egg, shall grow dear friends
- And interjoin their issues. So with me:—
- My birthplace hate I, and my love's upon
- This enemy town.—I'll enter; if he slay me,
- He does fair justice; if he give me way,
- I'll do his country service.
SCENE V. Antium. A hall in AUFIDIUS'S house.
[Music within. Enter A SERVANT.]
- Wine, wine, wine! What service is here!
- I think our fellows are asleep.
[Enter a second SERVANT.]
- Where's Cotus? my master calls for him.—Cotus!
- A goodly house: the feast smells well; but I
- Appear not like a guest.
[Re-enter the first SERVANT.]
- What would you have, friend? whence are you? Here's no place for
- you: pray go to the door.
- I have deserv'd no better entertainment
- In being Coriolanus.
[Re-enter second SERVANT.]
- Whence are you, sir? Has the porter his eyes in his head that he
- gives entrance to such companions? Pray, get you out.
- Away? Get you away.
- Now the art troublesome.
- Are you so brave? I'll have you talked with anon.
[Enter a third SERVANT. The first meets him.]
- What fellow's this?
- A strange one as ever I looked on: I cannot get him
- out o' the house. Pr'ythee call my master to him.
- What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you avoid the house.
- Let me but stand; I will not hurt your hearth.
- What are you?
- A gentleman.
- A marvellous poor one.
- True, so I am.
- Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other station; here's no
- place for you. Pray you avoid; come.
- Follow your function, go,
- And batten on cold bits.
[Pushes him away.]
- What, you will not?—Pr'ythee, tell my master what a strange
- guest he has here.
- And I shall.
- Where dwell'st thou?
- Under the canopy.
- Under the canopy?
- Where's that?
- I' the city of kites and crows.
- I' the city of kites and crows!—What an ass it is!—Then thou
- dwell'st with daws too?
- No, I serve not thy master.
- How, sir! Do you meddle with my master?
- Ay; 'tis an honester service than to meddle with thy mistress.
- Thou prat'st and prat'st; serve with thy trencher, hence!
[Beats him away.]
[Enter AUFIDIUS and the second SERVANT.]
- Where is this fellow?
- Here, sir; I'd have beaten him like a dog, but for
- disturbing the lords within.
- Whence com'st thou? what wouldst thou? thy name?
- Why speak'st not? speak, man: what's thy name?
- [Unmuffling.] If, Tullus,
- Not yet thou know'st me, and, seeing me, dost not
- Think me for the man I am, necessity
- Commands me name myself.
- What is thy name?
- A name unmusical to the Volscians' ears,
- And harsh in sound to thine.
- Say, what's thy name?
- Thou has a grim appearance, and thy face
- Bears a command in't; though thy tackle's torn,
- Thou show'st a noble vessel: what's thy name?
- Prepare thy brow to frown:—know'st thou me yet?
- I know thee not:—thy name?
- My name is Caius Marcius, who hath done
- To thee particularly, and to all the Volsces,
- Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness may
- My surname, Coriolanus: the painful service,
- The extreme dangers, and the drops of blood
- Shed for my thankless country, are requited
- But with that surname; a good memory,
- And witness of the malice and displeasure
- Which thou shouldst bear me: only that name remains;
- The cruelty and envy of the people,
- Permitted by our dastard nobles, who
- Have all forsook me, hath devour'd the rest,
- And suffer'd me by the voice of slaves to be
- Whoop'd out of Rome. Now, this extremity
- Hath brought me to thy hearth: not out of hope,
- Mistake me not, to save my life; for if
- I had fear'd death, of all the men i' the world
- I would have 'voided thee; but in mere spite,
- To be full quit of those my banishers,
- Stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast
- A heart of wreak in thee, that wilt revenge
- Thine own particular wrongs, and stop those maims
- Of shame seen through thy country, speed thee straight
- And make my misery serve thy turn: so use it
- That my revengeful services may prove
- As benefits to thee; for I will fight
- Against my canker'd country with the spleen
- Of all the under fiends. But if so be
- Thou dar'st not this, and that to prove more fortunes
- Th'art tir'd, then, in a word, I also am
- Longer to live most weary, and present
- My throat to thee and to thy ancient malice;
- Which not to cut would show thee but a fool,
- Since I have ever follow'd thee with hate,
- Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country's breast,
- And cannot live but to thy shame, unless
- It be to do thee service.
- O Marcius, Marcius!
- Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart
- A root of ancient envy. If Jupiter
- Should from yond cloud speak divine things,
- And say Tis true,' I'd not believe them more
- Than thee, all noble Marcius.—Let me twine
- Mine arms about that body, where against
- My grained ash an hundred times hath broke
- And scar'd the moon with splinters; here I clip
- The anvil of my sword, and do contest
- As hotly and as nobly with thy love
- As ever in ambitious strength I did
- Contend against thy valour. Know thou first,
- I lov'd the maid I married; never man
- Sighed truer breath; but that I see thee here,
- Thou noble thing! more dances my rapt heart
- Than when I first my wedded mistress saw
- Bestride my threshold. Why, thou Mars! I tell thee
- We have a power on foot; and I had purpose
- Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn,
- Or lose mine arm for't: thou hast beat me out
- Twelve several times, and I have nightly since
- Dreamt of encounters 'twixt thyself and me;
- We have been down together in my sleep,
- Unbuckling helms, fisting each other's throat,
- And wak'd half dead with nothing. Worthy Marcius,
- Had we no other quarrel else to Rome, but that
- Thou art thence banish'd, we would muster all
- From twelve to seventy; and, pouring war
- Into the bowels of ungrateful Rome,
- Like a bold flood o'erbear. O, come, go in,
- And take our friendly senators by the hands;
- Who now are here, taking their leaves of me,
- Who am prepar'd against your territories,
- Though not for Rome itself.
- You bless me, gods!
- Therefore, most absolute sir, if thou wilt have
- The leading of thine own revenges, take
- Th' one half of my commission; and set down,—
- As best thou art experienc'd, since thou know'st
- Thy country's strength and weakness,—thine own ways;
- Whether to knock against the gates of Rome,
- Or rudely visit them in parts remote,
- To fright them, ere destroy. But come in;
- Let me commend thee first to those that shall
- Say yea to thy desires. A thousand welcomes!
- And more a friend than e'er an enemy;
- Yet, Marcius, that was much. Your hand: most welcome!
[Exeunt CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS.]
- FIRST SERVANT.
- Here's a strange alteration!
- By my hand, I had thought to have strucken him with a cudgel; and
- yet my mind gave me his clothes made a false report of him.
- What an arm he has! He turned me about with his finger and his
- thumb, as one would set up a top.
- Nay, I knew by his face that there was something in him; he had,
- sir, a kind of face, methought,—I cannot tell how to term it.
- He had so, looking as it were,—would I were hanged, but I
- thought there was more in him than I could think.
- So did I, I'll be sworn: he is simply the rarest man i' the
- I think he is; but a greater soldier than he you wot on.
- Who, my master?
- Nay, it's no matter for that.
- Worth six on him.
- Nay, not so neither: but I take him to be the greater soldier.
- Faith, look you, one cannot tell how to say that: for the defence
- of a town our general is excellent.
- Ay, and for an assault too.
[Re-enter third SERVANT.]
- O slaves, I can tell you news,—news, you rascals!
FIRST and SECOND SERVANT.
- What, what, what? let's partake.
- I would not be a Roman, of all nations; I had as lief be a
- condemned man.
FIRST and SECOND SERVANT.
- Wherefore? wherefore?
- Why, here's he that was wont to thwack our general,—Caius
- Why do you say, thwack our general?
- I do not say thwack our general; but he was always good enough
- for him.
- Come, we are fellows and friends: he was ever too hard for him; I
- have heard him say so himself.
- He was too hard for him directly, to say the troth on't; before
- Corioli he scotched him and notched him like a carbonado.
- An he had been cannibally given, he might have broiled and eaten
- him too.
- But more of thy news?
- Why, he is so made on here within as if he were son and heir to
- Mars; set at upper end o' the table: no question asked him by any
- of the senators but they stand bald before him: our general
- himself makes a mistress of him, sanctifies himself with's hand,
- and turns up the white o' the eye to his discourse. But the
- bottom of the news is, our general is cut i' the middle, and but
- one half of what he was yesterday; for the other has half, by the
- entreaty and grant of the whole table. He'll go, he says, and
- sowl the porter of Rome gates by the ears; he will mow all down
- before him, and leave his passage polled.
- And he's as like to do't as any man I can imagine.
- Do't! he will do't; for look you, sir, he has as many friends as
- enemies; which friends, sir, as it were, durst not, look you,
- sir, show themselves, as we term it, his friends, whilst he's in
- Dejectitude! what's that?
- But when they shall see, sir, his crest up again, and the man in
- blood, they will out of their burrows, like conies after rain,
- and revel all with him.
- But when goes this forward?
- To-morrow; to-day; presently; you shall have the drum struck up
- this afternoon: 'tis as it were parcel of their feast, and to be
- executed ere they wipe their lips.
- Why, then we shall have a stirring world again. This peace is
- nothing but to rust iron, increase tailors, and breed
- Let me have war, say I; it exceeds peace as far as day does
- night; it's spritely, waking, audible, and full of vent. Peace is
- a very apoplexy, lethargy; mulled, deaf, sleepy, insensible; a
- getter of more bastard children than war's a destroyer of men.
- 'Tis so: and as war in some sort, may be said to be a ravisher,
- so it cannot be denied but peace is a great maker of cuckolds.
- Ay, and it makes men hate one another.
- Reason: because they then less need one another. The wars for my
- money. I hope to see Romans as cheap as Volscians. They are
- rising, they are rising.
- In, in, in, in!
SCENE VI. Rome. A public place.
[Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS.]
- We hear not of him, neither need we fear him;
- His remedies are tame i' the present peace
- And quietness of the people, which before
- Were in wild hurry. Here do make his friends
- Blush that the world goes well; who rather had,
- Though they themselves did suffer by't, behold
- Dissentious numbers pestering streets than see
- Our tradesmen singing in their shops, and going
- About their functions friendly.
- We stood to't in good time.—Is this Menenius?
- 'Tis he, 'tis he. O, he is grown most kind
- Of late.
- Hail, sir!
- Hail to you both!
- Your Coriolanus is not much miss'd
- But with his friends: the commonwealth doth stand;
- And so would do, were he more angry at it.
- All's well, and might have been much better if
- He could have temporiz'd.
- Where is he, hear you?
- Nay, I hear nothing: his mother and his wife
- Hear nothing from him.
[Enter three or four Citizens.]
CITIZENS. The gods preserve you both!
- God-den, our neighbours.
- God-den to you all, God-den to you all.
- Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees,
- Are bound to pray for you both.
- Live and thrive!
- Farewell, kind neighbours: we wish'd Coriolanus
- Had lov'd you as we did.
- Now the gods keep you!
- Farewell, farewell.
- This is a happier and more comely time
- Than when these fellows ran about the streets
- Crying confusion.
- Caius Marcius was
- A worthy officer i' the war; but insolent,
- O'ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,
- And affecting one sole throne,
- Without assistance.
- I think not so.
- We should by this, to all our lamentation,
- If he had gone forth consul, found it so.
- The gods have well prevented it, and Rome
- Sits safe and still without him.
[Enter an AEDILE.]
- Worthy tribunes,
- There is a slave, whom we have put in prison,
- Reports,—the Volsces with several powers
- Are enter'd in the Roman territories,
- And with the deepest malice of the war
- Destroy what lies before 'em.
- 'Tis Aufidius,
- Who, hearing of our Marcius' banishment,
- Thrusts forth his horns again into the world;
- Which were inshell'd when Marcius stood for Rome,
- And durst not once peep out.
- Come, what talk you of Marcius?
- Go see this rumourer whipp'd.—It cannot be
- The Volsces dare break with us.
- Cannot be!
- We have record that very well it can;
- And three examples of the like hath been
- Within my age. But reason with the fellow,
- Before you punish him, where he heard this;
- Lest you shall chance to whip your information
- And beat the messenger who bids beware
- Of what is to be dreaded.
- Tell not me:
- I know this cannot be.
- Not possible.
[Enter A MESSENGER.]
- The nobles in great earnestness are going
- All to the senate-house: some news is come
- That turns their countenances.
- 'Tis this slave,—
- Go whip him fore the people's eyes:—his raising;
- Nothing but his report.
- Yes, worthy sir,
- The slave's report is seconded, and more,
- More fearful, is deliver'd.
- What more fearful?
- It is spoke freely out of many mouths,—
- How probable I do not know,—that Marcius,
- Join'd with Aufidius, leads a power 'gainst Rome,
- And vows revenge as spacious as between
- The young'st and oldest thing.
- This is most likely!
- Rais'd only, that the weaker sort may wish
- Good Marcius home again.
- The very trick on 't.
- This is unlikely:
- He and Aufidius can no more atone
- Than violentest contrariety.
[Enter a second MESSENGER.]
- You are sent for to the senate:
- A fearful army, led by Caius Marcius
- Associated with Aufidius, rages
- Upon our territories; and have already
- O'erborne their way, consum'd with fire and took
- What lay before them.
- O, you have made good work!
- What news? what news?
- You have holp to ravish your own daughters, and
- To melt the city leads upon your pates;
- To see your wives dishonour'd to your noses,—
- What's the news? what's the news?
- Your temples burned in their cement; and
- Your franchises, whereon you stood, confin'd
- Into an auger's bore.
- Pray now, your news?—
- You have made fair work, I fear me.—Pray, your news.
- If Marcius should be join'd wi' the Volscians,—
- He is their god: he leads them like a thing
- Made by some other deity than nature,
- That shapes man better; and they follow him,
- Against us brats, with no less confidence
- Than boys pursuing summer butterflies,
- Or butchers killing flies.
- You have made good work,
- You and your apron men; you that stood so much
- Upon the voice of occupation and
- The breath of garlic-eaters!
- He'll shake
- Your Rome about your ears.
- As Hercules
- Did shake down mellow fruit.—You have made fair work!
- But is this true, sir?
- Ay; and you'll look pale
- Before you find it other. All the regions
- Do smilingly revolt; and who resists
- Are mock'd for valiant ignorance,
- And perish constant fools. Who is't can blame him?
- Your enemies and his find something in him.
- We are all undone unless
- The noble man have mercy.
- Who shall ask it?
- The tribunes cannot do't for shame; the people
- Deserve such pity of him as the wolf
- Does of the shepherds: for his best friends, if they
- Should say 'Be good to Rome,' they charg'd him even
- As those should do that had deserv'd his hate,
- And therein show'd like enemies.
- 'Tis true:
- If he were putting to my house the brand
- That should consume it, I have not the face
- To say 'Beseech you, cease.'—You have made fair hands,
- You and your crafts! You have crafted fair!
- You have brought
- A trembling upon Rome, such as was never
- So incapable of help.
- Say not, we brought it.
- How! Was it we? we lov'd him, but, like beasts,
- And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,
- Who did hoot him out o' the city.
- But I fear
- They'll roar him in again. Tullus Aufidius,
- The second name of men, obeys his points
- As if he were his officer:—desperation
- Is all the policy, strength, and defence,
- That Rome can make against them.
[Enter a troop of citizens.]
- Here comes the clusters.—
- And is Aufidius with him?—You are they
- That made the air unwholesome, when you cast
- Your stinking greasy caps in hooting at
- Coriolanus' exile. Now he's coming;
- And not a hair upon a soldier's head
- Which will not prove a whip: as many coxcombs
- As you threw caps up will he tumble down,
- And pay you for your voices. 'Tis no matter;
- If he could burn us all into one coal
- We have deserv'd it.
- Faith, we hear fearful news.
- For mine own part,
- When I said banish him, I said 'twas pity.
- And so did I.
- And so did I; and, to say the truth, so did very many of us. That
- we did, we did for the best; and though we willingly consented to
- his banishment, yet it was against our will.
- You are goodly things, you voices!
- You have made
- Good work, you and your cry!—Shall's to the Capitol?
- O, ay; what else?
[Exeunt COMINIUS and MENENIUS.]
- Go, masters, get you home; be not dismay'd;
- These are a side that would be glad to have
- This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,
- And show no sign of fear.
- The gods be good to us!—Come, masters, let's home. I
- ever said we were i' the wrong when we banished him.
- So did we all. But come, let's home.
- I do not like this news.
- Nor I.
- Let's to the Capitol:—would half my wealth
- Would buy this for a lie!
- Pray let's go.
SCENE VII. A camp at a short distance from Rome.
[Enter AUFIDIUS and his LIEUTENANT.]
- Do they still fly to the Roman?
- I do not know what witchcraft's in him, but
- Your soldiers use him as the grace 'fore meat,
- Their talk at table, and their thanks at end;
- And you are darken'd in this action, sir,
- Even by your own.
- I cannot help it now,
- Unless by using means, I lame the foot
- Of our design. He bears himself more proudlier,
- Even to my person, than I thought he would
- When first I did embrace him: yet his nature
- In that's no changeling; and I must excuse
- What cannot be amended.
- Yet I wish, sir,—
- I mean, for your particular,—you had not
- Join'd in commission with him; but either
- Had borne the action of yourself, or else
- To him had left it solely.
- I understand thee well; and be thou sure,
- When he shall come to his account, he knows not
- What I can urge against him. Although it seems,
- And so he thinks, and is no less apparent
- To the vulgar eye, that he bears all things fairly,
- And shows good husbandry for the Volscian state,
- Fights dragon-like, and does achieve as soon
- As draw his sword: yet he hath left undone
- That which shall break his neck or hazard mine
- Whene'er we come to our account.
- Sir, I beseech you, think you he'll carry Rome?
- All places yield to him ere he sits down;
- And the nobility of Rome are his;
- The senators and patricians love him too:
- The tribunes are no soldiers; and their people
- Will be as rash in the repeal as hasty
- To expel him thence. I think he'll be to Rome
- As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it
- By sovereignty of nature. First he was
- A noble servant to them; but he could not
- Carry his honours even: whether 'twas pride,
- Which out of daily fortune ever taints
- The happy man; whether defect of judgment,
- To fail in the disposing of those chances
- Which he was lord of; or whether nature,
- Not to be other than one thing, not moving
- From the casque to the cushion, but commanding peace
- Even with the same austerity and garb
- As he controll'd the war; but one of these,—
- As he hath spices of them all, not all,
- For I dare so far free him,—made him fear'd,
- So hated, and so banish'd: but he has a merit
- To choke it in the utterance. So our virtues
- Lie in the interpretation of the time:
- And power, unto itself most commendable,
- Hath not a tomb so evident as a cheer
- To extol what it hath done.
- One fire drives out one fire; one nail, one nail;
- Rights by rights falter, strengths by strengths do fail.
- Come, let's away. When, Caius, Rome is thine,
- Thou art poor'st of all; then shortly art thou mine.
SCENE I. Rome. A public place
[Enter MENENIUS, COMINIUS, SICINIUS and BRUTUS, and others.]
- No, I'll not go: you hear what he hath said
- Which was sometime his general; who lov'd him
- In a most dear particular. He call'd me father:
- But what o' that? Go, you that banish'd him;
- A mile before his tent fall down, and knee
- The way into his mercy: nay, if he coy'd
- To hear Cominius speak, I'll keep at home.
- He would not seem to know me.
- Do you hear?
- Yet one time he did call me by my name:
- I urged our old acquaintance, and the drops
- That we have bled together. Coriolanus
- He would not answer to: forbad all names;
- He was a kind of nothing, titleless,
- Till he had forg'd himself a name i' the fire
- Of burning Rome.
- Why, so!—you have made good work!
- A pair of tribunes that have rack'd for Rome,
- To make coals cheap,—a noble memory!
- I minded him how royal 'twas to pardon
- When it was less expected: he replied,
- It was a bare petition of a state
- To one whom they had punish'd.
- Very well:
- Could he say less?
- I offer'd to awaken his regard
- For's private friends: his answer to me was,
- He could not stay to pick them in a pile
- Of noisome musty chaff: he said 'twas folly,
- For one poor grain or two, to leave unburnt
- And still to nose the offence.
- For one poor grain
- Or two! I am one of those; his mother, wife,
- His child, and this brave fellow too- we are the grains:
- You are the musty chaff; and you are smelt
- Above the moon: we must be burnt for you.
- Nay, pray be patient: if you refuse your aid
- In this so never-needed help, yet do not
- Upbraid's with our distress. But, sure, if you
- Would be your country's pleader, your good tongue,
- More than the instant army we can make,
- Might stop our countryman.
- No; I'll not meddle.
- Pray you, go to him.
- What should I do?
- Only make trial what your love can do
- For Rome, towards Marcius.
- Well, and say that Marcius
- Return me, as Cominius is return'd,
- Unheard; what then?
- But as a discontented friend, grief-shot
- With his unkindness? Say't be so?
- Yet your good-will
- Must have that thanks from Rome, after the measure
- As you intended well.
- I'll undertake't;
- I think he'll hear me. Yet to bite his lip
- And hum at good Cominius much unhearts me.
- He was not taken well: he had not din'd;
- The veins unfill'd, our blood is cold, and then
- We pout upon the morning, are unapt
- To give or to forgive; but when we have stuff'd
- These pipes and these conveyances of our blood
- With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls
- Than in our priest-like fasts. Therefore I'll watch him
- Till he be dieted to my request,
- And then I'll set upon him.
- You know the very road into his kindness
- And cannot lose your way.
- Good faith, I'll prove him,
- Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledge
- Of my success.
- He'll never hear him.
- I tell you he does sit in gold, his eye
- Red as 'twould burn Rome: and his injury
- The gaoler to his pity. I kneel'd before him;
- 'Twas very faintly he said 'Rise'; dismissed me
- Thus, with his speechless hand: what he would do,
- He sent in writing after me; what he would not,
- Bound with an oath to yield to his conditions:
- So that all hope is vain,
- Unless his noble mother and his wife;
- Who, as I hear, mean to solicit him
- For mercy to his country. Therefore, let's hence,
- And with our fair entreaties haste them on.
SCENE II. An Advanced post of the Volscian camp before Rome.
[TheGuards at their station.]
[Enter to them MENENIUS.]
- Stay: whence are you?
- Stand, and go back.
- You guard like men; 'tis well: but, by your leave,
- I am an officer of state, and come
- To speak with Coriolanus.
- From whence?
- From Rome.
- You may not pass; you must return: our general
- Will no more hear from thence.
- You'll see your Rome embrac'd with fire before
- You'll speak with Coriolanus.
- Good my friends,
- If you have heard your general talk of Rome
- And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks
- My name hath touch'd your ears: it is Menenius.
- Be it so; go back: the virtue of your name
- Is not here passable.
- I tell thee, fellow,
- Thy general is my lover: I have been
- The book of his good acts, whence men have read
- His fame unparallel'd, haply amplified;
- For I have ever verified my friends,—
- Of whom he's chief,—with all the size that verity
- Would without lapsing suffer: nay, sometimes,
- Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground,
- I have tumbled past the throw: and in his praise
- Have almost stamp'd the leasing: therefore, fellow,
- I must have leave to pass.
- Faith, sir, if you had told as many lies in his behalf as you
- have uttered words in your own, you should not pass here: no,
- though it were as virtuous to lie as to live chastely.
- Therefore, go back.
- Pr'ythee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius, always
- factionary on the party of your general.
- Howsoever you have been his liar,—as you say you have, I am one
- that, telling true under him, must say you cannot pass. Therefore
- go back.
- Has he dined, canst thou tell? For I would not speak with him
- till after dinner.
- You are a Roman, are you?
- I am as thy general is.
- Then you should hate Rome, as he does. Can you, when you have
- pushed out your gates the very defender of them, and in a violent
- popular ignorance, given your enemy your shield, think to front
- his revenges with the easy groans of old women, the virginal
- palms of your daughters, or with the palsied intercession of such
- a decayed dotant as you seem to be? Can you think to blow out the
- intended fire your city is ready to flame in, with such weak
- breath as this? No, you are deceived; therefore back to Rome, and
- prepare for your execution: you are condemned; our general has
- sworn you out of reprieve and pardon.
- Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here he would use me with
- Come, my captain knows you not.
- I mean thy general.
- My general cares not for you. Back, I say; go, lest I let forth
- your half pint of blood;—back; that's the utmost of your
- Nay, but fellow, fellow,—
[Enter CORIOLANUS with AUFIDIUS.]
- What's the matter?
- Now, you companion, I'll say an errand for you; you shall know
- now that I am in estimation; you shall perceive that a jack
- guardant cannot office me from my son Coriolanus: guess but by my
- entertainment with him if thou standest not i' the state of
- hanging, or of some death more long in spectatorship and crueller
- in suffering; behold now presently, and swoon for what's to come
- upon thee.—The glorious gods sit in hourly synod about thy
- particular prosperity, and love thee no worse than thy old father
- Menenius does! O my son! my son! thou art preparing fire for us;
- look thee, here's water to quench it. I was hardly moved to come
- to thee; but being assured none but myself could move thee, I
- have been blown out of your gates with sighs; and conjure thee to
- pardon Rome and thy petitionary countrymen. The good gods assuage
- thy wrath, and turn the dregs of it upon this varlet here; this,
- who, like a block, hath denied my access to thee.
- How! away!
- Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs
- Are servanted to others: though I owe
- My revenge properly, my remission lies
- In Volscian breasts. That we have been familiar,
- Ingrate forgetfulness shall poison, rather
- Than pity note how much.—Therefore be gone.
- Mine ears against your suits are stronger than
- Your gates against my force. Yet, for I lov'd thee,
- Take this along; I writ it for thy sake,
[Gives a letter.]
And would have sent it. Another word, Menenius,
- I will not hear thee speak.—This man, Aufidius,
- Was my beloved in Rome: yet thou behold'st!
- You keep a constant temper.
[Exeunt CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS.]
- Now, sir, is your name Menenius?
- 'Tis a spell, you see, of much power: you know the way home
- Do you hear how we are shent for keeping your greatness back?
- What cause, do you think, I have to swoon?
- I neither care for the world nor your general; for such things as
- you, I can scarce think there's any, y'are so slight. He that
- hath a will to die by himself fears it not from another. Let your
- general do his worst. For you, be that you are, long; and your
- misery increase with your age! I say to you, as I was said to,
- A noble fellow, I warrant him.
- The worthy fellow is our general: he is the rock, the oak not to
- be wind-shaken.
SCENE III. The tent of CORIOLANUS.
[Enter CORIOLANUS, AUFIDIUS, and others.]
- We will before the walls of Rome to-morrow
- Set down our host.—My partner in this action,
- You must report to the Volscian lords how plainly
- I have borne this business.
- Only their ends
- You have respected; stopped your ears against
- The general suit of Rome; never admitted
- A private whisper, no, not with such friends
- That thought them sure of you.
- This last old man,
- Whom with crack'd heart I have sent to Rome,
- Lov'd me above the measure of a father;
- Nay, godded me indeed. Their latest refuge
- Was to send him; for whose old love I have,—
- Though I show'd sourly to him,—once more offer'd
- The first conditions, which they did refuse,
- And cannot now accept, to grace him only,
- That thought he could do more, a very little
- I have yielded to: fresh embassies and suits,
- Nor from the state nor private friends, hereafter
- Will I lend ear to.—
Ha! what shout is this?
- Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow
- In the same time 'tis made? I will not.
[Enter, in mourning habits, VIRGILIA, VOLUMNIA, leading YOUNG
- MARCIUS, VALERIA, and attendants.]
My wife comes foremost; then the honour'd mould
- Wherein this trunk was fram'd, and in her hand
- The grandchild to her blood. But, out, affection!
- All bond and privilege of nature, break!
- Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.—
- What is that curt'sy worth? or those doves' eyes,
- Which can make gods forsworn?—I melt, and am not
- Of stronger earth than others.—My mother bows,
- As if Olympus to a molehill should
- In supplication nod: and my young boy
- Hath an aspect of intercession which
- Great nature cries "Deny not.'—Let the Volsces
- Plough Rome and harrow Italy: I'll never
- Be such a gosling to obey instinct; but stand,
- As if a man were author of himself,
- And knew no other kin.
- My lord and husband!
- These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.
- The sorrow that delivers us thus chang'd
- Makes you think so.
- Like a dull actor now,
- I have forgot my part and I am out,
- Even to a full disgrace. Best of my flesh,
- Forgive my tyranny; but do not say,
- For that, 'Forgive our Romans.'—O, a kiss
- Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge;
- Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss
- I carried from thee, dear; and my true lip
- Hath virgin'd it e'er since.—You gods! I prate,
- And the most noble mother of the world
- Leave unsaluted: sink, my knee, i' the earth;
Of thy deep duty more impression show
- Than that of common sons.
- O, stand up bless'd!
- Whilst, with no softer cushion than the flint,
- I kneel before thee; and unproperly
- Show duty, as mistaken all this while
- Between the child and parent.
- What is this?
- Your knees to me? to your corrected son?
- Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach
- Fillip the stars; then let the mutinous winds
- Strike the proud cedars 'gainst the fiery sun,;
- Murdering impossibility, to make
- What cannot be, slight work.
- Thou art my warrior;
- I holp to frame thee. Do you know this lady?
- The noble sister of Publicola,
- The moon of Rome; chaste as the icicle
- That's curded by the frost from purest snow,
- And hangs on Dian's temple:—dear Valeria!
- This is a poor epitome of yours,
- Which, by the interpretation of full time,
- May show like all yourself.
- The god of soldiers,
- With the consent of supreme Jove, inform
- Thy thoughts with nobleness; that thou mayst prove
- To shame unvulnerable, and stick i' the wars
- Like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw,
- And saving those that eye thee!
- Your knee, sirrah.
- That's my brave boy.
- Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself,
- Are suitors to you.
- I beseech you, peace:
- Or, if you'd ask, remember this before,—
- The thing I have forsworn to grant may never
- Be held by you denials. Do not bid me
- Dismiss my soldiers, or capitulate
- Again with Rome's mechanics.—Tell me not
- Wherein I seem unnatural: desire not
- To allay my rages and revenges with
- Your colder reasons.
- O, no more, no more!
- You have said you will not grant us anything;
- For we have nothing else to ask but that
- Which you deny already: yet we will ask;
- That, if you fail in our request, the blame
- May hang upon your hardness; therefore hear us.
- Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark: for we'll
- Hear nought from Rome in private.—Your request?
- Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment
- And state of bodies would bewray what life
- We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself,
- How more unfortunate than all living women
- Are we come hither: since that thy sight, which should
- Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance with comforts,
- Constrains them weep, and shake with fear and sorrow;
- Making the mother, wife, and child, to see
- The son, the husband, and the father, tearing
- His country's bowels out. And to poor we,
- Thine enmity's most capital: thou barr'st us
- Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort
- That all but we enjoy; for how can we,
- Alas, how can we for our country pray,
- Whereto we are bound,—together with thy victory,
- Whereto we are bound? alack, or we must lose
- The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,
- Our comfort in the country. We must find
- An evident calamity, though we had
- Our wish, which side should win; for either thou
- Must, as a foreign recreant, be led
- With manacles through our streets, or else
- Triumphantly tread on thy country's ruin,
- And bear the palm for having bravely shed
- Thy wife and children's blood. For myself, son,
- I purpose not to wait on fortune till
- These wars determine: if I can not persuade thee
- Rather to show a noble grace to both parts
- Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner
- March to assault thy country than to tread,—
- Trust to't, thou shalt not,—on thy mother's womb
- That brought thee to this world.
- Ay, and mine,
- That brought you forth this boy, to keep your name
- Living to time.
- 'A shall not tread on me;
- I'll run away till I am bigger; but then I'll fight.
- Not of a woman's tenderness to be,
- Requires nor child nor woman's face to see.
- I have sat too long.
- Nay, go not from us thus.
- If it were so that our request did tend
- To save the Romans, thereby to destroy
- The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn us,
- As poisonous of your honour: no; our suit
- Is that you reconcile them: while the Volsces
- May say 'This mercy we have show'd,' the Romans
- 'This we receiv'd,' and each in either side
- Give the all-hail to thee, and cry, 'Be bless'd
- For making up this peace!' Thou know'st, great son,
- The end of war's uncertain; but this certain,
- That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit
- Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name
- Whose repetition will be dogg'd with curses;
- Whose chronicle thus writ:—'The man was noble,
- But with his last attempt he wip'd it out;
- Destroy'd his country, and his name remains
- To the ensuing age abhorr'd.' Speak to me, son:
- Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour,
- To imitate the graces of the gods,
- To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o' the air,
- And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt
- That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak?
- Think'st thou it honourable for a noble man
- Still to remember wrongs?—Daughter, speak you:
- He cares not for your weeping.—Speak thou, boy:
- Perhaps thy childishness will move him more
- Than can our reasons.—There's no man in the world
- More bound to's mother; yet here he lets me prate
- Like one i' the stocks. Thou hast never in thy life
- Show'd thy dear mother any courtesy;
- When she,—poor hen,—fond of no second brood,
- Has cluck'd thee to the wars, and safely home,
- Loaden with honour. Say my request's unjust,
- And spurn me back: but if it be not so,
- Thou art not honest; and the gods will plague thee,
- That thou restrain'st from me the duty which
- To a mother's part belongs.—He turns away:
- Down, ladies: let us shame him with our knees.
- To his surname Coriolanus 'longs more pride
- Than pity to our prayers. Down: an end;
- This is the last.—So we will home to Rome,
- And die among our neighbours.—Nay, behold's:
- This boy, that cannot tell what he would have
- But kneels and holds up hands for fellowship,
- Does reason our petition with more strength
- Than thou hast to deny't.—Come, let us go:
- This fellow had a Volscian to his mother;
- His wife is in Corioli, and his child
- Like him by chance.—Yet give us our despatch:
- I am hush'd until our city be afire,
- And then I'll speak a little.
CORIOLANUS. [After holding VOLUMNIA by the hands, in silence.]
- O mother, mother!
- What have you done? Behold, the heavens do ope,
- The gods look down, and this unnatural scene
- They laugh at. O my mother, mother! O!
- You have won a happy victory to Rome;
- But for your son,—believe it, O, believe it,
- Most dangerously you have with him prevail'd,
- If not most mortal to him. But let it come.—
- Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,
- I'll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius,
- Were you in my stead, would you have heard
- A mother less? or granted less, Aufidius?
- I was mov'd withal.
- I dare be sworn you were:
- And, sir, it is no little thing to make
- Mine eyes to sweat compassion. But, good sir,
- What peace you'll make, advise me: for my part,
- I'll not to Rome, I'll back with you; and, pray you
- Stand to me in this cause.—O mother! wife!
- [Aside.] I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and thy honour
- At difference in thee; out of that I'll work
- Myself a former fortune.
[The Ladies make signs to CORIOLANUS.]
- [To VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, &c.] Ay, by and by;
- But we'll drink together; and you shall bear
- A better witness back than words, which we,
- On like conditions, will have counter-seal'd.
- Come, enter with us. Ladies, you deserve
- To have a temple built you: all the swords
- In Italy, and her confederate arms,
- Could not have made this peace.
SCENE IV. Rome. A public place.
[Enter MENENIUS and SICINIUS.]
- See you yond coign o' the Capitol,—yond corner-stone?
- Why, what of that?
- If it be possible for you to displace it with your little
- finger, there is some hope the ladies of Rome, especially his
- mother, may prevail with him. But I say there is no hope in't:
- our throats are sentenced, and stay upon execution.
- Is't possible that so short a time can alter the condition of a
- There is differency between a grub and a butterfly; yet your
- butterfly was a grub. This Marcius is grown from man to dragon;
- he has wings; he's more than a creeping thing.
- He loved his mother dearly.
- So did he me: and he no more remembers his mother now than an
- eight-year-old horse. The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes:
- when he walks, he moves like an engine, and the ground shrinks
- before his treading: he is able to pierce a corslet with his eye,
- talks like a knell, and his hum is a battery. He sits in his
- state as a thing made for Alexander. What he bids be done is
- finished with his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but
- eternity, and a heaven to throne in.
- Yes, mercy, if you report him truly.
- I paint him in the character. Mark what mercy his mother shall
- bring from him. There is no more mercy in him than there is
- milk in a male tiger; that shall our poor city find: and all this
- is 'long of you.
- The gods be good unto us!
- No, in such a case the gods will not be good unto us. When we
- banished him we respected not them; and, he returning to break
- our necks, they respect not us.
[Enter a MESSENGER
- Sir, if you'd save your life, fly to your house:
- The plebeians have got your fellow-tribune
- And hale him up and down; all swearing, if
- The Roman ladies bring not comfort home
- They'll give him death by inches.
[Enter a second MESSENGER.]
- What's the news?
- Good news, good news;—the ladies have prevail'd,
- The Volscians are dislodg'd, and Marcius gone:
- A merrier day did never yet greet Rome,
- No, not the expulsion of the Tarquins.
- Art thou certain this is true? is't most certain?
- As certain as I know the sun is fire:
- Where have you lurk'd, that you make doubt of it?
- Ne'er through an arch so hurried the blown tide
- As the recomforted through the gates. Why, hark you!
[Trumpets and hautboys sounded, drums beaten, aand shouting
The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries, and fifes,
- Tabors and cymbals, and the shouting Romans,
- Make the sun dance. Hark you!
- This is good news.
- I will go meet the ladies. This Volumnia
- Is worth of consuls, senators, patricians,
- A city full: of tribunes such as you,
- A sea and land full. You have pray'd well to-day:
- This morning for ten thousand of your throats
- Ied not have given a doit. Hark, how they joy!
[Shouting and music.]
- First, the gods bless you for your tidings; next,
- Accept my thankfulness.
- Sir, we have all
- Great cause to give great thanks.
- They are near the city?
- Almost at point to enter.
- We'll meet them,
- And help the joy.
SCENE V. Rome. A street near the gate.
[Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, VALERIA, &c., accompanied by Senators, Patricians, and Citizens.]
- Behold our patroness, the life of Rome!
- Call all your tribes together, praise the gods,
- And make triumphant fires; strew flowers before them:
- Unshout the noise that banish'd Marcius,
- Repeal him with the welcome of his mother;
- Cry, 'Welcome, ladies, welcome!'—
- Welcome, ladies,
SCENE VI. Antium. A public place.
[Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, with attendants.]
- Go tell the lords o' the city I am here:
- Deliver them this paper; having read it,
- Bid them repair to the market-place: where I,
- Even in theirs and in the commons' ears,
- Will vouch the truth of it. Him I accuse
- The city ports by this hath enter'd and
- Intends t' appear before the people, hoping
- To purge himself with words: despatch.
[Enter three or four CONSPIRATORS of AUFIDIUS' faction.]
- How is it with our general?
- Even so
- As with a man by his own alms empoison'd,
- And with his charity slain.
- Most noble sir,
- If you do hold the same intent wherein
- You wish'd us parties, we'll deliver you
- Of your great danger.
- Sir, I cannot tell:
- We must proceed as we do find the people.
- The people will remain uncertain whilst
- 'Twixt you there's difference: but the fall of either
- Makes the survivor heir of all.
- I know it;
- And my pretext to strike at him admits
- A good construction. I rais'd him, and I pawn'd
- Mine honour for his truth: who being so heighten'd,
- He water'd his new plants with dews of flattery,
- Seducing so my friends; and to this end
- He bow'd his nature, never known before
- But to be rough, unswayable, and free.
- Sir, his stoutness
- When he did stand for consul, which he lost
- By lack of stooping,—
- That I would have spoken of:
- Being banish'd for't, he came unto my hearth;
- Presented to my knife his throat: I took him;
- Made him joint-servant with me; gave him way
- In all his own desires; nay, let him choose
- Out of my files, his projects to accomplish,
- My best and freshest men; serv'd his designments
- In mine own person; holp to reap the fame
- Which he made all his; and took some pride
- To do myself this wrong: till, at the last,
- I seem'd his follower, not partner; and
- He wag'd me with his countenance as if
- I had been mercenary.
- So he did, my lord:
- The army marvell'd at it; and, in the last,
- When he had carried Rome, and that we look'd
- For no less spoil than glory,—
- There was it;—
- For which my sinews shall be stretch'd upon him.
- At a few drops of women's rheum, which are
- As cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labour
- Of our great action: therefore shall he die,
- And I'll renew me in his fall. But, hark!
[Drums and trumpets sound, with great shouts of the people.]
- Your native town you enter'd like a post,
- And had no welcomes home; but he returns
- Splitting the air with noise.
- And patient fools,
- Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear
- With giving him glory.
- Therefore, at your vantage,
- Ere he express himself or move the people
- With what he would say, let him feel your sword,
- Which we will second. When he lies along,
- After your way his tale pronounc'd shall bury
- His reasons with his body.
- Say no more:
- Here come the lords.
[Enter the LORDS of the city.]
- You are most welcome home.
- I have not deserv'd it.
- But, worthy lords, have you with heed perus'd
- What I have written to you?
- We have.
- And grieve to hear't.
- What faults he made before the last, I think
- Might have found easy fines: but there to end
- Where he was to begin, and give away
- The benefit of our levies, answering us
- With our own charge: making a treaty where
- There was a yielding.—This admits no excuse.
- He approaches: you shall hear him.
[Enter CORIOLANUS, with drum and colours; a crowd of Citizens
- with him.]
- Hail, lords! I am return'd your soldier;
- No more infected with my country's love
- Than when I parted hence, but still subsisting
- Under your great command. You are to know
- That prosperously I have attempted, and
- With bloody passage led your wars even to
- The gates of Rome. Our spoils we have brought home
- Do more than counterpoise a full third part
- The charges of the action. We have made peace
- With no less honour to the Antiates
- Than shame to the Romans: and we here deliver,
- Subscribed by the consuls and patricians,
- Together with the seal o' the senate, what
- We have compounded on.
- Read it not, noble lords;
- But tell the traitor, in the highest degree
- He hath abus'd your powers.
- Traitor!—How now?
- Ay, traitor, Marcius.
- Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius! Dost thou think
- I'll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol'n name
- Coriolanus, in Corioli?—
- You lords and heads o' the state, perfidiously
- He has betray'd your business, and given up,
- For certain drops of salt, your city Rome,—
- I say your city,—to his wife and mother;
- Breaking his oath and resolution, like
- A twist of rotten silk; never admitting
- Counsel o' the war; but at his nurse's tears
- He whin'd and roar'd away your victory;
- That pages blush'd at him, and men of heart
- Look'd wondering each at others.
- Hear'st thou, Mars?
- Name not the god, thou boy of tears,—
- No more.
- Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
- Too great for what contains it. Boy! O slave!—
- Pardon me, lords, 'tis the first time that ever
- I was forc'd to scold. Your judgments, my grave lords,
- Must give this cur the lie: and his own notion,—
- Who wears my stripes impress'd upon him; that must bear
- My beating to his grave,—shall join to thrust
- The lie unto him.
- Peace, both, and hear me speak.
- Cut me to pieces, Volsces; men and lads,
- Stain all your edges on me.—Boy! False hound!
- If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there,
- That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I
- Flutter'd your Volscians in Corioli:
- Alone I did it.—Boy!
- Why, noble lords,
- Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune,
- Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,
- 'Fore your own eyes and ears?
- Let him die for't.
- Tear him to pieces, do it presently:—he killed my son; my
- daughter; he killed my cousin Marcus; he killed my father,—
- Peace, ho!—no outrage;—peace!
- The man is noble, and his fame folds in
- This orb o' the earth. His last offences to us
- Shall have judicious hearing.—Stand, Aufidius,
- And trouble not the peace.
- O that I had him,
- With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe,
- To use my lawful sword!
- Insolent villain!
- Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!
[AUFIDIUS and the CONSPIRATORS draw, and kill CORIOLANUS,who
- falls. AUFIDIUS stands on him.]
- Hold, hold, hold, hold!
- My noble masters, hear me speak.
- O Tullus,—
- Thou hast done a deed whereat valour will weep.
- Tread not upon him.—Masters all, be quiet;
- Put up your swords.
- My lords, when you shall know,—as in this rage,
- Provok'd by him, you cannot,—the great danger
- Which this man's life did owe you, you'll rejoice
- That he is thus cut off. Please it your honours
- To call me to your senate, I'll deliver
- Myself your loyal servant, or endure
- Your heaviest censure.
- Bear from hence his body,
- And mourn you for him. Let him be regarded
- As the most noble corse that ever herald
- Did follow to his um.
- His own impatience
- Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.
- Let's make the best of it.
- My rage is gone;
- And I am struck with sorrow.—Take him up:—
- Help, three o' the chiefest soldiers; I'll be one.—
- Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully;
- Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he
- Hath widow'd and unchilded many a one,
- Which to this hour bewail the injury,
- Yet he shall have a noble memory.—
[Exeunt, bearing the body of CORIOLANUS. A dead march sounded.]
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.