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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare The Tragedy of Coriolanus

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CORIOLANUS. Tullus Aufidius, then, had made new head?
LARTIUS. He had, my lord; and that it was which caus'd
Our swifter composition.
CORIOLANUS. So then the Volsces stand but as at first,
Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road
Upon's again.
COMINIUS. They are worn, Lord Consul, so
That we shall hardly in our ages see
Their banners wave again.
CORIOLANUS. Saw you Aufidius?
LARTIUS. 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.
CORIOLANUS. Spoke he of me?
LARTIUS. He did, my lord.
LARTIUS. 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.
CORIOLANUS. At Antium lives he?
LARTIUS. At Antium.
CORIOLANUS. I wish I had a cause to seek him there,
To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.


Behold, these are the tribunes of the people,
The tongues o' th' common mouth. I do despise them,
For they do prank them in authority,
Against all noble sufferance.
SICINIUS. Pass no further.
CORIOLANUS. Ha! What is that?
BRUTUS. It will be dangerous to go on- no further.
CORIOLANUS. What makes this change?
MENENIUS. The matter?
COMINIUS. Hath he not pass'd the noble and the common?
BRUTUS. Cominius, no.
CORIOLANUS. Have I had children's voices?
FIRST SENATOR. Tribunes, give way: he shall to th'
BRUTUS. The people are incens'd against him.
Or all will fall in broil.
CORIOLANUS. 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?
MENENIUS. Be calm, be calm.
CORIOLANUS. 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.
BRUTUS. 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.
CORIOLANUS. Why, this was known before.
BRUTUS. Not to them all.
CORIOLANUS. Have you inform'd them sithence?
BRUTUS. How? I inform them!
COMINIUS. You are like to do such business.
BRUTUS. Not unlike
Each way to better yours.
CORIOLANUS. Why then should I be consul? By yond clouds,
Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
Your fellow tribune.
SICINIUS. You show too much of that
For which the people stir; if you will pass
To where you are bound, you must enquire 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.
MENENIUS. Let's be calm.
COMINIUS. The people are abus'd; set on. This palt'ring
Becomes not Rome; nor has Coriolanus
Deserved this so dishonour'd rub, laid falsely
I' th' plain way of his merit.
CORIOLANUS. Tell me of corn!
This was my speech, and I will speak't again-
MENENIUS. Not now, not now.
FIRST SENATOR. Not in this heat, sir, now.
CORIOLANUS. 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.
MENENIUS. Well, no more.
FIRST SENATOR. No more words, we beseech you.
CORIOLANUS. 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.
BRUTUS. You speak o' th' people
As if you were a god, to punish; not
A man of their infirmity.
SICINIUS. 'Twere well
We let the people know't.
MENENIUS. What, what? his choler?
Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,
By Jove, 'twould be my mind!
SICINIUS. It is a mind
That shall remain a poison where it is,
Not poison any further.
CORIOLANUS. Shall remain!
Hear you this Triton of the minnows? Mark you
His absolute 'shall'?
COMINIUS. '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' th' monster's, 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 th' other.
COMINIUS. Well, on to th' market-place.
CORIOLANUS. Whoever gave that counsel to give forth
The corn o' th' storehouse gratis, as 'twas us'd
Sometime in Greece-
MENENIUS. Well, well, no more of that.
CORIOLANUS. Though there the people had more absolute pow'r-
I say they nourish'd disobedience, fed
The ruin of the state.
BRUTUS. Why shall the people give
One that speaks thus their voice?
CORIOLANUS. 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 th' 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' th' war,
Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they show'd
Most valour, spoke not for them. Th' 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 bosom multiplied 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' th' Senate and bring in
The crows to peck the eagles.
MENENIUS. Come, enough.
BRUTUS. Enough, with over measure.
CORIOLANUS. 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 th' ill which doth control't.
BRUTUS. Has said enough.
SICINIUS. Has spoken like a traitor and shall answer
As traitors do.
CORIOLANUS. 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' th' dust.
BRUTUS. Manifest treason!
SICINIUS. This a consul? No.
BRUTUS. The aediles, ho!

Enter an AEDILE

Let him be apprehended.
SICINIUS. Go call the people, [Exit AEDILE] in whose name
Attach thee as a traitorous innovator,
A foe to th' public weal. Obey, I charge thee,
And follow to thine answer.
CORIOLANUS. Hence, old goat!
PATRICIANS. We'll surety him.
COMINIUS. Ag'd sir, hands off.
CORIOLANUS. Hence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bones
Out of thy garments.
SICINIUS. Help, ye citizens!

Enter a rabble of plebeians, with the AEDILES

MENENIUS. On both sides more respect.
SICINIUS. Here's he that would take from you all your power.
BRUTUS. Seize him, aediles.
PLEBEIANS. Down with him! down with him!
SECOND SENATOR. Weapons, weapons, weapons!
[They all bustle about CORIOLANUS]
ALL. Tribunes! patricians! citizens! What, ho! Sicinius!
Brutus! Coriolanus! Citizens!
PATRICIANS. Peace, peace, peace; stay, hold, peace!
MENENIUS. What is about to be? I am out of breath;
Confusion's near; I cannot speak. You tribunes
To th' people- Coriolanus, patience!
Speak, good Sicinius.
SICINIUS. Hear me, people; peace!
PLEBEIANS. Let's hear our tribune. Peace! Speak, speak, speak.
SICINIUS. You are at point to lose your liberties.
Marcius would have all from you; Marcius,
Whom late you have nam'd for consul.
MENENIUS. Fie, fie, fie!
This is the way to kindle, not to quench.
FIRST SENATOR. To unbuild the city, and to lay all flat.
SICINIUS. What is the city but the people?
The people are the city.
BRUTUS. By the consent of all we were establish'd
The people's magistrates.
PLEBEIANS. You so remain.
MENENIUS. And so are like to do.
COMINIUS. 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.
SICINIUS. This deserves death.
BRUTUS. Or let us stand to our authority
Or let us lose it. We do here pronounce,
Upon the part o' th' people, in whose power
We were elected theirs: Marcius is worthy
Of present death.
SICINIUS. Therefore lay hold of him;
Bear him to th' rock Tarpeian, and from thence
Into destruction cast him.
BRUTUS. AEdiles, seize him.
PLEBEIANS. Yield, Marcius, yield.
MENENIUS. Hear me one word; beseech you, Tribunes,
Hear me but a word.
AEDILES. Peace, peace!
MENENIUS. Be that you seem, truly your country's friend,
And temp'rately proceed to what you would
Thus violently redress.
BRUTUS. 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.
[CORIOLANUS draws his sword]
CORIOLANUS. No: I'll die here.
There's some among you have beheld me fighting;
Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.
MENENIUS. Down with that sword! Tribunes, withdraw awhile.
BRUTUS. Lay hands upon him.
MENENIUS. Help Marcius, help,
You that be noble; help him, young and old.
PLEBEIANS. Down with him, down with him!
[In this mutiny the TRIBUNES, the AEDILES,
and the people are beat in]
MENENIUS. Go, get you to your house; be gone, away.
All will be nought else.
SECOND SENATOR. Get you gone.
CORIOLANUS. Stand fast;
We have as many friends as enemies.
MENENIUS. Shall it be put to that?
FIRST SENATOR. The gods forbid!
I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;
Leave us to cure this cause.
MENENIUS. For 'tis a sore upon us
You cannot tent yourself; be gone, beseech you.
COMINIUS. Come, sir, along with us.
CORIOLANUS. I would they were barbarians, as they are,
Though in Rome litter'd; not Romans, as they are not,
Though calved i' th' porch o' th' Capitol.
MENENIUS. Be gone.
Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;
One time will owe another.
CORIOLANUS. On fair ground
I could beat forty of them.
MENENIUS. I could myself
Take up a brace o' th' best of them; yea, the two tribunes.
COMINIUS. 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 us'd to bear.
MENENIUS. 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.
COMINIUS. Nay, come away.
Exeunt CORIOLANUS and COMINIUS, with others
PATRICIANS. This man has marr'd his fortune.
MENENIUS. 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!
PATRICIANS. I would they were a-bed.
MENENIUS. I would they were in Tiber.
What the vengeance, could he not speak 'em fair?

Re-enter BRUTUS and SICINIUS, the rabble again

SICINIUS. Where is this viper
That would depopulate the city and
Be every man himself?
MENENIUS. You worthy Tribunes-
SICINIUS. 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.
FIRST CITIZEN. He shall well know
The noble tribunes are the people's mouths,
And we their hands.
PLEBEIANS. He shall, sure on't.
MENENIUS. Sir, sir-
MENENIUS. Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt
With modest warrant.
SICINIUS. Sir, how comes't that you
Have holp to make this rescue?
MENENIUS. Hear me speak.
As I do know the consul's worthiness,
So can I name his faults.
SICINIUS. Consul! What consul?
MENENIUS. The consul Coriolanus.
BRUTUS. He consul!
PLEBEIANS. No, no, no, no, no.
MENENIUS. 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.
SICINIUS. 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.
MENENIUS. 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!
SICINIUS. He's a disease that must be cut away.
MENENIUS. 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 th' end o' th' world.
SICINIUS. This is clean kam.
BRUTUS. Merely awry. When he did love his country,
It honour'd him.
SICINIUS. The service of the foot,
Being once gangren'd, is not then respected
For what before it was.
BRUTUS. We'll hear no more.
Pursue him to his house and pluck him thence,
Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
Spread further.
MENENIUS. 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.
BRUTUS. If it were so-
SICINIUS. What do ye talk?
Have we not had a taste of his obedience-
Our aediles smote, ourselves resisted? Come!
MENENIUS. Consider this: he has been bred i' th' 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.
FIRST SENATOR. Noble Tribunes,
It is the humane way; the other course
Will prove too bloody, and the end of it
Unknown to the beginning.
SICINIUS. Noble Menenius,
Be you then as the people's officer.
Masters, lay down your weapons.
BRUTUS. Go not home.
SICINIUS. Meet on the market-place. We'll attend you there;
Where, if you bring not Marcius, we'll proceed
In our first way.
MENENIUS. I'll bring him to you.
[To the SENATORS] Let me desire your company; he must come,
Or what is worst will follow.
FIRST SENATOR. Pray you let's to him. Exeunt

Rome. The house of CORIOLANUS


CORIOLANUS. 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.
FIRST PATRICIAN. You do the nobler.
CORIOLANUS. 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:
Why did you wish me milder? Would you have me
False to my nature? Rather say I play
The man I am.
VOLUMNIA. O, sir, sir, sir,
I would have had you put your power well on
Before you had worn it out.
VOLUMNIA. 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.
CORIOLANUS. Let them hang.
VOLUMNIA. Ay, and burn too.


MENENIUS. Come, come, you have been too rough, something too
You must return and mend it.
FIRST SENATOR. There's no remedy,
Unless, by not so doing, our good city
Cleave in the midst and perish.
VOLUMNIA. 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.
MENENIUS. Well said, noble woman!
Before he should thus stoop to th' herd, but that
The violent fit o' th' time craves it as physic
For the whole state, I would put mine armour on,
Which I can scarcely bear.
CORIOLANUS. What must I do?
MENENIUS. Return to th' tribunes.
CORIOLANUS. Well, what then, what then?
MENENIUS. Repent what you have spoke.
CORIOLANUS. For them! I cannot do it to the gods;
Must I then do't to them?
VOLUMNIA. 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' th' war do grow together; grant that, and tell me
In peace what each of them by th' other lose
That they combine not there.
CORIOLANUS. Tush, tush!
MENENIUS. A good demand.
VOLUMNIA. 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?
CORIOLANUS. Why force you this?
VOLUMNIA. Because that now it lies you on to speak
To th' people, not by your own instruction,
Nor by th' matter which your heart prompts you,
But with such words that are but roted 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.
MENENIUS. Noble lady!
Come, go with us, speak fair; you may salve so,
Not what is dangerous present, but the loss
Of what is past.
VOLUMNIA. I prithee 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 th' 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.
MENENIUS. 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.
VOLUMNIA. Prithee now,
Go, and be rul'd; although I know thou hadst rather
Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf
Than flatter him in a bower.


Here is Cominius.
COMINIUS. I have been i' th' market-place; and, sir, 'tis fit
You make strong party, or defend yourself
By calmness or by absence; all's in anger.
MENENIUS. Only fair speech.
COMINIUS. I think 'twill serve, if he
Can thereto frame his spirit.
VOLUMNIA. He must and will.
Prithee now, say you will, and go about it.
CORIOLANUS. 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 th' market-place!
You have put me now to such a part which never
I shall discharge to th' life.
COMINIUS. Come, come, we'll prompt you.
VOLUMNIA. I prithee 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.
CORIOLANUS. Well, I must do't.
Away, my disposition, and possess me
Some harlot's spirit! My throat of war be turn'd,
Which quier'd 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 schoolboys' 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.
VOLUMNIA. 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.
CORIOLANUS. 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' th' way of flattery further.
VOLUMNIA. Do your will. Exit
COMINIUS. 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.
CORIOLANUS. The word is 'mildly.' Pray you let us go.
Let them accuse me by invention; I
Will answer in mine honour.
MENENIUS. Ay, but mildly.
CORIOLANUS. Well, mildly be it then- mildly. Exeunt

Rome. The Forum


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?
AEDILE. He's coming.
BRUTUS. How accompanied?
AEDILE. With old Menenius, and those senators
That always favour'd him.
SICINIUS. Have you a catalogue
Of all the voices that we have procur'd,
Set down by th' poll?
AEDILE. I have; 'tis ready.
SICINIUS. Have you collected them by tribes?
AEDILE. I have.
SICINIUS. Assemble presently the people hither;
And when they hear me say 'It shall be so
I' th' right and strength o' th' 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' th' truth o' th' cause.
AEDILE. I shall inform them.
BRUTUS. 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.
AEDILE. Very well.
SICINIUS. Make them be strong, and ready for this hint,
When we shall hap to give't them.
BRUTUS. Go about it. Exit AEDILE
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.


SICINIUS. Well, here he comes.
MENENIUS. Calmly, I do beseech you.
CORIOLANUS. Ay, as an ostler, that for th' poorest piece
Will bear the knave by th' volume. Th' honour'd 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!
FIRST SENATOR. Amen, amen!
MENENIUS. A noble wish.

Re-enter the AEDILE,with the plebeians

SICINIUS. Draw near, ye people.
AEDILE. List to your tribunes. Audience! peace, I say!
CORIOLANUS. First, hear me speak.
BOTH TRIBUNES. Well, say. Peace, ho!
CORIOLANUS. Shall I be charg'd no further than this present?
Must all determine here?
SICINIUS. 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 prov'd upon you.
CORIOLANUS. I am content.
MENENIUS. 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' th' holy churchyard.
CORIOLANUS. Scratches with briers,
Scars to move laughter only.
MENENIUS. 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.
COMINIUS. Well, well! No more.
CORIOLANUS. 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?
SICINIUS. Answer to us.
CORIOLANUS. Say then; 'tis true, I ought so.
SICINIUS. 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.
CORIOLANUS. How- traitor?
MENENIUS. Nay, temperately! Your promise.
CORIOLANUS. The fires i' th' 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.
SICINIUS. Mark you this, people?
PLEBEIANS. To th' rock, to th' 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 th' extremest death.
BRUTUS. But since he hath
Serv'd well for Rome-
CORIOLANUS. What do you prate of service?
BRUTUS. I talk of that that know it.
MENENIUS. Is this the promise that you made your mother?
COMINIUS. Know, I pray you-
CORIOLANUS. 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.'
SICINIUS. 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' th' people,
And in the power of us the tribunes, we,
Ev'n from this instant, banish him our city,
In peril of precipitation
From off the rock Tarpeian, never more
To enter our Rome gates. I' th' people's name,
I say it shall be so.
PLEBEIANS. It shall be so, it shall be so! Let him away!
He's banish'd, and it shall be so.
COMINIUS. Hear me, my masters and my common friends-
SICINIUS. He's sentenc'd; no more hearing.
COMINIUS. 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-
SICINIUS. We know your drift. Speak what?
BRUTUS. There's no more to be said, but he is banish'd,
As enemy to the people and his country.
It shall be so.
PLEBEIANS. It shall be so, it shall be so.
CORIOLANUS. You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate
As reek o' th' 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.
AEDILE. The people's enemy is gone, is gone!
[They all shout and throw up their caps]
PLEBEIANS. Our enemy is banish'd, he is gone! Hoo-oo!
SICINIUS. 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.
PLEBEIANS. Come, come, let's see him out at gates; come!
The gods preserve our noble tribunes! Come. Exeunt


Rome. Before a gate of the city

with the young NOBILITY of Rome

CORIOLANUS. Come, leave your tears; a brief farewell. The 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.
VIRGILIA. O heavens! O heavens!
CORIOLANUS. Nay, I prithee, woman-
VOLUMNIA. Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome,
And occupations perish!
CORIOLANUS. 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.
VOLUMNIA. 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' th' way before thee.
VIRGILIA. O the gods!
COMINIUS. 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' th' absence of the needer.
CORIOLANUS. 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.
MENENIUS. 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.
CORIOLANUS. Give me thy hand.
Come. Exeunt

Rome. A street near the gate

Enter the two Tribunes, SICINIUS and BRUTUS with the AEDILE

SICINIUS. 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.
BRUTUS. Now we have shown our power,
Let us seem humbler after it is done
Than when it was a-doing.
SICINIUS. Bid them home.
Say their great enemy is gone, and they
Stand in their ancient strength.
BRUTUS. Dismiss them home. Exit AEDILE
Here comes his mother.


SICINIUS. Let's not meet her.
SICINIUS. They say she's mad.
BRUTUS. They have ta'en note of us; keep on your way.
VOLUMNIA. O, y'are well met; th' hoarded plague o' th' gods
Requite your love!
MENENIUS. Peace, peace, be not so loud.
VOLUMNIA. If that I could for weeping, you should hear-
Nay, and you shall hear some. [To BRUTUS] Will you be gone?
VIRGILIA. [To SICINIUS] You shall stay too. I would I had the
To say so to my husband.
SICINIUS. Are you mankind?
VOLUMNIA. 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?
SICINIUS. O blessed heavens!
VOLUMNIA. More 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.
SICINIUS. What then?
VIRGILIA. What then!
He'd make an end of thy posterity.
VOLUMNIA. Bastards and all.
Good man, the wounds that he does bear for Rome!
MENENIUS. Come, come, peace.
SICINIUS. I would he had continued to his country
As he began, and not unknit himself
The noble knot he made.
BRUTUS. I would he had.
VOLUMNIA. '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.
BRUTUS. Pray, let's go.
VOLUMNIA. 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.
BRUTUS. Well, well, we'll leave you.
SICINIUS. Why stay we to be baited
With one that wants her wits? Exeunt TRIBUNES
VOLUMNIA. 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.
MENENIUS. You have told them home,
And, by my troth, you have cause. You'll sup with me?
VOLUMNIA. 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.
MENENIUS. Fie, fie, fie! Exit

A highway between Rome and Antium

Enter a ROMAN and a VOLSCE, meeting

ROMAN. I know you well, sir, and you know me; your name, I
is Adrian.
VOLSCE. It is so, sir. Truly, I have forgot you.
ROMAN. I am a Roman; and my services are, as you are, against
Know you me yet?
VOLSCE. Nicanor? No!
ROMAN. The same, sir.
VOLSCE. You had more beard when I last saw you, but your favour
well appear'd by your tongue. What's the news in Rome? I have
note from the Volscian state, to find you out there. You have
well saved me a day's journey.
ROMAN. There hath been in Rome strange insurrections: the
against the senators, patricians, and nobles.
VOLSCE. Hath been! Is it ended, then? Our state thinks not so;
are in a most warlike preparation, and hope to come upon them
the heat of their division.
ROMAN. The main blaze of it is past, but a small thing would
it flame again; for the nobles receive so to heart the
of that worthy Coriolanus that they are in a ripe aptness to
all power from the people, and to pluck from them their
for ever. This lies glowing, I can tell you, and is almost
for the violent breaking out.
VOLSCE. Coriolanus banish'd!
ROMAN. Banish'd, sir.
VOLSCE. You will be welcome with this intelligence, Nicanor.
ROMAN. The day serves well for them now. I have heard it said
fittest time to corrupt a man's wife is when she's fall'n out
with her husband. Your noble Tullus Aufidius will appear well
these wars, his great opposer, Coriolanus, being now in no
request of his country.
VOLSCE. He cannot choose. I am most fortunate thus accidentally
encounter you; you have ended my business, and I will merrily
accompany you home.
ROMAN. I shall between this and supper tell you most strange
from Rome, all tending to the good of their adversaries. Have
an army ready, say you?
VOLSCE. A most royal one: the centurions and their charges,
distinctly billeted, already in th' entertainment, and to be
foot at an hour's warning.
ROMAN. I am joyful to hear of their readiness, and am the man,
think, that shall set them in present action. So, sir,
well met, and most glad of your company.
VOLSCE. You take my part from me, sir. I have the most cause to
glad of yours.
ROMAN. Well, let us go together.

Antium. Before AUFIDIUS' house

Enter CORIOLANUS, in mean apparel, disguis'd and muffled

CORIOLANUS. 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.


Save you, sir.
CITIZEN. And you.
CORIOLANUS. Direct me, if it be your will,
Where great Aufidius lies. Is he in Antium?
CITIZEN. He is, and feasts the nobles of the state
At his house this night.
CORIOLANUS. Which is his house, beseech you?
CITIZEN. This here before you.
CORIOLANUS. Thank you, sir; farewell. Exit CITIZEN
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.

Antium. AUFIDIUS' house

Music plays. Enter A SERVINGMAN

FIRST SERVANT. Wine, wine, wine! What service is here! I think
fellows are asleep. Exit

Enter another SERVINGMAN

SECOND SERVANT.Where's Cotus? My master calls for him.
Cotus! Exit


CORIOLANUS. A goodly house. The feast smells well, but I
Appear not like a guest.

Re-enter the first SERVINGMAN

FIRST SERVANT. What would you have, friend?
Whence are you? Here's no place for you: pray go to the door.

CORIOLANUS. I have deserv'd no better entertainment
In being Coriolanus.

Re-enter second SERVINGMAN

SECOND SERVANT. Whence are you, sir? Has the porter his eyes in
head that he gives entrance to such companions? Pray get you
SECOND SERVANT. Away? Get you away.
CORIOLANUS. Now th' art troublesome.
SECOND SERVANT. Are you so brave? I'll have you talk'd with

Enter a third SERVINGMAN. The first meets him

THIRD SERVANT. What fellow's this?
FIRST SERVANT. A strange one as ever I look'd on. I cannot get
out o' th' house. Prithee call my master to him.
THIRD SERVANT. What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you avoid
CORIOLANUS. Let me but stand- I will not hurt your hearth.
THIRD SERVANT. What are you?
CORIOLANUS. A gentleman.
THIRD SERVANT. A marv'llous poor one.
CORIOLANUS. True, so I am.
THIRD SERVANT. Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other
station; here's no place for you. Pray you avoid. Come.
CORIOLANUS. Follow your function, go and batten on cold bits.
[Pushes him away from him]
THIRD SERVANT. What, you will not? Prithee tell my master what
strange guest he has here.
SECOND SERVANT. And I shall. Exit
THIRD SERVANT. Where dwell'st thou?
CORIOLANUS. Under the canopy.
THIRD SERVANT. Under the canopy?
THIRD SERVANT. Where's that?
CORIOLANUS. I' th' city of kites and crows.
THIRD SERVANT. I' th' city of kites and crows!
What an ass it is! Then thou dwell'st with daws too?
CORIOLANUS. No, I serve not thy master.
THIRD SERVANT. How, sir! Do you meddle with my master?
CORIOLANUS. Ay; 'tis an honester service than to meddle with
mistress. Thou prat'st and prat'st; serve with thy trencher;
hence! [Beats him away]

Enter AUFIDIUS with the second SERVINGMAN

AUFIDIUS. Where is this fellow?
SECOND SERVANT. Here, sir; I'd have beaten him like a dog, but
disturbing the lords within.
AUFIDIUS. Whence com'st thou? What wouldst thou? Thy name?
Why speak'st not? Speak, man. What's thy name?
CORIOLANUS. [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.
AUFIDIUS. What is thy name?
CORIOLANUS. A name unmusical to the Volscians' ears,
And harsh in sound to thine.
AUFIDIUS. 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?
CORIOLANUS. Prepare thy brow to frown- know'st thou me yet?
AUFIDIUS. I know thee not. Thy name?
CORIOLANUS. 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,
An suffer'd me by th' 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' th' 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 cank'red 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 followed 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.
AUFIDIUS. 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 scarr'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
Sigh'd 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'erbeat. O, come, go in,
And take our friendly senators by th' hands,
Who now are here, taking their leaves of me
Who am prepar'd against your territories,
Though not for Rome itself.
CORIOLANUS. You bless me, gods!
AUFIDIUS. 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!

The two SERVINGMEN come forward

FIRST SERVANT. Here's a strange alteration!
SECOND SERVANT. By my hand, I had thought to have strucken him
a cudgel; and yet my mind gave me his clothes made a false
of him.
FIRST SERVANT. What an arm he has! He turn'd me about with his

finger and his thumb, as one would set up a top.
SECOND SERVANT. 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.
FIRST SERVANT. He had so, looking as it were- Would I were
but I thought there was more in him than I could think.
SECOND SERVANT. So did I, I'll be sworn. He is simply the
man i' th' world.
FIRST SERVANT. I think he is; but a greater soldier than he you
SECOND SERVANT. Who, my master?
FIRST SERVANT. Nay, it's no matter for that.
SECOND SERVANT. Worth six on him.
FIRST SERVANT. Nay, not so neither; but I take him to be the
greater soldier.
SECOND SERVANT. Faith, look you, one cannot tell how to say
for the defence of a town our general is excellent.
FIRST SERVANT. Ay, and for an assault too.

Re-enter the third SERVINGMAN

THIRD SERVANT. O slaves, I can tell you news- news, you
BOTH. What, what, what? Let's partake.
THIRD SERVANT. I would not be a Roman, of all nations;
I had as lief be a condemn'd man.
BOTH. Wherefore? wherefore?
THIRD SERVANT. Why, here's he that was wont to thwack our
Caius Marcius.
FIRST SERVANT. Why do you say 'thwack our general'?
THIRD SERVANT. I do not say 'thwack our general,' but he was
good enough for him.
SECOND SERVANT. Come, we are fellows and friends. He was ever
hard for him, I have heard him say so himself.
FIRST SERVANT. He was too hard for him directly, to say the
on't; before Corioli he scotch'd him and notch'd him like a
SECOND SERVANT. An he had been cannibally given, he might have
broil'd and eaten him too.
FIRST SERVANT. But more of thy news!
THIRD SERVANT. Why, he is so made on here within as if he were
and heir to Mars; set at upper end o' th' table; no question
asked him by any of the senators but they stand bald before
Our general himself makes a mistress of him, sanctifies
with's hand, and turns up the white o' th' eye to his
But the bottom of the news is, our general is cut i' th'
and but one half of what he was yesterday, for the other has
by the entreaty and grant of the whole table. He'll go, he
and sowl the porter of Rome gates by th' ears; he will mow
down before him, and leave his passage poll'd.
SECOND SERVANT. And he's as like to do't as any man I can
THIRD SERVANT. Do't! He will do't; for look you, sir, he has as
many friends as enemies; which friends, sir, as it were,
not- look you, sir- show themselves, as we term it, his
whilst he's in directitude.
FIRST SERVANT. Directitude? What's that?
THIRD SERVANT. But when they shall see, sir, his crest up again
the man in blood, they will out of their burrows, like conies
after rain, and revel all with him.
FIRST SERVANT. But when goes this forward?
THIRD SERVANT. To-morrow, to-day, presently. You shall have the
drum struck up this afternoon; 'tis as it were parcel of
feast, and to be executed ere they wipe their lips.
SECOND SERVANT. Why, then we shall have a stirring world again.
This peace is nothing but to rust iron, increase tailors, and
breed ballad-makers.
FIRST SERVANT. Let me have war, say I; it exceeds peace as far
day does night; it's spritely, waking, audible, and full of
Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy; mull'd, deaf, sleepy,
insensible; a getter of more bastard children than war's a
destroyer of men.
SECOND SERVANT. 'Tis so; and as war in some sort may be said to
a ravisher, so it cannot be denied but peace is a great maker
FIRST SERVANT. Ay, and it makes men hate one another.
THIRD SERVANT. Reason: because they then less need one another.
wars for my money. I hope to see Romans as cheap as
They are rising, they are rising.
BOTH. In, in, in, in! Exeunt

Rome. A public place

Enter the two Tribunes, SICINIUS and BRUTUS

SICINIUS. We hear not of him, neither need we fear him.
His remedies are tame. 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 pest'ring streets than see
Our tradesmen singing in their shops, and going
About their functions friendly.


BRUTUS. We stood to't in good time. Is this Menenius?
SICINIUS. 'Tis he, 'tis he. O, he is grown most kind
Of late. Hail, sir!
MENENIUS. Hail to you both!
SICINIUS. 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.
MENENIUS. All's well, and might have been much better
He could have temporiz'd.
SICINIUS. Where is he, hear you?
MENENIUS. Nay, I hear nothing; his mother and his wife
Hear nothing from him.

Enter three or four citizens

CITIZENS. The gods preserve you both!
SICINIUS. God-den, our neighbours.
BRUTUS. God-den to you all, god-den to you all.
FIRST CITIZEN. Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees
Are bound to pray for you both.
SICINIUS. Live and thrive!
BRUTUS. Farewell, kind neighbours; we wish'd Coriolanus
Had lov'd you as we did.
CITIZENS. Now the gods keep you!
BOTH TRIBUNES. Farewell, farewell. Exeunt citizens

SICINIUS. This is a happier and more comely time
Than when these fellows ran about the streets
Crying confusion.
BRUTUS. Caius Marcius was
A worthy officer i' the war, but insolent,
O'ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,
SICINIUS. And affecting one sole throne,
Without assistance.
MENENIUS. I think not so.
SICINIUS. We should by this, to all our lamentation,
If he had gone forth consul, found it so.
BRUTUS. The gods have well prevented it, and Rome
Sits safe and still without him.

Enter an AEDILE

AEDILE. Worthy tribunes,
There is a slave, whom we have put in prison,
Reports the Volsces with several powers
Are ent'red in the Roman territories,
And with the deepest malice of the war
Destroy what lies before 'em.
MENENIUS. '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.
SICINIUS. Come, what talk you of Marcius?
BRUTUS. Go see this rumourer whipp'd. It cannot be
The Volsces dare break with us.
MENENIUS. 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.
SICINIUS. Tell not me.
I know this cannot be.
BRUTUS. Not possible.


MESSENGER. The nobles in great earnestness are going
All to the Senate House; some news is come
That turns their countenances.
SICINIUS. 'Tis this slave-
Go whip him fore the people's eyes- his raising,
Nothing but his report.
MESSENGER. Yes, worthy sir,
The slave's report is seconded, and more,
More fearful, is deliver'd.
SICINIUS. What more fearful?
MESSENGER. 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.
SICINIUS. This is most likely!
BRUTUS. Rais'd only that the weaker sort may wish
Good Marcius home again.
SICINIUS. The very trick on 't.
MENENIUS. This is unlikely.
He and Aufidius can no more atone
Than violent'st contrariety.

Enter a second MESSENGER

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.


COMINIUS. O, you have made good work!
MENENIUS. What news? what news?
COMINIUS. 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-
MENENIUS. What's the news? What's the news?
COMINIUS. Your temples burned in their cement, and
Your franchises, whereon you stood, confin'd
Into an auger's bore.
MENENIUS. Pray now, your news?
You have made fair work, I fear me. Pray, your news.
If Marcius should be join'd wi' th' 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.
MENENIUS. 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!
COMINIUS. He'll shake
Your Rome about your ears.
MENENIUS. As Hercules
Did shake down mellow fruit. You have made fair work!
BRUTUS. But is this true, sir?
COMINIUS. 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.
MENENIUS. We are all undone unless
The noble man have mercy.
COMINIUS. 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.
MENENIUS. '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!
COMINIUS. You have brought
A trembling upon Rome, such as was never
So incapable of help.
BOTH TRIBUNES. Say not we brought it.
MENENIUS. How! Was't we? We lov'd him, but, like beasts
And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,
Who did hoot him out o' th' city.
COMINIUS. 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

MENENIUS. 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.
PLEBEIANS. Faith, we hear fearful news.
FIRST CITIZEN. For mine own part,
When I said banish him, I said 'twas pity.
THIRD CITIZEN. 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
COMINIUS. Y'are goodly things, you voices!
MENENIUS. You have made
Good work, you and your cry! Shall's to the Capitol?
COMINIUS. O, ay, what else?
SICINIUS. 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.
FIRST CITIZEN. The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let's
home. I
ever said we were i' th' wrong when we banish'd him.
SECOND CITIZEN. So did we all. But come, let's home.
Exeunt citizens
BRUTUS. I do not like this news.
BRUTUS. Let's to the Capitol. Would half my wealth
Would buy this for a lie!
SICINIUS. Pray let's go. Exeunt

A camp at a short distance from Rome


AUFIDIUS. Do they still fly to th' Roman?
LIEUTENANT. 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 dark'ned in this action, sir,
Even by your own.
AUFIDIUS. 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.
LIEUTENANT. 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.
AUFIDIUS. 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 th' 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.
LIEUTENANT. Sir, I beseech you, think you he'll carry Rome?
AUFIDIUS. 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 th' casque to th' 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 utt'rance. So our virtues
Lie in th' interpretation of the time;
And power, unto itself most commendable,
Hath not a tomb so evident as a cheer
T' 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.


Rome. A public place

Enter MENENIUS, COMINIUS, SICINIUS and BRUTUS, the two Tribunes,
with others

MENENIUS. 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.
COMINIUS. He would not seem to know me.
MENENIUS. Do you hear?
COMINIUS. Yet one time he did call me by my name.
I urg'd our old acquaintance, and the drops
That we have bled together. 'Coriolanus'
He would not answer to; forbid all names;
He was a kind of nothing, titleless,
Till he had forg'd himself a name i' th' fire
Of burning Rome.
MENENIUS. Why, so! You have made good work.
A pair of tribunes that have wrack'd for Rome
To make coals cheap- a noble memory!
COMINIUS. 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.
MENENIUS. Very well.
Could he say less?
COMINIUS. 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 th' offence.
MENENIUS. 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.
SICINIUS. 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.
MENENIUS. No; I'll not meddle.
SICINIUS. Pray you go to him.
MENENIUS. What should I do?
BRUTUS. Only make trial what your love can do
For Rome, towards Marcius.
MENENIUS. 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?
SICINIUS. Yet your good will
Must have that thanks from Rome after the measure
As you intended well.
MENENIUS. 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.
BRUTUS. You know the very road into his kindness
And cannot lose your way.
MENENIUS. Good faith, I'll prove him,
Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledge
Of my success. Exit
COMINIUS. He'll never hear him.
COMINIUS. 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'; dismiss'd 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. Exeunt

The Volscian camp before Rome

Enter MENENIUS to the WATCH on guard

FIRST WATCH. Stay. Whence are you?
SECOND WATCH. Stand, and go back.
MENENIUS. You guard like men, 'tis well; but, by your leave,
I am an officer of state and come
To speak with Coriolanus.
FIRST WATCH. From whence?
MENENIUS. From Rome.
FIRST WATCH. You may not pass; you must return. Our general
Will no more hear from thence.
SECOND WATCH. You'll see your Rome embrac'd with fire before
You'll speak with Coriolanus.
MENENIUS. 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.
FIRST WATCH. Be it so; go back. The virtue of your name
Is not here passable.
MENENIUS. 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.
FIRST WATCH. Faith, sir, if you had told as many lies in his
as you have uttered words in your own, you should not pass
no, though it were as virtuous to lie as to live chastely.
Therefore go back.
MENENIUS. Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius, always
factionary on the party of your general.
SECOND WATCH. Howsoever you have been his liar, as you say you
have, I am one that, telling true under him, must say you
pass. Therefore go back.
MENENIUS. Has he din'd, canst thou tell? For I would not speak
him till after dinner.
FIRST WATCH. You are a Roman, are you?
MENENIUS. I am as thy general is.
FIRST WATCH. Then you should hate Rome, as he does. Can you,
you have push'd out your gates the very defender of them, and
a violent popular ignorance given your enemy your shield,
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 decay'd dotant as you seem to be? Can
think to blow out the intended fire your city is ready to
in with such weak breath as this? No, you are deceiv'd;
back to Rome and prepare for your execution. You are
our general has sworn you out of reprieve and pardon.
MENENIUS. Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he would use
with estimation.
FIRST WATCH. Come, my captain knows you not.
MENENIUS. I mean thy general.
FIRST WATCH. 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 having. Back.
MENENIUS. Nay, but fellow, fellow-


CORIOLANUS. What's the matter?
MENENIUS. Now, you companion, I'll say an errand for you; you
know now that I am in estimation; you shall perceive that a
guardant cannot office me from my son Coriolanus. Guess but
by my
entertainment with him if thou stand'st not i' th' state of
hanging, or of some death more long in spectatorship and
in suffering; behold now presently, and swoon for what's to
upon thee. The glorious gods sit in hourly synod about thy
particular prosperity, and love thee no worse than thy old
Menenius does! O my son! my son! thou art preparing fire for
look thee, here's water to quench it. I was hardly moved to
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
thy wrath, and turn the dregs of it upon this varlet here;
who, like a block, hath denied my access to thee.
MENENIUS. How! away!
CORIOLANUS. 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 belov'd in Rome; yet thou behold'st.
AUFIDIUS. You keep a constant temper.
Exeunt CORIOLANUS and Aufidius
FIRST WATCH. Now, sir, is your name Menenius?
SECOND WATCH. 'Tis a spell, you see, of much power! You know
way home again.
FIRST WATCH. Do you hear how we are shent for keeping your
greatness back?
SECOND WATCH. What cause, do you think, I have to swoon?
MENENIUS. I neither care for th' world nor your general; for
things as you, I can scarce think there's any, y'are so
He that hath a will to die by himself fears it not from
Let your general do his worst. For you, be that you are,
and your misery increase with your age! I say to you, as I
said to: Away! Exit
FIRST WATCH. A noble fellow, I warrant him.
SECOND WATCH. The worthy fellow is our general; he's the rock,
oak not to be wind-shaken. Exeunt

The tent of CORIOLANUS

Enter CORIOLANUS, AUFIDIUS, and others

CORIOLANUS. We will before the walls of Rome to-morrow
Set down our host. My partner in this action,
You must report to th' Volscian lords how plainly
I have borne this business.
AUFIDIUS. Only their ends
You have respected; stopp'd your ears against
The general suit of Rome; never admitted
A private whisper- no, not with such friends
That thought them sure of you.
CORIOLANUS. 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. [Shout within] Ha! what shout is this?
Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow
In the same time 'tis made? I will not.

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