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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Part 9 out of 63

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As it were sin to doubt- that love this painting
Wherein you see me smear'd; if any fear
Lesser his person than an ill report;
If any think brave death outweighs bad life
And that his country's dearer than himself;
Let him alone, or so many so minded,
Wave thus to express his disposition,
And follow Marcius. [They all shout and wave their
swords, take him up in their arms and cast up their caps]
O, me alone! Make you a sword of me?
If these shows be not outward, which of you
But is four Volsces? None of you but is
Able to bear against the great Aufidius
A shield as hard as his. A certain number,
Though thanks to all, must I select from all; the rest
Shall bear the business in some other fight,
As cause will be obey'd. Please you to march;
And four shall quickly draw out my command,
Which men are best inclin'd.
COMINIUS. March on, my fellows;
Make good this ostentation, and you shall
Divide in all with us. Exeunt

The gates of Corioli

TITUS LARTIUS, having set a guard upon Corioli, going with drum and trumpet
toward COMINIUS and CAIUS MARCIUS, enters with a LIEUTENANT, other soldiers,
and a scout

LARTIUS. So, let the ports be guarded; keep your duties
As I have set them down. If I do send, dispatch
Those centuries to our aid; the rest will serve
For a short holding. If we lose the field
We cannot keep the town.
LIEUTENANT. Fear not our care, sir.
LARTIUS. Hence, and shut your gates upon's.
Our guider, come; to th' Roman camp conduct us. Exeunt

A field of battle between the Roman and the Volscian camps

Alarum, as in battle. Enter MARCIUS and AUFIDIUS at several doors

MARCIUS. I'll fight with none but thee, for I do hate thee
Worse than a promise-breaker.
AUFIDIUS. We hate alike:
Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor
More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.
MARCIUS. Let the first budger die the other's slave,
And the gods doom him after!
AUFIDIUS. If I fly, Marcius,
Halloa me like a hare.
MARCIUS. Within these three hours, Tullus,
Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,
And made what work I pleas'd. 'Tis not my blood
Wherein thou seest me mask'd. For thy revenge
Wrench up thy power to th' highest.
AUFIDIUS. Wert thou the Hector
That was the whip of your bragg'd progeny,
Thou shouldst not scape me here.

Here they fight, and certain Volsces come in the aid
of AUFIDIUS. MARCIUS fights till they be driven in

Officious, and not valiant, you have sham'd me
In your condemned seconds. Exeunt

The Roman camp

Flourish. Alarum. A retreat is sounded. Enter, at one door,
COMINIUS with the Romans; at another door, MARCIUS, with his arm in a scarf

COMINIUS. If I should tell thee o'er this thy day's work,
Thou't not believe thy deeds; but I'll report it
Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles;
Where great patricians shall attend, and shrug,
I' th' end admire; where ladies shall be frighted
And, gladly quak'd, hear more; where the dull tribunes,
That with the fusty plebeians hate thine honours,
Shall say against their hearts 'We thank the gods
Our Rome hath such a soldier.'
Yet cam'st thou to a morsel of this feast,
Having fully din'd before.

Enter TITUS LARTIUS, with his power, from the pursuit

LARTIUS. O General,
Here is the steed, we the caparison.
Hadst thou beheld-
MARCIUS. Pray now, no more; my mother,
Who has a charter to extol her blood,
When she does praise me grieves me. I have done
As you have done- that's what I can; induc'd
As you have been- that's for my country.
He that has but effected his good will
Hath overta'en mine act.
COMINIUS. You shall not be
The grave of your deserving; Rome must know
The value of her own. 'Twere a concealment
Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement,
To hide your doings and to silence that
Which, to the spire and top of praises vouch'd,
Would seem but modest. Therefore, I beseech you,
In sign of what you are, not to reward
What you have done, before our army hear me.
MARCIUS. I have some wounds upon me, and they smart
To hear themselves rememb'red.
COMINIUS. Should they not,
Well might they fester 'gainst ingratitude
And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses-
Whereof we have ta'en good, and good store- of all
The treasure in this field achiev'd and city,
We render you the tenth; to be ta'en forth
Before the common distribution at
Your only choice.
MARCIUS. I thank you, General,
But cannot make my heart consent to take
A bribe to pay my sword. I do refuse it,
And stand upon my common part with those
That have beheld the doing.

A long flourish. They all cry 'Marcius, Marcius!'
cast up their caps and lances. COMINIUS and LARTIUS stand bare

May these same instruments which you profane
Never sound more! When drums and trumpets shall
I' th' field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be
Made all of false-fac'd soothing. When steel grows
Soft as the parasite's silk, let him be made
An overture for th' wars. No more, I say.
For that I have not wash'd my nose that bled,
Or foil'd some debile wretch, which without note
Here's many else have done, you shout me forth
In acclamations hyperbolical,
As if I lov'd my little should be dieted
In praises sauc'd with lies.
COMINIUS. Too modest are you;
More cruel to your good report than grateful
To us that give you truly. By your patience,
If 'gainst yourself you be incens'd, we'll put you-
Like one that means his proper harm- in manacles,
Then reason safely with you. Therefore be it known,
As to us, to all the world, that Caius Marcius
Wears this war's garland; in token of the which,
My noble steed, known to the camp, I give him,
With all his trim belonging; and from this time,
For what he did before Corioli, can him
With all th' applause-and clamour of the host,
Caius Marcius Coriolanus.
Bear th' addition nobly ever!
[Flourish. Trumpets sound, and drums]
ALL. Caius Marcius Coriolanus!
CORIOLANUS. I will go wash;
And when my face is fair you shall perceive
Whether I blush or no. Howbeit, I thank you;
I mean to stride your steed, and at all times
To undercrest your good addition
To th' fairness of my power.
COMINIUS. So, to our tent;
Where, ere we do repose us, we will write
To Rome of our success. You, Titus Lartius,
Must to Corioli back. Send us to Rome
The best, with whom we may articulate
For their own good and ours.
LARTIUS. I shall, my lord.
CORIOLANUS. The gods begin to mock me. I, that now
Refus'd most princely gifts, am bound to beg
Of my Lord General.
COMINIUS. Take't- 'tis yours; what is't?
CORIOLANUS. I sometime lay here in Corioli
At a poor man's house; he us'd me kindly.
He cried to me; I saw him prisoner;
But then Aufidius was within my view,
And wrath o'erwhelm'd my pity. I request you
To give my poor host freedom.
COMINIUS. O, well begg'd!
Were he the butcher of my son, he should
Be free as is the wind. Deliver him, Titus.
LARTIUS. Marcius, his name?
CORIOLANUS. By Jupiter, forgot!
I am weary; yea, my memory is tir'd.
Have we no wine here?
COMINIUS. Go we to our tent.
The blood upon your visage dries; 'tis time
It should be look'd to. Come. Exeunt

The camp of the Volsces

A flourish. Cornets. Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS bloody, with two or three soldiers

AUFIDIUS. The town is ta'en.
FIRST SOLDIER. 'Twill be deliver'd back on good condition.
AUFIDIUS. Condition!
I would I were a Roman; for I cannot,
Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition?
What good condition can a treaty find
I' th' part that is at mercy? Five times, Marcius,
I have fought with thee; so often hast thou beat me;
And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter
As often as we eat. By th' elements,
If e'er again I meet him beard to beard,
He's mine or I am his. Mine emulation
Hath not that honour in't it had; for where
I thought to crush him in an equal force,
True sword to sword, I'll potch at him some way,
Or wrath or craft may get him.
FIRST SOLDIER. He's the devil.
AUFIDIUS. Bolder, though not so subtle. My valour's poison'd
With only suff'ring stain by him; for him
Shall fly out of itself. Nor sleep nor sanctuary,
Being naked, sick, nor fane nor Capitol,
The prayers of priests nor times of sacrifice,
Embarquements all of fury, shall lift up
Their rotten privilege and custom 'gainst
My hate to Marcius. Where I find him, were it
At home, upon my brother's guard, even there,
Against the hospitable canon, would I
Wash my fierce hand in's heart. Go you to th' city;
Learn how 'tis held, and what they are that must
Be hostages for Rome.
FIRST SOLDIER. Will not you go?
AUFIDIUS. I am attended at the cypress grove; I pray you-
'Tis south the city mills- bring me word thither
How the world goes, that to the pace of it
I may spur on my journey.
FIRST SOLDIER. I shall, sir. Exeunt


Rome. A public place

Enter MENENIUS, with the two Tribunes of the people, SICINIUS and BRUTUS

MENENIUS. The augurer tells me we shall have news tonight.
BRUTUS. Good or bad?
MENENIUS. Not according to the prayer of the people, for they love
not Marcius.
SICINIUS. Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.
MENENIUS. Pray you, who does the wolf love?
SICINIUS. The lamb.
MENENIUS. Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians would the
noble Marcius.
BRUTUS. He's a lamb indeed, that baes like a bear.
MENENIUS. He's a bear indeed, that lives fike a lamb. You two are
old men; tell me one thing that I shall ask you.
MENENIUS. In what enormity is Marcius poor in that you two have not
in abundance?
BRUTUS. He's poor in no one fault, but stor'd with all.
SICINIUS. Especially in pride.
BRUTUS. And topping all others in boasting.
MENENIUS. This is strange now. Do you two know how you are censured
here in the city- I mean of us o' th' right-hand file? Do you?
BOTH TRIBUNES. Why, how are we censur'd?
MENENIUS. Because you talk of pride now- will you not be angry?
BOTH TRIBUNES. Well, well, sir, well.
MENENIUS. Why, 'tis no great matter; for a very little thief of
occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience. Give your
dispositions the reins, and be angry at your pleasures- at the
least, if you take it as a pleasure to you in being so. You blame
Marcius for being proud?
BRUTUS. We do it not alone, sir.
MENENIUS. 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!
BOTH TRIBUNES. What then, sir?
MENENIUS. Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,
proud, violent, testy magistrates-alias fools- as any in Rome.
SICINIUS. Menenius, you are known well enough too.
MENENIUS. 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
deliver'd 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 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?
BRUTUS. Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.
MENENIUS. You know neither me, yourselves, nor any thing. 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 pinch'd with the
colic, you make faces like mummers, set up the bloody flag
against all patience, and, in roaring for a chamber-pot, 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.
BRUTUS. Come, come, you are well understood to be a perfecter giber
for the table than a necessary bencher in the Capitol.
MENENIUS. Our very priests must become mockers, if they shall
encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When you speak
best unto the purpose, it is not worth the wagging of your
beards; and your beards deserve not so honourable a grave as to
stuff a botcher's cushion or to be entomb'd in an ass's
pack-saddle. Yet you must be saying Marcius is proud; who, in 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 go aside]


How now, my as fair as noble ladies- and the moon, were she
earthly, no nobler- whither do you follow your eyes so fast?
VOLUMNIA. Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; for the
love of Juno, let's go.
MENENIUS. Ha! Marcius coming home?
VOLUMNIA. Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous
MENENIUS. Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!
Marcius coming home!
VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA. Nay, 'tis true.
VOLUMNIA. Look, here's a letter from him; the state hath another,
his wife another; and I think there's one at home for you.
MENENIUS. I will make my very house reel to-night. A letter for me?
VIRGILIA. Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw't.
MENENIUS. 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.
VIRGILIA. O, no, no, no.
VOLUMNIA. O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for't.
MENENIUS. So do I too, if it be not too much. Brings a victory in
his pocket? The wounds become him.
VOLUMNIA. On's brows, Menenius, he comes the third time home with
the oaken garland.
MENENIUS. Has he disciplin'd Aufidius soundly?
VOLUMNIA. Titus Lartius writes they fought together, but Aufidius
got off.
MENENIUS. And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him that; an he
had stay'd by him, I would not have been so fidius'd for all the
chests in Corioli and the gold that's in them. Is the Senate
possess'd of this?
VOLUMNIA. Good ladies, let's go. Yes, yes, yes: the Senate has
letters from the general, wherein he gives my son the whole name
of the war; he hath in this action outdone his former deeds
VALERIA. In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.
MENENIUS. Wondrous! Ay, I warrant you, and not without his true
VIRGILIA. The gods grant them true!
VOLUMNIA. True! pow, waw.
MENENIUS. True! I'll be sworn they are true. Where is he wounded?
[To the TRIBUNES] God save your good worships! Marcius is coming
home; he has more cause to be proud. Where is he wounded?
VOLUMNIA. I' th' shoulder and i' th' 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' th' body.
MENENIUS. One i' th' neck and two i' th' thigh- there's nine that I
VOLUMNIA. He had before this last expedition twenty-five wounds
upon him.
MENENIUS. Now it's twenty-seven; every gash was an enemy's grave.
[A shout and flourish] Hark! the trumpets.
VOLUMNIA. 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 the
GENERAL, and TITUS LARTIUS; between them,
CORIOLANUS, crown'd with an oaken garland; with
CAPTAINS and soldiers and a HERALD

HERALD. Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight
Within Corioli gates, where he hath won,
With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these
In honour follows Coriolanus.
Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus! [Flourish]
ALL. Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
CORIOLANUS. No more of this, it does offend my heart.
Pray now, no more.
COMINIUS. Look, sir, your mother!
You have, I know, petition'd all the gods
For my prosperity! [Kneels]
VOLUMNIA. Nay, my good soldier, up;
My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and
By deed-achieving honour newly nam'd-
What is it? Coriolanus must I can thee?
But, O, thy wife!
CORIOLANUS. My gracious silence, hail!
Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home,
That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,
Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
And mothers that lack sons.
MENENIUS. Now the gods crown thee!
CORIOLANUS. And live you yet? [To VALERIA] O my sweet lady,
VOLUMNIA. I know not where to turn.
O, welcome home! And welcome, General.
And y'are welcome all.
MENENIUS. A hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep
And I could laugh; I am light and heavy. Welcome!
A curse begin at very root on's heart
That is not glad to see thee! You are three
That Rome should dote on; yet, by the faith of men,
We have some old crab trees here at home that will not
Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors.
We call a nettle but a nettle, and
The faults of fools but folly.
COMINIUS. Ever right.
CORIOLANUS. Menenius ever, ever.
HERALD. Give way there, and go on.
CORIOLANUS. [To his wife and mother] Your hand, and yours.
Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
The good patricians must be visited;
From whom I have receiv'd not only greetings,
But with them change of honours.
VOLUMNIA. I have lived
To see inherited my very wishes,
And the buildings of my fancy; only
There's one thing wanting, which I doubt not but
Our Rome will cast upon thee.
CORIOLANUS. Know, good mother,
I had rather be their servant in my way
Than sway with them in theirs.
COMINIUS. On, to the Capitol.
[Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before]

BRUTUS and SICINIUS come forward

BRUTUS. All tongues speak of him and the bleared sights
Are spectacled to see him. Your prattling nurse
Into a rapture lets her baby cry
While she chats him; the kitchen malkin pins
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck,
Clamb'ring the walls to eye him; stalls, bulks, windows,
Are smother'd up, leads fill'd and ridges hors'd
With variable complexions, all agreeing
In earnestness to see him. Seld-shown flamens
Do press among the popular throngs and puff
To win a vulgar station; our veil'd dames
Commit the war of white and damask in
Their nicely gawded cheeks to th' wanton spoil
Of Phoebus' burning kisses. Such a pother,
As if that whatsoever god who leads him
Were slily crept into his human powers,
And gave him graceful posture.
SICINIUS. On the sudden
I warrant him consul.
BRUTUS. Then our office may
During his power go sleep.
SICINIUS. He cannot temp'rately transport his honours
From where he should begin and end, but will
Lose those he hath won.
BRUTUS. In that there's comfort.
SICINIUS. Doubt not
The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
Upon their ancient malice will forget
With the least cause these his new honours; which
That he will give them make I as little question
As he is proud to do't.
BRUTUS. I heard him swear,
Were he to stand for consul, never would he
Appear i' th' market-place, nor on him put
The napless vesture of humility;
Nor, showing, as the manner is, his wounds
To th' people, beg their stinking breaths.
SICINIUS. 'Tis right.
BRUTUS. It was his word. O, he would miss it rather
Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him
And the desire of the nobles.
SICINIUS. I wish no better
Than have him hold that purpose, and to put it
In execution.
BRUTUS. 'Tis most like he will.
SICINIUS. It shall be to him then as our good wills:
A sure destruction.
BRUTUS. So it must fall out
To him or our authorities. For an end,
We must suggest the people in what hatred
He still hath held them; that to's power he would
Have made them mules, silenc'd their pleaders, and
Dispropertied their freedoms; holding them
In human action and capacity
Of no more soul nor fitness for the world
Than camels in their war, who have their provand
Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows
For sinking under them.
SICINIUS. This, as you say, suggested
At some time when his soaring insolence
Shall touch the people- which time shall not want,
If he be put upon't, and that's as easy
As to set dogs on sheep- will be his fire
To kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze
Shall darken him for ever.


BRUTUS. What's the matter?
MESSENGER. You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought
That Marcius shall be consul.
I have seen the dumb men throng to see him and
The blind to hear him speak; matrons flung gloves,
Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers,
Upon him as he pass'd; the nobles bended
As to Jove's statue, and the commons made
A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts.
I never saw the like.
BRUTUS. Let's to the Capitol,
And carry with us ears and eyes for th' time,
But hearts for the event.
SICINIUS. Have with you. Exeunt

Rome. The Capitol

Enter two OFFICERS, to lay cushions, as it were in the Capitol

FIRST OFFICER. Come, come, they are almost here. How many stand for
SECOND OFFICER. Three, they say; but 'tis thought of every one
Coriolanus will carry it.
FIRST OFFICER. That's a brave fellow; but he's vengeance proud and
loves not the common people.
SECOND OFFICER. Faith, there have been many great men that have
flatter'd the people, who ne'er loved them; and there be many
that they have loved, they know not wherefore; so that, if 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
FIRST OFFICER. 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.
SECOND OFFICER. 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, bonneted, 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 car that heard it.
FIRST OFFICER. No more of him; he's a worthy man. Make way, they
are coming.

A sennet. Enter the PATRICIANS and the TRIBUNES
BRUTUS take their places by themselves.

MENENIUS. Having determin'd of the Volsces, and
To send for Titus Lartius, it remains,
As the main point of this our after-meeting,
To gratify his noble service that
Hath thus stood for his country. Therefore please you,
Most reverend and grave elders, to desire
The present consul and last general
In our well-found successes to report
A little of that worthy work perform'd
By Caius Marcius Coriolanus; whom
We met here both to thank and to remember
With honours like himself. [CORIOLANUS sits]
FIRST SENATOR. Speak, good Cominius.
Leave nothing out for length, and make us think
Rather our state's defective for requital
Than we to stretch it out. Masters o' th' people,
We do request your kindest ears; and, after,
Your loving motion toward the common body,
To yield what passes here.
SICINIUS. We are convented
Upon a pleasing treaty, and have hearts
Inclinable to honour and advance
The theme of our assembly.
BRUTUS. Which the rather
We shall be bless'd to do, if he remember
A kinder value of the people than
He hath hereto priz'd them at.
MENENIUS. That's off, that's off;
I would you rather had been silent. Please you
To hear Cominius speak?
BRUTUS. Most willingly.
But yet my caution was more pertinent
Than the rebuke you give it.
MENENIUS. He loves your people;
But tie him not to be their bedfellow.
Worthy Cominius, speak.
[CORIOLANUS rises, and offers to go away]
Nay, keep your place.
FIRST SENATOR. Sit, Coriolanus, never shame to hear
What you have nobly done.
CORIOLANUS. Your Honours' pardon.
I had rather have my wounds to heal again
Than hear say how I got them.
BRUTUS. Sir, I hope
My words disbench'd you not.
CORIOLANUS. No, sir; yet oft,
When blows have made me stay, I fled from words.
You sooth'd not, therefore hurt not. But your people,
I love them as they weigh-
MENENIUS. Pray now, sit down.
CORIOLANUS. I had rather have one scratch my head i' th' sun
When the alarum were struck than idly sit
To hear my nothings monster'd. Exit
MENENIUS. Masters of the people,
Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter-
That's thousand to one good one- when you now see
He had rather venture all his limbs for honour
Than one on's ears to hear it? Proceed, Cominius.
COMINIUS. I shall lack voice; the deeds of Coriolanus
Should not be utter'd feebly. It is held
That valour is the chiefest virtue and
Most dignifies the haver. If it be,
The man I speak of cannot in the world
Be singly counterpois'd. At sixteen years,
When Tarquin made a head for Rome, he fought
Beyond the mark of others; our then Dictator,
Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight
When with his Amazonian chin he drove
The bristled lips before him; he bestrid
An o'erpress'd Roman and i' th' consul's view
Slew three opposers; Tarquin's self he met,
And struck him on his knee. In that day's feats,
When he might act the woman in the scene,
He prov'd best man i' th' field, and for his meed
Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age
Man-ent'red thus, he waxed like a sea,
And in the brunt of seventeen battles since
He lurch'd all swords of the garland. For this last,
Before and in Corioli, let me say
I cannot speak him home. He stopp'd the fliers,
And by his rare example made the coward
Turn terror into sport; as weeds before
A vessel under sail, so men obey'd
And fell below his stem. His sword, death's stamp,
Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot
He was a thing of blood, whose every motion
Was tim'd with dying cries. Alone he ent'red
The mortal gate of th' city, which he painted
With shunless destiny; aidless came off,
And with a sudden re-enforcement struck
Corioli like a planet. Now all's his.
When by and by the din of war 'gan pierce
His ready sense, then straight his doubled spirit
Re-quick'ned what in flesh was fatigate,
And to the battle came he; where he did
Run reeking o'er the lives of men, as if
'Twere a perpetual spoil; and till we call'd
Both field and city ours he never stood
To ease his breast with panting.
MENENIUS. Worthy man!
FIRST SENATOR. He cannot but with measure fit the honours
Which we devise him.
COMINIUS. Our spoils he kick'd at,
And look'd upon things precious as they were
The common muck of the world. He covets less
Than misery itself would give, rewards
His deeds with doing them, and is content
To spend the time to end it.
MENENIUS. He's right noble;
Let him be call'd for.
FIRST SENATOR. Call Coriolanus.
OFFICER. He doth appear.


MENENIUS. The Senate, Coriolanus, are well pleas'd
To make thee consul.
CORIOLANUS. I do owe them still
My life and services.
MENENIUS. It then remains
That you do speak to the people.
CORIOLANUS. I do beseech you
Let me o'erleap that custom; for I cannot
Put on the gown, stand naked, and entreat them
For my wounds' sake to give their suffrage. Please you
That I may pass this doing.
SICINIUS. Sir, the people
Must have their voices; neither will they bate
One jot of ceremony.
MENENIUS. Put them not to't.
Pray you go fit you to the custom, and
Take to you, as your predecessors have,
Your honour with your form.
CORIOLANUS. It is a part
That I shall blush in acting, and might well
Be taken from the people.
BRUTUS. Mark you that?
CORIOLANUS. To brag unto them 'Thus I did, and thus!'
Show them th' unaching scars which I should hide,
As if I had receiv'd them for the hire
Of their breath only!
MENENIUS. Do not stand upon't.
We recommend to you, Tribunes of the People,
Our purpose to them; and to our noble consul
Wish we all joy and honour.
SENATORS. To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!
[Flourish. Cornets. Then exeunt all
BRUTUS. You see how he intends to use the people.
SICINIUS. May they perceive's intent! He will require them
As if he did contemn what he requested
Should be in them to give.
BRUTUS. Come, we'll inform them
Of our proceedings here. On th' market-place
I know they do attend us. Exeunt

Rome. The Forum

Enter seven or eight citizens

FIRST CITIZEN. Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to
deny him.
SECOND CITIZEN. We may, sir, if we will.
THIRD CITIZEN. We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a
power that we have no power to do; for if he show us his 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.
FIRST CITIZEN. 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.
THIRD CITIZEN. We have been call'd so of many; not that our heads
are some brown, some black, some abram, some bald, but that our
wits are so diversely colour'd; 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' th' compass.
SECOND CITIZEN. Think you so? Which way do you judge my wit would
THIRD CITIZEN. Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man's
will- 'tis strongly wedg'd up in a block-head; but if it were at
liberty 'twould sure southward.
SECOND CITIZEN. Why that way?
THIRD CITIZEN. To lose itself in a fog; where being three parts
melted away with rotten dews, the fourth would return for
conscience' sake, to help to get thee a wife.
SECOND CITIZEN. YOU are never without your tricks; you may, you
THIRD CITIZEN. Are you all resolv'd to give your voices? But that's
no matter, the greater part carries it. I say, if he would
incline to the people, there was never a worthier man.

Enter CORIOLANUS, in a gown of humility,

Here he comes, and in the gown of humility. Mark his 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.
ALL. Content, content. Exeunt citizens
MENENIUS. O sir, you are not right; have you not known
The worthiest men have done't?
CORIOLANUS. What must I say?
'I pray, sir'- Plague upon't! I cannot bring
My tongue to such a pace. 'Look, sir, my wounds
I got them in my country's service, when
Some certain of your brethren roar'd and ran
From th' noise of our own drums.'
MENENIUS. O me, the gods!
You must not speak of that. You must desire them
To think upon you.
CORIOLANUS. Think upon me? Hang 'em!
I would they would forget me, like the virtues
Which our divines lose by 'em.
MENENIUS. You'll mar all.
I'll leave you. Pray you speak to 'em, I pray you,
In wholesome manner. Exit

Re-enter three of the citizens

CORIOLANUS. Bid them wash their faces
And keep their teeth clean. So, here comes a brace.
You know the cause, sir, of my standing here.
THIRD CITIZEN. We do, sir; tell us what hath brought you to't.
CORIOLANUS. Mine own desert.
SECOND CITIZEN. Your own desert?
CORIOLANUS. Ay, not mine own desire.
THIRD CITIZEN. How, not your own desire?
CORIOLANUS. No, sir, 'twas never my desire yet to trouble the poor
with begging.
THIRD CITIZEN. YOU MUST think, if we give you anything, we hope to
gain by you.
CORIOLANUS. Well then, I pray, your price o' th' consulship?
FIRST CITIZEN. The price is to ask it kindly.
CORIOLANUS. Kindly, sir, I pray let me ha't. I have wounds to show
you, which shall be yours in private. Your good voice, sir; what
say you?
SECOND CITIZEN. You shall ha' it, worthy sir.
CORIOLANUS. A match, sir. There's in all two worthy voices begg'd.
I have your alms. Adieu.
THIRD CITIZEN. But this is something odd.
SECOND CITIZEN. An 'twere to give again- but 'tis no matter.
Exeunt the three citizens

Re-enter two other citizens

CORIOLANUS. Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your
voices that I may be consul, I have here the customary gown.
FOURTH CITIZEN. You have deserved nobly of your country, and you
have not deserved nobly.
CORIOLANUS. Your enigma?
FOURTH CITIZEN. You have been a scourge to her enemies; you have
been a rod to her friends. You have not indeed loved the common
CORIOLANUS. 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 bountiful to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you I
may be consul.
FIFTH CITIZEN. We hope to find you our friend; and therefore give
you our voices heartily.
FOURTH CITIZEN. You have received many wounds for your country.
CORIOLANUS. I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I
will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no farther.
BOTH CITIZENS. The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!
Exeunt citizens
CORIOLANUS. Most sweet voices!
Better it is to die, better to starve,
Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.
Why in this wolvish toge should I stand here
To beg of Hob and Dick that do appear
Their needless vouches? Custom calls me to't.
What custom wills, in all things should we do't,
The dust on antique time would lie unswept,
And mountainous error be too highly heap'd
For truth to o'erpeer. Rather than fool it so,
Let the high office and the honour go
To one that would do thus. I am half through:
The one part suffered, the other will I do.

Re-enter three citizens more

Here come moe voices.
Your voices. For your voices I have fought;
Watch'd for your voices; for your voices bear
Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six
I have seen and heard of; for your voices have
Done many things, some less, some more. Your voices?
Indeed, I would be consul.
SIXTH CITIZEN. He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest
man's voice.
SEVENTH CITIZEN. Therefore let him be consul. The gods give him
joy, and make him good friend to the people!
ALL. Amen, amen. God save thee, noble consul!
Exeunt citizens
CORIOLANUS. Worthy voices!


MENENIUS. You have stood your limitation, and the tribunes
Endue you with the people's voice. Remains
That, in th' official marks invested, you
Anon do meet the Senate.
CORIOLANUS. Is this done?
SICINIUS. The custom of request you have discharg'd.
The people do admit you, and are summon'd
To meet anon, upon your approbation.
CORIOLANUS. Where? At the Senate House?
SICINIUS. There, Coriolanus.
CORIOLANUS. May I change these garments?
SICINIUS. You may, sir.
CORIOLANUS. That I'll straight do, and, knowing myself again,
Repair to th' Senate House.
MENENIUS. I'll keep you company. Will you along?
BRUTUS. We stay here for the people.
SICINIUS. Fare you well.
He has it now; and by his looks methinks
'Tis warm at's heart.
BRUTUS. With a proud heart he wore
His humble weeds. Will you dismiss the people?

Re-enter citizens

SICINIUS. How now, my masters! Have you chose this man?
FIRST CITIZEN. He has our voices, sir.
BRUTUS. We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.
SECOND CITIZEN. Amen, sir. To my poor unworthy notice,
He mock'd us when he begg'd our voices.
He flouted us downright.
FIRST CITIZEN. No, 'tis his kind of speech- he did not mock us.
SECOND CITIZEN. Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says
He us'd us scornfully. He should have show'd us
His marks of merit, wounds receiv'd for's country.
SICINIUS. Why, so he did, I am sure.
ALL. No, no; no man saw 'em.
THIRD CITIZEN. He said he had wounds which he could show in
And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
'I would be consul,' says he; 'aged custom
But by your voices will not so permit me;
Your voices therefore.' When we granted that,
Here was 'I thank you for your voices. Thank you,
Your most sweet voices. Now you have left your voices,
I have no further with you.' Was not this mockery?
SICINIUS. Why either were you ignorant to see't,
Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness
To yield your voices?
BRUTUS. Could you not have told him-
As you were lesson'd- when he had no power
But was a petty servant to the state,
He was your enemy; ever spake against
Your liberties and the charters that you bear
I' th' body of the weal; and now, arriving
A place of potency and sway o' th' state,
If he should still malignantly remain
Fast foe to th' plebeii, your voices might
Be curses to yourselves? You should have said
That as his worthy deeds did claim no less
Than what he stood for, so his gracious nature
Would think upon you for your voices, and
Translate his malice towards you into love,
Standing your friendly lord.
SICINIUS. Thus to have said,
As you were fore-advis'd, had touch'd his spirit
And tried his inclination; from him pluck'd
Either his gracious promise, which you might,
As cause had call'd you up, have held him to;
Or else it would have gall'd his surly nature,
Which easily endures not article
Tying him to aught. So, putting him to rage,
You should have ta'en th' advantage of his choler
And pass'd him unelected.
BRUTUS. Did you perceive
He did solicit you in free contempt
When he did need your loves; and do you think
That his contempt shall not be bruising to you
When he hath power to crush? Why, had your bodies
No heart among you? Or had you tongues to cry
Against the rectorship of judgment?
SICINIUS. Have you
Ere now denied the asker, and now again,
Of him that did not ask but mock, bestow
Your su'd-for tongues?
THIRD CITIZEN. He's not confirm'd: we may deny him yet.
SECOND CITIZENS. And will deny him;
I'll have five hundred voices of that sound.
FIRST CITIZEN. I twice five hundred, and their friends to piece
BRUTUS. Get you hence instantly, and tell those friends
They have chose a consul that will from them take
Their liberties, make them of no more voice
Than dogs, that are as often beat for barking
As therefore kept to do so.
SICINIUS. Let them assemble;
And, on a safer judgment, all revoke
Your ignorant election. Enforce his pride
And his old hate unto you; besides, forget not
With what contempt he wore the humble weed;
How in his suit he scorn'd you; but your loves,
Thinking upon his services, took from you
Th' apprehension of his present portance,
Which, most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion
After the inveterate hate he bears you.
A fault on us, your tribunes, that we labour'd,
No impediment between, but that you must
Cast your election on him.
SICINIUS. Say you chose him
More after our commandment than as guided
By your own true affections; and that your minds,
Pre-occupied with what you rather must do
Than what you should, made you against the grain
To voice him consul. Lay the fault on us.
BRUTUS. Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you,
How youngly he began to serve his country,
How long continued; and what stock he springs of-
The noble house o' th' Marcians; from whence came
That Ancus Marcius, Numa's daughter's son,
Who, after great Hostilius, here was king;
Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,
That our best water brought by conduits hither;
And Censorinus, nobly named so,
Twice being by the people chosen censor,
Was his great ancestor.
SICINIUS. One thus descended,
That hath beside well in his person wrought
To be set high in place, we did commend
To your remembrances; but you have found,
Scaling his present bearing with his past,
That he's your fixed enemy, and revoke
Your sudden approbation.
BRUTUS. Say you ne'er had done't-
Harp on that still- but by our putting on;
And presently, when you have drawn your number,
Repair to th' Capitol.
CITIZENS. will will so; almost all
Repent in their election. Exeunt plebeians
BRUTUS. Let them go on;
This mutiny were better put in hazard
Than stay, past doubt, for greater.
If, as his nature is, he fall in rage
With their refusal, both observe and answer
The vantage of his anger.
SICINIUS. To th' Capitol, come.
We will be there before the stream o' th' people;
And this shall seem, as partly 'tis, their own,
Which we have goaded onward. Exeunt

Rome. A street


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' market-place.
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 meiny, 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 here 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 native
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 myself
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 rough;
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 los
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 corrected 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 the
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-

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