Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Tragedy of Coriolanus by William Shakespeare [Collins edition]

Part 2 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

out of his noble carelessness, lets them plainly see't.

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, bonnetted, without any further deed to
have them at all, into their estimation and report: but he hath
so planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions in their
hearts, that for their tongues to be silent, and not confess
so much, were a kind of ingrateful injury; to report otherwise
were a malice that, giving itself the lie, would pluck reproof
and rebuke from every ear that heard it.

FIRST OFFICER.
No more of him; he is a worthy man.: make way, they are coming.

[A sennet. Enter, with Lictors before them, COMINIUS the Consul,
MENENIUS, CORIOLANUS, Senators, SICINIUS and BRUTUS. The Senators

take their places; the Tribunes take theirs also by themselves.]

MENENIUS.
Having determined of the Volsces, and
To send for Titus Lartius, it remains,
As the main point of this our after-meeting,
To gratify his noble service that
Hath thus stood for his country: therefore please you,
Most reverend and grave elders, to desire
The present consul, and last general
In our well-found successes, to report
A little of that worthy work perform'd
By Caius Marcius Coriolanus; whom
We met here both to thank and to remember
With honours like himself.

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' the 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' the sun
When the alarum were struck, than idly sit
To hear my nothings monster'd.

[Exit.]

MENENIUS.
Masters o' the people,
Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter,--
That's thousand to one good one,--when you now see
He had rather venture all his limbs for honour
Than one on's ears to hear it?--Proceed, Cominius.

COMINIUS.
I shall lack voice: the deeds of Coriolanus
Should not be utter'd feebly.--It is held
That valour is the chiefest virtue, and
Most dignifies the haver: if it be,
The man I speak of cannot in the world
Be singly counterpois'd. At sixteen years,
When Tarquin made a head for Rome, he fought
Beyond the mark of others; our then dictator,
Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight,
When with his Amazonian chin he drove
The bristled lips before him: he bestrid
An o'erpress'd Roman and i' the consul's view
Slew three opposers: Tarquin's self he met,
And struck him on his knee: in that day's feats,
When he might act the woman in the scene,
He proved best man i' the field, and for his meed
Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age
Man-enter'd thus, he waxed like a sea;
And in the brunt of seventeen battles since
He lurch'd all swords of the garland. For this last,
Before and in Corioli, let me say,
I cannot speak him home: he stopp'd the fliers;
And by his rare example made the coward
Turn terror into sport: as weeds before
A vessel under sail, so men obey'd,
And fell below his stem: his sword,--death's stamp,--
Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot
He was a thing of blood, whose every motion
Was timed with dying cries: alone he enter'd
The mortal gate of the city, which he painted
With shunless destiny; aidless came off,
And with a sudden re-enforcement struck
Corioli like a planet. Now all's his:
When, by and by, the din of war 'gan pierce
His ready sense; then straight his doubled spirit
Re-quick'ned what in flesh was fatigate,
And to the battle came he; where he did
Run reeking o'er the lives of men, as if
'Twere a perpetual spoil: and till we call'd
Both field and city ours he never stood
To ease his breast with panting.

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 looked upon things precious as they were
The common muck of the world: he covets less
Than misery itself would give; rewards
His deeds with doing them; and is content
To spend the time to end it.

MENENIUS.
He's right noble:
Let him be call'd for.

FIRST SENATOR.
Call Coriolanus.

OFFICER.
He doth appear.

[Re-enter CORIOLANUS.]

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 the 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. Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS.]

BRUTUS.
You see how he intends to use the people.

SICINIUS.
May they perceive's intent! He will require them
As if he did contemn what he requested
Should be in them to give.

BRUTUS.
Come, we'll inform them
Of our proceedings here: on the market-place
I know they do attend us.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE III. Rome. The Forum.

[Enter several 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 called so of many; not that our heads are some
brown, some black, some auburn, some bald, but that our wits are
so diversely coloured; and truly I think if all our wits were to
issue out of one skull, they would fly east, west, north, south;
and their consent of one direct way should be at once to all the
points o' the compass.

SECOND CITIZEN.
Think you so? Which way do you judge my wit would fly?

THIRD CITIZEN.
Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man's will,--'tis
strongly wedged up in a block-head; but if it were at liberty
'twould, sure, southward.

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 may.

THIRD CITIZEN.
Are you all resolved to give your voices? But that's no matter,
the greater part carries it. I say, if he would incline to the
people, there was never a worthier man. Here he comes, and in the
gown of humility. Mark his behaviour. We are not to stay all
together, but to come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos,
and by threes. He's to make his requests by particulars, wherein
every one of us has a single honour, in giving him our own voices
with our own tongues; therefore follow me, and I'll direct you
how you shall go by him.

ALL.
Content, content.

[Exeunt.]

[Enter CORIOLANUS and MENENIUS.]

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 the 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.

CORIOLANUS.
Bid them wash their faces
And keep their teeth clean.

[Exit MENENIUS.]

So, here comes a brace:

[Re-enter two citizens.]

You know the cause, sirs, of my standing here.

FIRST 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.

FIRST CITIZEN.
How! not your own desire!

CORIOLANUS.
No, sir, 'twas never my desire yet to trouble the poor with
begging.

FIRST CITIZEN.
You must think, if we give you anything, we hope to gain by you.

CORIOLANUS.
Well then, I pray, your price o' the 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.

FIRST CITIZEN.
But this is something odd.

SECOND CITIZEN.
An 'twere to give again,-- but 'tis no matter.

[Exeunt two citizens.]

[Re-enter other two 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.

THIRD CITIZEN.
You have deserved nobly of your country, and you have not
deserved nobly.

CORIOLANUS.
Your enigma?

THIRD CITIZEN.
You have been a scourge to her enemies; you have been a rod to
her friends: you have not indeed loved the common people.

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 bountifully to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you,
I may be consul.

FOURTH CITIZEN.
We hope to find you our friend; and therefore give you our voices
heartily.

THIRD 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 further.

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 suffer'd, the other will I do.
Here come more voices.

[Re-enter other three citizens.]

Your voices: for your voices I have fought;
Watch'd for your voices; for your voices bear
Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six
I have seen and heard of; for your voices have
Done many things, some less, some more: your voices:
Indeed, I would be consul.

FIFTH CITIZEN.
He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest man's voice.

SIXTH CITIZEN.
Therefore let him be consul: the gods give him joy, and make him
good friend to the people!

ALL THREE CITIZENS.
Amen, amen.--God save thee, noble consul!

[Exeunt.]

CORIOLANUS.
Worthy voices!

[Re-enter MENENIUS, with BRUTUS and SICINIUS.]

MENENIUS.
You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes
Endue you with the people's voice:--remains
That, in the 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 the senate-house.

MENENIUS.
I'll keep you company.--Will you along?

BRUTUS.
We stay here for the people.

SICINIUS.
Fare you well.

[Exeunt CORIOLANUS and MENENIUS.]

He has it now; and by his looks methinks
'Tis warm at his 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 mocked us when he begg'd our voices.

THIRD CITIZEN.
Certainly;
He flouted us downright.

FIRST CITIZEN.
No, 'tis his kind of speech,--he did not mock us.

SECOND CITIZEN.
Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says
He us'd us scornfully: he should have show'd us
His marks of merit, wounds received for's country.

SICINIUS.
Why, so he did, I am sure.

CITIZENS.
No, no; no man saw 'em.

THIRD CITIZEN.
He said he had wounds, which he could show in private;
And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
'I would be consul,' says he; 'aged custom
But by your voices, will not so permit me;
Your voices therefore:' when we granted that,
Here was, 'I thank you for your voices,--thank you,--
Your most sweet voices:--now you have left your voices
I have no further with you:'--was not this mockery?

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' the body of the weal: and now, arriving
A place of potency and sway o' the state,
If he should still malignantly remain
Fast foe to the plebeii, your voices might
Be curses to yourselves? You should have said,
That as his worthy deeds did claim no less
Than what he stood for, so his gracious nature
Would think upon you for your voices, and
Translate his malice towards you into love,
Standing your friendly lord.

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 the 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 CITIZEN.
And will deny him:
I'll have five hundred voices of that sound.

FIRST CITIZEN.
I twice five hundred, and their friends to piece 'em.

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.

BRUTUS.
Lay
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' the Marcians; from whence came
That Ancus Marcius, Numa's daughter's son,
Who, after great Hostilius, here was king;
Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,
That our best water brought by conduits hither;
And Censorinus, darling of the people,
And nobly nam'd so, twice being censor,
Was his great ancestor.

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 the Capitol.

CITIZENS.
We will so; almost all
Repent in their election.

[Exeunt.]

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 the Capitol,
Come: we will be there before the stream o' the people;
And this shall seem, as partly 'tis, their own,
Which we have goaded onward.

[Exeunt.]

ACT III.

SCENE I. Rome. A street

[Cornets. Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS,
Senators, and Patricians.]

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.

CORIOLANUS.
How? What?

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. [To Laertes.]

[Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS.]

Behold! these are the tribunes of the people;
The tongues o' the common mouth. I do despise them,
For they do prank them in authority,
Against all noble sufferance.

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 commons?

BRUTUS.
Cominius, no.

CORIOLANUS.
Have I had children's voices?

FIRST SENATOR.
Tribunes, give way; he shall to the market-place.

BRUTUS.
The people are incens'd against him.

SICINIUS.
Stop,
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 inquire your way,
Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit;
Or never be so noble as a consul,
Nor yoke with him for tribune.

MENENIUS.
Let's be calm.

COMINIUS.
The people are abus'd; set on. This palt'ring
Becomes not Rome; nor has Coriolanus
Deserv'd this so dishonour'd rub, laid falsely
I' the plain way of his merit.

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' the 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?

CORIOLANUS.
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.

CORIOLANUS.
'Shall'!
O good, but most unwise patricians! why,
You grave but reckless senators, have you thus
Given Hydra leave to choose an officer,
That with his peremptory 'shall,' being but
The horn and noise o' the monster, wants not spirit
To say he'll turn your current in a ditch,
And make your channel his? If he have power,
Then vail your ignorance: if none, awake
Your dangerous lenity. If you are learn'd,
Be not as common fools; if you are not,
Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians,
If they be senators: and they are no less
When, both your voices blended, the great'st taste
Most palates theirs. They choose their magistrate;
And such a one as he, who puts his 'shall,'
His popular 'shall,' against a graver bench
Than ever frown'd in Greece. By Jove himself,
It makes the consuls base: and my soul aches
To know, when two authorities are up,
Neither supreme, how soon confusion
May enter 'twixt the gap of both and take
The one by the other.

COMINIUS.
Well, on to the market-place.

CORIOLANUS.
Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth
The corn o' the storehouse gratis, as 'twas us'd
Sometime in Greece,--

MENENIUS.
Well, well, no more of that.

CORIOLANUS.
Though there the people had more absolute power,--
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 the war,
Even when the navel of the state was touch'd,
They would not thread the gates,--this kind of service
Did not deserve corn gratis: being i' the war,
Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they show'd
Most valour, spoke not for them. The accusation
Which they have often made against the senate,
All cause unborn, could never be the motive
Of our so frank donation. Well, what then?
How shall this bisson multitude digest
The senate's courtesy? Let deeds express
What's like to be their words:--'We did request it;
We are the greater poll, and in true fear
They gave us our demands:'-- Thus we debase
The nature of our seats, and make the rabble
Call our cares fears; which will in time
Break ope the locks o' the senate and bring in
The crows to peck the eagles.--

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 the 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' the dust.

BRUTUS.
Manifest treason!

SICINIUS.
This a consul? no.

BRUTUS.
The aediles, ho!--Let him be apprehended.

SICINIUS.
Go call the people [Exit BRUTUS.]; in whose name myself
Attach thee as a traitorous innovator,
A foe to the public weal. Obey, I charge thee,
And follow to thine answer.

CORIOLANUS.
Hence, old goat!

SENATORS and PATRICIANS.
We'll surety him.

COMINIUS.
Aged sir, hands off.

CORIOLANUS.
Hence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bones
Out of thy garments.

SICINIUS.
Help, ye citizens!

[Re-enter Brutus, with the AEDILES and a rabble of Citizens.]

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.]

Tribunes! patricians! citizens!--What, ho!--
Sicinius, Brutus, Coriolanus, Citizens!

CITIZENS.
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 the people,--Coriolanus, patience:--
Speak, good Sicinius.

SICINIUS.
Hear me, people: peace!

CITIZENS.
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?
CITIZENS.
True,
The people are the city.

BRUTUS.
By the consent of all, we were establish'd
The people's magistrates.

CITIZENS.
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' the people, in whose power
We were elected theirs, Marcius is worthy
Of present death.

SICINIUS.
Therefore lay hold of him;
Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence
Into destruction cast him.

BRUTUS.
Aediles, seize him!

CITIZENS.
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 friends,
And temperately 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.
No; I'll die here. [Draws his sword.]
There's some among you have beheld me fighting;
Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.

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!

CITIZENS.
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 pr'ythee, 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 calv'd i' the porch o' the 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' the 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 used 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, COMINIUS, and others.]

FIRST PATRICIAN.
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!

SECOND PATRICIAN.
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, with the rabble.]

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.

CITIZENS.
He shall, sure on't.

MENENIUS.
Sir, sir,--

SICINIUS.
Peace!

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!

CITIZENS.
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 the end o' the world.

SICINIUS.
This is clean kam.

BRUTUS.
Merely awry: when he did love his country,
It honour'd him.

MENENIUS.
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' the wars
Since 'a could draw a sword, and is ill school'd
In bolted language; meal and bran together
He throws without distinction. Give me leave,
I'll go to him and undertake to bring him
Where he shall answer, by a lawful form,
In peace, to his utmost peril.

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.]

SCENE II. Rome. A room in CORIOLANUS'S house.

[Enter CORIOLANUS and Patricians.]

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.

[Enter VOLUMNIA.]

I talk of you: [To Volumnia.]
Why did you wish me milder? Would you have me
False to my nature? Rather say, I play
The man I am.

VOLUMNIA.
O, sir, sir, sir,
I would have had you put your power well on
Before you had worn it out.

CORIOLANUS.
Let go.

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.

[Enter MENENIUS with the SENATORS.]

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 the herd, but that
The violent fit o' the time craves it as physic
For the whole state, I would put mine armour on,
Which I can scarcely bear.

CORIOLANUS.
What must I do?

MENENIUS.
Return to the 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' the war do grow together: grant that, and tell me
In peace what each of them by th' other lose
That they combine not there.

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 the people; not by your own instruction,
Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you,
But with such words that are but rooted in
Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables
Of no allowance, to your bosom's truth.
Now, this no more dishonours you at all
Than to take in a town with gentle words,
Which else would put you to your fortune and
The hazard of much blood.
I would dissemble with my nature where
My fortunes and my friends at stake requir'd
I should do so in honour: I am in this
Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles;
And you will rather show our general louts
How you can frown, than spend a fawn upon 'em
For the inheritance of their loves and safeguard
Of what that want might ruin.

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 pr'ythee now, my son,
Go to them with this bonnet in thy hand;
And thus far having stretch'd it,--here be with them,--
Thy knee bussing the stones,--for in such busines
Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant
More learned than the ears,--waving thy head,
Which often, thus correcting thy stout heart,
Now humble as the ripest mulberry
That will not hold the handling: or say to them
Thou art their soldier, and, being bred in broils,
Hast not the soft way which, thou dost confess,
Were fit for thee to use, as they to claim,
In asking their good loves; but thou wilt frame
Thyself, forsooth, hereafter theirs, so far
As thou hast power and person.

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.
Pr'ythee now,
Go, and be rul'd; although I know thou had'st rather
Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf
Than flatter him in a bower.

[Enter COMINIUS.]

Here is Cominius.

COMINIUS.
I have been i' the market-place; and, sir, 'tis fit
You make strong party, or defend yourself
By calmness or by absence: all's in anger.

MENENIUS.
Only fair speech.

COMINIUS.
I think 'twill serve, if he
Can thereto frame his spirit.

VOLUMNIA.
He must, and will.--
Pr'ythee 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 the market-place:--
You have put me now to such a part which never
I shall discharge to the life.

COMINIUS.
Come, come, we'll prompt you.

VOLUMNIA.
I pr'ythee now, sweet son,--as thou hast said
My praises made thee first a soldier, so,
To have my praise for this, perform a part
Thou hast not done before.

CORIOLANUS.
Well, I must do't:
Away, my disposition, and possess me
Some harlot's spirit! My throat of war be turn'd,
Which quired with my drum, into a pipe
Small as an eunuch, or the virgin voice
That babies lulls asleep! the smiles of knaves
Tent in my cheeks; and school-boys' tears take up
The glasses of my sight! a beggar's tongue
Make motion through my lips; and my arm'd knees,
Who bow'd but in my stirrup, bend like his
That hath receiv'd an alms!--I will not do't;
Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth,
And by my body's action teach my mind
A most inherent baseness.

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' the 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.]

SCENE III. Rome. The Forum.

[Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS.]

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 the 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' the right and strength o' the commons,' be it either
For death, for fine, or banishment, then let them,
If I say fine, cry 'Fine!'- if death, cry 'Death;'
Insisting on the old prerogative
And power i' the truth o' the cause.

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.

[Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, COMINIUS, Senators, and Patricians.]

MENENIUS.
Calmly, I do beseech you.

CORIOLANUS.
Ay, as an ostler, that for the poorest piece
Will bear the knave by the volume.--The honoured gods
Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice
Supplied with worthy men! plant love among's!
Throng our large temples with the shows of peace,
And not our streets with war!

FIRST SENATOR.
Amen, amen!

MENENIUS.
A noble wish.

[Re-enter the AEDILE, with Citizens.]

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 proved 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' the 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' the lowest hell fold in the people!
Call me their traitor!--Thou injurious tribune!
Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths,
In thy hands clutch'd as many millions, in
Thy lying tongue both numbers, I would say,
Thou liest unto thee with a voice as free
As I do pray the gods.

SICINIUS.
Mark you this, people?

CITIZENS.
To the rock, to the rock, with him!

SICINIUS.
Peace!
We need not put new matter to his charge:
What you have seen him do and heard him speak,
Beating your officers, cursing yourselves,
Opposing laws with strokes, and here defying
Those whose great power must try him; even this,
So criminal and in such capital kind,
Deserves the extremest death.

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.

CORIOLANUS.
You?

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

Book of the day: