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The Tragedy of Coriolanus by William Shakespeare [Collins edition]

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Why, what of that?

If it be possible for you to displace it with your little
finger, there is some hope the ladies of Rome, especially his
mother, may prevail with him. But I say there is no hope in't:
our throats are sentenced, and stay upon execution.

Is't possible that so short a time can alter the condition of a

There is differency between a grub and a butterfly; yet your
butterfly was a grub. This Marcius is grown from man to dragon;
he has wings; he's more than a creeping thing.

He loved his mother dearly.

So did he me: and he no more remembers his mother now than an
eight-year-old horse. The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes:
when he walks, he moves like an engine, and the ground shrinks
before his treading: he is able to pierce a corslet with his eye,
talks like a knell, and his hum is a battery. He sits in his
state as a thing made for Alexander. What he bids be done is
finished with his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but
eternity, and a heaven to throne in.

Yes, mercy, if you report him truly.

I paint him in the character. Mark what mercy his mother shall
bring from him. There is no more mercy in him than there is
milk in a male tiger; that shall our poor city find: and all this
is 'long of you.

The gods be good unto us!

No, in such a case the gods will not be good unto us. When we
banished him we respected not them; and, he returning to break
our necks, they respect not us.


Sir, if you'd save your life, fly to your house:
The plebeians have got your fellow-tribune
And hale him up and down; all swearing, if
The Roman ladies bring not comfort home
They'll give him death by inches.

[Enter a second MESSENGER.]

What's the news?

Good news, good news;--the ladies have prevail'd,
The Volscians are dislodg'd, and Marcius gone:
A merrier day did never yet greet Rome,
No, not the expulsion of the Tarquins.

Art thou certain this is true? is't most certain?

As certain as I know the sun is fire:
Where have you lurk'd, that you make doubt of it?
Ne'er through an arch so hurried the blown tide
As the recomforted through the gates. Why, hark you!

[Trumpets and hautboys sounded, drums beaten, aand shouting

The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries, and fifes,
Tabors and cymbals, and the shouting Romans,
Make the sun dance. Hark you!

[Shouting within.]

This is good news.
I will go meet the ladies. This Volumnia
Is worth of consuls, senators, patricians,
A city full: of tribunes such as you,
A sea and land full. You have pray'd well to-day:
This morning for ten thousand of your throats
Ied not have given a doit. Hark, how they joy!

[Shouting and music.]

First, the gods bless you for your tidings; next,
Accept my thankfulness.

Sir, we have all
Great cause to give great thanks.

They are near the city?

Almost at point to enter.

We'll meet them,
And help the joy.


SCENE V. Rome. A street near the gate.

[Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, VALERIA, &c., accompanied by Senators,
Patricians, and Citizens.]

Behold our patroness, the life of Rome!
Call all your tribes together, praise the gods,
And make triumphant fires; strew flowers before them:
Unshout the noise that banish'd Marcius,
Repeal him with the welcome of his mother;
Cry, 'Welcome, ladies, welcome!'--

Welcome, ladies,


SCENE VI. Antium. A public place.

[Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, with attendants.]

Go tell the lords o' the city I am here:
Deliver them this paper; having read it,
Bid them repair to the market-place: where I,
Even in theirs and in the commons' ears,
Will vouch the truth of it. Him I accuse
The city ports by this hath enter'd and
Intends t' appear before the people, hoping
To purge himself with words: despatch.

[Exeunt attendants.]

[Enter three or four CONSPIRATORS of AUFIDIUS' faction.]

Most welcome!

How is it with our general?

Even so
As with a man by his own alms empoison'd,
And with his charity slain.

Most noble sir,
If you do hold the same intent wherein
You wish'd us parties, we'll deliver you
Of your great danger.

Sir, I cannot tell:
We must proceed as we do find the people.

The people will remain uncertain whilst
'Twixt you there's difference: but the fall of either
Makes the survivor heir of all.

I know it;
And my pretext to strike at him admits
A good construction. I rais'd him, and I pawn'd
Mine honour for his truth: who being so heighten'd,
He water'd his new plants with dews of flattery,
Seducing so my friends; and to this end
He bow'd his nature, never known before
But to be rough, unswayable, and free.

Sir, his stoutness
When he did stand for consul, which he lost
By lack of stooping,--

That I would have spoken of:
Being banish'd for't, he came unto my hearth;
Presented to my knife his throat: I took him;
Made him joint-servant with me; gave him way
In all his own desires; nay, let him choose
Out of my files, his projects to accomplish,
My best and freshest men; serv'd his designments
In mine own person; holp to reap the fame
Which he made all his; and took some pride
To do myself this wrong: till, at the last,
I seem'd his follower, not partner; and
He wag'd me with his countenance as if
I had been mercenary.

So he did, my lord:
The army marvell'd at it; and, in the last,
When he had carried Rome, and that we look'd
For no less spoil than glory,--

There was it;--
For which my sinews shall be stretch'd upon him.
At a few drops of women's rheum, which are
As cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labour
Of our great action: therefore shall he die,
And I'll renew me in his fall. But, hark!

[Drums and trumpets sound, with great shouts of the people.]

Your native town you enter'd like a post,
And had no welcomes home; but he returns
Splitting the air with noise.

And patient fools,
Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear
With giving him glory.

Therefore, at your vantage,
Ere he express himself or move the people
With what he would say, let him feel your sword,
Which we will second. When he lies along,
After your way his tale pronounc'd shall bury
His reasons with his body.

Say no more:
Here come the lords.

[Enter the LORDS of the city.]

You are most welcome home.

I have not deserv'd it.
But, worthy lords, have you with heed perus'd
What I have written to you?

We have.

And grieve to hear't.
What faults he made before the last, I think
Might have found easy fines: but there to end
Where he was to begin, and give away
The benefit of our levies, answering us
With our own charge: making a treaty where
There was a yielding.--This admits no excuse.

He approaches: you shall hear him.

[Enter CORIOLANUS, with drum and colours; a crowd of Citizens
with him.]

Hail, lords! I am return'd your soldier;
No more infected with my country's love
Than when I parted hence, but still subsisting
Under your great command. You are to know
That prosperously I have attempted, and
With bloody passage led your wars even to
The gates of Rome. Our spoils we have brought home
Do more than counterpoise a full third part
The charges of the action. We have made peace
With no less honour to the Antiates
Than shame to the Romans: and we here deliver,
Subscribed by the consuls and patricians,
Together with the seal o' the senate, what
We have compounded on.

Read it not, noble lords;
But tell the traitor, in the highest degree
He hath abus'd your powers.

Traitor!--How now?

Ay, traitor, Marcius.


Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius! Dost thou think
I'll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol'n name
Coriolanus, in Corioli?--
You lords and heads o' the state, perfidiously
He has betray'd your business, and given up,
For certain drops of salt, your city Rome,--
I say your city,--to his wife and mother;
Breaking his oath and resolution, like
A twist of rotten silk; never admitting
Counsel o' the war; but at his nurse's tears
He whin'd and roar'd away your victory;
That pages blush'd at him, and men of heart
Look'd wondering each at others.

Hear'st thou, Mars?

Name not the god, thou boy of tears,--


No more.

Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
Too great for what contains it. Boy! O slave!--
Pardon me, lords, 'tis the first time that ever
I was forc'd to scold. Your judgments, my grave lords,
Must give this cur the lie: and his own notion,--
Who wears my stripes impress'd upon him; that must bear
My beating to his grave,--shall join to thrust
The lie unto him.

Peace, both, and hear me speak.

Cut me to pieces, Volsces; men and lads,
Stain all your edges on me.--Boy! False hound!
If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there,
That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I
Flutter'd your Volscians in Corioli:
Alone I did it.--Boy!

Why, noble lords,
Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune,
Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,
'Fore your own eyes and ears?

Let him die for't.

Tear him to pieces, do it presently:--he killed my son; my
daughter; he killed my cousin Marcus; he killed my father,--

Peace, ho!--no outrage;--peace!
The man is noble, and his fame folds in
This orb o' the earth. His last offences to us
Shall have judicious hearing.--Stand, Aufidius,
And trouble not the peace.

O that I had him,
With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe,
To use my lawful sword!

Insolent villain!

Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!

[AUFIDIUS and the CONSPIRATORS draw, and kill CORIOLANUS,who
falls. AUFIDIUS stands on him.]

Hold, hold, hold, hold!

My noble masters, hear me speak.

O Tullus,--

Thou hast done a deed whereat valour will weep.

Tread not upon him.--Masters all, be quiet;
Put up your swords.

My lords, when you shall know,--as in this rage,
Provok'd by him, you cannot,--the great danger
Which this man's life did owe you, you'll rejoice
That he is thus cut off. Please it your honours
To call me to your senate, I'll deliver
Myself your loyal servant, or endure
Your heaviest censure.

Bear from hence his body,
And mourn you for him. Let him be regarded
As the most noble corse that ever herald
Did follow to his um.

His own impatience
Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.
Let's make the best of it.

My rage is gone;
And I am struck with sorrow.--Take him up:--
Help, three o' the chiefest soldiers; I'll be one.--
Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully;
Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he
Hath widow'd and unchilded many a one,
Which to this hour bewail the injury,
Yet he shall have a noble memory.--

[Exeunt, bearing the body of CORIOLANUS. A dead march sounded.]

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