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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Part 10 out of 63

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Nay, and you shall hear some. [To BRUTUS] Will you be gone?
VIRGILIA. [To SICINIUS] You shall stay too. I would I had the
To say so to my husband.
SICINIUS. Are you mankind?
VOLUMNIA. Ay, fool; is that a shame? Note but this, fool:
Was not a man my father? Hadst thou foxship
To banish him that struck more blows for Rome
Than thou hast spoken words?
SICINIUS. O blessed heavens!
VOLUMNIA. Moe noble blows than ever thou wise words;
And for Rome's good. I'll tell thee what- yet go!
Nay, but thou shalt stay too. I would my son
Were in Arabia, and thy tribe before him,
His good sword in his hand.
SICINIUS. What then?
VIRGILIA. What then!
He'd make an end of thy posterity.
VOLUMNIA. Bastards and all.
Good man, the wounds that he does bear for Rome!
MENENIUS. Come, come, peace.
SICINIUS. I would he had continued to his country
As he began, and not unknit himself
The noble knot he made.
BRUTUS. I would he had.
VOLUMNIA. 'I would he had!' 'Twas you incens'd the rabble-
Cats that can judge as fitly of his worth
As I can of those mysteries which heaven
Will not have earth to know.
BRUTUS. Pray, let's go.
VOLUMNIA. Now, pray, sir, get you gone;
You have done a brave deed. Ere you go, hear this:
As far as doth the Capitol exceed
The meanest house in Rome, so far my son-
This lady's husband here, this, do you see?-
Whom you have banish'd does exceed you an.
BRUTUS. Well, well, we'll leave you.
SICINIUS. Why stay we to be baited
With one that wants her wits? Exeunt TRIBUNES
VOLUMNIA. Take my prayers with you.
I would the gods had nothing else to do
But to confirm my curses. Could I meet 'em
But once a day, it would unclog my heart
Of what lies heavy to't.
MENENIUS. You have told them home,
And, by my troth, you have cause. You'll sup with me?
VOLUMNIA. Anger's my meat; I sup upon myself,
And so shall starve with feeding. Come, let's go.
Leave this faint puling and lament as I do,
In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.
MENENIUS. Fie, fie, fie! Exit

A highway between Rome and Antium

Enter a ROMAN and a VOLSCE, meeting

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

Antium. Before AUFIDIUS' house

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

CORIOLANUS. A goodly city is this Antium. City,
'Tis I that made thy widows: many an heir
Of these fair edifices fore my wars
Have I heard groan and drop. Then know me not.
Lest that thy wives with spits and boys with stones,
In puny battle slay me.


Save you, sir.
CITIZEN. And you.
CORIOLANUS. Direct me, if it be your will,
Where great Aufidius lies. Is he in Antium?
CITIZEN. He is, and feasts the nobles of the state
At his house this night.
CORIOLANUS. Which is his house, beseech you?
CITIZEN. This here before you.
CORIOLANUS. Thank you, sir; farewell. Exit CITIZEN
O world, thy slippery turns! Friends now fast sworn,
Whose double bosoms seems to wear one heart,
Whose hours, whose bed, whose meal and exercise
Are still together, who twin, as 'twere, in love,
Unseparable, shall within this hour,
On a dissension of a doit, break out
To bitterest enmity; so fellest foes,
Whose passions and whose plots have broke their sleep
To take the one the other, by some chance,
Some trick not worth an egg, shall grow dear friends
And interjoin their issues. So with me:
My birthplace hate I, and my love's upon
This enemy town. I'll enter. If he slay me,
He does fair justice: if he give me way,
I'll do his country service.

Antium. AUFIDIUS' house

Music plays. Enter A SERVINGMAN

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

Enter another SERVINGMAN

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


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

Re-enter the first SERVINGMAN

FIRST SERVANT. What would you have, friend?
Whence are you? Here's no place for you: pray go to the door.
CORIOLANUS. I have deserv'd no better entertainment
In being Coriolanus.

Re-enter second SERVINGMAN

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

Enter a third SERVINGMAN. The first meets him

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

Enter AUFIDIUS with the second SERVINGMAN

AUFIDIUS. Where is this fellow?
SECOND SERVANT. Here, sir; I'd have beaten him like a dog, but for
disturbing the lords within.
AUFIDIUS. Whence com'st thou? What wouldst thou? Thy name?
Why speak'st not? Speak, man. What's thy name?
CORIOLANUS. [Unmuffling] If, Tullus,
Not yet thou know'st me, and, seeing me, dost not
Think me for the man I am, necessity
Commands me name myself.
AUFIDIUS. What is thy name?
CORIOLANUS. A name unmusical to the Volscians' ears,
And harsh in sound to thine.
AUFIDIUS. Say, what's thy name?
Thou has a grim appearance, and thy face
Bears a command in't; though thy tackle's torn,
Thou show'st a noble vessel. What's thy name?
CORIOLANUS. Prepare thy brow to frown- know'st thou me yet?
AUFIDIUS. I know thee not. Thy name?
CORIOLANUS. My name is Caius Marcius, who hath done
To thee particularly, and to all the Volsces,
Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness may
My surname, Coriolanus. The painful service,
The extreme dangers, and the drops of blood
Shed for my thankless country, are requited
But with that surname- a good memory
And witness of the malice and displeasure
Which thou shouldst bear me. Only that name remains;
The cruelty and envy of the people,
Permitted by our dastard nobles, who
Have all forsook me, hath devour'd the rest,
An suffer'd me by th' voice of slaves to be
Whoop'd out of Rome. Now this extremity
Hath brought me to thy hearth; not out of hope,
Mistake me not, to save my life; for if
I had fear'd death, of all the men i' th' world
I would have 'voided thee; but in mere spite,
To be full quit of those my banishers,
Stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast
A heart of wreak in thee, that wilt revenge
Thine own particular wrongs and stop those maims
Of shame seen through thy country, speed thee straight
And make my misery serve thy turn. So use it
That my revengeful services may prove
As benefits to thee; for I will fight
Against my cank'red country with the spleen
Of all the under fiends. But if so be
Thou dar'st not this, and that to prove more fortunes
Th'art tir'd, then, in a word, I also am
Longer to live most weary, and present
My throat to thee and to thy ancient malice;
Which not to cut would show thee but a fool,
Since I have ever followed thee with hate,
Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country's breast,
And cannot live but to thy shame, unless
It be to do thee service.
AUFIDIUS. O Marcius, Marcius!
Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart
A root of ancient envy. If Jupiter
Should from yond cloud speak divine things,
And say ''Tis true,' I'd not believe them more
Than thee, all noble Marcius. Let me twine
Mine arms about that body, where against
My grained ash an hundred times hath broke
And scarr'd the moon with splinters; here I clip
The anvil of my sword, and do contest
As hotly and as nobly with thy love
As ever in ambitious strength I did
Contend against thy valour. Know thou first,
I lov'd the maid I married; never man
Sigh'd truer breath; but that I see thee here,
Thou noble thing, more dances my rapt heart
Than when I first my wedded mistress saw
Bestride my threshold. Why, thou Mars, I tell the
We have a power on foot, and I had purpose
Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn,
Or lose mine arm for't. Thou hast beat me out
Twelve several times, and I have nightly since
Dreamt of encounters 'twixt thyself and me-
We have been down together in my sleep,
Unbuckling helms, fisting each other's throat-
And wak'd half dead with nothing. Worthy Marcius,
Had we no other quarrel else to Rome but that
Thou art thence banish'd, we would muster all
From twelve to seventy, and, pouring war
Into the bowels of ungrateful Rome,
Like a bold flood o'erbeat. O, come, go in,
And take our friendly senators by th' hands,
Who now are here, taking their leaves of me
Who am prepar'd against your territories,
Though not for Rome itself.
CORIOLANUS. You bless me, gods!
AUFIDIUS. Therefore, most. absolute sir, if thou wilt have
The leading of thine own revenges, take
Th' one half of my commission, and set down-
As best thou art experienc'd, since thou know'st
Thy country's strength and weakness- thine own ways,
Whether to knock against the gates of Rome,
Or rudely visit them in parts remote
To fright them ere destroy. But come in;
Let me commend thee first to those that shall
Say yea to thy desires. A thousand welcomes!
And more a friend than e'er an enemy;
Yet, Marcius, that was much. Your hand; most welcome!

The two SERVINGMEN come forward

FIRST SERVANT. Here's a strange alteration!
SECOND SERVANT. By my hand, I had thought to have strucken him with
a cudgel; and yet my mind gave me his clothes made a false report
of him.
FIRST SERVANT. What an arm he has! He turn'd me about with his
finger and his thumb, as one would set up a top.
SECOND SERVANT. Nay, I knew by his face that there was something in
him; he had, sir, a kind of face, methought- I cannot tell how to
term it.
FIRST SERVANT. He had so, looking as it were- Would I were hang'd,
but I thought there was more in him than I could think.
SECOND SERVANT. So did I, I'll be sworn. He is simply the rarest
man i' th' world.
FIRST SERVANT. I think he is; but a greater soldier than he you wot
SECOND SERVANT. Who, my master?
FIRST SERVANT. Nay, it's no matter for that.
SECOND SERVANT. Worth six on him.
FIRST SERVANT. Nay, not so neither; but I take him to be the
greater soldier.
SECOND SERVANT. Faith, look you, one cannot tell how to say that;
for the defence of a town our general is excellent.
FIRST SERVANT. Ay, and for an assault too.

Re-enter the third SERVINGMAN

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

Rome. A public place

Enter the two Tribunes, SICINIUS and BRUTUS

SICINIUS. We hear not of him, neither need we fear him.
His remedies are tame. The present peace
And quietness of the people, which before
Were in wild hurry, here do make his friends
Blush that the world goes well; who rather had,
Though they themselves did suffer by't, behold
Dissentious numbers pest'ring streets than see
Our tradesmen singing in their shops, and going
About their functions friendly.


BRUTUS. We stood to't in good time. Is this Menenius?
SICINIUS. 'Tis he, 'tis he. O, he is grown most kind
Of late. Hail, sir!
MENENIUS. Hail to you both!
SICINIUS. Your Coriolanus is not much miss'd
But with his friends. The commonwealth doth stand,
And so would do, were he more angry at it.
MENENIUS. All's well, and might have been much better
He could have temporiz'd.
SICINIUS. Where is he, hear you?
MENENIUS. Nay, I hear nothing; his mother and his wife
Hear nothing from him.

Enter three or four citizens

CITIZENS. The gods preserve you both!
SICINIUS. God-den, our neighbours.
BRUTUS. God-den to you all, god-den to you an.
FIRST CITIZEN. Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees
Are bound to pray for you both.
SICINIUS. Live and thrive!
BRUTUS. Farewell, kind neighbours; we wish'd Coriolanus
Had lov'd you as we did.
CITIZENS. Now the gods keep you!
BOTH TRIBUNES. Farewell, farewell. Exeunt citizens
SICINIUS. This is a happier and more comely time
Than when these fellows ran about the streets
Crying confusion.
BRUTUS. Caius Marcius was
A worthy officer i' the war, but insolent,
O'ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,
SICINIUS. And affecting one sole throne,
Without assistance.
MENENIUS. I think not so.
SICINIUS. We should by this, to all our lamentation,
If he had gone forth consul, found it so.
BRUTUS. The gods have well prevented it, and Rome
Sits safe and still without him.

Enter an AEDILE

AEDILE. Worthy tribunes,
There is a slave, whom we have put in prison,
Reports the Volsces with several powers
Are ent'red in the Roman territories,
And with the deepest malice of the war
Destroy what lies before 'em.
MENENIUS. 'Tis Aufidius,
Who, hearing of our Marcius' banishment,
Thrusts forth his horns again into the world,
Which were inshell'd when Marcius stood for Rome,
And durst not once peep out.
SICINIUS. Come, what talk you of Marcius?
BRUTUS. Go see this rumourer whipp'd. It cannot be
The Volsces dare break with us.
MENENIUS. Cannot be!
We have record that very well it can;
And three examples of the like hath been
Within my age. But reason with the fellow
Before you punish him, where he heard this,
Lest you shall chance to whip your information
And beat the messenger who bids beware
Of what is to be dreaded.
SICINIUS. Tell not me.
I know this cannot be.
BRUTUS. Not Possible.


MESSENGER. The nobles in great earnestness are going
All to the Senate House; some news is come
That turns their countenances.
SICINIUS. 'Tis this slave-
Go whip him fore the people's eyes- his raising,
Nothing but his report.
MESSENGER. Yes, worthy sir,
The slave's report is seconded, and more,
More fearful, is deliver'd.
SICINIUS. What more fearful?
MESSENGER. It is spoke freely out of many mouths-
How probable I do not know- that Marcius,
Join'd with Aufidius, leads a power 'gainst Rome,
And vows revenge as spacious as between
The young'st and oldest thing.
SICINIUS. This is most likely!
BRUTUS. Rais'd only that the weaker sort may wish
Good Marcius home again.
SICINIUS. The very trick on 't.
MENENIUS. This is unlikely.
He and Aufidius can no more atone
Than violent'st contrariety.

Enter a second MESSENGER

SECOND MESSENGER. You are sent for to the Senate.
A fearful army, led by Caius Marcius
Associated with Aufidius, rages
Upon our territories, and have already
O'erborne their way, consum'd with fire and took
What lay before them.


COMINIUS. O, you have made good work!
MENENIUS. What news? what news?
COMINIUS. You have holp to ravish your own daughters and
To melt the city leads upon your pates,
To see your wives dishonour'd to your noses-
MENENIUS. What's the news? What's the news?
COMINIUS. Your temples burned in their cement, and
Your franchises, whereon you stood, confin'd
Into an auger's bore.
MENENIUS. Pray now, your news?
You have made fair work, I fear me. Pray, your news.
If Marcius should be join'd wi' th' Volscians-
He is their god; he leads them like a thing
Made by some other deity than Nature,
That shapes man better; and they follow him
Against us brats with no less confidence
Than boys pursuing summer butterflies,
Or butchers killing flies.
MENENIUS. You have made good work,
You and your apron men; you that stood so much
Upon the voice of occupation and
The breath of garlic-eaters!
COMINIUS. He'll shake
Your Rome about your ears.
MENENIUS. As Hercules
Did shake down mellow fruit. You have made fair work!
BRUTUS. But is this true, sir?
COMINIUS. Ay; and you'll look pale
Before you find it other. All the regions
Do smilingly revolt, and who resists
Are mock'd for valiant ignorance,
And perish constant fools. Who is't can blame him?
Your enemies and his find something in him.
MENENIUS. We are all undone unless
The noble man have mercy.
COMINIUS. Who shall ask it?
The tribunes cannot do't for shame; the people
Deserve such pity of him as the wolf
Does of the shepherds; for his best friends, if they
Should say 'Be good to Rome'- they charg'd him even
As those should do that had deserv'd his hate,
And therein show'd fike enemies.
MENENIUS. 'Tis true;
If he were putting to my house the brand
That should consume it, I have not the face
To say 'Beseech you, cease.' You have made fair hands,
You and your crafts! You have crafted fair!
COMINIUS. You have brought
A trembling upon Rome, such as was never
S' incapable of help.
BOTH TRIBUNES. Say not we brought it.
MENENIUS. How! Was't we? We lov'd him, but, like beasts
And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,
Who did hoot him out o' th' city.
COMINIUS. But I fear
They'll roar him in again. Tullus Aufidius,
The second name of men, obeys his points
As if he were his officer. Desperation
Is all the policy, strength, and defence,
That Rome can make against them.

Enter a troop of citizens

MENENIUS. Here comes the clusters.
And is Aufidius with him? You are they
That made the air unwholesome when you cast
Your stinking greasy caps in hooting at
Coriolanus' exile. Now he's coming,
And not a hair upon a soldier's head
Which will not prove a whip; as many coxcombs
As you threw caps up will he tumble down,
And pay you for your voices. 'Tis no matter;
If he could burn us all into one coal
We have deserv'd it.
PLEBEIANS. Faith, we hear fearful news.
FIRST CITIZEN. For mine own part,
When I said banish him, I said 'twas pity.
THIRD CITIZEN. And so did I; and, to say the truth, so did very
many of us. That we did, we did for the best; and though we
willingly consented to his banishment, yet it was against our
COMINIUS. Y'are goodly things, you voices!
MENENIUS. You have made
Good work, you and your cry! Shall's to the Capitol?
COMINIUS. O, ay, what else?
SICINIUS. Go, masters, get you be not dismay'd;
These are a side that would be glad to have
This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,
And show no sign of fear.
FIRST CITIZEN. The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let's home. I
ever said we were i' th' wrong when we banish'd him.
SECOND CITIZEN. So did we all. But come, let's home.
Exeunt citizens
BRUTUS. I do not like this news.
BRUTUS. Let's to the Capitol. Would half my wealth
Would buy this for a lie!
SICINIUS. Pray let's go. Exeunt

A camp at a short distance from Rome


AUFIDIUS. Do they still fly to th' Roman?
LIEUTENANT. I do not know what witchcraft's in him, but
Your soldiers use him as the grace fore meat,
Their talk at table, and their thanks at end;
And you are dark'ned in this action, sir,
Even by your own.
AUFIDIUS. I cannot help it now,
Unless by using means I lame the foot
Of our design. He bears himself more proudlier,
Even to my person, than I thought he would
When first I did embrace him; yet his nature
In that's no changeling, and I must excuse
What cannot be amended.
LIEUTENANT. Yet I wish, sir-
I mean, for your particular- you had not
Join'd in commission with him, but either
Had borne the action of yourself, or else
To him had left it solely.
AUFIDIUS. I understand thee well; and be thou sure,
When he shall come to his account, he knows not
What I can urge against him. Although it seems,
And so he thinks, and is no less apparent
To th' vulgar eye, that he bears all things fairly
And shows good husbandry for the Volscian state,
Fights dragon-like, and does achieve as soon
As draw his sword; yet he hath left undone
That which shall break his neck or hazard mine
Whene'er we come to our account.
LIEUTENANT. Sir, I beseech you, think you he'll carry Rome?
AUFIDIUS. All places yield to him ere he sits down,
And the nobility of Rome are his;
The senators and patricians love him too.
The tribunes are no soldiers, and their people
Will be as rash in the repeal as hasty
To expel him thence. I think he'll be to Rome
As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it
By sovereignty of nature. First he was
A noble servant to them, but he could not
Carry his honours even. Whether 'twas pride,
Which out of daily fortune ever taints
The happy man; whether defect of judgment,
To fail in the disposing of those chances
Which he was lord of; or whether nature,
Not to be other than one thing, not moving
From th' casque to th' cushion, but commanding peace
Even with the same austerity and garb
As he controll'd the war; but one of these-
As he hath spices of them all- not all,
For I dare so far free him- made him fear'd,
So hated, and so banish'd. But he has a merit
To choke it in the utt'rance. So our virtues
Lie in th' interpretation of the time;
And power, unto itself most commendable,
Hath not a tomb so evident as a chair
T' extol what it hath done.
One fire drives out one fire; one nail, one nail;
Rights by rights falter, strengths by strengths do fail.
Come, let's away. When, Caius, Rome is thine,
Thou art poor'st of all; then shortly art thou mine.


Rome. A public place

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

MENENIUS. No, I'll not go. You hear what he hath said
Which was sometime his general, who lov'd him
In a most dear particular. He call'd me father;
But what o' that? Go, you that banish'd him:
A mile before his tent fall down, and knee
The way into his mercy. Nay, if he coy'd
To hear Cominius speak, I'll keep at home.
COMINIUS. He would not seem to know me.
MENENIUS. Do you hear?
COMINIUS. Yet one time he did call me by my name.
I urg'd our old acquaintance, and the drops
That we have bled together. 'Coriolanus'
He would not answer to; forbid all names;
He was a kind of nothing, titleless,
Till he had forg'd himself a name i' th' fire
Of burning Rome.
MENENIUS. Why, so! You have made good work.
A pair of tribunes that have wrack'd for Rome
To make coals cheap- a noble memory!
COMINIUS. I minded him how royal 'twas to pardon
When it was less expected; he replied,
It was a bare petition of a state
To one whom they had punish'd.
MENENIUS. Very well.
Could he say less?
COMINIUS. I offer'd to awaken his regard
For's private friends; his answer to me was,
He could not stay to pick them in a pile
Of noisome musty chaff. He said 'twas folly,
For one poor grain or two, to leave unburnt
And still to nose th' offence.
MENENIUS. For one poor grain or two!
I am one of those. His mother, wife, his child,
And this brave fellow too- we are the grains:
You are the musty chaff, and you are smelt
Above the moon. We must be burnt for you.
SICINIUS. Nay, pray be patient; if you refuse your aid
In this so never-needed help, yet do not
Upbraid's with our distress. But sure, if you
Would be your country's pleader, your good tongue,
More than the instant army we can make,
Might stop our countryman.
MENENIUS. No; I'll not meddle.
SICINIUS. Pray you go to him.
MENENIUS. What should I do?
BRUTUS. Only make trial what your love can do
For Rome, towards Marcius.
MENENIUS. Well, and say that Marcius
Return me, as Cominius is return'd,
Unheard- what then?
But as a discontented friend, grief-shot
With his unkindness? Say't be so?
SICINIUS. Yet your good will
Must have that thanks from Rome after the measure
As you intended well.
MENENIUS. I'll undertake't;
I think he'll hear me. Yet to bite his lip
And hum at good Cominius much unhearts me.
He was not taken well: he had not din'd;
The veins unfill'd, our blood is cold, and then
We pout upon the morning, are unapt
To give or to forgive; but when we have stuff'd
These pipes and these conveyances of our blood
With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls
Than in our priest-like fasts. Therefore I'll watch him
Till he be dieted to my request,
And then I'll set upon him.
BRUTUS. You know the very road into his kindness
And cannot lose your way.
MENENIUS. Good faith, I'll prove him,
Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledge
Of my success. Exit
COMINIUS. He'll never hear him.
COMINIUS. I tell you he does sit in gold, his eye
Red as 'twould burn Rome, and his injury
The gaoler to his pity. I kneel'd before him;
'Twas very faintly he said 'Rise'; dismiss'd me
Thus with his speechless hand. What he would do,
He sent in writing after me; what he would not,
Bound with an oath to yield to his conditions;
So that all hope is vain,
Unless his noble mother and his wife,
Who, as I hear, mean to solicit him
For mercy to his country. Therefore let's hence,
And with our fair entreaties haste them on. Exeunt

The Volscian camp before Rome

Enter MENENIUS to the WATCH on guard

FIRST WATCH. Stay. Whence are you?
SECOND WATCH. Stand, and go back.
MENENIUS. You guard like men, 'tis well; but, by your leave,
I am an officer of state and come
To speak with Coriolanus.
FIRST WATCH. From whence?
MENENIUS. From Rome.
FIRST WATCH. YOU may not pass; you must return. Our general
Will no more hear from thence.
SECOND WATCH. You'll see your Rome embrac'd with fire before
You'll speak with Coriolanus.
MENENIUS. Good my friends,
If you have heard your general talk of Rome
And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks
My name hath touch'd your ears: it is Menenius.
FIRST WATCH. Be it so; go back. The virtue of your name
Is not here passable.
MENENIUS. I tell thee, fellow,
Thy general is my lover. I have been
The book of his good acts whence men have read
His fame unparallel'd haply amplified;
For I have ever verified my friends-
Of whom he's chief- with all the size that verity
Would without lapsing suffer. Nay, sometimes,
Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground,
I have tumbled past the throw, and in his praise
Have almost stamp'd the leasing; therefore, fellow,
I must have leave to pass.
FIRST WATCH. Faith, sir, if you had told as many lies in his behalf
as you have uttered words in your own, you should not pass here;
no, though it were as virtuous to lie as to live chastely.
Therefore go back.
MENENIUS. Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius, always
factionary on the party of your general.
SECOND WATCH. Howsoever you have been his liar, as you say you
have, I am one that, telling true under him, must say you cannot
pass. Therefore go back.
MENENIUS. Has he din'd, canst thou tell? For I would not speak with
him till after dinner.
FIRST WATCH. You are a Roman, are you?
MENENIUS. I am as thy general is.
FIRST WATCH. Then you should hate Rome, as he does. Can you, when
you have push'd out your gates the very defender of them, and in
a violent popular ignorance given your enemy your shield, think
to front his revenges with the easy groans of old women, the
virginal palms of your daughters, or with the palsied
intercession of such a decay'd dotant as you seem to be? Can you
think to blow out the intended fire your city is ready to flame
in with such weak breath as this? No, you are deceiv'd; therefore
back to Rome and prepare for your execution. You are condemn'd;
our general has sworn you out of reprieve and pardon.
MENENIUS. Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he would use me
with estimation.
FIRST WATCH. Come, my captain knows you not.
MENENIUS. I mean thy general.
FIRST WATCH. My general cares not for you. Back, I say; go, lest I
let forth your half pint of blood. Back- that's the utmost of
your having. Back.
MENENIUS. Nay, but fellow, fellow-


CORIOLANUS. What's the matter?
MENENIUS. Now, you companion, I'll say an errand for you; you shall
know now that I am in estimation; you shall perceive that a Jack
guardant cannot office me from my son Coriolanus. Guess but by my
entertainment with him if thou stand'st not i' th' state of
hanging, or of some death more long in spectatorship and crueller
in suffering; behold now presently, and swoon for what's to come
upon thee. The glorious gods sit in hourly synod about thy
particular prosperity, and love thee no worse than thy old father
Menenius does! O my son! my son! thou art preparing fire for us;
look thee, here's water to quench it. I was hardly moved to come
to thee; but being assured none but myself could move thee, I
have been blown out of your gates with sighs, and conjure thee to
pardon Rome and thy petitionary countrymen. The good gods assuage
thy wrath, and turn the dregs of it upon this varlet here; this,
who, like a block, hath denied my access to thee.
MENENIUS. How! away!
CORIOLANUS. Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs
Are servanted to others. Though I owe
My revenge properly, my remission lies
In Volscian breasts. That we have been familiar,
Ingrate forgetfulness shall poison rather
Than pity note how much. Therefore be gone.
Mine ears against your suits are stronger than
Your gates against my force. Yet, for I lov'd thee,
Take this along; I writ it for thy sake [Gives a letter]
And would have sent it. Another word, Menenius,
I will not hear thee speak. This man, Aufidius,
Was my belov'd in Rome; yet thou behold'st.
AUFIDIUS. You keep a constant temper.
Exeunt CORIOLANUS and Aufidius
FIRST WATCH. Now, sir, is your name Menenius?
SECOND WATCH. 'Tis a spell, you see, of much power! You know the
way home again.
FIRST WATCH. Do you hear how we are shent for keeping your
greatness back?
SECOND WATCH. What cause, do you think, I have to swoon?
MENENIUS. I neither care for th' world nor your general; for such
things as you, I can scarce think there's any, y'are so slight.
He that hath a will to die by himself fears it not from another.
Let your general do his worst. For you, be that you are, long;
and your misery increase with your age! I say to you, as I was
said to: Away! Exit
FIRST WATCH. A noble fellow, I warrant him.
SECOND WATCH. The worthy fellow is our general; he's the rock, the
oak not to be wind-shaken. Exeunt

The tent of CORIOLANUS

Enter CORIOLANUS, AUFIDIUS, and others

CORIOLANUS. We will before the walls of Rome to-morrow
Set down our host. My partner in this action,
You must report to th' Volscian lords how plainly
I have borne this business.
AUFIDIUS. Only their ends
You have respected; stopp'd your ears against
The general suit of Rome; never admitted
A private whisper- no, not with such friends
That thought them sure of you.
CORIOLANUS. This last old man,
Whom with crack'd heart I have sent to Rome,
Lov'd me above the measure of a father;
Nay, godded me indeed. Their latest refuge
Was to send him; for whose old love I have-
Though I show'd sourly to him- once more offer'd
The first conditions, which they did refuse
And cannot now accept. To grace him only,
That thought he could do more, a very little
I have yielded to; fresh embassies and suits,
Nor from the state nor private friends, hereafter
Will I lend ear to. [Shout within] Ha! what shout is this?
Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow
In the same time 'tis made? I will not.

Enter, in mourning habits, VIRGILIA, VOLUMNIA, VALERIA,
YOUNG MARCIUS, with attendants

My wife comes foremost, then the honour'd mould
Wherein this trunk was fram'd, and in her hand
The grandchild to her blood. But out, affection!
All bond and privilege of nature, break!
Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.
What is that curtsy worth? or those doves' eyes,
Which can make gods forsworn? I melt, and am not
Of stronger earth than others. My mother bows,
As if Olympus to a molehill should
In supplication nod; and my young boy
Hath an aspect of intercession which
Great nature cries 'Deny not.' Let the Volsces
Plough Rome and harrow Italy; I'll never
Be such a gosling to obey instinct, but stand
As if a man were author of himself
And knew no other kin.
VIRGILIA. My lord and husband!
CORIOLANUS. These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.
VIRGILIA. The sorrow that delivers us thus chang'd
Makes you think so.
CORIOLANUS. Like a dull actor now
I have forgot my part and I am out,
Even to a full disgrace. Best of my flesh,
Forgive my tyranny; but do not say,
For that, 'Forgive our Romans.' O, a kiss
Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!
Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss
I carried from thee, dear, and my true lip
Hath virgin'd it e'er since. You gods! I prate,
And the most noble mother of the world
Leave unsaluted. Sink, my knee, i' th' earth; [Kneels]
Of thy deep duty more impression show
Than that of common sons.
VOLUMNIA. O, stand up blest!
Whilst with no softer cushion than the flint
I kneel before thee, and unproperly
Show duty, as mistaken all this while
Between the child and parent. [Kneels]
CORIOLANUS. What's this?
Your knees to me, to your corrected son?
Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach
Fillip the stars; then let the mutinous winds
Strike the proud cedars 'gainst the fiery sun,
Murd'ring impossibility, to make
What cannot be slight work.
VOLUMNIA. Thou art my warrior;
I holp to frame thee. Do you know this lady?
CORIOLANUS. The noble sister of Publicola,
The moon of Rome, chaste as the icicle
That's curdied by the frost from purest snow,
And hangs on Dian's temple- dear Valeria!
VOLUMNIA. This is a poor epitome of yours,
Which by th' interpretation of full time
May show like all yourself.
CORIOLANUS. The god of soldiers,
With the consent of supreme Jove, inform
Thy thoughts with nobleness, that thou mayst prove
To shame unvulnerable, and stick i' th' wars
Like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw,
And saving those that eye thee!
VOLUMNIA. Your knee, sirrah.
CORIOLANUS. That's my brave boy.
VOLUMNIA. Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself,
Are suitors to you.
CORIOLANUS. I beseech you, peace!
Or, if you'd ask, remember this before:
The thing I have forsworn to grant may never
Be held by you denials. Do not bid me
Dismiss my soldiers, or capitulate
Again with Rome's mechanics. Tell me not
Wherein I seem unnatural; desire not
T'allay my rages and revenges with
Your colder reasons.
VOLUMNIA. O, no more, no more!
You have said you will not grant us any thing-
For we have nothing else to ask but that
Which you deny already; yet we will ask,
That, if you fail in our request, the blame
May hang upon your hardness; therefore hear us.
CORIOLANUS. Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark; for we'll
Hear nought from Rome in private. Your request?
VOLUMNIA. Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment
And state of bodies would bewray what life
We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself
How more unfortunate than all living women
Are we come hither; since that thy sight, which should
Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance with comforts,
Constrains them weep and shake with fear and sorrow,
Making the mother, wife, and child, to see
The son, the husband, and the father, tearing
His country's bowels out. And to poor we
Thine enmity's most capital: thou bar'st us
Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort
That all but we enjoy. For how can we,
Alas, how can we for our country pray,
Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,
Whereto we are bound? Alack, or we must lose
The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,
Our comfort in the country. We must find
An evident calamity, though we had
Our wish, which side should win; for either thou
Must as a foreign recreant be led
With manacles through our streets, or else
Triumphantly tread on thy country's ruin,
And bear the palm for having bravely shed
Thy wife and children's blood. For myself, son,
I purpose not to wait on fortune till
These wars determine; if I can not persuade thee
Rather to show a noble grace to both parts
Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner
March to assault thy country than to tread-
Trust to't, thou shalt not- on thy mother's womb
That brought thee to this world.
VIRGILIA. Ay, and mine,
That brought you forth this boy to keep your name
Living to time.
BOY. 'A shall not tread on me!
I'll run away till I am bigger, but then I'll fight.
CORIOLANUS. Not of a woman's tenderness to be
Requires nor child nor woman's face to see.
I have sat too long. [Rising]
VOLUMNIA. Nay, go not from us thus.
If it were so that our request did tend
To save the Romans, thereby to destroy
The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn us
As poisonous of your honour. No, our suit
Is that you reconcile them: while the Volsces
May say 'This mercy we have show'd,' the Romans
'This we receiv'd,' and each in either side
Give the all-hail to thee, and cry 'Be blest
For making up this peace!' Thou know'st, great son,
The end of war's uncertain; but this certain,
That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit
Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name
Whose repetition will be dogg'd with curses;
Whose chronicle thus writ: 'The man was noble,
But with his last attempt he wip'd it out,
Destroy'd his country, and his name remains
To th' ensuing age abhorr'd.' Speak to me, son.
Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour,
To imitate the graces of the gods,
To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o' th' air,
And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt
That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak?
Think'st thou it honourable for a noble man
Still to remember wrongs? Daughter, speak you:
He cares not for your weeping. Speak thou, boy;
Perhaps thy childishness will move him more
Than can our reasons. There's no man in the world
More bound to's mother, yet here he lets me prate
Like one i' th' stocks. Thou hast never in thy life
Show'd thy dear mother any courtesy,
When she, poor hen, fond of no second brood,
Has cluck'd thee to the wars, and safely home
Loaden with honour. Say my request's unjust,
And spurn me back; but if it he not so,
Thou art not honest, and the gods will plague thee,
That thou restrain'st from me the duty which
To a mother's part belongs. He turns away.
Down, ladies; let us shame him with our knees.
To his surname Coriolanus 'longs more pride
Than pity to our prayers. Down. An end;
This is the last. So we will home to Rome,
And die among our neighbours. Nay, behold's!
This boy, that cannot tell what he would have
But kneels and holds up hands for fellowship,
Does reason our petition with more strength
Than thou hast to deny't. Come, let us go.
This fellow had a Volscian to his mother;
His wife is in Corioli, and his child
Like him by chance. Yet give us our dispatch.
I am hush'd until our city be afire,
And then I'll speak a little.
[He holds her by the hand, silent]
CORIOLANUS. O mother, mother!
What have you done? Behold, the heavens do ope,
The gods look down, and this unnatural scene
They laugh at. O my mother, mother! O!
You have won a happy victory to Rome;
But for your son- believe it, O, believe it!-
Most dangerously you have with him prevail'd,
If not most mortal to him. But let it come.
Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,
I'll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius,
Were you in my stead, would you have heard
A mother less, or granted less, Aufidius?
AUFIDIUS. I was mov'd withal.
CORIOLANUS. I dare be sworn you were!
And, sir, it is no little thing to make
Mine eyes to sweat compassion. But, good sir,
What peace you'fl make, advise me. For my part,
I'll not to Rome, I'll back with you; and pray you
Stand to me in this cause. O mother! wife!
AUFIDIUS. [Aside] I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and thy
At difference in thee. Out of that I'll work
Myself a former fortune.
CORIOLANUS. [To the ladies] Ay, by and by;
But we will drink together; and you shall bear
A better witness back than words, which we,
On like conditions, will have counter-seal'd.
Come, enter with us. Ladies, you deserve
To have a temple built you. All the swords
In Italy, and her confederate arms,
Could not have made this peace. Exeunt

Rome. A public place


MENENIUS. See you yond coign o' th' Capitol, yond cornerstone?
SICINIUS. Why, what of that?
MENENIUS. 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 sentenc'd, and stay upon execution.
SICINIUS. Is't possible that so short a time can alter the
condition of a man?
MENENIUS. 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.
SICINIUS. He lov'd his mother dearly.
MENENIUS. 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
finish'd with his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but
eternity, and a heaven to throne in.
SICINIUS. Yes- mercy, if you report him truly.
MENENIUS. 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.
SICINIUS. The gods be good unto us!
MENENIUS. No, in such a case the gods will not be good unto us.
When we banish'd him we respected not them; and, he returning to
break our necks, they respect not us.


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

Enter another MESSENGER

SICINIUS. What's the news?
SECOND MESSENGER. 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 th' expulsion of the Tarquins.
Art thou certain this is true? Is't most certain?
SECOND MESSENGER. 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 th' gates. Why, hark you!
[Trumpets, hautboys, drums beat, all together]
The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries, and fifes,
Tabors and cymbals, and the shouting Romans,
Make the sun dance. Hark you! [A shout within]
MENENIUS. 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
I'd not have given a doit. Hark, how they joy!
[Sound still with the shouts]
SICINIUS. First, the gods bless you for your tidings; next,
Accept my thankfulness.
SECOND MESSENGER. Sir, we have all
Great cause to give great thanks.
SICINIUS. They are near the city?
MESSENGER. Almost at point to enter.
SICINIUS. We'll meet them,
And help the joy. Exeunt

Rome. A street near the gate

Enter two SENATORS With VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, VALERIA, passing over the stage,
'With other LORDS

FIRST SENATOR. 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;
ALL. Welcome, ladies, welcome!
[A flourish with drums and trumpets. Exeunt]

Corioli. A public place

Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS with attendents

AUFIDIUS. Go tell the lords o' th' city I am here;
Deliver them this paper' having read it,
Bid them repair to th' 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. Dispatch.
Exeunt attendants

Enter three or four CONSPIRATORS of AUFIDIUS' faction

Most welcome!
FIRST CONSPIRATOR. How is it with our general?
As with a man by his own alms empoison'd,
And with his charity slain.
If you do hold the same intent wherein
You wish'd us parties, we'll deliver you
Of your great danger.
AUFIDIUS. Sir, I cannot tell;
We must proceed as we do find the people.
THIRD CONSPIRATOR. The people will remain uncertain whilst
'Twixt you there's difference; but the fall of either
Makes the survivor heir of all.
AUFIDIUS. 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 watered 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.
THIRD CONSPIRATOR. Sir, his stoutness
When he did stand for consul, which he lost
By lack of stooping-
AUFIDIUS. 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 did end 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.
FIRST CONSPIRATOR. 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-
AUFIDIUS. 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]
FIRST CONSPIRATOR. Your native town you enter'd like a post,
And had no welcomes home; but he returns
Splitting the air with noise.
SECOND CONSPIRATOR. And patient fools,
Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear
With giving him glory.
THIRD CONSPIRATOR. 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.
AUFIDIUS. Say no more:
Here come the lords.

Enter the LORDS of the city

LORDS. You are most welcome home.
AUFIDIUS. I have not deserv'd it.
But, worthy lords, have you with heed perused
What I have written to you?
LORDS. We have.
FIRST LORD. 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.
AUFIDIUS. He approaches; you shall hear him.

Enter CORIOLANUS, marching with drum and colours;
the commoners being with him

CORIOLANUS. 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
Doth 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 th' Romans; and we here deliver,
Subscrib'd by th' consuls and patricians,
Together with the seal o' th' Senate, what
We have compounded on.
AUFIDIUS. Read it not, noble lords;
But tell the traitor in the highest degree
He hath abus'd your powers.
CORIOLANUS. Traitor! How now?
AUFIDIUS. Ay, traitor, Marcius.
AUFIDIUS. 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' th' 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' th' 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 wond'ring each at others.
CORIOLANUS. Hear'st thou, Mars?
AUFIDIUS. Name not the god, thou boy of tears-
AUFIDIUS. -no more.
CORIOLANUS. 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.
FIRST LORD. Peace, both, and hear me speak.
CORIOLANUS. 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'!
AUFIDIUS. 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?
CONSPIRATORS. Let him die for't.
ALL THE PEOPLE. Tear him to pieces. Do it presently. He kill'd my
son. My daughter. He kill'd my cousin Marcus. He kill'd my
SECOND LORD. Peace, ho! No outrage- peace!
The man is noble, and his fame folds in
This orb o' th' earth. His last offences to us
Shall have judicious hearing. Stand, Aufidius,
And trouble not the peace.
CORIOLANUS. O that I had him,
With six Aufidiuses, or more- his tribe,
To use my lawful sword!
AUFIDIUS. Insolent villain!
CONSPIRATORS. Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!
[The CONSPIRATORS draw and kill CORIOLANUS,who falls.
AUFIDIUS stands on him]
LORDS. Hold, hold, hold, hold!
AUFIDIUS. My noble masters, hear me speak.
SECOND LORD. Thou hast done a deed whereat valour will weep.
THIRD LORD. Tread not upon him. Masters all, be quiet;
Put up your swords.
AUFIDIUS. 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.
FIRST LORD. 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.
SECOND LORD. His own impatience
Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.
Let's make the best of it.
AUFIDIUS. My rage is gone,
And I am struck with sorrow. Take him up.
Help, three o' th' chiefest soldiers; I'll be one.
Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully;
Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he
Hath widowed and unchilded many a one,
Which to this hour bewail the injury,
Yet he shall have a noble memory.
Assist. Exeunt, bearing the body of CORIOLANUS
[A dead march sounded]





by William Shakespeare

Dramatis Personae

CYMBELINE, King of Britain
CLOTEN, son to the Queen by a former husband
POSTHUMUS LEONATUS, a gentleman, husband to Imogen
BELARIUS, a banished lord, disguised under the name of Morgan

GUIDERIUS and ARVIRAGUS, sons to Cymbeline, disguised under the
names of POLYDORE and CADWAL, supposed sons to Belarius
PHILARIO, Italian, friend to Posthumus
IACHIMO, Italian, friend to Philario
A FRENCH GENTLEMAN, friend to Philario
CAIUS LUCIUS, General of the Roman Forces
PISANIO, servant to Posthumus
CORNELIUS, a physician
TWO LORDS of Cymbeline's court
TWO GENTLEMEN of the same

QUEEN, wife to Cymbeline
IMOGEN, daughter to Cymbeline by a former queen
HELEN, a lady attending on Imogen


Lords, Ladies, Roman Senators, Tribunes, a Soothsayer, a
Dutch Gentleman, a Spanish Gentleman, Musicians, Officers,
Captains, Soldiers, Messengers, and Attendants


Britain; Italy

Britain. The garden of CYMBELINE'S palace

FIRST GENTLEMAN. You do not meet a man but frowns; our bloods
No more obey the heavens than our courtiers
Still seem as does the King's.
SECOND GENTLEMAN. But what's the matter?
FIRST GENTLEMAN. His daughter, and the heir of's kingdom, whom
He purpos'd to his wife's sole son- a widow
That late he married- hath referr'd herself
Unto a poor but worthy gentleman. She's wedded;
Her husband banish'd; she imprison'd. All
Is outward sorrow, though I think the King
Be touch'd at very heart.
SECOND GENTLEMAN. None but the King?
FIRST GENTLEMAN. He that hath lost her too. So is the Queen,
That most desir'd the match. But not a courtier,
Although they wear their faces to the bent
Of the King's looks, hath a heart that is not
Glad at the thing they scowl at.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. He that hath miss'd the Princess is a thing
Too bad for bad report; and he that hath her-
I mean that married her, alack, good man!
And therefore banish'd- is a creature such
As, to seek through the regions of the earth
For one his like, there would be something failing
In him that should compare. I do not think
So fair an outward and such stuff within
Endows a man but he.
SECOND GENTLEMAN. You speak him far.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. I do extend him, sir, within himself;
Crush him together rather than unfold
His measure duly.
SECOND GENTLEMAN. What's his name and birth?
FIRST GENTLEMAN. I cannot delve him to the root; his father
Was call'd Sicilius, who did join his honour
Against the Romans with Cassibelan,
But had his titles by Tenantius, whom
He serv'd with glory and admir'd success,
So gain'd the sur-addition Leonatus;
And had, besides this gentleman in question,
Two other sons, who, in the wars o' th' time,
Died with their swords in hand; for which their father,
Then old and fond of issue, took such sorrow
That he quit being; and his gentle lady,
Big of this gentleman, our theme, deceas'd
As he was born. The King he takes the babe
To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus,
Breeds him and makes him of his bed-chamber,
Puts to him all the learnings that his time
Could make him the receiver of; which he took,
As we do air, fast as 'twas minist'red,
And in's spring became a harvest, liv'd in court-
Which rare it is to do- most prais'd, most lov'd,
A sample to the youngest; to th' more mature
A glass that feated them; and to the graver
A child that guided dotards. To his mistress,
For whom he now is banish'd- her own price
Proclaims how she esteem'd him and his virtue;
By her election may be truly read
What kind of man he is.
Even out of your report. But pray you tell me,
Is she sole child to th' King?
FIRST GENTLEMAN. His only child.
He had two sons- if this be worth your hearing,
Mark it- the eldest of them at three years old,
I' th' swathing clothes the other, from their nursery
Were stol'n; and to this hour no guess in knowledge
Which way they went.
SECOND GENTLEMAN. How long is this ago?
FIRST GENTLEMAN. Some twenty years.
SECOND GENTLEMAN. That a king's children should be so convey'd,
So slackly guarded, and the search so slow
That could not trace them!
FIRST GENTLEMAN. Howsoe'er 'tis strange,
Or that the negligence may well be laugh'd at,
Yet is it true, sir.
SECOND GENTLEMAN. I do well believe you.
FIRST GENTLEMAN. We must forbear; here comes the gentleman,
The Queen, and Princess. Exeunt


QUEEN. No, be assur'd you shall not find me, daughter,
After the slander of most stepmothers,
Evil-ey'd unto you. You're my prisoner, but
Your gaoler shall deliver you the keys
That lock up your restraint. For you, Posthumus,
So soon as I can win th' offended King,
I will be known your advocate. Marry, yet
The fire of rage is in him, and 'twere good
You lean'd unto his sentence with what patience
Your wisdom may inform you.
POSTHUMUS. Please your Highness,
I will from hence to-day.
QUEEN. You know the peril.
I'll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying
The pangs of barr'd affections, though the King
Hath charg'd you should not speak together. Exit
IMOGEN. O dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant
Can tickle where she wounds! My dearest husband,
I something fear my father's wrath, but nothing-
Always reserv'd my holy duty- what
His rage can do on me. You must be gone;
And I shall here abide the hourly shot
Of angry eyes, not comforted to live
But that there is this jewel in the world
That I may see again.
POSTHUMUS. My queen! my mistress!
O lady, weep no more, lest I give cause
To be suspected of more tenderness
Than doth become a man. I will remain
The loyal'st husband that did e'er plight troth;
My residence in Rome at one Philario's,
Who to my father was a friend, to me
Known but by letter; thither write, my queen,
And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send,
Though ink be made of gall.

Re-enter QUEEN

QUEEN. Be brief, I pray you.
If the King come, I shall incur I know not
How much of his displeasure. [Aside] Yet I'll move him
To walk this way. I never do him wrong
But he does buy my injuries, to be friends;
Pays dear for my offences. Exit
POSTHUMUS. Should we be taking leave
As long a term as yet we have to live,
The loathness to depart would grow. Adieu!
IMOGEN. Nay, stay a little.
Were you but riding forth to air yourself,
Such parting were too petty. Look here, love:
This diamond was my mother's; take it, heart;
But keep it till you woo another wife,
When Imogen is dead.
POSTHUMUS. How, how? Another?
You gentle gods, give me but this I have,
And sear up my embracements from a next
With bonds of death! Remain, remain thou here
[Puts on the ring]
While sense can keep it on. And, sweetest, fairest,
As I my poor self did exchange for you,
To your so infinite loss, so in our trifles
I still win of you. For my sake wear this;
It is a manacle of love; I'll place it
Upon this fairest prisoner. [Puts a bracelet on her arm]
IMOGEN. O the gods!
When shall we see again?


POSTHUMUS. Alack, the King!
CYMBELINE. Thou basest thing, avoid; hence from my sight
If after this command thou fraught the court
With thy unworthiness, thou diest. Away!
Thou'rt poison to my blood.
POSTHUMUS. The gods protect you,
And bless the good remainders of the court!
I am gone. Exit
IMOGEN. There cannot be a pinch in death
More sharp than this is.
CYMBELINE. O disloyal thing,
That shouldst repair my youth, thou heap'st
A year's age on me!
IMOGEN. I beseech you, sir,
Harm not yourself with your vexation.
I am senseless of your wrath; a touch more rare
Subdues all pangs, all fears.
CYMBELINE. Past grace? obedience?
IMOGEN. Past hope, and in despair; that way past grace.
CYMBELINE. That mightst have had the sole son of my queen!
IMOGEN. O blessed that I might not! I chose an eagle,
And did avoid a puttock.
CYMBELINE. Thou took'st a beggar, wouldst have made my throne
A seat for baseness.
IMOGEN. No; I rather added
A lustre to it.
CYMBELINE. O thou vile one!
It is your fault that I have lov'd Posthumus.
You bred him as my playfellow, and he is
A man worth any woman; overbuys me
Almost the sum he pays.
CYMBELINE. What, art thou mad?
IMOGEN. Almost, sir. Heaven restore me! Would I were
A neat-herd's daughter, and my Leonatus
Our neighbour shepherd's son!

Re-enter QUEEN

CYMBELINE. Thou foolish thing!
[To the QUEEN] They were again together. You have done
Not after our command. Away with her,
And pen her up.
QUEEN. Beseech your patience.- Peace,
Dear lady daughter, peace!- Sweet sovereign,
Leave us to ourselves, and make yourself some comfort
Out of your best advice.
CYMBELINE. Nay, let her languish
A drop of blood a day and, being aged,
Die of this folly. Exit, with LORDS


QUEEN. Fie! you must give way.
Here is your servant. How now, sir! What news?
PISANIO. My lord your son drew on my master.
No harm, I trust, is done?
PISANIO. There might have been,
But that my master rather play'd than fought,
And had no help of anger; they were parted
By gentlemen at hand.
QUEEN. I am very glad on't.
IMOGEN. Your son's my father's friend; he takes his part
To draw upon an exile! O brave sir!
I would they were in Afric both together;
Myself by with a needle, that I might prick
The goer-back. Why came you from your master?
PISANIO. On his command. He would not suffer me
To bring him to the haven; left these notes
Of what commands I should be subject to,
When't pleas'd you to employ me.
QUEEN. This hath been
Your faithful servant. I dare lay mine honour
He will remain so.
PISANIO. I humbly thank your Highness.
QUEEN. Pray walk awhile.
IMOGEN. About some half-hour hence,
Pray you speak with me. You shall at least
Go see my lord aboard. For this time leave me. Exeunt

Britain. A public place

Enter CLOTEN and two LORDS

FIRST LORD. Sir, I would advise you to shift a shirt; the violence
of action hath made you reek as a sacrifice. Where air comes out,
air comes in; there's none abroad so wholesome as that you vent.
CLOTEN. If my shirt were bloody, then to shift it. Have I hurt him?
SECOND LORD. [Aside] No, faith; not so much as his patience.
FIRST LORD. Hurt him! His body's a passable carcass if he be not
hurt. It is a throughfare for steel if it be not hurt.
SECOND LORD. [Aside] His steel was in debt; it went o' th' back
side the town.
CLOTEN. The villain would not stand me.
SECOND LORD. [Aside] No; but he fled forward still, toward your
FIRST LORD. Stand you? You have land enough of your own; but he
added to your having, gave you some ground.
SECOND LORD. [Aside] As many inches as you have oceans.
CLOTEN. I would they had not come between us.
SECOND LORD. [Aside] So would I, till you had measur'd how long a
fool you were upon the ground.
CLOTEN. And that she should love this fellow, and refuse me!
SECOND LORD. [Aside] If it be a sin to make a true election, she is
FIRST LORD. Sir, as I told you always, her beauty and her brain go
not together; she's a good sign, but I have seen small reflection
of her wit.
SECOND LORD. [Aside] She shines not upon fools, lest the reflection
should hurt her.
CLOTEN. Come, I'll to my chamber. Would there had been some hurt
SECOND LORD. [Aside] I wish not so; unless it had been the fall of
an ass, which is no great hurt.
CLOTEN. You'll go with us?
FIRST LORD. I'll attend your lordship.
CLOTEN. Nay, come, let's go together.
SECOND LORD. Well, my lord. Exeunt

Britain. CYMBELINE'S palace


IMOGEN. I would thou grew'st unto the shores o' th' haven,
And questioned'st every sail; if he should write,
And I not have it, 'twere a paper lost,
As offer'd mercy is. What was the last
That he spake to thee?
PISANIO. It was: his queen, his queen!
IMOGEN. Then wav'd his handkerchief?
PISANIO. And kiss'd it, madam.
IMOGEN. Senseless linen, happier therein than I!
And that was all?
PISANIO. No, madam; for so long
As he could make me with his eye, or care
Distinguish him from others, he did keep
The deck, with glove, or hat, or handkerchief,
Still waving, as the fits and stirs of's mind
Could best express how slow his soul sail'd on,
How swift his ship.
IMOGEN. Thou shouldst have made him
As little as a crow, or less, ere left
To after-eye him.
PISANIO. Madam, so I did.
IMOGEN. I would have broke mine eyestrings, crack'd them but
To look upon him, till the diminution
Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle;
Nay, followed him till he had melted from
The smallness of a gnat to air, and then
Have turn'd mine eye and wept. But, good Pisanio,
When shall we hear from him?
PISANIO. Be assur'd, madam,
With his next vantage.
IMOGEN. I did not take my leave of him, but had
Most pretty things to say. Ere I could tell him
How I would think on him at certain hours
Such thoughts and such; or I could make him swear
The shes of Italy should not betray
Mine interest and his honour; or have charg'd him,
At the sixth hour of morn, at noon, at midnight,
T' encounter me with orisons, for then
I am in heaven for him; or ere I could
Give him that parting kiss which I had set
Betwixt two charming words, comes in my father,
And like the tyrannous breathing of the north
Shakes all our buds from growing.

Enter a LADY

LADY. The Queen, madam,
Desires your Highness' company.
IMOGEN. Those things I bid you do, get them dispatch'd.
I will attend the Queen.
PISANIO. Madam, I shall. Exeunt

Rome. PHILARIO'S house


IACHIMO. Believe it, sir, I have seen him in Britain. He was then
of a crescent note, expected to prove so worthy as since he hath
been allowed the name of. But I could then have look'd on him
without the help of admiration, though the catalogue of his
endowments had been tabled by his side, and I to peruse him by
PHILARIO. You speak of him when he was less furnish'd than now he
is with that which makes him both without and within.
FRENCHMAN. I have seen him in France; we had very many there could
behold the sun with as firm eyes as he.
IACHIMO. This matter of marrying his king's daughter, wherein he
must be weighed rather by her value than his own, words him, I
doubt not, a great deal from the matter.
FRENCHMAN. And then his banishment.
IACHIMO. Ay, and the approbation of those that weep this lamentable
divorce under her colours are wonderfully to extend him, be it
but to fortify her judgment, which else an easy battery might lay
flat, for taking a beggar, without less quality. But how comes it
he is to sojourn with you? How creeps acquaintance?
PHILARIO. His father and I were soldiers together, to whom I have
been often bound for no less than my life.


Here comes the Briton. Let him be so entertained amongst you as
suits with gentlemen of your knowing to a stranger of his
quality. I beseech you all be better known to this gentleman,
whom I commend to you as a noble friend of mine. How worthy he is
I will leave to appear hereafter, rather than story him in his
own hearing.
FRENCHMAN. Sir, we have known together in Orleans.
POSTHUMUS. Since when I have been debtor to you for courtesies,
which I will be ever to pay and yet pay still.
FRENCHMAN. Sir, you o'errate my poor kindness. I was glad I did
atone my countryman and you; it had been pity you should have
been put together with so mortal a purpose as then each bore,
upon importance of so slight and trivial a nature.
POSTHUMUS. By your pardon, sir. I was then a young traveller;
rather shunn'd to go even with what I heard than in my every
action to be guided by others' experiences; but upon my mended
judgment- if I offend not to say it is mended- my quarrel was not
altogether slight.
FRENCHMAN. Faith, yes, to be put to the arbitrement of swords, and
by such two that would by all likelihood have confounded one the
other or have fall'n both.
IACHIMO. Can we, with manners, ask what was the difference?
FRENCHMAN. Safely, I think. 'Twas a contention in public, which
may, without contradiction, suffer the report. It was much like
an argument that fell out last night, where each of us fell in
praise of our country mistresses; this gentleman at that time
vouching- and upon warrant of bloody affirmation- his to be more
fair, virtuous, wise, chaste, constant, qualified, and less
attemptable, than any the rarest of our ladies in France.
IACHIMO. That lady is not now living, or this gentleman's opinion,
by this, worn out.
POSTHUMUS. She holds her virtue still, and I my mind.
IACHIMO. You must not so far prefer her fore ours of Italy.
POSTHUMUS. Being so far provok'd as I was in France, I would abate
her nothing, though I profess myself her adorer, not her friend.
IACHIMO. As fair and as good- a kind of hand-in-hand comparison-
had been something too fair and too good for any lady in Britain.
If she went before others I have seen as that diamond of yours
outlustres many I have beheld, I could not but believe she
excelled many; but I have not seen the most precious diamond that
is, nor you the lady.
POSTHUMUS. I prais'd her as I rated her. So do I my stone.
IACHIMO. What do you esteem it at?
POSTHUMUS. More than the world enjoys.
IACHIMO. Either your unparagon'd mistress is dead, or she's
outpriz'd by a trifle.
POSTHUMUS. You are mistaken: the one may be sold or given, if there
were wealth enough for the purchase or merit for the gift; the
other is not a thing for sale, and only the gift of the gods.
IACHIMO. Which the gods have given you?
POSTHUMUS. Which by their graces I will keep.
IACHIMO. You may wear her in title yours; but you know strange fowl
light upon neighbouring ponds. Your ring may be stol'n too. So
your brace of unprizable estimations, the one is but frail and
the other casual; a cunning thief, or a that-way-accomplish'd
courtier, would hazard the winning both of first and last.
POSTHUMUS. Your Italy contains none so accomplish'd a courtier to
convince the honour of my mistress, if in the holding or loss of
that you term her frail. I do nothing doubt you have store of
thieves; notwithstanding, I fear not my ring.
PHILARIO. Let us leave here, gentlemen.
POSTHUMUS. Sir, with all my heart. This worthy signior, I thank
him, makes no stranger of me; we are familiar at first.
IACHIMO. With five times so much conversation I should get ground
of your fair mistress; make her go back even to the yielding, had
I admittance and opportunity to friend.
IACHIMO. I dare thereupon pawn the moiety of my estate to your
ring, which, in my opinion, o'ervalues it something. But I make
my wager rather against your confidence than her reputation; and,
to bar your offence herein too, I durst attempt it against any
lady in the world.
POSTHUMUS. You are a great deal abus'd in too bold a persuasion,
and I doubt not you sustain what y'are worthy of by your attempt.
IACHIMO. What's that?
POSTHUMUS. A repulse; though your attempt, as you call it, deserve

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