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by William Shakespeare

Dramatis Personae

Act 1

Scene 1

Enter a company of mutinous Citizens with staves, clubs, and other weapons.

First Citizen:Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Speak, speak!

First Citizen:You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Resolved, resolved!

First Citizen:First, you know Caius Martius is chief enemy to the people.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:We know ’t, we know ’t!

First Citizen:Let us kill him, and we’ll have corn at our own price. Is ’t a verdict?

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:No more talking on ’t; let it be done. Away, away!

Second Citizen:One word, good citizens.

First Citizen:We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good. What authority surfeits on would relieve us. If they would yield us but the superfluity while it were wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely. But they think we are too dear. The leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an inventory to particularize their abundance; our sufferance is a gain to them. Let us revenge this with our pikes ere we become rakes; for the gods know I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

Second Citizen:Would you proceed especially against Caius Martius?

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Against him first. He’s a very dog to the commonalty.

Second Citizen:Consider you what services he has done for his country?

First Citizen:Very well, and could be content to give him good report for ’t, but that he pays himself with being proud.

Second Citizen:Nay, but speak not maliciously.

First Citizen:I say unto you, what he hath done famously he did it to that end. Though soft-conscienced men can be content to say it was for his country, he did it to please his mother and to be partly proud, which he is, even to the altitude of his virtue.

Second Citizen:What he cannot help in his nature you account a vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.

First Citizen:If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations. He hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition. [(Shouts within.)] What shouts are these? The other side o’ th’ city is risen. Why stay we prating here? To th’ Capitol!

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Come, come!

Enter Menenius Agrippa.

First Citizen:Soft, who comes here?

Second Citizen:Worthy Menenius Agrippa, one that hath always loved the people.

First Citizen:He’s one honest enough. Would all the rest were so!

Menenius:What work ’s, my countrymen, in hand? Where go you With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray you.

Second Citizen:Our business is not unknown to th’ Senate. They have had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do, which now we’ll show ’em in deeds. They say poor suitors have strong breaths; they shall know we have strong arms too.

Menenius:Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbors, Will you undo yourselves?

Second Citizen:We cannot, sir; we are undone already.

Menenius:I tell you, friends, most charitable care Have the patricians of you. For your wants, Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them Against the Roman state, whose course will on The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs Of more strong link asunder than can ever Appear in your impediment. For the dearth, The gods, not the patricians, make it, and Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack, You are transported by calamity Thither where more attends you, and you slander The helms o’ th’ state, who care for you like fathers, When you curse them as enemies.

Second Citizen:Care for us? True, indeed! They ne’er cared for us yet. Suffer us to famish, and their storehouses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and there’s all the love they bear us.

Menenius:Either you must confess yourselves wondrous malicious Or be accused of folly. I shall tell you A pretty tale. It may be you have heard it, But since it serves my purpose, I will venture To stale ’t a little more.

Second Citizen:Well, I’ll hear it, sir; yet you must not think to fob off our disgrace with a tale. But, an ’t please you, deliver.

Menenius:There was a time when all the body’s members Rebelled against the belly, thus accused it: That only like a gulf it did remain I’ th’ midst o’ th’ body, idle and unactive, Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing Like labor with the rest, where th’ other instruments Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel, And, mutually participate, did minister Unto the appetite and affection common Of the whole body. The belly answered—

Second Citizen:Well, sir, what answer made the belly?

Menenius:Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile, Which ne’er came from the lungs, but even thus— For, look you, I may make the belly smile As well as speak—it tauntingly replied To th’ discontented members, the mutinous parts That envied his receipt; even so most fitly As you malign our senators for that They are not such as you.

Second Citizen:Your belly’s answer—what? The kingly crownèd head, the vigilant eye, The counselor heart, the arm our soldier, Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter, With other muniments and petty helps In this our fabric, if that they—

Menenius:What then? ’Fore me, this fellow speaks. What then? What then?

Second Citizen:Should by the cormorant belly be restrained, Who is the sink o’ th’ body—

Menenius:Well, what then?

Second Citizen:The former agents, if they did complain, What could the belly answer?

Menenius:I will tell you, If you’ll bestow a small—of what you have little— Patience awhile, you’st hear the belly’s answer.

Second Citizen:You’re long about it.

Menenius:Note me this, good friend; Your most grave belly was deliberate, Not rash like his accusers, and thus answered: "True is it, my incorporate friends," quoth he, "That I receive the general food at first Which you do live upon; and fit it is, Because I am the storehouse and the shop Of the whole body. But, if you do remember, I send it through the rivers of your blood Even to the court, the heart, to th’ seat o’ th’ brain; And, through the cranks and offices of man, The strongest nerves and small inferior veins From me receive that natural competency Whereby they live. And though that all at once, You, my good friends"—this says the belly, mark me—

Second Citizen:Ay, sir, well, well.

Menenius:"Though all at once cannot See what I do deliver out to each, Yet I can make my audit up, that all From me do back receive the flour of all, And leave me but the bran." What say you to ’t?

Second Citizen:It was an answer. How apply you this?

Menenius:The senators of Rome are this good belly, And you the mutinous members. For examine Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly Touching the weal o’ th’ common, you shall find No public benefit which you receive But it proceeds or comes from them to you And no way from yourselves. What do you think, You, the great toe of this assembly?

Second Citizen:I the great toe? Why the great toe?

Menenius:For that, being one o’ th’ lowest, basest, poorest, Of this most wise rebellion, thou goest foremost. Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run, Lead’st first to win some vantage. But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs. Rome and her rats are at the point of battle; The one side must have bale. [Enter Caius Martius.] Hail, noble Martius.

Caius Martius:Thanks.—What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues, That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, Make yourselves scabs?

Second Citizen:We have ever your good word.

Caius Martius:He that will give good words to thee will flatter Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs, That like nor peace nor war? The one affrights you; The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you, Where he should find you lions, finds you hares; Where foxes, geese. You are no surer, no, Than is the coal of fire upon the ice Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is To make him worthy whose offense subdues him, And curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness Deserves your hate; and your affections are A sick man’s appetite, who desires most that Which would increase his evil. He that depends Upon your favors swims with fins of lead, And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang you! Trust you? With every minute you do change a mind And call him noble that was now your hate, Him vile that was your garland. What’s the matter, That in these several places of the city You cry against the noble senate, who, Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else Would feed on one another?—What’s their seeking?

Menenius:For corn at their own rates, whereof they say The city is well stored.

Caius Martius:Hang ’em! They say? They’ll sit by th’ fire and presume to know What’s done i’ th’ Capitol, who’s like to rise, Who thrives, and who declines; side factions and give out Conjectural marriages, making parties strong And feebling such as stand not in their liking Below their cobbled shoes. They say there’s grain enough? Would the nobility lay aside their ruth And let me use my sword, I’d make a quarry With thousands of these quartered slaves as high As I could pick my lance.

Menenius:Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded; For though abundantly they lack discretion, Yet are they passing cowardly. But I beseech you, What says the other troop?

Caius Martius:They are dissolved. Hang ’em! They said they were an-hungry, sighed forth proverbs That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat, That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not Corn for the rich men only. With these shreds They vented their complainings, which being answered And a petition granted them—a strange one, To break the heart of generosity And make bold power look pale—they threw their caps As they would hang them on the horns o’ th’ moon, Shouting their emulation.

Menenius:What is granted them?

Caius Martius:Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms, Of their own choice. One’s Junius Brutus, Sicinius Velutus, and I know not. ’Sdeath! The rabble should have first unroofed the city Ere so prevailed with me. It will in time Win upon power and throw forth greater themes For insurrection’s arguing.

Menenius:This is strange.

Caius Martius:Go get you home, you fragments.

Enter a Messenger hastily.

Messenger:Where’s Caius Martius?

Caius Martius:Here. What’s the matter?

Messenger:The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.

Caius Martius:I am glad on ’t. Then we shall ha’ means to vent Our musty superfluity. [Enter Sicinius Velutus, Junius Brutus, (two Tribunes); Cominius, Titus Lartius, with other Senators.] See our best elders.

First Senator:Martius, ’tis true that you have lately told us: The Volsces are in arms.

Caius Martius:They have a leader, Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to ’t. I sin in envying his nobility, And, were I anything but what I am, I would wish me only he.

Cominius:You have fought together?

Caius Martius:Were half to half the world by th’ ears and he Upon my party, I’d revolt, to make Only my wars with him. He is a lion That I am proud to hunt.

First Senator:Then, worthy Martius, Attend upon Cominius to these wars.

Cominius:It is your former promise.

Caius Martius:Sir, it is, And I am constant.—Titus Lartius, thou Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus’ face. What, art thou stiff? Stand’st out?

Titus Lartius:No, Caius Martius, I’ll lean upon one crutch and fight with t’ other Ere stay behind this business.

Menenius:O, true bred!

First Senator:Your company to th’ Capitol, where I know Our greatest friends attend us.

Titus Lartius:[to Cominius] Lead you on.— [To Martius.] Follow Cominius. We must follow you; Right worthy you priority.

Cominius:Noble Martius.

First Senator:[to the Citizens] Hence to your homes, begone.

Caius Martius:Nay, let them follow. The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither To gnaw their garners. [Citizens steal away.] Worshipful mutineers, Your valor puts well forth.—Pray follow.

They exit. Sicinius and Brutus remain.

Sicinius:Was ever man so proud as is this Martius?

Junius Brutus:He has no equal.

Sicinius:When we were chosen tribunes for the people—

Junius Brutus:Marked you his lip and eyes?

Sicinius:Nay, but his taunts.

Junius Brutus:Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods—

Sicinius:Bemock the modest moon.

Junius Brutus:The present wars devour him! He is grown Too proud to be so valiant.

Sicinius:Such a nature, Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow Which he treads on at noon. But I do wonder His insolence can brook to be commanded Under Cominius.

Junius Brutus:Fame, at the which he aims, In whom already he’s well graced, cannot Better be held nor more attained than by A place below the first; for what miscarries Shall be the General’s fault, though he perform To th’ utmost of a man, and giddy censure Will then cry out of Martius "O, if he Had borne the business!"

Sicinius:Besides, if things go well, Opinion that so sticks on Martius shall Of his demerits rob Cominius.

Junius Brutus:Come. Half all Cominius’ honors are to Martius, Though Martius earned them not, and all his faults To Martius shall be honors, though indeed In aught he merit not.

Sicinius:Let’s hence and hear How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion, More than his singularity, he goes Upon this present action.

Junius Brutus:Let’s along.

They exit.

Scene 2

Enter Tullus Aufidius with Senators of Corioles.

First Senator:So, your opinion is, Aufidius, That they of Rome are entered in our counsels And know how we proceed.

Tullus Aufidius:Is it not yours? Whatever have been thought on in this state That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome Had circumvention? ’Tis not four days gone Since I heard thence. These are the words—I think I have the letter here. Yes, here it is. [(He reads.)] They have pressed a power, but it is not known Whether for east or west. The dearth is great. The people mutinous; and, it is rumored, Cominius, Martius your old enemy, Who is of Rome worse hated than of you, And Titus Lartius, a most valiant Roman, These three lead on this preparation Whither ’tis bent. Most likely ’tis for you. Consider of it.

First Senator:Our army’s in the field. We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready To answer us.

Tullus Aufidius:Nor did you think it folly To keep your great pretenses veiled till when They needs must show themselves, which, in the hatching, It seemed, appeared to Rome. By the discovery We shall be shortened in our aim, which was To take in many towns ere almost Rome Should know we were afoot.

Second Senator:Noble Aufidius, Take your commission; hie you to your bands. Let us alone to guard Corioles. If they set down before ’s, for the remove Bring up your army. But I think you’ll find They’ve not prepared for us.

Tullus Aufidius:O, doubt not that; I speak from certainties. Nay, more, Some parcels of their power are forth already, And only hitherward. I leave your Honors. If we and Caius Martius chance to meet, ’Tis sworn between us we shall ever strike Till one can do no more.

Senators:The gods assist you!

Tullus Aufidius:And keep your Honors safe!

First Senator:Farewell.

Second Senator:Farewell.


All exit.

Scene 3

Enter Volumnia and Virgilia, mother and wife to Martius. They set them down on two low stools and sew.

Volumnia:I pray you, daughter, sing, or express yourself in a more comfortable sort. If my son were my husband, I should freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he won honor than in the embracements of his bed where he would show most love. When yet he was but tender-bodied and the only son of my womb, when youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way, when for a day of kings’ entreaties a mother should not sell him an hour from her beholding, I, considering how honor would become such a person—that it was no better than picture-like to hang by th’ wall, if renown made it not stir—was pleased to let him seek danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him, from whence he returned, his brows bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child than now in first seeing he had proved himself a man.

Virgilia:But had he died in the business, madam, how then?

Volumnia:Then his good report should have been my son; I therein would have found issue. Hear me profess sincerely: had I a dozen sons, each in my love alike and none less dear than thine and my good Martius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.

Enter a Gentlewoman.

A Gentlewoman:Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.

Virgilia:Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.

Volumnia:Indeed you shall not. Methinks I hear hither your husband’s drum, See him pluck Aufidius down by th’ hair; As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him. Methinks I see him stamp thus and call thus: "Come on, you cowards! You were got in fear, Though you were born in Rome." His bloody brow With his mailed hand then wiping, forth he goes Like to a harvestman that’s tasked to mow Or all or lose his hire.

Virgilia:His bloody brow? O Jupiter, no blood!

Volumnia:Away, you fool! It more becomes a man Than gilt his trophy. The breasts of Hecuba, When she did suckle Hector, looked not lovelier Than Hector’s forehead when it spit forth blood At Grecian sword, contemning.—Tell Valeria We are fit to bid her welcome.

Gentlewoman exits.

Virgilia:Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!

Volumnia:He’ll beat Aufidius’ head below his knee And tread upon his neck.

Enter Valeria with an Usher and a Gentlewoman.

Valeria:My ladies both, good day to you.

Volumnia:Sweet madam.

Virgilia:I am glad to see your Ladyship.

Valeria:How do you both? You are manifest housekeepers. What are you sewing here? A fine spot, in good faith. How does your little son?

Virgilia:I thank your Ladyship; well, good madam.

Volumnia:He had rather see the swords and hear a drum than look upon his schoolmaster.

Valeria:O’ my word, the father’s son! I’ll swear ’tis a very pretty boy. O’ my troth, I looked upon him o’ Wednesday half an hour together. H’as such a confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded butterfly, and when he caught it, he let it go again, and after it again, and over and over he comes, and up again, catched it again. Or whether his fall enraged him or how ’twas, he did so set his teeth and tear it. O, I warrant how he mammocked it!

Volumnia:One on ’s father’s moods.

Valeria:Indeed, la, ’tis a noble child.

Virgilia:A crack, madam.

Valeria:Come, lay aside your stitchery. I must have you play the idle huswife with me this afternoon.

Virgilia:No, good madam, I will not out of doors.

Valeria:Not out of doors?

Volumnia:She shall, she shall.

Virgilia:Indeed, no, by your patience. I’ll not over the threshold till my lord return from the wars.

Valeria:Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably. Come, you must go visit the good lady that lies in.

Virgilia:I will wish her speedy strength and visit her with my prayers, but I cannot go thither.

Volumnia:Why, I pray you?

Virgilia:’Tis not to save labor, nor that I want love.

Valeria:You would be another Penelope. Yet they say all the yarn she spun in Ulysses’ absence did but fill Ithaca full of moths. Come, I would your cambric were sensible as your finger, that you might leave pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.

Virgilia:No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I will not forth.

Valeria:In truth, la, go with me, and I’ll tell you excellent news of your husband.

Virgilia:O, good madam, there can be none yet.

Valeria:Verily, I do not jest with you. There came news from him last night.

Virgilia:Indeed, madam!

Valeria:In earnest, it’s true. I heard a senator speak it. Thus it is: the Volsces have an army forth, against whom Cominius the General is gone with one part of our Roman power. Your lord and Titus Lartius are set down before their city Corioles. They nothing doubt prevailing, and to make it brief wars. This is true, on mine honor, and so, I pray, go with us.

Virgilia:Give me excuse, good madam. I will obey you in everything hereafter.

Volumnia:Let her alone, lady. As she is now, she will but disease our better mirth.

Valeria:In troth, I think she would.—Fare you well, then.—Come, good sweet lady.—Prithee, Virgilia, turn thy solemness out o’ door, and go along with us.

Virgilia:No, at a word, madam. Indeed, I must not. I wish you much mirth.

Valeria:Well, then, farewell.

Ladies exit.

Scene 4

Enter Martius, Titus Lartius, with Trumpet, Drum, and Colors, with Captains and Soldiers, as before the city of Corioles. To them a Messenger.

Caius Martius:Yonder comes news. A wager they have met.

Titus Lartius:My horse to yours, no.

Caius Martius:’Tis done.

Titus Lartius:Agreed.

Caius Martius:[to Messenger] Say, has our general met the enemy?

Messenger:They lie in view but have not spoke as yet.

Titus Lartius:So the good horse is mine.

Caius Martius:I’ll buy him of you.

Titus Lartius:No, I’ll nor sell nor give him. Lend you him I will For half a hundred years.—Summon the town.

Caius Martius:How far off lie these armies?

Messenger:Within this mile and half.

Caius Martius:Then shall we hear their ’larum and they ours. Now, Mars, I prithee, make us quick in work, That we with smoking swords may march from hence To help our fielded friends!—Come, blow thy blast. [They sound a parley.] [Enter two Senators with others on the walls of Corioles.] Tullus Aufidius, is he within your walls?

First Senator:No, nor a man that fears you less than he: That’s lesser than a little. [Drum afar off.] Hark, our drums Are bringing forth our youth. We’ll break our walls Rather than they shall pound us up. Our gates, Which yet seem shut, we have but pinned with rushes. They’ll open of themselves. [Alarum far off.] Hark you, far off! There is Aufidius. List what work he makes Amongst your cloven army.

They exit from the walls.

Caius Martius:O, they are at it!

Titus Lartius:Their noise be our instruction.—Ladders, ho!

Enter the Army of the Volsces as through the city gates.

Caius Martius:They fear us not but issue forth their city.— Now put your shields before your hearts, and fight With hearts more proof than shields.—Advance, brave Titus. They do disdain us much beyond our thoughts, Which makes me sweat with wrath.—Come on, my fellows! He that retires, I’ll take him for a Volsce, And he shall feel mine edge.

Alarum. The Romans are beat back to their trenches.

They exit, with the Volsces following.

Enter Martius cursing, with Roman soldiers.

Caius Martius:All the contagion of the south light on you, You shames of Rome! You herd of—Boils and plagues Plaster you o’er, that you may be abhorred Farther than seen, and one infect another Against the wind a mile! You souls of geese, That bear the shapes of men, how have you run From slaves that apes would beat! Pluto and hell! All hurt behind. Backs red, and faces pale With flight and agued fear! Mend, and charge home, Or, by the fires of heaven, I’ll leave the foe And make my wars on you. Look to ’t. Come on! If you’ll stand fast, we’ll beat them to their wives, As they us to our trenches. Follow ’s! [Another alarum. The Volsces re-enter and are driven back to the gates of Corioles, which open to admit them.] So, now the gates are ope. Now prove good seconds! ’Tis for the followers fortune widens them, Not for the fliers. Mark me, and do the like.

Martius follows the fleeing Volsces through the gates, and is shut in.

First Soldier:Foolhardiness, not I.

Second Soldier:Nor I.

First Soldier:See they have shut him in.

Alarum continues.

Soldiers:To th’ pot, I warrant him.

Enter Titus Lartius.

Titus Lartius:What is become of Martius?

Soldiers:Slain, sir, doubtless.

First Soldier:Following the fliers at the very heels, With them he enters, who upon the sudden Clapped to their gates. He is himself alone, To answer all the city.

Titus Lartius:O, noble fellow, Who sensibly outdares his senseless sword, And when it bows, stand’st up! Thou art left, Martius. A carbuncle entire, as big as thou art, Were not so rich a jewel. Thou wast a soldier Even to Cato’s wish, not fierce and terrible Only in strokes, but with thy grim looks and The thunderlike percussion of thy sounds Thou mad’st thine enemies shake, as if the world Were feverous and did tremble.

Enter Martius, bleeding, as if from Corioles, assaulted by the enemy.

First Soldier:Look, sir.

Titus Lartius:O, ’tis Martius! Let’s fetch him off or make remain alike.

They fight, and all enter the city, exiting the stage.

Scene 5

Enter certain Romans, with spoils.

First Soldier:This will I carry to Rome.

Second Soldier:And I this.

Third Roman:A murrain on ’t! I took this for silver.

Enter Martius, and Titus Lartius with a Trumpet.

Caius Martius:See here these movers that do prize their hours At a cracked drachma. Cushions, leaden spoons, Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves, Ere yet the fight be done, pack up. Down with them! [The Romans with spoils exit.] [Alarum continues still afar off.] And hark, what noise the General makes! To him! There is the man of my soul’s hate, Aufidius, Piercing our Romans. Then, valiant Titus, take Convenient numbers to make good the city, Whilst I, with those that have the spirit, will haste To help Cominius.

Titus Lartius:Worthy sir, thou bleed’st. Thy exercise hath been too violent For a second course of fight.

Caius Martius:Sir, praise me not. My work hath yet not warmed me. Fare you well. The blood I drop is rather physical Than dangerous to me. To Aufidius thus I will appear and fight.

Titus Lartius:Now the fair goddess Fortune Fall deep in love with thee, and her great charms Misguide thy opposers’ swords! Bold gentleman, Prosperity be thy page!

Caius Martius:Thy friend no less Than those she placeth highest! So farewell.

Titus Lartius:Thou worthiest Martius! [Martius exits.] Go sound thy trumpet in the marketplace. Call thither all the officers o’ th’ town, Where they shall know our mind. Away!

They exit.

Scene 6

Enter Cominius as it were in retire, with Soldiers.

Cominius:Breathe you, my friends. Well fought! We are come off Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands Nor cowardly in retire. Believe me, sirs, We shall be charged again. Whiles we have struck, By interims and conveying gusts we have heard The charges of our friends. The Roman gods Lead their successes as we wish our own, That both our powers, with smiling fronts encount’ring, May give you thankful sacrifice! [Enter a Messenger.] Thy news?

Messenger:The citizens of Corioles have issued And given to Lartius and to Martius battle. I saw our party to their trenches driven, And then I came away.

Cominius:Though thou speakest truth, Methinks thou speak’st not well. How long is ’t since?

Messenger:Above an hour, my lord.

Cominius:’Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums. How couldst thou in a mile confound an hour And bring thy news so late?

Messenger:Spies of the Volsces Held me in chase, that I was forced to wheel Three or four miles about; else had I, sir, Half an hour since brought my report.

He exits.

Enter Martius, bloody.

Cominius:Who’s yonder, That does appear as he were flayed? O gods, He has the stamp of Martius, and I have Before-time seen him thus.

Caius Martius:Come I too late?

Cominius:The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabor More than I know the sound of Martius’ tongue From every meaner man.

Caius Martius:Come I too late?

Cominius:Ay, if you come not in the blood of others, But mantled in your own.

Caius Martius:O, let me clip you In arms as sound as when I wooed, in heart As merry as when our nuptial day was done And tapers burnt to bedward!

They embrace.

Cominius:Flower of warriors, how is ’t with Titus Lartius?

Caius Martius:As with a man busied about decrees, Condemning some to death and some to exile; Ransoming him or pitying, threat’ning th’ other; Holding Corioles in the name of Rome Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash, To let him slip at will.

Cominius:Where is that slave Which told me they had beat you to your trenches? Where is he? Call him hither.

Caius Martius:Let him alone. He did inform the truth. But for our gentlemen, The common file—a plague! Tribunes for them!— The mouse ne’er shunned the cat as they did budge From rascals worse than they.

Cominius:But how prevailed you?

Caius Martius:Will the time serve to tell? I do not think. Where is the enemy? Are you lords o’ th’ field? If not, why cease you till you are so?

Cominius:Martius, we have at disadvantage fought And did retire to win our purpose.

Caius Martius:How lies their battle? Know you on which side They have placed their men of trust?

Cominius:As I guess, Martius, Their bands i’ th’ vaward are the Antiates, Of their best trust; o’er them Aufidius, Their very heart of hope.

Caius Martius:I do beseech you, By all the battles wherein we have fought, By th’ blood we have shed together, by th’ vows we have made To endure friends, that you directly set me Against Aufidius and his Antiates, And that you not delay the present, but, Filling the air with swords advanced and darts, We prove this very hour.

Cominius:Though I could wish You were conducted to a gentle bath And balms applied to you, yet dare I never Deny your asking. Take your choice of those That best can aid your action.

Caius Martius:Those are they That most are willing. If any such be here— As it were sin to doubt—that love this painting Wherein you see me smeared; if any fear Lesser his person than an ill report; If any think brave death outweighs bad life, And that his country’s dearer than himself; Let him alone, or so many so minded, Wave thus to express his disposition And follow Martius. [He waves his sword.] [They all shout and wave their swords, take him up in their arms, and cast up their caps.] O, me alone! Make you a sword of me? If these shows be not outward, which of you But is four Volsces? None of you but is Able to bear against the great Aufidius A shield as hard as his. A certain number, Though thanks to all, must I select from all. The rest shall bear the business in some other fight, As cause will be obeyed. Please you to march, And I shall quickly draw out my command, Which men are best inclined.

Cominius:March on, my fellows. Make good this ostentation, and you shall Divide in all with us.

They exit.

Scene 7

Titus Lartius, having set a guard upon Corioles, going with Drum and Trumpet toward Cominius and Caius Martius, enters with a Lieutenant, other Soldiers, and a Scout.

Titus Lartius:So, let the ports be guarded. Keep your duties As I have set them down. If I do send, dispatch Those centuries to our aid; the rest will serve For a short holding. If we lose the field, We cannot keep the town.

Roman Lieutenant:Fear not our care, sir.

Titus Lartius:Hence, and shut your gates upon ’s. [(To the Scout.)] Our guider, come. To th’ Roman camp conduct us.

They exit, the Lieutenant one way, Lartius another.

Scene 8

Alarum, as in battle. Enter Martius and Aufidius at several doors.

Caius Martius:I’ll fight with none but thee, for I do hate thee Worse than a promise-breaker.

Tullus Aufidius:We hate alike. Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.

Caius Martius:Let the first budger die the other’s slave, And the gods doom him after!

Tullus Aufidius:If I fly, Martius, Hollo me like a hare.

Caius Martius:Within these three hours, Tullus, Alone I fought in your Corioles’ walls And made what work I pleased. ’Tis not my blood Wherein thou seest me masked. For thy revenge, Wrench up thy power to th’ highest.

Tullus Aufidius:Wert thou the Hector That was the whip of your bragged progeny, Thou shouldst not scape me here. [Here they fight, and certain Volsces come in the aid of Aufidius.] [(To the Volsces.)] Officious and not valiant, you have shamed me In your condemnèd seconds.

Martius fights till they be driven in breathless. Aufidius and Martius exit, separately.

Scene 9

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

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

Enter Titus Lartius with his power, from the pursuit.

Titus Lartius:O general, Here is the steed, we the caparison. Hadst thou beheld—

Caius Martius:Pray now, no more. My mother, Who has a charter to extol her blood, When she does praise me grieves me. I have done As you have done—that’s what I can; Induced as you have been—that’s for my country. He that has but effected his good will Hath overta’en mine act.

Cominius:You shall not be The grave of your deserving. Rome must know The value of her own. ’Twere a concealment Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement, To hide your doings and to silence that Which, to the spire and top of praises vouched, Would seem but modest. Therefore, I beseech you— In sign of what you are, not to reward What you have done—before our army hear me.

Caius Martius:I have some wounds upon me, and they smart To hear themselves remembered.

Cominius:Should they not, Well might they fester ’gainst ingratitude And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses— Whereof we have ta’en good and good store—of all The treasure in this field achieved and city, We render you the tenth, to be ta’en forth Before the common distribution At your only choice.

Caius Martius:I thank you, general, But cannot make my heart consent to take A bribe to pay my sword. I do refuse it And stand upon my common part with those That have beheld the doing. [A long flourish. They all cry "Martius, Martius!" and cast up their caps and lances. Cominius and Lartius stand bare.] May these same instruments, which you profane, Never sound more! When drums and trumpets shall I’ th’ field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be Made all of false-faced soothing! When steel grows Soft as the parasite’s silk, let him be made An ovator for th’ wars! No more, I say. For that I have not washed my nose that bled, Or foiled some debile wretch—which, without note, Here’s many else have done—you shout me forth In acclamations hyperbolical, As if I loved my little should be dieted In praises sauced with lies.

Cominius:Too modest are you, More cruel to your good report than grateful To us that give you truly. By your patience, If ’gainst yourself you be incensed, we’ll put you, Like one that means his proper harm, in manacles, Then reason safely with you. Therefore be it known, As to us to all the world, that Caius Martius Wears this war’s garland, in token of the which My noble steed, known to the camp, I give him, With all his trim belonging. And from this time, For what he did before Corioles, call him, With all th’ applause and clamor of the host, Martius Caius Coriolanus! Bear Th’ addition nobly ever!

Flourish. Trumpets sound, and drums.

Titus Lartius:Martius Caius Coriolanus!

Caius Martius:I will go wash; And when my face is fair, you shall perceive Whether I blush or no. Howbeit, I thank you. I mean to stride your steed and at all times To undercrest your good addition To th’ fairness of my power.

Cominius:So, to our tent, Where, ere we do repose us, we will write To Rome of our success.—You, Titus Lartius, Must to Corioles back. Send us to Rome The best, with whom we may articulate For their own good and ours.

Titus Lartius:I shall, my lord.

Caius Martius:The gods begin to mock me. I, that now Refused most princely gifts, am bound to beg Of my lord general.

Cominius:Take ’t, ’tis yours. What is ’t?

Caius Martius:I sometime lay here in Corioles At a poor man’s house; he used me kindly. He cried to me; I saw him prisoner; But then Aufidius was within my view, And wrath o’erwhelmed my pity. I request you To give my poor host freedom.

Cominius:O, well begged! Were he the butcher of my son, he should Be free as is the wind.—Deliver him, Titus.

Titus Lartius:Martius, his name?

Caius Martius:By Jupiter, forgot! I am weary; yea, my memory is tired. Have we no wine here?

Cominius:Go we to our tent. The blood upon your visage dries; ’tis time It should be looked to. Come.

A flourish of cornets. They exit.

Scene 10

Enter Tullus Aufidius bloody, with two or three Soldiers.

Tullus Aufidius:The town is ta’en.

Soldier:’Twill be delivered back on good condition.

Tullus Aufidius:Condition? I would I were a Roman, for I cannot, Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition? What good condition can a treaty find I’ th’ part that is at mercy? Five times, Martius, I have fought with thee; so often hast thou beat me And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter As often as we eat. By th’ elements, If e’er again I meet him beard to beard, He’s mine, or I am his. Mine emulation Hath not that honor in ’t it had; for where I thought to crush him in an equal force, True sword to sword, I’ll potch at him some way Or wrath or craft may get him.

Soldier:He’s the devil.

Tullus Aufidius:Bolder, though not so subtle. My valor’s poisoned With only suff’ring stain by him; for him Shall fly out of itself. Nor sleep nor sanctuary, Being naked, sick, nor fane nor Capitol, The prayers of priests nor times of sacrifice, Embarquements all of fury, shall lift up Their rotten privilege and custom ’gainst My hate to Martius. Where I find him, were it At home, upon my brother’s guard, even there, Against the hospitable canon, would I Wash my fierce hand in ’s heart. Go you to th’ city; Learn how ’tis held and what they are that must Be hostages for Rome.

Soldier:Will not you go?

Tullus Aufidius:I am attended at the cypress grove. I pray you— ’Tis south the city mills—bring me word thither How the world goes, that to the pace of it I may spur on my journey.

Soldier:I shall, sir.

They exit, Aufidius through one door, Soldiers through another.

Act 2

Scene 1

Enter Menenius with the two Tribunes of the people, Sicinius and Brutus.

Menenius:The augurer tells me we shall have news tonight.

Junius Brutus:Good or bad?

Menenius:Not according to the prayer of the people, for they love not Martius.

Sicinius:Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.

Menenius:Pray you, who does the wolf love?

Sicinius:The lamb.

Menenius:Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians would the noble Martius.

Junius Brutus:He’s a lamb indeed, that baas like a bear.

Menenius:He’s a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You two are old men; tell me one thing that I shall ask you.

Junius Brutus, Sicinius:Well, sir.

Menenius:In what enormity is Martius poor in, that you two have not in abundance?

Junius Brutus:He’s poor in no one fault, but stored with all.

Sicinius:Especially in pride.

Junius Brutus:And topping all others in boasting.

Menenius:This is strange now. Do you two know how you are censured here in the city, I mean of us o’ th’ right-hand file, do you?

Junius Brutus, Sicinius:Why, how are we censured?

Menenius:Because you talk of pride now, will you not be angry?

Junius Brutus, Sicinius:Well, well, sir, well?

Menenius:Why, ’tis no great matter; for a very little thief of occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience. Give your dispositions the reins, and be angry at your pleasures, at the least, if you take it as a pleasure to you in being so. You blame Martius for being proud.

Junius Brutus:We do it not alone, sir.

Menenius:I know you can do very little alone, for your helps are many, or else your actions would grow wondrous single. Your abilities are too infantlike for doing much alone. You talk of pride. O, that you could turn your eyes toward the napes of your necks and make but an interior survey of your good selves! O, that you could!

Junius Brutus, Sicinius:What then, sir?

Menenius:Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting, proud, violent, testy magistrates, alias fools, as any in Rome.

Sicinius:Menenius, you are known well enough, too.

Menenius:I am known to be a humorous patrician and one that loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying Tiber in ’t; said to be something imperfect in favoring the first complaint, hasty and tinder-like upon too trivial motion; one that converses more with the buttock of the night than with the forehead of the morning. What I think I utter, and spend my malice in my breath. Meeting two such wealsmen as you are—I cannot call you Lycurguses—if the drink you give me touch my palate adversely, I make a crooked face at it. I cannot say your Worships have delivered the matter well when I find the ass in compound with the major part of your syllables. And though I must be content to bear with those that say you are reverend grave men, yet they lie deadly that tell you have good faces. If you see this in the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known well enough too? What harm can your bisson conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be known well enough, too?

Junius Brutus:Come, sir, come; we know you well enough.

Menenius:You know neither me, yourselves, nor anything. You are ambitious for poor knaves’ caps and legs. You wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a cause between an orange-wife and a faucet-seller, and then rejourn the controversy of threepence to a second day of audience. When you are hearing a matter between party and party, if you chance to be pinched with the colic, you make faces like mummers, set up the bloody flag against all patience, and, in roaring for a chamber pot, dismiss the controversy bleeding, the more entangled by your hearing. All the peace you make in their cause is calling both the parties knaves. You are a pair of strange ones.

Junius Brutus:Come, come. You are well understood to be a perfecter giber for the table than a necessary bencher in the Capitol.

Menenius:Our very priests must become mockers if they shall encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When you speak best unto the purpose, it is not worth the wagging of your beards, and your beards deserve not so honorable a grave as to stuff a botcher’s cushion or to be entombed in an ass’s packsaddle. Yet you must be saying Martius is proud, who, in a cheap estimation, is worth all your predecessors since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the best of ’em were hereditary hangmen. Good e’en to your Worships. More of your conversation would infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly plebeians. I will be bold to take my leave of you. [He begins to exit. Brutus and Sicinius stand aside.] [Enter Volumnia, Virgilia, and Valeria.] How now, my as fair as noble ladies—and the moon, were she earthly, no nobler—whither do you follow your eyes so fast?

Volumnia:Honorable Menenius, my boy Martius approaches. For the love of Juno, let’s go!

Menenius:Ha? Martius coming home?

Volumnia:Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous approbation.

Menenius:Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee! [(He throws his cap in the air.)] Hoo! Martius coming home?

Valeria, Virgilia:Nay, ’tis true.

Volumnia:Look, here’s a letter from him. [She produces a paper.] The state hath another, his wife another, and I think there’s one at home for you.

Menenius:I will make my very house reel tonight. A letter for me?

Virgilia:Yes, certain, there’s a letter for you; I saw ’t.

Menenius:A letter for me? It gives me an estate of seven years’ health, in which time I will make a lip at the physician. The most sovereign prescription in Galen is but empiricutic and, to this preservative, of no better report than a horse drench. Is he not wounded? He was wont to come home wounded.

Virgilia:O no, no, no!

Volumnia:O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for ’t.

Menenius:So do I too, if it be not too much. Brings he victory in his pocket, the wounds become him.

Volumnia:On ’s brows, Menenius. He comes the third time home with the oaken garland.

Menenius:Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?

Volumnia:Titus Lartius writes they fought together, but Aufidius got off.

Menenius:And ’twas time for him too, I’ll warrant him that. An he had stayed by him, I would not have been so ’fidiused for all the chests in Corioles and the gold that’s in them. Is the Senate possessed of this?

Volumnia:Good ladies, let’s go.—Yes, yes, yes. The Senate has letters from the General, wherein he gives my son the whole name of the war. He hath in this action outdone his former deeds doubly.

Valeria:In troth, there’s wondrous things spoke of him.

Menenius:Wondrous? Ay, I warrant you, and not without his true purchasing.

Virgilia:The gods grant them true.

Volumnia:True? Pow waw!

Menenius:True? I’ll be sworn they are true. Where is he wounded? [(To the Tribunes.)] God save your good Worships! Martius is coming home; he has more cause to be proud.—Where is he wounded?

Volumnia:I’ th’ shoulder and i’ th’ left arm. There will be large cicatrices to show the people when he shall stand for his place. He received in the repulse of Tarquin seven hurts i’ th’ body.

Menenius:One i’ th’ neck and two i’ th’ thigh—there’s nine that I know.

Volumnia:He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five wounds upon him.

Menenius:Now it’s twenty-seven. Every gash was an enemy’s grave. [(A shout and flourish.)] Hark, the trumpets!

Volumnia:These are the ushers of Martius: before him he carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears. Death, that dark spirit, in ’s nervy arm doth lie, Which, being advanced, declines, and then men die.

A sennet.

Enter Cominius the General and Titus Lartius, between them Coriolanus crowned with an oaken garland, with Captains and Soldiers and a Herald. Trumpets sound.

Roman Herald:Know, Rome, that all alone Martius did fight Within Corioles’ gates, where he hath won, With fame, a name to Martius Caius; these In honor follows "Coriolanus." Welcome to Rome, renownèd Coriolanus.

Sound flourish.

Menenius, Volumnia, Virgilia, Valeria:Welcome to Rome, renownèd Coriolanus!

Caius Martius:No more of this. It does offend my heart. Pray now, no more.

Cominius:Look, sir, your mother.

Caius Martius:O, You have, I know, petitioned all the gods For my prosperity.


Volumnia:Nay, my good soldier, up. [He stands.] My gentle Martius, worthy Caius, and By deed-achieving honor newly named— What is it? Coriolanus must I call thee? But, O, thy wife—

Caius Martius:My gracious silence, hail. Wouldst thou have laughed had I come coffined home, That weep’st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear, Such eyes the widows in Corioles wear And mothers that lack sons.

Menenius:Now the gods crown thee!

Caius Martius:And live you yet? [(To Valeria.)] O, my sweet lady, pardon.

Volumnia:I know not where to turn. O, welcome home!— And, welcome, general.—And you’re welcome all.

Menenius:A hundred thousand welcomes! I could weep, And I could laugh; I am light and heavy. Welcome. A curse begin at very root on ’s heart That is not glad to see thee! You are three That Rome should dote on; yet, by the faith of men, We have some old crab trees here at home that will not Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors! We call a nettle but a nettle, and The faults of fools but folly.

Cominius:Ever right.

Caius Martius:Menenius ever, ever.

Roman Herald:Give way there, and go on!

Caius Martius:[to Volumnia and Virgilia] Your hand and yours. Ere in our own house I do shade my head, The good patricians must be visited, From whom I have received not only greetings, But with them change of honors.

Volumnia:I have lived To see inherited my very wishes And the buildings of my fancy. Only There’s one thing wanting, which I doubt not but Our Rome will cast upon thee.

Caius Martius:Know, good mother, I had rather be their servant in my way Than sway with them in theirs.

Cominius:On, to the Capitol.

Flourish of cornets. They exit in state, as before.

Brutus and Sicinius come forward.

Junius Brutus:All tongues speak of him, and the blearèd sights Are spectacled to see him. Your prattling nurse Into a rapture lets her baby cry While she chats him. The kitchen malkin pins Her richest lockram ’bout her reechy neck, Clamb’ring the walls to eye him. Stalls, bulks, windows Are smothered up, leads filled, and ridges horsed With variable complexions, all agreeing In earnestness to see him. Seld-shown flamens Do press among the popular throngs and puff To win a vulgar station. Our veiled dames Commit the war of white and damask in Their nicely-gauded cheeks to th’ wanton spoil Of Phoebus’ burning kisses. Such a pother, As if that whatsoever god who leads him Were slyly crept into his human powers And gave him graceful posture.

Sicinius:On the sudden I warrant him consul.

Junius Brutus:Then our office may, During his power, go sleep.

Sicinius:He cannot temp’rately transport his honors From where he should begin and end, but will Lose those he hath won.

Junius Brutus:In that there’s comfort.

Sicinius:Doubt not The commoners, for whom we stand, but they Upon their ancient malice will forget With the least cause these his new honors—which That he will give them make I as little question As he is proud to do ’t.

Junius Brutus:I heard him swear, Were he to stand for consul, never would he Appear i’ th’ marketplace nor on him put The napless vesture of humility, Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds To th’ people, beg their stinking breaths.

Sicinius:’Tis right.

Junius Brutus:It was his word. O, he would miss it rather Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him And the desire of the nobles.

Sicinius:I wish no better Than have him hold that purpose and to put it In execution.

Junius Brutus:’Tis most like he will.

Sicinius:It shall be to him then as our good wills, A sure destruction.

Junius Brutus:So it must fall out To him, or our authority’s for an end. We must suggest the people in what hatred He still hath held them; that to ’s power he would Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders, and Dispropertied their freedoms; holding them In human action and capacity Of no more soul nor fitness for the world Than camels in their war, who have their provand Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows For sinking under them.

Sicinius:This, as you say, suggested At some time when his soaring insolence Shall touch the people—which time shall not want If he be put upon ’t, and that’s as easy As to set dogs on sheep—will be his fire To kindle their dry stubble, and their blaze Shall darken him forever.

Enter a Messenger.

Junius Brutus:What’s the matter?

Messenger:You are sent for to the Capitol. ’Tis thought That Martius shall be consul. I have seen The dumb men throng to see him, and the blind To hear him speak; matrons flung gloves, Ladies and maids their scarves and handkerchiefs, Upon him as he passed; the nobles bended As to Jove’s statue, and the Commons made A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts. I never saw the like.

Junius Brutus:Let’s to the Capitol, And carry with us ears and eyes for th’ time, But hearts for the event.

Sicinius:Have with you.

They exit.

Scene 2

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

First Officer:Come, come. They are almost here. How many stand for consulships?

Second Officer:Three, they say; but ’tis thought of everyone Coriolanus will carry it.

First Officer:That’s a brave fellow, but he’s vengeance proud and loves not the common people.

Second Officer:’Faith, there hath been many great men that have flattered the people who ne’er loved them; and there be many that they have loved they know not wherefore; so that, if they love they know not why, they hate upon no better a ground. Therefore, for Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate him manifests the true knowledge he has in their disposition and, out of his noble carelessness, lets them plainly 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, bonneted, without any further deed to have them at all into their estimation and report; but he hath so planted his honors 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’s a worthy man. Make way. They are coming.

A sennet. Enter the Patricians and the Tribunes of the people, Lictors before them; Coriolanus, Menenius, Cominius the consul. The Patricians sit. Sicinius and Brutus take their places by themselves. Coriolanus stands.

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 performed By Martius Caius Coriolanus, whom We met here both to thank and to remember With honors like himself.

Coriolanus sits.

First Senator:Speak, good Cominius. Leave nothing out for length, and make us think Rather our state’s defective for requital, Than we to stretch it out. [(To the Tribunes.)] Masters o’ th’ people, We do request your kindest ears and, after, Your loving motion toward the common body To yield what passes here.

Sicinius:We are convented Upon a pleasing treaty and have hearts Inclinable to honor and advance The theme of our assembly.

Junius Brutus:Which the rather We shall be blest to do if he remember A kinder value of the people than He hath hereto prized them at.

Menenius:That’s off, that’s off! I would you rather had been silent. Please you To hear Cominius speak?

Junius 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.

Caius Martius:Your Honors, pardon. I had rather have my wounds to heal again Than hear say how I got them.

Junius Brutus:Sir, I hope My words disbenched you not?

Caius Martius:No, sir. Yet oft, When blows have made me stay, I fled from words. You soothed not, therefore hurt not; but your people, I love them as they weigh.

Menenius:Pray now, sit down.

Caius Martius:I had rather have one scratch my head i’ th’ sun When the alarum were struck than idly sit To hear my nothings monstered.

Coriolanus exits.

Menenius:Masters of the people, Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter— That’s thousand to one good one—when you now see He had rather venture all his limbs for honor Than one on ’s ears to hear it.—Proceed, Cominius.

Cominius:I shall lack voice. The deeds of Coriolanus Should not be uttered feebly. It is held That valor is the chiefest virtue and Most dignifies the haver; if it be, The man I speak of cannot in the world Be singly counterpoised. 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’erpressed Roman and i’ th’ Consul’s view Slew three opposers. Tarquin’s self he met And struck him on his knee. In that day’s feats, When he might act the woman in the scene, He proved best man i’ th’ field and for his meed Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age Man-entered thus, he waxèd like a sea, And in the brunt of seventeen battles since He lurched all swords of the garland. For this last, Before and in Corioles, let me say, I cannot speak him home. He stopped the flyers And by his rare example made the coward Turn terror into sport. As weeds before A vessel under sail, so men obeyed 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 entered The mortal gate o’ th’ city, which he painted With shunless destiny; aidless came off And with a sudden reinforcement struck Corioles 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 Requickened 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 called 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 honors Which we devise him.

Cominius:Our spoils he kicked 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 called for.

First Senator:Call Coriolanus.

First Officer:He doth appear.

Enter Coriolanus.

Menenius:The Senate, Coriolanus, are well pleased To make thee consul.

Caius Martius:I do owe them still My life and services.

Menenius:It then remains That you do speak to the people.

Caius Martius: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:[to Coriolanus] Put them not to ’t. Pray you, go fit you to the custom, and Take to you, as your predecessors have, Your honor with your form.

Caius Martius:It is a part That I shall blush in acting, and might well Be taken from the people.

Junius Brutus:[to Sicinius] Mark you that?

Caius Martius:To brag unto them "Thus I did, and thus!" Show them th’ unaching scars, which I should hide, As if I had received 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 honor.

Senators:To Coriolanus come all joy and honor!

Flourish cornets. Then they exit. Sicinius and Brutus remain.

Junius 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.

Junius Brutus:Come, we’ll inform them Of our proceedings here. On th’ marketplace I know they do attend us.

They exit.

Scene 3

Enter seven or eight Citizens.

First Citizen:Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.

Second Citizen:We may, sir, if we will.

Third Citizen:We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a power that we have no power to do; for, if he show us his wounds and tell us his deeds, we are to put our tongues into those wounds and speak for them. So, if he tell us his noble deeds, we must also tell him our noble acceptance of them. Ingratitude is monstrous, and for the multitude to be ingrateful were to make a monster of the multitude, of the which, we being members, should bring ourselves to be monstrous members.

First Citizen:And to make us no better thought of, a little help will serve; for once we stood up about the corn, he himself stuck not to call us the many-headed multitude.

Third Citizen:We have been called so of many; not that our heads are some brown, some black, some abram, some bald, but that our wits are so diversely colored; and truly I think if all our wits were to issue out of one skull, they would fly east, west, north, south, and their consent of one direct way should be at once to all the points o’ th’ compass.

Second Citizen:Think you so? Which way do you judge my wit would fly?

Third Citizen:Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man’s will; ’tis strongly wedged up in a blockhead. 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. [Enter Coriolanus in a gown of humility, with Menenius.] Here he comes, and in the gown of humility. Mark his behavior. 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 honor in giving him our own voices with our own tongues. Therefore follow me, and I’ll direct you how you shall go by him.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Content, content.

Citizens exit.

Menenius:O sir, you are not right. Have you not known The worthiest men have done ’t?

Caius Martius: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 roared and ran From th’ noise of our own drums."

Menenius:O me, the gods! You must not speak of that. You must desire them To think upon you.

Caius Martius: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.

He exits.

Caius Martius:Bid them wash their faces And keep their teeth clean. [Enter three of the Citizens.] So, here comes a brace.— You know the cause, sir, of my standing here.

Third Citizen:We do, sir. Tell us what hath brought you to ’t.

Caius Martius:Mine own desert.

Second Citizen:Your own desert?

Caius Martius:Ay, but not mine own desire.

Third Citizen:How, not your own desire?

Caius Martius:No, sir, ’twas never my desire yet to trouble the poor with begging.

Third Citizen:You must think if we give you anything, we hope to gain by you.

Caius Martius:Well then, I pray, your price o’ th’ consulship?

First Citizen:The price is to ask it kindly.

Caius Martius: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 ’t, worthy sir.

Caius Martius:A match, sir. There’s in all two worthy voices begged. I have your alms. Adieu.

Third Citizen:[to the other Citizens] But this is something odd.

Second Citizen:An ’twere to give again—but ’tis no matter.

These citizens exit.

Enter two other Citizens.

Caius Martius:Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your voices that I may be consul, I have here the customary gown.

Fourth Citizen:You have deserved nobly of your country, and you have not deserved nobly.

Caius Martius:Your enigma?

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

Caius Martius: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 practice the insinuating nod and be off to them most counterfeitly. That is, sir, I will counterfeit the bewitchment of some popular man and give it bountiful to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you, I may be consul.

Fifth Citizen:We hope to find you our friend, and therefore give you our voices heartily.

Fourth Citizen:You have received many wounds for your country.

Caius Martius:I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I will make much of your voices and so trouble you no farther.

Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen:The gods give you joy, sir, heartily.

Citizens exit.

Caius Martius:Most sweet voices! Better it is to die, better to starve, Than crave the hire which first we do deserve. Why in this woolvish toge should I stand here To beg of Hob and Dick that does 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 heaped For truth to o’erpeer. Rather than fool it so, Let the high office and the honor go To one that would do thus. I am half through; The one part suffered, the other will I do. [Enter three Citizens more.] Here come more voices.— Your voices! For your voices I have fought; Watched for your voices; for your voices bear Of wounds two dozen odd. Battles thrice six I have seen and heard of; for your voices have Done many things, some less, some more. Your voices! Indeed, I would be consul.

Sixth Citizen:He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest man’s voice.

Seventh Citizen:Therefore let him be consul. The gods give him joy, and make him good friend to the people!

Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Amen, amen. God save thee, noble consul.

Citizens exit.

Caius Martius:Worthy voices!

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 th’ official marks invested, you Anon do meet the Senate.

Caius Martius:Is this done?

Sicinius:The custom of request you have discharged. The people do admit you, and are summoned To meet anon upon your approbation.

Caius Martius:Where? At the Senate House?

Sicinius:There, Coriolanus.

Caius Martius:May I change these garments?

Sicinius:You may, sir.

Caius Martius:That I’ll straight do and, knowing myself again, Repair to th’ Senate House.

Menenius:I’ll keep you company.—Will you along?

Junius Brutus:We stay here for the people.

Sicinius:Fare you well. [Coriolanus and Menenius exit.] He has it now; and by his looks, methinks, ’Tis warm at ’s heart.

Junius Brutus:With a proud heart he wore His humble weeds. Will you dismiss the people?

Enter the Plebeians.

Sicinius:How now, my masters, have you chose this man?

First Citizen:He has our voices, sir.

Junius Brutus:We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.

Second Citizen:Amen, sir. To my poor unworthy notice, He mocked us when he begged 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 used us scornfully. He should have showed us His marks of merit, wounds received for ’s country.

Sicinius:Why, so he did, I am sure.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, 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. "Agèd 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?

Junius Brutus:Could you not have told him As you were lessoned? When he had no power, But was a petty servant to the state, He was your enemy, ever spake against Your liberties and the charters that you bear I’ th’ body of the weal; and, now arriving A place of potency and sway o’ th’ state, If he should still malignantly remain Fast foe to th’ plebeii, your voices might Be curses to yourselves. You should have said That as his worthy deeds did claim no less Than what he stood for, so his gracious nature Would think upon you for your voices, and Translate his malice towards you into love, Standing your friendly lord.

Sicinius:Thus to have said, As you were fore-advised, had touched his spirit And tried his inclination; from him plucked Either his gracious promise, which you might, As cause had called you up, have held him to; Or else it would have galled his surly nature, Which easily endures not article Tying him to aught. So putting him to rage, You should have ta’en th’ advantage of his choler And passed him unelected.

Junius 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 sued-for tongues?

Third Citizen:He’s not confirmed. 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.

Junius 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 therefor 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 scorned 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.

Junius Brutus:Lay A fault on us, your tribunes, that we labored, 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, Preoccupied with what you rather must do Than what you should, made you against the grain To voice him consul. Lay the fault on us.

Junius Brutus:Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you, How youngly he began to serve his country, How long continued, and what stock he springs of, The noble house o’ th’ Martians, from whence came That Ancus Martius, 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, that was so surnamed, And nobly namèd so, twice being censor, Was his great ancestor.

Sicinius:One thus descended, That hath besides 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 fixèd enemy, and revoke Your sudden approbation.

Junius Brutus:Say you ne’er had done ’t— Harp on that still—but by our putting on. And presently, when you have drawn your number, Repair to th’ Capitol.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:We will so. Almost all Repent in their election.

Plebeians exit.

Junius Brutus:Let them go on. This mutiny were better put in hazard Than stay, past doubt, for greater. If, as his nature is, he fall in rage With their refusal, both observe and answer The vantage of his anger.

Sicinius:To th’ Capitol, come. We will be there before the stream o’ th’ people, And this shall seem, as partly ’tis, their own, Which we have goaded onward.

They exit.

Act 3

Scene 1

Cornets. Enter Coriolanus, Menenius, all the Gentry, Cominius, Titus Lartius, and other Senators.

Caius Martius:Tullus Aufidius then had made new head?

Titus Lartius:He had, my lord, and that it was which caused Our swifter composition.

Caius Martius: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.

Caius Martius:Saw you Aufidius?

Titus Lartius:On safeguard he came to me, and did curse Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely Yielded the town. He is retired to Antium.

Caius Martius:Spoke he of me?

Titus Lartius:He did, my lord.

Caius Martius:How? What?

Titus 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 called your vanquisher.

Caius Martius:At Antium lives he?

Titus Lartius:At Antium.

Caius Martius:I wish I had a cause to seek him there, To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home. [Enter Sicinius and Brutus.] Behold, these are the tribunes of the people, The tongues o’ th’ common mouth. I do despise them, For they do prank them in authority Against all noble sufferance.

Sicinius:Pass no further.

Caius Martius:Ha? What is that?

Junius Brutus:It will be dangerous to go on. No further.

Caius Martius:What makes this change?

Menenius:The matter?

Cominius:Hath he not passed the noble and the common?

Junius Brutus:Cominius, no.

Caius Martius:Have I had children’s voices?

First Senator:Tribunes, give way. He shall to th’ marketplace.

Junius Brutus:The people are incensed against him.

Sicinius:Stop, Or all will fall in broil.

Caius Martius: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.

Caius Martius:It is a purposed 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 ruled.

Junius Brutus:Call ’t not a plot. The people cry you mocked them; and, of late, When corn was given them gratis, you repined, Scandaled the suppliants for the people, called them Timepleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.

Caius Martius:Why, this was known before.

Junius Brutus:Not to them all.

Caius Martius:Have you informed them sithence?

Junius Brutus:How? I inform them?

Cominius:You are like to do such business.

Junius Brutus:Not unlike, each way, to better yours.

Caius Martius: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 abused, set on. This palt’ring Becomes not Rome, nor has Coriolanus Deserved this so dishonored rub, laid falsely I’ th’ plain way of his merit.

Caius Martius: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.

Caius Martius:Now, as I live, I will. My nobler friends, I crave their pardons. For The mutable, rank-scented meiny, let them Regard me, as I do not flatter, and Therein behold themselves. I say again, In soothing them, we nourish ’gainst our senate The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition, Which we ourselves have plowed for, sowed, and scattered By mingling them with us, the honored 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.

Caius Martius: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.

Junius Brutus:You speak o’ th’ people As if you were a god to punish, not A man of their infirmity.

Sicinius:’Twere well We let the people know ’t.

Menenius:What, what? His choler?

Caius Martius: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.

Caius Martius:"Shall remain"? Hear you this Triton of the minnows? Mark you His absolute "shall"?

Cominius:’Twas from the canon.

Caius Martius:"Shall"? O good but most unwise patricians, why, You grave but reckless senators, have you thus Given Hydra here to choose an officer, That with his peremptory "shall," being but The horn and noise o’ th’ monster’s, wants not spirit To say he’ll turn your current in a ditch And make your channel his? If he have power, Then vail your ignorance; if none, awake Your dangerous lenity. If you are learned, 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 frowned in Greece. By Jove himself, It makes the consuls base! And my soul aches To know, when two authorities are up, Neither supreme, how soon confusion May enter ’twixt the gap of both and take The one by th’ other.

Cominius:Well, on to th’ marketplace.

Caius Martius:Whoever gave that counsel to give forth The corn o’ th’ storehouse gratis, as ’twas used Sometime in Greece—

Menenius:Well, well, no more of that.

Caius Martius:Though there the people had more absolute power, I say they nourished disobedience, fed The ruin of the state.

Junius Brutus:Why shall the people give One that speaks thus their voice?

Caius Martius:I’ll give my reasons, More worthier than their voices. They know the corn Was not our recompense, resting well assured They ne’er did service for ’t. Being pressed to th’ war, Even when the navel of the state was touched, They would not thread the gates. This kind of service Did not deserve corn gratis. Being i’ th’ war, Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they showed Most valor, spoke not for them. Th’ accusation Which they have often made against the Senate, All cause unborn, could never be the native Of our so frank donation. Well, what then? How shall this bosom multiplied digest The Senate’s courtesy? Let deeds express What’s like to be their words: "We did request it; We are the greater poll, and in true fear They gave us our demands." Thus we debase The nature of our seats and make the rabble Call our cares fears, which will in time Break ope the locks o’ th’ Senate and bring in The crows to peck the eagles.

Menenius:Come, enough.

Junius Brutus:Enough, with over-measure.

Caius Martius: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 barred, 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 dishonor Mangles true judgment and bereaves the state Of that integrity which should become ’t, Not having the power to do the good it would For th’ ill which doth control ’t.

Junius Brutus:’Has said enough.

Sicinius:’Has spoken like a traitor and shall answer As traitors do.

Caius Martius:Thou wretch, despite o’erwhelm thee! What should the people do with these bald tribunes, On whom depending, their obedience fails To th’ greater bench? In a rebellion, When what’s not meet but what must be was law, Then were they chosen. In a better hour, Let what is meet be said it must be meet, And throw their power i’ th’ dust.

Junius Brutus:Manifest treason.

Sicinius:This a consul? No.

Junius Brutus:The aediles, ho! Let him be apprehended.

Enter an Aedile.

Sicinius:Go, call the people; [Aedile exits.] in whose name myself Attach thee as a traitorous innovator, A foe to th’ public weal. Obey, I charge thee, And follow to thine answer.

Caius Martius:Hence, old goat.

All Patricians:We’ll surety him.

Cominius:[to Sicinius] Agèd sir, hands off.

Caius Martius:[to Sicinius] Hence, rotten thing, or I shall shake thy bones Out of thy garments.

Sicinius:Help, you citizens!

Enter a rabble of Plebeians with the Aediles.

Menenius:On both sides more respect!

Sicinius:Here’s he that would take from you all your power.

Junius Brutus:Seize him, aediles.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens: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!

Sicinius, Junius Brutus, Menenius, Cominius, Titus Lartius:Peace, peace, peace! Stay, hold, peace!

Menenius:What is about to be? I am out of breath. Confusion’s near. I cannot speak. You, tribunes To th’ people!—Coriolanus, patience!— Speak, good Sicinius.

Sicinius:Hear me, people! Peace!

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Let’s hear our tribune. Peace! Speak, speak, speak.

Sicinius:You are at point to lose your liberties. Martius would have all from you, Martius, Whom late you have named 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?

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:True, The people are the city.

Junius Brutus:By the consent of all, we were established The people’s magistrates.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:You so remain.

Menenius:And so are like to do.

Caius Martius: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.

Junius Brutus:Or let us stand to our authority Or let us lose it. We do here pronounce, Upon the part o’ th’ people, in whose power We were elected theirs, Martius is worthy Of present death.

Sicinius:Therefore lay hold of him, Bear him to th’ rock Tarpeian, and from thence Into destruction cast him.

Junius Brutus:Aediles, seize him!

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Yield, Martius, yield!

Menenius:Hear me one word. Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.

Aediles, Aedile, Aedile:Peace, peace!

Menenius:Be that you seem, truly your country’s friend, And temp’rately proceed to what you would Thus violently redress.

Junius Brutus:Sir, those cold ways, That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous Where the disease is violent.—Lay hands upon him, And bear him to the rock.

Coriolanus draws his sword.

Caius Martius:No, I’ll die here. There’s some among you have beheld me fighting. Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.

Menenius:Down with that sword!—Tribunes, withdraw awhile.

Junius Brutus:Lay hands upon him!

Menenius:Help Martius, help! You that be noble, help him, young and old!

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Down with him, down with him!

In this mutiny, the Tribunes, the Aediles, and the People are beat in.

Menenius:[to Coriolanus] Go, get you to your house. Begone, away. All will be naught else.

Second Senator:Get you gone.

Caius Martius:Stand fast! We have as many friends as enemies.

Menenius:Shall it be put to that?

First Senator:The gods forbid!— I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house; Leave us to cure this cause.

Menenius:For ’tis a sore upon us You cannot tent yourself. Begone, beseech you.

Cominius:Come, sir, along with us.

Caius Martius:I would they were barbarians, as they are, Though in Rome littered; not Romans, as they are not, Though calved i’ th’ porch o’ th’ Capitol.

Menenius:Begone! Put not your worthy rage into your tongue. One time will owe another.

Caius Martius:On fair ground I could beat forty of them.

Menenius:I could myself Take up a brace o’ th’ best of them, yea, the two tribunes.

Cominius:But now ’tis odds beyond arithmetic, And manhood is called foolery when it stands Against a falling fabric. [To Coriolanus.] Will you hence, Before the tag return, whose rage doth rend Like interrupted waters and o’erbear What they are used to bear?

Menenius:[to Coriolanus] Pray you, begone. I’ll try whether my old wit be in request With those that have but little. This must be patched With cloth of any color.

Cominius:Nay, come away.

Coriolanus and Cominius exit.

Patrician:This man has marred 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.

Patrician:I would they were abed!

Menenius:I would they were in Tiber. What the vengeance, Could he not speak ’em fair?

Enter Brutus and Sicinius with the rabble again.

Sicinius:Where is this viper That would depopulate the city and Be every man himself?

Menenius:You worthy tribunes—

Sicinius:He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock With rigorous hands. He hath resisted law, And therefore law shall scorn him further trial Than the severity of the public power Which he so sets at naught.

First Citizen:He shall well know The noble tribunes are the people’s mouths And we their hands.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:He shall, sure on ’t.

Menenius:Sir, sir—


Menenius:Do not cry havoc where you should but hunt With modest warrant.

Sicinius:Sir, how comes ’t that you Have holp to make this rescue?

Menenius:Hear me speak. As I do know the Consul’s worthiness, So can I name his faults.

Sicinius:Consul? What consul?

Menenius:The consul Coriolanus.

Junius Brutus:He consul?

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, 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 tonight.

Menenius:Now the good gods forbid That our renownèd Rome, whose gratitude Towards her deservèd children is enrolled 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 dropped it for his country; And what is left, to lose it by his country Were to us all that do ’t and suffer it A brand to th’ end o’ th’ world.

Sicinius:This is clean cam.

Junius Brutus:Merely awry. When he did love his country, It honored him.

Sicinius:The service of the foot, Being once gangrened, is not then respected For what before it was.

Junius 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 unscanned swiftness, will too late Tie leaden pounds to ’s heels. Proceed by process, Lest parties—as he is beloved—break out And sack great Rome with Romans.

Junius Brutus:If it were so—

Sicinius:What do you talk? Have we not had a taste of his obedience? Our aediles smote! Ourselves resisted! Come.

Menenius:Consider this: he has been bred i’ th’ wars Since he could draw a sword, and is ill schooled 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.

Junius Brutus:Go not home.

Sicinius:Meet on the marketplace. [To Menenius.] We’ll attend you there, Where if you bring not Martius, we’ll proceed In our first way.

Menenius:I’ll bring him to you. [To Senators.] Let me desire your company. He must come, Or what is worst will follow.

First Senator:Pray you, let’s to him.

All exit.

Scene 2

Enter Coriolanus with Nobles.

Caius Martius: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.

Noble:You do the nobler.

Caius Martius:I muse my mother Does not approve me further, who was wont To call them woolen 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. 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.

Caius Martius: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 showed them how you were disposed Ere they lacked power to cross you.

Caius Martius:Let them hang!

Volumnia:Ay, and burn too.

Enter Menenius with the Senators.

Menenius:[to Coriolanus] 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 counseled. I have a heart as little apt as yours, But yet a brain that leads my use of anger To better vantage.

Menenius:Well said, noble woman. Before he should thus stoop to th’ herd—but that The violent fit o’ th’ time craves it as physic For the whole state—I would put mine armor on, Which I can scarcely bear.

Caius Martius:What must I do?

Menenius:Return to th’ Tribunes.

Caius Martius:Well, what then? What then?

Menenius:Repent what you have spoke.

Caius Martius: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 Honor and policy, like unsevered friends, I’ th’ war do grow together. Grant that, and tell me In peace what each of them by th’ other lose That they combine not there?

Caius Martius:Tush, tush!

Menenius:A good demand.

Volumnia:If it be honor 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 honor as in war, since that to both It stands in like request?

Caius Martius:Why force you this?

Volumnia:Because that now it lies you on to speak To th’ people, not by your own instruction, Nor by th’ matter which your heart prompts you, But with such words that are but roted in Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables Of no allowance to your bosom’s truth. Now, this no more dishonors 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 required I should do so in honor. I am in this Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles; And you will rather show our general louts How you can frown than spend a fawn upon ’em For the inheritance of their loves and safeguard Of what that want might ruin.

Menenius:Noble lady!— Come, go with us; speak fair. You may salve so, Not what is dangerous present, but the loss Of what is past.

Volumnia:I prithee now, my son, Go to them with this bonnet in thy hand, And thus far having stretched it—here be with them— Thy knee bussing the stones—for in such business Action is eloquence, and the eyes of th’ ignorant More learnèd 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 asked, as free As words to little purpose.

Volumnia:Prithee now, Go, and be ruled; although I know thou hadst rather Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf Than flatter him in a bower. [Enter Cominius.] Here is Cominius.

Cominius:I have been i’ th’ marketplace; and, sir, ’tis fit You make strong party or defend yourself By calmness or by absence. All’s in anger.

Menenius:Only fair speech.

Cominius:I think ’twill serve, if he Can thereto frame his spirit.

Volumnia:He must, and will.— Prithee, now, say you will, and go about it.

Caius Martius:Must I go show them my unbarbèd 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 mold of Martius, they to dust should grind it And throw ’t against the wind. To th’ marketplace! You have put me now to such a part which never I shall discharge to th’ life.

Cominius:Come, come, we’ll prompt you.

Volumnia:I prithee now, sweet son, as thou hast said My praises made thee first a soldier, so, To have my praise for this, perform a part Thou hast not done before.

Caius Martius:Well, I must do ’t. Away, my disposition, and possess me Some harlot’s spirit! My throat of war be turned, Which choirèd with my drum, into a pipe Small as an eunuch or the virgin voice That babies lull asleep! The smiles of knaves Tent in my cheeks, and schoolboys’ tears take up The glasses of my sight! A beggar’s tongue Make motion through my lips, and my armed knees, Who bowed but in my stirrup, bend like his That hath received an alms. I will not do ’t, Lest I surcease to honor 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 dishonor 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’st it from me, But owe thy pride thyself.

Caius Martius:Pray be content. Mother, I am going to the marketplace. Chide me no more. I’ll mountebank their loves, Cog their hearts from them, and come home beloved Of all the trades in Rome. Look, I am going. Commend me to my wife. I’ll return consul, Or never trust to what my tongue can do I’ th’ way of flattery further.

Volumnia:Do your will.

Volumnia exits.

Cominius:Away! The Tribunes do attend you. Arm yourself To answer mildly, for they are prepared With accusations, as I hear, more strong Than are upon you yet.

Caius Martius:The word is "mildly." Pray you, let us go. Let them accuse me by invention, I Will answer in mine honor.

Menenius:Ay, but mildly.

Caius Martius:Well, mildly be it, then. Mildly.

They exit.

Scene 3

Enter Sicinius and Brutus.

Junius 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.

Junius Brutus:How accompanied?

Aedile:With old Menenius, and those senators That always favored him.

Sicinius:Have you a catalogue Of all the voices that we have procured, Set down by th’ poll?

Aedile:I have. ’Tis ready.

Sicinius:Have you collected them by tribes?

Aedile:I have.

Sicinius:Assemble presently the people hither; And when they hear me say "It shall be so I’ th’ right and strength o’ th’ commons," be it either For death, for fine, or banishment, then let them If I say "Fine," cry "Fine," if "Death," cry "Death," Insisting on the old prerogative And power i’ th’ truth o’ th’ cause.

Aedile:I shall inform them.

Junius Brutus:And when such time they have begun to cry, Let them not cease, but with a din confused 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.

Junius Brutus:Go about it. [Aedile exits.] Put him to choler straight. He hath been used Ever to conquer and to have his worth Of contradiction. Being once chafed, he cannot Be reined again to temperance; then he speaks What’s in his heart, and that is there which looks With us to break his neck.

Enter Coriolanus, Menenius, and Cominius, with others (Senators).

Sicinius:Well, here he comes.

Menenius:[aside to Coriolanus] Calmly, I do beseech you.

Caius Martius:[aside to Menenius] Ay, as an hostler that for th’ poorest piece Will bear the knave by th’ volume.—Th’ honored 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.

Enter the Aedile with the Plebeians.

Sicinius:Draw near, you people.

Aedile:List to your tribunes. Audience! Peace, I say!

Caius Martius:First, hear me speak.

Junius Brutus, Sicinius:Well, say.—Peace, ho!

Caius Martius:Shall I be charged 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.

Caius Martius:I am content.

Menenius:Lo, citizens, he says he is content. The warlike service he has done, consider. Think Upon the wounds his body bears, which show Like graves i’ th’ holy churchyard.

Caius Martius:Scratches with briars, 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.

Caius Martius:What is the matter, That, being passed for consul with full voice, I am so dishonored that the very hour You take it off again?

Sicinius:Answer to us.

Caius Martius:Say then. ’Tis true, I ought so.

Sicinius:We charge you that you have contrived to take From Rome all seasoned office and to wind Yourself into a power tyrannical, For which you are a traitor to the people.

Caius Martius:How? Traitor?

Menenius:Nay, temperately! Your promise.

Caius Martius:The fires i’ th’ lowest hell fold in the people! Call me their traitor? Thou injurious tribune! Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths, In thy hands clutched 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?

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:To th’ rock, to th’ 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 th’ extremest death.

Junius Brutus:But since he hath Served well for Rome—

Caius Martius:What do you prate of service?

Junius Brutus:I talk of that that know it.

Caius Martius:You?

Menenius:Is this the promise that you made your mother?

Cominius:Know, I pray you—

Caius Martius:I’ll know no further. Let them pronounce the steep Tarpeian death, Vagabond exile, flaying, pent to linger But with a grain a day, I would not buy Their mercy at the price of one fair word, Nor check my courage for what they can give, To have ’t with saying "Good morrow."

Sicinius:For that he has, As much as in him lies, from time to time Envied against the people, seeking means To pluck away their power, as now at last Given hostile strokes, and that not in the presence Of dreaded justice, but on the ministers That doth distribute it, in the name o’ th’ people And in the power of us the Tribunes, we, Even from this instant, banish him our city In peril of precipitation From off the rock Tarpeian, never more To enter our Rome gates. I’ th’ people’s name, I say it shall be so.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:It shall be so, it shall be so! Let him away! He’s banished, and it shall be so.

Cominius:Hear me, my masters and my common friends—

Sicinius:He’s sentenced. No more hearing.

Cominius:Let me speak. I have been consul and can show for Rome Her enemies’ marks upon me. I do love My country’s good with a respect more tender, More holy and profound, than mine own life, My dear wife’s estimate, her womb’s increase, And treasure of my loins. Then if I would Speak that—

Sicinius:We know your drift. Speak what?

Junius Brutus:There’s no more to be said, but he is banished As enemy to the people and his country. It shall be so.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:It shall be so, it shall be so!

Caius Martius:You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate As reek o’ th’ rotten fens, whose loves I prize As the dead carcasses of unburied men That do corrupt my air, I banish you! And here remain with your uncertainty; Let every feeble rumor shake your hearts; Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes, Fan you into despair! Have the power still To banish your defenders, till at length Your ignorance—which finds not till it feels, Making but reservation of yourselves, Still your own foes—deliver you As most abated captives to some nation That won you without blows! Despising For you the city, thus I turn my back. There is a world elsewhere.

Coriolanus, Cominius, with others (Senators) exit.

Aedile:The people’s enemy is gone, is gone.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Our enemy is banished; he is gone. Hoo, hoo!

They all shout and throw up their caps.

Sicinius:Go see him out at gates, and follow him, As he hath followed you, with all despite. Give him deserved vexation. Let a guard Attend us through the city.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Come, come, let’s see him out at gates! Come! The gods preserve our noble tribunes! Come!

They exit.

Act 4

Scene 1

Enter Coriolanus, Volumnia, Virgilia, Menenius, Cominius, with the young nobility of Rome.

Caius Martius:Come, leave your tears. A brief farewell. The beast With many heads butts me away. Nay, mother, Where is your ancient courage? You were used To say extremities was the trier of spirits; That common chances common men could bear; That when the sea was calm, all boats alike Showed mastership in floating; fortune’s blows When most struck home, being gentle wounded craves A noble cunning. You were used to load me With precepts that would make invincible The heart that conned them.

Virgilia:O heavens! O heavens!

Caius Martius:Nay, I prithee, woman—

Volumnia:Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome, And occupations perish!

Caius Martius:What, what, what! I shall be loved when I am lacked. Nay, mother, Resume that spirit when you were wont to say If you had been the wife of Hercules, Six of his labors you’d have done and saved Your husband so much sweat.—Cominius, Droop not. Adieu.—Farewell, my wife, my mother. I’ll do well yet.—Thou old and true Menenius, Thy tears are salter than a younger man’s And venomous to thine eyes.—My sometime general, I have seen thee stern, and thou hast oft beheld Heart-hard’ning spectacles. Tell these sad women ’Tis fond to wail inevitable strokes As ’tis to laugh at ’em.—My mother, you wot well My hazards still have been your solace, and— Believe ’t not lightly—though I go alone, Like to a lonely dragon that his fen Makes feared and talked of more than seen, your son Will or exceed the common or be caught With cautelous baits and practice.

Volumnia:My first son, Whither wilt thou go? Take good Cominius With thee awhile. Determine on some course More than a wild exposure to each chance That starts i’ th’ way before thee.

Virgilia:O the gods!

Cominius:I’ll follow thee a month, devise with thee Where thou shalt rest, that thou mayst hear of us And we of thee; so if the time thrust forth A cause for thy repeal, we shall not send O’er the vast world to seek a single man And lose advantage, which doth ever cool I’ th’ absence of the needer.

Caius Martius:Fare you well. Thou hast years upon thee, and thou art too full Of the wars’ surfeits to go rove with one That’s yet unbruised. Bring me but out at gate.— Come, my sweet wife, my dearest mother, and My friends of noble touch. When I am forth, Bid me farewell, and smile. I pray you, come. While I remain above the ground, you shall Hear from me still, and never of me aught But what is like me formerly.

Menenius:That’s worthily As any ear can hear. Come, let’s not weep. If I could shake off but one seven years From these old arms and legs, by the good gods, I’d with thee every foot.

Caius Martius:Give me thy hand. Come.

They exit.

Scene 2

Enter the two Tribunes, Sicinius, and Brutus, with the Aedile.

Sicinius:Bid them all home. He’s gone, and we’ll no further. The nobility are vexed, whom we see have sided In his behalf.

Junius Brutus:Now we have shown our power, Let us seem humbler after it is done Than when it was a-doing.

Sicinius:Bid them home. Say their great enemy is gone, and they Stand in their ancient strength.

Junius Brutus:Dismiss them home. [Aedile exits.] Here comes his mother.

Enter Volumnia, Virgilia, and Menenius.

Sicinius:Let’s not meet her.

Junius Brutus:Why?

Sicinius:They say she’s mad.

Junius Brutus:They have ta’en note of us. Keep on your way.

Volumnia:O, you’re well met. The hoarded plague o’ th’ gods Requite your love!

Menenius:Peace, peace! Be not so loud.

Volumnia:[to the Tribunes] If that I could for weeping, you should hear— Nay, and you shall hear some. [(To Sicinius.)] Will you be gone?

Virgilia:[to Brutus] You shall stay too. I would I had the power To say so to my husband.

Sicinius:[to Volumnia] 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 blessèd heavens!

Volumnia:More noble blows than ever thou wise words, And for Rome’s good. I’ll tell thee what—yet go. Nay, but thou shalt stay too. I would my son Were in Arabia and thy tribe before him, His good sword in his hand.

Sicinius:What then?

Virgilia:What then? He’d make an end of thy posterity.

Volumnia:Bastards and all. Good man, the wounds that he does bear for Rome!

Menenius:Come, come, peace.

Sicinius:I would he had continued to his country As he began, and not unknit himself The noble knot he made.

Junius Brutus:I would he had.

Volumnia:"I would he had"? ’Twas you incensed 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.

Junius Brutus:[to Sicinius] 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 banished, does exceed you all.

Junius Brutus:Well, well, we’ll leave you.

Sicinius:Why stay we to be baited With one that wants her wits?

Tribunes exit.

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. [(To Virgilia.)] Come, let’s go. Leave this faint puling, and lament as I do, In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.

They exit.

Menenius:Fie, fie, fie!

He exits.

Scene 3

Enter a Roman (Nicanor) and a Volsce (Adrian).

A Roman:I know you well, sir, and you know me. Your name I think is Adrian.

A Volscian:It is so, sir. Truly, I have forgot you.

A Roman:I am a Roman, and my services are, as you are, against ’em. Know you me yet?

A Volscian:Nicanor, no?

A Roman:The same, sir.

A Volscian:You had more beard when I last saw you, but your favor is well approved 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.

A Roman:There hath been in Rome strange insurrections, the people against the senators, patricians, and nobles.

A Volscian: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.

A 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 forever. This lies glowing, I can tell you, and is almost mature for the violent breaking out.

A Volscian:Coriolanus banished?

A Roman:Banished, sir.

A Volscian:You will be welcome with this intelligence, Nicanor.

A 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.

A Volscian:He cannot choose. I am most fortunate thus accidentally to encounter you. You have ended my business, and I will merrily accompany you home.

A 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?

A Volscian: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.

A 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.

A Volscian:You take my part from me, sir. I have the most cause to be glad of yours.

A Roman:Well, let us go together.

They exit.

Scene 4

Enter Coriolanus in mean apparel, disguised, and muffled.

Caius Martius: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. [Enter a Citizen.] Save you, sir.

Citizen:And you.

Caius Martius: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.

Caius Martius:Which is his house, beseech you?

Citizen:This here before you.

Caius Martius:Thank you, sir. Farewell. [Citizen exits.] 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.

He exits.

Scene 5

Music plays. Enter a Servingman.

First Servingman:Wine, wine, wine! What service is here? I think our fellows are asleep.

He exits.

Enter another Servingman.

Second Servingman:Where’s Cotus? My master calls for him. Cotus!

He exits.

Enter Coriolanus.

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

Enter the First Servingman.

First Servingman:What would you have, friend? Whence are you? Here’s no place for you. Pray, go to the door.

He exits.

Caius Martius:I have deserved no better entertainment In being Coriolanus.

Enter Second Servingman.

Second Servingman:Whence are you, sir?—Has the porter his eyes in his head, that he gives entrance to such companions?—Pray, get you out.

Caius Martius:Away!

Second Servingman:Away? Get you away.

Caius Martius:Now th’ art troublesome.

Second Servingman:Are you so brave? I’ll have you talked with anon.

Enter Third Servingman; the First, entering, meets him.

Third Servingman:What fellow’s this?

First Servingman:A strange one as ever I looked on. I cannot get him out o’ th’ house. Prithee, call my master to him.

He steps aside.

Third Servingman:What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you, avoid the house.

Caius Martius:Let me but stand. I will not hurt your hearth.

Third Servingman:What are you?

Caius Martius:A gentleman.

Third Servingman:A marv’llous poor one.

Caius Martius:True, so I am.

Third Servingman:Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other station. Here’s no place for you. Pray you, avoid. Come.

Caius Martius:Follow your function, go, and batten on cold bits.

Pushes him away from him.

Third Servingman:What, you will not?—Prithee, tell my master what a strange guest he has here.

Second Servingman:And I shall.

Second Servingman exits.

Third Servingman:Where dwell’st thou?

Caius Martius:Under the canopy.

Third Servingman:Under the canopy?

Caius Martius:Ay.

Third Servingman:Where’s that?

Caius Martius:I’ th’ city of kites and crows.

Third Servingman:I’ th’ city of kites and crows? What an ass it is! Then thou dwell’st with daws too?

Caius Martius:No, I serve not thy master.

Third Servingman:How, sir? Do you meddle with my master?

Caius Martius: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.

Third Servingman exits.

Enter Aufidius with the Second Servingman.

Tullus Aufidius:Where is this fellow?

Second Servingman:Here, sir. I’d have beaten him like a dog, but for disturbing the lords within.

He steps aside.

Tullus Aufidius:Whence com’st thou? What wouldst thou? Thy name? Why speak’st not? Speak, man. What’s thy name?

Caius Martius:[removing his muffler] 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.

Tullus Aufidius:What is thy name?

Caius Martius:A name unmusical to the Volscians’ ears And harsh in sound to thine.

Tullus Aufidius:Say, what’s thy name? Thou hast 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?

Caius Martius:Prepare thy brow to frown. Know’st thou me yet?

Tullus Aufidius:I know thee not. Thy name?

Caius Martius:My name is Caius Martius, 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 devoured the rest, And suffered me by th’ voice of slaves to be Whooped 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 feared 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 cankered country with the spleen Of all the under fiends. But if so be Thou dar’st not this, and that to prove more fortunes Thou ’rt tired, 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.

Tullus Aufidius:O Martius, Martius, 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 Martius. Let me twine Mine arms about that body, whereagainst My grainèd ash an hundred times hath broke And scarred the moon with splinters. [They embrace.] 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 valor. Know thou first, I loved the maid I married; never man Sighed truer breath. But that I see thee here, Thou noble thing, more dances my rapt heart Than when I first my wedded mistress saw Bestride my threshold. Why, thou Mars, I tell thee We have a power on foot, and I had purpose Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn Or lose mine arm for ’t. Thou hast beat me out Twelve several times, and I have nightly since Dreamt of encounters ’twixt thyself and me; We have been down together in my sleep, Unbuckling helms, fisting each other’s throat, And waked half dead with nothing. Worthy Martius, Had we no other quarrel else to Rome but that Thou art thence banished, we would muster all From twelve to seventy and, pouring war Into the bowels of ungrateful Rome, Like a bold flood o’erbear ’t. O, come, go in, And take our friendly senators by th’ hands, Who now are here, taking their leaves of me, Who am prepared against your territories, Though not for Rome itself.

Caius Martius:You bless me, gods!

Tullus 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 experienced, 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 ere an enemy— Yet, Martius, that was much. Your hand. Most welcome!

Coriolanus and Aufidius exit.

Two of the Servingmen come forward.

First Servingman:Here’s a strange alteration!

Second Servingman: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 Servingman:What an arm he has! He turned me about with his finger and his thumb as one would set up a top.

Second Servingman: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 Servingman:He had so, looking as it were— Would I were hanged but I thought there was more in him than I could think.

Second Servingman:So did I, I’ll be sworn. He is simply the rarest man i’ th’ world.

First Servingman:I think he is. But a greater soldier than he you wot one.

Second Servingman:Who, my master?

First Servingman:Nay, it’s no matter for that.

Second Servingman:Worth six on him.

First Servingman:Nay, not so neither. But I take him to be the greater soldier.

Second Servingman:Faith, look you, one cannot tell how to say that. For the defense of a town our general is excellent.

First Servingman:Ay, and for an assault too.

Enter the Third Servingman.

Third Servingman:O slaves, I can tell you news, news, you rascals!

First Servingman, Second Servingman:What, what, what? Let’s partake!

Third Servingman:I would not be a Roman, of all nations; I had as lief be a condemned man.

First Servingman, Second Servingman:Wherefore? Wherefore?

Third Servingman:Why, here’s he that was wont to thwack our general, Caius Martius.

First Servingman:Why do you say "thwack our general"?

Third Servingman:I do not say "thwack our general," but he was always good enough for him.

Second Servingman:Come, we are fellows and friends. He was ever too hard for him; I have heard him say so himself.

First Servingman:He was too hard for him directly, to say the truth on ’t, before Corioles; he scotched him and notched him like a carbonado.

Second Servingman:An he had been cannibally given, he might have boiled and eaten him too.

First Servingman:But, more of thy news.

Third Servingman: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 polled.

Second Servingman:And he’s as like to do ’t as any man I can imagine.

Third Servingman: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 whilest he’s in directitude.

First Servingman:Directitude? What’s that?

Third Servingman:But when they shall see, sir, his crest up again, and the man in blood, they will out of their burrows like coneys after rain, and revel all with him.

First Servingman:But when goes this forward?

Third Servingman:Tomorrow, today, presently. You shall have the drum struck up this afternoon. ’Tis, as it were, a parcel of their feast, and to be executed ere they wipe their lips.

Second Servingman:Why then, we shall have a stirring world again. This peace is nothing but to rust iron, increase tailors, and breed ballad-makers.

First Servingman:Let me have war, say I. It exceeds peace as far as day does night. It’s sprightly walking, audible, and full of vent. Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy; mulled, deaf, sleepy, insensible; a getter of more bastard children than war’s a destroyer of men.

Second Servingman:’Tis so, and as wars in some sort may be said to be a ravisher, so it cannot be denied but peace is a great maker of cuckolds.

First Servingman:Ay, and it makes men hate one another.

Third Servingman:Reason: because they then less need one another. The wars for my money! I hope to see Romans as cheap as Volscians. [(Noise within.)] They are rising; they are rising.

First Servingman, Second Servingman:In, in, in, in!

They exit.

Scene 6

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 we 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.

Junius Brutus:We stood to ’t in good time. [Enter Menenius.] 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 missed 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 if He could have temporized.

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.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:[to the Tribunes] The gods preserve you both!

Sicinius:Good e’en, our neighbors.

Junius Brutus:Good e’en to you all, good e’en to you all.

First Citizen:Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees Are bound to pray for you both.

Sicinius:Live, and thrive!

Junius Brutus:Farewell, kind neighbors. We wished Coriolanus Had loved you as we did.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Now the gods keep you!

Junius Brutus, Sicinius:Farewell, farewell.

Citizens exit.

Sicinius:This is a happier and more comely time Than when these fellows ran about the streets Crying confusion.

Junius Brutus:Caius Martius was A worthy officer i’ th’ war, but insolent, O’ercome with pride, ambitious, past all thinking Self-loving.

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.

Junius 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 two several powers Are entered in the Roman territories, And with the deepest malice of the war Destroy what lies before ’em.

Menenius:’Tis Aufidius, Who, hearing of our Martius’ banishment, Thrusts forth his horns again into the world, Which were inshelled when Martius stood for Rome, And durst not once peep out.

Sicinius:Come, what talk you of Martius?

Junius Brutus:Go see this rumorer whipped. 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.

Junius Brutus:Not possible.

Enter a Messenger.

Messenger:The nobles in great earnestness are going All to the Senate House. Some news is coming 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 delivered.

Sicinius:What more fearful?

Messenger:It is spoke freely out of many mouths— How probable I do not know—that Martius, Joined 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!

Junius Brutus:Raised only that the weaker sort may wish Good Martius 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 Martius Associated with Aufidius, rages Upon our territories, and have already O’erborne their way, consumed with fire and took What lay before them.

Enter Cominius.

Cominius:[to the Tribunes] O, you have made good work!

Menenius:What news? What news?

Cominius:[to the Tribunes] You have holp to ravish your own daughters and To melt the city leads upon your pates, To see your wives dishonored to your noses—

Menenius:What’s the news? What’s the news?

Cominius:[to the Tribunes] Your temples burnèd in their cement, and Your franchises, whereon you stood, confined Into an auger’s bore.

Menenius:Pray now, your news?— You have made fair work, I fear me.—Pray, your news? If Martius should be joined with Volscians—

Cominius:If? 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:[to the Tribunes] 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.

Junius 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 mocked 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 charged him even As those should do that had deserved his hate And therein showed like enemies.

Menenius:’Tis true. If he were putting to my house the brand That should consume it, I have not the face To say "Beseech you, cease."—You have made fair hands, You and your crafts! You have crafted fair!

Cominius:You have brought A trembling upon Rome such as was never S’ incapable of help.

Junius Brutus, Sicinius:Say not we brought it.

Menenius:How? Was ’t we? We loved 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 defense That Rome can make against them.

Enter a troop of Citizens.

Menenius:Here come 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 deserved it.

First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, First Citizen, Second Citizen, Third Citizen, Fourth Citizen, Fifth Citizen, Sixth Citizen, Seventh Citizen, Citizens:Faith, we hear fearful news.

First Citizen:For mine own part, When I said banish him, I said ’twas pity.

Second Citizen:And so did I.

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 will.

Cominius:You’re goodly things, you voices!

Menenius:You have made good work, you and your cry!— Shall ’s to the Capitol?

Cominius:O, ay, what else?

Both exit.

Sicinius:Go, masters, get you home. Be not dismayed. 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 banished him.

Second Citizen:So did we all. But, come, let’s home.

Citizens exit.

Junius Brutus:I do not like this news.

Sicinius:Nor I.

Junius Brutus:Let’s to the Capitol. Would half my wealth Would buy this for a lie.

Sicinius:Pray, let’s go.

Tribunes exit.

Scene 7

Enter Aufidius with his Lieutenant.

Tullus Aufidius:Do they still fly to th’ Roman?

Volscian 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.

Tullus 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.

Volscian Lieutenant:Yet I wish, sir— I mean for your particular—you had not Joined in commission with him, but either Have borne the action of yourself or else To him had left it solely.

Tullus 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 dragonlike, 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.

Volscian Lieutenant:Sir, I beseech you, think you he’ll carry Rome?

Tullus Aufidius:All places yields 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 honors 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 controlled the war; but one of these— As he hath spices of them all—not all, For I dare so far free him—made him feared, So hated, and so banished. 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.

They exit.

Act 5

Scene 1

Enter Menenius, Cominius, Sicinius, Brutus (the two Tribunes), with others.

Menenius:No, I’ll not go. You hear what he hath said Which was sometime his general, who loved him In a most dear particular. He called me father, But what o’ that? Go you that banished him; A mile before his tent, fall down, and knee The way into his mercy. Nay, if he coyed 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 urged our old acquaintance, and the drops That we have bled together. "Coriolanus" He would not answer to, forbade all names. He was a kind of nothing, titleless, Till he had forged himself a name o’ th’ fire Of burning Rome.

Menenius:[to the Tribunes] Why, so; you have made good work! A pair of tribunes that have wracked 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 punished.

Menenius:Very well. Could he say less?

Cominius:I offered 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’ offense.

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?

Junius Brutus:Only make trial what your love can do For Rome, towards Martius.

Menenius:Well, and say that Martius Return me, as Cominius is returned, 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 dined. The veins unfilled, our blood is cold, and then We pout upon the morning, are unapt To give or to forgive; but when we have stuffed These pipes and these conveyances of our blood With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls Than in our priestlike fasts. Therefore I’ll watch him Till he be dieted to my request, And then I’ll set upon him.

Junius 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.

He exits.

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 jailor to his pity. I kneeled before him; ’Twas very faintly he said "Rise"; dismissed 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.

They exit.

Scene 2

Enter Menenius to the Watch, or 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 embraced 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 touched 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 unparalleled happily 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 stamped 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 dined, can’st 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 pushed 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 decayed 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 deceived. Therefore, back to Rome and prepare for your execution. You are condemned. 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—

Enter Coriolanus with Aufidius.

Caius Martius:What’s the matter?

Menenius:[to First Watch] 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 crueler in suffering; behold now presently, and swoon for what’s to come upon thee. [(To Coriolanus.)] 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! [(He weeps.)] 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.

Caius Martius:Away!

Menenius:How? Away?

Caius Martius: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, begone. Mine ears against your suits are stronger than Your gates against my force. Yet, for I loved thee, Take this along; I writ it for thy sake, [He gives Menenius a paper.] And would have sent it. Another word, Menenius, I will not hear thee speak.—This man, Aufidius, Was my beloved in Rome; yet thou behold’st.

Tullus Aufidius:You keep a constant temper.

They exit.

The Guard and Menenius remain.

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, you’re 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!

He exits.

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.

Watch exit.

Scene 3

Enter Coriolanus and Aufidius.

Caius Martius:We will before the walls of Rome tomorrow Set down our host. My partner in this action, You must report to th’ Volscian lords how plainly I have borne this business.

Tullus Aufidius:Only their ends You have respected, stopped your ears against The general suit of Rome, never admitted A private whisper, no, not with such friends That thought them sure of you.

Caius Martius:This last old man, Whom with a cracked heart I have sent to Rome, Loved 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 showed sourly to him—once more offered 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 Virgilia, Volumnia, Valeria, young Martius, with Attendants.] My wife comes foremost, then the honored mold Wherein this trunk was framed, 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. [Virgilia curtsies.] What is that curtsy worth? Or those doves’ eyes, Which can make gods forsworn? I melt and am not Of stronger earth than others. [Volumnia bows.] 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 Plow 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.

Caius Martius:These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.

Virgilia:The sorrow that delivers us thus changed Makes you think so.

Caius Martius: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." [They kiss.] 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 virgined 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, [He rises.] 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.

She kneels.

Caius Martius:What’s this? Your knees to me? To your corrected son? [He raises her up.] Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach Fillip the stars! Then let the mutinous winds Strike the proud cedars ’gainst the fiery sun, Murdering impossibility to make What cannot be slight work.

Volumnia:Thou art my warrior; I holp to frame thee. Do you know this lady?

Caius Martius: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:[presenting young Martius] This is a poor epitome of yours, Which by th’ interpretation of full time May show like all yourself.

Caius Martius:[to young Martius] 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 seamark standing every flaw And saving those that eye thee.

Volumnia:[to young Martius] Your knee, sirrah.

He kneels.

Caius Martius:That’s my brave boy!

Volumnia:Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself Are suitors to you.

Young Martius rises.

Caius Martius: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 anything; 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.

Caius Martius:Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark, for we’ll Hear naught from Rome in private. [He sits.] 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 barr’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 cannot 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.

Young Martius:He shall not tread on me. I’ll run away till I am bigger, but then I’ll fight.

Caius Martius:Not of a woman’s tenderness to be Requires nor child nor woman’s face to see.— I have sat too long.

He rises.

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 honor. No, our suit Is that you reconcile them, while the Volsces May say "This mercy we have showed," the Romans "This we received," 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 dogged with curses, Whose chronicle thus writ: "The man was noble, But with his last attempt he wiped it out, Destroyed his country, and his name remains To th’ ensuing age abhorred." Speak to me, son. Thou hast affected the fine strains of honor To imitate the graces of the gods, To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o’ th’ air And yet to charge thy sulfur with a bolt That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak? Think’st thou it honorable 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 Showed thy dear mother any courtesy When she, poor hen, fond of no second brood, Has clucked thee to the wars and safely home, Loaden with honor. Say my request’s unjust And spurn me back; but if it be 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. [They kneel.] This is the last. So, we will home to Rome And die among our neighbors.—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. [They rise.] This fellow had a Volscian to his mother, His wife is in Corioles, and his child Like him by chance.—Yet give us our dispatch. I am hushed until our city be afire, And then I’ll speak a little.

He holds her by the hand, silent.

Caius Martius: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 prevailed, 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?

Tullus Aufidius:I was moved withal.

Caius Martius: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’ll 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!

He speaks with them aside.

Tullus Aufidius:[aside] I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and thy honor At difference in thee. Out of that I’ll work Myself a former fortune.

Caius Martius:[to the Women] 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 countersealed. 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.

They exit.

Scene 4

Enter Menenius and Sicinius.

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 sentenced 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 Martius is grown from man to dragon. He has wings; he’s more than a creeping thing.

Sicinius:He loved 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 finished 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 banished him, we respected not them; and he returning to break our necks, they respect not us.

Enter a Messenger.

Messenger:[to Sicinius] 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 prevailed. The Volscians are dislodged and Martius gone. A merrier day did never yet greet Rome, No, not th’ expulsion of the Tarquins.

Sicinius:Friend, Art thou certain this is true? Is ’t most certain?

Second Messenger:As certain as I know the sun is fire. Where have you lurked 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 prayed well today. 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:[to Second Messenger] 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?

Second Messenger:Almost at point to enter.

Sicinius:We’ll meet them, and help the joy.

They exit.

Scene 5

Enter two Senators, with Ladies (Volumnia, Virgilia, Valeria) passing over the stage, with other Lords.

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 banished Martius, Repeal him with the welcome of his mother. Cry "Welcome, ladies, welcome!"

Senators:Welcome, ladies, welcome!

A flourish with drums and trumpets.

They exit.

Scene 6

Enter Tullus Aufidius, with Attendants.

Tullus Aufidius:Go tell the lords o’ th’ city I am here. Deliver them this paper. [(He gives them a paper.)] Having read it, Bid them repair to th’ marketplace, 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 entered and Intends t’ appear before the people, hoping To purge himself with words. Dispatch. [The Attendants exit.] [Enter three or four Conspirators of Aufidius’s faction.] Most welcome!

First Conspirator:How is it with our general?

Tullus Aufidius:Even so As with a man by his own alms empoisoned And with his charity slain.

Second Conspirator:Most noble sir, If you do hold the same intent wherein You wished us parties, we’ll deliver you Of your great danger.

Tullus 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.

Tullus Aufidius:I know it, And my pretext to strike at him admits A good construction. I raised him, and I pawned Mine honor for his truth, who, being so heightened, He watered his new plants with dews of flattery, Seducing so my friends; and to this end, He bowed 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—

Tullus Aufidius:That I would have spoke of. Being banished 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; served 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 seemed his follower, not partner; and He waged me with his countenance as if I had been mercenary.

First Conspirator:So he did, my lord. The army marvelled at it, and, in the last, When he had carried Rome and that we looked For no less spoil than glory—

Tullus Aufidius:There was it For which my sinews shall be stretched upon him. At a few drops of women’s rheum, which are As cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labor Of our great action. Therefore shall he die, And I’ll renew me in his fall. But hark!

Drums and trumpets sounds, with great shouts of the people.

First Conspirator:Your native town you entered 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 pronounced shall bury His reasons with his body.

Tullus Aufidius:Say no more. [Enter the Lords of the city.] Here come the lords.

All Lords:You are most welcome home.

Tullus Aufidius:I have not deserved it. But, worthy lords, have you with heed perused What I have written to you?

All 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.

Enter Coriolanus marching with Drum and Colors, the Commoners being with him.

Tullus Aufidius:He approaches. You shall hear him.

Caius Martius:Hail, lords! I am returned 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 honor to the Antiates Than shame to th’ Romans, and we here deliver, Subscribed by’ th’ Consuls and patricians, Together with the seal o’ th’ Senate, what We have compounded on.

He offers the lords a paper.

Tullus Aufidius:Read it not, noble lords, But tell the traitor in the highest degree He hath abused your powers.

Caius Martius:"Traitor"? How now?

Tullus Aufidius:Ay, traitor, Martius.

Caius Martius:Martius?

Tullus Aufidius:Ay, Martius, Caius Martius. Dost thou think I’ll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol’n name Coriolanus, in Corioles? You lords and heads o’ th’ state, perfidiously He has betrayed 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 whined and roared away your victory, That pages blushed at him and men of heart Looked wond’ring each at other.

Caius Martius:Hear’st thou, Mars?

Tullus Aufidius:Name not the god, thou boy of tears.

Caius Martius:Ha?

Tullus Aufidius:No more.

Caius Martius: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 forced to scold. Your judgments, my grave lords, Must give this cur the lie; and his own notion— Who wears my stripes impressed 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.

Caius Martius: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 dovecote, I Fluttered your Volscians in Corioles, Alone I did it. "Boy"!

Tullus 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?

First Conspirator, Second Conspirator, Third Conspirator:Let him die for ’t.

All People:Tear him to pieces! Do it presently! He killed my son! My daughter! He killed my cousin Marcus! He killed my father!

Second Lord:Peace, ho! No outrage! Peace! The man is noble, and his fame folds in This orb o’ th’ Earth. His last offenses to us Shall have judicious hearing. Stand, Aufidius, And trouble not the peace.

Caius Martius:[drawing his sword] O, that I had him, With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe, To use my lawful sword.

Tullus Aufidius:Insolent villain!

First Conspirator, Second Conspirator, Third Conspirator:Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!

Draw the Conspirators, and kills Martius, who falls. Aufidius stands on him.

Lords:Hold, hold, hold, hold!

Tullus Aufidius:My noble masters, hear me speak.

First Lord:O Tullus!

Second Lord:Thou hast done a deed whereat valor will weep.

Third Lord:Tread not upon him.—Masters, all be quiet.— Put up your swords.

Tullus Aufidius:My lords, when you shall know—as in this rage, Provoked 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 Honors 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 urn.

Second Lord:His own impatience Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame. Let’s make the best of it.

Tullus 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.

They exit bearing the body of Martius. A dead march sounded.