Coriolanus simplified

Synopsis

The audience finds itself as the play opens on a street in Rome, five hundred give-or-take years before the time of Christ, Rome at that time being a city that is just beginning to become a city, well before Rome was considered by anyone as an empire.  A group of plebeians, the common people, are complaining among themselves about the lack of corn provided to them by the patricians, the aristocrats who decide how things in young Rome are run. Caius Martius, a patrician, soon enters saying “Hang ‘em” when told the plebeians are looking for more corn, Martius being a senator, a general, a military hero and “the chief enemy to the people,” so a plebeian says.

We soon learn that the Volsces, an enemy-state to Rome, “are in arms.”  Martius and Titus Lartius, another general, are asked by Cominius, the most senior of Rome’s generals, to lead a fight against the Volscians and to try to gain control of their city of Corioles.  Separately, Volumnia, Martius’ strong-willed mother, tells Virgilia, Martius’ weak and worried wife, that she should “rejoice in his honors” rather than “fear to lose him.” Volumnia is a self proclaimed “valiant” woman, and she is, as we’ll see in spades when she counsels her son late in the play. 

Following Cominius’ orders, Martius and Lartius and their troops rush Corioles.  Martius is trapped inside the city as the Volscians seal the city’s gates.  The Roman soldiers retreat; then promptly regroup and re-rush the city, taking it.  Martius, to everyone’s surprise, not only survives but escapes his Corioles’ captors.  While a wounded but proud Martius returns to Rome to confer with Cominius, Lartius and his men hold the captured city.  Caius Martius, always supremely confident and aggressive, receives permission to re-attack “Aufidius and his Antiates.” Aufidius is the Volscian general; the Antiates are the soldiers of Antium, Antium being the principal Volscian city.  Martius and Aufidius meet and fight; Martius whips him, a frustrated Aufidius saying “Five times, Martius, I have fought with thee; so often hast thou beat me, and wouldst do so, I think, as often as we eat.” 

At a Roman camp outside of Rome, Martius is honored by Cominius as a hero, proclaiming “Therefore be it known, as to us, to all the world, that Caius Martius for what he did before Corioles, call him, with all th’ applause and clamor of the host, Caius Martius Coriolanus.”  Martius modestly accepts the honorary title of Coriolanus.  Separately, Aufidius vows revenge, saying of Martius “If e’er again I meet him beard to beard, he’s mine or I am his.”

Brutus and Sicinius, both Roman tribunes, tribunes being protectors of plebeian rights, let Menenius know how much the people “love not Martius,” Menenius being an older Roman and a confidant to Martius.  Menenius defends Martius as a loyal Roman and a good man.  Separately, Martius talks about Menenius, saying “this old man loved me above the measure of a father.” Menenius learns that Martius is “coming home” and that he has been honored as “renowned Coriolanus.”  Separately, Coriolanus notes that he plans to deal with the people of Rome, the patricians and plebeians alike, “my way.”  This is the beginning of real trouble for this proud Roman patrician.  Brutus and Sicinius let us know that they view him with disdain and that in regard to the plebeians “what hatred he still hath held them.” Brutus and Sicinius stand up to him, protecting the rights of the plebeians, the responsibility that goes with their position as tribunes. 

Meanwhile, in the Roman Senate, filled with patricians, the senators offer Coriolanus varying degrees of support.  Cominius lavishes praise on him and recounts his heroic actions at Corioles. But when Coriolanus is asked by Menenius that it “remains that you do speak to the people,” Coriolanus suggests he would like to “o’erleap that custom.”  Meanwhile at the Roman Forum, the common people heatedly share their political views of Coriolanus, but in the end come to a compromise saying “Let him be consul.”  His condescending response is: “Worthy voices!”  When Coriolanus and Menenius leave for the Senate House, Brutus and Sicinius rile the crowd, railing against Coriolanus, but a significant minority of citizens continues to offer Coriolanus their support. Sicinius says to the plebeians: “you may revoke your sudden approbation.”  As the plebeians exit, the two tribunes let us know that some plebeians have changed their minds about Coriolanus and “almost all repent in their election.” 

Coriolanus learns that Aufidius, upset with the Volscians’ loss of Corioles, has retired to Antium; Coriolanus notes that he’d like to visit him there.  Sicinius and Brutus confront Coriolanus, telling him the people “are incensed against him” for among other reasons calling them “foes to nobleness.” Menenius and the First Senator call for calm. Coriolanus delivers a set of lectures to the Senate, letting them know why he thinks they dare not let the plebeians gain influence and that the common people need be kept in their place. Listening to him, the tribunes vow to further stir up the public against him, saying he “shall answer as traitors do.”  Coriolanus is a little roughed-up by the crowd.  He draws his sword.  Brutus cries “Martius is worthy of present death,” some suggesting he be hurled from the Capitoline cliff, known as the Tarpeian rock.  Continuing to protect Martius, Menenius convinces the tribunes that they should “precede by process” suggesting the plebeians meet in the marketplace and that there Coriolanus “shall answer by a lawful form.” 

At home with his mother and wife, Coriolanus wrestles with how to deal with the current strife.  Volumnia tells her son he must be “milder.”  She offers sound advice, yet is suspect that he can remain calm, knowing how he may react to all the criticism he’s been receiving.  He responds, “Well, I will do’t.”  Cominius and Menenius do their best to encourage him, both agreeing with Volumnia that he needs to answer the tribunes “mildly.”  Sicinius and Brutus assemble the plebeians to hear him.  Again Menenius cautions him, saying “calmly, I do beseech you.”  Coriolanus asks the audience, “First hear me speak.”  He does speak, but when Sicinius calls him a “power tyrannical” and a “traitor” Coriolanus, not unexpectedly, erupts angrily.  The tribunes, having the authority, decide he is to be banished from Rome.  Coriolanus responds “Curs, I banish you!  There is a world elsewhere.”

A banished Coriolanus is accompanied to the gates of Rome with his wife, his mother, Cominius, Menenius and others.  In classic Shakespeare style, he bids them farewell, leaving them all emotionally wilted. Back in Rome, Volumnia lays into the tribunes; they take it in stride. 

Coriolanus later surfaces at the house of Aufidius in Antium, enters the house, charms the servingmen, asks to see Aufidius, who, entertaining the Volscian senators with a dinner party, leaves his guests and confronts this uninvited visitor, not recognizing him. Coriolanus identifies himself.  Aufidius warmly greets him as if he were a long-lost friend. Aufidius has Martius meet the Volscian senators who just happen to have imminent plans to invade Roman territories.  Aufidius immediately offers to split the command of his troops with Coriolanus; Coriolanus agrees, eager as he is to seek revenge against Rome. 

Back in Rome, Brutus, Sicinius, Menenius and Cominius learn that the “Volsces with two separate powers are entering in the Roman territories, and destroy what lies before ‘em.”  Blame is passed around with citizens saying “Though we willingly consented to his banishment, yet it was against our will.”  Cominius tells Menenius “You have helped to melt the city upon your heads.”  Menenius doesn’t disagree.  A messenger reports that to the Volscians, Coriolanus “is their god. He leads them like a thing made by some other deity.”   Meanwhile at a camp outside Rome, a lieutenant suggests to Aufidius that Coriolanus, having one-half the Volscian command “has eclipsed you in this action.”  Aufidius quietly responds “I understand thee well.”  Aufidius proceeds to share with his lieutenant his strategy to deal with Coriolanus and the dynamic relationship that’s evolved.

Meanwhile, with Coriolanus and the Volscians camped on the outskirts of Rome, Sicinius persuades Menenius to meet with Coriolanus and try to convince him not to sack and ruin Rome.  Menenius does briefly talk with Coriolanus, who summarily rejects him; empty-handed Menenius returns to Rome. 

Independently, Volumnia, Virgilia and young Martius, their son, enter the Volscian camp to give their best shot at convincing their son, husband and father to drop his plans to destroy Rome.  Here Shakespeare has Volumnia offer perhaps the most beautiful and compelling mother-to-son set of arguments found in literature.  Virgilia lets her mother-in-law do the persuading.  The son is pretty much silent.  Coriolanus, the strong and proud Roman, concedes saying “I’ll frame convenient peace.”  Back in Rome, word spreads that “the ladies have prevailed.”  Volumnia and Virgilia are welcomed triumphantly back to Rome as heroines.

Coriolanus and Aufidius return to Corioles.  Aufidius meets with a group of conspirators, one conspirator saying, “The fall of either makes the survivor heir of all.” Aufidius responds “I know it.”  Coriolanus tells the city’s lords “We have made peace.” Aufidius calls him “Traitor!”  Predictably, Coriolanus erupts angrily.  The conspirators kill him.

Principal Characters

Aufidius.  Aufidius is Tullus Aufidius, the Volscian general.  At one point, by his own assessment, he says he has been beaten by Martius a dozen times. He pledges revenge and retires to Antium after the Volscian defeat at Corioles.  Aufidius befriends Coriolanus soon after Coriolanus is banished from Rome, but turns on him at the end, recognizing that only one can be “heir of all.” 

Brutus.   Brutus is Junius Brutus.  He is a Tribune of the People, defined as “those appointed to protect the interests and rights of plebeians against violations by patricians.”  Tribunes are also defined as “champions of the people.” 

Cominius.  Cominius was the leading Roman general at the time of the defeat of the Volscians at Corioles.  He stays active throughout the play, but Coriolanus, with his dominating personality, doesn’t leave much room for others.

Coriolanus.  Coriolanus is Caius Martius Coriolanus, known early as Caius Martius or Martius.  He is a military hero.  In an underwhelming way he is selected by the plebeians as consul, a consul being one of Rome’s two chief magistrates.  Coriolanus is insensitive to plebeians, modest with his military peers, and motivated, it seems, by a need to please his mother.  He is referred to in the play as Coriolanus once he is bestowed that honorary title; referred to as Martius when addressed with less favor.

Menenius.  Menenius Agrippa is a good and loyal friend to Coriolanus, considered by Coriolanus to be like a father.  He is a gentle man, most often suggesting to whomever that the rhetoric be toned down. 

Sicinius.  Sicinius is Sicinius Velutus. He, as Brutus, is a Tribune of the People, a champion of the people, appointed to protect the rights of plebeians.  As he does with Brutus, Shakespeare has Sicinius handle himself very well.

Virgilia.  Virgilia is Coriolanus’ wife.  She doesn’t say much other than gasp now and then.

Volumnia.  Volumnia is Coriolanus’ mother.  Shakespeare gives her excellent lines.  She has a major role both early and then late in the play.  Her telling line is “thy valiantness was mine, but owe thy pride thyself” when speaking of her son, a line that represents a central theme in the play.

The Play


  • Act 1, Scene 1
  • On a street in fifth century B.C Rome, a citizen speaks.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?
  • ALL
  • Resolved.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • First, you know Caius Martius is chief enemy to the people.
  • ALL
  • We know’t.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • Let us kill him, and we’ll have corn at our own price.
  • ALL
  • Let it be done!
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good. The leanness that afflicts us is as an inventory to particularize their abundance; our suffering is a gain to them. I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.
  • SECOND CITIZEN
  • Would you proceed especially against Caius Martius?
  • ALL
  • Against him first.
  • SECOND CITIZEN
  • Consider you what services he has done for his country?
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • He did it to please his mother and to be partly proud, which he is, even to the height of his valor.
  • To shouts, Menenius Agrippa enters.
  • SECOND CITIZEN
  • Worthy Menenius Agrippa, one that hath always loved the people.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • He’s one honest enough!
  • MENENIUS
  • Where go you with bats and clubs?
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • Our business is not unknown to th’ Senate.
  • MENENIUS
  • Why, my good friends, will you undo yourselves? For your wants, you may as well strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them against the Roman state, whose course will go on the way it takes. Alack, you are transported by calamity and you slander the helms o’ th’ state, who care for you like fathers.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • They ne’er cared for us yet: suffer us to famish, and their storehouses crammed with grain; repeal any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily to restrain the poor.
  • MENENIUS
  • I shall tell you an apt tale.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • Well, I’ll hear it, sir; yet you must not think to elude our disgrace with a tale.
  •  
  •  
  • Menenius to the First Citizen
  •  
  • There was a time when all the body’s parts
  • Rebelled against the belly, where food starts,
  • Accusing it, in the body’s center,
  • Idle and stubborn, of holding the bread
  • While the body’s other organs cater
  • Through mutual participation, led
  • By the mind, unto the needs of the whole.
  • The belly said with a smile that its role
  • As the receiver of the food first and
  • As the storehouse for the body, does send
  • It through the streams of your blood to the hand,
  • The heart, the seat o’ th’ brain; doth attend
  • The strongest nerves and smallest veins to give
  • The parts the nourishment whereby they live.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • Ay, sir, well, well.
  • MENENIUS
  • I can tender up a full account that all from me do back receive the flour of all, and leave me but the bran. What say you to’t?
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • It was an answer. How apply you this.
  • MENENIUS
  • The senators of Rome are this good belly, and you the mutinous members. You shall find no public benefit which you receive but it comes from them to you.
  • Caius Martius enters.
  • MARTIUS
  • What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • We have ever your good word.
  •  
  •  
  • Martius to Citizens
  •  
  • He that will give good words to thee flatters
  • Abhorrently. What is it that matters,
  • You curs, that like neither peace nor war? He
  • That should find you lions, finds you hares; where
  • Foxes, geese. You are no surer than be
  • Coals of fire on ice, or hailstones that dare
  • The sun. He that favors you swims with fins
  • Of lead; he that depends on your grace wins
  • With rushes o’er swords. Trust ye, you who do
  • Every minute change your mind; you who sigh,
  • Calling him noble that until now you
  • Did hate, him vile that was your strength? You cry
  • Against the Senate, who keep you in awe,
  • Yet else you’d kill each other without law.
  • MARTIUS TO MENENIUS
  • What’s their seeking?
  • MENENIUS
  • For corn at their own rates.
  • MARTIUS
  • Hang ‘em! 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. They say there’s grain enough? Let me use my sword.
  • MENENIUS
  • Nay, for though abundantly they lack discretion, yet are they passing cowardly.
  • MARTIUS
  • Hang ‘em! They said they were a hungry; that dogs must eat; that the gods sent not corn for the rich men only. Go, get you home, you fragments!
  • A Messenger enters.
  • MARTIUS
  • Here. What’s the matter?
  • MESSENGER
  • The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.
  • Senators enter.
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • Martius, ‘tis true that you have lately told us: the Volces are in arms.
  • MARTIUS
  • They have a leader, Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to ‘t. I sin in envying his nobility, and were I any thing but what I am, I would wish me only he.
  • COMINIUS
  • You have fought together?
  • MARTIUS
  • 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.
  • MARTIUS
  • Sir, it is. Titus Lartius, art thou stiff?
  • TITUS
  • No, Caius Martius, I’ll lean upon one crutch and fight with t’ other, ere stay behind this business.
  • TITUS TO COMINIUS
  • Lead you on.
  • TITUS TO MARTIUS
  • Follow Cominius. We must follow you.
  • FIRST SENATOR TO THE CITIZENS
  • Hence to your homes, be gone!
  • MARTIUS
  • Nay, let them follow. The Volsces have much corn.
  • Citizens steal away.
  • SICINIUS
  • Was ever man so proud as is this Martius?
  • BRUTUS
  • He has no equal.
  • SICILINIUS
  • I do wonder his insolence can endure to be commanded under Cominius.
  • BRUTUS
  • Fame, at the which he aims, better be held nor more attained than by a place below the first; for what miscarries shall be the general’s fault.
  • SICINIUS
  • Besides, if things go well, opinion, that so sticks on Martius, shall of his merits rob Cominius.
  • BRUTUS
  • 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.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 2
  • Tullus Aufidius, with Senators of Corioles, enter.
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • So, your opinion is, Aufidius, that they of Rome know how we proceed.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Is it not yours?
  • SECOND SENATOR
  • Noble Aufidius, I think, you’ll find they have not prepared for us.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • O, doubt not that I speak from certainties. If we and Caius Martius chance to meet, ‘tis sworn between us we shall ever strike till one can do no more.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 3
  • Volumnia and Virgilia, the mother and the wife of Martius enter.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • I pray you, daughter, sing, or express yourself in a more comfortable sort.
  •  
  •  
  • Volumnia to Virgilia
  •  
  • If my son were my husband, I would be
  • More free to rejoice in the honor he
  • Won in his absence than to have him near
  • Me offering his love. When he, my son,
  • Was a tender-bodied youth, I did fear
  • To lose him, knowing that such a person
  • Becomes honor, and one with such a name
  • Should seek danger where he’d likely find fame.
  • I sprang in joy as he became strong an’
  • Proved himself a man. Had I a dozen
  • Sons, each loved alike, and none less dear than
  • Martius, I had rather eleven
  • Die nobly for their country than have one
  • Indulging in a life of inaction.
  • A Gentlewoman enters.
  • 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; 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.
  • VIRGILIA
  • His bloody brow? O Jupiter, no blood!
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Away you fool! Tell Valeria, we are fit to bid her welcome.
  • The Gentlewoman exits.
  • VIRGILIA
  • Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!
  • VOLUMNIA
  • He’ll beat Aufidius’ head below his knee and tread upon his neck.
  • Valeria enters.
  • VALERIA
  • How do you both? What are you sewing here? How does your little son?
  • 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 saw him run after a gilded butterfly, and when he caught it, he let it go again, and after it again.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • One of his father’s moods.
  • VALERIA
  • Indeed, ‘tis a noble child. Come, lay aside your stitchery. I must have you play the idle housewife with me this afternoon.
  • VIRGILIA
  • No, good madam, I will not out of doors.
  • VALERIA
  • Not out of doors?
  • VIRGILIA
  • I’ll not over the threshold till my lord return from the wars.
  • VALERIA
  • Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably.
  • 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
  • There can be none yet.
  • VALERIA
  • Verily, I do not jest with you. There came news from him last night. Thus it is: Volces 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 noting doubt prevailing and to make it brief wars. This is true.
  • VIRGILIA
  • I will obey you in everything hereafter.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Let her alone, lady. As she is now, she will but disease our better mirth.
  • VALERIA
  • Prithee, Virgilia, turn thy solemness out o’ door and go along with us.
  • VIRGILIA
  • No, at a word, madam. Indeed, I must not.
  • VALERIA
  • Well, then, farewell.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 4
  • Martius and Titus Lartius enter before the city of Corioles.
  • A Messenger enters.
  • MARTIUS
  • How far off lie these armies?
  • MESSENGER
  • Within this mile and half.
  • They sound a parley. Two senators enter on the walls of Corioles.
  • MARTIUS
  • Tullus Aufidius, is he within your walls?
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • No.
  • Drums sound far off.
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • Hark! Our drums are bring forth our youth. We’ll break our walls rather than they shall pound us up. Hark you, far off! There is Aufidius.
  • MARTIUS
  • O, they are at it!
  • LARTIUS
  • Their noise be our instruction. Ladders, ho!
  • MARTIUS
  • They fear us not, but issue forth their city. Advance, brave Titus. Come on, my fellows.
  • An alarm sounds. The Romans are beaten back to their trenches.
  • MARTIUS
  • Follow me!
  • Another alarm sounds. Martius follows them to the gates and is shut in.
  • MARTIUS
  • Mark me, and do the like.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • Not I.
  • SECOND SOLDIER
  • Nor I
  • Titus Lartius enters.
  • LARTIUS
  • What is become of Martius?
  • ALL
  • Slain, sir, doubtless.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • With them he enters, who upon the sudden clapped to their gates; he is himself alone.
  • LARTIUS
  • Thou art lost, Martius. Thou wast a soldier. Thou mad’st thine enemies shake, as if the world were feverous and did tremble.
  • Martius enters, bleeding.
  • LARTIUS
  • O, ‘tis Martius! Let’s fetch him.
  • They fight and all enter the city.
  • Act 1, Scene 5
  • Certain Romans enter with spoils.
  • FIRST ROMAN
  • This will I carry to Rome.
  • SECOND ROMAN
  • And I this.
  • Martius and Titus Lartius enter.
  • MARTIUS
  • Down with them! And hark, there is the man of my soul’s hate, Aufidius, piercing our Romans. Valiant Titus, take convenient numbers to make good the city; whilst I, with those that have the spirit, will haste to help Cominius.
  • LARTIUS
  • Worthy sir, thou bleed’st. Thy exercise hath been too violent for a second course of fight.
  • MARTIUS
  • My work hath yet not warmed me. To Aufidius thus I will appear and fight.
  • Martius exits.
  • LARTIUS
  • Thou worthiest Martius! Call thither all the officers o’ th’ town, where they shall know our mind. Away!
  • Act 1, Scene 6
  • Cominius enters with soldiers in an open area near the Roman camp.
  • 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.
  • Martius enters.
  • MARTIUS
  • Come I too late?
  • COMINIUS
  • Ay, if you come not in the blood of others, but mantled in your own. How is’t with Titus Lartius?
  • MARTIUS
  • As with a man busied about decrees: condemning some to death, and some to exile; holding Corioles in the name of Rome.
  • COMINIUS
  • Where is that slave which told me they had beat you to your trenches?
  • MARTIUS
  • Let him alone. He did inform the truth. The mouse ne’er shunned the cat as they did budge from the rascals worse than they.
  • COMINIUS
  • But how prevailed you?
  • MARTIUS
  • Will the time serve to tell? I do not think. Where is the enemy?
  • COMINIUS
  • Martius, we have at disadvantage fought and did retire to win our purpose.
  • MARTIUS
  • How lies their battle? Know you on which side they have placed their men of trust?
  • COMINIUS
  • As I guess, Martius, of their best trust; o’er them Aufidius, their very heart of hope.
  • MARTIUS
  • I do beseech you that you directly set me against Aufidius and his Antiates.
  • COMINIUS
  • Take your choice of those that best can aid your action.
  •  
  •  
  • Martius to Soldiers
  •  
  • I’ll choose those most willing, if any such
  • Be here, though it a sin to doubt, who much
  • Love this blood you see here smeared; if any
  • Think brave death outweighs bad life; fear less for
  • His person than an ill report; thinks his country
  • Is dearer than himself, let him alone, or
  • Others so minded, if more than one sees
  • Fit to follow me against the Volces.
  • The hard shield of Aufidius is more
  • Than any soldier can bear. This is when
  • I must select, though my thanks to all. Four
  • Shall quickly draw out my command, those men
  • Best inclined. The rest shall serve requests made
  • By other men, orders to be obeyed.
  • COMINIUS
  • March on, my fellows, live up to these appearances, and you shall share in all with us.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 7
  • Titus Lartius and soldiers before the gates of Corioles.
  • LARTIUS
  • So, let the gates by guarded. If we lose the field, we cannot keep the town.
  • LIEUTENANT
  • Fear not our care, sir.
  • LARTIUS
  • Our guide, come; to th’ Roman camp conduct us.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 8
  • In an open place near the Roman camp, Martius and Aufidius enter separately.
  • MARTIUS
  • I’ll fight with none but thee, for I do hate thee worse than a promise breaker.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • We hate alike. Fix thy foot.
  • MARTIUS
  • Let the first to budge die the other’s slave.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • If I fly, Martius, hunt me down like a hare.
  • MARTIUS
  • Within these three hours, Tullus, alone I fought in your Corioles walls. ‘Tis not my blood wherein thou seest me masked.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Thou shouldst not scape me here.
  • They fight. Soldiers enter to aid Aufidius. Martius fights till they be driven in breathlessly.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • You have shamed me in your shameful support.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 9
  • A retreat is sounded. Cominius with the Romans enters at one door; Martius with his arm in a scarf enters from another.
  • COMINIUS
  • If I should tell thee o’er this thy day’s work, thou’t not believe thy deeds. But I’ll report it where senators shall mingle tears with smiles; where ladies shall be frighted; where the dull tribunes shall say against their hearts, “We thank the gods our Rome hath such a soldier.”
  • Titus Lartius enters with his soldiers.
  • MARTIUS
  • My mother, when she does praise me grieves me. I have done as you have done. He that has but effected his good will hath overta’en mine act.
  • COMINIUS
  • Rome must know the value of her own. ‘Twere a concealment worse than a theft to hide your doings and to silence that which would seem but modest.
  • MARTIUS
  • I have some wounds upon me, and they smart to hear themselves remembered.
  • COMINIUS
  • Of all the horses, whereof we have taken good in quality and quantity, we render you the tenth, before the common distribution at your sole choice.
  • MARTIUS
  • I thank you, general, but I do refuse it. Stand upon my common part with those that have beheld the doing.
  • ALL
  • Martius! Martius!
  • MARTIUS
  • When drums and trumpets shall i’ th’ field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be made all of hypocritical flattery! No more, I say! You shout me forth in acclamations hyperbolical.
  • COMINIUS
  • Too modest are you, more cruel to your good report than grateful to us that give you truly. Therefore be it known, as to us, to all the world, that Caius Martius wears this war’s garland; for what he did before Corioles, call him, with all th’ applause and clamor of the host, Caius Martius Coriolanus. Bear th’ addition noble ever!
  • ALL
  • Caius Martius Coriolanus!
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I will go wash; and when my face is fair, you shall perceive whether I blush or no. Howbeit, I thank you.
  • COMINIUS
  • So, to our tent, where, ere we do repose us, we will write to Rome of our success. You, Titus Lartius, most to Corioles back.
  • LARTIUS
  • I shall, my lord.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I, that now refused most princely gifts, am bound to beg of my lord general.
  • COMINIUS
  • Take’t, ‘tis yours. What is’t?
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I sometime lay here in Corioles at a poor man’s house; he used me kindly. I saw him prisoner. I request you to give my poor host freedom.
  • COMINIUS
  • O, well begged! Deliver him, Titus.
  • LARTIUS
  • Martius, his name?
  • CORIOLANUS
  • By Jupiter, forgot! I am weary; yea, my memory is tired. Have we no wine here?
  • COMINIUS
  • Go we to our tent. Come.
  • They exit.
  • Act 1, Scene 10
  • Tullus Aufidius with two or three soldiers enters at the camp of the Volces.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • The town is ta’en.
  • FIRST SOLDIER
  • ‘Twill be delivered back on good condition.
  •  
  •  
  • Aufidius to Soldiers
  •  
  • Condition! What part of good condition
  • In a treaty is mercy? Too often
  • Martius hast beaten me and would do
  • So again. Bolder than the devil is
  • He, though less subtle. If again we two
  • Meet, beard to beard, he’s mine or I am his.
  • Rivalry no longer hath that honor
  • In it for me; I’ll stab him some way, for
  • Where I thought to crush him sword to sword, I’ll
  • Use wrath or craft to kill him. Poisoned he
  • My valor; the prayers of priests shall fail, while
  • Heard, to end my hate. Go to the city;
  • Learn how it is held. Through you I must see
  • How it doth go and plan accordingly.
  • LARTIUS
  • I shall, sir.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 1
  • Menenius enters along with two tribunes, Sicinius and Brutus.
  • MENENIUS
  • The augurer tells me we shall have news tonight.
  • BRUTUS
  • Good or bad?
  • MENENIUS
  • Not according to the prayer of the people, for they love not Martius. In what enormity is Martius poor in, that you two have not in abundance?
  • BRUTUS
  • He’s poor in one fault, but stored with all.
  • SICINIUS
  • Especially in pride.
  • BRUTUS
  • And topping all others in boasting.
  • MENETIUS
  • This is strange now. Do you two know how you are censured here in the city, I mean of us o’ th’ ruling file? Do you? You blame Martius for being proud?
  • BRUTUS
  • We do it not alone, sir.
  • MENENIUS
  • Your abilities are too infantlike for doing much alone. You talk of pride: O that you could make but an interior survey of your good selves!
  • BRUTUS
  • What then, sir?
  • MENENIUS
  • Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting, proud, 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; one that is more used to staying up late than rising early.
  • BRUTUS
  • Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.
  • MENENIUS
  • You know neither me, yourselves, nor anything. You wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing cause between a street vendor and a wine tap. You are a pair of strange ones.
  • BRUTUS
  • Come, come, you are well understood to be rather a dinner-table wit than a serious legislator.
  • MENENIUS
  • Our very priests must become mockers, if they shall encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. Yet you must be saying Martius is proud; who, in a cheap estimation, is worth all your predecessors. I will be bold to take my leave of you.
  • Brutus and Sicinius step aside. Volumnia, Virgilia, and Valeria enter.
  • MENENIUS
  • How now, my as fair as noble ladies.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Honorable Menenius, my boy Martius approaches.
  • MENENIUS
  • Martius coming home?
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous approbation. Look here’s a letter from him. The state hath another, his wife another; and, I think, there’s one at home for you.
  • MENENIUS
  • A letter for me?
  • VIRGILIA
  • Yes, certain. I saw’t.
  • MENENIUS
  • Is he not wounded? He was wont to come home wounded.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Menenius, he comes the third time home with the oaken garland.
  • MENENIUS
  • Is the Senate possessed of this?
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Yes, yes, yes! The Senate has letters from the general, wherein he give my son the whole name of the war.
  • VALERIA
  • In troth, there’s wondrous things spoke of him.
  • MENENIUS
  • Where is he wounded?
  • VOLUMNIA
  • I’ th’ shoulder and i’ th’ left arm. He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five wounds upon him.
  • MENENIUS
  • Hark! The trumpets.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • These are the ushers of Martius. Before him he carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears.
  • Crowned with an oaken garland, Coriolanus enters along with Cominius and Titus Lartius. A Herald along with Captains and Soldiers also enter.
  • HERALD
  • Know, Rome, that all alone Martius did fight within Corioles gates, where he hath won. Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
  • ALL
  • Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
  • CORIOLANUS
  • No more of this; it does offend my heart.
  • COMINIUS
  • Look, sir, your mother.
  • Coriolanus kneels.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Nay, my good soldier, up. What is it? Coriolanus must I call thee? But, O, thy wife!
  • CORIOLANUS
  • 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.
  • CORIOLANUS TO VALERIA
  • O my sweet lady, pardon.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • I know not where to turn.
  • MENENIUS
  • A hundred thousand welcomes! I could weep and I could laugh: I am light and heavy. You are three that Rome should dote on; yet, we have some old crab trees here at home that will not be grafted to your liking for you.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Menenius, still the same.
  • HERALD
  • Give way there, and go on!
  • CORIOLANUS TO VOLUMNIA AND VIRGILIA
  • Your hand, and yours. 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 building of my fancy. Only there’s one thing wanting, which I doubt not but our Rome will cast upon thee.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Know, good mother, I had rather be their servant in my way, than sway with them in theirs.
  • COMINIUS
  • On, to the Capitol!
  • Brutus and Sicinius come forward. The others exit.
  •  
  •  
  • Brutus to Sicinius
  •  
  • All tongues speak of him and bleary eye sights
  • Are spectacled to see him. A nurse delights
  • In a rapture and lets her baby cry;
  • While gossiping about, the kitchen maid
  • Clamors o’er bulky roofs and walls to eye
  • Him, having about her grimy neck laid
  • Her best linen. Priests, mostly seen within
  • The church, do press among the throngs to win
  • A place in the crowd, as dames commit their
  • Nicely guarded red and white cheeks to the
  • Sun’s burning kisses. It’s as if that fair
  • Whatsoever god who leads him hath a
  • Way to creep into his human power
  • And provide him with his graceful posture.
  • SICINIUS
  • On the sudden, I warrant him consul. He cannot temp’rately carry his honor from where he should begin to where he should end, but will lose those he hath won.
  • BRUTUS
  • In that there’s comfort.
  • SICINIUS
  • The commoners upon their ancient malice will forget with the least cause his new honors.
  • BRUTUS
  • I heard him swear, were he to stand for consul, never would he appear i’ th’ marketplace nor on him put the threadbare vesture of humility.
  • SICINIUS
  • ‘Tis right.
  • BRUTUS
  • It was his word.
  • SICINIUS
  • I wish no better than have him hold that purpose and to put it in execution.
  • BRUTUS
  • ‘Tis most like he will. We must suggest the people in what hatred he still hath held them; he would have made them mules and dispropertied their freedoms, holding them of no more soul nor fitness for the world than camels, only for bearing burdens.
  • SICINIUS
  • His soaring insolence shall touch the people and will be his fire to kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze shall darken him forever.
  • A Messenger enters.
  • MESSENGER
  • You are sent for to th’ 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 scarfs and handkerchiefs, upon him as he passed. The nobles bended, and the commons made a shower thunder with their caps and shouts. I never saw the like.
  • BRUTUS
  • Let’s to the Capitol, and carry with us ears and eyes for th’ time.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 2
  • At the Roman senate at the Capitol
  • FRIST OFFICER
  • How many stand for consulships?
  • SECOND OFFICER
  • Three, they say; but ‘tis thought of everyone Coriolanus will carry it.
  • FIRST OFFICER
  • 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. For Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate him manifests the true knowledge he has in their disposition.
  • FIRST OFFICER
  • He seeks their hate with greater devotion than they can render it him.
  • SECOND OFFICER
  • He hath deserved worthily of his country. 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.
  • FIRST OFFICER
  • No more of him; he’s a worthy man. They are coming.
  • Coriolanus, Menenius, and Cominius the Consul enter. Sicinius and Brutus enter separately and take their places by themselves.
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • Speak, good Cominius. Leave nothing out for length.
  • FIRST SENATOR TO THE TRIBUNES
  • Masters o’ th’ people, we do request your kindest ears.
  • SICINIUS
  • We have hearts inclinable to honor and advance the theme of our assembly.
  • BRUTUS
  • 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 beside the point. I would you rather had been silent. He loves your people; worthy Cominius, speak.
  • Coriolanus rises, and offers to go away.
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • Sir, Coriolanus. Never shame to hear what you have nobly done.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Your honors’ pardon. I had rather have my wounds to heal again than hear say how I got them.
  • He exits.
  • MENENIUS
  • He’s rather venture all his limbs for honor than venture one of his ears to hear about it. Proceed, Cominius.
  • COMINIUS
  • I shall lack voice. The deeds of Coriolanus should not be uttered feebly.
  •  
  •  
  • Cominius to Senators
  •  
  • If valor is the most revered virtue
  • And most dignifies and honors he who
  • Has it, then this person I speak of, when
  • The world loves its heroes, has no equal.
  • As a young man he proved the best of men;
  • In Corioles, I cannot extol
  • Him justly. By example he caused those
  • Who fled to turn and follow. There he rose
  • To the challenge, trapped within the city,
  • When those that he’d made turn terror into
  • Sport struck Corioles with a force; we
  • Calling then the city ours. Our men do
  • Fight the fight when well led. He, as he left,
  • The battle o’er, ne’er stopped to take a breath.
  • MENENIUS
  • Worthy man!
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • He cannot but with measure fit the honors which we devise him.
  • COMINIUS
  • He rewards his deeds with doing them.
  • MENENIUS
  • He’s right noble.
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • Call Coriolanus.
  • Coriolanus enters.
  • MENENIUS
  • The Senate, Coriolanus, are well pleased to make thee consul.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I do owe them still my life and services.
  • MENENIUS
  • It then remains that you do speak to the people.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I do beseech you, let me o’erleap that custom.
  • SICINIUS
  • Sir, the people must have their voices.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • It is a part that I shall blush in acting.
  • BRUTUS TO SICINIUS
  • Mark you that?
  • CORIOLANUS
  • To brag unto them “Thus I did, and thus!” Show them th’ unaching scars which I should hide, as if I had received them for the hire of their breath only!
  • MENENIUS
  • Do not insist upon’t. We recommend to you, tribunes of the people, our purpose to them.
  • SENATORS
  • To Coriolanus come all joy and honor!
  • All but Sicinius and Brutus exit.
  • BRUTUS
  • You see how he intends to use the people.
  • SICINIUS
  • May they perceive’s intent!
  • BRUTUS
  • Come, we’ll inform them of our proceedings here.
  • They exit.
  • Act 2, Scene 3
  • Several citizens are at the Roman Forum.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • Once if he do require our voices we ought not to deny him.
  • THIRD CITIZEN
  • We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a power that we have no power to do it. 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 ungrateful were to make a monster of the multitude.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • 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 different, but that our wits are so diversely colored, and if they were to fly their consent 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.
  • SECOND CITIZEN
  • You are never without your tricks.
  • THIRD CITIZEN
  • I say, if he would incline to the people, there was never a worthier man.
  • Coriolanus enters in a gown of humility, with Menenius.
  • THIRD CITIZEN
  • Mark his behavior. We are not to stay all together, but to come by him where he stands, by ones and by twos. Therefore follow me, and I’ll direct you how you shall go by him.
  • The citizens exit.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • What must I say? “I pray, sir” --- Plague upon’t!
  • MENENIUS
  • O me, the gods! You must desire them to think upon you.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Think upon me? Hang ‘em!
  • MENENIUS
  • Pray you, speak to ‘em. I pray you, in wholesome manner.
  • He exits.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Bid them wash their faces. And keep their teeth clean.
  • Two citizens enter.
  • FOURTH CITIZEN
  • You have deserved nobly of your country, and you have not deserved noble.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Your enigma?
  • FOURTH CITIZEN
  • You have been a scourge to her enemies; you have been a rod to her friends. You have not indeed loved the common people.
  • FIFTH CITIZEN
  • We hope to find you our friend, and therefore give you our voices heartily.
  • FOURTH CITIZEN
  • You have received many wounds for your country.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.
  • BOTH
  • The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!
  • They exit.
  •  
  •  
  • Coriolanus to himself
  •  
  • Most sweet voices! Better it is to die;
  • Better to be alone and starve than fly
  • To those for that which we do deserve. Why
  • In this humble toga should I stand here
  • And beg to every Rob and Dick that cry
  • Testaments, needlessly? Custom says we’re
  • To do it. If we did that which custom
  • Wills, the unswept dust of past time and some
  • Of history’s errors would be too highly
  • Heaped for truth to o’erpeer. Rather than play
  • The fool, let high office and honor be
  • Bestowed on one who would thus do. This day
  • I’ve suffered their voices and am half through;
  • One part endured, the other will I do.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • 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.
  • ALL
  • Amen, amen. God save thee, noble consul!
  • They exit.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Worthy voices!
  • Menenius enters, along with Brutus and Sicinius.
  • MEMENIUS
  • You have stood your limitation, and the tribunes endue you with the people’s voice.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Is this done?
  • SICINIUS
  • The custom of request you have discharged. The people do admit you.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Where? At the Senate House?
  • SICINIUS
  • There, Coriolanus.
  • BRUTUS
  • We stay here for the people.
  • SICINIUS
  • Fare you well.
  • Coriolanus and Menenius exit.
  • SICINIUS
  • My masters! Have you chose this man?
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • He has our voices, sir.
  • SECOND CITIZEN
  • He mocked us when he begged our voices.
  • THIRD CITIZEN
  • Certainly he flouted us downright.
  • SECOND CITIZEN
  • Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says he used us scornfully.
  • THIRD CITIZEN
  • “I would be consul,” says he. 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?
  • BRUTUS
  • If he should still malignantly remain fast foe to th’ plebeians, your voices might be curses to yourselves.
  • SICINIUS
  • Putting him to rage, you should have ta’en the advantage of his choler and passed him unelected.
  • BRUTUS
  • Did you perceive he did solicit you in free contempt when he did need your loves, and do you think that his contempt shall not be bruising to you when he hath power to crush? Had your bodies no heart among you? Had you tongues to cry against the rule of judgment?
  • 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.
  • BRUTUS
  • Tell those friends they have chose a consul that will from them take their liberties; make them of no more voice than dogs.
  • SICINIUS
  • Let them assemble, and on a safer judgment all revoke your ignorant election.
  • BRUTUS
  • Lay a fault on us, your tribunes.
  • 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. Lay the fault on us.
  • BRUTUS
  • Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you.
  • SICINIUS
  • You have found that he’s your fixed enemy, and revoke your sudden approbation.
  • BRUTUS
  • Say, you ne’er had done’t but by our putting on; and presently repair to the Capitol.
  • ALL
  • We will so: almost all repent in their election.
  • The Plebeians exit.
  • BRUTUS
  • Let them go on. 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 their own, which we have goaded onward.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 1
  • On a Roman street, Coriolanus, Menenius, Cominius, Titus Lartius and other senators enter.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Tullus Aufidius then has raised another army?
  • LARTIUS
  • He has, my lord.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • So then the Volsces stand but as at first, ready, when time shall prompt them to make inroads upon’s again.
  • COMINIUS
  • They are exhausted, lord consul.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Saw you Aufidius?
  • LARTIUS
  • On safe-conduct he came to me; and did curse against the Volsces, for they had so vilely yielded the town. He is retied to Antium.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Spoke he of me?
  • LARTIUS
  • He spoke how often he had met you, sword to sword; that of all things upon the earth he hated your person most.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • At Antium lives he?
  • LARTIUS
  • At Antium.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I wish I had a cause to seek him there.
  • Sicinius and Brutus enter.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • These are the tribunes of the people, the tongues o’ th’ common mouth. I do despise them, for they do dress up in authority against all noble sufferance.
  • SICINIUS
  • Pass no further. It will be dangerous to go on.
  • COMINIUS
  • Hath he not passed the noble and the common?
  • BRUTUS
  • Cominius, no. The people are incensed against him.
  • SICINIUS
  • Stop, or all will fall in broil.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Must these have voices, that can yield them now and straight disclaim their tongues? What are your offices? Have you not set them on?
  • MENENIUS
  • Be calm, be calm.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • It is a purposed thing, and grows by plot, to curb the will of the nobility.
  • BRUTUS
  • Call’t not a plot. The people cry you mocked them, and of late, when corn was given them gratis, you expressed regret, called them flatterers, foes to nobleness.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Why, this was known before.
  • BRUTUS
  • Not to them all.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Why then should I be consul? 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.
  • MENENIUS
  • Let’s be calm.
  • COMINIUS
  • The people are abused, set on. This equivocating becomes not Rome, nor has Coriolanus deserved this so dishonored rub.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Tell me of corn! This was my speech, and I will speak’t again.
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • Not in this heat, sir, now.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Now, as I live, I will. My nobler friends, I crave their pardons. For the mutable, tank-scented multitude, let them attend to me insofar as I do not flatter, and see themselves as they are. In soothing them we nourish ‘gainst our Senate the weed of insolence, sedition, which we ourselves have sowed by mingling them with us.
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • No more words, we beseech you.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • How? No more?
  • 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 anger?
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Anger! Were I as patient as the midnight sleep, by Jove, ‘twould be my mind!
  • SICINIUS
  • It is a mind that shall remain a poison where it is, not poison any further.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Shall remain! Mark you his absolute “shall”?
  • COMINIUS
  • Was out of order.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • “Shall”? O good but most unwise patricians!
  •  
  •  
  • Coriolanus to Senators, No. 1
  •  
  • Why, you negligent senators, have you
  • Allowed this multi-headed beast here to
  • Choose a consul through a peremptory
  • “Shall,” being but the monster’s horn, to say
  • He’ll turn the stream in your ditch; what should be
  • Your current, to his? If power his, lay
  • Down your pride; if not, be less mild;
  • Let not the Senate House be so defiled.
  • When they choose their magistrate, his “shall,” an’
  • Their support, shall change all, making the brow
  • Of each angry man here more wrinkled than
  • E’er found in Greece. My soul aches to think how
  • Soon confusion may enter ‘twixt each team
  • When neither authority is supreme.
  • COMINIUS
  • Well, on to th’ marketplace.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth the corn o’ th’ storehouse gratis.
  • MENENIUS
  • Well, well, no more of that.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I say they nourished disobedience, fed the ruin of the state.
  • BRUTUS
  • Why, shall the people give one that speaks thus their voice?
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I’ll give my reasons, more worthier than their voices.
  •  
  •  
  • Coriolanus to Senators, No. 2
  •  
  • They know the corn’s a gift, they so remiss
  • In their duties, ne’er offering service
  • For’t. When called to th’ war, even when
  • The state’s heart was at risk, they could not seize
  • The courage to pass the gates. Even then,
  • When they showed some valor, their mutinies
  • Spoke not for them. Tell me how this many
  • Faced crowd will digest the state’s courtesy?
  • They’ll say, “that when the frightened Senate meets,
  • They’ll meet to do as we request” is clear!
  • Thus, we debase the nature of our seats,
  • And let the rabble call our cares fear;
  • Which in time will invade our very souls,
  • Allowing the crows to peck the eagles.
  • MENENIUS
  • Come, enough.
  • BRUTUS
  • Enough, with over measure.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • No, take more! What may be sworn by, both divine and human, confirms what I end withal!
  •  
  •  
  • Coriolanus to Senators, No. 3
  •  
  • This double worship, where one part disdains
  • With cause, and the other with no cause rains
  • Downs insults; where wisdom, title cannot
  • Conclude but by the yea and nay of those
  • Of ignorance, doth neglect actions sought
  • To serve them, giving rise to griefs that rose
  • From their frivolity. I beseech you:
  • Pluck out the multitudinous tongue; do
  • Not let them lick the sweet, their poison. Less
  • Fearful be; your hesitance mangles true
  • Judgment and denies the state the wholeness
  • That befits it; the Senate having too
  • Little power to do good, or use wit
  • As it should, for the ill which o’erbears it.
  • BRUTUS
  • He has said enough.
  • SICINIUS
  • He has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer as traitors do.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • What should the people do with these bald tribunes on whom depending; their obedience fails to th’ greater bench?
  • Police officers enter.
  • BRUTUS
  • Let him be apprehended.
  • SICINIUS
  • Go, call the people.
  • The Police officers exit.
  • SICINIUS
  • In whose name myself attach thee as a traitorous innovator, a foe to th’ public weal.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Hence, old goat!
  • SICINIUS
  • Help ye, citizens!
  • A rabble of Plebeians, with Police officers enter.
  • MENENIUS
  • On both sides more respect.
  • SICINIUS
  • Here’s he that would take from you all your power.
  • PLEBEIANS
  • Down with him!
  • They bustle about Coriolanus.
  • MENENIUS
  • What is about to be? I am out of breath. Speak, good Sicinius.
  • SICINIUS
  • Hear me, people. Peace!
  • PLEBEIANS
  • Let’s hear our tribune. Peace! 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
  • 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?
  • PLEBEIANS
  • True, the people are the city.
  • COMINIUS
  • That is the way to lay the city flat, to bring the roof to the foundation, and bury all in heaps and piles of ruin.
  • SICINIUS
  • This deserves death.
  • BRUTUS
  • Or let us stand to our authority, or let us lose it. We do here pronounce, in whose power we were elected theirs, Martius is worthy of present death.
  • SICINIUS
  • Therefore lay hold of him.
  • BRUTUS
  • Police officers, seize him!
  • PLEBEIANS
  • Yield, Martius, yield!
  • MENENIUS
  • Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.
  • POLICE OFFICERS
  • Peace, peace!
  • MENENIUS
  • Temp’rately proceed to what you would thus violently redress.
  • BRUTUS
  • Lay hands upon him, and bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence into destruction cast him.
  • Coriolanus draws his sword.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • No, I’ll die here. Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.
  • MENENIUS
  • Down with that sword! Tribunes, withdraw awhile.
  • BRUTUS
  • Lay hands upon him.
  • MENENIUS
  • Help Martius, help! You that be noble, help him, young and old.
  • PLEBEIANS
  • Down with him!
  • The Plebeians exit.
  • MENENIUS
  • Go, get you to your house!
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Stand fast! We have as many friends as enemies.
  • MENENIUS
  • Shall it be put to that?
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • The gods forbid!
  • MENENIUS
  • Be gone, beseech you.
  • COMINIUS
  • Come, sir, along with us.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I would they were barbarians.
  • MENENIUS
  • Be gone. Put not your worthy rage into your tongue.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • On fair ground I could beat forty of them.
  • MENENIUS
  • I could myself cope with 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.
  • MENENIUS
  • Pray you, be gone. This must be patched with cloth of any color.
  • COMINIUS
  • Nay, come away.
  • Coriolanus, Cominius and others exit.
  • PATRICIAN
  • This man has marred his fortune.
  • MENENIUS
  • His nature is too noble for the world. His heart ‘s his mouth. And, being angry, does forget that ever he heard the name of death.
  • There is a noise within.
  • PATRICAIN
  • I would they were abed!
  • MENENIUS
  • I would they were in Tiber!
  • Brutus, Sicinius and the rabble enter.
  • SICINIUS
  • Where is this viper that would depopulate the city?
  • MENENIUS
  • You worthy tribunes ----
  • SICINIUS
  • He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock with rigorous hands.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • He shall well know the noble tribunes are the people’s mouths, and we their hands.
  • MENENIUS
  • Sir, sir ---
  • SICINIUS
  • Peace!
  • MENENIUS
  • Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt with modest warrant. Hear me speak. As I do know the consul’s worthiness, so can I name his faults ---
  • SICINIUS
  • Consul! What consul?
  • MENENIUS
  • The consul Coriolanus.
  • BRUTUS
  • He consul!
  • PLEBEIANS
  • No, no, no!
  • MENENIUS
  • I would crave a word or two.
  • SICINIUS
  • Speak briefly then, for we are peremptory to dispatch this viperous traitor. It is decreed he dies tonight.
  • MENENIUS
  • Now the good gods forbid that our renowned Rome should now eat up her own!
  • SICINIUS
  • He’s a disease that must be cut away.
  • MENENIUS
  • What has he done to Rome that’s worthy death? Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost he dropped for his country; and what is left, to lose it by his country.
  • SICINIUS
  • This is quite wrong.
  • BRUTUS
  • 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.
  • BRUTUS
  • Pursue him to his house and pluck him thence, lest his infection spread further.
  • MENENIUS
  • One word more, one word. Proceed by process, lest parties, as he is beloved, break out and sack great Rome with Romans.
  • SICININIUS
  • What do ye talk? Have we not had a taste of his obedience? Come.
  • MENENIUS
  • 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.
  • SICINIUS
  • Noble Menenius, be you then as the people’s officer. Masters, lay down your weapons.
  • BRUTUS
  • Go not home.
  • SICINIUS
  • Meet on the marketplace. 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.
  • MENENIUS TO THE SENATORS
  • Let me desire your company. He must come, or what is worst will follow.
  • They exit.
  • Act 3, Scene 2
  • The scene is the house of Coriolanus.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Let them pull all about mine ears, or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock, yet will I still be thus to them.
  • NOBLE
  • You do the nobler.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I wonder that my mother does not approve me further, who was wont to call them vassals, who yawn in assemblies, when one but of my ordinance stood up to speak of peace or war.
  • Volumnia enters.
  • CORIOLANUS TO VOLUMNIA
  • Why did you wish me milder? Would you have me false to my nature? Rather say I play the man I am.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • You might have been enough the man you are with striving less to be so.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Let them hang!
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Ay, and burn too!
  • Menenius with Senators enter.
  • MENENIUS
  • Come, come, you have been 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 compliant as yours, but yet a brain that leads my use of anger to better vantage.
  • MENENIUS
  • Well said, noble woman!
  • CORIOLANUS
  • What must I do?
  • MENENIUS
  • Return to th’ tribunes.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Well, what then?
  • MENENIUS
  • Repent what you have spoke.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • For them? I cannot do it to the gods. Must I then do’t to them?
  • VOLUMNIA
  • You are too absolute. I have heard you say, honor and policy, like inseparable friends, i’ th’ war do grow together. Grant that, and tell me in peace what each of them by th’ other lose than they combine not there.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Tush, tush!
  • MENENIUS
  • A good demand.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • If it be honor in your wars to seem the same you are not, how is it less that it shall hold companionship in peace with honor, as in war, since it is equally necessary to both?
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Why force you this?
  •  
  •  
  • Volumnia to Coriolanus, No 1
  •  
  • Because it now lies on you to speak to
  • The people, not as your heart doth prompt you,
  • But with such language you know through rote; make
  • Not your true beliefs known through any word.
  • This no more dishonors you than to take
  • A town with kindness, reducing hazard
  • To fortune and blood. Just put to the test
  • Thy stout heart; be modest as the ripest
  • Mulberry that’ll not hold handling. And
  • Bow thy head; say you’re their soldier. My son,
  • Go humbly to them with your cap in hand;
  • With a knee kissing the stones, for action
  • Is most eloquent. I’ve learned through the years,
  • Ignorant eyes are more learned than ears.
  • 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.
  • Cominius enters.
  • COMINIUS
  • I have been i’ th’ marketplace; and, sir ‘tis fit you find strong allies, 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.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Must I go show them my uncovered head? Must I with my base tongue give to my noble heart a lie that it must bear? Well, I will do’t.
  • COMINIUS
  • Come, come, we’ll prompt you.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • I prithee now, sweet son, perform a part thou hast not done before.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Well, I must do’t. The smiles of knaves encamp in my cheeks, and schoolboys’ tears occupy the glasses of my sight! A beggar’s tongue makes motion through my lips, and my armed knees, which bowed but in my stirrup, bend like his that received an alms! I will not do’t, lest I surcease to honor mine own truth.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • At thy choice, then. To beg of thee, it is my more dishonor than thou of them. Let thy mother rather feel thy pride than fear thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death with as big heart as thou. Thy valiantness was mine, but owe thy pride thyself.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Pray, be content. Mother, I am going to the marketplace. Chide me no more. I’ll 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.
  • She exits.
  • COMINUS
  • Away! The tribunes do attend you. Arm yourself to answer mildly.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • The word is “mildly.” Pray you, let us go. I will answer in mine honor.
  • MENENIUS
  • Ay, but mildly.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Well, mildly be’t then. Mildly!
  • Act 3, Scene 3
  • Sicinius and Brutus enter at the Roman Forum.
  • BRUTUS
  • In this point charge him home, that he affects tyrannical power.
  • A Police officer enters.
  • POLICE OFFICER
  • He’s coming.
  • BRUTUS
  • How accompanied?
  • POLICE OFFICER
  • With old Menenius, and those senators that always favored him.
  • 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!”
  • POLICE OFFICER
  • I shall inform them.
  • BRUTUS
  • And when such time they have begun to cry, enforce the present execution of what we chance to sentence.
  • POLICE OFFICER
  • Very well.
  • SICINIUS
  • Make them be strong, and ready for this cue when we shall hap to give’t them.
  • The Police officer exits.
  • BRUTUS
  • He hath been used ever to conquer, and to have his worth of contradiction. Being once annoyed, he cannot be reined again to temperance.
  • Coriolanus, Menenius, Cominius and others enter.
  • MENENIUS
  • Calmly, I do beseech you.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Th’ honored gods keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice supplied with worthy men! Throng our large temples with the shows of peace, and not our streets with war!
  • FIRST SENATOR
  • Amen, amen.
  • A Police officer enters with the Plebeians.
  • POLICE OFFICER
  • Audience! Peace, I say!
  • CORIOLANUS
  • First hear me speak. Shall I be obligated no further than the moment? Must all end here?
  • SICINIUS
  • I do demand, if you submit you to the people’s voices, acknowledge their officers. Are you content to suffer lawful censure for such faults as shall be proved upon you?
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I am content.
  • MENENIUS
  • Lo, citizens, the warlike service he has done, consider; think upon the wounds his body bears, which show like graves i’ th’ holy churchyard.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Scratches with briers, scars to move laughter only.
  • MENENIUS
  • Consider further, that when he speaks not like a citizen you find him like a soldier.
  • COMINIUS
  • Well, well, no more.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • What is the matter that, being passed for consul with full voice, I am so dishonored?
  • SICINIUS
  • We will ask the questions.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Say, then.
  • SICINIUS
  • We charge you that you have contrived to wind yourself into a power tyrannical, for which you are a traitor to the people.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • How? Traitor?
  • MENENIUS
  • Nay, temperately! Your promise.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • The fires i’ th’ lowest hell fold in the people! Call me their traitor, thou injurious tribune!
  • SICINIUS
  • Mark you this, people?
  • ALL
  • To th’ rock, to th’ rock with him!
  • SICINIUS
  • Peace! What you have seen him do and heard him speak, beating your officers, cursing yourselves, and opposing laws with strokes deserves th’ extremest death.
  • BRUTUS
  • But since he hath served well for Rome ----
  • CORIOLANUS
  • What do you chatter of service?
  • BRUTUS
  • I talk of that, that know it.
  • COMINIUS
  • Know, I pray you ---
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I’ll know no further. Let them pronounce the steep Tarpeian death. I would not buy their mercy at the price of one fair word.
  • SICINIUS
  • As much as he could, from time to time shown ill will toward the people, and seeking means to pluck away their power, we, in the power of us the tribunes, banish him our city, in peril of being thrown from off the rock Tarpeian, never more to enter our Roman gates. I’ th’ people’s name, I say it shall be so.
  • ALL
  • It shall be so! 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 do love my country’s good with a respect more tender, more holy and profound, than mine own life. Then, if I would speak that ---
  • SICINIUS
  • We know your drift. Speak what?
  • BRUTUS
  • There’s no more to be said, but he is banished as enemy to the people and his country. It shall be so.
  • ALL
  • It shall be so!
  • CORIOLANUS
  • You common cry of curs, I banish you! Let every feeble rumor shake your hearts! Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes, fan you into despair! For you, the city, thus I turn my back. There is a world elsewhere.
  • Coriolanus, Cominius, Menenius and other senators exit.
  • POLICE OFFICER
  • The people’s enemy is gone, is gone!
  • ALL
  • Our enemy is banished! He is gone!
  • SICINIUS
  • Go, see him out at gates, and follow him as he hath followed you. Let a guard attend us through the city.
  • Act 4, Scene 1
  • The scene is before a gate in Rome. Coriolanus, Volumnia, Virgilia, Menenius and Cominius are present.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Come, leave your tears. A brief farewell. The beast with many heads butts me away. Nay, mother, where is your earlier courage?
  • VIRGILIA
  • O heavens! O heavens!
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Now the typhus strikes all trades in Rome.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • What! I shall be loved when I am missed.
  •  
  •  
  • Coriolanus leaving Rome
  •  
  • Resume your spirit, all. Cominius,
  • My wife, mother, farewell; droop not nor fuss,
  • I’ll do well yet. Menenius, thy tears
  • Are venomous to thine eyes. Tell these sad
  • Women ‘tis foolish to wail or have fears
  • For inevitable strokes; ‘tis not bad;
  • Just laugh at ‘em. My mother, your first son
  • Will exceed your dreams or be caught. Each one,
  • Mother, wife, noble friends, come with me; quell
  • Your sighs; go with me to the gate; restrain
  • Your tears. When I am gone, bid me farewell,
  • And smile. I pray you, come. While I remain
  • Above the ground, you shall hear from me still,
  • And ne’er I to vary from my proud will.
  • VIRGILIA
  • O the gods!
  • MENENIUS
  • That’s worthily as any ear can hear. Come, let’s not weep. If I could shake off but one seven-years from these old arms and legs, by the good gods, I’d with thee every foot.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Give me thy hand. Come.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 2
  • On a street in Rome, Brutus and Sicinius enter with the Police officer.
  • SICINIUS
  • He’s gone, and we’ll no further. The nobility are vexed, whom we see have sided in his behalf.
  • BRUTUS
  • Now we have shown our power, let us seem humbler.
  • SICINIUS
  • Bid them home. Say their great enemy is gone.
  • The police officer exits.
  • BRUTUS
  • Here comes his mother.
  • Volumnia, Virgilia and Menenius enter.
  • BRUTUS
  • They have ta’en note of us. Keep on your way.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • The accumulated plague o’ th’ gods reward your love!
  • MENENIUS
  • Peace. Be not so loud.
  • VOLUMNIA TO SICINIUS
  • Will you be gone? Note this fool: hadst thou animal cunning to banish him that struck more blows for Rome than thou hast spoken words?
  • SICINIUS
  • O blessed heavens!
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Bastards 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 be made.
  • BRUTUS
  • I would he had.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • “I would he had?” ‘Twas you incensed the rabble.
  • BRUTUS
  • Pray, let us go.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Now, pray, sir, get you gone. Ere you go, hear this: so far my son does exceed you all.
  • BRUTUS
  • Well, well, we’ll leave you.
  • The tribunes exit.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Take my prayers with you. I would the gods had nothing else to do but to confirm my curses.
  • MENENIUS
  • You have told them home; and, by my troth, you have cause.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 3
  • On the highway to Antium, a Roman and a Volsce enter.
  • ROMAN
  • I know you well, sir, and you know me.
  • VOLSCE
  • Truly, I have forgot you.
  • ROMAN
  • I am a Roman; and my services are, as are you, against ‘em. Know you me yet?
  • VOLSCE
  • You had more beard when I last saw you, but your favor is well appeared in your tongue. What’s the news in Rome?
  • ROMAN
  • There hath been in Rome strange insurrections: the people against the senators, patricians, and nobles.
  • VOLSCE
  • Hath been? Is it ended then? Our state thinks not so.
  • 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 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.
  • VOLSCE
  • Coriolanus banished?
  • ROMAN
  • Banished, sir.
  • VOLSCE
  • You will be welcome with this intelligence.
  • ROMAN
  • The day serves well for them now. Your noble Tullus Aufidius will appear well in these wars, Coriolanus being now in no request of his country.
  • VOLSCE
  • He cannot help appearing well. I am most fortunate, thus accidentally to encounter you.
  • ROMAN
  • I shall tell you most strange things from Rome, all tending to the good of their adversaries. Have you an army ready, say you?
  • VOLSCE
  • A most royal one, to be on foot at an hour’s warning.
  • ROMAN
  • I am joyful to her of their readiness and am the man, I think, that shall set them in present action.
  • VOLSCE
  • You take my part from me, sir. I have the most cause to be glad of yours.
  • ROMAN
  • Well, let us go together.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 4
  • Before the house of Aufidius in Antium, a disguised Coriolanus enters.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • A goodly city is this Antium. City, ‘tis I that made thy widows.
  • A citizen enters.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Save you, sir. Direct me, if it be your will, where great Aufidius lies. Is he in Antium?
  • CITIZEN
  • He is, and feasts the nobles of the state at his house this night.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Which is his house, beseech you?
  • CITIZEN
  • This, here before you.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Thank you, sir. Farewell.
  • The citizen exits.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • O world, thy slippery turns! Friends now fast sworn shall within this hour break out to bitterest enmity. So, fiercest foes 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.
  • Act 4, Scene 5
  • Music plays within the house of Aufidius. A Servingman enters.
  • FIRST SERVINGMAN
  • Wine, wine, wine!
  • Servingman exits. Coriolanus enters.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • A goodly house. The feast smells well, but I appear not like a guest.
  • First Servingman enters.
  • FIRST SERVINGMAN
  • What would you have, friend. Here’s no place for you. Pray, go to the door.
  • He exits.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • I have deserved no better entertainment, in being Coriolanus.
  • Second Servingman enters.
  • SECOND SERVINGMAN
  • Whence are you, sir? Pray, get you out.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Away!
  • SECOND SERVINGMAN
  • Are you so brave? I’ll have you talked with at once.
  • Third Servingman enters.
  • THIRD SERVINGMAN
  • What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you, avoid the house.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Let me but stand; I will not hurt your hearth.
  • THIRD SERVINGMAN
  • Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other station.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Attend to your tasks, go, and fatten up on cold bits.
  • THIRD SERVINGMAN
  • 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?
  • CORINLANUS
  • I’ th’ city of kites and crows.
  • THIRD SERVINGMAN
  • What an ass it is!
  • Coriolanus beats him away. Aufidius enters with the Second Servingman.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Where is this fellow?
  • SECOND SERVINGMAN
  • Here, sir. I’d have beaten him like a dog, but for disturbing the lords within.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Where com’st thou? Thy name? Why speak’st not? Speak, man.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Not yet thou know’st me, and seeing me, dost not think me for the man I am, necessity commands me name myself.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Say, what’s thy name. Thou hast a grim appearance, and thy face bears a command in’t. What’s thy name?
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Prepare thy brow to frown. Know’st thou me yet?
  • AUFIDIUS
  • I know thee not. Thy name?
  •  
  •  
  • Coriolanus to Aufidius
  •  
  • My name is Caius Martius, who hath
  • To thee and the Volsces offered my wrath,
  • Doing hurt and mischief, witnessed by my
  • Surname, Coriolanus. Only that
  • Name remains, having been shouted out by
  • The cruel people of Rome; forsaken at
  • The Senate. I’d avoid you if I feared
  • Death; to spite banishers have I appeared
  • Before thee. I’ll fight against my country,
  • Yet for all the credit thou doth deserve,
  • Not slaying me must stand as misery.
  • So gain thy revenge and make my death serve
  • Thy turn, since I cannot live but to thy
  • Shame, unless, for your cause, my help doth lie.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • O Martius, Martius! Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart a root of ancient envy.
  •  
  •  
  • Aufidius to Coriolanus
  •  
  • Let me twine mine arms about thy body,
  • Where against my wooden lance too many
  • Times hath broke, when its splinters scarred the moon.
  • Here I embrace the metal of my sword,
  • And plan to nobly contest with thee soon
  • As e’er I did contend ‘gainst thee, my lord.
  • Why, I tell thee, we have a power on
  • Foot, where once more my plan is to have drawn
  • Rome’s shield from its brawn, or have lost my arm
  • For’t. Ha, having dreamt of fights with you,
  • Waking half dead! O come, without alarm,
  • To meet with our friendly senators who
  • Now are planning to take their leaves from home
  • To fight against your lands, though not for Rome.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • You bless me, gods!
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Therefore, if thou wilt have the leading of thine own revenges, take th’ one half of my commission; and set down thine own ways, whether to knock against the gates of Rome, or rudely visit them in parts remote. But come in. A thousand welcomes! Your hand. Most welcome!
  • They exit. Two Servingmen enter.
  • FIRST SERVINGMAN
  • Here’s a strange alteration! What an arm he has! He turned me about with his finger and his thumb as one would set up a top.
  • SECOND SERVINGMAN
  • I knew by his face that there was something in him. I cannot tell how to term it.
  • FIRST SERVINGMAN
  • I thought there was more in him than I could think.
  • SECOND SERVINGMAN
  • So did I. He is simply the rarest man i’ th’ world.
  • FIRST SERVINGMAN
  • I think he is. But a greater soldier than he you know of.
  • SECOND SERVINGMAN
  • Who, my master?
  • FIRST SERVINGMAN
  • I take him to be the greater soldier.
  • SECOND SERVINGMAN
  • 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.
  • The third Servingman enters.
  • THIRD SERVINGMAN
  • You rascals, I can tell you news.
  • BOTH SERVINGMEN
  • What? Let’s partake.
  • THIRD SERVINGMAN
  • Why, here’s he that was wont to thwack our general, Caius Martius.
  • 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 troth on’t. But more of thy news?
  • THIRD SERVINGMAN
  • Why, he is so made on here within; no question asked him by any of the senators, but they stand bareheaded before him. Our general himself 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 pull roughly the porter of Rome gates by th’ ears.
  • SECOND SERVINGMAN
  • And he’s as like to do’t as any man I can imagine.
  • THIRD SERVINGMAN
  • Do’t? He will do’t. Look you sir, he has as many friends as enemies. He’s in directitude.
  • FIRST SERVINGMAN
  • Directitude? What’s that?
  • THIRD SERVINGMAN
  • When they shall see him, they will out of their burrows like rabbits after rain, and revel all with him.
  • FIRST SERVINGMAN
  • But when goes this forward?
  • THIRD SERVINGMAN
  • Tomorrow, today, presently.
  • SECOND SERVINGMAN
  • Why, then we shall have a stirring world again. This peace is nothing but to breed ballad-makers.
  • FIRST SERVINGMAN
  • Let me have war, say I. It exceeds peace as far as day does night. Peace is a very lethargy, a getter of more bastard children than war’s a destroyer of men.
  • SECOND SERVINGMAN
  • ‘Tis so.
  • FIRST SERVINGMAN
  • Ay, and it makes men hate one another.
  • THIRD SERVINGMAN
  • Reason: because they then less need one another. I hope to see Romans as cheap as Volscians.
  • They exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 6
  • The Tribunes enter in a public place in Rome.
  • SICINIUS
  • We hear not of him, neither need we fear him. Here do we make his friends blush that the world goes well. Behold our tradesmen singing in their shops and going about their functions friendly.
  • Menenius enters.
  • MENENIUS
  • Hail to you both!
  • SICINIUS
  • Your Coriolanus is not much missed, but with his friends.
  • MENENIUS
  • All’s well, and might have been much better if he could have compromised.
  • SICINIUS
  • Where is he, hear you?
  • MENENIUS
  • Nay, I hear nothing. His mother and his wife hear nothing from him.
  • Citizens enter.
  • CITIZENS
  • The gods preserve you both!
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees, are bound to pray for you both.
  • BRUTUS
  • Farewell, kind neighbors. We wished Coriolanus had loved you as we did.
  • The Citizens exit.
  • SICINIUS
  • This is a happier time than when these fellows ran about the streets, crying confusion.
  • BRUTUS
  • Caius Martius was a worthy officer i’ th’ war, but insolent, o’ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking.
  • MENENIUS
  • I think not so.
  • BRUTUS
  • Rome sits safe and still without him.
  • A Police officer enters.
  • POLICE OFFICER
  • Worthy tribunes, there is a slave reports the Volsces with two separate powers are entered in the Roman territories, and destroy what lies before ‘em.
  • MENENIUS
  • ‘Tis Aufidius, who, hearing of our Martius’ banishment, thrusts forth his horns again into the world.
  • SICINIUS
  • Come, what talk you of Martius?
  • BRUTUS
  • Go see this rumorer whipped. It cannot be the Volsces dare break with us.
  • MENENIUS
  • Cannot be! Reason with the fellow, where he heard this, lest you shall chance to beat the messenger who bids beware of what is to be dreaded.
  • SICINIUS
  • Tell not me. I know this cannot be.
  • BRUTUS
  • Not possible.
  • A Messenger enters.
  • 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.
  • MESSENGER
  • 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 that Martius, joined with Aufidius, leads a power ‘gainst Rome.
  • MENENIUS
  • This is unlikely. He and Aufidius can no more atone than opposite extremes.
  • Another Messenger enters.
  • 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 overcome their way, consumed with fire, and took what lay before them.
  • Cominius enters.
  • COMINIUS
  • O, you have made good work!
  • MENENIUS
  • What news?
  • COMINIUS
  • You have helped to melt the city upon your heads.
  • MENENIUS
  • What’s the news?
  • COMINIUS
  • Your temples burned in their cement, and your political rights, on which you insisted, confined into the smallest aperture.
  • MENENIUS
  • Pray you, your news? If Martius should be joined with Volscians ----
  • COMINIUS
  • He is their god. He leads them like a thing made by some other deity than nature, and they follow him against us children with no less confidence than boys pursuing summer butterflies.
  • MENENIUS
  • You have made good work, you and your apron-men!
  • COMINIUS
  • He’ll shake your Rome about your ears.
  • BRUTUS
  • But is this true, sir?
  • COMINIUS
  • Ay, and you’ll look pale before you find it other. Who is’t can blame him?
  • MENENIUS
  • We are all undone, unless the noble man have mercy.
  • COMINIUS
  • Who shall ask it? The tribunes cannot do’t for shame. 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. I have not the face to say, “Beseech you, cease.”
  • COMINIUS
  • You have brought a trembling upon Rome, such as was never so beyond help.
  • TRIBUNES
  • 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
  • Tullus Aufidius, the second name of men, obeys his directions as if he were his officer. Desperation is all the policy, strength, and defense that Rome can make against him.
  • A troop of Citizens enters.
  • MENENIUS
  • Here come the clusters. And is Aufidius with him? You are they that cast your stinking greasy caps in hooting at Coriolanus’ exile. As many fool’s caps as you threw up will he tumble down, and pay you for your voices. ‘Tis no matter. We have deserved it.
  • FIRST CITIZEN
  • For mine own part, when I said “Banish him,” I said ‘twas pity.
  • SECOND CITIZEN
  • And so did I; and to say the truth, so did very many of us. Though we willingly consented to his banishment, yet it was against our will.
  • COMINIUS
  • You’re goodly things, you voices.
  • MENENIUS
  • Shall us to the Capitol?
  • COMINIUS: O, ay, what else?
  • Menenius and Cominius exit.
  • SICINIUS
  • Go, masters, get you home; be not dismayed. 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.
  • BRUTUS
  • I do not like this news.
  • SICINIUS
  • Nor I.
  • BRUTUS
  • Let’s to the Capitol.
  • The Tribunes exit.
  • Act 4, Scene 7
  • At a camp near Rome, Aufidius and his lieutenants enter.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Do they still fly to th’ Roman?
  • LIEUTENANT
  • I do not know what witchcraft’s in him, but your soldiers use him as the grace before eating. You are eclipsed in this action, sir, even by your own.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • I cannot help it now, unless by using means I lame the foot of our design. Yet his nature is not inconstant, and I must excuse what cannot be amended.
  • LIEUTENANT
  • Yet I wish, sir, you had not joined in commission with him, but either had borne the action of yourself, or else to him had left it solely.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • I understand thee well; and be thou sure, when he shall come to his account, he knows not what I can urge against him. Although it seems that he bears all things fairly, and shows good husbandry for the Volscian state, yet he hath left undone that which shall break his neck or hazard mine, whene’er we come to our account.
  • LIEUTENANT
  • Sir, I beseech you, think you he’ll carry Rome?
  • AUFIDIUS
  • All places yield to him ere he sits down, and the nobility of Rome are his; the senators and patricians love him too. The tribunes are no soldiers, and their people will be as rash in the repeal as hasty to expel him thence.
  •  
  •  
  • Aufidius to Lieutenant
  •  
  • He was Rome’s most noble servant, but he
  • Could not carry his honors evenly.
  • Whether ‘twas one of pride, where persistent
  • Success often corrupts the fortunate
  • Man; whether ‘twas a defect in judgment
  • In failing to settle the chances that
  • He was lord of; or whether nature, not
  • Letting one be of more than one kind, caught
  • Him moving from helmet to cushion, where
  • He commanded peace with austerity
  • As he controlled war; but ‘twas one I dare
  • Than banished him. Our virtues lie in th’
  • Moment of time. When, Caius, Rome is thine,
  • Thou art poor’st of all; then thou art mine.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 1
  • Menenius, Cominius, Sicinius, Brutus and others enter in a public place in Rome.
  • MENENIUS
  • No, I’ll not go. Go, you that banished him, and crawl the way into his mercy. Nay, if he disdained to hear Cominius speak, I’ll keep at home.
  • COMINIUS
  • He would not seem to know me. Yet one time he did call me by my name. He was a kind of nothing, titleless, till he had forged himself a name out of th’ fire of burning Rome. I reminded him how royal ‘twas to pardon when it was less expected. He replied it was a mere political plea to one whom they had punished.
  • MENENIUS
  • Very well. Could he say less?
  • COMINIUS
  • I attempted to awaken his regard for his private friends. His answer to me was he could not stay to pick them in a pile of 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.
  • SICINIUS
  • Nay, pray, be patient. 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
  • Well, and say that Martius return me, as Cominius is returned, unheard --- what then? But as a discontented friend, sorrow-stricken with his unkindness? Say’t be so?
  • SICINIUS
  • Yet your good will must have that thanks from Rome, as to the extent 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 had not dined. Therefore I’ll watch him till he be fed to the point of entertaining and then I’ll set upon him.
  • BRUTUS
  • You know the very road into his kindness, and cannot lose your way.
  • MENENIUS
  • Good faith, I shall ere long have knowledge of my success.
  • He exits.
  • COMINIUS
  • He’ll never hear him.
  • SICINIUS
  • Not?
  • COMINIUS
  • I tell you, he does sit in gold, his eye red as ‘twould burn Rome. He dismissed me with his speechless hand. His noble mother and his wife mean to solicit him for mercy to his country. Therefore let’s hence, and with our fair entreaties haste them on.
  • Act 5, Scene 2
  • Menenius enters the Volscian camp before Rome.
  • FIRST WATCH
  • Whence are you?
  • SECOND WATCH
  • Stand, and go back.
  • MENENIUS
  • 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.
  • MENENIUS
  • Good my friends, if you have heard your general talk of Rome and of his friends there, my name hath touched your ears. It is Menenius.
  • FIRST WATCH
  • Be’t so; go back. The virtue of your name is not here passable.
  • MENENIUS
  • I tell thee, fellow, I have been the book of his good acts, whence men have read his fame unparalleled, haply amplified. 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. Therefore, go back. You are a Roman, are you?
  • MENENIUS
  • I am, as thy general is.
  • FIRST WATCH
  • Then you should hate Rome, as he does. Back to Rome, and prepare for your execution. You are condemned; our general has sworn you out of reprieve and pardon. Back, I say, go!
  • Coriolanus and Aufidius enter.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Now what’s the matter?
  • MENENIUS
  • Now, you fellow, I’ll say an errand for you. You shall know now that I am in estimation; you shall perceive that a knave on guard cannot officiously keep me from my son Coriolanus.
  • MENENIUS TO CORIOLANUS
  • The glorious gods sit in hourly synod about thy particular prosperity, and love thee no worse than thy old father Menenius does! The good gods assuage thy wrath, and turn the dregs of it upon this fugue here --- this, who, like a block, hath denied my access to thee.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Away!
  • MENENIUS
  • How? Away?
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs are servanted to others. That we have been familiar, your ingratitude in failing to defend me shall poison rather than pity note how much. Therefore be gone. Yet, because I loved thee, take this along. I writ it for thy sake.
  • He gives him a letter.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Another word, Menenius, I will not hear thee speak. This man, Aufidius, was my beloved in Rome; yet thou behold’st!
  • AUFIDIUS
  • You keep a constant temper.
  • They exit.
  • FIRST WATCH
  • Now, sir, is your name Menenius?
  • SECOND WATCH
  • You know the way home again.
  • FIRST WATCH
  • Do you hear how we are taken to task for keeping your greatness back?
  • MENENIUS
  • I neither care for th’ world nor your general. He that hath a will to die by himself fears it not from another. Let your general do his worst. 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 Watch exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 3
  • Coriolanus and Aufidius enter before Coriolanus’ tent.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • We will before the walls of Rome tomorrow set down our army.
  • 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.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • This last old man loved me above the measure of a father; nay, godded me indeed. Neither from the state nor private friends hereafter will I lend ear
  • A shout within.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Ha! What shout is this?
  • Virginia, Volumnia, Valeria and young Martius enter.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • 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. 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!
  • CORIOLANUS
  • These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Your knee, sirrah.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • That’s my brave boy!
  • VOLUMNIA
  • Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself are suitors to you.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Do not bid me dismiss my soldiers, or capitulate again with Rome’s mechanics.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • O, no more, no more! You have said you will not grant us anything. Hear us.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark; for we’ll hear naught from Rome in private. Your request?
  •  
  •  
  • Volumnia to Coriolanus, No. 2
  •  
  • To be silent and not speak would betray
  • The life we have led since thy exile; may
  • Prayers to our gods be our comfort. Each one
  • Of us, seeing suffering as it is,
  • Shaking with sorrow, fear seeing our son,
  • Husband and father tearing apart his
  • Country. This could be a calamity,
  • For either thou’lt be in chains, or grandly
  • Lord over the country’s destruction. If
  • I cannot persuade thee rather to show
  • Fair mercy to both parts than to seek stiff
  • Pain on one, thou shalt no sooner lay low
  • Thy country than to tread over thy wife
  • Or assault thy mother who brought thee life.
  • VIRGILIA
  • Ay, and mine, who brought you forth this boy, to keep your name living to time.
  • BOY
  • He shall not tread on me! I’ll run away till I am bigger, and then I’ll fight.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • 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.
  •  
  •  
  • Volumnia to Coriolanus, No. 3
  •  
  • Our suit is to reconcile, where you goad
  • The Volsces to say “This grace we have showed,”
  • The Romans, “This we received,” and each side
  • Give the all-hail to thee and cry “Be blest
  • For making up this peace!” Son, do not hide
  • Your eyes from me; of this be certain: lest
  • Thou conquer Rome, the benefit thou’ll reap
  • Is a lasting, curst image that will keep
  • Your name hated through ensuing ages.
  • Speak to me, son. Thou hast used thy good wit
  • To grace the gods; you’ve been one who gauges
  • Honors by refinements. Think’st thou it
  • Honorable for a noble man to
  • Vindictively right wrongs? Daughter, speak you.
  • VOLUMNIA
  • 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 chatter like one i’ th’ stocks.
  •  
  •  
  • Volumnia to Coriolanus, No. 4
  •  
  • Thou hast never in thy life showed thy dear
  • Mother any sympathy. Say my mere
  • Request is unjust, and that thy spurn me;
  • But if it be not so, thou art not just,
  • And the gods forever more will plague thee,
  • Denying a mother’s duty that must
  • Be. Let us shame him with our knees: to thee
  • Surname belongs more pride than pity.
  • Behold us! This boy, who doth kneel and cry
  • For his father, dost beg our plea, unrushed,
  • And with more strength than thou hast to deny
  • It. Come, daughter, let us go. I am hushed
  • Until we are no longer led by laws,
  • Afire; then will I speak a dying cause.
  • Coriolanus takes his mother by the hand.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • O mother, mother! What have you done? You have won a happy victory to Rome; but for your son, 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?
  • AUFIDIUS
  • I was moved withal.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • CORIOLANUS TO VOLUMNIA
  • Come, enter with us. Ladies, you deserve to have a temple built you. All the swords in Italy, and her military allies, could not have made this peace.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 4
  • Menenius and Sicinius enter on a street in Rome.
  • MENENIUS
  • See you yond cornerstone? 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.
  • SICINIUS
  • Is’t possible that so short a time can alter the condition of a man?
  • MENENIUS
  • There is difference between a grub and a butterfly; yet your butterfly was a grub. This Martius is grown from man to dragon.
  • SICINIUS
  • He loved his mother dearly.
  • MENENIUS
  • So did he me, and he no more remembers his other now than an eight-year old horse. What he bids be done is finished with his bidding. Mark what mercy his mother shall bring from him. There is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger.
  • 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.
  • A Messenger enters.
  • MESSENGER
  • Sir, the plebeians have got your fellow tribune, all swearing, if the Roman ladies bring not comfort home, they’ll give him death by inches.
  • Another Messenger enters.
  • SICINIUS
  • What’s the news?
  • MESSENGER
  • Good news, good news! The ladies have prevailed, the Volscians are dislodged, and Martius gone. A merrier day did never yet greet Rome.
  • SICINIUS
  • Art thou certain this is true? Is’t most certain?
  • MESSENGER
  • As certain as I know the sun is fire.
  • 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.
  • SICINIUS
  • Accept my thankfulness.
  • MESSENGER
  • Sir, we have all great cause to give great thanks.
  • SICINIUS
  • They are near the city?
  • MESSENGER
  • Almost at point to enter.
  • SICINIUS
  • We will meet them.
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 5
  • SENATOR
  • Behold our patroness, the life of Rome! Make triumphant fires; strew flowers before them. Cry “Welcome, ladies, welcome!”
  • ALL
  • Welcome, ladies, welcome!
  • They exit.
  • Act 5, Scene 6
  • Aufidius and attendants enter in a public place in Corioles.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Go tell the lords o’ th’ city I am here. Deliver them this paper. Having read it, bid them repair to th’ marketplace. He I accuse hath entered the city gates and intendst t’ appear before the people, hoping to purge himself with words.
  • Attendants exit. Three or four of Aufidius’ conspirators enter.
  • SECOND CONSPIRATOR
  • Most noble sir, we’ll deliver you of your great danger.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • We must proceed as we do find the people.
  • THIRD CONSPIRATOR
  • The people will remain uncertain whilst ‘twixt you there’s difference; but the fall of either makes the survivor heir of all.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • I know it
  • THIRD CONSPIRATOR
  • Sir, his stoutness when he did stand for consul, which he lost by lack of stooping ----
  • AUFIDIUS
  • 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; till at the last I seemed his follower, not partner.
  • FIRST CONSPIRATOR
  • So he did, my lord. The army marveled at it.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • At a few drops of women’s tears, which are as cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labor of our great action; therefore shall he die.
  • FIRST CONSPIRATOR
  • You had no welcomes home, but he returns splitting the air with noise.
  • THIRD CONSPIRATOR
  • Therefore, ere he express himself or move the people with what he would say, let him feel your sword, which we will second.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Say no more.
  • The Lords of the city enter.
  • ALL LORDS
  • You are most welcome home.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • I have not deserved it. But, worthy lords, have you with heed perused what I have written to you?
  • ALL
  • We have.
  • FIRST LORD
  • What faults he made before the last, I think might have found easy fines; but there to end where he was to begin admits no excuse.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • He approaches.
  • Coriolanus enters, the Commoners being with him.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Hail, lords! I am returned your soldier, still subsisting under your great command. We have made peace with no less honor to the Antiates than shame to th’ Romans.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Tell the traitor in the highest degree he hath abused your powers.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Traitor? How now?
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Ay, traitor, Martius!
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Martius?
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Ay, Martius, Caius Martius! Dost thou think I’ll grave thee with that robbery, thy stol’n name “Coriolanus” in Corioles? You lords and heads of’ th’ state, he has betrayed and given up your city Rome --- I say “your city” --- to his wife and mother, breaking his oath and resolution like a twist of rotten silk. He whined and roared away your victory, and men of heart looked wond’ring each at other.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Hear’st thou, Mars?
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Name not the god, thou boy of tears!
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Measureless liar! Your judgments, my grave lords, must give this cur the lie; and his own understanding --- who wears my stripes impressed upon him.
  • FIRST LORD
  • Peace, both, and her me speak.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • Cut me to pieces, Volsces. I fluttered your Volscians in Corioles. Alone I did it.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Why, noble lords, will you be put in mind of his blind fortune by this unholy braggart, ‘fore your own eyes and ears?
  • ALL CONSPIRATORS
  • Let him die for’t.
  • SECOND LORD
  • Peace, ho! Peace! This man is noble and his fame folds in this orb o’ th’ earth. Stop, Aufidius, and trouble not the peace.
  • CORIOLANUS
  • O that I had him, with six Aufidiuses, to use my lawful sword!
  • AUFIDIUS
  • Insolent villain!
  • The Conspirators kill Martius. Aufidius stands on him.
  • THIRD LORD
  • Tread not upon him. Masters all, be quiet! Put up your swords.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • My lords, when you shall know the great danger which this man’s life did owe you, you’ll rejoice that he is thus cut off.
  • FIRST LORD
  • Let him be regarded as the most noble corpse that ever herald did follow.
  • SECOND LORD
  • His own impatience takes from Aufidius a great part of blame. Let’s make the best of it.
  • AUFIDIUS
  • My rage is gone, and I am stuck with sorrow. Take him up. Though in this city he hath widowed and unchilded many a one, yet he shall have a noble memory.
  • They exit bearing the body of Coriolanus.

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