The Tragedy of Coriolanus
by William Shakespeare [Collins edition]
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by William Shakespeare



TITUS LARTIUS, General against the Volscians COMINIUS, General against the Volscians MENENIUS AGRIPPA, Friend to Coriolanus SICINIUS VELUTUS, Tribune of the People JUNIUS BRUTUS, Tribune of the People YOUNG MARCIUS, son to Coriolanus A ROMAN HERALD TULLUS AUFIDIUS, General of the Volscians LIEUTENANT, to Aufidius Conspirators with Aufidius A CITIZEN of Antium TWO VOLSCIAN GUARDS

VOLUMNIA, Mother to Coriolanus VIRGILIA, Wife to Coriolanus VALERIA, Friend to Virgilia GENTLEWOMAN attending on Virgilia

Roman and Volscian Senators, Patricians, Aediles, Lictors, Soldiers, Citizens, Messengers, Servants to Aufidius, and other Attendants

SCENE: Partly in Rome, and partly in the territories of the Volscians and Antiates.


SCENE I. Rome. A street.

[Enter a company of mutinous citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons.]

FIRST CITIZEN. Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.

ALL. Speak, speak.

FIRST CITIZEN. You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?

ALL. Resolved, resolved.

FIRST CITIZEN. First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.

ALL. We know't, we know't.

FIRST CITIZEN. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is't a verdict?

ALL. No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!

SECOND CITIZEN. One word, good citizens.

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

SECOND CITIZEN. Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?

FIRST CITIZEN. Against him first: he's a very dog to the commonalty.

SECOND CITIZEN. Consider you what services he has done for his country?

FIRST CITIZEN. Very well; and could be content to give him good report for't, but that he pays himself with being proud.

SECOND CITIZEN. Nay, but speak not maliciously.

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

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

FIRST CITIZEN. If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations; he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition. [Shouts within.] What shouts are these? The other side o' the city is risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!

ALL. Come, come.

FIRST CITIZEN. Soft! who comes here?

SECOND CITIZEN. Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved the people.

FIRST CITIZEN. He's one honest enough; would all the rest were so!


MENENIUS. What work's, my countrymen, in hand? where go you With bats and clubs? the matter? speak, I pray you.

FIRST CITIZEN. Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do, which now we'll show 'em in deeds. They say poor suitors have strong breaths; they shall know we have strong arms too.

MENENIUS. Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours, Will you undo yourselves?

FIRST CITIZEN. We cannot, sir; we are undone already.

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

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

MENENIUS. Either you must Confess yourselves wondrous malicious, Or be accus'd of folly. I shall tell you A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it; But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture To stale't a little more.

FIRST CITIZEN. Well, I'll hear it, sir; yet you must not think to fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, an't please you, deliver.

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

FIRST CITIZEN. Well, sir, what answer made the belly?

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

FIRST CITIZEN. Your belly's answer? What! The kingly crowned head, the vigilant eye, The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier, Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter, With other muniments and petty helps Is this our fabric, if that they,—

MENENIUS. What then?— 'Fore me, this fellow speaks!—what then? what then?

FIRST CITIZEN. Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd, Who is the sink o' the body,—

MENENIUS. Well, what then?

FIRST CITIZEN. The former agents, if they did complain, What could the belly answer?

MENENIUS. I will tell you; If you'll bestow a small,—of what you have little,— Patience awhile, you'll hear the belly's answer.

FIRST CITIZEN. You are long about it.

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

FIRST CITIZEN. Ay, sir; well, well.

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

FIRST CITIZEN. It was an answer: how apply you this?

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

FIRST CITIZEN. I the great toe? why the great toe?

MENENIUS. For that, being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest, Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost: Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run, Lead'st first to win some vantage.— But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs: Rome and her rats are at the point of battle; The one side must have bale.—


Hail, noble Marcius!

MARCIUS. Thanks.—What's the matter, you dissentious rogues That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, Make yourselves scabs?

FIRST CITIZEN. We have ever your good word.

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

MENENIUS. For corn at their own rates; whereof they say The city is well stor'd.

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

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

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

MENENIUS. What is granted them?

MARCIUS. Five tribunes, to defend their vulgar wisdoms, Of their own choice: one's Junius Brutus, Sicinius Velutus, and I know not.—'Sdeath! The rabble should have first unroof'd the city Ere so prevail'd with me: it will in time Win upon power, and throw forth greater themes For insurrection's arguing.

MENENIUS. This is strange.

MARCIUS. Go get you home, you fragments!

[Enter a MESSENGER, hastily.]

MESSENGER. Where's Caius Marcius?

MARCIUS. Here: what's the matter?

MESSENGER. The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.

MARCIUS. I am glad on't: then we shall ha' means to vent Our musty superfluity.—See, our best elders.


FIRST SENATOR. Marcius, 'tis true that you have lately told us:— The Volsces are in arms.

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

COMINIUS. You have fought together.

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

FIRST SENATOR. Then, worthy Marcius, Attend upon Cominius to these wars.

COMINIUS. It is your former promise.

MARCIUS. Sir, it is; And I am constant.—Titus Lartius, thou Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face. What, art thou stiff? stand'st out?

TITUS LARTIUS. No, Caius Marcius; I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with the other Ere stay behind this business.

MENENIUS. O, true bred!

FIRST SENATOR. Your company to the Capitol; where, I know, Our greatest friends attend us.

TITUS LARTIUS. Lead you on. Follow, Cominius; we must follow you; Right worthy your priority.

COMINIUS. Noble Marcius!

FIRST SENATOR. Hence to your homes; be gone! [To the Citizens.]

MARCIUS. Nay, let them follow: The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither To gnaw their garners.—Worshipful mutineers, Your valour puts well forth: pray follow.

[Exeunt Senators, COM., MAR, TIT., and MENEN. Citizens steal away.]

SICINIUS. Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?

BRUTUS. He has no equal.

SICINIUS. When we were chosen tribunes for the people,—

BRUTUS. Mark'd you his lip and eyes?

SICINIUS. Nay, but his taunts!

BRUTUS. Being mov'd, he will not spare to gird the gods.

SICINIUS. Bemock the modest moon.

BRUTUS. The present wars devour him: he is grown Too proud to be so valiant.

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

BRUTUS. Fame, at the which he aims,— In whom already he is well grac'd,—cannot Better be held, nor more attain'd, than by A place below the first: for what miscarries Shall be the general's fault, though he perform To th' utmost of a man; and giddy censure Will then cry out of Marcius 'O, if he Had borne the business!'

SICINIUS. Besides, if things go well, Opinion, that so sticks on Marcius, shall Of his demerits rob Cominius.

BRUTUS. Come: Half all Cominius' honours are to Marcius, Though Marcius earn'd them not; and all his faults To Marcius shall be honours, though, indeed, In aught he merit not.

SICINIUS. Let's hence and hear How the dispatch is made; and in what fashion, More than in singularity, he goes Upon this present action.

BRUTUS. Let's along.


SCENE II. Corioli. The Senate House.


FIRST SENATOR. So, your opinion is, Aufidius, That they of Rome are enter'd in our counsels And know how we proceed.

AUFIDIUS. Is it not yours? What ever have been thought on in this state, That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome Had circumvention! 'Tis not four days gone Since I heard thence; these are the words: I think I have the letter here;yes, here it is: [Reads.] 'They have pressed a power, but it is not known Whether for east or west: the dearth is great; The people mutinous: and it is rumour'd, Cominius, Marcius your old enemy,— Who is of Rome worse hated than of you,— And Titus Lartius, a most valiant Roman, These three lead on this preparation Whither 'tis bent: most likely 'tis for you: Consider of it.'

FIRST SENATOR. Our army's in the field: We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready To answer us.

AUFIDIUS. Nor did you think it folly To keep your great pretences veil'd till when They needs must show themselves; which in the hatching, It seem'd, appear'd to Rome. By the discovery We shall be shorten'd in our aim; which was, To take in many towns ere, almost, Rome Should know we were afoot.

SECOND SENATOR. Noble Aufidius, Take your commission; hie you to your bands; Let us alone to guard Corioli: If they set down before's, for the remove Bring up your army; but I think you'll find They've not prepared for us.

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

ALL. The gods assist you!

AUFIDIUS. And keep your honours safe!



ALL. Farewell.


SCENE III. Rome. An apartmnet in MARCIUS' house.

[Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA; they sit down on two low stools and sew.]

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

VIRGILIA. But had he died in the business, madam? how then?

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


GENTLEWOMAN. Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.

VIRGILIA. Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.

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

VIRGILIA. His bloody brow! O Jupiter, no blood!

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


VIRGILIA. Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!

VOLUMNIA. He'll beat Aufidius' head below his knee, And tread upon his neck.

[Re-enter GENTLEWOMAN, with VALERIA and her Usher.]

VALERIA. My ladies both, good-day to you.

VOLUMNIA. Sweet madam.

VIRGILIA. I am glad to see your ladyship.

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

VIRGILIA. I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.

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

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

VOLUMNIA. One on's father's moods.

VALERIA. Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.

VIRGILIA. A crack, madam.

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

VIRGILIA. No, good madam; I will not out of doors.

VALERIA. Not out of doors!

VOLUMNIA. She shall, she shall.

VIRGILIA. Indeed, no, by your patience; I'll not over the threshold till my lord return from the wars.

VALERIA. Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably; come, you must go visit the good lady that lies in.

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

VOLUMNIA. Why, I pray you?

VIRGILIA. 'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.

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

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

VALERIA. In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell you excellent news of your husband.

VIRGILIA. O, good madam, there can be none yet.

VALERIA. Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news from him last night.

VIRGILIA. Indeed, madam?

VALERIA. In earnest, it's true; I heard a senator speak it. Thus it is:—the Volsces have an army forth; against whom Cominius the general is gone, with one part of our Roman power: your lord and Titus Lartius are set down before their city Corioli; they nothing doubt prevailing, and to make it brief wars. This is true, on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.

VIRGILIA. Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in everything hereafter.

VOLUMNIA. Let her alone, lady; as she is now, she will but disease our better mirth.

VALERIA. In troth, I think she would.—Fare you well, then.—Come, good sweet lady.—Pr'ythee, Virgilia, turn thy solemness out o' door and go along with us.

VIRGILIA. No, at a word, madam; indeed I must not. I wish you much mirth.

VALERIA. Well then, farewell.


SCENE IV. Before Corioli.

[Enter, with drum and colours, MARCIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, Officers, and soldiers.]

MARCIUS. Yonder comes news:—a wager they have met.

LARTIUS. My horse to yours, no.

MARCIUS. 'Tis done.

LARTIUS. Agreed.

[Enter a Messenger.]

MARCIUS. Say, has our general met the enemy?

MESSENGER. They lie in view; but have not spoke as yet.

LARTIUS. So, the good horse is mine.

MARCIUS. I'll buy him of you.

LARTIUS. No, I'll nor sell nor give him: lend you him I will For half a hundred years.—Summon the town.

MARCIUS. How far off lie these armies?

MESSENGER. Within this mile and half.

MARCIUS. Then shall we hear their 'larum, and they ours.— Now, Mars, I pr'ythee, make us quick in work, That we with smoking swords may march from hence To help our fielded friends!—Come, blow thy blast.

[They sound a parley. Enter, on the Walls, some Senators and others.]

Tullus Aufidius, is he within your walls?

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

MARCIUS. O, they are at it!

LARTIUS. Their noise be our instruction.—Ladders, ho!

[The Volsces enter and pass over.]

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

[Alarums, and exeunt Romeans and Volsces fighting. Romans are beaten back to their trenches. Re-enter MARCIUS.]

MARCIUS. All the contagion of the south light on you, You shames of Rome!—you herd of—Boils and plagues Plaster you o'er, that you may be abhorr'd Farther than seen, and one infect another Against the wind a mile! You souls of geese That bear the shapes of men, how have you run From slaves that apes would beat! Pluto and hell! All hurt behind; backs red, and faces pale With flight and agued fear! Mend, and charge home, Or, by the fires of heaven, I'll leave the foe And make my wars on you: look to't: come on; If you'll stand fast we'll beat them to their wives, As they us to our trenches.

[Another alarum. The Volsces and Romans re-enter, and the fight is renewed. The Volsces retire into Corioli, and MARCIUS follows them to the gates.]

So, now the gates are ope:—now prove good seconds: 'Tis for the followers fortune widens them, Not for the fliers: mark me, and do the like.

[He enters the gates]

FIRST SOLDIER. Fool-hardiness: not I.


[MARCIUS is shut in.]

FIRST SOLDIER. See, they have shut him in.

ALL. To th' pot, I warrant him.

[Alarum continues]


LARTIUS. What is become of Marcius?

ALL. Slain, sir, doubtless.

FIRST SOLDIER. Following the fliers at the very heels, With them he enters; who, upon the sudden, Clapp'd-to their gates: he is himself alone, To answer all the city.

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

[Re-enter MARCIUS, bleeding, assaulted by the enemy.]


LARTIUS. O, 'tis Marcius! Let's fetch him off, or make remain alike.

[They fight, and all enter the city.]

SCENE V. Within Corioli. A street.

[Enter certain Romans, with spoils.]

FIRST ROMAN. This will I carry to Rome.


THIRD ROMAN. A murrain on't! I took this for silver.

[Alarum continues still afar off.]

[Enter MARCIUS and TITUS LARTIUS with a trumpet.]

MARCIUS. See here these movers that do prize their hours At a crack'd drachma! Cushions, leaden spoons, Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves, Ere yet the fight be done, pack up:—down with them!— And hark, what noise the general makes!—To him!— There is the man of my soul's hate, Aufidius, Piercing our Romans; then, valiant Titus, take Convenient numbers to make good the city; Whilst I, with those that have the spirit, will haste To help Cominius.

LARTIUS. Worthy sir, thou bleed'st; Thy exercise hath been too violent For a second course of fight.

MARCIUS. Sir, praise me not; My work hath yet not warm'd me: fare you well; The blood I drop is rather physical Than dangerous to me: to Aufidius thus I will appear, and fight.

LARTIUS. Now the fair goddess, Fortune, Fall deep in love with thee; and her great charms Misguide thy opposers' swords! Bold gentleman, Prosperity be thy page!

MARCIUS. Thy friend no less Than those she placeth highest!—So farewell.

LARTIUS. Thou worthiest Marcius!—


Go, sound thy trumpet in the market-place; Call thither all the officers o' the town, Where they shall know our mind: away!


SCENE VI. Near the camp of COMINIUS.

[Enter COMINIUS and Foreces, retreating.]

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 charg'd again. Whiles we have struck, By interims and conveying gusts we have heard The charges of our friends. The Roman gods, Lead their successes as we wish our own, That both our powers, with smiling fronts encountering, May give you thankful sacrifice!—


Thy news?

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

COMINIUS. Though thou speak'st truth, Methinks thou speak'st not well. How long is't since?

MESSENGER. Above an hour, my lord.

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

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

COMINIUS. Who's yonder, That does appear as he were flay'd? O gods! He has the stamp of Marcius; and I have Before-time seen him thus.

MARCIUS. [Within.] Come I too late?

COMINIUS. The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabor More than I know the sound of Marcius' tongue From every meaner man.

[Enter MARCIUS.]

MARCIUS. Come I too late?

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

MARCIUS. O! let me clip ye In arms as sound as when I woo'd; in heart As merry as when our nuptial day was done, And tapers burn'd to bedward.

COMINIUS. Flower of warriors, How is't with Titus Lartius?

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

COMINIUS. Where is that slave Which told me they had beat you to your trenches? Where's he? call him hither.

MARCIUS. Let him alone; He did inform the truth: but for our gentlemen, The common file,—a plague!—tribunes for them!— The mouse ne'er shunned the cat as they did budge From rascals worse than they.

COMINIUS. But how prevail'd you?

MARCIUS. Will the time serve to tell? I do not think. Where is the enemy? are you lords o' the field? If not, why cease you till you are so?

COMINIUS. Marcius, We have at disadvantage fought, and did Retire, to win our purpose.

MARCIUS. How lies their battle? know you on which side They have placed their men of trust?

COMINIUS. As I guess, Marcius, Their bands in the vaward are the Antiates, Of their best trust; o'er them Aufidius, Their very heart of hope.

MARCIUS. I do beseech you, By all the battles wherein we have fought, By the blood we have shed together, by the vows We have made to endure friends, that you directly Set me against Aufidius and his Antiates; And that you not delay the present, but, Filling the air with swords advanc'd and darts, We prove this very hour.

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

MARCIUS. Those are they That most are willing.—If any such be here,— As it were sin to doubt,—that love this painting Wherein you see me smear'd; if any fear Lesser his person than an ill report; If any think brave death outweighs bad life, And that his country's dearer than himself; Let him alone, or so many so minded, Wave thus [waving his hand], to express his disposition, And follow Marcius.

[They all shout and wave their swords; take him up in their arms and cast up their caps.]

O, me alone! Make you a sword of me? If these shows be not outward, which of you But is four Volsces? none of you but is Able to bear against the great Aufidius A shield as hard as his. A certain number, Though thanks to all, must I select from all: the rest Shall bear the business in some other fight, As cause will be obey'd. Please you to march; And four shall quickly draw out my command, Which men are best inclin'd.

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


SCENE VII. The gates of Corioli.

[TITUS LARTIUS, having set a guard upon Corioli, going with drum and trumpet toward COMINIUS and CAIUS MARCIUS, enters with a LIEUTENANT, a party of Soldiers, and a Scout.]

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

LIEUTENANT. Fear not our care, sir.

LARTIUS. Hence, and shut your gates upon's.— Our guider, come; to the Roman camp conduct us.


SCENE VIII. A field of battle between the Roman and the Volscian camps.

[Alarum. Enter, from opposite sides, MARCIUS and AUFIDIUS.]

MARCIUS. I'll fight with none but thee, for I do hate thee Worse than a promise-breaker.

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

MARCIUS. Let the first budger die the other's slave, And the gods doom him after!

AUFIDIUS. If I fly, Marcius, Halloo me like a hare.

MARCIUS. Within these three hours, Tullus, Alone I fought in your Corioli walls, And made what work I pleas'd: 'tis not my blood Wherein thou seest me mask'd: for thy revenge Wrench up thy power to the highest.

AUFIDIUS. Wert thou the Hector That was the whip of your bragg'd progeny, Thou shouldst not scape me here.—

[They fight, and certain Volsces come to the aid of AUFIDIUS.]

Officious, and not valiant,—you have sham'd me In your condemned seconds.

[Exeunt fighting, driven in by MAR.]

SCENE IX. The Roman camp.

[Alarum. A retreat is sounded. Flourish. Enter, at one side, COMINIUS and Romans; at the other side, MARCIUS, with his arm in a scarf, and other Romans.]

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 great patricians shall attend, and shrug, I' the end admire; where ladies shall be frighted And, gladly quak'd, hear more; where the dull tribunes, That, with the fusty plebeians, hate thine honours, Shall say, against their hearts 'We thank the gods Our Rome hath such a soldier.' Yet cam'st thou to a morsel of this feast, Having fully dined before.

[Enter TITUS LARTIUS, with his power, from the pursuit.]

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

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

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

MARCIUS. I have some wounds upon me, and they smart To hear themselves remember'd.

COMINIUS. Should they not, Well might they fester 'gainst ingratitude, And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses,— Whereof we have ta'en good, and good store,—of all The treasure in this field achiev'd and city, We render you the tenth; to be ta'en forth Before the common distribution at Your only choice.

MARCIUS. I thank you, general, But cannot make my heart consent to take A bribe to pay my sword: I do refuse it; And stand upon my common part with those That have beheld the doing.

[A long flourish. They all cry 'Marcius, Marcius!', cast up their caps and lances. COMINIUS and LARTIUS stand bare.]

May these same instruments which you profane Never sound more! When drums and trumpets shall I' the field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be Made all of false-fac'd soothing. When steel grows soft as the parasite's silk, Let him be made a coverture for the wars. No more, I say! for that I have not wash'd My nose that bled, or foil'd some debile wretch,— Which, without note, here's many else have done,— You shout me forth in acclamations hyperbolical; As if I loved my little should be dieted In praises sauc'd with lies.

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

[Flourish. Trumpets sound, and drums]

ALL. Caius Marcius Coriolanus!

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

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

LARTIUS. I shall, my lord.

CORIOLANUS. The gods begin to mock me. I, that now Refus'd 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 Corioli At a poor man's house; he used me kindly: He cried to me; I saw him prisoner; But then Aufidius was within my view, And wrath o'erwhelmed my pity: I request you To give my poor host freedom.

COMINIUS. O, well begg'd! Were he the butcher of my son, he should Be free as is the wind. Deliver him, Titus.

LARTIUS. Marcius, his name?

CORIOLANUS. By Jupiter, forgot:— I am weary; yea, my memory is tir'd.— Have we no wine here?

COMINIUS. Go we to our tent: The blood upon your visage dries; 'tis time It should be look'd to: come.


SCENE X. The camp of the Volsces.

[A flourish. Cornets. Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, bloody, with two or three soldiers.]

AUFIDIUS. The town is ta'en.

FIRST SOLDIER. 'Twill be delivered back on good condition.

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

FIRST SOLDIER. He's the devil.

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

FIRST SOLDIER. Will not you go?

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

FIRST SOLDIER. I shall, sir.



SCENE I. Rome. A public place


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 Marcius.

SICINIUS. Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.

MENENIUS. Pray you, who does the wolf love?

SICINIUS. The lamb.

MENENIUS. Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians would the noble Marcius.

BRUTUS. He's a lamb indeed, that baas like a bear.

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


MENENIUS. In what enormity is Marcius poor in, that you two have not in abundance?

BRUTUS. He's poor in no one fault, but stored with all.

SICINIUS. Especially in pride.

BRUTUS. And topping all others in boasting.

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

BOTH TRIBUNES. Why, how are we censured?

MENENIUS. Because you talk of pride now,—will you not be angry?

BOTH TRIBUNES. Well, well, sir, well.

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

BRUTUS. We do it not alone, sir.

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

BOTH TRIBUNES. What then, sir?

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

SICINIUS. Menenius, you are known well enough too.

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

BRUTUS. Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.

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

BRUTUS. Come, come, you are well understood to be a perfecter giber for the table than a necessary bencher in the Capitol.

MENENIUS. Our very priests must become mockers if they shall encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When you speak best unto the purpose, it is not worth the wagging of your beards; and your beards deserve not so honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's cushion or to be entombed in an ass's pack-saddle. Yet you must be saying, Marcius is proud; who, in a cheap estimation, is worth all your predecessors since Deucalion; though peradventure some of the best of 'em were hereditary hangmen. God-den to your worships: more of your conversation would infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly plebeians: I will be bold to take my leave of you.

[BRUTUS and SICINIUS retire.]


How now, my as fair as noble ladies,—and the moon, were she earthly, no nobler,—whither do you follow your eyes so fast?

VOLUMNIA. Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; for the love of Juno, let's go.

MENENIUS. Ha! Marcius coming home!

VOLUMNIA. Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous approbation.

MENENIUS. Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee.—Hoo! Marcius coming home!

VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA. Nay, 'tis true.

VOLUMNIA. 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. I will make my very house reel to-night.—A letter for me?

VIRGILIA. Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw it.

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

VIRGILIA. O, no, no, no.

VOLUMNIA. O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for't.

MENENIUS. So do I too, if it be not too much.—Brings a victory in his pocket?—The wounds become him.

VOLUMNIA. On's brows: Menenius, he comes the third time home with the oaken garland.

MENENIUS. Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?

VOLUMNIA. Titus Lartius writes,—they fought together, but Aufidius got off.

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

VOLUMNIA. Good ladies, let's go.—Yes, yes, yes; the Senate has letters from the general, wherein he gives my son the whole name of the war: he hath in this action outdone his former deeds doubly.

VALERIA. In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.

MENENIUS. Wondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not without his true purchasing.

VIRGILIA. The gods grant them true!

VOLUMNIA. True! pow, wow.

MENENIUS. True! I'll be sworn they are true. Where is he wounded?—[To the TRIBUNES, who come forward.] God save your good worships! Marcius is coming home; he has more cause to be proud.—Where is he wounded?

VOLUMNIA. I' the shoulder and i' the left arm; there will be large cicatrices to show the people when he shall stand for his place. He received in the repulse of Tarquin seven hurts i' the body.

MENENIUS. One i' the neck and two i' the thigh,—there's nine that I know.

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

MENENIUS. Now it's twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy's grave. [A shout and flourish.] Hark! the trumpets.

VOLUMNIA. These are the ushers of Marcius: before him He carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears; Death, that dark spirit, in's nervy arm doth lie; Which, being advanc'd, declines, and then men die.

[A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter COMINIUS and TITUS LARTIUS; between them, CORIOLANUS, crowned with an oaken garland; with CAPTAINS and Soldiers and a HERALD.]

HERALD. Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight Within Corioli gates: where he hath won, With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these In honour follows Coriolanus:— Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!


ALL. Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!

CORIOLANUS. No more of this, it does offend my heart; Pray now, no more.

COMINIUS. Look, sir, your mother!

CORIOLANUS. O, You have, I know, petition'd all the gods For my prosperity!


VOLUMNIA. Nay, my good soldier, up; My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and By deed-achieving honour newly nam'd,— What is it?—Coriolanus must I call thee? But, O, thy wife!

CORIOLANUS. My gracious silence, hail! Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home, That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear, Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear, And mothers that lack sons.

MENENIUS. Now the gods crown thee!

CORIOLANUS. And live you yet? [To VALERIA]—O my sweet lady, pardon.

VOLUMNIA. I know not where to turn.—O, welcome home;—and welcome, general;—and you are welcome all.

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

COMINIUS. Ever right.

CORIOLANUS. Menenius ever, ever.

HERALD. Give way there, and go on!

CORIOLANUS. [To his wife and mother.] Your hand, and yours: Ere in our own house I do shade my head, The good patricians must be visited; From whom I have receiv'd not only greetings, But with them change of honours.

VOLUMNIA. I have lived To see inherited my very wishes, And the buildings of my fancy; only There's one thing wanting, which I doubt not but Our Rome will cast upon thee.

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

COMINIUS. On, to the Capitol.

[Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before. The tribunes remain.]

BRUTUS. All tongues speak of him and the bleared sights Are spectacled to see him: your prattling nurse Into a rapture lets her baby cry While she chats him: the kitchen malkin pins Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck, Clamb'ring the walls to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows, Are smother'd up, leads fill'd and ridges hors'd With variable complexions; all agreeing In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens Do press among the popular throngs, and puff To win a vulgar station: our veil'd dames Commit the war of white and damask, in Their nicely gawded cheeks, to the wanton spoil Of Phoebus' burning kisses; such a pother, As if that whatsoever god who leads him Were slily crept into his human powers, And gave him graceful posture.

SICINIUS. On the sudden I warrant him consul.

BRUTUS. Then our office may During his power go sleep.

SICINIUS. He cannot temp'rately transport his honours From where he should begin and end; but will Lose those he hath won.

BRUTUS. In that there's comfort.

SICINIUS. Doubt not the commoners, for whom we stand, But they, upon their ancient malice will forget, With the least cause these his new honours; which That he will give them make as little question As he is proud to do't.

BRUTUS. I heard him swear, Were he to stand for consul, never would he Appear i' the market-place, nor on him put The napless vesture of humility; Nor, showing, as the manner is, his wounds To the people, beg their stinking breaths.

SICINIUS. 'Tis right.

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

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

BRUTUS. 'Tis most like he will.

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

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

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


BRUTUS. What's the matter?

MESSENGER. You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought That Marcius 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 handkerchers, Upon him as he pass'd; the nobles bended As to Jove's statue; and the commons made A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts: I never saw the like.

BRUTUS. Let's to the Capitol; And carry with us ears and eyes for the time, But hearts for the event.

SICINIUS. Have with you.


SCENE II. Rome. The Capitol.

[Enter two OFFICERS, to lay cushions.]

FIRST OFFICER. Come, come; they are almost here. How many stand for consulships?

SECOND OFFICER. Three, they say; but 'tis thought of every one Coriolanus will carry it.

FIRST OFFICER. That's a brave fellow; but he's vengeance proud and loves not the common people.

SECOND OFFICER. Faith, there have been many great men that have flattered the people, who ne'er loved them; and there be many that they have loved, they know not wherefore; so that, if they love they know not why, they hate upon no better a ground: therefore, for Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate him manifests the true knowledge he has in their disposition; and, out of his noble carelessness, lets them plainly see't.

FIRST OFFICER. If he did not care whether he had their love or no, he waved indifferently 'twixt doing them neither good nor harm; but he seeks their hate with greater devotion than they can render it him; and leaves nothing undone that may fully discover him their opposite. Now to seem to affect the malice and displeasure of the people is as bad as that which he dislikes,—to flatter them for their love.

SECOND OFFICER. He hath deserved worthily of his country: and his ascent is not by such easy degrees as those who, having been supple and courteous to the people, bonnetted, without any further deed to have them at all, into their estimation and report: but he hath so planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions in their hearts, that for their tongues to be silent, and not confess so much, were a kind of ingrateful injury; to report otherwise were a malice that, giving itself the lie, would pluck reproof and rebuke from every ear that heard it.

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

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

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

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

FIRST SENATOR. Speak, good Cominius: Leave nothing out for length, and make us think Rather our state's defective for requital Than we to stretch it out.—Masters o' the people, We do request your kindest ears; and, after, Your loving motion toward the common body, To yield what passes here.

SICINIUS. We are convented Upon a pleasing treaty; and have hearts Inclinable to honour and advance The theme of our assembly.

BRUTUS. Which the rather We shall be bless'd to do, if he remember A kinder value of the people than He hath hereto priz'd them at.

MENENIUS. That's off, that's off; I would you rather had been silent. Please you To hear Cominius speak?

BRUTUS. Most willingly. But yet my caution was more pertinent Than the rebuke you give it.

MENENIUS. He loves your people; But tie him not to be their bedfellow.— Worthy Cominius, speak.

[CORIOLANUS rises, and offers to go away.]

Nay, keep your place.

FIRST SENATOR. Sit, Coriolanus; never shame to hear What you have nobly done.

CORIOLANUS. Your Honours' pardon: I had rather have my wounds to heal again Than hear say how I got them.

BRUTUS. Sir, I hope My words disbench'd you not.

CORIOLANUS. No, sir; yet oft, When blows have made me stay, I fled from words. You sooth'd not, therefore hurt not: but your people, I love them as they weigh.

MENENIUS. Pray now, sit down.

CORIOLANUS. I had rather have one scratch my head i' the sun When the alarum were struck, than idly sit To hear my nothings monster'd.


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

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

MENENIUS. Worthy man!

FIRST SENATOR. He cannot but with measure fit the honours Which we devise him.

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

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

FIRST SENATOR. Call Coriolanus.

OFFICER. He doth appear.

[Re-enter CORIOLANUS.]

MENENIUS. The Senate, Coriolanus, are well pleas'd To make thee consul.

CORIOLANUS. I do owe them still My life and services.

MENENIUS. It then remains That you do speak to the people.

CORIOLANUS. I do beseech you Let me o'erleap that custom; for I cannot Put on the gown, stand naked, and entreat them, For my wounds' sake to give their suffrage: please you That I may pass this doing.

SICINIUS. Sir, the people Must have their voices; neither will they bate One jot of ceremony.

MENENIUS. Put them not to't:— Pray you, go fit you to the custom; and Take to you, as your predecessors have, Your honour with your form.

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

BRUTUS. Mark you that?

CORIOLANUS. To brag unto them,—thus I did, and thus;— Show them the unaching scars which I should hide, As if I had receiv'd them for the hire Of their breath only!

MENENIUS. Do not stand upon't.— We recommend to you, tribunes of the people, Our purpose to them;—and to our noble consul Wish we all joy and honour.

SENATORS. To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!

[Flourish. Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS.]

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

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

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


SCENE III. Rome. The Forum.

[Enter several citizens.]

FIRST CITIZEN. Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.

SECOND CITIZEN. We may, sir, if we will.

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

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

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

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

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

SECOND CITIZEN. Why that way?

THIRD CITIZEN. To lose itself in a fog; where being three parts melted away with rotten dews, the fourth would return for conscience' sake, to help to get thee a wife.

SECOND CITIZEN. You are never without your tricks:—you may, you may.

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

ALL. Content, content.



MENENIUS. O sir, you are not right; have you not known The worthiest men have done't!

CORIOLANUS. What must I say?— 'I pray, sir'—Plague upon't! I cannot bring My tongue to such a pace.—'Look, sir,—my wounds;— I got them in my country's service, when Some certain of your brethren roar'd, and ran From the noise of our own drums.'

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

CORIOLANUS. Think upon me! Hang 'em! I would they would forget me, like the virtues Which our divines lose by 'em.

MENENIUS. You'll mar all: I'll leave you. Pray you speak to 'em, I pray you, In wholesome manner.

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


So, here comes a brace:

[Re-enter two citizens.]

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

FIRST CITIZEN. We do, sir; tell us what hath brought you to't.

CORIOLANUS. Mine own desert.

SECOND CITIZEN. Your own desert?

CORIOLANUS. Ay, not mine own desire.

FIRST CITIZEN. How! not your own desire!

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

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

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

FIRST CITIZEN. The price is to ask it kindly.

CORIOLANUS. Kindly! sir, I pray, let me ha't: I have wounds to show you, which shall be yours in private.—Your good voice, sir; what say you?

SECOND CITIZEN. You shall ha' it, worthy sir.

CORIOLANUS. A match, sir.—There's in all two worthy voices begg'd.—I have your alms: adieu.

FIRST CITIZEN. But this is something odd.

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

[Exeunt two citizens.]

[Re-enter other two citizens.]

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

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

CORIOLANUS. Your enigma?

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

CORIOLANUS. You should account me the more virtuous, that I have not been common in my love. I will, sir, flatter my sworn brother, the people, to earn a dearer estimation of them; 'tis a condition they account gentle: and since the wisdom of their choice is rather to have my hat than my heart, I will practise the insinuating nod and be off to them most counterfeitly: that is, sir, I will counterfeit the bewitchment of some popular man and give it bountifully to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you, I may be consul.

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

THIRD CITIZEN. You have received many wounds for your country.

CORIOLANUS. I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.

BOTH CITIZENS. The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!

[Exeunt citizens.]

CORIOLANUS. Most sweet voices!— Better it is to die, better to starve, Than crave the hire which first we do deserve. Why in this wolvish toge should I stand here, To beg of Hob and Dick that do appear, Their needless vouches? custom calls me to't:— What custom wills, in all things should we do't, The dust on antique time would lie unswept, And mountainous error be too highly heap'd For truth to o'erpeer. Rather than fool it so, Let the high office and the honour go To one that would do thus.—I am half through; The one part suffer'd, the other will I do. Here come more voices.

[Re-enter other three citizens.]

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

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

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

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


CORIOLANUS. Worthy voices!

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

MENENIUS. You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes Endue you with the people's voice:—remains That, in the official marks invested, you Anon do meet the senate.

CORIOLANUS. Is this done?

SICINIUS. The custom of request you have discharg'd: The people do admit you; and are summon'd To meet anon, upon your approbation.

CORIOLANUS. Where? at the senate-house?

SICINIUS. There, Coriolanus.

CORIOLANUS. May I change these garments?

SICINIUS. You may, sir.

CORIOLANUS. That I'll straight do; and, knowing myself again, Repair to the senate-house.

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

BRUTUS. We stay here for the people.

SICINIUS. Fare you well.


He has it now; and by his looks methinks 'Tis warm at his heart.

BRUTUS. With a proud heart he wore his humble weeds. Will you dismiss the people?

[Re-enter citizens.]

SICINIUS. How now, my masters! have you chose this man?

FIRST CITIZEN. He has our voices, sir.

BRUTUS. We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.

SECOND CITIZEN. Amen, sir:—to my poor unworthy notice, He mocked us when he begg'd our voices.

THIRD CITIZEN. Certainly; He flouted us downright.

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

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

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

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

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

SICINIUS. Why either were you ignorant to see't? Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness To yield your voices?

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

SICINIUS. Thus to have said, As you were fore-advis'd, had touch'd his spirit And tried his inclination; from him pluck'd Either his gracious promise, which you might, As cause had call'd you up, have held him to; Or else it would have gall'd his surly nature, Which easily endures not article Tying him to aught; so, putting him to rage, You should have ta'en the advantage of his choler And pass'd him unelected.

BRUTUS. Did you perceive He did solicit you in free contempt When he did need your loves; and do you think That his contempt shall not be bruising to you When he hath power to crush? Why, had your bodies No heart among you? Or had you tongues to cry Against the rectorship of judgment?

SICINIUS. Have you Ere now denied the asker, and now again, Of him that did not ask but mock, bestow Your su'd-for tongues?

THIRD CITIZEN. He's not confirm'd: we may deny him yet.

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

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

BRUTUS. Get you hence instantly; and tell those friends They have chose a consul that will from them take Their liberties, make them of no more voice Than dogs, that are as often beat for barking As therefore kept to do so.

SICINIUS. Let them assemble; And, on a safer judgment, all revoke Your ignorant election: enforce his pride And his old hate unto you: besides, forget not With what contempt he wore the humble weed; How in his suit he scorn'd you: but your loves, Thinking upon his services, took from you Th' apprehension of his present portance, Which, most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion After the inveterate hate he bears you.

BRUTUS. Lay A fault on us, your tribunes; that we labour'd,— No impediment between,—but that you must Cast your election on him.

SICINIUS. Say you chose him More after our commandment than as guided By your own true affections; and that your minds, Pre-occupied with what you rather must do Than what you should, made you against the grain To voice him consul. Lay the fault on us.

BRUTUS. Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you, How youngly he began to serve his country, How long continued: and what stock he springs of— The noble house o' the Marcians; from whence came That Ancus Marcius, Numa's daughter's son, Who, after great Hostilius, here was king; Of the same house Publius and Quintus were, That our best water brought by conduits hither; And Censorinus, darling of the people, And nobly nam'd so, twice being censor, Was his great ancestor.

SICINIUS. One thus descended, That hath beside well in his person wrought To be set high in place, we did commend To your remembrances: but you have found, Scaling his present bearing with his past, That he's your fixed enemy, and revoke Your sudden approbation.

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

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


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

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



SCENE I. Rome. A street

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

CORIOLANUS. Tullus Aufidius, then, had made new head?

LARTIUS. He had, my lord; and that it was which caus'd Our swifter composition.

CORIOLANUS. So then the Volsces stand but as at first; Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road Upon's again.

COMINIUS. They are worn, lord consul, so That we shall hardly in our ages see Their banners wave again.

CORIOLANUS. Saw you Aufidius?

LARTIUS. On safeguard he came to me; and did curse Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely Yielded the town; he is retir'd to Antium.

CORIOLANUS. Spoke he of me?

LARTIUS. He did, my lord.


LARTIUS. How often he had met you, sword to sword; That of all things upon the earth he hated Your person most; that he would pawn his fortunes To hopeless restitution, so he might Be call'd your vanquisher.

CORIOLANUS. At Antium lives he?

LARTIUS. At Antium.

CORIOLANUS. I wish I had a cause to seek him there, To oppose his hatred fully.—Welcome home. [To Laertes.]


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

SICINIUS. Pass no further.

CORIOLANUS. Ha! what is that?

BRUTUS. It will be dangerous to go on: no further.

CORIOLANUS. What makes this change?

MENENIUS. The matter?

COMINIUS. Hath he not pass'd the noble and the commons?

BRUTUS. Cominius, no.

CORIOLANUS. Have I had children's voices?

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

BRUTUS. The people are incens'd against him.

SICINIUS. Stop, Or all will fall in broil.

CORIOLANUS. Are these your herd?— Must these have voices, that can yield them now, And straight disclaim their tongues?—What are your offices? You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth? Have you not set them on?

MENENIUS. Be calm, be calm.

CORIOLANUS. It is a purpos'd thing, and grows by plot, To curb the will of the nobility: Suffer't, and live with such as cannot rule, Nor ever will be rul'd.

BRUTUS. Call't not a plot: The people cry you mock'd them; and of late, When corn was given them gratis, you repin'd; Scandal'd the suppliants for the people,—call'd them Time-pleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.

CORIOLANUS. Why, this was known before.

BRUTUS. Not to them all.

CORIOLANUS. Have you inform'd them sithence?

BRUTUS. How! I inform them!

COMINIUS. You are like to do such business.

BRUTUS. Not unlike, Each way, to better yours.

CORIOLANUS. Why, then, should I be consul? By yond clouds, Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me Your fellow tribune.

SICINIUS. You show too much of that For which the people stir: if you will pass To where you are bound, you must inquire your way, Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit; Or never be so noble as a consul, Nor yoke with him for tribune.

MENENIUS. Let's be calm.

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

CORIOLANUS. Tell me of corn! This was my speech, and I will speak't again,—

MENENIUS. Not now, not now.

FIRST SENATOR. Not in this heat, sir, now.

CORIOLANUS. Now, as I live, I will.—My nobler friends, I crave their pardons: For the mutable, rank-scented many, let them Regard me as I do not flatter, and Therein behold themselves: I say again, In soothing them we nourish 'gainst our senate The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition, Which we ourselves have plough'd for, sow'd, and scatter'd, By mingling them with us, the honour'd number, Who lack not virtue, no, nor power, but that Which they have given to beggars.

MENENIUS. Well, no more.

FIRST SENATOR. No more words, we beseech you.

CORIOLANUS. How! no more! As for my country I have shed my blood, Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs Coin words till their decay against those measles Which we disdain should tetter us, yet sought The very way to catch them.

BRUTUS. You speak o' the people As if you were a god, to punish, not A man of their infirmity.

SICINIUS. 'Twere well We let the people know't.

MENENIUS. What, what? his choler?

CORIOLANUS. Choler! Were I as patient as the midnight sleep, By Jove, 'twould be my mind!

SICINIUS. It is a mind That shall remain a poison where it is, Not poison any further.

CORIOLANUS. Shall remain!— Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you His absolute 'shall'?

COMINIUS. 'Twas from the canon.

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

COMINIUS. Well, on to the market-place.

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

MENENIUS. Well, well, no more of that.

CORIOLANUS. Though there the people had more absolute power,— I say they nourish'd disobedience, fed The ruin of the state.

BRUTUS. Why shall the people give One that speaks thus their voice?

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

MENENIUS. Come, enough.

BRUTUS. Enough, with over-measure.

CORIOLANUS. No, take more: What may be sworn by, both divine and human, Seal what I end withal!—This double worship,— Where one part does disdain with cause, the other Insult without all reason; where gentry, title, wisdom, Cannot conclude but by the yea and no Of general ignorance—it must omit Real necessities, and give way the while To unstable slightness: purpose so barr'd, it follows, Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore, beseech you,— You that will be less fearful than discreet; That love the fundamental part of state More than you doubt the change on't; that prefer A noble life before a long, and wish To jump a body with a dangerous physic That's sure of death without it,—at once pluck out The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick The sweet which is their poison: your dishonour Mangles true judgment, and bereaves the state Of that integrity which should become't; Not having the power to do the good it would, For the ill which doth control't.

BRUTUS. Has said enough.

SICINIUS. Has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer As traitors do.

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

BRUTUS. Manifest treason!

SICINIUS. This a consul? no.

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

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

CORIOLANUS. Hence, old goat!

SENATORS and PATRICIANS. We'll surety him.

COMINIUS. Aged sir, hands off.

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

SICINIUS. Help, ye citizens!

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

MENENIUS. On both sides more respect.

SICINIUS. Here's he that would take from you all your power.

BRUTUS. Seize him, aediles.

PLEBEIANS. Down with him! down with him!

SECOND SENATOR. Weapons, weapons, weapons!

[They all bustle about CORIOLANUS.]

Tribunes! patricians! citizens!—What, ho!— Sicinius, Brutus, Coriolanus, Citizens! CITIZENS. Peace, peace, peace; stay, hold, peace!

MENENIUS. What is about to be?—I am out of breath; Confusion's near: I cannot speak.—You tribunes To the people,—Coriolanus, patience:— Speak, good Sicinius.

SICINIUS. Hear me, people: peace!

CITIZENS. Let's hear our tribune: peace!— Speak, speak, speak.

SICINIUS. You are at point to lose your liberties; Marcius would have all from you; Marcius, Whom late you have nam'd for consul.

MENENIUS. Fie, fie, fie! This is the way to kindle, not to quench.

FIRST SENATOR. To unbuild the city, and to lay all flat.

SICINIUS. What is the city but the people? CITIZENS. True, The people are the city.

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

CITIZENS. You so remain.

MENENIUS. And so are like to do.

COMINIUS. That is the way to lay the city flat; To bring the roof to the foundation, And bury all which yet distinctly ranges, In heaps and piles of ruin.

SICINIUS. This deserves death.

BRUTUS. Or let us stand to our authority, Or let us lose it.—We do here pronounce, Upon the part o' the people, in whose power We were elected theirs, Marcius is worthy Of present death.

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

BRUTUS. Aediles, seize him!

CITIZENS. Yield, Marcius, yield!

MENENIUS. Hear me one word; Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.

AEDILES. Peace, peace!

MENENIUS. Be that you seem, truly your country's friends, And temperately proceed to what you would Thus violently redress.

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

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

MENENIUS. Down with that sword!—Tribunes, withdraw awhile.

BRUTUS. Lay hands upon him.

MENENIUS. Help Marcius, help, You that be noble; help him, young and old!

CITIZENS. Down with him, down with him!

[In this mutiny the TRIBUNES, the AEDILES, and the people are beat in.]

MENENIUS. Go, get you to your house; be gone, away! All will be nought else.

SECOND SENATOR. Get you gone.

CORIOLANUS. Stand fast; We have as many friends as enemies.

MENENIUS. Shall it be put to that?

FIRST SENATOR. The gods forbid: I pr'ythee, noble friend, home to thy house; Leave us to cure this cause.

MENENIUS. For 'tis a sore upon us You cannot tent yourself; be gone, beseech you.

COMINIUS. Come, sir, along with us.

CORIOLANUS. I would they were barbarians,—as they are, Though in Rome litter'd,—not Romans,—as they are not, Though calv'd i' the porch o' the Capitol.

MENENIUS. Be gone; Put not your worthy rage into your tongue; One time will owe another.

CORIOLANUS. On fair ground I could beat forty of them.

MENENIUS. I could myself Take up a brace o' the best of them; yea, the two tribunes.

COMINIUS. But now 'tis odds beyond arithmetic; And manhood is call'd foolery when it stands Against a falling fabric.—Will you hence, Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend Like interrupted waters, and o'erbear What they are used to bear.

MENENIUS. Pray you be gone: I'll try whether my old wit be in request With those that have but little: this must be patch'd With cloth of any colour.

COMINIUS. Nay, come away.

[Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, and others.]

FIRST PATRICIAN. This man has marr'd his fortune.

MENENIUS. His nature is too noble for the world: He would not flatter Neptune for his trident, Or Jove for's power to thunder. His heart's his mouth: What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent; And, being angry, does forget that ever He heard the name of death.

[A noise within.]

Here's goodly work!

SECOND PATRICIAN. I would they were a-bed!

MENENIUS. I would they were in Tiber! What the vengeance, could he not speak 'em fair?

[Re-enter BRUTUS and SICINIUS, with the rabble.]

SICINIUS. Where is this viper That would depopulate the city and Be every man himself?

MENENIUS. You worthy tribunes,—

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

FIRST CITIZEN. He shall well know The noble tribunes are the people's mouths, And we their hands.

CITIZENS. He shall, sure on't.

MENENIUS. Sir, sir,—


MENENIUS. Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt With modest warrant.

SICINIUS. Sir, how comes't that you Have holp to make this rescue?

MENENIUS. Hear me speak:— As I do know the consul's worthiness, So can I name his faults,—

SICINIUS. Consul!—what consul?

MENENIUS. The consul Coriolanus.

BRUTUS. He consul!

CITIZENS. No, no, no, no, no.

MENENIUS. If, by the tribunes' leave, and yours, good people, I may be heard, I would crave a word or two; The which shall turn you to no further harm Than so much loss of time.

SICINIUS. Speak briefly, then; For we are peremptory to dispatch This viperous traitor: to eject him hence Were but one danger; and to keep him here Our certain death: therefore it is decreed He dies to-night.

MENENIUS. Now the good gods forbid That our renowned Rome, whose gratitude Towards her deserved children is enroll'd In Jove's own book, like an unnatural dam Should now eat up her own!

SICINIUS. He's a disease that must be cut away.

MENENIUS. O, he's a limb that has but a disease; Mortal, to cut it off; to cure it, easy. What has he done to Rome that's worthy death? Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost,— Which I dare vouch is more than that he hath By many an ounce,—he dropt it for his country; And what is left, to lose it by his country Were to us all, that do't and suffer it A brand to the end o' the world.

SICINIUS. This is clean kam.

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

MENENIUS. The service of the foot, Being once gangren'd, is not then respected For what before it was.

BRUTUS. We'll hear no more.— Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence; Lest his infection, being of catching nature, Spread further.

MENENIUS. One word more, one word. This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find The harm of unscann'd swiftness, will, too late, Tie leaden pounds to's heels. Proceed by process; Lest parties,—as he is belov'd,—break out, And sack great Rome with Romans.

BRUTUS. If it were so,—

SICINIUS. What do ye talk? Have we not had a taste of his obedience? Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted?—come,—

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

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