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Coriolanus
Act 1, scene 6

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As Coriolanus begins, two Roman patricians, Menenius and Martius, calm a revolt by the city’s famished plebians. Martius, who despises the plebians,…

Act 1, scene 1

Rome’s famished plebeians threaten revolt, and the patrician Menenius attempts to placate them. Martius announces that the plebeians, whom he…

Act 1, scene 2

Aufidius and Volscian senators discuss the Roman preparations for war.

Act 1, scene 3

Volumnia, Martius’s mother, and Virgilia, his wife, are visited by Valeria, who brings news of Martius at Corioles.

Act 1, scene 4

Before the Romans can besiege Corioles, the Volscians emerge to attack them. Martius rallies the troops to beat the Volscians…

Act 1, scene 5

Leaving Lartius to secure Corioles, Martius goes to the aid of the Roman general Cominius on the battlefield near the…

Act 1, scene 6

Martius joins Cominius and inspires the Roman troops to further combat.

Act 1, scene 7

Having secured Corioles, Lartius leaves to join Cominius.

Act 1, scene 8

Martius defeats Aufidius and his Volscian supporters.

Act 1, scene 9

Cominius awards Martius the name Coriolanus for his service at Corioles.

Act 1, scene 10

Aufidius vows to destroy Coriolanus by any means possible.

Act 2, scene 1

Coriolanus is welcomed back to Rome by his family and Menenius, and is expected to be elected consul. (Coriolanus’s entry…

Act 2, scene 2

The Senate meets to hear Cominius praise Coriolanus in a formal oration and then to choose Coriolanus as its nominee…

Act 2, scene 3

According to custom, Coriolanus asks a number of individual plebeians for their votes. Although he mocks them, they consent to…

Act 3, scene 1

Learning that the plebeians have revoked their votes, Coriolanus publicly attacks the decision that had given the people tribunes. Accusing…

Act 3, scene 2

The patricians and Volumnia persuade Coriolanus to pretend to tolerate the plebeians and their tribunes.

Act 3, scene 3

When the tribunes call Coriolanus a traitor, he angrily insults them, and they first impose a death sentence and then…

Act 4, scene 1

Coriolanus says goodbye to his family and closest supporters.

Act 4, scene 2

Meeting the tribunes, Volumnia and Virgilia curse them.

Act 4, scene 3

A Roman informer tells a Volscian spy of Coriolanus’s banishment.

Act 4, scene 4

Coriolanus comes to the Volscian city of Antium in search of Aufidius.

Act 4, scene 5

Coriolanus offers to join Aufidius in making war on Rome.

Act 4, scene 6

The tribunes’ delight in Coriolanus’s banishment is interrupted by news that an army led by him and Aufidius has invaded…

Act 4, scene 7

Aufidius, offended by the Volscian soldiers’ preference for Coriolanus, begins plotting against him.

Act 5, scene 1

After Cominius fails to persuade Coriolanus not to destroy Rome, Menenius agrees to try.

Act 5, scene 2

Menenius fails to shake Coriolanus’s determination to destroy Rome.

Act 5, scene 3

Volumnia, accompanied by Virgilia, Valeria, and young Martius, persuades Coriolanus to spare Rome.

Act 5, scene 4

News arrives in Rome of Volumnia’s success.

Act 5, scene 5

The Romans honor Volumnia as she returns.

Act 5, scene 6

Aufidius and his fellow conspirators, on their return to Corioles, publicly assassinate Coriolanus.

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Scene 6
Enter Cominius as it were in retire, with Soldiers.

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

Enter a Messenger.

 Thy news?
MESSENGER 
 The citizens of Corioles have issued
 And given to Lartius and to Martius battle.
15 I saw our party to their trenches driven,
 And then I came away.
COMINIUS  Though thou speakest truth,
 Methinks thou speak’st not well. How long is ’t
 since?
MESSENGER 20Above 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
25 Held me in chase, that I was forced to wheel

51
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 6

 Three or four miles about; else had I, sir,
 Half an hour since brought my report.He exits.

Enter Martius, bloody.

COMINIUS  Who’s yonder,
 That does appear as he were flayed? O gods,
30 He has the stamp of Martius, and I have
 Before-time seen him thus.
MARTIUS  Come I too late?
COMINIUS 
 The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabor
 More than I know the sound of Martius’ tongue
35 From every meaner man.
MARTIUS  Come I too late?
COMINIUS 
 Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,
 But mantled in your own.
MARTIUS  O, let me clip you
40 In arms as sound as when I wooed, in heart
 As merry as when our nuptial day was done
 And tapers burnt to bedward!They embrace.
COMINIUS 
 Flower of warriors, how is ’t with Titus Lartius?
MARTIUS 
 As with a man busied about decrees,
45 Condemning some to death and some to exile;
 Ransoming him or pitying, threat’ning th’ other;
 Holding Corioles in the name of Rome
 Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,
 To let him slip at will.
COMINIUS 50 Where is that slave
 Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?
 Where is he? Call him hither.
MARTIUS  Let him alone.
 He did inform the truth. But for our gentlemen,

53
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 6

55 The common file—a plague! Tribunes for them!—
 The mouse ne’er shunned the cat as they did budge
 From rascals worse than they.
COMINIUS  But how prevailed you?
MARTIUS 
 Will the time serve to tell? I do not think.
60 Where is the enemy? Are you lords o’ th’ field?
 If not, why cease you till you are so?
COMINIUS 
 Martius, we have at disadvantage fought
 And did retire to win our purpose.
MARTIUS 
 How lies their battle? Know you on which side
65 They have placed their men of trust?
COMINIUS  As I guess,
 Martius,
 Their bands i’ th’ vaward are the Antiates,
 Of their best trust; o’er them Aufidius,
70 Their very heart of hope.
MARTIUS  I do beseech you,
 By all the battles wherein we have fought,
 By th’ blood we have shed together, by th’ vows we
 have made
75 To endure friends, that you directly set me
 Against Aufidius and his Antiates,
 And that you not delay the present, but,
 Filling the air with swords advanced and darts,
 We prove this very hour.
COMINIUS 80 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.
MARTIUS 85 Those are they
 That most are willing. If any such be here—

55
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 7

 As it were sin to doubt—that love this painting
 Wherein you see me smeared; if any fear
 Lesser his person than an ill report;
90 If any think brave death outweighs bad life,
 And that his country’s dearer than himself;
 Let him alone, or so many so minded,
 Wave thus to express his disposition
 And follow Martius.He waves his sword.
They all shout and wave their swords,
take him up in their arms, and cast up their caps.

95 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,
100 Though thanks to all, must I select from all.
 The rest shall bear the business in some other fight,
 As cause will be obeyed. Please you to march,
 And I shall quickly draw out my command,
 Which men are best inclined.
COMINIUS 105 March on, my fellows.
 Make good this ostentation, and you shall
 Divide in all with us.
They exit.