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Coriolanus
Act 2, scene 1

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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 1
Enter Menenius with the two Tribunes of the people,
Sicinius and Brutus.


MENENIUS The augurer tells me we shall have news
 tonight.
BRUTUS Good or bad?
MENENIUS Not according to the prayer of the people,
5 for they love not Martius.
SICINIUS Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.
MENENIUS Pray you, who does the wolf love?
SICINIUS The lamb.
MENENIUS Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians
10 would the noble Martius.
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.
BOTH 15Well, sir.
MENENIUS In what enormity is Martius 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 20And topping all others in boasting.
MENENIUS This is strange now. Do you two know how
 you are censured here in the city, I mean of us o’
 th’ right-hand file, do you?
71

73
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 1

BOTH Why, how are we censured?
MENENIUS 25Because you talk of pride now, will you not
 be angry?
BOTH 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.
30 Give your dispositions the reins, and be
 angry at your pleasures, at the least, if you take it
 as a pleasure to you in being so. You blame Martius
 for being proud.
BRUTUS We do it not alone, sir.
MENENIUS 35I know you can do very little alone, for
 your helps are many, or else your actions would
 grow wondrous single. Your abilities are too infantlike
 for doing much alone. You talk of pride. O,
 that you could turn your eyes toward the napes
40 of your necks and make but an interior survey of
 your good selves! O, that you could!
BOTH What then, sir?
MENENIUS Why, then you should discover a brace of
 unmeriting, proud, violent, testy magistrates, alias
45 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
50 in favoring the first complaint, hasty and tinder-like
 upon too trivial motion; one that converses
 more with the buttock of the night than with the
 forehead of the morning. What I think I utter,
 and spend my malice in my breath. Meeting two
55 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

75
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ACT 2. SC. 1

60 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
65 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.
70 You are ambitious for poor knaves’ caps
 and legs. You wear out a good wholesome forenoon
 in hearing a cause between an orange-wife
 and a faucet-seller, and then rejourn the controversy
 of threepence to a second day of audience.
75 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,
80 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
85 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
90 beards deserve not so honorable a grave as to
 stuff a botcher’s cushion or to be entombed in an
 ass’s packsaddle. Yet you must be saying Martius is
 proud, who, in a cheap estimation, is worth all
 your predecessors since Deucalion, though peradventure
95 some of the best of ’em were hereditary

77
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ACT 2. SC. 1

 hangmen. Good e’en to your Worships. More of
 your conversation would infect my brain, being
 the herdsmen of the beastly plebeians. I will be
 bold to take my leave of you.
He begins to exit. Brutus and Sicinius stand aside.

Enter Volumnia, Virgilia, and Valeria.

100 How now, my as fair as noble ladies—and the
 moon, were she earthly, no nobler—whither do
 you follow your eyes so fast?
VOLUMNIA Honorable Menenius, my boy Martius approaches.
 For the love of Juno, let’s go!
MENENIUS 105Ha? Martius coming home?
VOLUMNIA Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous
 approbation.
MENENIUS Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee! (He
 throws his cap in the air.) 
Hoo! Martius coming
110 home?
VALERIA, VIRGILIA Nay, ’tis true.
VOLUMNIA Look, here’s a letter from him. She produces
 a paper. 
The state hath another, his wife another,
 and I think there’s one at home for you.
MENENIUS 115I will make my very house reel tonight. A
 letter for me?
VIRGILIA Yes, certain, there’s a letter for you; I saw ’t.
MENENIUS A letter for me? It gives me an estate of
 seven years’ health, in which time I will make a lip
120 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 125O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for ’t.
MENENIUS So do I too, if it be not too much. Brings he
 victory in his pocket, the wounds become him.

79
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ACT 2. SC. 1

VOLUMNIA On ’s brows, Menenius. He comes the third
 time home with the oaken garland.
MENENIUS 130Has 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
135 been so ’fidiused for all the chests in Corioles and
 the gold that’s in them. Is the Senate possessed of
 this?
VOLUMNIA Good ladies, let’s go.—Yes, yes, yes. The
 Senate has letters from the General, wherein he
140 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
145 his true purchasing.
VIRGILIA The gods grant them true.
VOLUMNIA True? Pow waw!
MENENIUS True? I’ll be sworn they are true. Where is
 he wounded? (To the Tribunes.) God save your
150 good Worships! Martius is coming home; he has
 more cause to be proud.—Where is he wounded?
VOLUMNIA I’ th’ shoulder and i’ th’ left arm. There will
 be large cicatrices to show the people when he
 shall stand for his place. He received in the repulse
155 of Tarquin seven hurts i’ th’ body.
MENENIUS One i’ th’ neck and two i’ th’ thigh—there’s
 nine that I know.
VOLUMNIA He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five
 wounds upon him.
MENENIUS 160Now it’s twenty-seven. Every gash was an
 enemy’s grave. (A shout and flourish.) Hark, the
 trumpets!

81
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 1

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

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


HERALD 
 Know, Rome, that all alone Martius did fight
 Within Corioles’ gates, where he hath won,
 With fame, a name to Martius Caius; these
170 In honor follows “Coriolanus.”
 Welcome to Rome, renownèd Coriolanus.
Sound flourish.
ALL 
 Welcome to Rome, renownèd Coriolanus!
CORIOLANUS 
 No more of this. It does offend my heart.
 Pray now, no more.
COMINIUS 175 Look, sir, your mother.
CORIOLANUS  O,
 You have, I know, petitioned all the gods
 For my prosperity.Kneels.
VOLUMNIA  Nay, my good soldier, up.
He stands.
180 My gentle Martius, worthy Caius, and
 By deed-achieving honor newly named—
 What is it? Coriolanus must I call thee?
 But, O, thy wife—
CORIOLANUS  My gracious silence, hail.
185 Wouldst thou have laughed had I come coffined
 home,
 That weep’st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,

83
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Such eyes the widows in Corioles wear
 And mothers that lack sons.
MENENIUS 190 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!—
195 And, welcome, general.—And you’re welcome all.
MENENIUS 
 A hundred thousand welcomes! I could weep,
 And I could laugh; I am light and heavy. Welcome.
 A curse begin at very root on ’s heart
 That is not glad to see thee! You are three
200 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
205 The faults of fools but folly.
COMINIUS Ever right.
CORIOLANUS Menenius ever, ever.
HERALD 
 Give way there, and go on!
CORIOLANUS, to Volumnia and Virgilia  Your hand
210 and yours.
 Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
 The good patricians must be visited,
 From whom I have received not only greetings,
 But with them change of honors.
VOLUMNIA 215 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.

85
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ACT 2. SC. 1

CORIOLANUS 220 Know, good mother,
 I had rather be their servant in my way
 Than sway with them in theirs.
COMINIUS  On, to the Capitol.
Flourish of cornets. They exit in state, as before.

Brutus and Sicinius come forward.

BRUTUS 
 All tongues speak of him, and the blearèd sights
225 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,
230 windows
 Are smothered up, leads filled, and ridges horsed
 With variable complexions, all agreeing
 In earnestness to see him. Seld-shown flamens
 Do press among the popular throngs and puff
235 To win a vulgar station. Our veiled dames
 Commit the war of white and damask in
 Their nicely-gauded cheeks to th’ wanton spoil
 Of Phoebus’ burning kisses. Such a pother,
 As if that whatsoever god who leads him
240 Were slyly crept into his human powers
 And gave him graceful posture.
SICINIUS  On the sudden
 I warrant him consul.
BRUTUS  Then our office may,
245 During his power, go sleep.
SICINIUS 
 He cannot temp’rately transport his honors
 From where he should begin and end, but will
 Lose those he hath won.
BRUTUS  In that there’s comfort.

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ACT 2. SC. 1

SICINIUS 250 Doubt
 not
 The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
 Upon their ancient malice will forget
 With the least cause these his new honors—which
255 That he will give them make I 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’ th’ marketplace nor on him put
260 The napless vesture of humility,
 Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds
 To th’ people, beg their stinking breaths.
SICINIUS  ’Tis right.
BRUTUS 
 It was his word. O, he would miss it rather
265 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 270 ’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 authority’s for an end.
275 We must suggest the people in what hatred
 He still hath held them; that to ’s power he would
 Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders, and
 Dispropertied their freedoms; holding them
 In human action and capacity
280 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.

89
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

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

Enter a Messenger.

BRUTUS  What’s the matter?
MESSENGER 
 You are sent for to the Capitol. ’Tis thought
 That Martius shall be consul. I have seen
 The dumb men throng to see him, and the blind
295 To hear him speak; matrons flung gloves,
 Ladies and maids their scarves and handkerchiefs,
 Upon him as he passed; the nobles bended
 As to Jove’s statue, and the Commons made
 A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts.
300 I never saw the like.
BRUTUS  Let’s to the Capitol,
 And carry with us ears and eyes for th’ time,
 But hearts for the event.
SICINIUS  Have with you.
They exit.