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Coriolanus
Act 2, scene 2

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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 2
Enter two Officers, to lay cushions, as it were
in the Capitol.


FIRST OFFICER Come, come. They are almost here. How
 many stand for consulships?
SECOND OFFICER Three, they say; but ’tis thought of
 everyone Coriolanus will carry it.

91
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

FIRST OFFICER 5That’s a brave fellow, but he’s vengeance
 proud and loves not the common people.
SECOND OFFICER ’Faith, there hath been many great
 men that have flattered the people who ne’er loved
 them; and there be many that they have loved they
10 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
15 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
20 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
25 country, and his ascent is not by such easy degrees
 as those who, having been supple and courteous to
 the people, bonneted, without any further deed to
 have them at all into their estimation and report;
 but he hath so planted his honors in their eyes and
30 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 35No more of him; he’s a worthy man.
 Make way. They are coming.

A sennet. Enter the Patricians and the Tribunes of the
people, Lictors before them; Coriolanus, Menenius,
Cominius the consul. The Patricians sit. Sicinius

93
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

and Brutus take their places by themselves.
Coriolanus stands.


MENENIUS 
 Having determined of the Volsces and
 To send for Titus Lartius, it remains,
 As the main point of this our after-meeting,
40 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
45 In our well-found successes to report
 A little of that worthy work performed
 By Martius Caius Coriolanus, whom
 We met here both to thank and to remember
 With honors like himself.Coriolanus sits.
FIRST SENATOR 50 Speak, good Cominius.
 Leave nothing out for length, and make us think
 Rather our state’s defective for requital,
 Than we to stretch it out. (To the Tribunes.)
 Masters o’ th’ people,
55 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
60 Inclinable to honor and advance
 The theme of our assembly.
BRUTUS  Which the rather
 We shall be blest to do if he remember
 A kinder value of the people than
65 He hath hereto prized them at.
MENENIUS  That’s off, that’s off!
 I would you rather had been silent. Please you
 To hear Cominius speak?

95
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

BRUTUS  Most willingly,
70 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.
75 Nay, keep your place.
FIRST SENATOR 
 Sit, Coriolanus. Never shame to hear
 What you have nobly done.
CORIOLANUS  Your Honors, pardon.
 I had rather have my wounds to heal again
80 Than hear say how I got them.
BRUTUS  Sir, I hope
 My words disbenched you not?
CORIOLANUS  No, sir. Yet oft,
 When blows have made me stay, I fled from words.
85 You soothed 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’ th’ sun
90 When the alarum were struck than idly sit
 To hear my nothings monstered.Coriolanus exits.
MENENIUS  Masters of the people,
 Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter—
 That’s thousand to one good one—when you now
95 see
 He had rather venture all his limbs for honor
 Than one on ’s ears to hear it.—Proceed, Cominius.
COMINIUS 
 I shall lack voice. The deeds of Coriolanus
 Should not be uttered feebly. It is held
100 That valor is the chiefest virtue and

97
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Most dignifies the haver; if it be,
 The man I speak of cannot in the world
 Be singly counterpoised. At sixteen years,
 When Tarquin made a head for Rome, he fought
105 Beyond the mark of others. Our then dictator,
 Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight
 When with his Amazonian chin he drove
 The bristled lips before him. He bestrid
 An o’erpressed Roman and i’ th’ Consul’s view
110 Slew three opposers. Tarquin’s self he met
 And struck him on his knee. In that day’s feats,
 When he might act the woman in the scene,
 He proved best man i’ th’ field and for his meed
 Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age
115 Man-entered thus, he waxèd like a sea,
 And in the brunt of seventeen battles since
 He lurched all swords of the garland. For this last,
 Before and in Corioles, let me say,
 I cannot speak him home. He stopped the flyers
120 And by his rare example made the coward
 Turn terror into sport. As weeds before
 A vessel under sail, so men obeyed
 And fell below his stem. His sword, Death’s stamp,
 Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot
125 He was a thing of blood, whose every motion
 Was timed with dying cries. Alone he entered
 The mortal gate o’ th’ city, which he painted
 With shunless destiny; aidless came off
 And with a sudden reinforcement struck
130 Corioles like a planet. Now all’s his,
 When by and by the din of war gan pierce
 His ready sense; then straight his doubled spirit
 Requickened what in flesh was fatigate,
 And to the battle came he, where he did
135 Run reeking o’er the lives of men as if
 ’Twere a perpetual spoil; and till we called

99
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Both field and city ours, he never stood
 To ease his breast with panting.
MENENIUS  Worthy man!
FIRST SENATOR 
140 He cannot but with measure fit the honors
 Which we devise him.
COMINIUS  Our spoils he kicked at
 And looked upon things precious as they were
 The common muck of the world. He covets less
145 Than misery itself would give, rewards
 His deeds with doing them, and is content
 To spend the time to end it.
MENENIUS  He’s right noble.
 Let him be called for.
FIRST SENATOR 150Call Coriolanus.
OFFICER He doth appear.

Enter Coriolanus.

MENENIUS 
 The Senate, Coriolanus, are well pleased
 To make thee consul.
CORIOLANUS  I do owe them still
155 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
160 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
165 Must have their voices; neither will they bate
 One jot of ceremony.
MENENIUS, to Coriolanus  Put them not to ’t.
 Pray you, go fit you to the custom, and

101
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

 Take to you, as your predecessors have,
170 Your honor with your form.
CORIOLANUS  It is a part
 That I shall blush in acting, and might well
 Be taken from the people.
BRUTUS, to Sicinius  Mark you that?
CORIOLANUS 
175 To brag unto them “Thus I did, and thus!”
 Show them th’ unaching scars, which I should hide,
 As if I had received them for the hire
 Of their breath only!
MENENIUS  Do not stand upon ’t.—
180 We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,
 Our purpose to them, and to our noble consul
 Wish we all joy and honor.
SENATORS 
 To Coriolanus come all joy and honor!
Flourish cornets. Then they exit. Sicinius and
Brutus remain.

BRUTUS 
 You see how he intends to use the people.
SICINIUS 
185 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 th’ marketplace
190 I know they do attend us.
They exit.