List iconCoriolanus:
Act 2, scene 3
List icon

Act 2, scene 3



Characters in the Play

Entire Play

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 3
Enter seven or eight Citizens.

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

ACT 2. SC. 3

SECOND CITIZEN We may, sir, if we will.
THIRD CITIZEN We have power in ourselves to do it, but
5 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.
10 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
15 little help will serve; for once we stood up about
 the corn, he himself stuck not to call us the many-headed
THIRD CITIZEN We have been called so of many; not that
 our heads are some brown, some black, some
20 abram, some bald, but that our wits are so diversely
 colored; 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’ th’ compass.
SECOND CITIZEN 25Think you so? Which way do you
 judge my wit would fly?
THIRD CITIZEN Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another
 man’s will; ’tis strongly wedged up in a blockhead.
 But if it were at liberty, ’twould sure
30 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
35 thee a wife.
SECOND CITIZEN You are never without your tricks. You
 may, you may.

ACT 2. SC. 3

THIRD CITIZEN Are you all resolved to give your voices?
 But that’s no matter; the greater part carries it. I
40 say, if he would incline to the people, there was
 never a worthier man.

Enter Coriolanus in a gown of humility, with Menenius.

 Here he comes, and in the gown of humility. Mark
 his behavior. We are not to stay all together, but to
 come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos,
45 and by threes. He’s to make his requests by particulars,
 wherein every one of us has a single honor
 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 50Content, content.Citizens exit.
 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
55 My tongue to such a pace. “Look, sir, my wounds!
 I got them in my country’s service when
 Some certain of your brethren roared and ran
 From th’ noise of our own drums.”
MENENIUS  O me, the gods!
60 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 65 You’ll mar all.
 I’ll leave you. Pray you, speak to ’em, I pray you,
 In wholesome manner.He exits.
CORIOLANUS  Bid them wash their faces
 And keep their teeth clean.

ACT 2. SC. 3

Enter three of the Citizens.

70 So, here comes a brace.—
 You know the cause, sir, of my standing here.
 We do, sir. Tell us what hath brought you to ’t.
CORIOLANUS Mine own desert.
SECOND CITIZEN Your own desert?
CORIOLANUS 75Ay, but not mine own desire.
THIRD CITIZEN How, not your own desire?
CORIOLANUS No, sir, ’twas never my desire yet to trouble
 the poor with begging.
THIRD CITIZEN You must think if we give you anything,
80 we hope to gain by you.
CORIOLANUS Well then, I pray, your price o’ th’
FIRST CITIZEN The price is to ask it kindly.
CORIOLANUS Kindly, sir, I pray, let me ha ’t. I have
85 wounds to show you, which shall be yours in
 private.—Your good voice, sir. What say you?
SECOND CITIZEN You shall ha ’t, worthy sir.
CORIOLANUS A match, sir. There’s in all two worthy
 voices begged. I have your alms. Adieu.
THIRD CITIZEN, to the other Citizens 90But this is something
SECOND CITIZEN An ’twere to give again—but ’tis no
 matter.These citizens exit.

Enter two other Citizens.

CORIOLANUS Pray you now, if it may stand with the
95 tune of your voices that I may be consul, I have
 here the customary gown.
FOURTH CITIZEN You have deserved nobly of your
 country, and you have not deserved nobly.
CORIOLANUS Your enigma?

ACT 2. SC. 3

FOURTH CITIZEN 100You 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,
105 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 practice
 the insinuating nod and be off to them most
110 counterfeitly. That is, sir, I will counterfeit the bewitchment
 of some popular man and give it bountiful
 to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you, I may
 be consul.
FIFTH CITIZEN We hope to find you our friend, and
115 therefore give you our voices heartily.
FOURTH 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
120 trouble you no farther.
BOTH The gods give you joy, sir, heartily.
Citizens exit.
CORIOLANUS Most sweet voices!
 Better it is to die, better to starve,
 Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.
125 Why in this woolvish toge should I stand here
 To beg of Hob and Dick that does 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
130 And mountainous error be too highly heaped
 For truth to o’erpeer. Rather than fool it so,
 Let the high office and the honor go
 To one that would do thus. I am half through;
 The one part suffered, the other will I do.

ACT 2. SC. 3

Enter three Citizens more.

135 Here come more voices.—
 Your voices! For your voices I have fought;
 Watched 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
140 Done many things, some less, some more. Your
 Indeed, I would be consul.
SIXTH CITIZEN He has done nobly, and cannot go
 without any honest man’s voice.
SEVENTH CITIZEN 145Therefore let him be consul. The
 gods give him joy, and make him good friend to
 the people!
ALL Amen, amen. God save thee, noble consul.
Citizens exit.
CORIOLANUS Worthy voices!

Enter Menenius, with Brutus and Sicinius.

150 You have stood your limitation, and the Tribunes
 Endue you with the people’s voice. Remains
 That in th’ official marks invested, you
 Anon do meet the Senate.
CORIOLANUS  Is this done?
155 The custom of request you have discharged.
 The people do admit you, and are summoned
 To meet anon upon your approbation.
 Where? At the Senate House?
SICINIUS  There, Coriolanus.
160 May I change these garments?
SICINIUS  You may, sir.

ACT 2. SC. 3

 That I’ll straight do and, knowing myself again,
 Repair to th’ Senate House.
 I’ll keep you company.—Will you along?
165 We stay here for the people.
SICINIUS  Fare you well.
Coriolanus and Menenius exit.
 He has it now; and by his looks, methinks,
 ’Tis warm at ’s heart.
BRUTUS  With a proud heart he wore
170 His humble weeds. Will you dismiss the people?

Enter the Plebeians.

 How now, my masters, have you chose this man?
FIRST CITIZEN He has our voices, sir.
 We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.
 Amen, sir. To my poor unworthy notice,
175 He mocked us when he begged our voices.
 Certainly, he flouted us downright.
 No, ’tis his kind of speech. He did not mock us.
 Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says
 He used us scornfully. He should have showed us
180 His marks of merit, wounds received for ’s country.
SICINIUS Why, so he did, I am sure.
ALL No, no. No man saw ’em.
 He said he had wounds, which he could show in

ACT 2. SC. 3

185 And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
 “I would be consul,” says he. “Agèd 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.
190 Your most sweet voices! Now you have left your
 I have no further with you.” Was not this mockery?
 Why either were you ignorant to see ’t
 Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness
195 To yield your voices?
BRUTUS  Could you not have told him
 As you were lessoned? When he had no power,
 But was a petty servant to the state,
 He was your enemy, ever spake against
200 Your liberties and the charters that you bear
 I’ th’ body of the weal; and, now arriving
 A place of potency and sway o’ th’ state,
 If he should still malignantly remain
 Fast foe to th’ plebeii, your voices might
205 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,
210 Standing your friendly lord.
SICINIUS  Thus to have said,
 As you were fore-advised, had touched his spirit
 And tried his inclination; from him plucked
 Either his gracious promise, which you might,
215 As cause had called you up, have held him to;
 Or else it would have galled his surly nature,
 Which easily endures not article
 Tying him to aught. So putting him to rage,

ACT 2. SC. 3

 You should have ta’en th’ advantage of his choler
220 And passed him unelected.
BRUTUS  Did you perceive
 He did solicit you in free contempt
 When he did need your loves, and do you think
 That his contempt shall not be bruising to you
225 When he hath power to crush? Why, had your
 No heart among you? Or had you tongues to cry
 Against the rectorship of judgment?
 Have you ere now denied the asker? And now
230 Again, of him that did not ask but mock,
 Bestow your sued-for tongues?
THIRD CITIZEN  He’s not confirmed.
 We may deny him yet.
SECOND CITIZEN  And will deny him.
235 I’ll have five hundred voices of that sound.
 I twice five hundred, and their friends to piece ’em.
 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
240 Than dogs that are as often beat for barking
 As therefor kept to do so.
SICINIUS  Let them assemble
 And, on a safer judgment, all revoke
 Your ignorant election. Enforce his pride
245 And his old hate unto you. Besides, forget not
 With what contempt he wore the humble weed,
 How in his suit he scorned you; but your loves,
 Thinking upon his services, took from you
 Th’ apprehension of his present portance,
250 Which most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion
 After the inveterate hate he bears you.

ACT 2. SC. 3

 A fault on us, your tribunes, that we labored,
 No impediment between, but that you must
255 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,
 Preoccupied with what you rather must do
260 Than what you should, made you against the grain
 To voice him consul. Lay the fault on us.
 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,
265 The noble house o’ th’ Martians, from whence came
 That Ancus Martius, 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;
270 And Censorinus, that was so surnamed,
 And nobly namèd so, twice being censor,
 Was his great ancestor.
SICINIUS  One thus descended,
 That hath besides well in his person wrought
275 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 fixèd enemy, and revoke
 Your sudden approbation.
BRUTUS 280 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 th’ Capitol.
ALL  We will so. Almost all
285 Repent in their election.Plebeians exit.
BRUTUS  Let them go on.

ACT 2. SC. 3

 This mutiny were better put in hazard
 Than stay, past doubt, for greater.
 If, as his nature is, he fall in rage
290 With their refusal, both observe and answer
 The vantage of his anger.
SICINIUS  To th’ Capitol, come.
 We will be there before the stream o’ th’ people,
 And this shall seem, as partly ’tis, their own,
295 Which we have goaded onward.
They exit.