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Coriolanus
Act 3, scene 1

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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 1
Cornets. Enter Coriolanus, Menenius, all the Gentry,
Cominius, Titus Lartius, and other Senators.


CORIOLANUS 
 Tullus Aufidius then had made new head?
LARTIUS 
 He had, my lord, and that it was which caused
 Our swifter composition.
CORIOLANUS 
 So then the Volsces stand but as at first,
5 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 10 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 retired to Antium.
CORIOLANUS 
 Spoke he of me?
LARTIUS 15 He did, my lord.
CORIOLANUS  How? What?
LARTIUS 
 How often he had met you sword to sword;
125

127
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

 That of all things upon the earth he hated
 Your person most; that he would pawn his fortunes
20 To hopeless restitution, so he might
 Be called your vanquisher.
CORIOLANUS  At Antium lives he?
LARTIUS At Antium.
CORIOLANUS 
 I wish I had a cause to seek him there,
25 To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.

Enter Sicinius and Brutus.

 Behold, these are the tribunes of the people,
 The tongues o’ th’ common mouth. I do despise
 them,
 For they do prank them in authority
30 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 35The matter?
COMINIUS 
 Hath he not passed the noble and the common?
BRUTUS 
 Cominius, no.
CORIOLANUS  Have I had children’s voices?
FIRST SENATOR 
 Tribunes, give way. He shall to th’ marketplace.
BRUTUS 
40 The people are incensed against him.
SICINIUS  Stop,
 Or all will fall in broil.
CORIOLANUS  Are these your herd?
 Must these have voices, that can yield them now

129
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ACT 3. SC. 1

45 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 50 Be calm, be calm.
CORIOLANUS 
 It is a purposed 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 ruled.
BRUTUS 55 Call ’t not a plot.
 The people cry you mocked them; and, of late,
 When corn was given them gratis, you repined,
 Scandaled the suppliants for the people, called them
 Timepleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.
CORIOLANUS 
60 Why, this was known before.
BRUTUS  Not to them all.
CORIOLANUS 
 Have you informed them sithence?
BRUTUS  How? I inform
 them?
COMINIUS 65You 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 70 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,

131
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ACT 3. SC. 1

 Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit,
75 Or never be so noble as a consul,
 Nor yoke with him for tribune.
MENENIUS  Let’s be calm.
COMINIUS 
 The people are abused, set on. This palt’ring
 Becomes not Rome, nor has Coriolanus
80 Deserved this so dishonored rub, laid falsely
 I’ th’ 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 85 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 meiny, let them
 Regard me, as I do not flatter, and
90 Therein behold themselves. I say again,
 In soothing them, we nourish ’gainst our senate
 The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
 Which we ourselves have plowed for, sowed, and
 scattered
95 By mingling them with us, the honored 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 100 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
105 The very way to catch them.

133
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ACT 3. SC. 1

BRUTUS  You speak o’ th’ people
 As if you were a god to punish, not
 A man of their infirmity.
SICINIUS  ’Twere well
110 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 115 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
120 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
125 Given Hydra here to choose an officer,
 That with his peremptory “shall,” being but
 The horn and noise o’ th’ monster’s, wants not spirit
 To say he’ll turn your current in a ditch
 And make your channel his? If he have power,
130 Then vail your ignorance; if none, awake
 Your dangerous lenity. If you are learned,
 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
135 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 frowned in Greece. By Jove himself,
140 It makes the consuls base! And my soul aches
 To know, when two authorities are up,

135
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ACT 3. SC. 1

 Neither supreme, how soon confusion
 May enter ’twixt the gap of both and take
 The one by th’ other.
COMINIUS 145 Well, on to th’ marketplace.
CORIOLANUS 
 Whoever gave that counsel to give forth
 The corn o’ th’ storehouse gratis, as ’twas used
 Sometime in Greece—
MENENIUS  Well, well, no more of that.
CORIOLANUS 
150 Though there the people had more absolute power,
 I say they nourished disobedience, fed
 The ruin of the state.
BRUTUS  Why shall the people give
 One that speaks thus their voice?
CORIOLANUS 155 I’ll give my reasons,
 More worthier than their voices. They know the
 corn
 Was not our recompense, resting well assured
 They ne’er did service for ’t. Being pressed to th’ war,
160 Even when the navel of the state was touched,
 They would not thread the gates. This kind of
 service
 Did not deserve corn gratis. Being i’ th’ war,
 Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they showed
165 Most valor, spoke not for them. Th’ accusation
 Which they have often made against the Senate,
 All cause unborn, could never be the native
 Of our so frank donation. Well, what then?
 How shall this bosom multiplied digest
170 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
175 Call our cares fears, which will in time

137
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ACT 3. SC. 1

 Break ope the locks o’ th’ Senate and bring in
 The crows to peck the eagles.
MENENIUS  Come, enough.
BRUTUS 
 Enough, with over-measure.
CORIOLANUS 180 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,
185 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 barred, it follows
190 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
195 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 dishonor
200 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 th’ ill which doth control ’t.
BRUTUS  ’Has said enough.
SICINIUS 
205 ’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

139
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ACT 3. SC. 1

210 To th’ 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’ th’ dust.
BRUTUS 215Manifest treason.
SICINIUS This a consul? No.
BRUTUS The aediles, ho! Let him be apprehended.

Enter an Aedile.

SICINIUS 
 Go, call the people; Aedile exits. in whose name
 myself
220 Attach thee as a traitorous innovator,
 A foe to th’ public weal. Obey, I charge thee,
 And follow to thine answer.
CORIOLANUS  Hence, old goat.
ALL PATRICIANS 
 We’ll surety him.
COMINIUS, to Sicinius 225 Agèd sir, hands off.
CORIOLANUS, to Sicinius 
 Hence, rotten thing, or I shall shake thy bones
 Out of thy garments.
SICINIUS  Help, you citizens!

Enter a rabble of Plebeians with the Aediles.

MENENIUS On both sides more respect!
SICINIUS 
230 Here’s he that would take from you all your power.
BRUTUS Seize him, aediles.
ALL PLEBEIANS Down with him, down with him!
SECOND SENATOR Weapons, weapons, weapons!
They all bustle about Coriolanus.
 Tribunes, patricians, citizens, what ho!
235 Sicinius, Brutus, Coriolanus, citizens!

141
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ACT 3. SC. 1

ALL 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 th’ people!—Coriolanus, patience!—
240 Speak, good Sicinius.
SICINIUS  Hear me, people! Peace!
ALL PLEBEIANS 
 Let’s hear our tribune. Peace! Speak, speak, speak.
SICINIUS 
 You are at point to lose your liberties.
 Martius would have all from you, Martius,
245 Whom late you have named 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?
ALL PLEBEIANS 250 True,
 The people are the city.
BRUTUS 
 By the consent of all, we were established
 The people’s magistrates.
ALL PLEBEIANS You so remain.
MENENIUS 255And so are like to do.
CORIOLANUS 
 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 260 This deserves death.
BRUTUS 
 Or let us stand to our authority
 Or let us lose it. We do here pronounce,
 Upon the part o’ th’ people, in whose power

143
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ACT 3. SC. 1

 We were elected theirs, Martius is worthy
265 Of present death.
SICINIUS  Therefore lay hold of him,
 Bear him to th’ rock Tarpeian, and from thence
 Into destruction cast him.
BRUTUS  Aediles, seize him!
ALL PLEBEIANS 
270 Yield, Martius, 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 friend,
275 And temp’rately 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,
280 And bear him to the rock.
Coriolanus draws his sword.
CORIOLANUS  No, I’ll die here.
 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 
285 Lay hands upon him!
MENENIUS  Help Martius, help!
 You that be noble, help him, young and old!
ALL PLEBEIANS Down with him, down with him!

In this mutiny, the Tribunes, the Aediles, and the People
are beat in.


MENENIUS, to Coriolanus 
 Go, get you to your house. Begone, away.
290 All will be naught else.

145
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ACT 3. SC. 1

SECOND SENATOR  Get you gone.
CORIOLANUS  Stand fast!
 We have as many friends as enemies.
MENENIUS 
 Shall it be put to that?
FIRST SENATOR 295 The gods forbid!—
 I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;
 Leave us to cure this cause.
MENENIUS  For ’tis a sore upon us
 You cannot tent yourself. Begone, beseech you.
COMINIUS 300Come, sir, along with us.
CORIOLANUS 
 I would they were barbarians, as they are,
 Though in Rome littered; not Romans, as they are
 not,
 Though calved i’ th’ porch o’ th’ Capitol.
MENENIUS 305 Begone!
 Put not your worthy rage into your tongue.
 One time will owe another.
CORIOLANUS  On fair ground
 I could beat forty of them.
MENENIUS 310 I could myself
 Take up a brace o’ th’ best of them, yea, the two
 tribunes.
COMINIUS 
 But now ’tis odds beyond arithmetic,
 And manhood is called foolery when it stands
315 Against a falling fabric. To Coriolanus. Will you
 hence,
 Before the tag return, whose rage doth rend
 Like interrupted waters and o’erbear
 What they are used to bear?
MENENIUS, to Coriolanus 320 Pray you, begone.
 I’ll try whether my old wit be in request
 With those that have but little. This must be patched
 With cloth of any color.

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ACT 3. SC. 1

COMINIUS Nay, come away.
Coriolanus and Cominius exit.
PATRICIAN 325This man has marred 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;
330 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.
PATRICIAN I would they were abed!
MENENIUS 
335 I would they were in Tiber. What the vengeance,
 Could he not speak ’em fair?

Enter Brutus and Sicinius with the rabble again.

SICINIUS  Where is this viper
 That would depopulate the city and
 Be every man himself?
MENENIUS 340 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
345 Which he so sets at naught.
FIRST CITIZEN  He shall well know
 The noble tribunes are the people’s mouths
 And we their hands.
ALL PLEBEIANS He shall, sure on ’t.
MENENIUS 350Sir, sir—
SICINIUS Peace!

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ACT 3. SC. 1

MENENIUS 
 Do not cry havoc where you should but hunt
 With modest warrant.
SICINIUS  Sir, how comes ’t that you
355 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 360The consul Coriolanus.
BRUTUS He consul?
ALL PLEBEIANS 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,
365 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
370 Were but one danger, and to keep him here
 Our certain death. Therefore it is decreed
 He dies tonight.
MENENIUS  Now the good gods forbid
 That our renownèd Rome, whose gratitude
375 Towards her deservèd children is enrolled
 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—
380 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

151
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ACT 3. SC. 1

 By many an ounce—he dropped it for his country;
385 And what is left, to lose it by his country
 Were to us all that do ’t and suffer it
 A brand to th’ end o’ th’ world.
SICINIUS  This is clean cam.
BRUTUS 
 Merely awry. When he did love his country,
390 It honored him.
SICINIUS  The service of the foot,
 Being once gangrened, is not then respected
 For what before it was.
BRUTUS  We’ll hear no more.
395 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
400 The harm of unscanned swiftness, will too late
 Tie leaden pounds to ’s heels. Proceed by process,
 Lest parties—as he is beloved—break out
 And sack great Rome with Romans.
BRUTUS  If it were so—
SICINIUS 405What do you talk?
 Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
 Our aediles smote! Ourselves resisted! Come.
MENENIUS 
 Consider this: he has been bred i’ th’ wars
 Since he could draw a sword, and is ill schooled
410 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.
FIRST SENATOR 415 Noble tribunes,
 It is the humane way: the other course

153
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ACT 3. SC. 2

 Will prove too bloody, and the end of it
 Unknown to the beginning.
SICINIUS  Noble Menenius,
420 Be you then as the people’s officer.—
 Masters, lay down your weapons.
BRUTUS  Go not home.
SICINIUS 
 Meet on the marketplace. To Menenius. We’ll
 attend you there,
425 Where if you bring not Martius, we’ll proceed
 In our first way.
MENENIUS I’ll bring him to you.
 To Senators. Let me desire your company. He must
 come,
430 Or what is worst will follow.
FIRST SENATOR  Pray you, let’s to him.
All exit.