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Coriolanus
Act 3, 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 Coriolanus with Nobles.

CORIOLANUS 
 Let them pull all about mine ears, present me
 Death on the wheel or at wild horses’ heels,
 Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock,
 That the precipitation might down stretch
5 Below the beam of sight, yet will I still
 Be thus to them.
NOBLE You do the nobler.
CORIOLANUS I muse my mother
 Does not approve me further, who was wont
10 To call them woolen vassals, things created
 To buy and sell with groats, to show bare heads
 In congregations, to yawn, be still, and wonder

155
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 2

 When one but of my ordinance stood up
 To speak of peace or war.

Enter Volumnia.

15 I talk of you.
 Why did you wish me milder? Would you have me
 False to my nature? Rather say I play
 The man I am.
VOLUMNIA  O sir, sir, sir,
20 I would have had you put your power well on
 Before you had worn it out.
CORIOLANUS Let go.
VOLUMNIA 
 You might have been enough the man you are
 With striving less to be so. Lesser had been
25 The thwartings of your dispositions if
 You had not showed them how you were disposed
 Ere they lacked power to cross you.
CORIOLANUS  Let them hang!
VOLUMNIA Ay, and burn too.

Enter Menenius with the Senators.

MENENIUS, to Coriolanus 
30 Come, come, you have been too rough, something
 too rough.
 You must return and mend it.
FIRST SENATOR  There’s no remedy,
 Unless, by not so doing, our good city
35 Cleave in the midst and perish.
VOLUMNIA  Pray be counseled.
 I have a heart as little apt as yours,
 But yet a brain that leads my use of anger
 To better vantage.
MENENIUS 40 Well said, noble woman.
 Before he should thus stoop to th’ herd—but that
 The violent fit o’ th’ time craves it as physic

157
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 2

 For the whole state—I would put mine armor on,
 Which I can scarcely bear.
CORIOLANUS 45 What must I do?
MENENIUS 
 Return to th’ Tribunes.
CORIOLANUS  Well, what then? What then?
MENENIUS Repent what you have spoke.
CORIOLANUS 
 For them? I cannot do it to the gods.
50 Must I then do ’t to them?
VOLUMNIA  You are too absolute,
 Though therein you can never be too noble
 But when extremities speak. I have heard you say
 Honor and policy, like unsevered friends,
55 I’ th’ war do grow together. Grant that, and tell me
 In peace what each of them by th’ other lose
 That they combine not there?
CORIOLANUS  Tush, tush!
MENENIUS  A good
60 demand.
VOLUMNIA 
 If it be honor in your wars to seem
 The same you are not, which for your best ends
 You adopt your policy, how is it less or worse
 That it shall hold companionship in peace
65 With honor as in war, since that to both
 It stands in like request?
CORIOLANUS  Why force you this?
VOLUMNIA 
 Because that now it lies you on to speak
 To th’ people, not by your own instruction,
70 Nor by th’ matter which your heart prompts you,
 But with such words that are but roted in
 Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables
 Of no allowance to your bosom’s truth.

159
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 2

 Now, this no more dishonors you at all
75 Than to take in a town with gentle words,
 Which else would put you to your fortune and
 The hazard of much blood.
 I would dissemble with my nature where
 My fortunes and my friends at stake required
80 I should do so in honor. I am in this
 Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles;
 And you will rather show our general louts
 How you can frown than spend a fawn upon ’em
 For the inheritance of their loves and safeguard
85 Of what that want might ruin.
MENENIUS  Noble lady!—
 Come, go with us; speak fair. You may salve so,
 Not what is dangerous present, but the loss
 Of what is past.
VOLUMNIA 90 I prithee now, my son,
 Go to them with this bonnet in thy hand,
 And thus far having stretched it—here be with
 them—
 Thy knee bussing the stones—for in such business
95 Action is eloquence, and the eyes of th’ ignorant
 More learnèd than the ears—waving thy head,
 Which often thus correcting thy stout heart,
 Now humble as the ripest mulberry
 That will not hold the handling. Or say to them
100 Thou art their soldier and, being bred in broils,
 Hast not the soft way, which thou dost confess
 Were fit for thee to use as they to claim,
 In asking their good loves; but thou wilt frame
 Thyself, forsooth, hereafter theirs, so far
105 As thou hast power and person.
MENENIUS  This but done
 Even as she speaks, why, their hearts were yours;
 For they have pardons, being asked, as free
 As words to little purpose.

161
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 2

VOLUMNIA 110 Prithee now,
 Go, and be ruled; although I know thou hadst rather
 Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf
 Than flatter him in a bower.

Enter Cominius.

 Here is Cominius.
COMINIUS 
115 I have been i’ th’ marketplace; and, sir, ’tis fit
 You make strong party or defend yourself
 By calmness or by absence. All’s in anger.
MENENIUS 
 Only fair speech.
COMINIUS  I think ’twill serve, if he
120 Can thereto frame his spirit.
VOLUMNIA  He must, and will.—
 Prithee, now, say you will, and go about it.
CORIOLANUS 
 Must I go show them my unbarbèd sconce? Must I
 With my base tongue give to my noble heart
125 A lie that it must bear? Well, I will do ’t.
 Yet, were there but this single plot to lose,
 This mold of Martius, they to dust should grind it
 And throw ’t against the wind. To th’ marketplace!
 You have put me now to such a part which never
130 I shall discharge to th’ life.
COMINIUS  Come, come, we’ll prompt
 you.
VOLUMNIA 
 I prithee now, sweet son, as thou hast said
 My praises made thee first a soldier, so,
135 To have my praise for this, perform a part
 Thou hast not done before.
CORIOLANUS  Well, I must do ’t.
 Away, my disposition, and possess me
 Some harlot’s spirit! My throat of war be turned,

163
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 2

140 Which choirèd with my drum, into a pipe
 Small as an eunuch or the virgin voice
 That babies lull asleep! The smiles of knaves
 Tent in my cheeks, and schoolboys’ tears take up
 The glasses of my sight! A beggar’s tongue
145 Make motion through my lips, and my armed knees,
 Who bowed but in my stirrup, bend like his
 That hath received an alms. I will not do ’t,
 Lest I surcease to honor mine own truth
 And, by my body’s action, teach my mind
150 A most inherent baseness.
VOLUMNIA  At thy choice, then.
 To beg of thee, it is my more dishonor
 Than thou of them. Come all to ruin. Let
 Thy mother rather feel thy pride than fear
155 Thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death
 With as big heart as thou. Do as thou list.
 Thy valiantness was mine; thou suck’st it from me,
 But owe thy pride thyself.
CORIOLANUS  Pray be content.
160 Mother, I am going to the marketplace.
 Chide me no more. I’ll mountebank their loves,
 Cog their hearts from them, and come home
 beloved
 Of all the trades in Rome. Look, I am going.
165 Commend me to my wife. I’ll return consul,
 Or never trust to what my tongue can do
 I’ th’ way of flattery further.
VOLUMNIA  Do your will.
Volumnia exits.
COMINIUS 
 Away! The Tribunes do attend you. Arm yourself
170 To answer mildly, for they are prepared
 With accusations, as I hear, more strong
 Than are upon you yet.

165
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 3

CORIOLANUS 
 The word is “mildly.” Pray you, let us go.
 Let them accuse me by invention, I
175 Will answer in mine honor.
MENENIUS  Ay, but mildly.
CORIOLANUS Well, mildly be it, then. Mildly.
They exit.