List iconCoriolanusList icon

Coriolanus
Act 5, scene 2

Synopsis:

Contents

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.

Include links to:

Images
Glosses
Audio
Video
Essays
Quill icon
Scene 2
Enter Menenius to the Watch, or Guard.

FIRST WATCH Stay! Whence are you?
SECOND WATCH Stand, and go back.
MENENIUS 
 You guard like men; ’tis well. But by your leave,
 I am an officer of state and come
5 To speak with Coriolanus.
FIRST WATCH From whence?
MENENIUS From Rome.
FIRST WATCH 
 You may not pass; you must return. Our general
 Will no more hear from thence.
SECOND WATCH 
10 You’ll see your Rome embraced with fire before
 You’ll speak with Coriolanus.
MENENIUS  Good my friends,
 If you have heard your general talk of Rome
 And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks
15 My name hath touched your ears. It is Menenius.
FIRST WATCH 
 Be it so; go back. The virtue of your name
 Is not here passable.
MENENIUS  I tell thee, fellow,
 Thy general is my lover. I have been
20 The book of his good acts, whence men have read
 His fame unparalleled happily amplified;
 For I have ever verified my friends—
 Of whom he’s chief—with all the size that verity
 Would without lapsing suffer. Nay, sometimes,

243
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 2

25 Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground,
 I have tumbled past the throw, and in his praise
 Have almost stamped the leasing. Therefore, fellow,
 I must have leave to pass.
FIRST WATCH Faith, sir, if you had told as many lies in
30 his behalf as you have uttered words in your own,
 you should not pass here, no, though it were as virtuous
 to lie as to live chastely. Therefore, go back.
MENENIUS Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius,
 always factionary on the party of your
35 general.
SECOND WATCH Howsoever you have been his liar, as
 you say you have, I am one that, telling true under
 him, must say you cannot pass. Therefore, go back.
MENENIUS Has he dined, can’st thou tell? For I would
40 not speak with him till after dinner.
FIRST WATCH You are a Roman, are you?
MENENIUS I am, as thy general is.
FIRST WATCH Then you should hate Rome as he does.
 Can you, when you have pushed out your gates the
45 very defender of them, and, in a violent popular
 ignorance given your enemy your shield, think to
 front his revenges with the easy groans of old
 women, the virginal palms of your daughters, or
 with the palsied intercession of such a decayed
50 dotant as you seem to be? Can you think to blow
 out the intended fire your city is ready to flame in
 with such weak breath as this? No, you are deceived.
 Therefore, back to Rome and prepare for
 your execution. You are condemned. Our general
55 has sworn you out of reprieve and pardon.
MENENIUS Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he
 would use me with estimation.
FIRST WATCH Come, my captain knows you not.
MENENIUS I mean thy general.

245
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 2

FIRST WATCH 60My general cares not for you. Back, I say,
 go, lest I let forth your half pint of blood. Back!
 That’s the utmost of your having. Back!
MENENIUS Nay, but fellow, fellow—

Enter Coriolanus with Aufidius.

CORIOLANUS What’s the matter?
MENENIUS to First Watch 65Now, you companion, I’ll
 say an errand for you. You shall know now that I
 am in estimation; you shall perceive that a Jack
 guardant cannot office me from my son Coriolanus.
 Guess but by my entertainment with him
70 if thou stand’st not i’ th’ state of hanging or of some
 death more long in spectatorship and crueler in
 suffering; behold now presently, and swoon for
 what’s to come upon thee. (To Coriolanus.) The
 glorious gods sit in hourly synod about thy particular
75 prosperity and love thee no worse than thy old
 father Menenius does! O my son, my son! (He
 weeps.) 
Thou art preparing fire for us; look thee,
 here’s water to quench it. I was hardly moved to
 come to thee; but being assured none but myself
80 could move thee, I have been blown out of your
 gates with sighs, and conjure thee to pardon Rome
 and thy petitionary countrymen. The good gods
 assuage thy wrath and turn the dregs of it upon
 this varlet here, this, who, like a block, hath denied
85 my access to thee.
CORIOLANUS Away!
MENENIUS How? Away?
CORIOLANUS 
 Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs
 Are servanted to others. Though I owe
90 My revenge properly, my remission lies
 In Volscian breasts. That we have been familiar,
 Ingrate forgetfulness shall poison rather

247
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 3

 Than pity note how much. Therefore, begone.
 Mine ears against your suits are stronger than
95 Your gates against my force. Yet, for I loved thee,
 Take this along; I writ it for thy sake,
He gives Menenius a paper.
 And would have sent it. Another word, Menenius,
 I will not hear thee speak.—This man, Aufidius,
 Was my beloved in Rome; yet thou behold’st.
AUFIDIUS 100You keep a constant temper.They exit.
The Guard and Menenius remain.
FIRST WATCH Now, sir, is your name Menenius?
SECOND WATCH ’Tis a spell, you see, of much power. You
 know the way home again.
FIRST WATCH Do you hear how we are shent for keeping
105 your Greatness back?
SECOND WATCH What cause do you think I have to
 swoon?
MENENIUS I neither care for th’ world nor your general.
 For such things as you, I can scarce think
110 there’s any, you’re so slight. He that hath a will to
 die by himself fears it not from another. Let your
 general do his worst. For you, be that you are,
 long; and your misery increase with your age! I say
 to you, as I was said to, away!He exits.
FIRST WATCH 115A noble fellow, I warrant him.
SECOND WATCH The worthy fellow is our general. He’s
 the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken.
Watch exit.