List iconCoriolanus:
Act 5, scene 3
List icon

Act 5, 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 Coriolanus and Aufidius.

 We will before the walls of Rome tomorrow
 Set down our host. My partner in this action,

ACT 5. SC. 3

 You must report to th’ Volscian lords how plainly
 I have borne this business.
AUFIDIUS 5 Only their ends
 You have respected, stopped your ears against
 The general suit of Rome, never admitted
 A private whisper, no, not with such friends
 That thought them sure of you.
CORIOLANUS 10 This last old man,
 Whom with a cracked heart I have sent to Rome,
 Loved me above the measure of a father,
 Nay, godded me indeed. Their latest refuge
 Was to send him, for whose old love I have—
15 Though I showed sourly to him—once more offered
 The first conditions, which they did refuse
 And cannot now accept, to grace him only
 That thought he could do more. A very little
 I have yielded to. Fresh embassies and suits,
20 Nor from the state nor private friends, hereafter
 Will I lend ear to.Shout within.
 Ha? What shout is this?
 Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow
 In the same time ’tis made? I will not.

Enter Virgilia, Volumnia, Valeria, young Martius,
with Attendants.

25 My wife comes foremost, then the honored mold
 Wherein this trunk was framed, and in her hand
 The grandchild to her blood. But out, affection!
 All bond and privilege of nature, break!
 Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.Virgilia curtsies.
30 What is that curtsy worth? Or those doves’ eyes,
 Which can make gods forsworn? I melt and am not
 Of stronger earth than others.Volumnia bows.
 My mother bows,
 As if Olympus to a molehill should
35 In supplication nod; and my young boy

ACT 5. SC. 3

 Hath an aspect of intercession which
 Great Nature cries “Deny not!” Let the Volsces
 Plow Rome and harrow Italy, I’ll never
 Be such a gosling to obey instinct, but stand
40 As if a man were author of himself,
 And knew no other kin.
VIRGILIA  My lord and husband.
 These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.
 The sorrow that delivers us thus changed
45 Makes you think so.
CORIOLANUS  Like a dull actor now,
 I have forgot my part, and I am out,
 Even to a full disgrace. Best of my flesh,
 Forgive my tyranny, but do not say
50 For that “Forgive our Romans.”They kiss.
 O, a kiss
 Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!
 Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss
 I carried from thee, dear, and my true lip
55 Hath virgined it e’er since. You gods! I prate
 And the most noble mother of the world
 Leave unsaluted. Sink, my knee, i’ th’ earth;Kneels.
 Of thy deep duty more impression show
 Than that of common sons.
VOLUMNIA 60 O, stand up blest,
He rises.
 Whilst with no softer cushion than the flint
 I kneel before thee and unproperly
 Show duty, as mistaken all this while
 Between the child and parent.She kneels.
CORIOLANUS 65 What’s this?
 Your knees to me? To your corrected son?
He raises her up.
 Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach

ACT 5. SC. 3

 Fillip the stars! Then let the mutinous winds
 Strike the proud cedars ’gainst the fiery sun,
70 Murdering impossibility to make
 What cannot be slight work.
VOLUMNIA  Thou art my warrior;
 I holp to frame thee. Do you know this lady?
 The noble sister of Publicola,
75 The moon of Rome, chaste as the icicle
 That’s curdied by the frost from purest snow
 And hangs on Dian’s temple!—Dear Valeria.
VOLUMNIA, presenting young Martius 
 This is a poor epitome of yours,
 Which by th’ interpretation of full time
80 May show like all yourself.
CORIOLANUS, to young Martius  The god of soldiers,
 With the consent of supreme Jove, inform
 Thy thoughts with nobleness, that thou mayst prove
 To shame unvulnerable, and stick i’ th’ wars
85 Like a great seamark standing every flaw
 And saving those that eye thee.
VOLUMNIA, to young Martius  Your knee, sirrah.
He kneels.
CORIOLANUS That’s my brave boy!
 Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself
90 Are suitors to you.Young Martius rises.
CORIOLANUS  I beseech you, peace;
 Or if you’d ask, remember this before:
 The thing I have forsworn to grant may never
 Be held by you denials. Do not bid me
95 Dismiss my soldiers or capitulate
 Again with Rome’s mechanics. Tell me not
 Wherein I seem unnatural; desire not
 T’ allay my rages and revenges with
 Your colder reasons.

ACT 5. SC. 3

VOLUMNIA 100 O, no more, no more!
 You have said you will not grant us anything;
 For we have nothing else to ask but that
 Which you deny already. Yet we will ask,
 That if you fail in our request, the blame
105 May hang upon your hardness. Therefore hear us.
 Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark, for we’ll
 Hear naught from Rome in private. He sits. Your
 Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment
110 And state of bodies would bewray what life
 We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself
 How more unfortunate than all living women
 Are we come hither; since that thy sight, which
115 Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance with
 Constrains them weep and shake with fear and
 Making the mother, wife, and child to see
120 The son, the husband, and the father tearing
 His country’s bowels out. And to poor we
 Thine enmity’s most capital. Thou barr’st us
 Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort
 That all but we enjoy. For how can we—
125 Alas, how can we—for our country pray,
 Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,
 Whereto we are bound? Alack, or we must lose
 The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,
 Our comfort in the country. We must find
130 An evident calamity, though we had
 Our wish, which side should win, for either thou
 Must as a foreign recreant be led
 With manacles through our streets, or else

ACT 5. SC. 3

 Triumphantly tread on thy country’s ruin
135 And bear the palm for having bravely shed
 Thy wife and children’s blood. For myself, son,
 I purpose not to wait on fortune till
 These wars determine. If I cannot persuade thee
 Rather to show a noble grace to both parts
140 Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner
 March to assault thy country than to tread—
 Trust to ’t, thou shalt not—on thy mother’s womb
 That brought thee to this world.
VIRGILIA  Ay, and mine,
145 That brought you forth this boy to keep your name
 Living to time.
YOUNG MARTIUS  He shall not tread on me.
 I’ll run away till I am bigger, but then I’ll fight.
 Not of a woman’s tenderness to be
150 Requires nor child nor woman’s face to see.—
 I have sat too long.He rises.
VOLUMNIA  Nay, go not from us thus.
 If it were so, that our request did tend
 To save the Romans, thereby to destroy
155 The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn
 As poisonous of your honor. No, our suit
 Is that you reconcile them, while the Volsces
 May say “This mercy we have showed,” the Romans
160 “This we received,” and each in either side
 Give the all-hail to thee and cry “Be blest
 For making up this peace!” Thou know’st, great son,
 The end of war’s uncertain, but this certain,
 That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit
165 Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name
 Whose repetition will be dogged with curses,
 Whose chronicle thus writ: “The man was noble,
 But with his last attempt he wiped it out,

ACT 5. SC. 3

 Destroyed his country, and his name remains
170 To th’ ensuing age abhorred.” Speak to me, son.
 Thou hast affected the fine strains of honor
 To imitate the graces of the gods,
 To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o’ th’ air
 And yet to charge thy sulfur with a bolt
175 That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak?
 Think’st thou it honorable for a noble man
 Still to remember wrongs?—Daughter, speak you.
 He cares not for your weeping.—Speak thou, boy.
 Perhaps thy childishness will move him more
180 Than can our reasons.—There’s no man in the world
 More bound to ’s mother, yet here he lets me prate
 Like one i’ th’ stocks. Thou hast never in thy life
 Showed thy dear mother any courtesy
 When she, poor hen, fond of no second brood,
185 Has clucked thee to the wars and safely home,
 Loaden with honor. Say my request’s unjust
 And spurn me back; but if it be not so,
 Thou art not honest, and the gods will plague thee
 That thou restrain’st from me the duty which
190 To a mother’s part belongs.—He turns away.—
 Down, ladies! Let us shame him with our knees.
 To his surname Coriolanus ’longs more pride
 Than pity to our prayers. Down! An end.
They kneel.
 This is the last. So, we will home to Rome
195 And die among our neighbors.—Nay, behold ’s.
 This boy that cannot tell what he would have,
 But kneels and holds up hands for fellowship,
 Does reason our petition with more strength
 Than thou hast to deny ’t.—Come, let us go.
They rise.
200 This fellow had a Volscian to his mother,
 His wife is in Corioles, and his child

ACT 5. SC. 3

 Like him by chance.—Yet give us our dispatch.
 I am hushed until our city be afire,
 And then I’ll speak a little.
He holds her by the hand, silent.
CORIOLANUS 205 O mother, mother!
 What have you done? Behold, the heavens do ope,
 The gods look down, and this unnatural scene
 They laugh at. O, my mother, mother, O!
 You have won a happy victory to Rome,
210 But, for your son—believe it, O, believe it!—
 Most dangerously you have with him prevailed,
 If not most mortal to him. But let it come.—
 Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,
 I’ll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius,
215 Were you in my stead, would you have heard
 A mother less? Or granted less, Aufidius?
 I was moved withal.
CORIOLANUS  I dare be sworn you were.
 And, sir, it is no little thing to make
220 Mine eyes to sweat compassion. But, good sir,
 What peace you’ll make advise me. For my part,
 I’ll not to Rome. I’ll back with you; and pray you,
 Stand to me in this cause.—O mother!—Wife!
He speaks with them aside.
AUFIDIUS, aside 
 I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and thy honor
225 At difference in thee. Out of that I’ll work
 Myself a former fortune.
CORIOLANUS, to the Women  Ay, by and by;
 But we will drink together, and you shall bear
 A better witness back than words, which we,
230 On like conditions, will have countersealed.
 Come, enter with us. Ladies, you deserve
 To have a temple built you. All the swords

ACT 5. SC. 4

 In Italy, and her confederate arms,
 Could not have made this peace.
They exit.