List iconCoriolanus:
Act 5, scene 4
List icon

Act 5, scene 4



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 4
Enter Menenius and Sicinius.

MENENIUS See you yond coign o’ th’ Capitol, yond
SICINIUS Why, what of that?
MENENIUS If it be possible for you to displace it with
5 your little finger, there is some hope the ladies of
 Rome, especially his mother, may prevail with
 him. But I say there is no hope in ’t. Our throats
 are sentenced and stay upon execution.
SICINIUS Is ’t possible that so short a time can alter the
10 condition of a man?
MENENIUS There is differency between a grub and a
 butterfly, yet your butterfly was a grub. This Martius
 is grown from man to dragon. He has wings;
 he’s more than a creeping thing.
SICINIUS 15He loved his mother dearly.
MENENIUS So did he me; and he no more remembers
 his mother now than an eight-year-old horse. The
 tartness of his face sours ripe grapes. When he
 walks, he moves like an engine, and the ground
20 shrinks before his treading. He is able to pierce a
 corslet with his eye, talks like a knell, and his hum
 is a battery. He sits in his state as a thing made for
 Alexander. What he bids be done is finished with
 his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but eternity
25 and a heaven to throne in.
SICINIUS Yes, mercy, if you report him truly.
MENENIUS I paint him in the character. Mark what
 mercy his mother shall bring from him. There is

ACT 5. SC. 4

 no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male
30 tiger. That shall our poor city find, and all this is
 long of you.
SICINIUS The gods be good unto us.
MENENIUS No, in such a case the gods will not be good
 unto us. When we banished him, we respected not
35 them; and he returning to break our necks, they
 respect not us.

Enter a Messenger.

MESSENGER, to Sicinius 
 Sir, if you’d save your life, fly to your house.
 The plebeians have got your fellow tribune
 And hale him up and down, all swearing if
40 The Roman ladies bring not comfort home,
 They’ll give him death by inches.

Enter another Messenger.

SICINIUS  What’s the news?
 Good news, good news! The ladies have prevailed.
 The Volscians are dislodged and Martius gone.
45 A merrier day did never yet greet Rome,
 No, not th’ expulsion of the Tarquins.
 Art thou certain this is true? Is ’t most certain?
 As certain as I know the sun is fire.
50 Where have you lurked that you make doubt of it?
 Ne’er through an arch so hurried the blown tide
 As the recomforted through th’ gates. Why, hark you!

Trumpets, hautboys, drums beat, all together.

 The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries, and fifes,
 Tabors and cymbals, and the shouting Romans
55 Make the sun dance. Hark you!A shout within.

ACT 5. SC. 5

MENENIUS  This is good news.
 I will go meet the ladies. This Volumnia
 Is worth of consuls, senators, patricians
 A city full; of tribunes such as you
60 A sea and land full. You have prayed well today.
 This morning for ten thousand of your throats
 I’d not have given a doit. Hark, how they joy!
Sound still with the shouts.
SICINIUS, to Second Messenger First, the gods bless
 you for your tidings; next, accept my thankfulness.
65 Sir, we have all great cause to give great thanks.
SICINIUS They are near the city?
SECOND MESSENGER Almost at point to enter.
SICINIUS We’ll meet them, and help the joy.
They exit.