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Coriolanus
Act 5, scene 6

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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 6
Enter Tullus Aufidius, with Attendants.

AUFIDIUS 
 Go tell the lords o’ th’ city I am here.
 Deliver them this paper.(He gives them a paper.)
 Having read it,
 Bid them repair to th’ marketplace, where I,
5 Even in theirs and in the commons’ ears,
 Will vouch the truth of it. Him I accuse
 The city ports by this hath entered and
 Intends t’ appear before the people, hoping
 To purge himself with words. Dispatch.
The Attendants exit.

Enter three or four Conspirators of Aufidius’s faction.

10 Most welcome!
FIRST CONSPIRATOR 
 How is it with our general?
AUFIDIUS  Even so
 As with a man by his own alms empoisoned
 And with his charity slain.
SECOND CONSPIRATOR 15 Most noble sir,
 If you do hold the same intent wherein
 You wished us parties, we’ll deliver you
 Of your great danger.
AUFIDIUS  Sir, I cannot tell.
20 We must proceed as we do find the people.
THIRD CONSPIRATOR 
 The people will remain uncertain whilst
 ’Twixt you there’s difference, but the fall of either
 Makes the survivor heir of all.
AUFIDIUS  I know it,
25 And my pretext to strike at him admits
 A good construction. I raised him, and I pawned
 Mine honor for his truth, who, being so heightened,

271
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 6

 He watered his new plants with dews of flattery,
 Seducing so my friends; and to this end,
30 He bowed his nature, never known before
 But to be rough, unswayable, and free.
THIRD CONSPIRATOR Sir, his stoutness
 When he did stand for consul, which he lost
 By lack of stooping—
AUFIDIUS 35 That I would have spoke of.
 Being banished for ’t, he came unto my hearth,
 Presented to my knife his throat. I took him,
 Made him joint servant with me, gave him way
 In all his own desires; nay, let him choose
40 Out of my files, his projects to accomplish,
 My best and freshest men; served his designments
 In mine own person; holp to reap the fame
 Which he did end all his; and took some pride
 To do myself this wrong; till at the last
45 I seemed his follower, not partner; and
 He waged me with his countenance as if
 I had been mercenary.
FIRST CONSPIRATOR  So he did, my lord.
 The army marvelled at it, and, in the last,
50 When he had carried Rome and that we looked
 For no less spoil than glory—
AUFIDIUS  There was it
 For which my sinews shall be stretched upon him.
 At a few drops of women’s rheum, which are
55 As cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labor
 Of our great action. Therefore shall he die,
 And I’ll renew me in his fall. But hark!

Drums and trumpets sounds, with great shouts
of the people.


FIRST CONSPIRATOR 
 Your native town you entered like a post

273
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 6

 And had no welcomes home, but he returns
60 Splitting the air with noise.
SECOND CONSPIRATOR  And patient fools,
 Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear
 With giving him glory.
THIRD CONSPIRATOR  Therefore at your vantage,
65 Ere he express himself or move the people
 With what he would say, let him feel your sword,
 Which we will second. When he lies along,
 After your way his tale pronounced shall bury
 His reasons with his body.
AUFIDIUS 70 Say no more.

Enter the Lords of the city.

 Here come the lords.
ALL LORDS 
 You are most welcome home.
AUFIDIUS  I have not deserved it.
 But, worthy lords, have you with heed perused
75 What I have written to you?
ALL LORDS We have.
FIRST LORD And grieve to hear ’t.
 What faults he made before the last, I think
 Might have found easy fines, but there to end
80 Where he was to begin and give away
 The benefit of our levies, answering us
 With our own charge, making a treaty where
 There was a yielding—this admits no excuse.

Enter Coriolanus marching with Drum and Colors, the
Commoners being with him.


AUFIDIUS He approaches. You shall hear him.
CORIOLANUS 
85 Hail, lords! I am returned your soldier,
 No more infected with my country’s love

275
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 6

 Than when I parted hence, but still subsisting
 Under your great command. You are to know
 That prosperously I have attempted, and
90 With bloody passage led your wars even to
 The gates of Rome. Our spoils we have brought
 home
 Doth more than counterpoise a full third part
 The charges of the action. We have made peace
95 With no less honor to the Antiates
 Than shame to th’ Romans, and we here deliver,
 Subscribed by’ th’ Consuls and patricians,
 Together with the seal o’ th’ Senate, what
 We have compounded on.
He offers the lords a paper.
AUFIDIUS 100Read it not, noble lords,
 But tell the traitor in the highest degree
 He hath abused your powers.
CORIOLANUS “Traitor”? How now?
AUFIDIUS Ay, traitor, Martius.
CORIOLANUS 105Martius?
AUFIDIUS 
 Ay, Martius, Caius Martius. Dost thou think
 I’ll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol’n name
 Coriolanus, in Corioles?
 You lords and heads o’ th’ state, perfidiously
110 He has betrayed your business and given up
 For certain drops of salt your city Rome—
 I say your city—to his wife and mother,
 Breaking his oath and resolution like
 A twist of rotten silk, never admitting
115 Counsel o’ th’ war, but at his nurse’s tears
 He whined and roared away your victory,
 That pages blushed at him and men of heart
 Looked wond’ring each at other.
CORIOLANUS  Hear’st thou, Mars?

277
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 6

AUFIDIUS 120Name not the god, thou boy of tears.
CORIOLANUS Ha?
AUFIDIUS No more.
CORIOLANUS 
 Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
 Too great for what contains it. “Boy”? O slave!—
125 Pardon me, lords, ’tis the first time that ever
 I was forced to scold. Your judgments, my grave
 lords,
 Must give this cur the lie; and his own notion—
 Who wears my stripes impressed upon him, that
130 Must bear my beating to his grave—shall join
 To thrust the lie unto him.
FIRST LORD Peace, both, and hear me speak.
CORIOLANUS 
 Cut me to pieces, Volsces. Men and lads,
 Stain all your edges on me. “Boy”? False hound!
135 If you have writ your annals true, ’tis there
 That like an eagle in a dovecote, I
 Fluttered your Volscians in Corioles,
 Alone I did it. “Boy”!
AUFIDIUS  Why, noble lords,
140 Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune,
 Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,
 ’Fore your own eyes and ears?
ALL CONSPIRATORS  Let him die for ’t.
ALL PEOPLE Tear him to pieces! Do it presently! He
145 killed my son! My daughter! He killed my cousin
 Marcus! He killed my father!
SECOND LORD Peace, ho! No outrage! Peace!
 The man is noble, and his fame folds in
 This orb o’ th’ Earth. His last offenses to us
150 Shall have judicious hearing. Stand, Aufidius,
 And trouble not the peace.

279
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 6

CORIOLANUS, drawing his sword  O, that I had him,
 With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe,
 To use my lawful sword.
AUFIDIUS 155 Insolent villain!
ALL CONSPIRATORS Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!

Draw the Conspirators, and kills Martius, who falls.
Aufidius stands on him.


LORDS Hold, hold, hold, hold!
AUFIDIUS 
 My noble masters, hear me speak.
FIRST LORD  O Tullus!
SECOND LORD 
160 Thou hast done a deed whereat valor will weep.
THIRD LORD 
 Tread not upon him.—Masters, all be quiet.—
 Put up your swords.
AUFIDIUS 
 My lords, when you shall know—as in this rage,
 Provoked by him, you cannot—the great danger
165 Which this man’s life did owe you, you’ll rejoice
 That he is thus cut off. Please it your Honors
 To call me to your senate, I’ll deliver
 Myself your loyal servant or endure
 Your heaviest censure.
FIRST LORD 170 Bear from hence his body,
 And mourn you for him. Let him be regarded
 As the most noble corse that ever herald
 Did follow to his urn.
SECOND LORD  His own impatience
175 Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.
 Let’s make the best of it.
AUFIDIUS  My rage is gone,
 And I am struck with sorrow.—Take him up.
 Help, three o’ th’ chiefest soldiers; I’ll be one.—
180 Beat thou the drum that it speak mournfully.—

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ACT 5. SC. 6

 Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he
 Hath widowed and unchilded many a one,
 Which to this hour bewail the injury,
 Yet he shall have a noble memory.
185 Assist.
They exit bearing the body of Martius.
A dead march sounded.