List iconCoriolanusList icon

Coriolanus
Entire Play

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
ACT 1
Scene 1
Enter a company of mutinous Citizens with staves,
clubs, and other weapons.


FIRST CITIZEN Before we proceed any further, hear me
 speak.
ALL Speak, speak!
FIRST CITIZEN You are all resolved rather to die than to
5 famish?
ALL Resolved, resolved!
FIRST CITIZEN First, you know Caius Martius is chief
 enemy to the people.
ALL We know ’t, we know ’t!
FIRST CITIZEN 10Let us kill him, and we’ll have corn at
 our own price. Is ’t a verdict?
ALL No more talking on ’t; let it be done. Away, away!
SECOND CITIZEN One word, good citizens.
FIRST CITIZEN We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians
15 good. What authority surfeits on would
 relieve us. If they would yield us but the superfluity
 while it were wholesome, we might guess they
 relieved us humanely. But they think we are too
 dear. The leanness that afflicts us, the object of our
20 misery, is as an inventory to particularize their
 abundance; our sufferance is a gain to them. Let
 us revenge this with our pikes ere we become
7

9
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 1

 rakes; for the gods know I speak this in hunger for
 bread, not in thirst for revenge.
SECOND CITIZEN 25Would you proceed especially against
 Caius Martius?
ALL Against him first. He’s a very dog to the
 commonalty.
SECOND CITIZEN Consider you what services he has
30 done for his country?
FIRST CITIZEN Very well, and could be content to give
 him good report for ’t, but that he pays himself
 with being proud.
SECOND CITIZEN Nay, but speak not maliciously.
FIRST CITIZEN 35I say unto you, what he hath done
 famously he did it to that end. Though soft-conscienced
 men can be content to say it was for
 his country, he did it to please his mother and to be
 partly proud, which he is, even to the altitude of
40 his virtue.
SECOND CITIZEN What he cannot help in his nature you
 account a vice in him. You must in no way say he
 is covetous.
FIRST CITIZEN If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations.
45 He hath faults, with surplus, to tire in
 repetition. (Shouts within.) What shouts are these?
 The other side o’ th’ city is risen. Why stay we prating
 here? To th’ Capitol!
ALL Come, come!

Enter Menenius Agrippa.

FIRST CITIZEN 50Soft, who comes here?
SECOND CITIZEN Worthy Menenius Agrippa, one that
 hath always loved the people.
FIRST CITIZEN He’s one honest enough. Would all the
 rest were so!

11
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 1

MENENIUS 
55 What work ’s, my countrymen, in hand? Where go
 you
 With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray you.
SECOND CITIZEN Our business is not unknown to th’
 Senate. They have had inkling this fortnight what
60 we intend to do, which now we’ll show ’em in
 deeds. They say poor suitors have strong breaths;
 they shall know we have strong arms too.
MENENIUS 
 Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest
 neighbors,
65 Will you undo yourselves?
SECOND CITIZEN 
 We cannot, sir; we are undone already.
MENENIUS 
 I tell you, friends, most charitable care
 Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
 Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
70 Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
 Against the Roman state, whose course will on
 The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
 Of more strong link asunder than can ever
 Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,
75 The gods, not the patricians, make it, and
 Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
 You are transported by calamity
 Thither where more attends you, and you slander
 The helms o’ th’ state, who care for you like fathers,
80 When you curse them as enemies.
SECOND CITIZEN Care for us? True, indeed! They ne’er
 cared for us yet. Suffer us to famish, and their
 storehouses crammed with grain; make edicts for
 usury to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome
85 act established against the rich, and provide
 more piercing statutes daily to chain up and restrain

13
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 1

 the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will;
 and there’s all the love they bear us.
MENENIUS 
 Either you must confess yourselves wondrous
90 malicious
 Or be accused of folly. I shall tell you
 A pretty tale. It may be you have heard it,
 But since it serves my purpose, I will venture
 To stale ’t a little more.
SECOND CITIZEN 95Well, I’ll hear it, sir; yet you must not
 think to fob off our disgrace with a tale. But, an ’t
 please you, deliver.
MENENIUS 
 There was a time when all the body’s members
 Rebelled against the belly, thus accused it:
100 That only like a gulf it did remain
 I’ th’ midst o’ th’ body, idle and unactive,
 Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
 Like labor with the rest, where th’ other instruments
 Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
105 And, mutually participate, did minister
 Unto the appetite and affection common
 Of the whole body. The belly answered—
SECOND CITIZEN Well, sir, what answer made the belly?
MENENIUS 
 Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile,
110 Which ne’er came from the lungs, but even thus—
 For, look you, I may make the belly smile
 As well as speak—it tauntingly replied
 To th’ discontented members, the mutinous parts
 That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
115 As you malign our senators for that
 They are not such as you.
SECOND CITIZEN Your belly’s answer—what?
 The kingly crownèd head, the vigilant eye,
 The counselor heart, the arm our soldier,

15
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 1

120 Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,
 With other muniments and petty helps
 In this our fabric, if that they—
MENENIUS  What then?
 ’Fore me, this fellow speaks. What then? What then?
SECOND CITIZEN 
125 Should by the cormorant belly be restrained,
 Who is the sink o’ th’ body—
MENENIUS  Well, what then?
SECOND CITIZEN 
 The former agents, if they did complain,
 What could the belly answer?
MENENIUS 130 I will tell you,
 If you’ll bestow a small—of what you have little—
 Patience awhile, you’st hear the belly’s answer.
SECOND CITIZEN 
 You’re long about it.
MENENIUS  Note me this, good friend;
135 Your most grave belly was deliberate,
 Not rash like his accusers, and thus answered:
 “True is it, my incorporate friends,” quoth he,
 “That I receive the general food at first
 Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
140 Because I am the storehouse and the shop
 Of the whole body. But, if you do remember,
 I send it through the rivers of your blood
 Even to the court, the heart, to th’ seat o’ th’ brain;
 And, through the cranks and offices of man,
145 The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
 From me receive that natural competency
 Whereby they live. And though that all at once,
 You, my good friends”—this says the belly, mark
 me—
SECOND CITIZEN 
150 Ay, sir, well, well.

17
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 1

MENENIUS  “Though all at once cannot
 See what I do deliver out to each,
 Yet I can make my audit up, that all
 From me do back receive the flour of all,
155 And leave me but the bran.” What say you to ’t?
SECOND CITIZEN 
 It was an answer. How apply you this?
MENENIUS 
 The senators of Rome are this good belly,
 And you the mutinous members. For examine
 Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly
160 Touching the weal o’ th’ common, you shall find
 No public benefit which you receive
 But it proceeds or comes from them to you
 And no way from yourselves. What do you think,
 You, the great toe of this assembly?
SECOND CITIZEN 165I the great toe? Why the great toe?
MENENIUS 
 For that, being one o’ th’ lowest, basest, poorest,
 Of this most wise rebellion, thou goest foremost.
 Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
 Lead’st first to win some vantage.
170 But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs.
 Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;
 The one side must have bale.

Enter Caius Martius.

 Hail, noble Martius.
MARTIUS 
 Thanks.—What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues,
175 That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
 Make yourselves scabs?
SECOND CITIZEN We have ever your good word.
MARTIUS 
 He that will give good words to thee will flatter
 Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,

19
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 1

180 That like nor peace nor war? The one affrights you;
 The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
 Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;
 Where foxes, geese. You are no surer, no,
 Than is the coal of fire upon the ice
185 Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is
 To make him worthy whose offense subdues him,
 And curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness
 Deserves your hate; and your affections are
 A sick man’s appetite, who desires most that
190 Which would increase his evil. He that depends
 Upon your favors swims with fins of lead,
 And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang you! Trust
 you?
 With every minute you do change a mind
195 And call him noble that was now your hate,
 Him vile that was your garland. What’s the matter,
 That in these several places of the city
 You cry against the noble senate, who,
 Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else
200 Would feed on one another?—What’s their seeking?
MENENIUS 
 For corn at their own rates, whereof they say
 The city is well stored.
MARTIUS  Hang ’em! They say?
 They’ll sit by th’ fire and presume to know
205 What’s done i’ th’ Capitol, who’s like to rise,
 Who thrives, and who declines; side factions and
 give out
 Conjectural marriages, making parties strong
 And feebling such as stand not in their liking
210 Below their cobbled shoes. They say there’s grain
 enough?
 Would the nobility lay aside their ruth
 And let me use my sword, I’d make a quarry

21
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 1

 With thousands of these quartered slaves as high
215 As I could pick my lance.
MENENIUS 
 Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
 For though abundantly they lack discretion,
 Yet are they passing cowardly. But I beseech you,
 What says the other troop?
MARTIUS 220 They are dissolved. Hang
 ’em!
 They said they were an-hungry, sighed forth
 proverbs
 That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
225 That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent
 not
 Corn for the rich men only. With these shreds
 They vented their complainings, which being
 answered
230 And a petition granted them—a strange one,
 To break the heart of generosity
 And make bold power look pale—they threw their
 caps
 As they would hang them on the horns o’ th’ moon,
235 Shouting their emulation.
MENENIUS  What is granted them?
MARTIUS 
 Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
 Of their own choice. One’s Junius Brutus,
 Sicinius Velutus, and I know not. ’Sdeath!
240 The rabble should have first unroofed the city
 Ere so prevailed with me. It will in time
 Win upon power and throw forth greater themes
 For insurrection’s arguing.
MENENIUS This is strange.
MARTIUS 245Go get you home, you fragments.

Enter a Messenger hastily.


23
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 1

MESSENGER 
 Where’s Caius Martius?
MARTIUS  Here. What’s the matter?
MESSENGER 
 The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.
MARTIUS 
 I am glad on ’t. Then we shall ha’ means to vent
250 Our musty superfluity.

Enter Sicinius Velutus, Junius Brutus, (two Tribunes);
Cominius, Titus Lartius, with other Senators.


 See our best elders.
FIRST SENATOR 
 Martius, ’tis true that you have lately told us:
 The Volsces are in arms.
MARTIUS  They have a leader,
255 Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to ’t.
 I sin in envying his nobility,
 And, were I anything but what I am,
 I would wish me only he.
COMINIUS  You have fought together?
MARTIUS 
260 Were half to half the world by th’ ears and he
 Upon my party, I’d revolt, to make
 Only my wars with him. He is a lion
 That I am proud to hunt.
FIRST SENATOR  Then, worthy Martius,
265 Attend upon Cominius to these wars.
COMINIUS 
 It is your former promise.
MARTIUS  Sir, it is,
 And I am constant.—Titus Lartius, thou
 Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus’ face.
270 What, art thou stiff? Stand’st out?

25
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 1

LARTIUS  No, Caius Martius,
 I’ll lean upon one crutch and fight with t’ other
 Ere stay behind this business.
MENENIUS  O, true bred!
FIRST SENATOR 
275 Your company to th’ Capitol, where I know
 Our greatest friends attend us.
LARTIUS, to Cominius  Lead you on.—
 To Martius. Follow Cominius. We must follow you;
 Right worthy you priority.
COMINIUS 280 Noble Martius.
FIRST SENATOR, to the Citizens 
 Hence to your homes, begone.
MARTIUS  Nay, let them follow.
 The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither
 To gnaw their garners.
Citizens steal away.
285 Worshipful mutineers,
 Your valor puts well forth.—Pray follow.
They exit. Sicinius and Brutus remain.
SICINIUS 
 Was ever man so proud as is this Martius?
BRUTUS He has no equal.
SICINIUS 
 When we were chosen tribunes for the people—
BRUTUS 
290 Marked you his lip and eyes?
SICINIUS  Nay, but his taunts.
BRUTUS 
 Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods—
SICINIUS Bemock the modest moon.
BRUTUS 
 The present wars devour him! He is grown
295 Too proud to be so valiant.

27
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 2

SICINIUS  Such a nature,
 Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
 Which he treads on at noon. But I do wonder
 His insolence can brook to be commanded
300 Under Cominius.
BRUTUS  Fame, at the which he aims,
 In whom already he’s well graced, cannot
 Better be held nor more attained than by
 A place below the first; for what miscarries
305 Shall be the General’s fault, though he perform
 To th’ utmost of a man, and giddy censure
 Will then cry out of Martius “O, if he
 Had borne the business!”
SICINIUS  Besides, if things go well,
310 Opinion that so sticks on Martius shall
 Of his demerits rob Cominius.
BRUTUS  Come.
 Half all Cominius’ honors are to Martius,
 Though Martius earned them not, and all his faults
315 To Martius shall be honors, though indeed
 In aught he merit not.
SICINIUS  Let’s hence and hear
 How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,
 More than his singularity, he goes
320 Upon this present action.
BRUTUS  Let’s along.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter Tullus Aufidius with Senators of Corioles.

FIRST SENATOR 
 So, your opinion is, Aufidius,
 That they of Rome are entered in our counsels
 And know how we proceed.

29
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 2

AUFIDIUS  Is it not yours?
5 Whatever have been thought on in this state
 That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome
 Had circumvention? ’Tis not four days gone
 Since I heard thence. These are the words—I think
 I have the letter here. Yes, here it is.
10 (He reads.) They have pressed a power, but it is not
 known
 Whether for east or west. The dearth is great.
 The people mutinous; and, it is rumored,
 Cominius, Martius your old enemy,
15 Who is of Rome worse hated than of you,
 And Titus Lartius, a most valiant Roman,
 These three lead on this preparation
 Whither ’tis bent. Most likely ’tis for you.
 Consider of it.

FIRST SENATOR 20Our army’s in the field.
 We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready
 To answer us.
AUFIDIUS  Nor did you think it folly
 To keep your great pretenses veiled till when
25 They needs must show themselves, which, in the
 hatching,
 It seemed, appeared to Rome. By the discovery
 We shall be shortened in our aim, which was
 To take in many towns ere almost Rome
30 Should know we were afoot.
SECOND SENATOR  Noble Aufidius,
 Take your commission; hie you to your bands.
 Let us alone to guard Corioles.
 If they set down before ’s, for the remove
35 Bring up your army. But I think you’ll find
 They’ve not prepared for us.
AUFIDIUS  O, doubt not that;
 I speak from certainties. Nay, more,

31
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 3

 Some parcels of their power are forth already,
40 And only hitherward. I leave your Honors.
 If we and Caius Martius chance to meet,
 ’Tis sworn between us we shall ever strike
 Till one can do no more.
ALL The gods assist you!
AUFIDIUS 45And keep your Honors safe!
FIRST SENATOR Farewell.
SECOND SENATOR Farewell.
ALL Farewell.
All exit.


Scene 3
Enter Volumnia and Virgilia, mother and wife
to Martius. They set them down on two low stools
and sew.


VOLUMNIA I pray you, daughter, sing, or express yourself
 in a more comfortable sort. If my son were my
 husband, I should freelier rejoice in that absence
 wherein he won honor than in the embracements
5 of his bed where he would show most love. When
 yet he was but tender-bodied and the only son of
 my womb, when youth with comeliness plucked
 all gaze his way, when for a day of kings’ entreaties
 a mother should not sell him an hour from her beholding,
10 I, considering how honor would become
 such a person—that it was no better than picture-like
 to hang by th’ wall, if renown made it not
 stir—was pleased to let him seek danger where he
 was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him,
15 from whence he returned, his brows bound with
 oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not more in joy
 at first hearing he was a man-child than now in
 first seeing he had proved himself a man.

33
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 3

VIRGILIA But had he died in the business, madam, how
20 then?
VOLUMNIA Then his good report should have been my
 son; I therein would have found issue. Hear me
 profess sincerely: had I a dozen sons, each in my
 love alike and none less dear than thine and my
25 good Martius, I had rather had eleven die nobly
 for their country than one voluptuously surfeit out
 of action.

Enter a Gentlewoman.

GENTLEWOMAN Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to
 visit you.
VIRGILIA 
30 Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.
VOLUMNIA Indeed you shall not.
 Methinks I hear hither your husband’s drum,
 See him pluck Aufidius down by th’ hair;
 As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him.
35 Methinks I see him stamp thus and call thus:
 “Come on, you cowards! You were got in fear,
 Though you were born in Rome.” His bloody brow
 With his mailed hand then wiping, forth he goes
 Like to a harvestman that’s tasked to mow
40 Or all or lose his hire.
VIRGILIA 
 His bloody brow? O Jupiter, no blood!
VOLUMNIA 
 Away, you fool! It more becomes a man
 Than gilt his trophy. The breasts of Hecuba,
 When she did suckle Hector, looked not lovelier
45 Than Hector’s forehead when it spit forth blood
 At Grecian sword, contemning.—Tell Valeria
 We are fit to bid her welcome.Gentlewoman exits.

35
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 3

VIRGILIA 
 Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!
VOLUMNIA 
 He’ll beat Aufidius’ head below his knee
50 And tread upon his neck.

Enter Valeria with an Usher and a Gentlewoman.

VALERIA My ladies both, good day to you.
VOLUMNIA Sweet madam.
VIRGILIA I am glad to see your Ladyship.
VALERIA How do you both? You are manifest housekeepers.
55 What are you sewing here? A fine spot, in
 good faith. How does your little son?
VIRGILIA I thank your Ladyship; well, good madam.
VOLUMNIA He had rather see the swords and hear a
 drum than look upon his schoolmaster.
VALERIA 60O’ my word, the father’s son! I’ll swear ’tis a
 very pretty boy. O’ my troth, I looked upon him o’
 Wednesday half an hour together. H’as such a confirmed
 countenance. I saw him run after a gilded
 butterfly, and when he caught it, he let it go again,
65 and after it again, and over and over he comes,
 and up again, catched it again. Or whether his fall
 enraged him or how ’twas, he did so set his teeth
 and tear it. O, I warrant how he mammocked it!
VOLUMNIA One on ’s father’s moods.
VALERIA 70Indeed, la, ’tis a noble child.
VIRGILIA A crack, madam.
VALERIA Come, lay aside your stitchery. I must have
 you play the idle huswife with me this afternoon.
VIRGILIA No, good madam, I will not out of doors.
VALERIA 75Not out of doors?
VOLUMNIA She shall, she shall.
VIRGILIA Indeed, no, by your patience. I’ll not over the
 threshold till my lord return from the wars.

37
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 3

VALERIA Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably.
80 Come, you must go visit the good lady that lies in.
VIRGILIA I will wish her speedy strength and visit her
 with my prayers, but I cannot go thither.
VOLUMNIA Why, I pray you?
VIRGILIA ’Tis not to save labor, nor that I want love.
VALERIA 85You would be another Penelope. Yet they say
 all the yarn she spun in Ulysses’ absence did but fill
 Ithaca full of moths. Come, I would your cambric
 were sensible as your finger, that you might leave
 pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.
VIRGILIA 90No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I will
 not forth.
VALERIA In truth, la, go with me, and I’ll tell you excellent
 news of your husband.
VIRGILIA O, good madam, there can be none yet.
VALERIA 95Verily, I do not jest with you. There came
 news from him last night.
VIRGILIA Indeed, madam!
VALERIA In earnest, it’s true. I heard a senator speak it.
 Thus it is: the Volsces have an army forth, against
100 whom Cominius the General is gone with one
 part of our Roman power. Your lord and Titus Lartius
 are set down before their city Corioles. They
 nothing doubt prevailing, and to make it brief
 wars. This is true, on mine honor, and so, I pray, go
105 with us.
VIRGILIA Give me excuse, good madam. I will obey you
 in everything hereafter.
VOLUMNIA Let her alone, lady. As she is now, she will
 but disease our better mirth.
VALERIA 110In troth, I think she would.—Fare you well,
 then.—Come, good sweet lady.—Prithee, Virgilia,
 turn thy solemness out o’ door, and go along with
 us.

39
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 4

VIRGILIA No, at a word, madam. Indeed, I must not. I
115 wish you much mirth.
VALERIA Well, then, farewell.
Ladies exit.


Scene 4
Enter Martius, Titus Lartius, with Trumpet, Drum,
and Colors, with Captains and Soldiers, as before
the city of Corioles. To them a Messenger.


MARTIUS 
 Yonder comes news. A wager they have met.
LARTIUS 
 My horse to yours, no.
MARTIUS  ’Tis done.
LARTIUS  Agreed.
MARTIUS, to Messenger 
5 Say, has our general met the enemy?
MESSENGER 
 They lie in view but have not spoke as yet.
LARTIUS 
 So the good horse is mine.
MARTIUS  I’ll buy him of you.
LARTIUS 
 No, I’ll nor sell nor give him. Lend you him I will
10 For half a hundred years.—Summon the town.
MARTIUS How far off lie these armies?
MESSENGER Within this mile and half.
MARTIUS 
 Then shall we hear their ’larum and they ours.
 Now, Mars, I prithee, make us quick in work,
15 That we with smoking swords may march from
 hence
 To help our fielded friends!—Come, blow thy blast.
They sound a parley.

41
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 4

Enter two Senators with others on the walls of Corioles.

 Tullus Aufidius, is he within your walls?
FIRST SENATOR 
 No, nor a man that fears you less than he:
20 That’s lesser than a little.Drum afar off.
 Hark, our drums
 Are bringing forth our youth. We’ll break our walls
 Rather than they shall pound us up. Our gates,
 Which yet seem shut, we have but pinned with
25 rushes.
 They’ll open of themselves.Alarum far off.
 Hark you, far off!
 There is Aufidius. List what work he makes
 Amongst your cloven army.
They exit from the walls.
MARTIUS 30 O, they are at it!
LARTIUS 
 Their noise be our instruction.—Ladders, ho!

Enter the Army of the Volsces as through the city gates.

MARTIUS 
 They fear us not but issue forth their city.—
 Now put your shields before your hearts, and fight
 With hearts more proof than shields.—Advance,
35 brave Titus.
 They do disdain us much beyond our thoughts,
 Which makes me sweat with wrath.—Come on, my
 fellows!
 He that retires, I’ll take him for a Volsce,
40 And he shall feel mine edge.
Alarum. The Romans are beat back to their trenches.
They exit, with the Volsces following.

Enter Martius cursing, with Roman soldiers.


43
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 4

MARTIUS 
 All the contagion of the south light on you,
 You shames of Rome! You herd of—Boils and
 plagues
 Plaster you o’er, that you may be abhorred
45 Farther than seen, and one infect another
 Against the wind a mile! You souls of geese,
 That bear the shapes of men, how have you run
 From slaves that apes would beat! Pluto and hell!
 All hurt behind. Backs red, and faces pale
50 With flight and agued fear! Mend, and charge home,
 Or, by the fires of heaven, I’ll leave the foe
 And make my wars on you. Look to ’t. Come on!
 If you’ll stand fast, we’ll beat them to their wives,
 As they us to our trenches. Follow ’s!

Another alarum. The Volsces re-enter and are driven
back to the gates of Corioles, which open to admit
them.


55 So, now the gates are ope. Now prove good
 seconds!
 ’Tis for the followers fortune widens them,
 Not for the fliers. Mark me, and do the like.
Martius follows the fleeing Volsces through
the gates, and is shut in.

FIRST SOLDIER Foolhardiness, not I.
SECOND SOLDIER 60Nor I.
FIRST SOLDIER See they have shut him in.
Alarum continues.
ALL To th’ pot, I warrant him.

Enter Titus Lartius.

LARTIUS 
 What is become of Martius?
ALL  Slain, sir, doubtless.

45
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 5

FIRST SOLDIER 
65 Following the fliers at the very heels,
 With them he enters, who upon the sudden
 Clapped to their gates. He is himself alone,
 To answer all the city.
LARTIUS  O, noble fellow,
70 Who sensibly outdares his senseless sword,
 And when it bows, stand’st up! Thou art left,
 Martius.
 A carbuncle entire, as big as thou art,
 Were not so rich a jewel. Thou wast a soldier
75 Even to Cato’s wish, not fierce and terrible
 Only in strokes, but with thy grim looks and
 The thunderlike percussion of thy sounds
 Thou mad’st thine enemies shake, as if the world
 Were feverous and did tremble.

Enter Martius, bleeding, as if from Corioles, assaulted
by the enemy.


FIRST SOLDIER 80Look, sir.
LARTIUS O, ’tis Martius!
 Let’s fetch him off or make remain alike.
They fight, and all enter the city, exiting the stage.



Scene 5
Enter certain Romans, with spoils.

FIRST ROMAN This will I carry to Rome.
SECOND ROMAN And I this.
THIRD ROMAN A murrain on ’t! I took this for silver.

Enter Martius, and Titus Lartius with a Trumpet.

MARTIUS 
 See here these movers that do prize their hours
5 At a cracked drachma. Cushions, leaden spoons,

47
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 5

 Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would
 Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves,
 Ere yet the fight be done, pack up. Down with them!
The Romans with spoils exit.
Alarum continues still afar off.
 And hark, what noise the General makes! To him!
10 There is the man of my soul’s hate, Aufidius,
 Piercing our Romans. Then, valiant Titus, take
 Convenient numbers to make good the city,
 Whilst I, with those that have the spirit, will haste
 To help Cominius.
LARTIUS 15 Worthy sir, thou bleed’st.
 Thy exercise hath been too violent
 For a second course of fight.
MARTIUS  Sir, praise me not.
 My work hath yet not warmed me. Fare you well.
20 The blood I drop is rather physical
 Than dangerous to me. To Aufidius thus
 I will appear and fight.
LARTIUS Now the fair goddess Fortune
 Fall deep in love with thee, and her great charms
25 Misguide thy opposers’ swords! Bold gentleman,
 Prosperity be thy page!
MARTIUS  Thy friend no less
 Than those she placeth highest! So farewell.
LARTIUS Thou worthiest Martius!Martius exits.
30 Go sound thy trumpet in the marketplace.
 Call thither all the officers o’ th’ town,
 Where they shall know our mind. Away!
They exit.




49
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 6

Scene 6
Enter Cominius as it were in retire, with Soldiers.

COMINIUS 
 Breathe you, my friends. Well fought! We are come
 off
 Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands
 Nor cowardly in retire. Believe me, sirs,
5 We shall be charged again. Whiles we have struck,
 By interims and conveying gusts we have heard
 The charges of our friends. The Roman gods
 Lead their successes as we wish our own,
 That both our powers, with smiling fronts
10 encount’ring,
 May give you thankful sacrifice!

Enter a Messenger.

 Thy news?
MESSENGER 
 The citizens of Corioles have issued
 And given to Lartius and to Martius battle.
15 I saw our party to their trenches driven,
 And then I came away.
COMINIUS  Though thou speakest truth,
 Methinks thou speak’st not well. How long is ’t
 since?
MESSENGER 20Above an hour, my lord.
COMINIUS 
 ’Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums.
 How couldst thou in a mile confound an hour
 And bring thy news so late?
MESSENGER  Spies of the Volsces
25 Held me in chase, that I was forced to wheel

51
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 6

 Three or four miles about; else had I, sir,
 Half an hour since brought my report.He exits.

Enter Martius, bloody.

COMINIUS  Who’s yonder,
 That does appear as he were flayed? O gods,
30 He has the stamp of Martius, and I have
 Before-time seen him thus.
MARTIUS  Come I too late?
COMINIUS 
 The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabor
 More than I know the sound of Martius’ tongue
35 From every meaner man.
MARTIUS  Come I too late?
COMINIUS 
 Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,
 But mantled in your own.
MARTIUS  O, let me clip you
40 In arms as sound as when I wooed, in heart
 As merry as when our nuptial day was done
 And tapers burnt to bedward!They embrace.
COMINIUS 
 Flower of warriors, how is ’t with Titus Lartius?
MARTIUS 
 As with a man busied about decrees,
45 Condemning some to death and some to exile;
 Ransoming him or pitying, threat’ning th’ other;
 Holding Corioles in the name of Rome
 Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,
 To let him slip at will.
COMINIUS 50 Where is that slave
 Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?
 Where is he? Call him hither.
MARTIUS  Let him alone.
 He did inform the truth. But for our gentlemen,

53
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 6

55 The common file—a plague! Tribunes for them!—
 The mouse ne’er shunned the cat as they did budge
 From rascals worse than they.
COMINIUS  But how prevailed you?
MARTIUS 
 Will the time serve to tell? I do not think.
60 Where is the enemy? Are you lords o’ th’ field?
 If not, why cease you till you are so?
COMINIUS 
 Martius, we have at disadvantage fought
 And did retire to win our purpose.
MARTIUS 
 How lies their battle? Know you on which side
65 They have placed their men of trust?
COMINIUS  As I guess,
 Martius,
 Their bands i’ th’ vaward are the Antiates,
 Of their best trust; o’er them Aufidius,
70 Their very heart of hope.
MARTIUS  I do beseech you,
 By all the battles wherein we have fought,
 By th’ blood we have shed together, by th’ vows we
 have made
75 To endure friends, that you directly set me
 Against Aufidius and his Antiates,
 And that you not delay the present, but,
 Filling the air with swords advanced and darts,
 We prove this very hour.
COMINIUS 80 Though I could wish
 You were conducted to a gentle bath
 And balms applied to you, yet dare I never
 Deny your asking. Take your choice of those
 That best can aid your action.
MARTIUS 85 Those are they
 That most are willing. If any such be here—

55
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 7

 As it were sin to doubt—that love this painting
 Wherein you see me smeared; if any fear
 Lesser his person than an ill report;
90 If any think brave death outweighs bad life,
 And that his country’s dearer than himself;
 Let him alone, or so many so minded,
 Wave thus to express his disposition
 And follow Martius.He waves his sword.
They all shout and wave their swords,
take him up in their arms, and cast up their caps.

95 O, me alone! Make you a sword of me?
 If these shows be not outward, which of you
 But is four Volsces? None of you but is
 Able to bear against the great Aufidius
 A shield as hard as his. A certain number,
100 Though thanks to all, must I select from all.
 The rest shall bear the business in some other fight,
 As cause will be obeyed. Please you to march,
 And I shall quickly draw out my command,
 Which men are best inclined.
COMINIUS 105 March on, my fellows.
 Make good this ostentation, and you shall
 Divide in all with us.
They exit.


Scene 7
Titus Lartius, having set a guard upon Corioles, going
with Drum and Trumpet toward Cominius and Caius
Martius, enters with a Lieutenant, other Soldiers,
and a Scout.


LARTIUS 
 So, let the ports be guarded. Keep your duties
 As I have set them down. If I do send, dispatch
 Those centuries to our aid; the rest will serve

57
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 8

 For a short holding. If we lose the field,
5 We cannot keep the town.
LIEUTENANT  Fear not our care, sir.
LARTIUS Hence, and shut your gates upon ’s.
 (To the Scout.) Our guider, come. To th’ Roman
 camp conduct us.
They exit, the Lieutenant one way, Lartius another.


Scene 8
Alarum, as in battle.
Enter Martius and Aufidius at several doors.


MARTIUS 
 I’ll fight with none but thee, for I do hate thee
 Worse than a promise-breaker.
AUFIDIUS  We hate alike.
 Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor
5 More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.
MARTIUS 
 Let the first budger die the other’s slave,
 And the gods doom him after!
AUFIDIUS  If I fly, Martius,
 Hollo me like a hare.
MARTIUS 10 Within these three hours,
 Tullus,
 Alone I fought in your Corioles’ walls
 And made what work I pleased. ’Tis not my blood
 Wherein thou seest me masked. For thy revenge,
15 Wrench up thy power to th’ highest.
AUFIDIUS  Wert thou the
 Hector
 That was the whip of your bragged progeny,
 Thou shouldst not scape me here.

Here they fight, and certain Volsces come in
the aid of Aufidius.


59
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 9

20 (To the Volsces.) Officious and not valiant, you have
 shamed me
 In your condemnèd seconds.
Martius fights till they be driven in breathless.
Aufidius and Martius exit, separately.



Scene 9
Alarum. A retreat is sounded. Flourish. Enter, at one
door, Cominius with the Romans; at another door
Martius, with his arm in a scarf.


COMINIUS, to Martius 
 If I should tell thee o’er this thy day’s work,
 Thou ’t not believe thy deeds. But I’ll report it
 Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles;
 Where great patricians shall attend and shrug,
5 I’ th’ end admire; where ladies shall be frighted
 And, gladly quaked, hear more; where the dull
 tribunes,
 That with the fusty plebeians hate thine honors,
 Shall say against their hearts “We thank the gods
10 Our Rome hath such a soldier.”
 Yet cam’st thou to a morsel of this feast,
 Having fully dined before.

Enter Titus Lartius with his power, from the pursuit.

LARTIUS  O general,
 Here is the steed, we the caparison.
15 Hadst thou beheld—
MARTIUS  Pray now, no more. My mother,
 Who has a charter to extol her blood,
 When she does praise me grieves me. I have done
 As you have done—that’s what I can;
20 Induced as you have been—that’s for my country.
 He that has but effected his good will
 Hath overta’en mine act.

61
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 9

COMINIUS  You shall not be
 The grave of your deserving. Rome must know
25 The value of her own. ’Twere a concealment
 Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement,
 To hide your doings and to silence that
 Which, to the spire and top of praises vouched,
 Would seem but modest. Therefore, I beseech you—
30 In sign of what you are, not to reward
 What you have done—before our army hear me.
MARTIUS 
 I have some wounds upon me, and they smart
 To hear themselves remembered.
COMINIUS  Should they not,
35 Well might they fester ’gainst ingratitude
 And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses—
 Whereof we have ta’en good and good store—of all
 The treasure in this field achieved and city,
 We render you the tenth, to be ta’en forth
40 Before the common distribution
 At your only choice.
MARTIUS  I thank you, general,
 But cannot make my heart consent to take
 A bribe to pay my sword. I do refuse it
45 And stand upon my common part with those
 That have beheld the doing.
A long flourish. They all cry “Martius, Martius!”
and cast up their caps and lances.
Cominius and Lartius stand bare.

 May these same instruments, which you profane,
 Never sound more! When drums and trumpets shall
 I’ th’ field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be
50 Made all of false-faced soothing! When steel grows
 Soft as the parasite’s silk, let him be made
 An ovator for th’ wars! No more, I say.
 For that I have not washed my nose that bled,
 Or foiled some debile wretch—which, without note,

63
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 9

55 Here’s many else have done—you shout me forth
 In acclamations hyperbolical,
 As if I loved my little should be dieted
 In praises sauced with lies.
COMINIUS  Too modest are you,
60 More cruel to your good report than grateful
 To us that give you truly. By your patience,
 If ’gainst yourself you be incensed, we’ll put you,
 Like one that means his proper harm, in manacles,
 Then reason safely with you. Therefore be it known,
65 As to us to all the world, that Caius Martius
 Wears this war’s garland, in token of the which
 My noble steed, known to the camp, I give him,
 With all his trim belonging. And from this time,
 For what he did before Corioles, call him,
70 With all th’ applause and clamor of the host,
 Martius Caius Coriolanus! Bear
 Th’ addition nobly ever!

Flourish. Trumpets sound, and drums.

ALL 
 Martius Caius Coriolanus!
CORIOLANUS  I will go wash;
75 And when my face is fair, you shall perceive
 Whether I blush or no. Howbeit, I thank you.
 I mean to stride your steed and at all times
 To undercrest your good addition
 To th’ fairness of my power.
COMINIUS 80 So, to our tent,
 Where, ere we do repose us, we will write
 To Rome of our success.—You, Titus Lartius,
 Must to Corioles back. Send us to Rome
 The best, with whom we may articulate
85 For their own good and ours.
LARTIUS  I shall, my lord.

65
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 10

CORIOLANUS 
 The gods begin to mock me. I, that now
 Refused most princely gifts, am bound to beg
 Of my lord general.
COMINIUS 90 Take ’t, ’tis yours. What is ’t?
CORIOLANUS 
 I sometime lay here in Corioles
 At a poor man’s house; he used me kindly.
 He cried to me; I saw him prisoner;
 But then Aufidius was within my view,
95 And wrath o’erwhelmed my pity. I request you
 To give my poor host freedom.
COMINIUS  O, well begged!
 Were he the butcher of my son, he should
 Be free as is the wind.—Deliver him, Titus.
LARTIUS 
100 Martius, his name?
CORIOLANUS  By Jupiter, forgot!
 I am weary; yea, my memory is tired.
 Have we no wine here?
COMINIUS  Go we to our tent.
105 The blood upon your visage dries; ’tis time
 It should be looked to. Come.
A flourish of cornets. They exit.


Scene 10
Enter Tullus Aufidius bloody, with two or three Soldiers.

AUFIDIUS The town is ta’en.
SOLDIER 
 ’Twill be delivered back on good condition.
AUFIDIUS Condition?
 I would I were a Roman, for I cannot,
5 Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition?
 What good condition can a treaty find

67
Coriolanus
ACT 1. SC. 10

 I’ th’ part that is at mercy? Five times, Martius,
 I have fought with thee; so often hast thou beat me
 And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter
10 As often as we eat. By th’ elements,
 If e’er again I meet him beard to beard,
 He’s mine, or I am his. Mine emulation
 Hath not that honor in ’t it had; for where
 I thought to crush him in an equal force,
15 True sword to sword, I’ll potch at him some way
 Or wrath or craft may get him.
SOLDIER  He’s the devil.
AUFIDIUS 
 Bolder, though not so subtle. My valor’s poisoned
 With only suff’ring stain by him; for him
20 Shall fly out of itself. Nor sleep nor sanctuary,
 Being naked, sick, nor fane nor Capitol,
 The prayers of priests nor times of sacrifice,
 Embarquements all of fury, shall lift up
 Their rotten privilege and custom ’gainst
25 My hate to Martius. Where I find him, were it
 At home, upon my brother’s guard, even there,
 Against the hospitable canon, would I
 Wash my fierce hand in ’s heart. Go you to th’ city;
 Learn how ’tis held and what they are that must
30 Be hostages for Rome.
SOLDIER  Will not you go?
AUFIDIUS 
 I am attended at the cypress grove. I pray you—
 ’Tis south the city mills—bring me word thither
 How the world goes, that to the pace of it
35 I may spur on my journey.
SOLDIER  I shall, sir.
They exit, Aufidius through one door,
Soldiers through another.



ACT 2
Scene 1
Enter Menenius with the two Tribunes of the people,
Sicinius and Brutus.


MENENIUS The augurer tells me we shall have news
 tonight.
BRUTUS Good or bad?
MENENIUS Not according to the prayer of the people,
5 for they love not Martius.
SICINIUS Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.
MENENIUS Pray you, who does the wolf love?
SICINIUS The lamb.
MENENIUS Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians
10 would the noble Martius.
BRUTUS He’s a lamb indeed, that baas like a bear.
MENENIUS He’s a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb.
 You two are old men; tell me one thing that I shall
 ask you.
BOTH 15Well, sir.
MENENIUS In what enormity is Martius poor in, that
 you two have not in abundance?
BRUTUS He’s poor in no one fault, but stored with all.
SICINIUS Especially in pride.
BRUTUS 20And topping all others in boasting.
MENENIUS This is strange now. Do you two know how
 you are censured here in the city, I mean of us o’
 th’ right-hand file, do you?
71

73
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 1

BOTH Why, how are we censured?
MENENIUS 25Because you talk of pride now, will you not
 be angry?
BOTH Well, well, sir, well?
MENENIUS Why, ’tis no great matter; for a very little
 thief of occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience.
30 Give your dispositions the reins, and be
 angry at your pleasures, at the least, if you take it
 as a pleasure to you in being so. You blame Martius
 for being proud.
BRUTUS We do it not alone, sir.
MENENIUS 35I know you can do very little alone, for
 your helps are many, or else your actions would
 grow wondrous single. Your abilities are too infantlike
 for doing much alone. You talk of pride. O,
 that you could turn your eyes toward the napes
40 of your necks and make but an interior survey of
 your good selves! O, that you could!
BOTH What then, sir?
MENENIUS Why, then you should discover a brace of
 unmeriting, proud, violent, testy magistrates, alias
45 fools, as any in Rome.
SICINIUS Menenius, you are known well enough, too.
MENENIUS I am known to be a humorous patrician and
 one that loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of
 allaying Tiber in ’t; said to be something imperfect
50 in favoring the first complaint, hasty and tinder-like
 upon too trivial motion; one that converses
 more with the buttock of the night than with the
 forehead of the morning. What I think I utter,
 and spend my malice in my breath. Meeting two
55 such wealsmen as you are—I cannot call you
 Lycurguses—if the drink you give me touch my
 palate adversely, I make a crooked face at it. I cannot
 say your Worships have delivered the matter
 well when I find the ass in compound with the

75
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 1

60 major part of your syllables. And though I must
 be content to bear with those that say you are reverend
 grave men, yet they lie deadly that tell you
 have good faces. If you see this in the map of my
 microcosm, follows it that I am known well enough
65 too? What harm can your bisson conspectuities
 glean out of this character, if I be known well
 enough, too?
BRUTUS Come, sir, come; we know you well enough.
MENENIUS You know neither me, yourselves, nor anything.
70 You are ambitious for poor knaves’ caps
 and legs. You wear out a good wholesome forenoon
 in hearing a cause between an orange-wife
 and a faucet-seller, and then rejourn the controversy
 of threepence to a second day of audience.
75 When you are hearing a matter between party and
 party, if you chance to be pinched with the colic,
 you make faces like mummers, set up the bloody
 flag against all patience, and, in roaring for a
 chamber pot, dismiss the controversy bleeding,
80 the more entangled by your hearing. All the peace
 you make in their cause is calling both the parties
 knaves. You are a pair of strange ones.
BRUTUS Come, come. You are well understood to be a
 perfecter giber for the table than a necessary
85 bencher in the Capitol.
MENENIUS Our very priests must become mockers if
 they shall encounter such ridiculous subjects as
 you are. When you speak best unto the purpose, it
 is not worth the wagging of your beards, and your
90 beards deserve not so honorable a grave as to
 stuff a botcher’s cushion or to be entombed in an
 ass’s packsaddle. Yet you must be saying Martius is
 proud, who, in a cheap estimation, is worth all
 your predecessors since Deucalion, though peradventure
95 some of the best of ’em were hereditary

77
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 1

 hangmen. Good e’en to your Worships. More of
 your conversation would infect my brain, being
 the herdsmen of the beastly plebeians. I will be
 bold to take my leave of you.
He begins to exit. Brutus and Sicinius stand aside.

Enter Volumnia, Virgilia, and Valeria.

100 How now, my as fair as noble ladies—and the
 moon, were she earthly, no nobler—whither do
 you follow your eyes so fast?
VOLUMNIA Honorable Menenius, my boy Martius approaches.
 For the love of Juno, let’s go!
MENENIUS 105Ha? Martius coming home?
VOLUMNIA Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous
 approbation.
MENENIUS Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee! (He
 throws his cap in the air.) 
Hoo! Martius coming
110 home?
VALERIA, VIRGILIA Nay, ’tis true.
VOLUMNIA Look, here’s a letter from him. She produces
 a paper. 
The state hath another, his wife another,
 and I think there’s one at home for you.
MENENIUS 115I will make my very house reel tonight. A
 letter for me?
VIRGILIA Yes, certain, there’s a letter for you; I saw ’t.
MENENIUS A letter for me? It gives me an estate of
 seven years’ health, in which time I will make a lip
120 at the physician. The most sovereign prescription
 in Galen is but empiricutic and, to this preservative,
 of no better report than a horse drench. Is he not
 wounded? He was wont to come home wounded.
VIRGILIA O no, no, no!
VOLUMNIA 125O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for ’t.
MENENIUS So do I too, if it be not too much. Brings he
 victory in his pocket, the wounds become him.

79
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 1

VOLUMNIA On ’s brows, Menenius. He comes the third
 time home with the oaken garland.
MENENIUS 130Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?
VOLUMNIA Titus Lartius writes they fought together,
 but Aufidius got off.
MENENIUS And ’twas time for him too, I’ll warrant him
 that. An he had stayed by him, I would not have
135 been so ’fidiused for all the chests in Corioles and
 the gold that’s in them. Is the Senate possessed of
 this?
VOLUMNIA Good ladies, let’s go.—Yes, yes, yes. The
 Senate has letters from the General, wherein he
140 gives my son the whole name of the war. He hath
 in this action outdone his former deeds doubly.
VALERIA In troth, there’s wondrous things spoke of
 him.
MENENIUS Wondrous? Ay, I warrant you, and not without
145 his true purchasing.
VIRGILIA The gods grant them true.
VOLUMNIA True? Pow waw!
MENENIUS True? I’ll be sworn they are true. Where is
 he wounded? (To the Tribunes.) God save your
150 good Worships! Martius is coming home; he has
 more cause to be proud.—Where is he wounded?
VOLUMNIA I’ th’ shoulder and i’ th’ left arm. There will
 be large cicatrices to show the people when he
 shall stand for his place. He received in the repulse
155 of Tarquin seven hurts i’ th’ body.
MENENIUS One i’ th’ neck and two i’ th’ thigh—there’s
 nine that I know.
VOLUMNIA He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five
 wounds upon him.
MENENIUS 160Now it’s twenty-seven. Every gash was an
 enemy’s grave. (A shout and flourish.) Hark, the
 trumpets!

81
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 1

VOLUMNIA These are the ushers of Martius: before him
 he carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears.
165 Death, that dark spirit, in ’s nervy arm doth lie,
 Which, being advanced, declines, and then men die.
A sennet.

Enter Cominius the General and Titus Lartius, between
them Coriolanus crowned with an oaken garland, with
Captains and Soldiers and a Herald. Trumpets sound.


HERALD 
 Know, Rome, that all alone Martius did fight
 Within Corioles’ gates, where he hath won,
 With fame, a name to Martius Caius; these
170 In honor follows “Coriolanus.”
 Welcome to Rome, renownèd Coriolanus.
Sound flourish.
ALL 
 Welcome to Rome, renownèd Coriolanus!
CORIOLANUS 
 No more of this. It does offend my heart.
 Pray now, no more.
COMINIUS 175 Look, sir, your mother.
CORIOLANUS  O,
 You have, I know, petitioned all the gods
 For my prosperity.Kneels.
VOLUMNIA  Nay, my good soldier, up.
He stands.
180 My gentle Martius, worthy Caius, and
 By deed-achieving honor newly named—
 What is it? Coriolanus must I call thee?
 But, O, thy wife—
CORIOLANUS  My gracious silence, hail.
185 Wouldst thou have laughed had I come coffined
 home,
 That weep’st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,

83
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 1

 Such eyes the widows in Corioles wear
 And mothers that lack sons.
MENENIUS 190 Now the gods crown
 thee!
CORIOLANUS 
 And live you yet? (To Valeria.) O, my sweet lady,
 pardon.
VOLUMNIA 
 I know not where to turn. O, welcome home!—
195 And, welcome, general.—And you’re welcome all.
MENENIUS 
 A hundred thousand welcomes! I could weep,
 And I could laugh; I am light and heavy. Welcome.
 A curse begin at very root on ’s heart
 That is not glad to see thee! You are three
200 That Rome should dote on; yet, by the faith of men,
 We have some old crab trees here at home that will
 not
 Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors!
 We call a nettle but a nettle, and
205 The faults of fools but folly.
COMINIUS Ever right.
CORIOLANUS Menenius ever, ever.
HERALD 
 Give way there, and go on!
CORIOLANUS, to Volumnia and Virgilia  Your hand
210 and yours.
 Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
 The good patricians must be visited,
 From whom I have received not only greetings,
 But with them change of honors.
VOLUMNIA 215 I have lived
 To see inherited my very wishes
 And the buildings of my fancy. Only
 There’s one thing wanting, which I doubt not but
 Our Rome will cast upon thee.

85
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 1

CORIOLANUS 220 Know, good mother,
 I had rather be their servant in my way
 Than sway with them in theirs.
COMINIUS  On, to the Capitol.
Flourish of cornets. They exit in state, as before.

Brutus and Sicinius come forward.

BRUTUS 
 All tongues speak of him, and the blearèd sights
225 Are spectacled to see him. Your prattling nurse
 Into a rapture lets her baby cry
 While she chats him. The kitchen malkin pins
 Her richest lockram ’bout her reechy neck,
 Clamb’ring the walls to eye him. Stalls, bulks,
230 windows
 Are smothered up, leads filled, and ridges horsed
 With variable complexions, all agreeing
 In earnestness to see him. Seld-shown flamens
 Do press among the popular throngs and puff
235 To win a vulgar station. Our veiled dames
 Commit the war of white and damask in
 Their nicely-gauded cheeks to th’ wanton spoil
 Of Phoebus’ burning kisses. Such a pother,
 As if that whatsoever god who leads him
240 Were slyly crept into his human powers
 And gave him graceful posture.
SICINIUS  On the sudden
 I warrant him consul.
BRUTUS  Then our office may,
245 During his power, go sleep.
SICINIUS 
 He cannot temp’rately transport his honors
 From where he should begin and end, but will
 Lose those he hath won.
BRUTUS  In that there’s comfort.

87
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 1

SICINIUS 250 Doubt
 not
 The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
 Upon their ancient malice will forget
 With the least cause these his new honors—which
255 That he will give them make I as little question
 As he is proud to do ’t.
BRUTUS  I heard him swear,
 Were he to stand for consul, never would he
 Appear i’ th’ marketplace nor on him put
260 The napless vesture of humility,
 Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds
 To th’ people, beg their stinking breaths.
SICINIUS  ’Tis right.
BRUTUS 
 It was his word. O, he would miss it rather
265 Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him
 And the desire of the nobles.
SICINIUS  I wish no better
 Than have him hold that purpose and to put it
 In execution.
BRUTUS 270 ’Tis most like he will.
SICINIUS 
 It shall be to him then as our good wills,
 A sure destruction.
BRUTUS  So it must fall out
 To him, or our authority’s for an end.
275 We must suggest the people in what hatred
 He still hath held them; that to ’s power he would
 Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders, and
 Dispropertied their freedoms; holding them
 In human action and capacity
280 Of no more soul nor fitness for the world
 Than camels in their war, who have their provand
 Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows
 For sinking under them.

89
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

SICINIUS  This, as you say, suggested
285 At some time when his soaring insolence
 Shall touch the people—which time shall not want
 If he be put upon ’t, and that’s as easy
 As to set dogs on sheep—will be his fire
 To kindle their dry stubble, and their blaze
290 Shall darken him forever.

Enter a Messenger.

BRUTUS  What’s the matter?
MESSENGER 
 You are sent for to the Capitol. ’Tis thought
 That Martius shall be consul. I have seen
 The dumb men throng to see him, and the blind
295 To hear him speak; matrons flung gloves,
 Ladies and maids their scarves and handkerchiefs,
 Upon him as he passed; the nobles bended
 As to Jove’s statue, and the Commons made
 A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts.
300 I never saw the like.
BRUTUS  Let’s to the Capitol,
 And carry with us ears and eyes for th’ time,
 But hearts for the event.
SICINIUS  Have with you.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter two Officers, to lay cushions, as it were
in the Capitol.


FIRST OFFICER Come, come. They are almost here. How
 many stand for consulships?
SECOND OFFICER Three, they say; but ’tis thought of
 everyone Coriolanus will carry it.

91
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

FIRST OFFICER 5That’s a brave fellow, but he’s vengeance
 proud and loves not the common people.
SECOND OFFICER ’Faith, there hath been many great
 men that have flattered the people who ne’er loved
 them; and there be many that they have loved they
10 know not wherefore; so that, if they love they
 know not why, they hate upon no better a ground.
 Therefore, for Coriolanus neither to care whether
 they love or hate him manifests the true knowledge
 he has in their disposition and, out of his noble
15 carelessness, lets them plainly see ’t.
FIRST OFFICER If he did not care whether he had their
 love or no, he waved indifferently ’twixt doing them
 neither good nor harm; but he seeks their hate with
 greater devotion than they can render it him and
20 leaves nothing undone that may fully discover him
 their opposite. Now, to seem to affect the malice
 and displeasure of the people is as bad as that
 which he dislikes, to flatter them for their love.
SECOND OFFICER He hath deserved worthily of his
25 country, and his ascent is not by such easy degrees
 as those who, having been supple and courteous to
 the people, bonneted, without any further deed to
 have them at all into their estimation and report;
 but he hath so planted his honors in their eyes and
30 his actions in their hearts that for their tongues to
 be silent and not confess so much were a kind of
 ingrateful injury. To report otherwise were a malice
 that, giving itself the lie, would pluck reproof
 and rebuke from every ear that heard it.
FIRST OFFICER 35No more of him; he’s a worthy man.
 Make way. They are coming.

A sennet. Enter the Patricians and the Tribunes of the
people, Lictors before them; Coriolanus, Menenius,
Cominius the consul. The Patricians sit. Sicinius

93
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

and Brutus take their places by themselves.
Coriolanus stands.


MENENIUS 
 Having determined of the Volsces and
 To send for Titus Lartius, it remains,
 As the main point of this our after-meeting,
40 To gratify his noble service that
 Hath thus stood for his country. Therefore please
 you,
 Most reverend and grave elders, to desire
 The present consul and last general
45 In our well-found successes to report
 A little of that worthy work performed
 By Martius Caius Coriolanus, whom
 We met here both to thank and to remember
 With honors like himself.Coriolanus sits.
FIRST SENATOR 50 Speak, good Cominius.
 Leave nothing out for length, and make us think
 Rather our state’s defective for requital,
 Than we to stretch it out. (To the Tribunes.)
 Masters o’ th’ people,
55 We do request your kindest ears and, after,
 Your loving motion toward the common body
 To yield what passes here.
SICINIUS  We are convented
 Upon a pleasing treaty and have hearts
60 Inclinable to honor and advance
 The theme of our assembly.
BRUTUS  Which the rather
 We shall be blest to do if he remember
 A kinder value of the people than
65 He hath hereto prized them at.
MENENIUS  That’s off, that’s off!
 I would you rather had been silent. Please you
 To hear Cominius speak?

95
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

BRUTUS  Most willingly,
70 But yet my caution was more pertinent
 Than the rebuke you give it.
MENENIUS  He loves your people,
 But tie him not to be their bedfellow.—
 Worthy Cominius, speak.
Coriolanus rises and offers to go away.
75 Nay, keep your place.
FIRST SENATOR 
 Sit, Coriolanus. Never shame to hear
 What you have nobly done.
CORIOLANUS  Your Honors, pardon.
 I had rather have my wounds to heal again
80 Than hear say how I got them.
BRUTUS  Sir, I hope
 My words disbenched you not?
CORIOLANUS  No, sir. Yet oft,
 When blows have made me stay, I fled from words.
85 You soothed not, therefore hurt not; but your
 people,
 I love them as they weigh.
MENENIUS  Pray now, sit down.
CORIOLANUS 
 I had rather have one scratch my head i’ th’ sun
90 When the alarum were struck than idly sit
 To hear my nothings monstered.Coriolanus exits.
MENENIUS  Masters of the people,
 Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter—
 That’s thousand to one good one—when you now
95 see
 He had rather venture all his limbs for honor
 Than one on ’s ears to hear it.—Proceed, Cominius.
COMINIUS 
 I shall lack voice. The deeds of Coriolanus
 Should not be uttered feebly. It is held
100 That valor is the chiefest virtue and

97
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Most dignifies the haver; if it be,
 The man I speak of cannot in the world
 Be singly counterpoised. At sixteen years,
 When Tarquin made a head for Rome, he fought
105 Beyond the mark of others. Our then dictator,
 Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight
 When with his Amazonian chin he drove
 The bristled lips before him. He bestrid
 An o’erpressed Roman and i’ th’ Consul’s view
110 Slew three opposers. Tarquin’s self he met
 And struck him on his knee. In that day’s feats,
 When he might act the woman in the scene,
 He proved best man i’ th’ field and for his meed
 Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age
115 Man-entered thus, he waxèd like a sea,
 And in the brunt of seventeen battles since
 He lurched all swords of the garland. For this last,
 Before and in Corioles, let me say,
 I cannot speak him home. He stopped the flyers
120 And by his rare example made the coward
 Turn terror into sport. As weeds before
 A vessel under sail, so men obeyed
 And fell below his stem. His sword, Death’s stamp,
 Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot
125 He was a thing of blood, whose every motion
 Was timed with dying cries. Alone he entered
 The mortal gate o’ th’ city, which he painted
 With shunless destiny; aidless came off
 And with a sudden reinforcement struck
130 Corioles like a planet. Now all’s his,
 When by and by the din of war gan pierce
 His ready sense; then straight his doubled spirit
 Requickened what in flesh was fatigate,
 And to the battle came he, where he did
135 Run reeking o’er the lives of men as if
 ’Twere a perpetual spoil; and till we called

99
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 2

 Both field and city ours, he never stood
 To ease his breast with panting.
MENENIUS  Worthy man!
FIRST SENATOR 
140 He cannot but with measure fit the honors
 Which we devise him.
COMINIUS  Our spoils he kicked at
 And looked upon things precious as they were
 The common muck of the world. He covets less
145 Than misery itself would give, rewards
 His deeds with doing them, and is content
 To spend the time to end it.
MENENIUS  He’s right noble.
 Let him be called for.
FIRST SENATOR 150Call Coriolanus.
OFFICER He doth appear.

Enter Coriolanus.

MENENIUS 
 The Senate, Coriolanus, are well pleased
 To make thee consul.
CORIOLANUS  I do owe them still
155 My life and services.
MENENIUS  It then remains
 That you do speak to the people.
CORIOLANUS  I do beseech you,
 Let me o’erleap that custom, for I cannot
160 Put on the gown, stand naked, and entreat them
 For my wounds’ sake to give their suffrage. Please
 you
 That I may pass this doing.
SICINIUS  Sir, the people
165 Must have their voices; neither will they bate
 One jot of ceremony.
MENENIUS, to Coriolanus  Put them not to ’t.
 Pray you, go fit you to the custom, and

101
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

 Take to you, as your predecessors have,
170 Your honor with your form.
CORIOLANUS  It is a part
 That I shall blush in acting, and might well
 Be taken from the people.
BRUTUS, to Sicinius  Mark you that?
CORIOLANUS 
175 To brag unto them “Thus I did, and thus!”
 Show them th’ unaching scars, which I should hide,
 As if I had received them for the hire
 Of their breath only!
MENENIUS  Do not stand upon ’t.—
180 We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,
 Our purpose to them, and to our noble consul
 Wish we all joy and honor.
SENATORS 
 To Coriolanus come all joy and honor!
Flourish cornets. Then they exit. Sicinius and
Brutus remain.

BRUTUS 
 You see how he intends to use the people.
SICINIUS 
185 May they perceive ’s intent! He will require them
 As if he did contemn what he requested
 Should be in them to give.
BRUTUS  Come, we’ll inform them
 Of our proceedings here. On th’ marketplace
190 I know they do attend us.
They exit.


Scene 3
Enter seven or eight Citizens.

FIRST CITIZEN Once, if he do require our voices, we
 ought not to deny him.

103
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

SECOND CITIZEN We may, sir, if we will.
THIRD CITIZEN We have power in ourselves to do it, but
5 it is a power that we have no power to do; for, if
 he show us his wounds and tell us his deeds, we
 are to put our tongues into those wounds and
 speak for them. So, if he tell us his noble deeds, we
 must also tell him our noble acceptance of them.
10 Ingratitude is monstrous, and for the multitude to
 be ingrateful were to make a monster of the multitude,
 of the which, we being members, should
 bring ourselves to be monstrous members.
FIRST CITIZEN And to make us no better thought of, a
15 little help will serve; for once we stood up about
 the corn, he himself stuck not to call us the many-headed
 multitude.
THIRD CITIZEN We have been called so of many; not that
 our heads are some brown, some black, some
20 abram, some bald, but that our wits are so diversely
 colored; and truly I think if all our wits were to
 issue out of one skull, they would fly east, west,
 north, south, and their consent of one direct way
 should be at once to all the points o’ th’ compass.
SECOND CITIZEN 25Think you so? Which way do you
 judge my wit would fly?
THIRD CITIZEN Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another
 man’s will; ’tis strongly wedged up in a blockhead.
 But if it were at liberty, ’twould sure
30 southward.
SECOND CITIZEN Why that way?
THIRD CITIZEN To lose itself in a fog, where, being three
 parts melted away with rotten dews, the fourth
 would return for conscience’ sake, to help to get
35 thee a wife.
SECOND CITIZEN You are never without your tricks. You
 may, you may.

105
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

THIRD CITIZEN Are you all resolved to give your voices?
 But that’s no matter; the greater part carries it. I
40 say, if he would incline to the people, there was
 never a worthier man.

Enter Coriolanus in a gown of humility, with Menenius.

 Here he comes, and in the gown of humility. Mark
 his behavior. We are not to stay all together, but to
 come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos,
45 and by threes. He’s to make his requests by particulars,
 wherein every one of us has a single honor
 in giving him our own voices with our own tongues.
 Therefore follow me, and I’ll direct you how you
 shall go by him.
ALL 50Content, content.Citizens exit.
MENENIUS 
 O sir, you are not right. Have you not known
 The worthiest men have done ’t?
CORIOLANUS  What must I say?
 “I pray, sir?”—plague upon ’t! I cannot bring
55 My tongue to such a pace. “Look, sir, my wounds!
 I got them in my country’s service when
 Some certain of your brethren roared and ran
 From th’ noise of our own drums.”
MENENIUS  O me, the gods!
60 You must not speak of that. You must desire them
 To think upon you.
CORIOLANUS  Think upon me? Hang ’em!
 I would they would forget me, like the virtues
 Which our divines lose by ’em.
MENENIUS 65 You’ll mar all.
 I’ll leave you. Pray you, speak to ’em, I pray you,
 In wholesome manner.He exits.
CORIOLANUS  Bid them wash their faces
 And keep their teeth clean.

107
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

Enter three of the Citizens.

70 So, here comes a brace.—
 You know the cause, sir, of my standing here.
THIRD CITIZEN 
 We do, sir. Tell us what hath brought you to ’t.
CORIOLANUS Mine own desert.
SECOND CITIZEN Your own desert?
CORIOLANUS 75Ay, but not mine own desire.
THIRD CITIZEN How, not your own desire?
CORIOLANUS No, sir, ’twas never my desire yet to trouble
 the poor with begging.
THIRD CITIZEN You must think if we give you anything,
80 we hope to gain by you.
CORIOLANUS Well then, I pray, your price o’ th’
 consulship?
FIRST CITIZEN The price is to ask it kindly.
CORIOLANUS Kindly, sir, I pray, let me ha ’t. I have
85 wounds to show you, which shall be yours in
 private.—Your good voice, sir. What say you?
SECOND CITIZEN You shall ha ’t, worthy sir.
CORIOLANUS A match, sir. There’s in all two worthy
 voices begged. I have your alms. Adieu.
THIRD CITIZEN, to the other Citizens 90But this is something
 odd.
SECOND CITIZEN An ’twere to give again—but ’tis no
 matter.These citizens exit.

Enter two other Citizens.

CORIOLANUS Pray you now, if it may stand with the
95 tune of your voices that I may be consul, I have
 here the customary gown.
FOURTH CITIZEN You have deserved nobly of your
 country, and you have not deserved nobly.
CORIOLANUS Your enigma?

109
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

FOURTH CITIZEN 100You have been a scourge to her enemies;
 you have been a rod to her friends. You have
 not indeed loved the common people.
CORIOLANUS You should account me the more virtuous
 that I have not been common in my love. I will, sir,
105 flatter my sworn brother, the people, to earn a
 dearer estimation of them; ’tis a condition they account
 gentle. And since the wisdom of their choice
 is rather to have my hat than my heart, I will practice
 the insinuating nod and be off to them most
110 counterfeitly. That is, sir, I will counterfeit the bewitchment
 of some popular man and give it bountiful
 to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you, I may
 be consul.
FIFTH CITIZEN We hope to find you our friend, and
115 therefore give you our voices heartily.
FOURTH CITIZEN You have received many wounds for
 your country.
CORIOLANUS I will not seal your knowledge with showing
 them. I will make much of your voices and so
120 trouble you no farther.
BOTH The gods give you joy, sir, heartily.
Citizens exit.
CORIOLANUS Most sweet voices!
 Better it is to die, better to starve,
 Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.
125 Why in this woolvish toge should I stand here
 To beg of Hob and Dick that does appear
 Their needless vouches? Custom calls me to ’t.
 What custom wills, in all things should we do ’t?
 The dust on antique time would lie unswept
130 And mountainous error be too highly heaped
 For truth to o’erpeer. Rather than fool it so,
 Let the high office and the honor go
 To one that would do thus. I am half through;
 The one part suffered, the other will I do.

111
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

Enter three Citizens more.

135 Here come more voices.—
 Your voices! For your voices I have fought;
 Watched for your voices; for your voices bear
 Of wounds two dozen odd. Battles thrice six
 I have seen and heard of; for your voices have
140 Done many things, some less, some more. Your
 voices!
 Indeed, I would be consul.
SIXTH CITIZEN He has done nobly, and cannot go
 without any honest man’s voice.
SEVENTH CITIZEN 145Therefore let him be consul. The
 gods give him joy, and make him good friend to
 the people!
ALL Amen, amen. God save thee, noble consul.
Citizens exit.
CORIOLANUS Worthy voices!

Enter Menenius, with Brutus and Sicinius.

MENENIUS 
150 You have stood your limitation, and the Tribunes
 Endue you with the people’s voice. Remains
 That in th’ official marks invested, you
 Anon do meet the Senate.
CORIOLANUS  Is this done?
SICINIUS 
155 The custom of request you have discharged.
 The people do admit you, and are summoned
 To meet anon upon your approbation.
CORIOLANUS 
 Where? At the Senate House?
SICINIUS  There, Coriolanus.
CORIOLANUS 
160 May I change these garments?
SICINIUS  You may, sir.

113
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

CORIOLANUS 
 That I’ll straight do and, knowing myself again,
 Repair to th’ Senate House.
MENENIUS 
 I’ll keep you company.—Will you along?
BRUTUS 
165 We stay here for the people.
SICINIUS  Fare you well.
Coriolanus and Menenius exit.
 He has it now; and by his looks, methinks,
 ’Tis warm at ’s heart.
BRUTUS  With a proud heart he wore
170 His humble weeds. Will you dismiss the people?

Enter the Plebeians.

SICINIUS 
 How now, my masters, have you chose this man?
FIRST CITIZEN He has our voices, sir.
BRUTUS 
 We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.
SECOND CITIZEN 
 Amen, sir. To my poor unworthy notice,
175 He mocked us when he begged our voices.
THIRD CITIZEN 
 Certainly, he flouted us downright.
FIRST CITIZEN 
 No, ’tis his kind of speech. He did not mock us.
SECOND CITIZEN 
 Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says
 He used us scornfully. He should have showed us
180 His marks of merit, wounds received for ’s country.
SICINIUS Why, so he did, I am sure.
ALL No, no. No man saw ’em.
THIRD CITIZEN 
 He said he had wounds, which he could show in
 private,

115
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

185 And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
 “I would be consul,” says he. “Agèd custom,
 But by your voices, will not so permit me;
 Your voices therefore.” When we granted that,
 Here was “I thank you for your voices. Thank you.
190 Your most sweet voices! Now you have left your
 voices,
 I have no further with you.” Was not this mockery?
SICINIUS 
 Why either were you ignorant to see ’t
 Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness
195 To yield your voices?
BRUTUS  Could you not have told him
 As you were lessoned? When he had no power,
 But was a petty servant to the state,
 He was your enemy, ever spake against
200 Your liberties and the charters that you bear
 I’ th’ body of the weal; and, now arriving
 A place of potency and sway o’ th’ state,
 If he should still malignantly remain
 Fast foe to th’ plebeii, your voices might
205 Be curses to yourselves. You should have said
 That as his worthy deeds did claim no less
 Than what he stood for, so his gracious nature
 Would think upon you for your voices, and
 Translate his malice towards you into love,
210 Standing your friendly lord.
SICINIUS  Thus to have said,
 As you were fore-advised, had touched his spirit
 And tried his inclination; from him plucked
 Either his gracious promise, which you might,
215 As cause had called you up, have held him to;
 Or else it would have galled his surly nature,
 Which easily endures not article
 Tying him to aught. So putting him to rage,

117
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

 You should have ta’en th’ advantage of his choler
220 And passed him unelected.
BRUTUS  Did you perceive
 He did solicit you in free contempt
 When he did need your loves, and do you think
 That his contempt shall not be bruising to you
225 When he hath power to crush? Why, had your
 bodies
 No heart among you? Or had you tongues to cry
 Against the rectorship of judgment?
SICINIUS 
 Have you ere now denied the asker? And now
230 Again, of him that did not ask but mock,
 Bestow your sued-for tongues?
THIRD CITIZEN  He’s not confirmed.
 We may deny him yet.
SECOND CITIZEN  And will deny him.
235 I’ll have five hundred voices of that sound.
FIRST CITIZEN 
 I twice five hundred, and their friends to piece ’em.
BRUTUS 
 Get you hence instantly, and tell those friends
 They have chose a consul that will from them take
 Their liberties, make them of no more voice
240 Than dogs that are as often beat for barking
 As therefor kept to do so.
SICINIUS  Let them assemble
 And, on a safer judgment, all revoke
 Your ignorant election. Enforce his pride
245 And his old hate unto you. Besides, forget not
 With what contempt he wore the humble weed,
 How in his suit he scorned you; but your loves,
 Thinking upon his services, took from you
 Th’ apprehension of his present portance,
250 Which most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion
 After the inveterate hate he bears you.

119
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

BRUTUS  Lay
 A fault on us, your tribunes, that we labored,
 No impediment between, but that you must
255 Cast your election on him.
SICINIUS  Say you chose him
 More after our commandment than as guided
 By your own true affections, and that your minds,
 Preoccupied with what you rather must do
260 Than what you should, made you against the grain
 To voice him consul. Lay the fault on us.
BRUTUS 
 Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you,
 How youngly he began to serve his country,
 How long continued, and what stock he springs of,
265 The noble house o’ th’ Martians, from whence came
 That Ancus Martius, Numa’s daughter’s son,
 Who after great Hostilius here was king,
 Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,
 That our best water brought by conduits hither;
270 And Censorinus, that was so surnamed,
 And nobly namèd so, twice being censor,
 Was his great ancestor.
SICINIUS  One thus descended,
 That hath besides well in his person wrought
275 To be set high in place, we did commend
 To your remembrances; but you have found,
 Scaling his present bearing with his past,
 That he’s your fixèd enemy, and revoke
 Your sudden approbation.
BRUTUS 280 Say you ne’er had done ’t—
 Harp on that still—but by our putting on.
 And presently, when you have drawn your number,
 Repair to th’ Capitol.
ALL  We will so. Almost all
285 Repent in their election.Plebeians exit.
BRUTUS  Let them go on.

121
Coriolanus
ACT 2. SC. 3

 This mutiny were better put in hazard
 Than stay, past doubt, for greater.
 If, as his nature is, he fall in rage
290 With their refusal, both observe and answer
 The vantage of his anger.
SICINIUS  To th’ Capitol, come.
 We will be there before the stream o’ th’ people,
 And this shall seem, as partly ’tis, their own,
295 Which we have goaded onward.
They exit.


ACT 3
Scene 1
Cornets. Enter Coriolanus, Menenius, all the Gentry,
Cominius, Titus Lartius, and other Senators.


CORIOLANUS 
 Tullus Aufidius then had made new head?
LARTIUS 
 He had, my lord, and that it was which caused
 Our swifter composition.
CORIOLANUS 
 So then the Volsces stand but as at first,
5 Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road
 Upon ’s again.
COMINIUS  They are worn, lord consul, so,
 That we shall hardly in our ages see
 Their banners wave again.
CORIOLANUS 10 Saw you Aufidius?
LARTIUS 
 On safeguard he came to me, and did curse
 Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely
 Yielded the town. He is retired to Antium.
CORIOLANUS 
 Spoke he of me?
LARTIUS 15 He did, my lord.
CORIOLANUS  How? What?
LARTIUS 
 How often he had met you sword to sword;
125

127
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

 That of all things upon the earth he hated
 Your person most; that he would pawn his fortunes
20 To hopeless restitution, so he might
 Be called your vanquisher.
CORIOLANUS  At Antium lives he?
LARTIUS At Antium.
CORIOLANUS 
 I wish I had a cause to seek him there,
25 To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.

Enter Sicinius and Brutus.

 Behold, these are the tribunes of the people,
 The tongues o’ th’ common mouth. I do despise
 them,
 For they do prank them in authority
30 Against all noble sufferance.
SICINIUS Pass no further.
CORIOLANUS Ha? What is that?
BRUTUS 
 It will be dangerous to go on. No further.
CORIOLANUS What makes this change?
MENENIUS 35The matter?
COMINIUS 
 Hath he not passed the noble and the common?
BRUTUS 
 Cominius, no.
CORIOLANUS  Have I had children’s voices?
FIRST SENATOR 
 Tribunes, give way. He shall to th’ marketplace.
BRUTUS 
40 The people are incensed against him.
SICINIUS  Stop,
 Or all will fall in broil.
CORIOLANUS  Are these your herd?
 Must these have voices, that can yield them now

129
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

45 And straight disclaim their tongues? What are your
 offices?
 You being their mouths, why rule you not their
 teeth?
 Have you not set them on?
MENENIUS 50 Be calm, be calm.
CORIOLANUS 
 It is a purposed thing, and grows by plot,
 To curb the will of the nobility.
 Suffer ’t, and live with such as cannot rule
 Nor ever will be ruled.
BRUTUS 55 Call ’t not a plot.
 The people cry you mocked them; and, of late,
 When corn was given them gratis, you repined,
 Scandaled the suppliants for the people, called them
 Timepleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.
CORIOLANUS 
60 Why, this was known before.
BRUTUS  Not to them all.
CORIOLANUS 
 Have you informed them sithence?
BRUTUS  How? I inform
 them?
COMINIUS 65You are like to do such business.
BRUTUS 
 Not unlike, each way, to better yours.
CORIOLANUS 
 Why then should I be consul? By yond clouds,
 Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
 Your fellow tribune.
SICINIUS 70 You show too much of that
 For which the people stir. If you will pass
 To where you are bound, you must inquire your
 way,

131
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

 Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit,
75 Or never be so noble as a consul,
 Nor yoke with him for tribune.
MENENIUS  Let’s be calm.
COMINIUS 
 The people are abused, set on. This palt’ring
 Becomes not Rome, nor has Coriolanus
80 Deserved this so dishonored rub, laid falsely
 I’ th’ plain way of his merit.
CORIOLANUS  Tell me of corn?
 This was my speech, and I will speak ’t again.
MENENIUS 
 Not now, not now.
FIRST SENATOR 85 Not in this heat, sir, now.
CORIOLANUS Now, as I live, I will.
 My nobler friends, I crave their pardons. For
 The mutable, rank-scented meiny, let them
 Regard me, as I do not flatter, and
90 Therein behold themselves. I say again,
 In soothing them, we nourish ’gainst our senate
 The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
 Which we ourselves have plowed for, sowed, and
 scattered
95 By mingling them with us, the honored number,
 Who lack not virtue, no, nor power, but that
 Which they have given to beggars.
MENENIUS  Well, no more.
FIRST SENATOR 
 No more words, we beseech you.
CORIOLANUS 100 How? No more?
 As for my country I have shed my blood,
 Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs
 Coin words till their decay against those measles
 Which we disdain should tetter us, yet sought
105 The very way to catch them.

133
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

BRUTUS  You speak o’ th’ people
 As if you were a god to punish, not
 A man of their infirmity.
SICINIUS  ’Twere well
110 We let the people know ’t.
MENENIUS  What, what? His choler?
CORIOLANUS Choler?
 Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,
 By Jove, ’twould be my mind.
SICINIUS 115 It is a mind
 That shall remain a poison where it is,
 Not poison any further.
CORIOLANUS  “Shall remain”?
 Hear you this Triton of the minnows? Mark you
120 His absolute “shall”?
COMINIUS  ’Twas from the canon.
CORIOLANUS  “Shall”?
 O good but most unwise patricians, why,
 You grave but reckless senators, have you thus
125 Given Hydra here to choose an officer,
 That with his peremptory “shall,” being but
 The horn and noise o’ th’ monster’s, wants not spirit
 To say he’ll turn your current in a ditch
 And make your channel his? If he have power,
130 Then vail your ignorance; if none, awake
 Your dangerous lenity. If you are learned,
 Be not as common fools; if you are not,
 Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians,
 If they be senators; and they are no less
135 When, both your voices blended, the great’st taste
 Most palates theirs. They choose their magistrate,
 And such a one as he, who puts his “shall,”
 His popular “shall,” against a graver bench
 Than ever frowned in Greece. By Jove himself,
140 It makes the consuls base! And my soul aches
 To know, when two authorities are up,

135
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

 Neither supreme, how soon confusion
 May enter ’twixt the gap of both and take
 The one by th’ other.
COMINIUS 145 Well, on to th’ marketplace.
CORIOLANUS 
 Whoever gave that counsel to give forth
 The corn o’ th’ storehouse gratis, as ’twas used
 Sometime in Greece—
MENENIUS  Well, well, no more of that.
CORIOLANUS 
150 Though there the people had more absolute power,
 I say they nourished disobedience, fed
 The ruin of the state.
BRUTUS  Why shall the people give
 One that speaks thus their voice?
CORIOLANUS 155 I’ll give my reasons,
 More worthier than their voices. They know the
 corn
 Was not our recompense, resting well assured
 They ne’er did service for ’t. Being pressed to th’ war,
160 Even when the navel of the state was touched,
 They would not thread the gates. This kind of
 service
 Did not deserve corn gratis. Being i’ th’ war,
 Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they showed
165 Most valor, spoke not for them. Th’ accusation
 Which they have often made against the Senate,
 All cause unborn, could never be the native
 Of our so frank donation. Well, what then?
 How shall this bosom multiplied digest
170 The Senate’s courtesy? Let deeds express
 What’s like to be their words: “We did request it;
 We are the greater poll, and in true fear
 They gave us our demands.” Thus we debase
 The nature of our seats and make the rabble
175 Call our cares fears, which will in time

137
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

 Break ope the locks o’ th’ Senate and bring in
 The crows to peck the eagles.
MENENIUS  Come, enough.
BRUTUS 
 Enough, with over-measure.
CORIOLANUS 180 No, take more!
 What may be sworn by, both divine and human,
 Seal what I end withal! This double worship—
 Where one part does disdain with cause, the other
 Insult without all reason, where gentry, title,
185 wisdom
 Cannot conclude but by the yea and no
 Of general ignorance—it must omit
 Real necessities and give way the while
 To unstable slightness. Purpose so barred, it follows
190 Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore, beseech
 you—
 You that will be less fearful than discreet,
 That love the fundamental part of state
 More than you doubt the change on ’t, that prefer
195 A noble life before a long, and wish
 To jump a body with a dangerous physic
 That’s sure of death without it—at once pluck out
 The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick
 The sweet which is their poison. Your dishonor
200 Mangles true judgment and bereaves the state
 Of that integrity which should become ’t,
 Not having the power to do the good it would
 For th’ ill which doth control ’t.
BRUTUS  ’Has said enough.
SICINIUS 
205 ’Has spoken like a traitor and shall answer
 As traitors do.
CORIOLANUS  Thou wretch, despite o’erwhelm thee!
 What should the people do with these bald tribunes,
 On whom depending, their obedience fails

139
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

210 To th’ greater bench? In a rebellion,
 When what’s not meet but what must be was law,
 Then were they chosen. In a better hour,
 Let what is meet be said it must be meet,
 And throw their power i’ th’ dust.
BRUTUS 215Manifest treason.
SICINIUS This a consul? No.
BRUTUS The aediles, ho! Let him be apprehended.

Enter an Aedile.

SICINIUS 
 Go, call the people; Aedile exits. in whose name
 myself
220 Attach thee as a traitorous innovator,
 A foe to th’ public weal. Obey, I charge thee,
 And follow to thine answer.
CORIOLANUS  Hence, old goat.
ALL PATRICIANS 
 We’ll surety him.
COMINIUS, to Sicinius 225 Agèd sir, hands off.
CORIOLANUS, to Sicinius 
 Hence, rotten thing, or I shall shake thy bones
 Out of thy garments.
SICINIUS  Help, you citizens!

Enter a rabble of Plebeians with the Aediles.

MENENIUS On both sides more respect!
SICINIUS 
230 Here’s he that would take from you all your power.
BRUTUS Seize him, aediles.
ALL PLEBEIANS Down with him, down with him!
SECOND SENATOR Weapons, weapons, weapons!
They all bustle about Coriolanus.
 Tribunes, patricians, citizens, what ho!
235 Sicinius, Brutus, Coriolanus, citizens!

141
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

ALL Peace, peace, peace! Stay, hold, peace!
MENENIUS 
 What is about to be? I am out of breath.
 Confusion’s near. I cannot speak. You, tribunes
 To th’ people!—Coriolanus, patience!—
240 Speak, good Sicinius.
SICINIUS  Hear me, people! Peace!
ALL PLEBEIANS 
 Let’s hear our tribune. Peace! Speak, speak, speak.
SICINIUS 
 You are at point to lose your liberties.
 Martius would have all from you, Martius,
245 Whom late you have named for consul.
MENENIUS  Fie, fie, fie!
 This is the way to kindle, not to quench.
FIRST SENATOR 
 To unbuild the city and to lay all flat.
SICINIUS 
 What is the city but the people?
ALL PLEBEIANS 250 True,
 The people are the city.
BRUTUS 
 By the consent of all, we were established
 The people’s magistrates.
ALL PLEBEIANS You so remain.
MENENIUS 255And so are like to do.
CORIOLANUS 
 That is the way to lay the city flat,
 To bring the roof to the foundation
 And bury all which yet distinctly ranges
 In heaps and piles of ruin.
SICINIUS 260 This deserves death.
BRUTUS 
 Or let us stand to our authority
 Or let us lose it. We do here pronounce,
 Upon the part o’ th’ people, in whose power

143
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

 We were elected theirs, Martius is worthy
265 Of present death.
SICINIUS  Therefore lay hold of him,
 Bear him to th’ rock Tarpeian, and from thence
 Into destruction cast him.
BRUTUS  Aediles, seize him!
ALL PLEBEIANS 
270 Yield, Martius, yield!
MENENIUS  Hear me one word.
 Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.
AEDILES Peace, peace!
MENENIUS 
 Be that you seem, truly your country’s friend,
275 And temp’rately proceed to what you would
 Thus violently redress.
BRUTUS  Sir, those cold ways,
 That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous
 Where the disease is violent.—Lay hands upon him,
280 And bear him to the rock.
Coriolanus draws his sword.
CORIOLANUS  No, I’ll die here.
 There’s some among you have beheld me fighting.
 Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.
MENENIUS 
 Down with that sword!—Tribunes, withdraw awhile.
BRUTUS 
285 Lay hands upon him!
MENENIUS  Help Martius, help!
 You that be noble, help him, young and old!
ALL PLEBEIANS Down with him, down with him!

In this mutiny, the Tribunes, the Aediles, and the People
are beat in.


MENENIUS, to Coriolanus 
 Go, get you to your house. Begone, away.
290 All will be naught else.

145
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

SECOND SENATOR  Get you gone.
CORIOLANUS  Stand fast!
 We have as many friends as enemies.
MENENIUS 
 Shall it be put to that?
FIRST SENATOR 295 The gods forbid!—
 I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;
 Leave us to cure this cause.
MENENIUS  For ’tis a sore upon us
 You cannot tent yourself. Begone, beseech you.
COMINIUS 300Come, sir, along with us.
CORIOLANUS 
 I would they were barbarians, as they are,
 Though in Rome littered; not Romans, as they are
 not,
 Though calved i’ th’ porch o’ th’ Capitol.
MENENIUS 305 Begone!
 Put not your worthy rage into your tongue.
 One time will owe another.
CORIOLANUS  On fair ground
 I could beat forty of them.
MENENIUS 310 I could myself
 Take up a brace o’ th’ best of them, yea, the two
 tribunes.
COMINIUS 
 But now ’tis odds beyond arithmetic,
 And manhood is called foolery when it stands
315 Against a falling fabric. To Coriolanus. Will you
 hence,
 Before the tag return, whose rage doth rend
 Like interrupted waters and o’erbear
 What they are used to bear?
MENENIUS, to Coriolanus 320 Pray you, begone.
 I’ll try whether my old wit be in request
 With those that have but little. This must be patched
 With cloth of any color.

147
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

COMINIUS Nay, come away.
Coriolanus and Cominius exit.
PATRICIAN 325This man has marred his fortune.
MENENIUS 
 His nature is too noble for the world.
 He would not flatter Neptune for his trident
 Or Jove for ’s power to thunder. His heart’s his
 mouth;
330 What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent,
 And, being angry, does forget that ever
 He heard the name of death.A noise within.
 Here’s goodly work.
PATRICIAN I would they were abed!
MENENIUS 
335 I would they were in Tiber. What the vengeance,
 Could he not speak ’em fair?

Enter Brutus and Sicinius with the rabble again.

SICINIUS  Where is this viper
 That would depopulate the city and
 Be every man himself?
MENENIUS 340 You worthy tribunes—
SICINIUS 
 He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock
 With rigorous hands. He hath resisted law,
 And therefore law shall scorn him further trial
 Than the severity of the public power
345 Which he so sets at naught.
FIRST CITIZEN  He shall well know
 The noble tribunes are the people’s mouths
 And we their hands.
ALL PLEBEIANS He shall, sure on ’t.
MENENIUS 350Sir, sir—
SICINIUS Peace!

149
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

MENENIUS 
 Do not cry havoc where you should but hunt
 With modest warrant.
SICINIUS  Sir, how comes ’t that you
355 Have holp to make this rescue?
MENENIUS  Hear me speak.
 As I do know the Consul’s worthiness,
 So can I name his faults.
SICINIUS Consul? What consul?
MENENIUS 360The consul Coriolanus.
BRUTUS He consul?
ALL PLEBEIANS No, no, no, no, no!
MENENIUS 
 If, by the Tribunes’ leave, and yours, good people,
 I may be heard, I would crave a word or two,
365 The which shall turn you to no further harm
 Than so much loss of time.
SICINIUS  Speak briefly then,
 For we are peremptory to dispatch
 This viperous traitor. To eject him hence
370 Were but one danger, and to keep him here
 Our certain death. Therefore it is decreed
 He dies tonight.
MENENIUS  Now the good gods forbid
 That our renownèd Rome, whose gratitude
375 Towards her deservèd children is enrolled
 In Jove’s own book, like an unnatural dam
 Should now eat up her own.
SICINIUS 
 He’s a disease that must be cut away.
MENENIUS 
 O, he’s a limb that has but a disease—
380 Mortal to cut it off; to cure it easy.
 What has he done to Rome that’s worthy death?
 Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost—
 Which I dare vouch is more than that he hath

151
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 1

 By many an ounce—he dropped it for his country;
385 And what is left, to lose it by his country
 Were to us all that do ’t and suffer it
 A brand to th’ end o’ th’ world.
SICINIUS  This is clean cam.
BRUTUS 
 Merely awry. When he did love his country,
390 It honored him.
SICINIUS  The service of the foot,
 Being once gangrened, is not then respected
 For what before it was.
BRUTUS  We’ll hear no more.
395 Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence,
 Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
 Spread further.
MENENIUS One word more, one word!
 This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find
400 The harm of unscanned swiftness, will too late
 Tie leaden pounds to ’s heels. Proceed by process,
 Lest parties—as he is beloved—break out
 And sack great Rome with Romans.
BRUTUS  If it were so—
SICINIUS 405What do you talk?
 Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
 Our aediles smote! Ourselves resisted! Come.
MENENIUS 
 Consider this: he has been bred i’ th’ wars
 Since he could draw a sword, and is ill schooled
410 In bolted language; meal and bran together
 He throws without distinction. Give me leave,
 I’ll go to him and undertake to bring him
 Where he shall answer by a lawful form,
 In peace, to his utmost peril.
FIRST SENATOR 415 Noble tribunes,
 It is the humane way: the other course

153
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 2

 Will prove too bloody, and the end of it
 Unknown to the beginning.
SICINIUS  Noble Menenius,
420 Be you then as the people’s officer.—
 Masters, lay down your weapons.
BRUTUS  Go not home.
SICINIUS 
 Meet on the marketplace. To Menenius. We’ll
 attend you there,
425 Where if you bring not Martius, we’ll proceed
 In our first way.
MENENIUS I’ll bring him to you.
 To Senators. Let me desire your company. He must
 come,
430 Or what is worst will follow.
FIRST SENATOR  Pray you, let’s to him.
All exit.


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.


Scene 3
Enter Sicinius and Brutus.

BRUTUS 
 In this point charge him home, that he affects
 Tyrannical power. If he evade us there,
 Enforce him with his envy to the people,
 And that the spoil got on the Antiates
5 Was ne’er distributed.

Enter an Aedile.

 What, will he come?
AEDILE He’s coming.
BRUTUS How accompanied?
AEDILE 
 With old Menenius, and those senators
10 That always favored him.
SICINIUS  Have you a catalogue
 Of all the voices that we have procured,
 Set down by th’ poll?
AEDILE  I have. ’Tis ready.
SICINIUS 
15 Have you collected them by tribes?
AEDILE  I have.
SICINIUS 
 Assemble presently the people hither;
 And when they hear me say “It shall be so

167
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 3

 I’ th’ right and strength o’ th’ commons,” be it either
20 For death, for fine, or banishment, then let them
 If I say “Fine,” cry “Fine,” if “Death,” cry “Death,”
 Insisting on the old prerogative
 And power i’ th’ truth o’ th’ cause.
AEDILE  I shall inform them.
BRUTUS 
25 And when such time they have begun to cry,
 Let them not cease, but with a din confused
 Enforce the present execution
 Of what we chance to sentence.
AEDILE  Very well.
SICINIUS 
30 Make them be strong and ready for this hint
 When we shall hap to give ’t them.
BRUTUS  Go about it.
Aedile exits.
 Put him to choler straight. He hath been used
 Ever to conquer and to have his worth
35 Of contradiction. Being once chafed, he cannot
 Be reined again to temperance; then he speaks
 What’s in his heart, and that is there which looks
 With us to break his neck.

Enter Coriolanus, Menenius, and Cominius, with
others (Senators).


SICINIUS  Well, here he comes.
MENENIUS, aside to Coriolanus 40Calmly, I do beseech
 you.
CORIOLANUS, aside to Menenius 
 Ay, as an hostler that for th’ poorest piece
 Will bear the knave by th’ volume.—Th’ honored
 gods
45 Keep Rome in safety and the chairs of justice
 Supplied with worthy men! Plant love among ’s!

169
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 3

 Throng our large temples with the shows of peace
 And not our streets with war!
FIRST SENATOR  Amen, amen.
MENENIUS 50A noble wish.

Enter the Aedile with the Plebeians.

SICINIUS Draw near, you people.
AEDILE 
 List to your tribunes. Audience! Peace, I say!
CORIOLANUS First, hear me speak.
BOTH TRIBUNES Well, say.—Peace, ho!
CORIOLANUS 
55 Shall I be charged no further than this present?
 Must all determine here?
SICINIUS  I do demand
 If you submit you to the people’s voices,
 Allow their officers, and are content
60 To suffer lawful censure for such faults
 As shall be proved upon you.
CORIOLANUS  I am content.
MENENIUS 
 Lo, citizens, he says he is content.
 The warlike service he has done, consider. Think
65 Upon the wounds his body bears, which show
 Like graves i’ th’ holy churchyard.
CORIOLANUS  Scratches with
 briars,
 Scars to move laughter only.
MENENIUS 70 Consider further,
 That when he speaks not like a citizen,
 You find him like a soldier. Do not take
 His rougher accents for malicious sounds,
 But, as I say, such as become a soldier
75 Rather than envy you.
COMINIUS  Well, well, no more.

171
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 3

CORIOLANUS What is the matter,
 That, being passed for consul with full voice,
 I am so dishonored that the very hour
80 You take it off again?
SICINIUS Answer to us.
CORIOLANUS Say then. ’Tis true, I ought so.
SICINIUS 
 We charge you that you have contrived to take
 From Rome all seasoned office and to wind
85 Yourself into a power tyrannical,
 For which you are a traitor to the people.
CORIOLANUS 
 How? Traitor?
MENENIUS  Nay, temperately! Your promise.
CORIOLANUS 
 The fires i’ th’ lowest hell fold in the people!
90 Call me their traitor? Thou injurious tribune!
 Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths,
 In thy hands clutched as many millions, in
 Thy lying tongue both numbers, I would say
 “Thou liest” unto thee with a voice as free
95 As I do pray the gods.
SICINIUS  Mark you this, people?
ALL PLEBEIANS To th’ rock, to th’ rock with him!
SICINIUS Peace!
 We need not put new matter to his charge.
100 What you have seen him do and heard him speak,
 Beating your officers, cursing yourselves,
 Opposing laws with strokes, and here defying
 Those whose great power must try him—even this,
 So criminal and in such capital kind,
105 Deserves th’ extremest death.
BRUTUS  But since he hath
 Served well for Rome—
CORIOLANUS  What do you prate of service?
BRUTUS I talk of that that know it.

173
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 3

CORIOLANUS 110You?
MENENIUS 
 Is this the promise that you made your mother?
COMINIUS Know, I pray you—
CORIOLANUS I’ll know no further.
 Let them pronounce the steep Tarpeian death,
115 Vagabond exile, flaying, pent to linger
 But with a grain a day, I would not buy
 Their mercy at the price of one fair word,
 Nor check my courage for what they can give,
 To have ’t with saying “Good morrow.”
SICINIUS 120 For that he has,
 As much as in him lies, from time to time
 Envied against the people, seeking means
 To pluck away their power, as now at last
 Given hostile strokes, and that not in the presence
125 Of dreaded justice, but on the ministers
 That doth distribute it, in the name o’ th’ people
 And in the power of us the Tribunes, we,
 Even from this instant, banish him our city
 In peril of precipitation
130 From off the rock Tarpeian, never more
 To enter our Rome gates. I’ th’ people’s name,
 I say it shall be so.
ALL PLEBEIANS 
 It shall be so, it shall be so! Let him away!
 He’s banished, and it shall be so.
COMINIUS 
135 Hear me, my masters and my common friends—
SICINIUS 
 He’s sentenced. No more hearing.
COMINIUS  Let me speak.
 I have been consul and can show for Rome
 Her enemies’ marks upon me. I do love
140 My country’s good with a respect more tender,
 More holy and profound, than mine own life,

175
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 3

 My dear wife’s estimate, her womb’s increase,
 And treasure of my loins. Then if I would
 Speak that—
SICINIUS 145 We know your drift. Speak what?
BRUTUS 
 There’s no more to be said, but he is banished
 As enemy to the people and his country.
 It shall be so.
ALL PLEBEIANS It shall be so, it shall be so!
CORIOLANUS 
150 You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate
 As reek o’ th’ rotten fens, whose loves I prize
 As the dead carcasses of unburied men
 That do corrupt my air, I banish you!
 And here remain with your uncertainty;
155 Let every feeble rumor shake your hearts;
 Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
 Fan you into despair! Have the power still
 To banish your defenders, till at length
 Your ignorance—which finds not till it feels,
160 Making but reservation of yourselves,
 Still your own foes—deliver you
 As most abated captives to some nation
 That won you without blows! Despising
 For you the city, thus I turn my back.
165 There is a world elsewhere.
Coriolanus, Cominius, with others (Senators) exit.
AEDILE 
 The people’s enemy is gone, is gone.
ALL PLEBEIANS 
 Our enemy is banished; he is gone. Hoo, hoo!
They all shout and throw up their caps.
SICINIUS 
 Go see him out at gates, and follow him,
 As he hath followed you, with all despite.

177
Coriolanus
ACT 3. SC. 3

170 Give him deserved vexation. Let a guard
 Attend us through the city.
ALL PLEBEIANS 
 Come, come, let’s see him out at gates! Come!
 The gods preserve our noble tribunes! Come!
They exit.


ACT 4
Scene 1
Enter Coriolanus, Volumnia, Virgilia, Menenius,
Cominius, with the young nobility of Rome.


CORIOLANUS 
 Come, leave your tears. A brief farewell. The beast
 With many heads butts me away. Nay, mother,
 Where is your ancient courage? You were used
 To say extremities was the trier of spirits;
5 That common chances common men could bear;
 That when the sea was calm, all boats alike
 Showed mastership in floating; fortune’s blows
 When most struck home, being gentle wounded
 craves
10 A noble cunning. You were used to load me
 With precepts that would make invincible
 The heart that conned them.
VIRGILIA 
 O heavens! O heavens!
CORIOLANUS  Nay, I prithee,
15 woman—
VOLUMNIA 
 Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome,
 And occupations perish!
CORIOLANUS  What, what, what!
 I shall be loved when I am lacked. Nay, mother,
20 Resume that spirit when you were wont to say
 If you had been the wife of Hercules,
181

183
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 1

 Six of his labors you’d have done and saved
 Your husband so much sweat.—Cominius,
 Droop not. Adieu.—Farewell, my wife, my mother.
25 I’ll do well yet.—Thou old and true Menenius,
 Thy tears are salter than a younger man’s
 And venomous to thine eyes.—My sometime
 general,
 I have seen thee stern, and thou hast oft beheld
30 Heart-hard’ning spectacles. Tell these sad women
 ’Tis fond to wail inevitable strokes
 As ’tis to laugh at ’em.—My mother, you wot well
 My hazards still have been your solace, and—
 Believe ’t not lightly—though I go alone,
35 Like to a lonely dragon that his fen
 Makes feared and talked of more than seen, your
 son
 Will or exceed the common or be caught
 With cautelous baits and practice.
VOLUMNIA 40 My first son,
 Whither wilt thou go? Take good Cominius
 With thee awhile. Determine on some course
 More than a wild exposure to each chance
 That starts i’ th’ way before thee.
VIRGILIA 45 O the gods!
COMINIUS 
 I’ll follow thee a month, devise with thee
 Where thou shalt rest, that thou mayst hear of us
 And we of thee; so if the time thrust forth
 A cause for thy repeal, we shall not send
50 O’er the vast world to seek a single man
 And lose advantage, which doth ever cool
 I’ th’ absence of the needer.
CORIOLANUS  Fare you well.
 Thou hast years upon thee, and thou art too full
55 Of the wars’ surfeits to go rove with one
 That’s yet unbruised. Bring me but out at gate.—

185
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 2

 Come, my sweet wife, my dearest mother, and
 My friends of noble touch. When I am forth,
 Bid me farewell, and smile. I pray you, come.
60 While I remain above the ground, you shall
 Hear from me still, and never of me aught
 But what is like me formerly.
MENENIUS  That’s worthily
 As any ear can hear. Come, let’s not weep.
65 If I could shake off but one seven years
 From these old arms and legs, by the good gods,
 I’d with thee every foot.
CORIOLANUS  Give me thy hand.
 Come.
They exit.


Scene 2
Enter the two Tribunes, Sicinius, and Brutus,
with the Aedile.


SICINIUS 
 Bid them all home. He’s gone, and we’ll no further.
 The nobility are vexed, whom we see have sided
 In his behalf.
BRUTUS  Now we have shown our power,
5 Let us seem humbler after it is done
 Than when it was a-doing.
SICINIUS  Bid them home.
 Say their great enemy is gone, and they
 Stand in their ancient strength.
BRUTUS 10 Dismiss them home.
Aedile exits.
 Here comes his mother.

Enter Volumnia, Virgilia, and Menenius.

SICINIUS Let’s not meet her.
BRUTUS Why?

187
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 2

SICINIUS They say she’s mad.
BRUTUS 
15 They have ta’en note of us. Keep on your way.
VOLUMNIA 
 O, you’re well met. The hoarded plague o’ th’ gods
 Requite your love!
MENENIUS  Peace, peace! Be not so loud.
VOLUMNIA, to the Tribunes 
 If that I could for weeping, you should hear—
20 Nay, and you shall hear some. (To Sicinius.) Will
 you be gone?
VIRGILIA, to Brutus 
 You shall stay too. I would I had the power
 To say so to my husband.
SICINIUS, to Volumnia  Are you mankind?
VOLUMNIA 
25 Ay, fool, is that a shame? Note but this, fool.
 Was not a man my father? Hadst thou foxship
 To banish him that struck more blows for Rome
 Than thou hast spoken words?
SICINIUS  O blessèd heavens!
VOLUMNIA 
30 More noble blows than ever thou wise words,
 And for Rome’s good. I’ll tell thee what—yet go.
 Nay, but thou shalt stay too. I would my son
 Were in Arabia and thy tribe before him,
 His good sword in his hand.
SICINIUS 35 What then?
VIRGILIA  What then?
 He’d make an end of thy posterity.
VOLUMNIA Bastards and all.
 Good man, the wounds that he does bear for Rome!
MENENIUS 40Come, come, peace.
SICINIUS 
 I would he had continued to his country

189
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 2

 As he began, and not unknit himself
 The noble knot he made.
BRUTUS  I would he had.
VOLUMNIA 
45 “I would he had”? ’Twas you incensed the rabble.
 Cats, that can judge as fitly of his worth
 As I can of those mysteries which heaven
 Will not have Earth to know.
BRUTUS, to Sicinius Pray, let’s go.
VOLUMNIA 50Now, pray, sir, get you gone.
 You have done a brave deed. Ere you go, hear this:
 As far as doth the Capitol exceed
 The meanest house in Rome, so far my son—
 This lady’s husband here, this, do you see?—
55 Whom you have banished, does exceed you all.
BRUTUS 
 Well, well, we’ll leave you.
SICINIUS  Why stay we to be baited
 With one that wants her wits?Tribunes exit.
VOLUMNIA  Take my prayers with
60 you.
 I would the gods had nothing else to do
 But to confirm my curses. Could I meet ’em
 But once a day, it would unclog my heart
 Of what lies heavy to ’t.
MENENIUS 65 You have told them home,
 And, by my troth, you have cause. You’ll sup with
 me?
VOLUMNIA 
 Anger’s my meat. I sup upon myself
 And so shall starve with feeding.
70 (To Virgilia.) Come, let’s go.
 Leave this faint puling, and lament as I do,
 In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.They exit.
MENENIUS Fie, fie, fie!
He exits.




191
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 3

Scene 3
Enter a Roman (Nicanor) and a Volsce (Adrian).

ROMAN I know you well, sir, and you know me. Your
 name I think is Adrian.
VOLSCE It is so, sir. Truly, I have forgot you.
ROMAN I am a Roman, and my services are, as you are,
5 against ’em. Know you me yet?
VOLSCE Nicanor, no?
ROMAN The same, sir.
VOLSCE You had more beard when I last saw you, but
 your favor is well approved by your tongue.
10 What’s the news in Rome? I have a note from the
 Volscian state to find you out there. You have well
 saved me a day’s journey.
ROMAN There hath been in Rome strange insurrections,
 the people against the senators, patricians,
15 and nobles.
VOLSCE Hath been? Is it ended, then? Our state thinks
 not so. They are in a most warlike preparation and
 hope to come upon them in the heat of their
 division.
ROMAN 20The main blaze of it is past, but a small thing
 would make it flame again; for the nobles receive
 so to heart the banishment of that worthy Coriolanus
 that they are in a ripe aptness to take all power
 from the people and to pluck from them their tribunes
25 forever. This lies glowing, I can tell you, and
 is almost mature for the violent breaking out.
VOLSCE Coriolanus banished?
ROMAN Banished, sir.
VOLSCE You will be welcome with this intelligence,
30 Nicanor.
ROMAN The day serves well for them now. I have heard

193
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 4

 it said the fittest time to corrupt a man’s wife is
 when she’s fall’n out with her husband. Your noble
 Tullus Aufidius will appear well in these wars, his
35 great opposer Coriolanus being now in no request
 of his country.
VOLSCE He cannot choose. I am most fortunate thus
 accidentally to encounter you. You have ended my
 business, and I will merrily accompany you home.
ROMAN 40I shall between this and supper tell you most
 strange things from Rome, all tending to the good
 of their adversaries. Have you an army ready, say
 you?
VOLSCE A most royal one. The centurions and their
45 charges, distinctly billeted, already in th’ entertainment,
 and to be on foot at an hour’s warning.
ROMAN I am joyful to hear of their readiness and am
 the man, I think, that shall set them in present action.
 So, sir, heartily well met, and most glad of
50 your company.
VOLSCE You take my part from me, sir. I have the most
 cause to be glad of yours.
ROMAN Well, let us go together.
They exit.


Scene 4
Enter Coriolanus in mean apparel, disguised,
and muffled.


CORIOLANUS 
 A goodly city is this Antium. City,
 ’Tis I that made thy widows. Many an heir
 Of these fair edifices ’fore my wars
 Have I heard groan and drop. Then, know me not,

195
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 4

5 Lest that thy wives with spits and boys with stones
 In puny battle slay me.

Enter a Citizen.

 Save you, sir.
CITIZEN 
 And you.
CORIOLANUS  Direct me, if it be your will,
10 Where great Aufidius lies. Is he in Antium?
CITIZEN 
 He is, and feasts the nobles of the state
 At his house this night.
CORIOLANUS  Which is his house, beseech
 you?
CITIZEN 
15 This here before you.
CORIOLANUS  Thank you, sir. Farewell.
Citizen exits.
 O world, thy slippery turns! Friends now fast sworn,
 Whose double bosoms seems to wear one heart,
 Whose hours, whose bed, whose meal and exercise
20 Are still together, who twin, as ’twere, in love
 Unseparable, shall within this hour,
 On a dissension of a doit, break out
 To bitterest enmity; so fellest foes,
 Whose passions and whose plots have broke their
25 sleep
 To take the one the other, by some chance,
 Some trick not worth an egg, shall grow dear friends
 And interjoin their issues. So with me:
 My birthplace hate I, and my love’s upon
30 This enemy town. I’ll enter. If he slay me,
 He does fair justice; if he give me way,
 I’ll do his country service.
He exits.




197
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 5

Scene 5
Music plays. Enter a Servingman.

FIRST SERVINGMAN Wine, wine, wine! What service is
 here? I think our fellows are asleep.He exits.

Enter another Servingman.

SECOND SERVINGMAN Where’s Cotus? My master calls
 for him. Cotus!He exits.

Enter Coriolanus.

CORIOLANUS 
5 A goodly house. The feast smells well, but I
 Appear not like a guest.

Enter the First Servingman.

FIRST SERVINGMAN What would you have, friend?
 Whence are you? Here’s no place for you. Pray, go
 to the door.He exits.
CORIOLANUS 
10 I have deserved no better entertainment
 In being Coriolanus.

Enter Second Servingman.

SECOND SERVINGMAN Whence are you, sir?—Has the
 porter his eyes in his head, that he gives entrance
 to such companions?—Pray, get you out.
CORIOLANUS 15Away!
SECOND SERVINGMAN Away? Get you away.
CORIOLANUS Now th’ art troublesome.
SECOND SERVINGMAN Are you so brave? I’ll have you
 talked with anon.

Enter Third Servingman; the First, entering,
meets him.


THIRD SERVINGMAN 20What fellow’s this?

199
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 5

FIRST SERVINGMAN A strange one as ever I looked on. I
 cannot get him out o’ th’ house. Prithee, call my
 master to him.He steps aside.
THIRD SERVINGMAN What have you to do here, fellow?
25 Pray you, avoid the house.
CORIOLANUS Let me but stand. I will not hurt your
 hearth.
THIRD SERVINGMAN What are you?
CORIOLANUS A gentleman.
THIRD SERVINGMAN 30A marv’llous poor one.
CORIOLANUS True, so I am.
THIRD SERVINGMAN Pray you, poor gentleman, take up
 some other station. Here’s no place for you. Pray
 you, avoid. Come.
CORIOLANUS 35Follow your function, go, and batten on
 cold bits.Pushes him away from him.
THIRD SERVINGMAN What, you will not?—Prithee, tell
 my master what a strange guest he has here.
SECOND SERVINGMAN And I shall.
Second Servingman exits.
THIRD SERVINGMAN 40Where dwell’st thou?
CORIOLANUS Under the canopy.
THIRD SERVINGMAN Under the canopy?
CORIOLANUS Ay.
THIRD SERVINGMAN Where’s that?
CORIOLANUS 45I’ th’ city of kites and crows.
THIRD SERVINGMAN I’ th’ city of kites and crows? What
 an ass it is! Then thou dwell’st with daws too?
CORIOLANUS No, I serve not thy master.
THIRD SERVINGMAN How, sir? Do you meddle with my
50 master?
CORIOLANUS Ay, ’tis an honester service than to meddle
 with thy mistress. Thou prat’st and prat’st. Serve
 with thy trencher. Hence!Beats him away.
Third Servingman exits.

201
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 5

Enter Aufidius with the Second Servingman.

AUFIDIUS Where is this fellow?
SECOND SERVINGMAN 55Here, sir. I’d have beaten him like
 a dog, but for disturbing the lords within.
He steps aside.
AUFIDIUS Whence com’st thou? What wouldst thou?
 Thy name? Why speak’st not? Speak, man. What’s
 thy name?
CORIOLANUS, removing his muffler 60If, Tullus,
 Not yet thou know’st me, and seeing me, dost not
 Think me for the man I am, necessity
 Commands me name myself.
AUFIDIUS  What is thy name?
CORIOLANUS 
65 A name unmusical to the Volscians’ ears
 And harsh in sound to thine.
AUFIDIUS  Say, what’s thy name?
 Thou hast a grim appearance, and thy face
 Bears a command in ’t. Though thy tackle’s torn,
70 Thou show’st a noble vessel. What’s thy name?
CORIOLANUS 
 Prepare thy brow to frown. Know’st thou me yet?
AUFIDIUS I know thee not. Thy name?
CORIOLANUS 
 My name is Caius Martius, who hath done
 To thee particularly and to all the Volsces
75 Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness may
 My surname Coriolanus. The painful service,
 The extreme dangers, and the drops of blood
 Shed for my thankless country are requited
 But with that surname, a good memory
80 And witness of the malice and displeasure
 Which thou shouldst bear me. Only that name
 remains.
 The cruelty and envy of the people,

203
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 5

 Permitted by our dastard nobles, who
85 Have all forsook me, hath devoured the rest,
 And suffered me by th’ voice of slaves to be
 Whooped out of Rome. Now this extremity
 Hath brought me to thy hearth, not out of hope—
 Mistake me not—to save my life; for if
90 I had feared death, of all the men i’ th’ world
 I would have ’voided thee, but in mere spite,
 To be full quit of those my banishers,
 Stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast
 A heart of wreak in thee, that wilt revenge
95 Thine own particular wrongs and stop those maims
 Of shame seen through thy country, speed thee
 straight
 And make my misery serve thy turn. So use it
 That my revengeful services may prove
100 As benefits to thee, for I will fight
 Against my cankered country with the spleen
 Of all the under fiends. But if so be
 Thou dar’st not this, and that to prove more fortunes
 Thou ’rt tired, then, in a word, I also am
105 Longer to live most weary, and present
 My throat to thee and to thy ancient malice,
 Which not to cut would show thee but a fool,
 Since I have ever followed thee with hate,
 Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country’s breast,
110 And cannot live but to thy shame, unless
 It be to do thee service.
AUFIDIUS  O Martius, Martius,
 Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my
 heart
115 A root of ancient envy. If Jupiter
 Should from yond cloud speak divine things
 And say ’tis true, I’d not believe them more
 Than thee, all-noble Martius. Let me twine

205
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 5

 Mine arms about that body, whereagainst
120 My grainèd ash an hundred times hath broke
 And scarred the moon with splinters.
They embrace.
 Here I clip
 The anvil of my sword and do contest
 As hotly and as nobly with thy love
125 As ever in ambitious strength I did
 Contend against thy valor. Know thou first,
 I loved the maid I married; never man
 Sighed truer breath. But that I see thee here,
 Thou noble thing, more dances my rapt heart
130 Than when I first my wedded mistress saw
 Bestride my threshold. Why, thou Mars, I tell thee
 We have a power on foot, and I had purpose
 Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn
 Or lose mine arm for ’t. Thou hast beat me out
135 Twelve several times, and I have nightly since
 Dreamt of encounters ’twixt thyself and me;
 We have been down together in my sleep,
 Unbuckling helms, fisting each other’s throat,
 And waked half dead with nothing. Worthy Martius,
140 Had we no other quarrel else to Rome but that
 Thou art thence banished, we would muster all
 From twelve to seventy and, pouring war
 Into the bowels of ungrateful Rome,
 Like a bold flood o’erbear ’t. O, come, go in,
145 And take our friendly senators by th’ hands,
 Who now are here, taking their leaves of me,
 Who am prepared against your territories,
 Though not for Rome itself.
CORIOLANUS  You bless me, gods!
AUFIDIUS 
150 Therefore, most absolute sir, if thou wilt have
 The leading of thine own revenges, take

207
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 5

 Th’ one half of my commission and set down—
 As best thou art experienced, since thou know’st
 Thy country’s strength and weakness—thine own
155 ways,
 Whether to knock against the gates of Rome,
 Or rudely visit them in parts remote
 To fright them ere destroy. But come in.
 Let me commend thee first to those that shall
160 Say yea to thy desires. A thousand welcomes!
 And more a friend than ere an enemy—
 Yet, Martius, that was much. Your hand. Most
 welcome!Coriolanus and Aufidius exit.

Two of the Servingmen come forward.

FIRST SERVINGMAN Here’s a strange alteration!
SECOND SERVINGMAN 165By my hand, I had thought to
 have strucken him with a cudgel, and yet my mind
 gave me his clothes made a false report of him.
FIRST SERVINGMAN What an arm he has! He turned me
 about with his finger and his thumb as one would
170 set up a top.
SECOND SERVINGMAN Nay, I knew by his face that there
 was something in him. He had, sir, a kind of face,
 methought—I cannot tell how to term it.
FIRST SERVINGMAN He had so, looking as it were—
175 Would I were hanged but I thought there was
 more in him than I could think.
SECOND SERVINGMAN So did I, I’ll be sworn. He is simply
 the rarest man i’ th’ world.
FIRST SERVINGMAN I think he is. But a greater soldier
180 than he you wot one.
SECOND SERVINGMAN Who, my master?
FIRST SERVINGMAN Nay, it’s no matter for that.
SECOND SERVINGMAN Worth six on him.
FIRST SERVINGMAN Nay, not so neither. But I take him
185 to be the greater soldier.

209
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 5

SECOND SERVINGMAN Faith, look you, one cannot tell
 how to say that. For the defense of a town our general
 is excellent.
FIRST SERVINGMAN Ay, and for an assault too.

Enter the Third Servingman.

THIRD SERVINGMAN 190O slaves, I can tell you news, news,
 you rascals!
BOTH What, what, what? Let’s partake!
THIRD SERVINGMAN I would not be a Roman, of all nations;
 I had as lief be a condemned man.
BOTH 195Wherefore? Wherefore?
THIRD SERVINGMAN Why, here’s he that was wont to
 thwack our general, Caius Martius.
FIRST SERVINGMAN Why do you say “thwack our
 general”?
THIRD SERVINGMAN 200I do not say “thwack our general,”
 but he was always good enough for him.
SECOND SERVINGMAN Come, we are fellows and friends.
 He was ever too hard for him; I have heard him
 say so himself.
FIRST SERVINGMAN 205He was too hard for him directly, to
 say the truth on ’t, before Corioles; he scotched
 him and notched him like a carbonado.
SECOND SERVINGMAN An he had been cannibally given,
 he might have boiled and eaten him too.
FIRST SERVINGMAN 210But, more of thy news.
THIRD SERVINGMAN Why, he is so made on here within
 as if he were son and heir to Mars; set at upper end
 o’ th’ table; no question asked him by any of the
 senators but they stand bald before him. Our general
215 himself makes a mistress of him, sanctifies
 himself with ’s hand, and turns up the white o’ th’
 eye to his discourse. But the bottom of the news is,
 our general is cut i’ th’ middle and but one half of

211
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 5

 what he was yesterday, for the other has half, by
220 the entreaty and grant of the whole table. He’ll go,
 he says, and sowl the porter of Rome gates by th’
 ears. He will mow all down before him and leave
 his passage polled.
SECOND SERVINGMAN And he’s as like to do ’t as any
225 man I can imagine.
THIRD SERVINGMAN Do ’t? He will do ’t! For, look you,
 sir, he has as many friends as enemies, which
 friends, sir, as it were, durst not, look you, sir, show
 themselves, as we term it, his friends whilest he’s
230 in directitude.
FIRST SERVINGMAN Directitude? What’s that?
THIRD SERVINGMAN But when they shall see, sir, his
 crest up again, and the man in blood, they will out
 of their burrows like coneys after rain, and revel
235 all with him.
FIRST SERVINGMAN But when goes this forward?
THIRD SERVINGMAN Tomorrow, today, presently. You
 shall have the drum struck up this afternoon. ’Tis,
 as it were, a parcel of their feast, and to be executed
240 ere they wipe their lips.
SECOND SERVINGMAN Why then, we shall have a stirring
 world again. This peace is nothing but to rust iron,
 increase tailors, and breed ballad-makers.
FIRST SERVINGMAN Let me have war, say I. It exceeds
245 peace as far as day does night. It’s sprightly walking,
 audible, and full of vent. Peace is a very apoplexy,
 lethargy; mulled, deaf, sleepy, insensible; a getter
 of more bastard children than war’s a destroyer of
 men.
SECOND SERVINGMAN 250’Tis so, and as wars in some sort
 may be said to be a ravisher, so it cannot be denied
 but peace is a great maker of cuckolds.

213
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 6

FIRST SERVINGMAN Ay, and it makes men hate one
 another.
THIRD SERVINGMAN 255Reason: because they then less
 need one another. The wars for my money! I hope
 to see Romans as cheap as Volscians. (Noise
 within.) 
They are rising; they are rising.
FIRST AND SECOND SERVINGMEN In, in, in, in!
They exit.


Scene 6
Enter the two Tribunes. Sicinius and Brutus.

SICINIUS 
 We hear not of him, neither need we fear him.
 His remedies are tame—the present peace,
 And quietness of the people, which before
 Were in wild hurry. Here do we make his friends
5 Blush that the world goes well, who rather had,
 Though they themselves did suffer by ’t, behold
 Dissentious numbers pest’ring streets than see
 Our tradesmen singing in their shops and going
 About their functions friendly.
BRUTUS 
10 We stood to ’t in good time.

Enter Menenius.

 Is this Menenius?
SICINIUS 
 ’Tis he, ’tis he. O, he is grown most kind
 Of late.—Hail, sir.
MENENIUS  Hail to you both.
SICINIUS 
15 Your Coriolanus is not much missed
 But with his friends. The commonwealth doth stand,
 And so would do were he more angry at it.

215
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 6

MENENIUS 
 All’s well, and might have been much better if
 He could have temporized.
SICINIUS 20Where is he, hear you?
MENENIUS Nay, I hear nothing;
 His mother and his wife hear nothing from him.

Enter three or four Citizens.

ALL CITIZENS, to the Tribunes 
 The gods preserve
 you both!
SICINIUS 25 Good e’en, our neighbors.
BRUTUS 
 Good e’en to you all, good e’en to you all.
FIRST CITIZEN 
 Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees
 Are bound to pray for you both.
SICINIUS  Live, and thrive!
BRUTUS 
30 Farewell, kind neighbors. We wished Coriolanus
 Had loved you as we did.
ALL CITIZENS  Now the gods keep you!
BOTH TRIBUNES Farewell, farewell.Citizens exit.
SICINIUS 
 This is a happier and more comely time
35 Than when these fellows ran about the streets
 Crying confusion.
BRUTUS  Caius Martius was
 A worthy officer i’ th’ war, but insolent,
 O’ercome with pride, ambitious, past all thinking
40 Self-loving.
SICINIUS 
 And affecting one sole throne, without assistance.
MENENIUS I think not so.
SICINIUS 
 We should by this, to all our lamentation,
 If he had gone forth consul, found it so.

217
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 6

BRUTUS 
45 The gods have well prevented it, and Rome
 Sits safe and still without him.

Enter an Aedile.

AEDILE  Worthy tribunes,
 There is a slave, whom we have put in prison,
 Reports the Volsces with two several powers
50 Are entered in the Roman territories,
 And with the deepest malice of the war
 Destroy what lies before ’em.
MENENIUS  ’Tis Aufidius,
 Who, hearing of our Martius’ banishment,
55 Thrusts forth his horns again into the world,
 Which were inshelled when Martius stood for Rome,
 And durst not once peep out.
SICINIUS Come, what talk you of Martius?
BRUTUS 
 Go see this rumorer whipped. It cannot be
60 The Volsces dare break with us.
MENENIUS  Cannot be?
 We have record that very well it can,
 And three examples of the like hath been
 Within my age. But reason with the fellow
65 Before you punish him, where he heard this,
 Lest you shall chance to whip your information
 And beat the messenger who bids beware
 Of what is to be dreaded.
SICINIUS  Tell not me.
70 I know this cannot be.
BRUTUS  Not possible.

Enter a Messenger.

MESSENGER 
 The nobles in great earnestness are going

219
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 6

 All to the Senate House. Some news is coming
 That turns their countenances.
SICINIUS 75 ’Tis this slave—
 Go whip him ’fore the people’s eyes—his raising,
 Nothing but his report.
MESSENGER  Yes, worthy sir,
 The slave’s report is seconded, and more,
80 More fearful, is delivered.
SICINIUS  What more fearful?
MESSENGER 
 It is spoke freely out of many mouths—
 How probable I do not know—that Martius,
 Joined with Aufidius, leads a power ’gainst Rome
85 And vows revenge as spacious as between
 The young’st and oldest thing.
SICINIUS  This is most likely!
BRUTUS 
 Raised only that the weaker sort may wish
 Good Martius home again.
SICINIUS 90The very trick on ’t.
MENENIUS This is unlikely;
 He and Aufidius can no more atone
 Than violent’st contrariety.

Enter a Second Messenger.

SECOND MESSENGER You are sent for to the Senate.
95 A fearful army, led by Caius Martius
 Associated with Aufidius, rages
 Upon our territories, and have already
 O’erborne their way, consumed with fire and took
 What lay before them.

Enter Cominius.

COMINIUS, to the Tribunes 100 O, you have made good
 work!
MENENIUS What news? What news?

221
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 6

COMINIUS, to the Tribunes 
 You have holp to ravish your own daughters and
 To melt the city leads upon your pates,
105 To see your wives dishonored to your noses—
MENENIUS What’s the news? What’s the news?
COMINIUS, to the Tribunes 
 Your temples burnèd in their cement, and
 Your franchises, whereon you stood, confined
 Into an auger’s bore.
MENENIUS 110 Pray now, your news?—
 You have made fair work, I fear me.—Pray, your
 news?
 If Martius should be joined with Volscians—
COMINIUS  If?
115 He is their god; he leads them like a thing
 Made by some other deity than Nature,
 That shapes man better; and they follow him
 Against us brats with no less confidence
 Than boys pursuing summer butterflies
120 Or butchers killing flies.
MENENIUS, to the Tribunes  You have made good work,
 You and your apron-men, you that stood so much
 Upon the voice of occupation and
 The breath of garlic eaters!
COMINIUS 
125 He’ll shake your Rome about your ears.
MENENIUS 
 As Hercules did shake down mellow fruit.
 You have made fair work.
BRUTUS But is this true, sir?
COMINIUS Ay, and you’ll look pale
130 Before you find it other. All the regions
 Do smilingly revolt, and who resists
 Are mocked for valiant ignorance
 And perish constant fools. Who is ’t can blame him?
 Your enemies and his find something in him.

223
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 6

MENENIUS 135We are all undone, unless
 The noble man have mercy.
COMINIUS  Who shall ask it?
 The Tribunes cannot do ’t for shame; the people
 Deserve such pity of him as the wolf
140 Does of the shepherds. For his best friends, if they
 Should say “Be good to Rome,” they charged him
 even
 As those should do that had deserved his hate
 And therein showed like enemies.
MENENIUS 145 ’Tis true.
 If he were putting to my house the brand
 That should consume it, I have not the face
 To say “Beseech you, cease.”—You have made fair
 hands,
150 You and your crafts! You have crafted fair!
COMINIUS  You have
 brought
 A trembling upon Rome such as was never
 S’ incapable of help.
TRIBUNES 155 Say not we brought it.
MENENIUS 
 How? Was ’t we? We loved him, but like beasts
 And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,
 Who did hoot him out o’ th’ city.
COMINIUS  But I fear
160 They’ll roar him in again. Tullus Aufidius,
 The second name of men, obeys his points
 As if he were his officer. Desperation
 Is all the policy, strength, and defense
 That Rome can make against them.

Enter a troop of Citizens.

MENENIUS 165 Here come the
 clusters.—
 And is Aufidius with him? You are they

225
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 6

 That made the air unwholesome when you cast
 Your stinking, greasy caps in hooting at
170 Coriolanus’ exile. Now he’s coming,
 And not a hair upon a soldier’s head
 Which will not prove a whip. As many coxcombs
 As you threw caps up will he tumble down
 And pay you for your voices. ’Tis no matter.
175 If he could burn us all into one coal,
 We have deserved it.
ALL CITIZENS Faith, we hear fearful news.
FIRST CITIZEN For mine own part,
 When I said banish him, I said ’twas pity.
SECOND CITIZEN 180And so did I.
THIRD CITIZEN And so did I. And, to say the truth, so
 did very many of us. That we did we did for the
 best; and though we willingly consented to his
 banishment, yet it was against our will.
COMINIUS 185You’re goodly things, you voices!
MENENIUS 
 You have made good work, you and your cry!—
 Shall ’s to the Capitol?
COMINIUS  O, ay, what else?Both exit.
SICINIUS 
 Go, masters, get you home. Be not dismayed.
190 These are a side that would be glad to have
 This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,
 And show no sign of fear.
FIRST CITIZEN The gods be good to us! Come, masters,
 let’s home. I ever said we were i’ th’ wrong when
195 we banished him.
SECOND CITIZEN So did we all. But, come, let’s home.
Citizens exit.
BRUTUS I do not like this news.
SICINIUS Nor I.

227
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 7

BRUTUS 
 Let’s to the Capitol. Would half my wealth
200 Would buy this for a lie.
SICINIUS  Pray, let’s go.
Tribunes exit.


Scene 7
Enter Aufidius with his Lieutenant.

AUFIDIUS Do they still fly to th’ Roman?
LIEUTENANT 
 I do not know what witchcraft’s in him, but
 Your soldiers use him as the grace ’fore meat,
 Their talk at table, and their thanks at end;
5 And you are dark’ned in this action, sir,
 Even by your own.
AUFIDIUS  I cannot help it now,
 Unless by using means I lame the foot
 Of our design. He bears himself more proudlier,
10 Even to my person, than I thought he would
 When first I did embrace him. Yet his nature
 In that’s no changeling, and I must excuse
 What cannot be amended.
LIEUTENANT  Yet I wish, sir—
15 I mean for your particular—you had not
 Joined in commission with him, but either
 Have borne the action of yourself or else
 To him had left it solely.
AUFIDIUS 
 I understand thee well, and be thou sure,
20 When he shall come to his account, he knows not
 What I can urge against him, although it seems,
 And so he thinks and is no less apparent
 To th’ vulgar eye, that he bears all things fairly,
 And shows good husbandry for the Volscian state,

229
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 7

25 Fights dragonlike, and does achieve as soon
 As draw his sword; yet he hath left undone
 That which shall break his neck or hazard mine
 Whene’er we come to our account.
LIEUTENANT 
 Sir, I beseech you, think you he’ll carry Rome?
AUFIDIUS 
30 All places yields to him ere he sits down,
 And the nobility of Rome are his;
 The Senators and Patricians love him too.
 The Tribunes are no soldiers, and their people
 Will be as rash in the repeal as hasty
35 To expel him thence. I think he’ll be to Rome
 As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it
 By sovereignty of nature. First, he was
 A noble servant to them, but he could not
 Carry his honors even. Whether ’twas pride,
40 Which out of daily fortune ever taints
 The happy man; whether defect of judgment,
 To fail in the disposing of those chances
 Which he was lord of; or whether nature,
 Not to be other than one thing, not moving
45 From th’ casque to th’ cushion, but commanding
 peace
 Even with the same austerity and garb
 As he controlled the war; but one of these—
 As he hath spices of them all—not all,
50 For I dare so far free him—made him feared,
 So hated, and so banished. But he has a merit
 To choke it in the utt’rance. So our virtues
 Lie in th’ interpretation of the time,
 And power, unto itself most commendable,
55 Hath not a tomb so evident as a chair
 T’ extol what it hath done.
 One fire drives out one fire, one nail one nail;

231
Coriolanus
ACT 4. SC. 7

 Rights by rights falter; strengths by strengths do
 fail.
60 Come, let’s away. When, Caius, Rome is thine,
 Thou art poor’st of all; then shortly art thou mine.
They exit.


ACT 5
Scene 1
Enter Menenius, Cominius, Sicinius, Brutus (the two
Tribunes), with others.


MENENIUS 
 No, I’ll not go. You hear what he hath said
 Which was sometime his general, who loved him
 In a most dear particular. He called me father,
 But what o’ that? Go you that banished him;
5 A mile before his tent, fall down, and knee
 The way into his mercy. Nay, if he coyed
 To hear Cominius speak, I’ll keep at home.
COMINIUS 
 He would not seem to know me.
MENENIUS  Do you hear?
COMINIUS 
10 Yet one time he did call me by my name.
 I urged our old acquaintance, and the drops
 That we have bled together. “Coriolanus”
 He would not answer to, forbade all names.
 He was a kind of nothing, titleless,
15 Till he had forged himself a name o’ th’ fire
 Of burning Rome.
MENENIUS, to the Tribunes 
 Why, so; you have made good work!
 A pair of tribunes that have wracked Rome
 To make coals cheap! A noble memory!
235

237
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 1

COMINIUS 
20 I minded him how royal ’twas to pardon
 When it was less expected. He replied
 It was a bare petition of a state
 To one whom they had punished.
MENENIUS  Very well.
25 Could he say less?
COMINIUS 
 I offered to awaken his regard
 For ’s private friends. His answer to me was
 He could not stay to pick them in a pile
 Of noisome musty chaff. He said ’twas folly
30 For one poor grain or two to leave unburnt
 And still to nose th’ offense.
MENENIUS For one poor grain or two!
 I am one of those! His mother, wife, his child,
 And this brave fellow too, we are the grains;
35 You are the musty chaff, and you are smelt
 Above the moon. We must be burnt for you.
SICINIUS 
 Nay, pray, be patient. If you refuse your aid
 In this so-never-needed help, yet do not
 Upbraid ’s with our distress. But sure, if you
40 Would be your country’s pleader, your good tongue,
 More than the instant army we can make,
 Might stop our countryman.
MENENIUS  No, I’ll not meddle.
SICINIUS Pray you, go to him.
MENENIUS 45What should I do?
BRUTUS 
 Only make trial what your love can do
 For Rome, towards Martius.
MENENIUS  Well, and say that
 Martius
50 Return me, as Cominius is returned, unheard,

239
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 1

 What then? But as a discontented friend,
 Grief-shot with his unkindness? Say ’t be so?
SICINIUS Yet your good will
 Must have that thanks from Rome after the measure
55 As you intended well.
MENENIUS  I’ll undertake ’t.
 I think he’ll hear me. Yet to bite his lip
 And hum at good Cominius much unhearts me.
 He was not taken well; he had not dined.
60 The veins unfilled, our blood is cold, and then
 We pout upon the morning, are unapt
 To give or to forgive; but when we have stuffed
 These pipes and these conveyances of our blood
 With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls
65 Than in our priestlike fasts. Therefore I’ll watch him
 Till he be dieted to my request,
 And then I’ll set upon him.
BRUTUS 
 You know the very road into his kindness
 And cannot lose your way.
MENENIUS 70 Good faith, I’ll prove him,
 Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledge
 Of my success.He exits.
COMINIUS  He’ll never hear him.
SICINIUS  Not?
COMINIUS 
75 I tell you, he does sit in gold, his eye
 Red as ’twould burn Rome; and his injury
 The jailor to his pity. I kneeled before him;
 ’Twas very faintly he said “Rise”; dismissed me
 Thus with his speechless hand. What he would do
80 He sent in writing after me; what he
 Would not, bound with an oath to yield to his
 Conditions. So that all hope is vain
 Unless his noble mother and his wife,
 Who, as I hear, mean to solicit him

241
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 2

85 For mercy to his country. Therefore let’s hence
 And with our fair entreaties haste them on.
They exit.


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.


Scene 3
Enter Coriolanus and Aufidius.

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

249
Coriolanus
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

251
Coriolanus
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.
CORIOLANUS 
 These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.
VIRGILIA 
 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

253
Coriolanus
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?
CORIOLANUS 
 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!
VOLUMNIA 
 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.

255
Coriolanus
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.
CORIOLANUS 
 Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark, for we’ll
 Hear naught from Rome in private. He sits. Your
 request?
VOLUMNIA 
 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
 should
115 Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance with
 comforts,
 Constrains them weep and shake with fear and
 sorrow,
 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

257
Coriolanus
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.
CORIOLANUS 
 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
 us
 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,

259
Coriolanus
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

261
Coriolanus
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?
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

263
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 4

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


Scene 4
Enter Menenius and Sicinius.

MENENIUS See you yond coign o’ th’ Capitol, yond
 cornerstone?
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

265
Coriolanus
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?
SECOND MESSENGER 
 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.
SICINIUS  Friend,
 Art thou certain this is true? Is ’t most certain?
SECOND MESSENGER 
 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.

267
Coriolanus
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.
SECOND MESSENGER 
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.


Scene 5
Enter two Senators, with Ladies (Volumnia, Virgilia,
Valeria) passing over the stage, with other Lords.


SENATOR 
 Behold our patroness, the life of Rome!
 Call all your tribes together, praise the gods,
 And make triumphant fires. Strew flowers before
 them,
5 Unshout the noise that banished Martius,
 Repeal him with the welcome of his mother.
 Cry “Welcome, ladies, welcome!”
ALL Welcome, ladies, welcome!
A flourish with drums and trumpets.
They exit.




269
Coriolanus
ACT 5. SC. 6

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.—

281
Coriolanus
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.