Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT I. - Coriolanus
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ACT I. - William Shakespeare, Coriolanus 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
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Rome. A Street.
Enter a Company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons.
Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.
You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?
First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.
We know’t, we know’t.
Let us kill him, and we’ll have corn at our own price. Is’t a verdict?
No more talking on’t; let it be done.
One word, good citizens.
We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians 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 misery, is as an inventory to particularise their abundance; our sufferance is a gain to them. Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.
Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?
Against him first: he’s a very dog to the commonalty.
Consider you what services he has done for his country?
Very well; and could be content to give him good report for’t, but that he pays himself with being proud.
Nay, but speak not maliciously.
I 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 his virtue.
What he cannot help in his nature, you account a vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.
If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations: he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition. [Shouts within.] What shouts are these? The other side o’ the city is risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!
Soft! who comes here?
Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved the people.
He’s one honest enough: would all the rest were so!
What work’s, my countrymen, in hand? Where go you
With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray you.
Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have had inkling this fortnight what 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.
Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,
Will you undo yourselves?
We cannot, sir; we are undone already.
I tell you, friends, most charitable care
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
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,
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’ the state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies.
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 act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and there’s all the love they bear us.
Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accus’d 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 scale’t a little more.
Well, I’ll hear it, sir; yet you must not think to fob off our disgrace with a tale; but, an’t please you, deliver.
There was a time when all the body’s members
Rebell’d against the belly; thus accus’d it:
That only like a gulf it did remain
I’ the midst o’ the body, idle and unactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments
Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
And, mutually participate, did minister
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answer’d,—
Well, sir, what answer made the belly?
Sir, I shall tell you.—With a kind of smile,
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 the discontented members, the mutinous parts
That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
As you malign our senators for that
They are not such as you.
Your belly’s answer? What!
The kingly crowned head, the vigilant eye,
The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,
With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabric, if that they—
’Fore me, this fellow speaks! what then? what then?
Should by the cormorant belly be restrain’d,
Who is the sink o’ the body,—
Well, what then?
The former agents, if they did complain,
What could the belly answer?
I will tell you;
If you’ll bestow a small, of what you have little,
Patience a while, you’ll hear the belly’s answer.
You’re long about it.
Note me this, good friend;
Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer’d:
‘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;
Because I am the store-house 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 the seat o’ the brain;
And, through the cranks and offices of man,
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,—
Ay, sir; well, well.
‘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,
And leave me but the bran.’ What say you to’t?
It was an answer: how apply you this?
The senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members; for, examine
Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly
Touching the weal o’ the 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?
I the great toe? Why the great toe?
For that, being one o’ the lowest, basest, poorest,
Of this most wise rebellion, thou go’st foremost:
Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
Lead’st first to win some vantage.
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.
Hail, noble Marcius!
Thanks.—What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues,
That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?
We have ever your good word.
He that will give good words to thee will flatter
Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,
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,
Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is,
To make him worthy whose offence 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
Which would increase his evil. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead
And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye?
With every minute you do change a mind,
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
Would feed on one another? What’s their seeking?
For corn at their own rates; whereof they say
The city is well stor’d.
Hang ’em! They say!
They’ll sit by the fire, and presume to know
What’s done i’ the 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,
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
With thousands of these quarter’d slaves, as high
As I could pick my lance.
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?
They are dissolv’d: hang ’em!
They said they were an-hungry; sigh’d forth proverbs:
That hunger broke stone walls; that dogs must eat;
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 answer’d,
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’ the moon,
Shouting their emulation.
What is granted them?
Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
Of their own choice: one’s Junius Brutus,
Sicinius Velutus, and I know not—’Sdeath!
The rabble should have first unroof’d the city,
Ere so prevail’d with me; it will in time
Win upon power, and throw forth greater themes
For insurrection’s arguing.
This is strange.
Go; get you home, you fragments!
Enter a Messenger, hastily.
Where’s Caius Marcius?
Here: what’s the matter?
The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.
I am glad on’t; then we shall ha’ means to vent
Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.
EnterCominius, Titus Lartius,and other Senators; Junius BrutusandSicinius Velutus.
Marcius, ’tis true that you have lately told us;
The Volsces are in arms.
They have a leader,
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.
You have fought together.
Were half to half the world by the 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.
Then, worthy Marcius,
Attend upon Cominius to these wars.
It is your former promise.
Sir, it is;
And I am constant. Titus Lartius, thou
Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus’ face.
What! art thou stiff? stand’st out?
No, Caius Marcius;
I’ll lean upon one crutch and fight with t’other,
Ere stay behind this business.
Your company to the Capitol; where I know
Our greatest friends attend us.
[ToCominius.] Lead you on:
[ToMarcius.] Follow Cominius; we must follow you;
Right worthy you priority.
[To the Citizens.] Hence! to your homes! be gone.
Nay, let them follow:
The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither
To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,
Your valour puts well forth; pray, follow.
[Exeunt Senators, Cominius, Marcius, Titus,andMenenius. Citizens steal away.
Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?
He has no equal.
When we were chosen tribunes for the people,—
Mark’d you his lip and eyes?
Nay, but his taunts.
Being mov’d, he will not spare to gird the gods.
Bemock the modest moon.
The present wars devour him; he is grown
Too proud to be so valiant.
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
Fame, at the which he aims,
In whom already he is well grac’d, cannot
Better be held nor more attain’d than by
A place below the first; for what miscarries
Shall be the general’s fault, though he perform
To the utmost of a man; and giddy censure
Will then cry out of Marcius ‘O! if he
Had borne the business.’
Besides, if things go well,
Opinion, that so sticks on Marcius, shall
Of his demerits rob Cominius.
Half all Cominius’ honours are to Marcius,
Though Marcius earn’d them not; and all his faults
To Marcius shall be honours, though indeed
In aught he merit not.
Let’s hence and hear
How the dispatch is made; and in what fashion,
More than his singularity, he goes
Upon this present action.
Corioli. The Senate-house.
EnterTullus Aufidiusand Senators.
So, your opinion is, Aufidius,
That they of Rome are enter’d in our counsels,
And know how we proceed.
Is it not yours?
What ever 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.
They have press’d a power, but it is not known
Whether for east, or west: the dearth is great;
The people mutinous; and it is rumour’d,
Cominius, Marcius, your old enemy,—
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.
Our army’s in the field:
We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready
To answer us.
Nor did you think it folly
To keep your great pretences veil’d till when
They needs must show themselves; which in the hatching,
It seem’d, appear’d to Rome. By the discovery
We shall be shorten’d in our aim, which was
To take in many towns ere almost Rome
Should know we were afoot.
Take your commission; hie you to your bands;
Let us alone to guard Corioli:
If they set down before’s, for the remove
Bring up your army; but, I think you’ll find
They’ve not prepared for us.
O! doubt not that;
I speak from certainties. Nay, more;
Some parcels of their power are forth already,
And only hitherward. I leave your honours.
If we and Caius Marcius chance to meet,
’Tis sworn between us we shall ever strike
Till one can do no more.
The gods assist you!
And keep your honours safe!
Rome. A Room inMarcius’sHouse.
EnterVolumniaandVirgilia:they set them down on two low stools and sew.
I pray you, daughter, sing; or express yourself in a more comfortable sort. If my son were my husband, I would freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he won honour than in the embracements 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, I, considering how honour would become such a person, that it was no better than picture-like to hang by the 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; 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.
But had he died in the business, madam; how then?
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 good Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.
Enter a Gentlewoman.
Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.
Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.
Indeed, you shall not.
Methinks I hear hither your husband’s drum,
See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair,
As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him:
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 mail’d hand then wiping, forth he goes,
Like to a harvestman that’s task’d to mow
Or all or lose his hire.
His bloody brow! O Jupiter! no blood.
Away, you fool! it more becomes a man
Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba,
When she did suckle Hector, look’d not lovelier
Than Hector’s forehead when it spit forth blood
At Grecian swords, contemning. Tell Valeria
We are fit to bid her welcome.
Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!
He’ll beat Aufidius’ head below his knee,
And tread upon his neck.
Re-enter Gentlewoman, withValeriaand an Usher.
My ladies both, good day to you.
I am glad to see your ladyship.
How do you both? you are manifest housekeepers. What are you sewing here? A fine spot, in good faith. How does your little son?
I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.
He had rather see the swords and hear a drum, than look upon his schoolmaster.
O’ 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: he has such a confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded butterfly; and when he caught it, he let it go again; 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!
One on’s father’s moods.
Indeed, la, ’tis a noble child.
A crack, madam.
Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play the idle huswife with me this afternoon.
No, good madam; I will not out of doors.
Not out of doors!
She shall, she shall.
Indeed, no, by your patience; I’ll not over the threshold till my lord return from the wars.
Fie! you confine yourself most unreasonably. Come; you must go visit the good lady that lies in.
I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her with my prayers; but I cannot go thither.
Why, I pray you?
’Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.
You 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.
No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I will not forth.
In truth, la, go with me; and I’ll tell you excellent news of your husband.
O, good madam, there can be none yet.
Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news from him last night.
In earnest, it’s true; I heard a senator speak it. Thus it is: The Volsces have an army forth; against whom Cominius the general is gone, with one part of our Roman power: your lord and Titus Lartius are set down before their city Corioli; they nothing doubt prevailing and to make it brief wars. This is true, on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.
Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in every thing hereafter.
Let her alone, lady: as she is now she will but disease our better mirth.
In 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.
No, at a word, madam; indeed I must not. I wish you much mirth.
Well then, farewell.
Enter, with drum and colours,Marcius, Titus Lartius, Officers, and Soldiers. To them a Messenger.
Yonder comes news: a wager they have met.
My horse to yours, no.
Say, has our general met the enemy?
They lie in view, but have not spoke as yet.
So the good horse is mine.
I’ll buy him of you.
No, I’ll nor sell nor give him; lend you him I will
For half a hundred years. Summon the town.
How far off lie these armies?
Within this mile and half.
Then shall we hear their ’larum, and they ours.
Now, Mars, I prithee, make us quick in work,
That we with smoking swords may march from hence,
To help our fielded friends! Come, blow thy blast.
A Parley sounded. Enter, on the Walls, two Senators, and Others.
Tullus Aufidius, is he within your walls?
No, nor a man that fears you less than he,
That’s lesser than a little. Hark, our drums
[Drums afar off.
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 pinn’d with rushes;
They’ll open of themselves. Hark you, far off!
[Alarum afar off.
There is Aufidius: list, what work he makes
Amongst your cloven army.
O! they are at it!
Their noise be our instruction. Ladders, ho!
The Volsces enter, and pass over the stage.
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, 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,
And he shall feel mine edge.
Alarum. The Romans are beaten back to their trenches. Re-enterMarcius.
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 abhorr’d
Further 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
With flight and agu’d 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’d.
Another alarum. The Volsces and Romans re-enter, and the fight is renewed. The Volsces retire into Corioli, andMarciusfollows them to the gates.
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.
[He enters the gates.
Foolhardiness! not I.
[Marciusis shut in.
See, they have shut him in.
To the pot, I warrant him.
What is become of Marcius?
Slain, sir, doubtless.
Following the fliers at the very heels,
With them he enters; who, upon the sudden,
Clapp’d-to their gates; he is himself alone,
To answer all the city.
O noble fellow!
Who, sensibly, outdares his senseless sword,
And, when it bows, stands up. Thou art left, Marcius:
A carbuncle entire, as big as thou art,
Were not so rich a jewel. Thou wast a soldier
Even to Cato’s wish, not fierce and terrible
Only in strokes; but, with thy grim looks and
The thunder-like percussion of thy sounds,
Thou mad’st thine enemies shake, as if the world
Were feverous and did tremble.
Re-enterMarcius,bleeding, assaulted by the enemy.
O! ’tis Marcius!
Let’s fetch him off, or make remain alike.
[They fight, and all enter the city.
Corioli. A Street.
Enter certain Romans, with spoils.
This will I carry to Rome.
And I this.
A murrain on’t! I took this for silver.
[Alarum continues still ajar off.
EnterMarciusandTitus Lartius,with a trumpet.
See here these movers that do prize their hours
At a crack’d drachme! Cushions, leaden spoons,
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!
And hark, what noise the general makes! To him!
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.
Worthy sir, thou bleed’st;
Thy exercise hath been too violent
For a second course of fight.
Sir, praise me not;
My work hath yet not warm’d me: fare you well:
The blood I drop is rather physical
Than dangerous to me: to Aufidius thus
I will appear, and fight.
Now the fair goddess, Fortune,
Fall deep in love with thee; and her great charms
Misguide thy opposers’ swords! Bold gentleman,
Prosperity be thy page!
Thy friend no less
Than those she places highest! So, farewell.
Thou worthiest Marcius!—
Go, sound thy trumpet in the market-place;
Call thither all the officers of the town,
Where they shall know our mind. Away!
Near the Camp ofCominius.
EnterCominiusand Forces, retreating.
Breathe you, my friends: well fought; we are come off
Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands,
Nor cowardly in retire: believe me, sirs,
We shall be charg’d again. Whiles we have struck,
By interims and conveying gusts we have heard
The charges of our friends. Ye Roman gods!
Lead their successes as we wish our own,
That both our powers, with smiling fronts encountering,
May give you thankful sacrifice.
Enter a Messenger.
The citizens of Corioli have issu’d,
And given to Lartius and to Marcius battle:
I saw our party to their trenches driven,
And then I came away.
Though thou speak’st truth,
Methinks thou speak’st not well. How long is’t since?
Above an hour, my lord.
’Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums:
How couldst thou in a mile confound an hour,
And bring thy news so late?
Spies of the Volsces
Held me in chase, that I was forc’d to wheel
Three or four miles about; else had I, sir,
Half an hour since brought my report.
That does appear as he were flay’d? O gods!
He has the stamp of Marcius; and I have
Before-time seen him thus.
[Within.] Come I too late?
The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabor,
More than I know the sound of Marcius’ tongue
From every meaner man.
Come I too late?
Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,
But mantled in your own.
O! let me clip ye
In arms as sound as when I woo’d, in heart
As merry as when our nuptial day was done,
And tapers burn’d to bedward.
Flower of warriors.
How is’t with Titus Lartius?
As with a man busied about decrees:
Condemning some to death, and some to exile;
Ransoming him, or pitying, threat’ning the other;
Holding Corioli in the name of Rome,
Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,
To let him slip at will.
Where is that slave
Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?
Where is he? Call him hither.
Let him alone;
He did inform the truth: but for our gentlemen,
The common file—a plague! tribunes for them!—
The mouse ne’er shunn’d the cat as they did budge
From rascals worse than they.
But how prevail’d you?
Will the time serve to tell? I do not think.
Where is the enemy? Are you lords o’ the field?
If not, why cease you till you are so?
Marcius, we have at disadvantage fought,
And did retire to win our purpose.
How lies their battle? Know you on which side
They have plac’d their men of trust?
As I guess, Marcius,
Their bands i’ the vaward are the Antiates,
Of their best trust; o’er them Aufidius,
Their very heart of hope.
I do beseech you,
By all the battles wherein we have fought,
By the blood we have shed together, by the vows
We have made 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 advanc’d and darts,
We prove this very hour.
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.
Those are they
That most are willing. If any such be here—
As it were sin to doubt—that love this painting
Wherein you see me smear’d; if any fear
Lesser his person than an ill report;
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 Marcius.
[They all shout, and wave their swords; take him up in their arms, and cast up their caps.
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,
Though thanks to all, must I select from all: the rest
Shall bear the business in some other fight,
As cause will be obey’d. Please you to march;
And four shall quickly draw out my command,
Which men are best inclin’d.
March on, my fellows:
Make good this ostentation, and you shall
Divide in all with us.
The Gates of Corioli.
Titus Lartius,having set a guard uponCorioli,going with drum and trumpet towardsCominiusandCaius Marcius,enters with a Lieutenant, a party of Soldiers, and a Scout.
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
For a short holding: if we lose the field,
We cannot keep the town.
Fear not our care, sir.
Hence, and shut your gates upon us.
Our guider, come; to the Roman camp conduct us.
A Field of Battle between the Roman and the Volscian Camps.
Alarum. Enter from opposite sidesMarciusandAufidius.
I’ll fight with none but thee; for I do hate thee
Worse than a promise-breaker.
We hate alike:
Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor
More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.
Let the first budger die the other’s slave,
And the gods doom him after!
If I fly, Marcius,
Halloo me like a hare.
Within these three hours, Tullus,
Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,
And made what work I pleas’d; ’tis not my blood
Wherein thou seest me mask’d; for thy revenge
Wrench up thy power to the highest.
Wert thou the Hector
That was the whip of your bragg’d progeny,
Thou shouldst not ’scape me here.—
[They fight, and certain Volsces come to the aid ofAufidius.
Officious, and not valiant, you have sham’d me
In your condemned seconds.
[Exeunt fighting, all driven in byMarcius.
The Roman Camp.
Alarum. A retreat sounded. Flourish. Enter from one side,Cominiusand Romans; from the other side,Marcius,with his arm in a scarf, and other Romans.
If I should tell thee o’er this thy day’s work,
Thou’lt not believe thy deeds: but I’ll report it
Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles,
Where great patricians shall attend and shrug,
I’ the end, admire; where ladies shall be frighted,
And, gladly quak’d, hear more; where the dull Tribunes,
That, with the fusty plebeians, hate thine honours,
Shall say, against their hearts,
‘We thank the gods our Rome hath such a soldier!’
Yet cam’st thou to a morsel of this feast,
Having fully din’d before.
EnterTitus Lartius,with his power, from the pursuit.
Here is the steed, we the caparison:
Hadst thou beheld—
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; induc’d
As you have been; that’s for my country:
He that has but effected his good will
Hath overta’en mine act.
You shall not be
The grave of your deserving; Rome must know
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 vouch’d,
Would seem but modest. Therefore, I beseech you,—
In sign of what you are, not to reward
What you have done,—before our army hear me.
I have some wounds upon me, and they smart
To hear themselves remember’d.
Should they not.
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 achiev’d and city,
We render you the tenth; to be ta’en forth,
Before the common distribution,
At your only choice.
I thank you, general;
But cannot make my heart consent to take
A bribe to pay my sword: I do refuse it;
And stand upon my common part with those
That have beheld the doing.
[A long flourish. They all cry ‘Marcius! Marcius!’ cast up their caps and lances:CominiusandLartiusstand bare.
May these same instruments, which you profane,
Never sound more! When drums and trumpets shall
I’ the field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be
Made all of false-fac’d soothing!
When steel grows soft as is the parasite’s silk,
Let him be made a coverture for the wars!
No more, I say! For that I have not wash’d
My nose that bled, or foil’d some debile wretch,
Which, without note, here’s many else have done,
You shout me forth
In acclamations hyperbolical;
As if I lov’d my little should be dieted
In praises sauc’d with lies.
Too modest are you;
More cruel to your good report than grateful
To us that give you truly. By your patience,
If ’gainst yourself you be incens’d, we’ll put you,
Like one that means his proper harm, in manacles,
Then reason safely with you. Therefore, be it known,
As to us, to all the world, that Caius Marcius
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 Corioli, call him,
With all the applause and clamour of the host,
Caius Marcius Coriolanus! Bear
The addition nobly ever!
Caius Marcius Coriolanus!
[Flourish. Trumpets sound, and drums.
I will go wash;
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 the fairness of my power.
So, to our tent;
Where, ere we do repose us, we will write
To Rome of our success. You, Titus Lartius,
Must to Corioli back: send us to Rome
The best, with whom we may articulate,
For their own good and ours.
I shall, my lord.
The gods begin to mock me. I, that now
Refus’d most princely gifts, am bound to beg
Of my lord general.
Take it; ’tis yours. What is’t?
I sometime lay here in Corioli
At a poor man’s house; he us’d me kindly:
He cried to me; I saw him prisoner;
But then Aufidius was within my view,
And wrath o’erwhelm’d my pity: I request you
To give my poor host freedom.
O! well begg’d!
Were he the butcher of my son, he should
Be free as is the wind. Deliver him, Titus.
Marcius, his name?
By Jupiter! forgot.
I am weary; yea, my memory is tir’d.
Have we no wine here?
Go we to our tent:
The blood upon your visage dries; ’tis time
It should be look’d to: come.
The Camp of the Volsces.
A Flourish. Cornets. EnterTullus Aufidius,bloody, with two or three Soldiers.
The town is ta’en!
’Twill be deliver’d back on good condition.
I would I were a Roman; for I cannot,
Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition!
What good condition can a treaty find
I’ the part that is at mercy? Five times, Marcius,
I have fought with thee; so often hast thou beat me,
And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter
As often as we eat. By the elements,
If e’er again I meet him beard to beard,
He is mine, or I am his: mine emulation
Hath not that honour in’t it had; for where
I thought to crush him in an equal force—
True sword to sword—I’ll potch at him some way
Or wrath or craft may get him.
He’s the devil.
Bolder, though not so subtle. My valour’s poison’d
With only suffering stain by him; for him
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
My hate to Marcius. 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 the city;
Learn how ’tis held, and what they are that must
Be hostages for Rome.
Will not you go?
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
I may spur on my journey.
I shall, sir.