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PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource
PlayShakespeare.com: The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

Coriolanus Scenes


Scene 1

Rome. A public place.

(Menenius; Sicinius; Brutus; Volumnia; Virgilia; Valeria; Cominius; Titus Lartius; Coriolanus; Captains; Roman Soldiers; Roman Herald; Third Messenger)


Menenius berates the two Tribunes of the people for reviling Caius Martius as proud, accusing them of being both proud and foolish. Menenius and Volumnia discss exactly how many scars Coriolanus now has. The victorious generals enter in procession, Coriolanus being lauded by all. The tribunes, Sicinius and Brutus, are worried that his newfound popularity will have him be chosen consul, and plan to arouse popular feeling against him again in order to prevent this. ( line)

Enter Menenius with the two tribunes of the people, Sicinius and Brutus.MEN.BRU.SIC.

MEN.

The augurer tells me we shall have news tonight.

BRU.

Good or bad?

MEN.

Not according to the prayer of the people, for they love not Martius.

SIC.

Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.

MEN.

Pray you, who does the wolf love?

SIC.

The lamb.

MEN.

Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians would the noble Martius.

BRU.

He’s a lamb indeed, that baes like a bear.

MEN.

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. MEN. AND BRU.

Well, sir.

MEN.

In what enormity is Martius poor in, that you two have not in abundance?

BRU.

He’s poor in no one fault, but stor’d with all.

SIC.

Especially in pride.

BRU.

And topping all others in boasting.

MEN.

This is strange now. Do you two know how you are censur’d here in the city, I mean of us a’ th’ right-hand file? Do you?

BOTH. MEN. AND BRU.

Why? How are we censur’d?

MEN.

Because you talk of pride now—will you not be angry?

BOTH. MEN. AND BRU.

Well, well, sir, well.

MEN.

Why, ’tis no great matter; for a very little thief of occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience. 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?

BRU.

We do it not alone, sir.

MEN.

I know you can do very little alone, for your helps are many, or else your actions would grow wondrous single; your abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone. You talk of pride: O that you could turn your eyes toward the napes of your necks and make but an interior survey of your good selves! O that you could!

BOTH. MEN. AND BRU.

What then, sir?

MEN.

Why then you should discover a brace of unmeriting, proud, violent, testy magistrates (alias fools) as any in Rome.

SIC.

Menenius, you are known well enough too.

MEN.

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 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 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 deliver’d the matter well, when I find the ass in compound with the 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 too? What harm can your beesom conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be known well enough too?

BRU.

Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.

MEN.

You know neither me, yourselves, nor any thing. 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 forset-seller, and then rejourn the controversy of threepence to a second day of audience. When you are hearing a matter between party and party, if you chance to be pinch’d 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, 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.

BRU.

Come, come, you are well understood to be a perfecter giber for the table than a necessary bencher in the Capitol.

MEN.

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 beards deserve not so honorable a grave as to stuff a botcher’s cushion, or to be entomb’d in an ass’s pack-saddle. Yet you must be saying Martius is proud; who, in a cheap estimation, is worth all your predecessors since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the best of ’em were hereditary hangmen. God-den 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.

Brutus and Sicinius go aside.

Enter Volumnia, Virgilia, and Valeria.

How now, my as fair as noble ladies—and the moon, were she earthly, no nobler—whither do you follow your eyes so fast?

VOL.

Honorable Menenius, my boy Martius approaches. For the love of Juno, let’s go.

MEN.

Ha? Martius coming home?

VOL.

Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous approbation.

MEN.

Take my cap, Jupiter,

Tosses it up

and I thank thee. Hoo! Martius coming home?

BOTH VIR. AND VAL.

Nay, ’tis true.

VOL.

Look, here’s a letter from him; the state hath another, his wife another, and, I think, there’s one at home for you.

MEN.

I will make my very house reel tonight. A letter for me?

VIR.

Yes certain, there’s a letter for you, I saw’t.

MEN.

A letter for me! It gives me an estate of seven years’ health, in which time I will make a lip 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.

VIR.

O no, no, no.

VOL.

O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for’t.

MEN.

So do I too, if it be not too much. Brings ’a victory in his pocket? The wounds become him.

VOL.

On ’s brows. Menenius, he comes the third time home with the oaken garland.

MEN.

Has he disciplin’d Aufidius soundly?

VOL.

Titus Lartius writes they fought together, but Aufidius got off.

MEN.

And ’twas time for him too, I’ll warrant him that; and he had stay’d by him, I would not have been so fidius’d for all the chests in Corioles, and the gold that’s in them. Is the Senate possess’d of this?

VOL.

Good ladies, let’s go.—Yes, yes, yes; the Senate has letters from the general, wherein he gives my son the whole name of the war. He hath in this action outdone his former deeds doubly.

VAL.

In troth, there’s wondrous things spoke of him.

MEN.

Wondrous! Ay, I warrant you, and not without his true purchasing.

VIR.

The gods grant them true!

VOL.

True? Pow, waw.

MEN.

True? I’ll be sworn they are true. Where is he wounded?

To the Tribunes.

God save your good worships! Martius is coming home; he has more cause to be proud.—Where is he wounded?

VOL.

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 receiv’d in the repulse of Tarquin seven hurts i’ th’ body.

MEN.

One i’ th’ neck, and two i’ th’ thigh—there’s nine that I know.

VOL.

He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five wounds upon him.

MEN.

Now it’s twenty-seven; every gash was an enemy’s grave.

A shout and flourish.

Hark, the trumpets.

VOL.

These are the ushers of Martius: before him he carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears:

Death, that dark spirit, in ’s nervy arm doth lie,

Which, being advanc’d, declines, and then men die.

A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter Cominius the General, and Titus Lartius; between them, Coriolanus, crown’d with an oaken garland; with Captains and Soldiers and a Roman Herald.

ROM. HER.

Know, Rome, that all alone Martius did fight

Within Corioles gates; where he hath won,

With fame, a name to Martius Caius; these

In honor follows Coriolanus.

Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!

Sound. Flourish.

ALL.

Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!

COR.

No more of this, it does offend my heart;

Pray now, no more.

COM.

Look, sir, your mother!

COR.

O!

You have, I know, petition’d all the gods

For my prosperity!

Kneels.

VOL.

Nay, my good soldier, up;

My gentle Martius, worthy Caius, and

By deed-achieving honor newly nam’d—

What is it?—Coriolanus must I call thee?—

But O, thy wife!

COR.

My gracious silence, hail!

Wouldst thou have laugh’d had I come coffin’d home,

That weep’st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,

Such eyes the widows in Corioles wear,

And mothers that lack sons.

MEN.

Now the gods crown thee!

COR.

And live you yet?

To Valeria.

O my sweet lady, pardon.

VOL.

I know not where to turn. O, welcome home;

And welcome, general, and y’ are welcome all.

MEN.

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

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

The faults of fools but folly.

COM.

Ever right.

COR.

Menenius, ever, ever.

ROM. HER.

Give way there, and go on!

COR.

To Volumnia and Virgilia.

Your hand, and yours!

Ere in our own house I do shade my head,

The good patricians must be visited,

From whom I have receiv’d not only greetings,

But with them change of honors.

VOL.

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.

COR.

Know, good mother,

I had rather be their servant in my way

Than sway with them in theirs.

COM.

On, to the Capitol!

Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before.

Brutus and Sicinius come forward.

BRU.

All tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights

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, windows

Are smother’d up, leads fill’d, and ridges hors’d

With variable complexions, all agreeing

In earnestness to see him. Seld-shown flamens

Do press among the popular throngs, and puff

To win a vulgar station; our veil’d dames

Commit the war of white and damask in

Their nicely gawded cheeks to th’ wanton spoil

Of Phoebus’ burning kisses—such a pother

As if that whatsoever god who leads him

Were slily crept into his human powers,

And gave him graceful posture.

SIC.

On the sudden,

I warrant him consul.

BRU.

Then our office may,

During his power, go sleep.

SIC.

He cannot temp’rately transport his honors

From where he should begin and end, but will

Lose those he hath won.

BRU.

In that there’s comfort.

SIC.

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

That he will give them make I as little question

As he is proud to do’t.

BRU.

I heard him swear,

Were he to stand for consul, never would he

Appear i’ th’ market-place, nor on him put

The napless vesture of humility,

Nor, showing (as the manner is) his wounds

To th’ people, beg their stinking breaths.

SIC.

’Tis right.

BRU.

It was his word. O, he would miss it rather

Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him

And the desire of the nobles.

SIC.

I wish no better

Than have him hold that purpose and to put it

In execution.

BRU.

’Tis most like he will.

SIC.

It shall be to him then as our good wills:

A sure destruction.

BRU.

So it must fall out

To him, or our authorities, for an end.

We must suggest the people in what hatred

He still hath held them; that to ’s power he would

Have made them mules, silenc’d their pleaders, and

Dispropertied their freedoms, holding them,

In human action and capacity,

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.

SIC.

This, as you say, suggested

At some time when his soaring insolence

Shall teach 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

Shall darken him forever.

Enter Third Messenger.3. MESS.

BRU.

What’s the matter?

3. MESS.

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 to hear him speak. Matrons flung gloves,

Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers,

Upon him as he pass’d; the nobles bended,

As to Jove’s statue, and the commons made

A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts.

I never saw the like.

BRU.

Let’s to the Capitol,

And carry with us ears and eyes for th’ time,

But hearts for the event.

SIC.

Have with you.

Exeunt.

 
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