(Martius; Titus Lartius; Captains; Roman Soldiers; Second Messenger; Volscian Senators; Army of the Volsces)
Martius and his fellow general Titus Lartius attempt to parley with the leaders of Corioli, but are rejected. The Romans attack but are beaten back; Martius is furious at them for their cowardice and, all on his own, fights his way into the town, where he is trapped. (75 lines)
Enter Martius, Titus Lartius, with Drum and Colors, with Captains and Roman Soldiers, as before the city Corioli; 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.
They sound a parley. Enter two Senators with others on the walls of Corioli.
Tullus Aufidius, is he within your walls?
No, nor a man that fears you less than he,
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 pinn’d with 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.
O, they are at it!
Their noise be our instruction. Ladders ho!
Enter the Army of the Volsces.
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 beat back to their trenches.
Enter Martius cursing.
All the contagion of the south light on you,
You shames of Rome! You herd of—Biles and plagues
Plaster you o’er, that you may be abhorr’d
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
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 fly, and Martius follows 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.
Enter the gates.
Foolhardiness, not I.
Martius is shut in.
See, they have shut him in.
To th’ pot, I warrant him.
Enter Titus Lartius.
What is become of Martius?
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, 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
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.
Enter Martius bleeding, assaulted by the enemy.
O, ’tis Martius!
Let’s fetch him off, or make remain alike.
They fight, and all enter the city.