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Coriolanus Scenes

Scene 3

Rome. The forum.

(Sicinius; Brutus; First Aedile; Coriolanus; Menenius; Cominius; Senators; Patricians; Plebeians)

The tribunes plot on how to carry out their coup against Coriolanus. They egg him on and lead him to lose him temper, leaving the mob baying for his blood. Sicinius condemns him to banishment, on pain of death. The full extent of his loathing for the common people bursts forth from him as he denies them any authority over him and claims that he is leaving of his own free will. The people rejoice at his departure. (170 lines)

Enter Sicinius and 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

Was ne’er distributed.

Enter First Aedile.

What, will he come?

1. AED.

He’s coming.


How accompanied?

1. AED.

With old Menenius and those senators

That always favor’d him.


Have you a catalogue

Of all the voices that we have procur’d,

Set down by th’ poll?

1. AED.

I have; ’tis ready.


Have you collected them by tribes?

1. AED.

I have.


Assemble presently the people hither;

And when they hear me say, “It shall be so

I’ th’ right and strength a’ th’ commons,” be it either

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 a’ th’ cause.

1. AED.

I shall inform them.


And when such time they have begun to cry,

Let them not cease, but with a din confus’d

Enforce the present execution

Of what we chance to sentence.

1. AED.

Very well.


Make them be strong, and ready for this hint

When we shall hap to give’t them.


Go about it.

Exit First Aedile.

Put him to choler straight, he hath been us’d

Ever to conquer, and to have his worth

Of contradiction. Being once chaf’d, he cannot

Be rein’d 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 and Patricians.


Well, here he comes.


Calmly, I do beseech you.


Ay, as an hostler, that for th’ poorest piece

Will bear the knave by th’ volume. Th’ honor’d gods

Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice

Supplied with worthy men! Plant love among ’s!

Throng our large temples with the shows of peace,

And not our streets with war!

1. ROM. SEN.

Amen, amen.


A noble wish.

Enter the First Aedile with the Plebeians.


Draw near, ye people.

1. AED.

List to your tribunes. Audience! Peace, I say!


First hear me speak.


Well, say. Peace ho!


Shall I be charg’d no further than this present?

Must all determine here?


I do demand

If you submit you to the people’s voices,

Allow their officers, and are content

To suffer lawful censure for such faults

As shall be prov’d upon you.


I am content.


Lo, citizens, he says he is content.

The warlike service he has done, consider; think

Upon the wounds his body bears, which show

Like graves i’ th’ holy churchyard.


Scratches with briers,

Scars to move laughter only.


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

Rather than envy you.


Well, well, no more.


What is the matter

That being pass’d for consul with full voice,

I am so dishonor’d that the very hour

You take it off again?


Answer to us.


Say then; ’tis true, I ought so.


We charge you, that you have contriv’d to take

From Rome all season’d office, and to wind

Yourself into a power tyrannical,

For which you are a traitor to the people.


How? Traitor?


Nay, temperately; your promise.


The fires i’ th’ lowest hell fold in the people!

Call me their traitor, thou injurious tribune!

Within thine eyes sate twenty thousand deaths,

In thy hands clutch’d as many millions, in

Thy lying tongue both numbers, I would say

“Thou liest” unto thee with a voice as free

As I do pray the gods.


Mark you this, people?


To th’ rock, to th’ rock with him!



We need not put new matter to his charge.

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,

Deserves th’ extremest death.


But since he hath

Serv’d well for Rome—


What do you prate of service?


I talk of that, that know it.




Is this the promise that you made your mother?


Know, I pray you—


I’ll know no further.

Let them pronounce the steep Tarpeian death,

Vagabond exile, fleaing, 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.”


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

Of dreaded justice, but on the ministers

That doth distribute it—in the name a’ th’ people,

And in the power of us the tribunes, we,

Even from this instant, banish him our city,

In peril of precipitation

From off the rock Tarpeian, never more

To enter our Rome gates. I’ th’ people’s name,

I say it shall be so.


It shall be so, it shall be so. Let him away!

He’s banish’d, and it shall be so.


Hear me, my masters, and my common friends—


He’s sentenc’d; no more hearing.


Let me speak.

I have been consul, and can show for Rome

Her enemies’ marks upon me. I do love

My country’s good with a respect more tender,

More holy and profound, than mine own life,

My dear wive’s estimate, her womb’s increase

And treasure of my loins; then if I would

Speak that—


We know your drift. Speak what?


There’s no more to be said, but he is banish’d

As enemy to the people and his country.

It shall be so.


It shall be so, it shall be so.


You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate

As reek a’ 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!

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,

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;

There is a world elsewhere.

Exeunt Coriolanus, Cominius, cum aliis (Menenius, Senators, and Patricians).

1. AED.

The people’s enemy is gone, is gone!


Our enemy is banish’d, he is gone! Hoo! Hoo!

They all shout and throw up their caps.


Go see him out at gates, and follow him,

As he hath follow’d you, with all despite;

Give him deserv’d vexation. Let a guard

Attend us through the city.


Come, come, let’s see him out at gates, come.

The gods preserve our noble tribunes! Come.



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