Rome. Before a gate of the city.
(Coriolanus; Volumnia; Virgilia; Menenius; Cominius)
Coriolanus bids a proud, dignified farewell to his family and friends, refusing all help from them. (65 lines)
Enter Coriolanus, Volumnia, Virgilia, Menenius, Cominius, with the young Nobility of Rome.
Come leave your tears: a brief farewell. The beast
With many heads butts me away. Nay, mother,
Where is your ancient courage? You were us’d
To say extremities was the trier of spirits,
That common chances common men could bear,
That when the sea was calm all boats alike
Show’d mastership in floating; fortune’s blows
When most struck home, being gentle wounded craves
A noble cunning. You were us’d to load me
With precepts that would make invincible
The heart that conn’d them.
O heavens! O heavens!
Nay, I prithee, woman—
Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome,
And occupations perish!
What, what, what!
I shall be lov’d when I am lack’d. Nay, mother,
Resume that spirit when you were wont to say,
If you had been the wife of Hercules,
Six of his labors you’ld have done, and sav’d
Your husband so much sweat. Cominius,
Droop not, adieu. Farewell, my wife, my mother,
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
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,
Like to a lonely dragon, that his fen
Makes fear’d and talk’d of more than seen—your son
Will or exceed the common or be caught
With cautelous baits and practice.
My first son,
Whither wilt thou go? Take good Cominius
With thee a while. Determine on some course
More than a wild exposture to each chance
That starts i’ th’ way before thee.
O the gods!
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
O’er the vast world to seek a single man,
And lose advantage, which doth ever cool
I’ th’ absence of the needer.
Fare ye well!
Thou hast years upon thee, and thou art too full
Of the wars’ surfeits to go rove with one
That’s yet unbruis’d. Bring me but out at gate.
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.
While I remain above the ground, you shall
Hear from me still, and never of me aught
But what is like me formerly.
As any ear can hear. Come, let’s not weep.
If I could shake off but one seven years
From these old arms and legs, by the good gods
I’ld with thee every foot.
Give me thy hand.