A highway between Rome and Antium.
The Volsce Adrian meets the Roman traitor and spy Nicanor, who tells of Rome’s divided state and Coriolanus’s banishment. He considers that this is the best time for Aufidius and the Volscians to attack Rome again. (19 lines)
Enter Nicanor and Adrian, meeting.
I know you well, sir, and you know me. Your name, I think, is Adrian.
It is so, sir. Truly, I have forgot you.
I am a Roman, and my services are, as you are, against ’em. Know you me yet?
The same, sir.
You had more beard when I last saw you, but your favor is well appear’d by your tongue. What’s the news in Rome? I have a note from the Volscian state to find you out there. You have well sav’d me a day’s journey.
There hath been in Rome strange insurrections; the people against the senators, patricians, and nobles.
Hath been! Is it ended then? Our state thinks not so; they are in a most warlike preparation, and hope to come upon them in the heat of their division.
The main blaze of it is past, but a small thing would make it flame again; for the nobles receive so to heart the banishment of that worthy Coriolanus, that they are in a ripe aptness to take all power from the people, and to pluck from them their tribunes forever. This lies glowing, I can tell you, and is almost mature for the violent breaking out.
You will be welcome with this intelligence, Nicanor.
The day serves well for them now. I have heard it said, the fittest time to corrupt a man’s wife is when she’s fall’n out with her husband. Your noble Tullus Aufidius will appear well in these wars, his great opposer Coriolanus being now in no request of his country.
He cannot choose. I am most fortunate thus accidentally to encounter you. You have ended my business, and I will merrily accompany you home.
I shall, between this and supper, tell you most strange things from Rome, all tending to the good of their adversaries. Have you an army ready, say you?
A most royal one: the centurions and their charges, distinctly billeted, already in th’ entertainment, and to be on foot at an hour’s warning.
I am joyful to hear of their readiness, and am the man, I think, that shall set them in present action. So, sir, heartily well met, and most glad of your company.
You take my part from me, sir, I have the most cause to be glad of yours.
Well, let us go together.