Rome. A public place.
(Menenius; Cominius; Sicinius; Brutus)
Cominius has failed to convince Coriolanus to spare them. He and the tribunes beg Menenius to plead with Coriolanus as well. (86 lines)
Enter Menenius, Cominius, Sicinius and Brutus, with others.
No, I’ll not go. You hear what he hath said
Which was sometime his general, who loved him
In a most dear particular. He call’d me father;
But what o’ that? Go you that banish’d him
A mile before his tent, fall down, and knee
The way into his mercy. Nay, if he coy’d
To hear Cominius speak, I’ll keep at home.
He would not seem to know me.
Do you hear?
Yet one time he did call me by my name.
I urg’d our old acquaintance, and the drops
That we have bled together. Coriolanus
He would not answer to; forbade all names;
He was a kind of nothing, titleless,
Till he had forg’d himself a name a’ th’ fire
Of burning Rome.
Why, so; you have made good work!
A pair of tribunes that have wrack’d for Rome
To make coals cheap! A noble memory!
I minded him how royal ’twas to pardon
When it was less expected. He replied,
It was a bare petition of a state
To one whom they had punish’d.
Could he say less?
I offered to awaken his regard
For ’s private friends. His answer to me was,
He could not stay to pick them in a pile
Of noisome musty chaff. He said ’twas folly,
For one poor grain or two, to leave unburnt
And still to nose th’ offense.
For one poor grain or two?
I am one of those; his mother, wife, his child,
And this brave fellow too: we are the grains,
You are the musty chaff, and you are smelt
Above the moon. We must be burnt for you.
Nay, pray be patient. If you refuse your aid
In this so never-needed help, yet do not
Upbraid ’s with our distress. But sure if you
Would be your country’s pleader, your good tongue,
More than the instant army we can make,
Might stop our countryman.
No; I’ll not meddle.
Pray you go to him.
What should I do?
Only make trial what your love can do
For Rome, towards Martius.
Well, and say that Martius
Return me, as Cominius is return’d,
But as a discontented friend, grief-shot
With his unkindness? Say’t be so?
Yet your good will
Must have that thanks from Rome, after the measure
As you intended well.
I think he’ll hear me. Yet, to bite his lip
And hum at good Cominius much unhearts me.
He was not taken well, he had not din’d:
The veins unfill’d, our blood is cold, and then
We pout upon the morning, are unapt
To give or to forgive; but when we have stuff’d
These pipes and these conveyances of our blood
With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls
Than in our priest-like fasts: therefore I’ll watch him
Till he be dieted to my request,
And then I’ll set upon him.
You know the very road into his kindness,
And cannot lose your way.
Good faith, I’ll prove him,
Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledge
Of my success.
He’ll never hear him.
I tell you, he does sit in gold, his eye
Red as ’twould burn Rome; and his injury
The jailer to his pity. I kneel’d before him;
’Twas very faintly he said, “Rise”; dismiss’d me
Thus, with his speechless hand. What he would do
He sent in writing after me; what he would not,
Bound with an oath to yield to his conditions;
So that all hope is vain,
Unless his noble mother and his wife,
Who, as I hear, mean to solicit him
For mercy to his country. Therefore let’s hence,
And with our fair entreaties haste them on.