Antium. A public place.
(Tullus Aufidius; Attendants; Conspirators; Volscian Lords; Coriolanus; Commoners; Martius)
The envious Aufidius plots Coriolanus’s death. Accusing him of treason for not sacking Rome, Aufidius scorns Coriolanus as a cowardly boy and refuses to give him his honorable name, merely calling him Martius. The conspirators rush about him and stab him to death. Aufidius is pardoned for having a hot temper, and Corilanus is given honorable burial. Aufidius, repenting somewhat, helps carry the body to its grave. (180 lines)
Enter Tullus Aufidius with Attendants.
Go tell the lords a’ th’ city I am here.
Deliver them this paper. Having read it,
Bid them repair to th’ market-place, where I,
Even in theirs and in the commons’ ears,
Will vouch the truth of it. Him I accuse
The city ports by this hath enter’d, and
Intends t’ appear before the people, hoping
To purge himself with words. Dispatch.
Enter three or four Conspirators of Aufidius’ faction.
How is it with our general?
As with a man by his own alms empoison’d,
And with his charity slain.
Most noble sir,
If you do hold the same intent wherein
You wish’d us parties, we’ll deliver you
Of your great danger.
Sir, I cannot tell,
We must proceed as we do find the people.
The people will remain uncertain whilst
’Twixt you there’s difference; but the fall of either
Makes the survivor heir of all.
I know it;
And my pretext to strike at him admits
A good construction. I rais’d him, and I pawn’d
Mine honor for his truth; who being so heighten’d,
He watered his new plants with dews of flattery,
Seducing so my friends; and, to this end,
He bow’d his nature, never known before
But to be rough, unswayable, and free.
Sir, his stoutness
When he did stand for consul, which he lost
By lack of stooping—
That I would have spoke of:
Being banish’d for’t, he came unto my hearth,
Presented to my knife his throat. I took him;
Made him joint-servant with me; gave him way
In all his own desires; nay, let him choose
Out of my files, his projects to accomplish,
My best and freshest men; serv’d his designments
In mine own person; holp to reap the fame
Which he did end all his, and took some pride
To do myself this wrong; till at the last
I seem’d his follower, not partner, and
He wag’d me with his countenance as if
I had been mercenary.
So he did, my lord.
The army marvell’d at it, and in the last,
When he had carried Rome and that we look’d
For no less spoil than glory—
There was it;
For which my sinews shall be stretch’d upon him:
At a few drops of women’s rheum, which are
As cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labor
Of our great action; therefore shall he die,
And I’ll renew me in his fall. But hark!
Drums and trumpets sounds, with great shouts of the people.
Your native town you enter’d like a post,
And had no welcomes home, but he returns
Splitting the air with noise.
And patient fools,
Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear
With giving him glory.
Therefore at your vantage,
Ere he express himself or move the people
With what he would say, let him feel your sword,
Which we will second. When he lies along,
After your way his tale pronounc’d shall bury
His reasons with his body.
Say no more.
Here come the lords.
Enter the Volscian Lords.
You are most welcome home.
I have not deserv’d it.
But, worthy lords, have you with heed perused
What I have written to you?
And grieve to hear’t.
What faults he made before the last, I think
Might have found easy fines; but there to end
Where he was to begin, and give away
The benefit of our levies, answering us
With our own charge, making a treaty where
There was a yielding—this admits no excuse.
He approaches, you shall hear him.
Enter Coriolanus marching with Drum and Colors, the Commoners being with him.
Hail, lords! I am return’d your soldier;
No more infected with my country’s love
Than when I parted hence, but still subsisting
Under your great command. You are to know
That prosperously I have attempted, and
With bloody passage led your wars even to
The gates of Rome. Our spoils we have brought home
Doth more than counterpoise a full third part
The charges of the action. We have made peace
With no less honor to the Antiates
Than shame to th’ Romans; and we here deliver,
Subscrib’d by th’ consuls and patricians,
Together with the seal a’ th’ Senate, what
We have compounded on.
Read it not, noble lords,
But tell the traitor, in the highest degree
He hath abus’d your powers.
“Traitor”? How now?
Ay, traitor, Martius!
Ay, Martius, Caius Martius! Dost thou think
I’ll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol’n name
Coriolanus, in Corioles?
You lords and heads a’ th’ state, perfidiously
He has betray’d your business, and given up,
For certain drops of salt, your city Rome,
I say “your city,” to his wife and mother,
Breaking his oath and resolution like
A twist of rotten silk, never admitting
Counsel a’ th’ war; but at his nurse’s tears
He whin’d and roar’d away your victory,
That pages blush’d at him, and men of heart
Look’d wond’ring each at others.
Hear’st thou, Mars?
Name not the god, thou boy of tears!
Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
Too great for what contains it. “Boy”? O slave!
Pardon me, lords, ’tis the first time that ever
I was forc’d to scold. Your judgments, my grave lords,
Must give this cur the lie; and his own notion—
Who wears my stripes impress’d upon him, that
Must bear my beating to his grave—shall join
To thrust the lie unto him.
Peace both, and hear me speak.
Cut me to pieces, Volsces, men and lads,
Stain all your edges on me. “Boy,” false hound!
If you have writ your annals true, ’tis there
That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I
Flutter’d your Volscians in Corioles.
Alone I did it. “Boy”!
Why, noble lords,
Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune,
Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,
’Fore your own eyes and ears?
Let him die for’t.
Tear him to pieces! Do it presently!—He kill’d my son!—My daughter!—He kill’d my cousin Marcus!—He kill’d my father!
Peace ho! No outrage, peace!
The man is noble, and his fame folds in
This orb o’ th’ earth. His last offenses to us
Shall have judicious hearing. Stand, Aufidius,
And trouble not the peace.
O that I had him,
With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe,
To use my lawful sword!
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!
Draw the Conspirators, and kills Martius, who falls; Aufidius stands on him.
Hold, hold, hold, hold!
My noble masters, hear me speak.
Thou hast done a deed whereat valor will weep.
Tread not upon him. Masters all, be quiet,
Put up your swords.
My lords, when you shall know (as in this rage,
Provok’d by him, you cannot) the great danger
Which this man’s life did owe you, you’ll rejoice
That he is thus cut off. Please it your honors
To call me to your Senate, I’ll deliver
Myself your loyal servant, or endure
Your heaviest censure.
Bear from hence his body,
And mourn you for him. Let him be regarded
As the most noble corse that ever herald
Did follow to his urn.
His own impatience
Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.
Let’s make the best of it.
My rage is gone,
And I am struck with sorrow. Take him up.
Help, three a’ th’ chiefest soldiers; I’ll be one.
Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully;
Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he
Hath widowed and unchilded many a one,
Which to this hour bewail the injury,
Yet he shall have a noble memory.
Exeunt, bearing the body of Martius. A dead march sounded.