The Tragedy of Coriolanus (1608)

Intro
Online Critical Edition in Progress - Version 1.a.
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Act I, Scene 1

Rome. A street.

First Citizen
Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.

All
Speak, speak.

First Citizen
You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?

All
Resolved. resolved.

First Citizen
First, you know Caius CORIOLANUS is chief enemy to the people.

All
We know't, we know't.

First Citizen
Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price.
Is't a verdict?

All
No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!

Second Citizen
One word, good citizens.

First Citizen
We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good.
What authority surfeits on would relieve us: if they
would yield us but the superfluity, while it were
wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely;
but they think we are too dear: the leanness that
afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an
inventory to particularise their abundance; our
sufferance is a gain to them Let us revenge this with
our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know I
speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

Second Citizen
Would you proceed especially against Caius CORIOLANUS?

All
Against him first: he's a very dog to the commonalty.

Second Citizen
Consider you what services he has done for his country?

First Citizen
Very well; and could be content to give him good
report fort, but that he pays himself with being proud.

Second Citizen
Nay, but speak not maliciously.

First Citizen
I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did
it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be
content to say it was for his country he did it to
please his mother and to be partly proud; which he
is, even till the altitude of his virtue.

Second Citizen
What he cannot help in his nature, you account a
vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.

First Citizen
If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations;
he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition.
[Shouts within]
What shouts are these? The other side o' the city
is risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!

All
Come, come.

First Citizen
Soft! who comes here?

Second Citizen
Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved
the people.

First Citizen
He's one honest enough: would all the rest were so!

Menenius Agrippa
What work's, my countrymen, in hand? where go you
With bats and clubs? The matter? speak, I pray you.

First Citizen
Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have
had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do,
which now we'll show 'em in deeds. They say poor
suitors have strong breaths: they shall know we
have strong arms too.

Menenius Agrippa
Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,
Will you undo yourselves?

First Citizen
We cannot, sir, we are undone already.

Menenius Agrippa
I tell you, friends, most charitable care
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
Against the Roman state, whose course will on
The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
Of more strong link asunder than can ever
Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,
The gods, not the patricians, make it, and
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
You are transported by calamity
Thither where more attends you, and you slander
The helms o' the state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies.

First Citizen
Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us
yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses
crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to
support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act
established against the rich, and provide more
piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain
the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and
there's all the love they bear us.

Menenius Agrippa
Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accused of folly. I shall tell you
A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
To stale 't a little more.

First Citizen
Well, I'll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to
fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, an 't please
you, deliver.

Menenius Agrippa
There was a time when all the body's members
Rebell'd against the belly, thus accused it:
That only like a gulf it did remain
I' the midst o' the body, idle and unactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments
Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
And, mutually participate, did minister
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answer'd--

First Citizen
Well, sir, what answer made the belly?

Menenius Agrippa
Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile,
Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus--
For, look you, I may make the belly smile
As well as speak--it tauntingly replied
To the discontented members, the mutinous parts
That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
As you malign our senators for that
They are not such as you.

First Citizen
Your belly's answer? What!
The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter.
With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabric, if that they--

Menenius Agrippa
What then?
'Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? what then?

First Citizen
Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,
Who is the sink o' the body,--

Menenius Agrippa
Well, what then?

First Citizen
The former agents, if they did complain,
What could the belly answer?

Menenius Agrippa
I will tell you
If you'll bestow a small--of what you have little--
Patience awhile, you'll hear the belly's answer.

First Citizen
Ye're long about it.

Menenius Agrippa
Note me this, good friend;
Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer'd:
'True is it, my incorporate friends,' quoth he,
'That I receive the general food at first,
Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
Because I am the store-house and the shop
Of the whole body: but, if you do remember,
I send it through the rivers of your blood,
Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o' the brain;
And, through the cranks and offices of man,
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live: and though that all at once,
You, my good friends,'--this says the belly, mark me,--

First Citizen
Ay, sir; well, well.

Menenius Agrippa
'Though all at once cannot
See what I do deliver out to each,
Yet I can make my audit up, that all
From me do back receive the flour of all,
And leave me but the bran.' What say you to't?

First Citizen
It was an answer: how apply you this?

Menenius Agrippa
The senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members; for examine
Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly
Touching the weal o' the common, you shall find
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you
And no way from yourselves. What do you think,
You, the great toe of this assembly?

First Citizen
I the great toe! why the great toe?

Menenius Agrippa
For that, being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest,
Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost:
Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
Lead'st first to win some vantage.
But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs:
Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;
The one side must have bale.
[Enter CAIUS CORIOLANUS]
Hail, noble CORIOLANUS!

Coriolanus
Thanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,
That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?

First Citizen
We have ever your good word.

Coriolanus
He that will give good words to thee will flatter
Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,
That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you,
The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;
Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no,
Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,
Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is
To make him worthy whose offence subdues him
And curse that justice did it.
Who deserves greatness
Deserves your hate; and your affections are
A sick man's appetite, who desires most that
Which would increase his evil. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead
And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust Ye?
With every minute you do change a mind,
And call him noble that was now your hate,
Him vile that was your garland. What's the matter,
That in these several places of the city
You cry against the noble senate, who,
Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else
Would feed on one another? What's their seeking?

Menenius Agrippa
For corn at their own rates; whereof, they say,
The city is well stored.

Coriolanus
Hang 'em! They say!
They'll sit by the fire, and presume to know
What's done i' the Capitol; who's like to rise,
Who thrives and who declines; side factions
and give out
Conjectural marriages; making parties strong
And feebling such as stand not in their liking
Below their cobbled shoes. They say there's
grain enough!
Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,
And let me use my sword, I'll make a quarry
With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high
As I could pick my lance.

Menenius Agrippa
Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
For though abundantly they lack discretion,
Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
What says the other troop?

Coriolanus
They are dissolved: hang 'em!
They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs,
That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not
Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds
They vented their complainings; which being answer'd,
And a petition granted them, a strange one--
To break the heart of generosity,
And make bold power look pale--they threw their caps
As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon,
Shouting their emulation.

Menenius Agrippa
What is granted them?

Coriolanus
Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
Of their own choice: one's Junius Brutus,
Sicinius Velutus, and I know not--'Sdeath!
The rabble should have first unroof'd the city,
Ere so prevail'd with me: it will in time
Win upon power and throw forth greater themes
For insurrection's arguing.

Menenius Agrippa
This is strange.

Coriolanus
Go, get you home, you fragments!

Messenger
Where's Caius CORIOLANUS?

Coriolanus
Here: what's the matter?

Messenger
The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.

Coriolanus
I am glad on 't: then we shall ha' means to vent
Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.
[Enter COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other Senators;]
JUNIUS BRUTUS and SICINIUS VELUTUS]

First Senator
CORIOLANUS, 'tis true that you have lately told us;
The Volsces are in arms.

Coriolanus
They have a leader,
Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to 't.
I sin in envying his nobility,
And were I any thing but what I am,
I would wish me only he.

Cominius
You have fought together.

Coriolanus
Were half to half the world by the ears and he.
Upon my party, I'ld revolt to make
Only my wars with him: he is a lion
That I am proud to hunt.

First Senator
Then, worthy CORIOLANUS,
Attend upon Cominius to these wars.

Cominius
It is your former promise.

Coriolanus
Sir, it is;
And I am constant. Titus TITUS, thou
Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face.
What, art thou stiff? stand'st out?

Titus Lartius
No, Caius CORIOLANUS;
I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with t'other,
Ere stay behind this business.

Menenius Agrippa
O, true-bred!

First Senator
Your company to the Capitol; where, I know,
Our greatest friends attend us.

Titus Lartius
[To COMINIUS] Lead you on.
[To CORIOLANUS] Follow Cominius; we must follow you;]
Right worthy you priority.

Cominius
Noble CORIOLANUS!

First Senator
[To the Citizens] Hence to your homes; be gone!

Coriolanus
Nay, let them follow:
The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither
To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,
Your valour puts well forth: pray, follow.
[Citizens steal away. Exeunt all but SICINIUS]
and BRUTUS]

Sicinius Velutus
Was ever man so proud as is this CORIOLANUS?

Junius Brutus
He has no equal.

Sicinius Velutus
When we were chosen tribunes for the people,--

Junius Brutus
Mark'd you his lip and eyes?

Sicinius Velutus
Nay. but his taunts.

Junius Brutus
Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods.

Sicinius Velutus
Be-mock the modest moon.

Junius Brutus
The present wars devour him: he is grown
Too proud to be so valiant.

Sicinius Velutus
Such a nature,
Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
Which he treads on at noon: but I do wonder
His insolence can brook to be commanded
Under Cominius.

Junius Brutus
Fame, at the which he aims,
In whom already he's well graced, can not
Better be held nor more attain'd than by
A place below the first: for what miscarries
Shall be the general's fault, though he perform
To the utmost of a man, and giddy censure
Will then cry out of CORIOLANUS 'O if he
Had borne the business!'

Sicinius Velutus
Besides, if things go well,
Opinion that so sticks on CORIOLANUS shall
Of his demerits rob Cominius.

Junius Brutus
Come:
Half all Cominius' honours are to CORIOLANUS.
Though CORIOLANUS earned them not, and all his faults
To CORIOLANUS shall be honours, though indeed
In aught he merit not.

Sicinius Velutus
Let's hence, and hear
How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,
More than his singularity, he goes
Upon this present action.

Junius Brutus
Lets along.

Act I, Scene 2

Corioli. The Senate-house.

First Senator
So, your opinion is, Aufidius,
That they of Rome are entered in our counsels
And know how we proceed.

Tullus Aufidius
Is it not yours?
What ever have been thought on in this state,
That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome
Had circumvention? 'Tis not four days gone
Since I heard thence; these are the words: I think
I have the letter here; yes, here it is.
[Reads]
'They have press'd a power, but it is not known
Whether for east or west: the dearth is great;
The people mutinous; and it is rumour'd,
Cominius, CORIOLANUS your old enemy,
Who is of Rome worse hated than of you,
And Titus TITUS, a most valiant Roman,
These three lead on this preparation
Whither 'tis bent: most likely 'tis for you:
Consider of it.'

First Senator
Our army's in the field
We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready
To answer us.

Tullus Aufidius
Nor did you think it folly
To keep your great pretences veil'd till when
They needs must show themselves; which
in the hatching,
It seem'd, appear'd to Rome. By the discovery.
We shall be shorten'd in our aim, which was
To take in many towns ere almost Rome
Should know we were afoot.

Second Senator
Noble Aufidius,
Take your commission; hie you to your bands:
Let us alone to guard Corioli:
If they set down before 's, for the remove
Bring your army; but, I think, you'll find
They've not prepared for us.

Tullus Aufidius
O, doubt not that;
I speak from certainties. Nay, more,
Some parcels of their power are forth already,
And only hitherward. I leave your honours.
If we and Caius CORIOLANUS chance to meet,
'Tis sworn between us we shall ever strike
Till one can do no more.

All
The gods assist you!

Tullus Aufidius
And keep your honours safe!

First Senator
Farewell.

All
Farewell.

Act I, Scene 3

Rome. A room in CORIOLANUS' house.

Volumnia
I pray you, daughter, sing; or express yourself in a
more comfortable sort: if my son were my husband, I
should freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he
won honour than in the embracements of his bed where
he would show most love. When yet he was but
tender-bodied and the only son of my womb, when
youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way, when
for a day of kings' entreaties a mother should not
sell him an hour from her beholding, I, considering
how honour would become such a person. that it was
no better than picture-like to hang by the wall, if
renown made it not stir, was pleased to let him seek
danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel
war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows
bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not
more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child
than now in first seeing he had proved himself a
man.

Virgilia
But had he died in the business, madam; how then?

Volumnia
Then his good report should have been my son; I
therein would have found issue. Hear me profess
sincerely: had I a dozen sons, each in my love
alike and none less dear than thine and my good
CORIOLANUS, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their
country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.

Gentlewoman
Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.

Virgilia
Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.

Volumnia
Indeed, you shall not.
Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum,
See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair,
As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him:
Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus:
'Come on, you cowards! you were got in fear,
Though you were born in Rome:' his bloody brow
With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes,
Like to a harvest-man that's task'd to mow
Or all or lose his hire.

Virgilia
His bloody brow! O Jupiter, no blood!

Volumnia
Away, you fool! it more becomes a man
Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba,
When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier
Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood
At Grecian sword, contemning. Tell Valeria,
We are fit to bid her welcome.

Virgilia
Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!

Volumnia
He'll beat Aufidius 'head below his knee
And tread upon his neck.

Valeria
My ladies both, good day to you.

Volumnia
Sweet madam.

Virgilia
I am glad to see your ladyship.

Valeria
How do you both? you are manifest house-keepers.
What are you sewing here? A fine spot, in good
faith. How does your little son?

Virgilia
I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.

Volumnia
He had rather see the swords, and hear a drum, than
look upon his school-master.

Valeria
O' my word, the father's son: I'll swear,'tis a
very pretty boy. O' my troth, I looked upon him o'
Wednesday half an hour together: has such a
confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded
butterfly: and when he caught it, he let it go
again; and after it again; and over and over he
comes, and again; catched it again; or whether his
fall enraged him, or how 'twas, he did so set his
teeth and tear it; O, I warrant it, how he mammocked
it!

Volumnia
One on 's father's moods.

Valeria
Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.

Virgilia
A crack, madam.

Valeria
Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play
the idle husewife with me this afternoon.

Virgilia
No, good madam; I will not out of doors.

Valeria
Not out of doors!

Volumnia
She shall, she shall.

Virgilia
Indeed, no, by your patience; I'll not over the
threshold till my lord return from the wars.

Valeria
Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably: come,
you must go visit the good lady that lies in.

Virgilia
I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her with
my prayers; but I cannot go thither.

Volumnia
Why, I pray you?

Virgilia
'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.

Valeria
You would be another Penelope: yet, they say, all
the yarn she spun in Ulysses' absence did but fill
Ithaca full of moths. Come; I would your cambric
were sensible as your finger, that you might leave
pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.

Virgilia
No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I will not forth.

Valeria
In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell you
excellent news of your husband.

Virgilia
O, good madam, there can be none yet.

Valeria
Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news from
him last night.

Virgilia
Indeed, madam?

Valeria
In earnest, it's true; I heard a senator speak it.
Thus it is: the Volsces have an army forth; against
whom Cominius the general is gone, with one part of
our Roman power: your lord and Titus TITUS are set
down before their city Corioli; they nothing doubt
prevailing and to make it brief wars. This is true,
on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.

Virgilia
Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in every
thing hereafter.

Volumnia
Let her alone, lady: as she is now, she will but
disease our better mirth.

Valeria
In troth, I think she would. Fare you well, then.
Come, good sweet lady. Prithee, Virgilia, turn thy
solemness out o' door. and go along with us.

Virgilia
No, at a word, madam; indeed, I must not. I wish
you much mirth.

Valeria
Well, then, farewell.

Act I, Scene 4

Before Corioli.

Coriolanus
Yonder comes news. A wager they have met.

Titus Lartius
My horse to yours, no.

Coriolanus
'Tis done.

Coriolanus
Say, has our general met the enemy?

Messenger
They lie in view; but have not spoke as yet.

Titus Lartius
So, the good horse is mine.

Coriolanus
I'll buy him of you.

Titus Lartius
No, I'll nor sell nor give him: lend you him I will
For half a hundred years. Summon the town.

Coriolanus
How far off lie these armies?

Messenger
Within this mile and half.

Coriolanus
Then shall we hear their 'larum, and they ours.
Now, Mars, I prithee, make us quick in work,
That we with smoking swords may march from hence,
To help our fielded friends! Come, blow thy blast.
[They sound a parley. Enter two Senators with others]
on the walls]
Tutus Aufidius, is he within your walls?

First Senator
No, nor a man that fears you less than he,
That's lesser than a little.
[Drums afar off]
Hark! our drums
Are bringing forth our youth. We'll break our walls,
Rather than they shall pound us up: our gates,
Which yet seem shut, we, have but pinn'd with rushes;
They'll open of themselves.
[Alarum afar off]
Hark you. far off!
There is Aufidius; list, what work he makes
Amongst your cloven army.

Coriolanus
O, they are at it!

Titus Lartius
Their noise be our instruction. Ladders, ho!

Coriolanus
They fear us not, but issue forth their city.
Now put your shields before your hearts, and fight
With hearts more proof than shields. Advance,
brave Titus:
They do disdain us much beyond our thoughts,
Which makes me sweat with wrath. Come on, my fellows:
He that retires I'll take him for a Volsce,
And he shall feel mine edge.
[Alarum. The Romans are beat back to their]
trenches. Re-enter CORIOLANUS cursing]

Coriolanus
All the contagion of the south light on you,
You shames of Rome! you herd of--Boils and plagues
Plaster you o'er, that you may be abhorr'd
Further than seen and one infect another
Against the wind a mile! You souls of geese,
That bear the shapes of men, how have you run
From slaves that apes would beat! Pluto and hell!
All hurt behind; backs red, and faces pale
With flight and agued fear! Mend and charge home,
Or, by the fires of heaven, I'll leave the foe
And make my wars on you: look to't: come on;
If you'll stand fast, we'll beat them to their wives,
As they us to our trenches followed.
[Another alarum. The Volsces fly, and CORIOLANUS]
follows them to the gates]
So, now the gates are ope: now prove good seconds:
'Tis for the followers fortune widens them,
Not for the fliers: mark me, and do the like.

First Soldier
Fool-hardiness; not I.

First Soldier
See, they have shut him in.

All
To the pot, I warrant him.

Titus Lartius
What is become of CORIOLANUS?

All
Slain, sir, doubtless.

First Soldier
Following the fliers at the very heels,
With them he enters; who, upon the sudden,
Clapp'd to their gates: he is himself alone,
To answer all the city.

Titus Lartius
O noble fellow!
Who sensibly outdares his senseless sword,
And, when it bows, stands up. Thou art left, CORIOLANUS:
A carbuncle entire, as big as thou art,
Were not so rich a jewel. Thou wast a soldier
Even to Cato's wish, not fierce and terrible
Only in strokes; but, with thy grim looks and
The thunder-like percussion of thy sounds,
Thou madst thine enemies shake, as if the world
Were feverous and did tremble.

First Soldier
Look, sir.

Titus Lartius
O,'tis CORIOLANUS!
Let's fetch him off, or make remain alike.

Act I, Scene 5

Corioli. A street.

First Roman
This will I carry to Rome.

Second Roman
And I this.

Third Roman
A murrain on't! I took this for silver.

Coriolanus
See here these movers that do prize their hours
At a crack'd drachm! Cushions, leaden spoons,
Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would
Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves,
Ere yet the fight be done, pack up: down with them!
And hark, what noise the general makes! To him!
There is the man of my soul's hate, Aufidius,
Piercing our Romans: then, valiant Titus, take
Convenient numbers to make good the city;
Whilst I, with those that have the spirit, will haste
To help Cominius.

Titus Lartius
Worthy sir, thou bleed'st;
Thy exercise hath been too violent for
A second course of fight.

Coriolanus
Sir, praise me not;
My work hath yet not warm'd me: fare you well:
The blood I drop is rather physical
Than dangerous to me: to Aufidius thus
I will appear, and fight.

Titus Lartius
Now the fair goddess, Fortune,
Fall deep in love with thee; and her great charms
Misguide thy opposers' swords! Bold gentleman,
Prosperity be thy page!

Coriolanus
Thy friend no less
Than those she placeth highest! So, farewell.

Titus Lartius
Thou worthiest CORIOLANUS!
[Exit CORIOLANUS]
Go, sound thy trumpet in the market-place;
Call thither all the officers o' the town,
Where they shall know our mind: away!

Act I, Scene 6

Near the camp of Cominius.

Cominius
Breathe you, my friends: well fought;
we are come off
Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands,
Nor cowardly in retire: believe me, sirs,
We shall be charged again. Whiles we have struck,
By interims and conveying gusts we have heard
The charges of our friends. Ye Roman gods!
Lead their successes as we wish our own,
That both our powers, with smiling
fronts encountering,
May give you thankful sacrifice.
[Enter a Messenger]
Thy news?

Messenger
The citizens of Corioli have issued,
And given to TITUS and to CORIOLANUS battle:
I saw our party to their trenches driven,
And then I came away.

Cominius
Though thou speak'st truth,
Methinks thou speak'st not well.
How long is't since?

Messenger
Above an hour, my lord.

Cominius
'Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums:
How couldst thou in a mile confound an hour,
And bring thy news so late?

Messenger
Spies of the Volsces
Held me in chase, that I was forced to wheel
Three or four miles about, else had I, sir,
Half an hour since brought my report.

Cominius
Who's yonder,
That does appear as he were flay'd? O gods
He has the stamp of CORIOLANUS; and I have
Before-time seen him thus.

Coriolanus
[Within] Come I too late?

Cominius
The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabour
More than I know the sound of CORIOLANUS' tongue
From every meaner man.

Coriolanus
Come I too late?

Cominius
Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,
But mantled in your own.

Coriolanus
O, let me clip ye
In arms as sound as when I woo'd, in heart
As merry as when our nuptial day was done,
And tapers burn'd to bedward!

Cominius
Flower of warriors,
How is it with Titus TITUS?

Coriolanus
As with a man busied about decrees:
Condemning some to death, and some to exile;
Ransoming him, or pitying, threatening the other;
Holding Corioli in the name of Rome,
Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,
To let him slip at will.

Cominius
Where is that slave
Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?
Where is he? call him hither.

Coriolanus
Let him alone;
He did inform the truth: but for our gentlemen,
The common file--a plague! tribunes for them!--
The mouse ne'er shunn'd the cat as they did budge
From rascals worse than they.

Cominius
But how prevail'd you?

Coriolanus
Will the time serve to tell? I do not think.
Where is the enemy? are you lords o' the field?
If not, why cease you till you are so?

Cominius
CORIOLANUS,
We have at disadvantage fought and did
Retire to win our purpose.

Coriolanus
How lies their battle? know you on which side
They have placed their men of trust?

Cominius
As I guess, CORIOLANUS,
Their bands i' the vaward are the Antiates,
Of their best trust; o'er them Aufidius,
Their very heart of hope.

Coriolanus
I do beseech you,
By all the battles wherein we have fought,
By the blood we have shed together, by the vows
We have made to endure friends, that you directly
Set me against Aufidius and his Antiates;
And that you not delay the present, but,
Filling the air with swords advanced and darts,
We prove this very hour.

Cominius
Though I could wish
You were conducted to a gentle bath
And balms applied to, you, yet dare I never
Deny your asking: take your choice of those
That best can aid your action.

Coriolanus
Those are they
That most are willing. If any such be here--
As it were sin to doubt--that love this painting
Wherein you see me smear'd; if any fear
Lesser his person than an ill report;
If any think brave death outweighs bad life
And that his country's dearer than himself;
Let him alone, or so many so minded,
Wave thus, to express his disposition,
And follow CORIOLANUS.
[They all shout and wave their swords, take him up in]
their arms, and cast up their caps]
O, me alone! make you a sword of me?
If these shows be not outward, which of you
But is four Volsces? none of you but is
Able to bear against the great Aufidius
A shield as hard as his. A certain number,
Though thanks to all, must I select
from all: the rest
Shall bear the business in some other fight,
As cause will be obey'd. Please you to march;
And four shall quickly draw out my command,
Which men are best inclined.

Cominius
March on, my fellows:
Make good this ostentation, and you shall
Divide in all with us.

Act I, Scene 7

The gates of Corioli.

Titus Lartius
So, let the ports be guarded: keep your duties,
As I have set them down. If I do send, dispatch
Those centuries to our aid: the rest will serve
For a short holding: if we lose the field,
We cannot keep the town.

Lieutenant
Fear not our care, sir.

Titus Lartius
Hence, and shut your gates upon's.
Our guider, come; to the Roman camp conduct us.

Act I, Scene 8

A field of battle.

Coriolanus
I'll fight with none but thee; for I do hate thee
Worse than a promise-breaker.

Tullus Aufidius
We hate alike:
Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor
More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.

Coriolanus
Let the first budger die the other's slave,
And the gods doom him after!

Tullus Aufidius
If I fly, CORIOLANUS,
Holloa me like a hare.

Coriolanus
Within these three hours, Tullus,
Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,
And made what work I pleased: 'tis not my blood
Wherein thou seest me mask'd; for thy revenge
Wrench up thy power to the highest.

Tullus Aufidius
Wert thou the Hector
That was the whip of your bragg'd progeny,
Thou shouldst not scape me here.
[They fight, and certain Volsces come to the aid of]
AUFIDIUS. CORIOLANUS fights till they be driven in
breathless]
Officious, and not valiant, you have shamed me
In your condemned seconds.

Act I, Scene 9

The Roman camp.

Cominius
If I should tell thee o'er this thy day's work,
Thou'ldst not believe thy deeds: but I'll report it
Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles,
Where great patricians shall attend and shrug,
I' the end admire, where ladies shall be frighted,
And, gladly quaked, hear more; where the
dull tribunes,
That, with the fusty plebeians, hate thine honours,
Shall say against their hearts 'We thank the gods
Our Rome hath such a soldier.'
Yet camest thou to a morsel of this feast,
Having fully dined before.
[Enter TITUS LARTIUS, with his power,]
from the pursuit]

Titus Lartius
O general,
Here is the steed, we the caparison:
Hadst thou beheld--

Coriolanus
Pray now, no more: my mother,
Who has a charter to extol her blood,
When she does praise me grieves me. I have done
As you have done; that's what I can; induced
As you have been; that's for my country:
He that has but effected his good will
Hath overta'en mine act.

Cominius
You shall not be
The grave of your deserving; Rome must know
The value of her own: 'twere a concealment
Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement,
To hide your doings; and to silence that,
Which, to the spire and top of praises vouch'd,
Would seem but modest: therefore, I beseech you
In sign of what you are, not to reward
What you have done--before our army hear me.

Coriolanus
I have some wounds upon me, and they smart
To hear themselves remember'd.

Cominius
Should they not,
Well might they fester 'gainst ingratitude,
And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses,
Whereof we have ta'en good and good store, of all
The treasure in this field achieved and city,
We render you the tenth, to be ta'en forth,
Before the common distribution, at
Your only choice.

Coriolanus
I thank you, general;
But cannot make my heart consent to take
A bribe to pay my sword: I do refuse it;
And stand upon my common part with those
That have beheld the doing.
[A long flourish. They all cry 'CORIOLANUS! CORIOLANUS!']
cast up their caps and lances: COMINIUS and TITUS
stand bare]

Coriolanus
May these same instruments, which you profane,
Never sound more! when drums and trumpets shall
I' the field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be
Made all of false-faced soothing!
When steel grows soft as the parasite's silk,
Let him be made a coverture for the wars!
No more, I say! For that I have not wash'd
My nose that bled, or foil'd some debile wretch.--
Which, without note, here's many else have done,--
You shout me forth
In acclamations hyperbolical;
As if I loved my little should be dieted
In praises sauced with lies.

Cominius
Too modest are you;
More cruel to your good report than grateful
To us that give you truly: by your patience,
If 'gainst yourself you be incensed, we'll put you,
Like one that means his proper harm, in manacles,
Then reason safely with you. Therefore, be it known,
As to us, to all the world, that Caius CORIOLANUS
Wears this war's garland: in token of the which,
My noble steed, known to the camp, I give him,
With all his trim belonging; and from this time,
For what he did before Corioli, call him,
With all the applause and clamour of the host,
CAIUS CORIOLANUS CORIOLANUS! Bear
The addition nobly ever!

All
Caius CORIOLANUS Coriolanus!

Coriolanus
I will go wash;
And when my face is fair, you shall perceive
Whether I blush or no: howbeit, I thank you.
I mean to stride your steed, and at all times
To undercrest your good addition
To the fairness of my power.

Cominius
So, to our tent;
Where, ere we do repose us, we will write
To Rome of our success. You, Titus TITUS,
Must to Corioli back: send us to Rome
The best, with whom we may articulate,
For their own good and ours.

Titus Lartius
I shall, my lord.

Coriolanus
The gods begin to mock me. I, that now
Refused most princely gifts, am bound to beg
Of my lord general.

Cominius
Take't; 'tis yours. What is't?

Coriolanus
I sometime lay here in Corioli
At a poor man's house; he used me kindly:
He cried to me; I saw him prisoner;
But then Aufidius was within my view,
And wrath o'erwhelm'd my pity: I request you
To give my poor host freedom.

Cominius
O, well begg'd!
Were he the butcher of my son, he should
Be free as is the wind. Deliver him, Titus.

Titus Lartius
CORIOLANUS, his name?

Coriolanus
By Jupiter! forgot.
I am weary; yea, my memory is tired.
Have we no wine here?

Cominius
Go we to our tent:
The blood upon your visage dries; 'tis time
It should be look'd to: come.

Act I, Scene 10

The camp of the Volsces.

Tullus Aufidius
The town is ta'en!

First Soldier
'Twill be deliver'd back on good condition.

Tullus Aufidius
Condition!
I would I were a Roman; for I cannot,
Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition!
What good condition can a treaty find
I' the part that is at mercy? Five times, CORIOLANUS,
I have fought with thee: so often hast thou beat me,
And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter
As often as we eat. By the elements,
If e'er again I meet him beard to beard,
He's mine, or I am his: mine emulation
Hath not that honour in't it had; for where
I thought to crush him in an equal force,
True sword to sword, I'll potch at him some way
Or wrath or craft may get him.

First Soldier
He's the devil.

Tullus Aufidius
Bolder, though not so subtle. My valour's poison'd
With only suffering stain by him; for him
Shall fly out of itself: nor sleep nor sanctuary,
Being naked, sick, nor fane nor Capitol,
The prayers of priests nor times of sacrifice,
Embarquements all of fury, shall lift up
Their rotten privilege and custom 'gainst
My hate to CORIOLANUS: where I find him, were it
At home, upon my brother's guard, even there,
Against the hospitable canon, would I
Wash my fierce hand in's heart. Go you to the city;
Learn how 'tis held; and what they are that must
Be hostages for Rome.

First Soldier
Will not you go?

Tullus Aufidius
I am attended at the cypress grove: I pray you--
'Tis south the city mills--bring me word thither
How the world goes, that to the pace of it
I may spur on my journey.

First Soldier
I shall, sir.

© Copyright 2017-2021 Shakespeare Network - Maximianno Cobra - All rights reserved.

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© Copyright 2017-2021 Shakespeare Network - Maximianno Cobra - All rights reserved.