The Tragedy of Coriolanus (1608)

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Act IV, Scene 6

Rome. A public place.

Sicinius Velutus
We hear not of him, neither need we fear him;
His remedies are tame i' the present peace
And quietness of the people, which before
Were in wild hurry. Here do we make his friends
Blush that the world goes well, who rather had,
Though they themselves did suffer by't, behold
Dissentious numbers pestering streets than see
Our tradesmen with in their shops and going
About their functions friendly.

Junius Brutus
We stood to't in good time.
[Enter MENENIUS]
Is this Menenius?

Sicinius Velutus
'Tis he,'tis he: O, he is grown most kind of late.

Menenius Agrippa
Hail to you both!

Sicinius Velutus
Your Coriolanus
Is not much miss'd, but with his friends:
The commonwealth doth stand, and so would do,
Were he more angry at it.

Menenius Agrippa
All's well; and might have been much better, if
He could have temporized.

Sicinius Velutus
Where is he, hear you?

Menenius Agrippa
Nay, I hear nothing: his mother and his wife
Hear nothing from him.

Citizens
The gods preserve you both!

Sicinius Velutus
God-den, our neighbours.

Junius Brutus
God-den to you all, god-den to you all.

First Citizen
Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees,
Are bound to pray for you both.

Sicinius Velutus
Live, and thrive!

Junius Brutus
Farewell, kind neighbours: we wish'd Coriolanus
Had loved you as we did.

Citizens
Now the gods keep you!

"Both Tribunes"
Farewell, farewell.

Sicinius Velutus
This is a happier and more comely time
Than when these fellows ran about the streets,
Crying confusion.

Junius Brutus
Caius CORIOLANUS was
A worthy officer i' the war; but insolent,
O'ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,
Self-loving,--

Sicinius Velutus
And affecting one sole throne,
Without assistance.

Menenius Agrippa
I think not so.

Sicinius Velutus
We should by this, to all our lamentation,
If he had gone forth consul, found it so.

Junius Brutus
The gods have well prevented it, and Rome
Sits safe and still without him.

Aedile
Worthy tribunes,
There is a slave, whom we have put in prison,
Reports, the Volsces with two several powers
Are enter'd in the Roman territories,
And with the deepest malice of the war
Destroy what lies before 'em.

Menenius Agrippa
'Tis Aufidius,
Who, hearing of our CORIOLANUS' banishment,
Thrusts forth his horns again into the world;
Which were inshell'd when CORIOLANUS stood for Rome,
And durst not once peep out.

Sicinius Velutus
Come, what talk you
Of CORIOLANUS?

Junius Brutus
Go see this rumourer whipp'd. It cannot be
The Volsces dare break with us.

Menenius Agrippa
Cannot be!
We have record that very well it can,
And three examples of the like have been
Within my age. But reason with the fellow,
Before you punish him, where he heard this,
Lest you shall chance to whip your information
And beat the messenger who bids beware
Of what is to be dreaded.

Sicinius Velutus
Tell not me:
I know this cannot be.

Junius Brutus
Not possible.

Messenger
The nobles in great earnestness are going
All to the senate-house: some news is come
That turns their countenances.

Sicinius Velutus
'Tis this slave;--
Go whip him, 'fore the people's eyes:--his raising;
Nothing but his report.

Messenger
Yes, worthy sir,
The slave's report is seconded; and more,
More fearful, is deliver'd.

Sicinius Velutus
What more fearful?

Messenger
It is spoke freely out of many mouths--
How probable I do not know--that CORIOLANUS,
Join'd with Aufidius, leads a power 'gainst Rome,
And vows revenge as spacious as between
The young'st and oldest thing.

Sicinius Velutus
This is most likely!

Junius Brutus
Raised only, that the weaker sort may wish
Good CORIOLANUS home again.

Sicinius Velutus
The very trick on't.

Menenius Agrippa
This is unlikely:
He and Aufidius can no more atone
Than violentest contrariety.

Second Messenger
You are sent for to the senate:
A fearful army, led by Caius CORIOLANUS
Associated with Aufidius, rages
Upon our territories; and have already
O'erborne their way, consumed with fire, and took
What lay before them.

Cominius
O, you have made good work!

Menenius Agrippa
What news? what news?

Cominius
You have holp to ravish your own daughters and
To melt the city leads upon your pates,
To see your wives dishonour'd to your noses,--

Menenius Agrippa
What's the news? what's the news?

Cominius
Your temples burned in their cement, and
Your franchises, whereon you stood, confined
Into an auger's bore.

Menenius Agrippa
Pray now, your news?
You have made fair work, I fear me.--Pray, your news?--
If CORIOLANUS should be join'd with Volscians,--

Cominius
If!
He is their god: he leads them like a thing
Made by some other deity than nature,
That shapes man better; and they follow him,
Against us brats, with no less confidence
Than boys pursuing summer butterflies,
Or butchers killing flies.

Menenius Agrippa
You have made good work,
You and your apron-men; you that stood so up much
on the voice of occupation and
The breath of garlic-eaters!

Cominius
He will shake
Your Rome about your ears.

Menenius Agrippa
As Hercules
Did shake down mellow fruit.
You have made fair work!

Junius Brutus
But is this true, sir?

Cominius
Ay; and you'll look pale
Before you find it other. All the regions
Do smilingly revolt; and who resist
Are mock'd for valiant ignorance,
And perish constant fools. Who is't can blame him?
Your enemies and his find something in him.

Menenius Agrippa
We are all undone, unless
The noble man have mercy.

Cominius
Who shall ask it?
The tribunes cannot do't for shame; the people
Deserve such pity of him as the wolf
Does of the shepherds: for his best friends, if they
Should say 'Be good to Rome,' they charged him even
As those should do that had deserved his hate,
And therein show'd like enemies.

Menenius Agrippa
'Tis true:
If he were putting to my house the brand
That should consume it, I have not the face
To say 'Beseech you, cease.' You have made fair hands,
You and your crafts! you have crafted fair!

Cominius
You have brought
A trembling upon Rome, such as was never
So incapable of help.

"Both Tribunes"
Say not we brought it.

Menenius Agrippa
How! Was it we? we loved him but, like beasts
And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,
Who did hoot him out o' the city.

Cominius
But I fear
They'll roar him in again. Tullus Aufidius,
The second name of men, obeys his points
As if he were his officer: desperation
Is all the policy, strength and defence,
That Rome can make against them.

Menenius Agrippa
Here come the clusters.
And is Aufidius with him? You are they
That made the air unwholesome, when you cast
Your stinking greasy caps in hooting at
Coriolanus' exile. Now he's coming;
And not a hair upon a soldier's head
Which will not prove a whip: as many coxcombs
As you threw caps up will he tumble down,
And pay you for your voices. 'Tis no matter;
if he could burn us all into one coal,
We have deserved it.

Citizens
Faith, we hear fearful news.

First Citizen
For mine own part,
When I said, banish him, I said 'twas pity.

Second Citizen
And so did I.

Third Citizen
And so did I; and, to say the truth, so did very
many of us: that we did, we did for the best; and
though we willingly consented to his banishment, yet
it was against our will.

Cominius
Ye re goodly things, you voices!

Menenius Agrippa
You have made
Good work, you and your cry! Shall's to the Capitol?

Cominius
O, ay, what else?

Sicinius Velutus
Go, masters, get you home; be not dismay'd:
These are a side that would be glad to have
This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,
And show no sign of fear.

First Citizen
The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let's home.
I ever said we were i' the wrong when we banished
him.

Second Citizen
So did we all. But, come, let's home.

Junius Brutus
I do not like this news.

Junius Brutus
Let's to the Capitol. Would half my wealth
Would buy this for a lie!

Sicinius Velutus
Pray, let us go.

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