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ACT III SCENE I. Rome. A street.
[ Cornets. Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, all the Gentry, COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other Senators ]
CORIOLANUSTullus Aufidius then had made new head?
LARTIUSHe had, my lord; and that it was which caused
Our swifter composition.
CORIOLANUSSo then the Volsces stand but as at first,
Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road.5
Upon's again.
COMINIUSThey are worn, lord consul, so,
That we shall hardly in our ages see
Their banners wave again.
CORIOLANUSSaw you Aufidius?10
LARTIUSOn safe-guard he came to me; and did curse
Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely
Yielded the town: he is retired to Antium.
CORIOLANUSSpoke he of me?
LARTIUSHe did, my lord.15
LARTIUSHow often he had met you, sword to sword;
That of all things upon the earth he hated
Your person most, that he would pawn his fortunes
To hopeless restitution, so he might20
Be call'd your vanquisher.
CORIOLANUSAt Antium lives he?
CORIOLANUSI wish I had a cause to seek him there,
To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.25
Behold, these are the tribunes of the people,
The tongues o' the common mouth: I do despise them;
For they do prank them in authority,
Against all noble sufferance.
SICINIUSPass no further.30
CORIOLANUSHa! what is that?
BRUTUSIt will be dangerous to go on: no further.
CORIOLANUSWhat makes this change?
MENENIUSThe matter?
COMINIUSHath he not pass'd the noble and the common?35
BRUTUSCominius, no.
CORIOLANUSHave I had children's voices?
First SenatorTribunes, give way; he shall to the market-place.
BRUTUSThe people are incensed against him.
Or all will fall in broil.
CORIOLANUSAre these your herd?
Must these have voices, that can yield them now
And straight disclaim their tongues? What are
your offices?45
You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth?
Have you not set them on?
MENENIUSBe calm, be calm.
CORIOLANUSIt is a purposed thing, and grows by plot,
To curb the will of the nobility:50
Suffer't, and live with such as cannot rule
Nor ever will be ruled.
BRUTUSCall't not a plot:
The people cry you mock'd them, and of late,
When corn was given them gratis, you repined;55
Scandal'd the suppliants for the people, call'd them
Time-pleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.
CORIOLANUSWhy, this was known before.
BRUTUSNot to them all.
CORIOLANUSHave you inform'd them sithence?60
BRUTUSHow! I inform them!
CORIOLANUSYou are like to do such business.
BRUTUSNot unlike,
Each way, to better yours.
CORIOLANUSWhy then should I be consul? By yond clouds,65
Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
Your fellow tribune.
SICINIUSYou show too much of that
For which the people stir: if you will pass
To where you are bound, you must inquire your way,70
Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit,
Or never be so noble as a consul,
Nor yoke with him for tribune.
MENENIUSLet's be calm.
COMINIUSThe people are abused; set on. This paltering75
Becomes not Rome, nor has Coriolanus
Deserved this so dishonour'd rub, laid falsely
I' the plain way of his merit.
CORIOLANUSTell me of corn!
This was my speech, and I will speak't again--80
MENENIUSNot now, not now.
First SenatorNot in this heat, sir, now.
CORIOLANUSNow, as I live, I will. My nobler friends,
I crave their pardons:
For the mutable, rank-scented many, let them85
Regard me as I do not flatter, and
Therein behold themselves: I say again,
In soothing them, we nourish 'gainst our senate
The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
Which we ourselves have plough'd for, sow'd,90
and scatter'd,
By mingling them with us, the honour'd number,
Who lack not virtue, no, nor power, but that
Which they have given to beggars.
MENENIUSWell, no more.95
First SenatorNo more words, we beseech you.
CORIOLANUSHow! no more!
As for my country I have shed my blood,
Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs
Coin words till their decay against those measles,100
Which we disdain should tatter us, yet sought
The very way to catch them.
BRUTUSYou speak o' the people,
As if you were a god to punish, not
A man of their infirmity.105
SICINIUS'Twere well
We let the people know't.
MENENIUSWhat, what? his choler?
Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,110
By Jove, 'twould be my mind!
SICINIUSIt is a mind
That shall remain a poison where it is,
Not poison any further.
CORIOLANUSShall remain!115
Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you
His absolute 'shall'?
COMINIUS'Twas from the canon.
O good but most unwise patricians! why,120
You grave but reckless senators, have you thus
Given Hydra here to choose an officer,
That with his peremptory 'shall,' being but
The horn and noise o' the monster's, wants not spirit
To say he'll turn your current in a ditch,125
And make your channel his? If he have power
Then vail your ignorance; if none, awake
Your dangerous lenity. If you are learn'd,
Be not as common fools; if you are not,
Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians,130
If they be senators: and they are no less,
When, both your voices blended, the great'st taste
Most palates theirs. They choose their magistrate,
And such a one as he, who puts his 'shall,'
His popular 'shall' against a graver bench135
Than ever frown in Greece. By Jove himself!
It makes the consuls base: and my soul aches
To know, when two authorities are up,
Neither supreme, how soon confusion
May enter 'twixt the gap of both and take140
The one by the other.
COMINIUSWell, on to the market-place.
CORIOLANUSWhoever gave that counsel, to give forth
The corn o' the storehouse gratis, as 'twas used
Sometime in Greece,--145
MENENIUSWell, well, no more of that.
CORIOLANUSThough there the people had more absolute power,
I say, they nourish'd disobedience, fed
The ruin of the state.
BRUTUSWhy, shall the people give150
One that speaks thus their voice?
CORIOLANUSI'll give my reasons,
More worthier than their voices. They know the corn
Was not our recompense, resting well assured
That ne'er did service for't: being press'd to the war,155
Even when the navel of the state was touch'd,
They would not thread the gates. This kind of service
Did not deserve corn gratis. Being i' the war
Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they show'd
Most valour, spoke not for them: the accusation160
Which they have often made against the senate,
All cause unborn, could never be the motive
Of our so frank donation. Well, what then?
How shall this bisson multitude digest
The senate's courtesy? Let deeds express165
What's like to be their words: 'we did request it;
We are the greater poll, and in true fear
They gave us our demands.' Thus we debase
The nature of our seats and make the rabble
Call our cares fears; which will in time170
Break ope the locks o' the senate and bring in
The crows to peck the eagles.
MENENIUSCome, enough.
BRUTUSEnough, with over-measure.
CORIOLANUSNo, take more:175
What may be sworn by, both divine and human,
Seal what I end withal! This double worship,
Where one part does disdain with cause, the other
Insult without all reason, where gentry, title, wisdom,
Cannot conclude but by the yea and no180
Of general ignorance,--it must omit
Real necessities, and give way the while
To unstable slightness: purpose so barr'd,
it follows,
Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore, beseech you,--185
You that will be less fearful than discreet,
That love the fundamental part of state
More than you doubt the change on't, that prefer
A noble life before a long, and wish
To jump a body with a dangerous physic190
That's sure of death without it, at once pluck out
The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick
The sweet which is their poison: your dishonour
Mangles true judgment and bereaves the state
Of that integrity which should become't,195
Not having the power to do the good it would,
For the in which doth control't.
BRUTUSHas said enough.
SICINIUSHas spoken like a traitor, and shall answer
As traitors do.200
CORIOLANUSThou wretch, despite o'erwhelm thee!
What should the people do with these bald tribunes?
On whom depending, their obedience fails
To the greater bench: in a rebellion,
When what's not meet, but what must be, was law,205
Then were they chosen: in a better hour,
Let what is meet be said it must be meet,
And throw their power i' the dust.
BRUTUSManifest treason!
SICINIUSThis a consul? no.210
BRUTUSThe aediles, ho!
[Enter an AEdile]
Let him be apprehended.
SICINIUSGo, call the people:
[Exit AEdile]
in whose name myself
Attach thee as a traitorous innovator,215
A foe to the public weal: obey, I charge thee,
And follow to thine answer.
CORIOLANUSHence, old goat!
Senators, &CWe'll surety him.
COMINIUSAged sir, hands off.220
CORIOLANUSHence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bones
Out of thy garments.
SICINIUSHelp, ye citizens!
[ Enter a rabble of Citizens (Plebeians), with the AEdiles ]
MENENIUSOn both sides more respect.
SICINIUSHere's he that would take from you all your power.225
BRUTUSSeize him, AEdiles!
CitizensDown with him! down with him!
Senators, &CWeapons, weapons, weapons!
[They all bustle about CORIOLANUS, crying]
'Tribunes!' 'Patricians!' 'Citizens!' 'What, ho!'
'Sicinius!' 'Brutus!' 'Coriolanus!' 'Citizens!'230
'Peace, peace, peace!' 'Stay, hold, peace!'
MENENIUSWhat is about to be? I am out of breath;
Confusion's near; I cannot speak. You, tribunes
To the people! Coriolanus, patience!
Speak, good Sicinius.235
SICINIUSHear me, people; peace!
CitizensLet's hear our tribune: peace Speak, speak, speak.
SICINIUSYou are at point to lose your liberties:
Marcius would have all from you; Marcius,
Whom late you have named for consul.240
MENENIUSFie, fie, fie!
This is the way to kindle, not to quench.
First SenatorTo unbuild the city and to lay all flat.
SICINIUSWhat is the city but the people?
The people are the city.
BRUTUSBy the consent of all, we were establish'd
The people's magistrates.
CitizensYou so remain.
MENENIUSAnd so are like to do.250
COMINIUSThat is the way to lay the city flat;
To bring the roof to the foundation,
And bury all, which yet distinctly ranges,
In heaps and piles of ruin.
SICINIUSThis deserves death.255
BRUTUSOr let us stand to our authority,
Or let us lose it. We do here pronounce,
Upon the part o' the people, in whose power
We were elected theirs, Marcius is worthy
Of present death.260
SICINIUSTherefore lay hold of him;
Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence
Into destruction cast him.
BRUTUSAEdiles, seize him!
CitizensYield, Marcius, yield!265
MENENIUSHear me one word;
Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.
AEdilePeace, peace!
MENENIUS[To BRUTUS] Be that you seem, truly your
country's friend,270
And temperately proceed to what you would
Thus violently redress.
BRUTUSSir, those cold ways,
That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous
Where the disease is violent. Lay hands upon him,275
And bear him to the rock.
CORIOLANUSNo, I'll die here.
[Drawing his sword]
There's some among you have beheld me fighting:
Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.
MENENIUSDown with that sword! Tribunes, withdraw awhile.280
BRUTUSLay hands upon him.
COMINIUSHelp Marcius, help,
You that be noble; help him, young and old!
CitizensDown with him, down with him!
[ In this mutiny, the Tribunes, the AEdiles, and the People, are beat in ]
MENENIUSGo, get you to your house; be gone, away!285
All will be naught else.
Second SenatorGet you gone.
COMINIUSStand fast;
We have as many friends as enemies.
MENENIUSSham it be put to that?290
First SenatorThe gods forbid!
I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;
Leave us to cure this cause.
MENENIUSFor 'tis a sore upon us,
You cannot tent yourself: be gone, beseech you.295
COMINIUSCome, sir, along with us.
CORIOLANUSI would they were barbarians--as they are,
Though in Rome litter'd--not Romans--as they are not,
Though calved i' the porch o' the Capitol--
MENENIUSBe gone;300
Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;
One time will owe another.
CORIOLANUSOn fair ground
I could beat forty of them.
COMINIUSI could myself305
Take up a brace o' the best of them; yea, the
two tribunes:
But now 'tis odds beyond arithmetic;
And manhood is call'd foolery, when it stands
Against a falling fabric. Will you hence,310
Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend
Like interrupted waters and o'erbear
What they are used to bear.
MENENIUSPray you, be gone:
I'll try whether my old wit be in request315
With those that have but little: this must be patch'd
With cloth of any colour.
COMINIUSNay, come away.
[Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, and others]
A PatricianThis man has marr'd his fortune.
MENENIUSHis nature is too noble for the world:320
He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
Or Jove for's power to thunder. His heart's his mouth:
What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent;
And, being angry, does forget that ever
He heard the name of death.325
[A noise within]
Here's goodly work!
Second PatricianI would they were abed!
MENENIUSI would they were in Tiber! What the vengeance!
Could he not speak 'em fair?
[Re-enter BRUTUS and SICINIUS, with the rabble]
SICINIUSWhere is this viper330
That would depopulate the city and
Be every man himself?
MENENIUSYou worthy tribunes,--
SICINIUSHe shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock
With rigorous hands: he hath resisted law,335
And therefore law shall scorn him further trial
Than the severity of the public power
Which he so sets at nought.
First CitizenHe shall well know
The noble tribunes are the people's mouths,340
And we their hands.
CitizensHe shall, sure on't.
MENENIUSSir, sir,--
MENENIUSDo not cry havoc, where you should but hunt345
With modest warrant.
SICINIUSSir, how comes't that you
Have holp to make this rescue?
MENENIUSHear me speak:
As I do know the consul's worthiness,350
So can I name his faults,--
SICINIUSConsul! what consul?
MENENIUSThe consul Coriolanus.
BRUTUSHe consul!
CitizensNo, no, no, no, no.355
MENENIUSIf, by the tribunes' leave, and yours, good people,
I may be heard, I would crave a word or two;
The which shall turn you to no further harm
Than so much loss of time.
SICINIUSSpeak briefly then;360
For we are peremptory to dispatch
This viperous traitor: to eject him hence
Were but one danger, and to keep him here
Our certain death: therefore it is decreed
He dies to-night.365
MENENIUSNow the good gods forbid
That our renowned Rome, whose gratitude
Towards her deserved children is enroll'd
In Jove's own book, like an unnatural dam
Should now eat up her own!370
SICINIUSHe's a disease that must be cut away.
MENENIUSO, he's a limb that has but a disease;
Mortal, to cut it off; to cure it, easy.
What has he done to Rome that's worthy death?
Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost--375
Which, I dare vouch, is more than that he hath,
By many an ounce--he dropp'd it for his country;
And what is left, to lose it by his country,
Were to us all, that do't and suffer it,
A brand to the end o' the world.380
SICINIUSThis is clean kam.
BRUTUSMerely awry: when he did love his country,
It honour'd him.
MENENIUSThe service of the foot
Being once gangrened, is not then respected385
For what before it was.
BRUTUSWe'll hear no more.
Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence:
Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
Spread further.390
MENENIUSOne word more, one word.
This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find
The harm of unscann'd swiftness, will too late
Tie leaden pounds to's heels. Proceed by process;
Lest parties, as he is beloved, break out,395
And sack great Rome with Romans.
BRUTUSIf it were so,--
SICINIUSWhat do ye talk?
Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted? Come.400
MENENIUSConsider this: he has been bred i' the wars
Since he could draw a sword, and is ill school'd
In bolted language; meal and bran together
He throws without distinction. Give me leave,
I'll go to him, and undertake to bring him405
Where he shall answer, by a lawful form,
In peace, to his utmost peril.
First SenatorNoble tribunes,
It is the humane way: the other course
Will prove too bloody, and the end of it410
Unknown to the beginning.
SICINIUSNoble Menenius,
Be you then as the people's officer.
Masters, lay down your weapons.
BRUTUSGo not home.415
SICINIUSMeet on the market-place. We'll attend you there:
Where, if you bring not Marcius, we'll proceed
In our first way.
MENENIUSI'll bring him to you.
[To the Senators]
Let me desire your company: he must come,420
Or what is worst will follow.
First SenatorPray you, let's to him.

Next: Coriolanus, Act 3, Scene 2


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