The Tragedy of Coriolanus, by William Shakespeare

Act IV

Scene I. Rome. Before a gate of the city.

Enter Coriolanus, Volumnia, Virgilia, Menenius, Cominius, with the young Nobility of Rome

Coriolanus

Come, leave your tears: a brief farewell: the beast
With many heads butts me away. Nay, mother,
Where is your ancient courage? you were used
To say extremity was the trier of spirits;
That common chances common men could bear;
That when the sea was calm all boats alike
Show’d mastership in floating; fortune’s blows,
When most struck home, being gentle wounded, craves
A noble cunning: you were used to load me
With precepts that would make invincible
The heart that conn’d them.

Virgilia

O heavens! O heavens!

Coriolanus

Nay! prithee, woman —

Volumnia

Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome,
And occupations perish!

Coriolanus

What, what, what!
I shall be loved when I am lack’d. Nay, mother.
Resume that spirit, when you were wont to say,
If you had been the wife of Hercules,
Six of his labours you’ld have done, and saved
Your husband so much sweat. Cominius,
Droop not; adieu. Farewell, my wife, my mother:
I’ll do well yet. Thou old and true Menenius,
Thy tears are salter than a younger man’s,
And venomous to thine eyes. My sometime general,
I have seen thee stem, and thou hast oft beheld
Heart-hardening spectacles; tell these sad women
’Tis fond to wail inevitable strokes,
As ’tis to laugh at ’em. My mother, you wot well
My hazards still have been your solace: and
Believe’t not lightly — though I go alone,
Like to a lonely dragon, that his fen
Makes fear’d and talk’d of more than seen — your son
Will or exceed the common or be caught
With cautelous baits and practise.

Volumnia

My first son.
Whither wilt thou go? Take good Cominius
With thee awhile: determine on some course,
More than a wild exposture to each chance
That starts i’ the way before thee.

Coriolanus

O the gods!

Cominius

I’ll follow thee a month, devise with thee
Where thou shalt rest, that thou mayst hear of us
And we of thee: so if the time thrust forth
A cause for thy repeal, we shall not send
O’er the vast world to seek a single man,
And lose advantage, which doth ever cool
I’ the absence of the needer.

Coriolanus

Fare ye well:
Thou hast years upon thee; and thou art too full
Of the wars’ surfeits, to go rove with one
That’s yet unbruised: bring me but out at gate.
Come, my sweet wife, my dearest mother, and
My friends of noble touch, when I am forth,
Bid me farewell, and smile. I pray you, come.
While I remain above the ground, you shall
Hear from me still, and never of me aught
But what is like me formerly.

Menenius

That’s worthily
As any ear can hear. Come, let’s not weep.
If I could shake off but one seven years
From these old arms and legs, by the good gods,
I’ld with thee every foot.

Coriolanus

Give me thy hand: Come.

Exeunt

Scene II. The same. A street near the gate.

Enter Sicinius, Brutus, and an Aedile

Sicinius

Bid them all home; he’s gone, and we’ll no further.
The nobility are vex’d, whom we see have sided
In his behalf.

Brutus

  Now we have shown our power,
Let us seem humbler after it is done
Than when it was a-doing.

Sicinius

Bid them home:
Say their great enemy is gone, and they
Stand in their ancient strength.

Brutus

Dismiss them home.

Exit Aedile

Here comes his mother.

Sicinius

Let’s not meet her.

Brutus

Why?

Sicinius

They say she’s mad.

Brutus

They have ta’en note of us: keep on your way.

Enter Volumnia, Virgilia, and Menenius

Volumnia

O, ye’re well met: the hoarded plague o’ the gods
Requite your love!

Menenius

  Peace, peace; be not so loud.

Volumnia

If that I could for weeping, you should hear —
Nay, and you shall hear some.

To Brutus

Will you be gone?

Virgilia

[To Sicinius] You shall stay too: I would I had the power
To say so to my husband.

Sicinius

Are you mankind?

Volumnia

Ay, fool; is that a shame? Note but this fool.
Was not a man my father? Hadst thou foxship
To banish him that struck more blows for Rome
Than thou hast spoken words?

Sicinius

O blessed heavens!

Volumnia

More noble blows than ever thou wise words;
And for Rome’s good. I’ll tell thee what; yet go:
Nay, but thou shalt stay too: I would my son
Were in Arabia, and thy tribe before him,
His good sword in his hand.

Sicinius

What then?

Virgilia

What then!
He’ld make an end of thy posterity.

Volumnia

Bastards and all.
Good man, the wounds that he does bear for Rome!

Menenius

Come, come, peace.

Sicinius

I would he had continued to his country
As he began, and not unknit himself
The noble knot he made.

Brutus

I would he had.

Volumnia

‘I would he had’! ’Twas you incensed the rabble:
Cats, that can judge as fitly of his worth
As I can of those mysteries which heaven
Will not have earth to know.

Brutus

Pray, let us go.

Volumnia

Now, pray, sir, get you gone:
You have done a brave deed. Ere you go, hear this:—
As far as doth the Capitol exceed
The meanest house in Rome, so far my son —
This lady’s husband here, this, do you see —
Whom you have banish’d, does exceed you all.

Brutus

Well, well, we’ll leave you.

Sicinius

Why stay we to be baited
With one that wants her wits?

Volumnia

Take my prayers with you.

Exeunt Tribunes

I would the gods had nothing else to do
But to confirm my curses! Could I meet ’em
But once a-day, it would unclog my heart
Of what lies heavy to’t.

Menenius

You have told them home;
And, by my troth, you have cause. You’ll sup with me?

Volumnia

Anger’s my meat; I sup upon myself,
And so shall starve with feeding. Come, let’s go:
Leave this faint puling and lament as I do,
In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.

Menenius

Fie, fie, fie!

Exeunt

Scene III. A highway between Rome and Antium.

Enter a Roman and a Volsce, meeting

Roman

I know you well, sir, and you know me: your name, I think, is Adrian.

Volsce

It is so, sir: truly, I have forgot you.

Roman

I am a Roman; and my services are, as you are, against ’em: know you me yet?

Volsce

Nicanor? no.

Roman

The same, sir.

Volsce

You had more beard when I last saw you; but your favour is well approved by your tongue. What’s the news in Rome? I have a note from the Volscian state, to find you out there: you have well saved me a day’s journey.

Roman

There hath been in Rome strange insurrections; the people against the senators, patricians, and nobles.

Volsce

Hath been! is it ended, then? Our state thinks not so: they are in a most warlike preparation, and hope to come upon them in the heat of their division.

Roman

The main blaze of it is past, but a small thing would make it flame again: for the nobles receive so to heart the banishment of that worthy Coriolanus, that they are in a ripe aptness to take all power from the people and to pluck from them their tribunes for ever. This lies glowing, I can tell you, and is almost mature for the violent breaking out.

Volsce

Coriolanus banished!

Roman

Banished, sir.

Volsce

You will be welcome with this intelligence, Nicanor.

Roman

The day serves well for them now. I have heard it said, the fittest time to corrupt a man’s wife is when she’s fallen out with her husband. Your noble Tullus Aufidius will appear well in these wars, his great opposer, Coriolanus, being now in no request of his country.

Volsce

He cannot choose. I am most fortunate, thus accidentally to encounter you: you have ended my business, and I will merrily accompany you home.

Roman

I shall, between this and supper, tell you most strange things from Rome; all tending to the good of their adversaries. Have you an army ready, say you?

Volsce

A most royal one; the centurions and their charges, distinctly billeted, already in the entertainment, and to be on foot at an hour’s warning.

Roman

I am joyful to hear of their readiness, and am the man, I think, that shall set them in present action. So, sir, heartily well met, and most glad of your company.

Volsce

You take my part from me, sir; I have the most cause to be glad of yours.

Roman

Well, let us go together.

Exeunt

Scene IV. Antium. Before Aufidius’s house.

Enter Coriolanus in mean apparel, disguised and muffled

Coriolanus

A goodly city is this Antium. City,
’Tis I that made thy widows: many an heir
Of these fair edifices ’fore my wars
Have I heard groan and drop: then know me not,
Lest that thy wives with spits and boys with stones
In puny battle slay me.

Enter a Citizen

Save you, sir.

Citizen

And you.

Coriolanus

  Direct me, if it be your will,
Where great Aufidius lies: is he in Antium?

Citizen

He is, and feasts the nobles of the state
At his house this night.

Coriolanus

Which is his house, beseech you?

Citizen

This, here before you.

Coriolanus

Thank you, sir: farewell.

Exit Citizen

O world, thy slippery turns! Friends now fast sworn,
Whose double bosoms seem to wear one heart,
Whose house, whose bed, whose meal, and exercise,
Are still together, who twin, as ’twere, in love
Unseparable, shall within this hour,
On a dissension of a doit, break out
To bitterest enmity: so, fellest foes,
Whose passions and whose plots have broke their sleep,
To take the one the other, by some chance,
Some trick not worth an egg, shall grow dear friends
And interjoin their issues. So with me:
My birth-place hate I, and my love’s upon
This enemy town. I’ll enter: if he slay me,
He does fair justice; if he give me way,
I’ll do his country service.

Exit

Scene V. The same. A hall in Aufidius’s house.

Music within. Enter a Servingman

First Servingman

Wine, wine, wine! What service is here! I think our fellows are asleep.

Exit

Enter a second Servingman

Second Servingman

Where’s Cotus? my master calls for him. Cotus!

Exit

Enter Coriolanus

Coriolanus

A goodly house: the feast smells well; but I
Appear not like a guest.

Re-enter the first Servingman

First Servingman

What would you have, friend? whence are you?
Here’s no place for you: pray, go to the door.

Exit

Coriolanus

I have deserved no better entertainment,
In being Coriolanus.

Re-enter second Servingman

Second Servingman

Whence are you, sir? Has the porter his eyes in his head; that he gives entrance to such companions? Pray, get you out.

Coriolanus

Away!

Second Servingman

Away! get you away.

Coriolanus

Now thou’rt troublesome.

Second Servingman

Are you so brave? I’ll have you talked with anon.

Enter a third Servingman. The first meets him

Third Servingman

What fellow’s this?

First Servingman

A strange one as ever I looked on: I cannot get him out of the house: prithee, call my master to him.

Retires

Third Servingman

What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you, avoid the house.

Coriolanus

Let me but stand; I will not hurt your hearth.

Third Servingman

What are you?

Coriolanus

A gentleman.

Third Servingman

A marvellous poor one.

Coriolanus

True, so I am.

Third Servingman

Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other station; here’s no place for you; pray you, avoid: come.

Coriolanus

Follow your function, go, and batten on cold bits.

Pushes him away

Third Servingman

What, you will not? Prithee, tell my master what a strange guest he has here.

Second Servingman

And I shall.

Exit

Third Servingman

Where dwellest thou?

Coriolanus

Under the canopy.

Third Servingman

Under the canopy!

Coriolanus

Ay.

Third Servingman

Where’s that?

Coriolanus

I’ the city of kites and crows.

Third Servingman

I’ the city of kites and crows! What an ass it is!
Then thou dwellest with daws too?

Coriolanus

No, I serve not thy master.

Third Servingman

How, sir! do you meddle with my master?

Coriolanus

Ay; ’tis an honester service than to meddle with thy mistress. Thou pratest, and pratest; serve with thy trencher, hence!

Beats him away. Exit third Servingman

Enter Aufidius with the second Servingman

Aufidius

Where is this fellow?

Second Servingman

Here, sir: I’ld have beaten him like a dog, but for disturbing the lords within.

Retires

Aufidius

Whence comest thou? what wouldst thou? thy name?
Why speak’st not? speak, man: what’s thy name?

Coriolanus

If, Tullus,

Unmuffling

Not yet thou knowest me, and, seeing me, dost not
Think me for the man I am, necessity
Commands me name myself.

Aufidius

What is thy name?

Coriolanus

A name unmusical to the Volscians’ ears,
And harsh in sound to thine.

Aufidius

Say, what’s thy name?
Thou hast a grim appearance, and thy face
Bears a command in’t; though thy tackle’s torn.
Thou show’st a noble vessel: what’s thy name?

Coriolanus

Prepare thy brow to frown: know’st thou me yet?

Aufidius

I know thee not: thy name?

Coriolanus

My name is Caius Marcius, who hath done
To thee particularly and to all the Volsces
Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness may
My surname, Coriolanus: the painful service,
The extreme dangers and the drops of blood
Shed for my thankless country are requited
But with that surname; a good memory,
And witness of the malice and displeasure
Which thou shouldst bear me: only that name remains;
The cruelty and envy of the people,
Permitted by our dastard nobles, who
Have all forsook me, hath devour’d the rest;
And suffer’d me by the voice of slaves to be
Whoop’d out of Rome. Now this extremity
Hath brought me to thy hearth; not out of hope —
Mistake me not — to save my life, for if
I had fear’d death, of all the men i’ the world
I would have ’voided thee, but in mere spite,
To be full quit of those my banishers,
Stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast
A heart of wreak in thee, that wilt revenge
Thine own particular wrongs and stop those maims
Of shame seen through thy country, speed thee straight,
And make my misery serve thy turn: so use it
That my revengeful services may prove
As benefits to thee, for I will fight
Against my canker’d country with the spleen
Of all the under fiends. But if so be
Thou darest not this and that to prove more fortunes
Thou’rt tired, then, in a word, I also am
Longer to live most weary, and present
My throat to thee and to thy ancient malice;
Which not to cut would show thee but a fool,
Since I have ever follow’d thee with hate,
Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country’s breast,
And cannot live but to thy shame, unless
It be to do thee service.

Aufidius

O Marcius, Marcius!
Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart
A root of ancient envy. If Jupiter
Should from yond cloud speak divine things,
And say ’Tis true,’ I’ld not believe them more
Than thee, all noble Marcius. Let me twine
Mine arms about that body, where against
My grained ash an hundred times hath broke
And scarr’d the moon with splinters: here I clip
The anvil of my sword, and do contest
As hotly and as nobly with thy love
As ever in ambitious strength I did
Contend against thy valour. Know thou first,
I loved the maid I married; never man
Sigh’d truer breath; but that I see thee here,
Thou noble thing! more dances my rapt heart
Than when I first my wedded mistress saw
Bestride my threshold. Why, thou Mars! I tell thee,
We have a power on foot; and I had purpose
Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn,
Or lose mine arm fort: thou hast beat me out
Twelve several times, and I have nightly since
Dreamt of encounters ’twixt thyself and me;
We have been down together in my sleep,
Unbuckling helms, fisting each other’s throat,
And waked half dead with nothing. Worthy Marcius,
Had we no quarrel else to Rome, but that
Thou art thence banish’d, we would muster all
From twelve to seventy, and pouring war
Into the bowels of ungrateful Rome,
Like a bold flood o’er-bear. O, come, go in,
And take our friendly senators by the hands;
Who now are here, taking their leaves of me,
Who am prepared against your territories,
Though not for Rome itself.

Coriolanus

You bless me, gods!

Aufidius

Therefore, most absolute sir, if thou wilt have
The leading of thine own revenges, take
The one half of my commission; and set down —
As best thou art experienced, since thou know’st
Thy country’s strength and weakness — thine own ways;
Whether to knock against the gates of Rome,
Or rudely visit them in parts remote,
To fright them, ere destroy. But come in:
Let me commend thee first to those that shall
Say yea to thy desires. A thousand welcomes!
And more a friend than e’er an enemy;
Yet, Marcius, that was much. Your hand: most welcome!

Exeunt Coriolanus and Aufidius. The two Servingmen come forward

First Servingman

Here’s a strange alteration!

Second Servingman

By my hand, I had thought to have strucken him with a cudgel; and yet my mind gave me his clothes made a false report of him.

First Servingman

What an arm he has! he turned me about with his finger and his thumb, as one would set up a top.

Second Servingman

Nay, I knew by his face that there was something in him: he had, sir, a kind of face, methought — I cannot tell how to term it.

First Servingman

He had so; looking as it were — would I were hanged, but I thought there was more in him than I could think.

Second Servingman

So did I, I’ll be sworn: he is simply the rarest man i’ the world.

First Servingman

I think he is: but a greater soldier than he you wot on.

Second Servingman

Who, my master?

First Servingman

Nay, it’s no matter for that.

Second Servingman

Worth six on him.

First Servingman

Nay, not so neither: but I take him to be the greater soldier.

Second Servingman

Faith, look you, one cannot tell how to say that: for the defence of a town, our general is excellent.

First Servingman

Ay, and for an assault too.

Re-enter third Servingman

Third Servingman

O slaves, I can tell you news — news, you rascals!

First Servingman

Second Servingman

What, what, what? let’s partake.

Third Servingman

I would not be a Roman, of all nations; I had as lieve be a condemned man.

First Servingman

Second Servingman

Wherefore? wherefore?

Third Servingman

Why, here’s he that was wont to thwack our general,
Caius Marcius.

First Servingman

Why do you say ’thwack our general ’?

Third Servingman

I do not say ’thwack our general;’ but he was always good enough for him.

Second Servingman

Come, we are fellows and friends: he was ever too hard for him; I have heard him say so himself.

First Servingman

He was too hard for him directly, to say the troth on’t: before Corioli he scotched him and notched him like a carbon ado.

Second Servingman

An he had been cannibally given, he might have broiled and eaten him too.

First Servingman

But, more of thy news?

Third Servingman

Why, he is so made on here within, as if he were son and heir to Mars; set at upper end o’ the table; no question asked him by any of the senators, but they stand bald before him: our general himself makes a mistress of him: sanctifies himself with’s hand and turns up the white o’ the eye to his discourse. But the bottom of the news is that our general is cut i’ the middle and but one half of what he was yesterday; for the other has half, by the entreaty and grant of the whole table. He’ll go, he says, and sowl the porter of Rome gates by the ears: he will mow all down before him, and leave his passage polled.

Second Servingman

And he’s as like to do’t as any man I can imagine.

Third Servingman

Do’t! he will do’t; for, look you, sir, he has as many friends as enemies; which friends, sir, as it were, durst not, look you, sir, show themselves, as we term it, his friends whilst he’s in directitude.

First Servingman

Directitude! what’s that?

Third Servingman

But when they shall see, sir, his crest up again, and the man in blood, they will out of their burrows, like conies after rain, and revel all with him.

First Servingman

But when goes this forward?

Third Servingman

To-morrow; to-day; presently; you shall have the drum struck up this afternoon: ’tis, as it were, a parcel of their feast, and to be executed ere they wipe their lips.

Second Servingman

Why, then we shall have a stirring world again. This peace is nothing, but to rust iron, increase tailors, and breed ballad-makers.

First Servingman

Let me have war, say I; it exceeds peace as far as day does night; it’s spritely, waking, audible, and full of vent. Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy; mulled, deaf, sleepy, insensible; a getter of more bastard children than war’s a destroyer of men.

Second Servingman

’Tis so: and as war, in some sort, may be said to be a ravisher, so it cannot be denied but peace is a great maker of cuckolds.

First Servingman

Ay, and it makes men hate one another.

Third Servingman

Reason; because they then less need one another. The wars for my money. I hope to see Romans as cheap as Volscians. They are rising, they are rising.

All

In, in, in, in!

Exeunt

Scene VI. Rome. A public place.

Enter Sicinius and Brutus

Sicinius

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.

Brutus

We stood to’t in good time.

Enter Menenius

Is this Menenius?

Sicinius

’Tis he,’tis he: O, he is grown most kind of late.

Both Tribunes

Hail sir!

Menenius

  Hail to you both!

Sicinius

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

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

Sicinius

Where is he, hear you?

Menenius

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

Enter three or four Citizens

Citizens

The gods preserve you both!

Sicinius

God-den, our neighbours.

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

Live, and thrive!

Brutus

Farewell, kind neighbours: we wish’d Coriolanus
Had loved you as we did.

Citizens

Now the gods keep you!

Both Tribunes

Farewell, farewell.

Exeunt Citizens

Sicinius

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

Brutus

  Caius Marcius was
A worthy officer i’ the war; but insolent,
O’ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,
Self-loving —

Sicinius

  And affecting one sole throne,
Without assistance.

Menenius

I think not so.

Sicinius

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

Brutus

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

Enter an Aedile

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

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

Sicinius

Come, what talk you
Of Marcius?

Brutus

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

Menenius

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

Tell not me:
I know this cannot be.

Brutus

Not possible.

Enter a Messenger

Messenger

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

Sicinius

’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

What more fearful?

Messenger

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

Sicinius

This is most likely!

Brutus

Raised only, that the weaker sort may wish
Good Marcius home again.

Sicinius

The very trick on’t.

Menenius

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

Enter a second Messenger

Second Messenger

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

Enter Cominius

Cominius

O, you have made good work!

Menenius

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

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

Pray now, your news?
You have made fair work, I fear me. — Pray, your news? —
If Marcius 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

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

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

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

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

’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

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.

Enter a troop of Citizens

Menenius

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

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

Cominius

O, ay, what else?

Exeunt Cominius and Menenius

Sicinius

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.

Exeunt Citizens

Brutus

I do not like this news.

Sicinius

Nor I.

Brutus

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

Sicinius

Pray, let us go.

Exeunt

Scene VII. A camp, at a small distance from Rome.

Enter Aufidius and his Lieutenant

Aufidius

Do they still fly to the Roman?

Lieutenant

I do not know what witchcraft’s in him, but
Your soldiers use him as the grace ’fore meat,
Their talk at table, and their thanks at end;
And you are darken’d in this action, sir,
Even by your own.

Aufidius

  I cannot help it now,
Unless, by using means, I lame the foot
Of our design. He bears himself more proudlier,
Even to my person, than I thought he would
When first I did embrace him: yet his nature
In that’s no changeling; and I must excuse
What cannot be amended.

Lieutenant

Yet I wish, sir —
I mean for your particular — you had not
Join’d in commission with him; but either
Had borne the action of yourself, or else
To him had left it solely.

Aufidius

I understand thee well; and be thou sure,
When he shall come to his account, he knows not
What I can urge against him. Although it seems,
And so he thinks, and is no less apparent
To the vulgar eye, that he bears all things fairly.
And shows good husbandry for the Volscian state,
Fights dragon-like, and does achieve as soon
As draw his sword; yet he hath left undone
That which shall break his neck or hazard mine,
Whene’er we come to our account.

Lieutenant

Sir, I beseech you, think you he’ll carry Rome?

Aufidius

All places yield to him ere he sits down;
And the nobility of Rome are his:
The senators and patricians love him too:
The tribunes are no soldiers; and their people
Will be as rash in the repeal, as hasty
To expel him thence. I think he’ll be to Rome
As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it
By sovereignty of nature. First he was
A noble servant to them; but he could not
Carry his honours even: whether ’twas pride,
Which out of daily fortune ever taints
The happy man; whether defect of judgment,
To fail in the disposing of those chances
Which he was lord of; or whether nature,
Not to be other than one thing, not moving
From the casque to the cushion, but commanding peace
Even with the same austerity and garb
As he controll’d the war; but one of these —
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him — made him fear’d,
So hated, and so banish’d: but he has a merit,
To choke it in the utterance. So our virtues
Lie in the interpretation of the time:
And power, unto itself most commendable,
Hath not a tomb so evident as a chair
To extol what it hath done.
One fire drives out one fire; one nail, one nail;
Rights by rights falter, strengths by strengths do fail.
Come, let’s away. When, Caius, Rome is thine,
Thou art poor’st of all; then shortly art thou mine.

Exeunt

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29