Please wait

The text you requested is loading.
This shouldn't take more than a minute, depending on
the speed of your Internet connection.

progress graphic

Ham. The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
Hor. It is a nipping and an eager air.

      — Hamlet, Act I Scene 4

Coriolanus

Act II

print/save print/save view

Scene 1. Rome. A public place.

Scene 2. The same. The Capitol.

Scene 3. The same. The Forum.

---
       

Act II, Scene 1

Rome. A public place.

      next scene .
---

[Enter MENENIUS with the two Tribunes of the people,] [p]SICINIUS and BRUTUS.

  • Menenius Agrippa. Not according to the prayer of the people, for they 920
    love not CORIOLANUS.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Ay, to devour him; as the hungry plebeians would the 925
    noble CORIOLANUS.
  • Menenius Agrippa. He's a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You two
    are old men: tell me one thing that I shall ask you.
  • Both. Well, sir. 930
  • Menenius Agrippa. In what enormity is CORIOLANUS poor in, that you two
    have not in abundance?
  • Menenius Agrippa. This is strange now: do you two know how you are
    censured here in the city, I mean of us o' the
    right-hand file? do you?
  • Both. Why, how are we censured?
  • Both. Well, well, sir, well.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Why, 'tis no great matter; for a very little thief of
    occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience:
    give your dispositions the reins, and be angry at
    your pleasures; at the least if you take it as a 945
    pleasure to you in being so. You blame CORIOLANUS for
    being proud?
  • Menenius Agrippa. I know you can do very little alone; for your helps
    are many, or else your actions would grow wondrous 950
    single: your abilities are too infant-like for
    doing much alone. You talk of pride: O that you
    could turn your eyes toward the napes of your necks,
    and make but an interior survey of your good selves!
    O that you could! 955
  • Menenius Agrippa. Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,
    proud, violent, testy magistrates, alias fools, as
    any in Rome.
  • Menenius Agrippa. I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that
    loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying
    Tiber in't; said to be something imperfect in
    favouring the first complaint; hasty and tinder-like
    upon too trivial motion; one that converses more 965
    with the buttock of the night than with the forehead
    of the morning: what I think I utter, and spend my
    malice in my breath. Meeting two such wealsmen as
    you are—I cannot call you Lycurguses—if the drink
    you give me touch my palate adversely, I make a 970
    crooked face at it. I can't say your worships have
    delivered the matter well, when I find the ass in
    compound with the major part of your syllables: and
    though I must be content to bear with those that say
    you are reverend grave men, yet they lie deadly that 975
    tell you you have good faces. If you see this in
    the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known
    well enough too? what barm can your bisson
    conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be
    known well enough too? 980
  • Menenius Agrippa. You know neither me, yourselves nor any thing. You
    are ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs: you
    wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a
    cause between an orange wife and a fosset-seller; 985
    and then rejourn the controversy of three pence to a
    second day of audience. When you are hearing a
    matter between party and party, if you chance to be
    pinched with the colic, you make faces like
    mummers; set up the bloody flag against all 990
    patience; and, in roaring for a chamber-pot,
    dismiss the controversy bleeding the more entangled
    by your hearing: all the peace you make in their
    cause is, calling both the parties knaves. You are
    a pair of strange ones. 995
  • Junius Brutus. Come, come, you are well understood to be a
    perfecter giber for the table than a necessary
    bencher in the Capitol.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Our very priests must become mockers, if they shall
    encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When 1000
    you speak best unto the purpose, it is not worth the
    wagging of your beards; and your beards deserve not
    so honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's
    cushion, or to be entombed in an ass's pack-
    saddle. Yet you must be saying, CORIOLANUS is proud; 1005
    who in a cheap estimation, is worth predecessors
    since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the
    best of 'em were hereditary hangmen. God-den to
    your worships: more of your conversation would
    infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly 1010
    plebeians: I will be bold to take my leave of you.
    [BRUTUS and SICINIUS go aside]
    [Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, and VALERIA]
    How now, my as fair as noble ladies,—and the moon,
    were she earthly, no nobler,—whither do you follow 1015
    your eyes so fast?
  • Volumnia. Honourable Menenius, my boy CORIOLANUS approaches; for
    the love of Juno, let's go.
  • Volumnia. Ay, worthy Menenius; and with most prosperous 1020
    approbation.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!
    CORIOLANUS coming home!
  • Volumnia. [together with Virgilia] Nay, 'tis true.
  • Volumnia. Look, here's a letter from him: the state hath
    another, his wife another; and, I think, there's one
    at home for you.
  • Virgilia. Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw't.
  • Menenius Agrippa. A letter for me! it gives me an estate of seven
    years' health; in which time I will make a lip at
    the physician: the most sovereign prescription in
    Galen is but empiricutic, and, to this preservative, 1035
    of no better report than a horse-drench. Is he
    not wounded? he was wont to come home wounded.
  • Volumnia. O, he is wounded; I thank the gods for't.
  • Menenius Agrippa. So do I too, if it be not too much: brings a' 1040
    victory in his pocket? the wounds become him.
  • Volumnia. On's brows: Menenius, he comes the third time home
    with the oaken garland.
  • Volumnia. Titus TITUS writes, they fought together, but 1045
    Aufidius got off.
  • Menenius Agrippa. And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him that:
    an he had stayed by him, I would not have been so
    fidiused for all the chests in Corioli, and the gold
    that's in them. Is the senate possessed of this? 1050
  • Volumnia. Good ladies, let's go. Yes, yes, yes; the senate
    has letters from the general, wherein he gives my
    son the whole name of the war: he hath in this
    action outdone his former deeds doubly
  • Valeria. In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him. 1055
  • Menenius Agrippa. Wondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not without his
    true purchasing.
  • Menenius Agrippa. True! I'll be sworn they are true. 1060
    Where is he wounded?
    [To the Tribunes]
    God save your good worships! CORIOLANUS is coming
    home: he has more cause to be proud. Where is he wounded?
  • Volumnia. I' the shoulder and i' the left arm there will be 1065
    large cicatrices to show the people, when he shall
    stand for his place. He received in the repulse of
    Tarquin seven hurts i' the body.
  • Menenius Agrippa. One i' the neck, and two i' the thigh,—there's
    nine that I know. 1070
  • Volumnia. He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five
    wounds upon him.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Now it's twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy's grave.
    [A shout and flourish]
    Hark! the trumpets. 1075
  • Volumnia. These are the ushers of CORIOLANUS: before him he
    carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears:
    Death, that dark spirit, in 's nervy arm doth lie;
    Which, being advanced, declines, and then men die.
    [A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter COMINIUS the] 1080
    general, and TITUS LARTIUS; between them, CORIOLANUS,
    crowned with an oaken garland; with Captains and
    Soldiers, and a Herald]
  • Herald. Know, Rome, that all alone CORIOLANUS did fight
    Within Corioli gates: where he hath won, 1085
    With fame, a name to Caius CORIOLANUS; these
    In honour follows Coriolanus.
    Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!

[Flourish]

  • All. Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus! 1090
  • Coriolanus. No more of this; it does offend my heart:
    Pray now, no more.
  • Coriolanus. O,
    You have, I know, petition'd all the gods 1095
    For my prosperity!

[Kneels]

  • Volumnia. Nay, my good soldier, up;
    My gentle CORIOLANUS, worthy Caius, and
    By deed-achieving honour newly named,— 1100
    What is it?—Coriolanus must I call thee?—
    But O, thy wife!
  • Coriolanus. My gracious silence, hail!
    Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home,
    That weep'st to see me triumph? Ay, my dear, 1105
    Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
    And mothers that lack sons.
  • Coriolanus. And live you yet?
    [To VALERIA] 1110
    O my sweet lady, pardon.
  • Volumnia. I know not where to turn: O, welcome home:
    And welcome, general: and ye're welcome all.
  • Menenius Agrippa. A hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep
    And I could laugh, I am light and heavy. Welcome. 1115
    A curse begin at very root on's heart,
    That is not glad to see thee! You are three
    That Rome should dote on: yet, by the faith of men,
    We have some old crab-trees here
    at home that will not 1120
    Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors:
    We call a nettle but a nettle and
    The faults of fools but folly.
  • Herald. Give way there, and go on!
  • Coriolanus. [To VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA] Your hand, and yours:
    Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
    The good patricians must be visited;
    From whom I have received not only greetings, 1130
    But with them change of honours.
  • Volumnia. I have lived
    To see inherited my very wishes
    And the buildings of my fancy: only
    There's one thing wanting, which I doubt not but 1135
    Our Rome will cast upon thee.
  • Coriolanus. Know, good mother,
    I had rather be their servant in my way,
    Than sway with them in theirs.
  • Cominius. On, to the Capitol! 1140
    [Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before.]
    BRUTUS and SICINIUS come forward]
  • Junius Brutus. All tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights
    Are spectacled to see him: your prattling nurse
    Into a rapture lets her baby cry 1145
    While she chats him: the kitchen malkin pins
    Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck,
    Clambering the walls to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows,
    Are smother'd up, leads fill'd, and ridges horsed
    With variable complexions, all agreeing 1150
    In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens
    Do press among the popular throngs and puff
    To win a vulgar station: or veil'd dames
    Commit the war of white and damask in
    Their nicely-gawded cheeks to the wanton spoil 1155
    Of Phoebus' burning kisses: such a pother
    As if that whatsoever god who leads him
    Were slily crept into his human powers
    And gave him graceful posture.
  • Sicinius Velutus. He cannot temperately transport his honours
    From where he should begin and end, but will 1165
    Lose those he hath won.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Doubt not
    The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
    Upon their ancient malice will forget 1170
    With the least cause these his new honours, which
    That he will give them make I as little question
    As he is proud to do't.
  • Junius Brutus. I heard him swear,
    Were he to stand for consul, never would he 1175
    Appear i' the market-place nor on him put
    The napless vesture of humility;
    Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds
    To the people, beg their stinking breaths.
  • Junius Brutus. It was his word: O, he would miss it rather
    Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him,
    And the desire of the nobles.
  • Sicinius Velutus. I wish no better
    Than have him hold that purpose and to put it 1185
    In execution.
  • Sicinius Velutus. It shall be to him then as our good wills,
    A sure destruction.
  • Junius Brutus. So it must fall out 1190
    To him or our authorities. For an end,
    We must suggest the people in what hatred
    He still hath held them; that to's power he would
    Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders and
    Dispropertied their freedoms, holding them, 1195
    In human action and capacity,
    Of no more soul nor fitness for the world
    Than camels in the war, who have their provand
    Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows
    For sinking under them. 1200
  • Sicinius Velutus. This, as you say, suggested
    At some time when his soaring insolence
    Shall touch the people—which time shall not want,
    If he be put upon 't; and that's as easy
    As to set dogs on sheep—will be his fire 1205
    To kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze
    Shall darken him for ever.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought 1210
    That CORIOLANUS shall be consul:
    I have seen the dumb men throng to see him and
    The blind to bear him speak: matrons flung gloves,
    Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers,
    Upon him as he pass'd: the nobles bended, 1215
    As to Jove's statue, and the commons made
    A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts:
    I never saw the like.
  • Junius Brutus. Let's to the Capitol;
    And carry with us ears and eyes for the time, 1220
    But hearts for the event.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 2

The same. The Capitol.

      next scene .
---

[Enter two Officers, to lay cushions]

  • First Officer. Come, come, they are almost here. How many stand 1225
    for consulships?
  • Second Officer. Three, they say: but 'tis thought of every one
    Coriolanus will carry it.
  • First Officer. That's a brave fellow; but he's vengeance proud, and
    loves not the common people. 1230
  • Second Officer. Faith, there had been many great men that have
    flattered the people, who ne'er loved them; and there
    be many that they have loved, they know not
    wherefore: so that, if they love they know not why,
    they hate upon no better a ground: therefore, for 1235
    Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate
    him manifests the true knowledge he has in their
    disposition; and out of his noble carelessness lets
    them plainly see't.
  • First Officer. If he did not care whether he had their love or no, 1240
    he waved indifferently 'twixt doing them neither
    good nor harm: but he seeks their hate with greater
    devotion than can render it him; and leaves
    nothing undone that may fully discover him their
    opposite. Now, to seem to affect the malice and 1245
    displeasure of the people is as bad as that which he
    dislikes, to flatter them for their love.
  • Second Officer. He hath deserved worthily of his country: and his
    ascent is not by such easy degrees as those who,
    having been supple and courteous to the people, 1250
    bonneted, without any further deed to have them at
    an into their estimation and report: but he hath so
    planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions
    in their hearts, that for their tongues to be
    silent, and not confess so much, were a kind of 1255
    ingrateful injury; to report otherwise, were a
    malice, that, giving itself the lie, would pluck
    reproof and rebuke from every ear that heard it.
  • First Officer. No more of him; he is a worthy man: make way, they
    are coming. 1260
    [A sennet. Enter, with actors before them, COMINIUS]
    the consul, MENENIUS, CORIOLANUS, Senators,
    SICINIUS and BRUTUS. The Senators take their
    places; the Tribunes take their Places by
    themselves. CORIOLANUS stands] 1265
  • Menenius Agrippa. Having determined of the Volsces and
    To send for Titus TITUS, it remains,
    As the main point of this our after-meeting,
    To gratify his noble service that
    Hath thus stood for his country: therefore, 1270
    please you,
    Most reverend and grave elders, to desire
    The present consul, and last general
    In our well-found successes, to report
    A little of that worthy work perform'd 1275
    By Caius CORIOLANUS Coriolanus, whom
    We met here both to thank and to remember
    With honours like himself.
  • First Senator. Speak, good Cominius:
    Leave nothing out for length, and make us think 1280
    Rather our state's defective for requital
    Than we to stretch it out.
    [To the Tribunes]
    Masters o' the people,
    We do request your kindest ears, and after, 1285
    Your loving motion toward the common body,
    To yield what passes here.
  • Sicinius Velutus. We are convented
    Upon a pleasing treaty, and have hearts
    Inclinable to honour and advance 1290
    The theme of our assembly.
  • Junius Brutus. Which the rather
    We shall be blest to do, if he remember
    A kinder value of the people than
    He hath hereto prized them at. 1295
  • Menenius Agrippa. That's off, that's off;
    I would you rather had been silent. Please you
    To hear Cominius speak?
  • Junius Brutus. Most willingly;
    But yet my caution was more pertinent 1300
    Than the rebuke you give it.
  • Menenius Agrippa. He loves your people
    But tie him not to be their bedfellow.
    Worthy Cominius, speak.
    [CORIOLANUS offers to go away] 1305
    Nay, keep your place.
  • First Senator. Sit, Coriolanus; never shame to hear
    What you have nobly done.
  • Coriolanus. Your horror's pardon:
    I had rather have my wounds to heal again 1310
    Than hear say how I got them.
  • Coriolanus. No, sir: yet oft,
    When blows have made me stay, I fled from words. 1315
    You soothed not, therefore hurt not: but
    your people,
    I love them as they weigh.
  • Coriolanus. I had rather have one scratch my head i' the sun 1320
    When the alarum were struck than idly sit
    To hear my nothings monster'd.

[Exit]

  • Menenius Agrippa. Masters of the people,
    Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter— 1325
    That's thousand to one good one—when you now see
    He had rather venture all his limbs for honour
    Than one on's ears to hear it? Proceed, Cominius.
  • Cominius. I shall lack voice: the deeds of Coriolanus
    Should not be utter'd feebly. It is held 1330
    That valour is the chiefest virtue, and
    Most dignifies the haver: if it be,
    The man I speak of cannot in the world
    Be singly counterpoised. At sixteen years,
    When Tarquin made a head for Rome, he fought 1335
    Beyond the mark of others: our then dictator,
    Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight,
    When with his Amazonian chin he drove
    The bristled lips before him: be bestrid
    An o'er-press'd Roman and i' the consul's view 1340
    Slew three opposers: Tarquin's self he met,
    And struck him on his knee: in that day's feats,
    When he might act the woman in the scene,
    He proved best man i' the field, and for his meed
    Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age 1345
    Man-enter'd thus, he waxed like a sea,
    And in the brunt of seventeen battles since
    He lurch'd all swords of the garland. For this last,
    Before and in Corioli, let me say,
    I cannot speak him home: he stopp'd the fliers; 1350
    And by his rare example made the coward
    Turn terror into sport: as weeds before
    A vessel under sail, so men obey'd
    And fell below his stem: his sword, death's stamp,
    Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot 1355
    He was a thing of blood, whose every motion
    Was timed with dying cries: alone he enter'd
    The mortal gate of the city, which he painted
    With shunless destiny; aidless came off,
    And with a sudden reinforcement struck 1360
    Corioli like a planet: now all's his:
    When, by and by, the din of war gan pierce
    His ready sense; then straight his doubled spirit
    Re-quicken'd what in flesh was fatigate,
    And to the battle came he; where he did 1365
    Run reeking o'er the lives of men, as if
    'Twere a perpetual spoil: and till we call'd
    Both field and city ours, he never stood
    To ease his breast with panting.
  • First Senator. He cannot but with measure fit the honours
    Which we devise him.
  • Cominius. Our spoils he kick'd at,
    And look'd upon things precious as they were
    The common muck of the world: he covets less 1375
    Than misery itself would give; rewards
    His deeds with doing them, and is content
    To spend the time to end it.

[Re-enter CORIOLANUS]

  • Menenius Agrippa. The senate, Coriolanus, are well pleased
    To make thee consul. 1385
  • Coriolanus. I do owe them still
    My life and services.
  • Coriolanus. I do beseech you, 1390
    Let me o'erleap that custom, for I cannot
    Put on the gown, stand naked and entreat them,
    For my wounds' sake, to give their suffrage: please you
    That I may pass this doing.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Sir, the people 1395
    Must have their voices; neither will they bate
    One jot of ceremony.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Put them not to't:
    Pray you, go fit you to the custom and
    Take to you, as your predecessors have, 1400
    Your honour with your form.
  • Coriolanus. It is apart
    That I shall blush in acting, and might well
    Be taken from the people.
  • Coriolanus. To brag unto them, thus I did, and thus;
    Show them the unaching scars which I should hide,
    As if I had received them for the hire
    Of their breath only!
  • Menenius Agrippa. Do not stand upon't. 1410
    We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,
    Our purpose to them: and to our noble consul
    Wish we all joy and honour.Senators. To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!
    [Flourish of cornets. Exeunt all but SICINIUS]
    and BRUTUS] 1415
  • Sicinius Velutus. May they perceive's intent! He will require them,
    As if he did contemn what he requested
    Should be in them to give.
  • Junius Brutus. Come, we'll inform them 1420
    Of our proceedings here: on the marketplace,
    I know, they do attend us.

[Exeunt]

---
. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 3

The same. The Forum.

       
---

[Enter seven or eight Citizens]

  • First Citizen. Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him. 1425
  • Third Citizen. We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a
    power that we have no power to do; for if he show us
    his wounds and tell us his deeds, we are to put our
    tongues into those wounds and speak for them; so, if 1430
    he tell us his noble deeds, we must also tell him
    our noble acceptance of them. Ingratitude is
    monstrous, and for the multitude to be ingrateful,
    were to make a monster of the multitude: of the
    which we being members, should bring ourselves to be 1435
    monstrous members.
  • First Citizen. And to make us no better thought of, a little help
    will serve; for once we stood up about the corn, he
    himself stuck not to call us the many-headed multitude.
  • Third Citizen. We have been called so of many; not that our heads 1440
    are some brown, some black, some auburn, some bald,
    but that our wits are so diversely coloured: and
    truly I think if all our wits were to issue out of
    one skull, they would fly east, west, north, south,
    and their consent of one direct way should be at 1445
    once to all the points o' the compass.
  • Second Citizen. Think you so? Which way do you judge my wit would
    fly?
  • Third Citizen. Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man's
    will;'tis strongly wedged up in a block-head, but 1450
    if it were at liberty, 'twould, sure, southward.
  • Third Citizen. To lose itself in a fog, where being three parts
    melted away with rotten dews, the fourth would return
    for conscience sake, to help to get thee a wife. 1455
  • Third Citizen. Are you all resolved to give your voices? But
    that's no matter, the greater part carries it. I
    say, if he would incline to the people, there was
    never a worthier man. 1460
    [Enter CORIOLANUS in a gown of humility,]
    with MENENIUS]
    Here he comes, and in the gown of humility: mark his
    behavior. We are not to stay all together, but to
    come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos, and 1465
    by threes. He's to make his requests by
    particulars; wherein every one of us has a single
    honour, in giving him our own voices with our own
    tongues: therefore follow me, and I direct you how
    you shall go by him. 1470
  • All. Content, content.

[Exeunt Citizens]

  • Menenius Agrippa. O sir, you are not right: have you not known
    The worthiest men have done't?
  • Coriolanus. What must I say? 1475
    'I Pray, sir'—Plague upon't! I cannot bring
    My tongue to such a pace:—'Look, sir, my wounds!
    I got them in my country's service, when
    Some certain of your brethren roar'd and ran
    From the noise of our own drums.' 1480
  • Menenius Agrippa. O me, the gods!
    You must not speak of that: you must desire them
    To think upon you.
  • Coriolanus. Think upon me! hang 'em!
    I would they would forget me, like the virtues 1485
    Which our divines lose by 'em.
  • Menenius Agrippa. You'll mar all:
    I'll leave you: pray you, speak to 'em, I pray you,
    In wholesome manner.

[Exit]

  • Coriolanus. Bid them wash their faces
    And keep their teeth clean.
    [Re-enter two of the Citizens]
    So, here comes a brace.
    [Re-enter a third Citizen] 1495
    You know the cause, air, of my standing here.
  • Coriolanus. No, sir,'twas never my desire yet to trouble the
    poor with begging.
  • Third Citizen. You must think, if we give you any thing, we hope to
    gain by you. 1505
  • Coriolanus. Well then, I pray, your price o' the consulship?
  • Coriolanus. Kindly! Sir, I pray, let me ha't: I have wounds to
    show you, which shall be yours in private. Your
    good voice, sir; what say you? 1510
  • Coriolanus. A match, sir. There's in all two worthy voices
    begged. I have your alms: adieu.

[Exeunt the three Citizens]

[Re-enter two other Citizens]

  • Coriolanus. Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your
    voices that I may be consul, I have here the
    customary gown. 1520
  • Fourth Citizen. You have deserved nobly of your country, and you
    have not deserved nobly.
  • Fourth Citizen. You have been a scourge to her enemies, you have
    been a rod to her friends; you have not indeed loved 1525
    the common people.
  • Coriolanus. You should account me the more virtuous that I have
    not been common in my love. I will, sir, flatter my
    sworn brother, the people, to earn a dearer
    estimation of them; 'tis a condition they account 1530
    gentle: and since the wisdom of their choice is
    rather to have my hat than my heart, I will practise
    the insinuating nod and be off to them most
    counterfeitly; that is, sir, I will counterfeit the
    bewitchment of some popular man and give it 1535
    bountiful to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you,
    I may be consul.
  • Fifth Citizen. We hope to find you our friend; and therefore give
    you our voices heartily.
  • Coriolanus. I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I
    will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.

[Exeunt]

  • Coriolanus. Most sweet voices! 1545
    Better it is to die, better to starve,
    Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.
    Why in this woolvish toge should I stand here,
    To beg of Hob and Dick, that do appear,
    Their needless vouches? Custom calls me to't: 1550
    What custom wills, in all things should we do't,
    The dust on antique time would lie unswept,
    And mountainous error be too highly heapt
    For truth to o'er-peer. Rather than fool it so,
    Let the high office and the honour go 1555
    To one that would do thus. I am half through;
    The one part suffer'd, the other will I do.
    [Re-enter three Citizens more]
    Here come more voices.
    Your voices: for your voices I have fought; 1560
    Watch'd for your voices; for Your voices bear
    Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six
    I have seen and heard of; for your voices have
    Done many things, some less, some more your voices:
    Indeed I would be consul. 1565
  • Sixth Citizen. He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest
    man's voice.
  • Seventh Citizen. Therefore let him be consul: the gods give him joy,
    and make him good friend to the people!

[Exeunt]

[Re-enter MENENIUS, with BRUTUS and SICINIUS]

  • Menenius Agrippa. You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes
    Endue you with the people's voice: remains 1575
    That, in the official marks invested, you
    Anon do meet the senate.
  • Sicinius Velutus. The custom of request you have discharged:
    The people do admit you, and are summon'd 1580
    To meet anon, upon your approbation.
  • Coriolanus. That I'll straight do; and, knowing myself again,
    Repair to the senate-house.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Fare you well. 1590
    [Exeunt CORIOLANUS and MENENIUS]
    He has it now, and by his looks methink
    'Tis warm at 's heart.
  • Junius Brutus. With a proud heart he wore his humble weeds.
    will you dismiss the people? 1595

[Re-enter Citizens]

  • Second Citizen. Amen, sir: to my poor unworthy notice, 1600
    He mock'd us when he begg'd our voices.
  • Second Citizen. Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says 1605
    He used us scornfully: he should have show'd us
    His marks of merit, wounds received for's country.
  • Third Citizen. He said he had wounds, which he could show 1610
    in private;
    And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
    'I would be consul,' says he: 'aged custom,
    But by your voices, will not so permit me;
    Your voices therefore.' When we granted that, 1615
    Here was 'I thank you for your voices: thank you:
    Your most sweet voices: now you have left
    your voices,
    I have no further with you.' Was not this mockery?
  • Sicinius Velutus. Why either were you ignorant to see't, 1620
    Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness
    To yield your voices?
  • Junius Brutus. Could you not have told him
    As you were lesson'd, when he had no power,
    But was a petty servant to the state, 1625
    He was your enemy, ever spake against
    Your liberties and the charters that you bear
    I' the body of the weal; and now, arriving
    A place of potency and sway o' the state,
    If he should still malignantly remain 1630
    Fast foe to the plebeii, your voices might
    Be curses to yourselves? You should have said
    That as his worthy deeds did claim no less
    Than what he stood for, so his gracious nature
    Would think upon you for your voices and 1635
    Translate his malice towards you into love,
    Standing your friendly lord.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Thus to have said,
    As you were fore-advised, had touch'd his spirit
    And tried his inclination; from him pluck'd 1640
    Either his gracious promise, which you might,
    As cause had call'd you up, have held him to
    Or else it would have gall'd his surly nature,
    Which easily endures not article
    Tying him to aught; so putting him to rage, 1645
    You should have ta'en the advantage of his choler
    And pass'd him unelected.
  • Junius Brutus. Did you perceive
    He did solicit you in free contempt
    When he did need your loves, and do you think 1650
    That his contempt shall not be bruising to you,
    When he hath power to crush? Why, had your bodies
    No heart among you? or had you tongues to cry
    Against the rectorship of judgment?
  • Sicinius Velutus. Have you 1655
    Ere now denied the asker? and now again
    Of him that did not ask, but mock, bestow
    Your sued-for tongues?
  • Second Citizen. And will deny him: 1660
    I'll have five hundred voices of that sound.
  • First Citizen. I twice five hundred and their friends to piece 'em.
  • Junius Brutus. Get you hence instantly, and tell those friends,
    They have chose a consul that will from them take
    Their liberties; make them of no more voice 1665
    Than dogs that are as often beat for barking
    As therefore kept to do so.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Let them assemble,
    And on a safer judgment all revoke
    Your ignorant election; enforce his pride, 1670
    And his old hate unto you; besides, forget not
    With what contempt he wore the humble weed,
    How in his suit he scorn'd you; but your loves,
    Thinking upon his services, took from you
    The apprehension of his present portance, 1675
    Which most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion
    After the inveterate hate he bears you.
  • Junius Brutus. Lay
    A fault on us, your tribunes; that we laboured,
    No impediment between, but that you must 1680
    Cast your election on him.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Say, you chose him
    More after our commandment than as guided
    By your own true affections, and that your minds,
    Preoccupied with what you rather must do 1685
    Than what you should, made you against the grain
    To voice him consul: lay the fault on us.
  • Junius Brutus. Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you.
    How youngly he began to serve his country,
    How long continued, and what stock he springs of, 1690
    The noble house o' the Marcians, from whence came
    That Ancus CORIOLANUS, Numa's daughter's son,
    Who, after great Hostilius, here was king;
    Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,
    That our beat water brought by conduits hither; 1695
    And [Censorinus,] nobly named so,
    Twice being [by the people chosen] censor,
    Was his great ancestor.
  • Sicinius Velutus. One thus descended,
    That hath beside well in his person wrought 1700
    To be set high in place, we did commend
    To your remembrances: but you have found,
    Scaling his present bearing with his past,
    That he's your fixed enemy, and revoke
    Your sudden approbation. 1705
  • Junius Brutus. Say, you ne'er had done't—
    Harp on that still—but by our putting on;
    And presently, when you have drawn your number,
    Repair to the Capitol.
  • All. We will so: almost all 1710
    Repent in their election.

[Exeunt Citizens]

  • Junius Brutus. Let them go on;
    This mutiny were better put in hazard,
    Than stay, past doubt, for greater: 1715
    If, as his nature is, he fall in rage
    With their refusal, both observe and answer
    The vantage of his anger.
  • Sicinius Velutus. To the Capitol, come:
    We will be there before the stream o' the people; 1720
    And this shall seem, as partly 'tis, their own,
    Which we have goaded onward.

[Exeunt]

Plays + Sonnets + Poems + Concordance + Character Search + Advanced Search + About OSS