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Home > Coriolanus > ACT III - SCENE I. Rome. A street.

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ACT III - SCENE I. Rome. A street.
CORIOLANUS
1    Tullus Aufidius then had made new head?
LARTIUS
2    He had, my lord; and that it was which caused
3    Our swifter composition.
CORIOLANUS
4    So then the Volsces stand but as at first,
5    Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road.
6    Upon's again.
COMINIUS
7    They are worn, lord consul, so,
8    That we shall hardly in our ages see
9    Their banners wave again.
CORIOLANUS
10   Saw you Aufidius?
LARTIUS
11   On safe-guard he came to me; and did curse
12   Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely
13   Yielded the town: he is retired to Antium.
CORIOLANUS
14   Spoke he of me?
LARTIUS
15   He did, my lord.
CORIOLANUS
16   How? what?
LARTIUS
17   How often he had met you, sword to sword;
18   That of all things upon the earth he hated
19   Your person most, that he would pawn his fortunes
20   To hopeless restitution, so he might
21   Be call'd your vanquisher.
CORIOLANUS
22   At Antium lives he?
LARTIUS
23   At Antium.
CORIOLANUS
24   I wish I had a cause to seek him there,
25   To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.
Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS
26   Behold, these are the tribunes of the people,
27   The tongues o' the common mouth: I do despise them;
28   For they do prank them in authority,
29   Against all noble sufferance.
SICINIUS
30   Pass no further.
CORIOLANUS
31   Ha! what is that?
BRUTUS
32   It will be dangerous to go on: no further.
CORIOLANUS
33   What makes this change?
MENENIUS
34   The matter?
COMINIUS
35   Hath he not pass'd the noble and the common?
BRUTUS
36   Cominius, no.
CORIOLANUS
37   Have I had children's voices?
First Senator
38   Tribunes, give way; he shall to the market-place.
BRUTUS
39   The people are incensed against him.
SICINIUS
40   Stop,
41   Or all will fall in broil.
CORIOLANUS
42   Are these your herd?
43   Must these have voices, that can yield them now
44   And straight disclaim their tongues? What are
45   your offices?
46   You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth?
47   Have you not set them on?
MENENIUS
48   Be calm, be calm.
CORIOLANUS
49   It is a purposed thing, and grows by plot,
50   To curb the will of the nobility:
51   Suffer't, and live with such as cannot rule
52   Nor ever will be ruled.
BRUTUS
53   Call't not a plot:
54   The people cry you mock'd them, and of late,
55   When corn was given them gratis, you repined;
56   Scandal'd the suppliants for the people, call'd them
57   Time-pleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.
CORIOLANUS
58   Why, this was known before.
BRUTUS
59   Not to them all.
CORIOLANUS
60   Have you inform'd them sithence?
BRUTUS
61   How! I inform them!
CORIOLANUS
62   You are like to do such business.
BRUTUS
63   Not unlike,
64   Each way, to better yours.
CORIOLANUS
65   Why then should I be consul? By yond clouds,
66   Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
67   Your fellow tribune.
SICINIUS
68   You show too much of that
69   For which the people stir: if you will pass
70   To where you are bound, you must inquire your way,
71   Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit,
72   Or never be so noble as a consul,
73   Nor yoke with him for tribune.
MENENIUS
74   Let's be calm.
COMINIUS
75   The people are abused; set on. This paltering
76   Becomes not Rome, nor has Coriolanus
77   Deserved this so dishonour'd rub, laid falsely
78   I' the plain way of his merit.
CORIOLANUS
79   Tell me of corn!
80   This was my speech, and I will speak't again--
MENENIUS
81   Not now, not now.
First Senator
82   Not in this heat, sir, now.
CORIOLANUS
83   Now, as I live, I will. My nobler friends,
84   I crave their pardons:
85   For the mutable, rank-scented many, let them
86   Regard me as I do not flatter, and
87   Therein behold themselves: I say again,
88   In soothing them, we nourish 'gainst our senate
89   The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
90   Which we ourselves have plough'd for, sow'd,
91   and scatter'd,
92   By mingling them with us, the honour'd number,
93   Who lack not virtue, no, nor power, but that
94   Which they have given to beggars.
MENENIUS
95   Well, no more.
First Senator
96   No more words, we beseech you.
CORIOLANUS
97   How! no more!
98   As for my country I have shed my blood,
99   Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs
100  Coin words till their decay against those measles,
101  Which we disdain should tatter us, yet sought
102  The very way to catch them.
BRUTUS
103  You speak o' the people,
104  As if you were a god to punish, not
105  A man of their infirmity.
SICINIUS
106  'Twere well
107  We let the people know't.
MENENIUS
108  What, what? his choler?
CORIOLANUS
109  Choler!
110  Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,
111  By Jove, 'twould be my mind!
SICINIUS
112  It is a mind
113  That shall remain a poison where it is,
114  Not poison any further.
CORIOLANUS
115  Shall remain!
116  Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you
117  His absolute 'shall'?
COMINIUS
118  'Twas from the canon.
CORIOLANUS
119  'Shall'!
120  O good but most unwise patricians! why,
121  You grave but reckless senators, have you thus
122  Given Hydra here to choose an officer,
123  That with his peremptory 'shall,' being but
124  The horn and noise o' the monster's, wants not spirit
125  To say he'll turn your current in a ditch,
126  And make your channel his? If he have power
127  Then vail your ignorance; if none, awake
128  Your dangerous lenity. If you are learn'd,
129  Be not as common fools; if you are not,
130  Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians,
131  If they be senators: and they are no less,
132  When, both your voices blended, the great'st taste
133  Most palates theirs. They choose their magistrate,
134  And such a one as he, who puts his 'shall,'
135  His popular 'shall' against a graver bench
136  Than ever frown in Greece. By Jove himself!
137  It makes the consuls base: and my soul aches
138  To know, when two authorities are up,
139  Neither supreme, how soon confusion
140  May enter 'twixt the gap of both and take
141  The one by the other.
COMINIUS
142  Well, on to the market-place.
CORIOLANUS
143  Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth
144  The corn o' the storehouse gratis, as 'twas used
145  Sometime in Greece,--
MENENIUS
146  Well, well, no more of that.
CORIOLANUS
147  Though there the people had more absolute power,
148  I say, they nourish'd disobedience, fed
149  The ruin of the state.
BRUTUS
150  Why, shall the people give
151  One that speaks thus their voice?
CORIOLANUS
152  I'll give my reasons,
153  More worthier than their voices. They know the corn
154  Was not our recompense, resting well assured
155  That ne'er did service for't: being press'd to the war,
156  Even when the navel of the state was touch'd,
157  They would not thread the gates. This kind of service
158  Did not deserve corn gratis. Being i' the war
159  Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they show'd
160  Most valour, spoke not for them: the accusation
161  Which they have often made against the senate,
162  All cause unborn, could never be the motive
163  Of our so frank donation. Well, what then?
164  How shall this bisson multitude digest
165  The senate's courtesy? Let deeds express
166  What's like to be their words: 'we did request it;
167  We are the greater poll, and in true fear
168  They gave us our demands.' Thus we debase
169  The nature of our seats and make the rabble
170  Call our cares fears; which will in time
171  Break ope the locks o' the senate and bring in
172  The crows to peck the eagles.
MENENIUS
173  Come, enough.
BRUTUS
174  Enough, with over-measure.
CORIOLANUS
175  No, take more:
176  What may be sworn by, both divine and human,
177  Seal what I end withal! This double worship,
178  Where one part does disdain with cause, the other
179  Insult without all reason, where gentry, title, wisdom,
180  Cannot conclude but by the yea and no
181  Of general ignorance,--it must omit
182  Real necessities, and give way the while
183  To unstable slightness: purpose so barr'd,
184  it follows,
185  Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore, beseech you,--
186  You that will be less fearful than discreet,
187  That love the fundamental part of state
188  More than you doubt the change on't, that prefer
189  A noble life before a long, and wish
190  To jump a body with a dangerous physic
191  That's sure of death without it, at once pluck out
192  The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick
193  The sweet which is their poison: your dishonour
194  Mangles true judgment and bereaves the state
195  Of that integrity which should become't,
196  Not having the power to do the good it would,
197  For the in which doth control't.
BRUTUS
198  Has said enough.
SICINIUS
199  Has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer
200  As traitors do.
CORIOLANUS
201  Thou wretch, despite o'erwhelm thee!
202  What should the people do with these bald tribunes?
203  On whom depending, their obedience fails
204  To the greater bench: in a rebellion,
205  When what's not meet, but what must be, was law,
206  Then were they chosen: in a better hour,
207  Let what is meet be said it must be meet,
208  And throw their power i' the dust.
BRUTUS
209  Manifest treason!
SICINIUS
210  This a consul? no.
BRUTUS
211  The aediles, ho!
Enter an AEdile
212  Let him be apprehended.
SICINIUS
213  Go, call the people:
Exit AEdile
214  in whose name myself
215  Attach thee as a traitorous innovator,
216  A foe to the public weal: obey, I charge thee,
217  And follow to thine answer.
CORIOLANUS
218  Hence, old goat!
Senators, &C
219  We'll surety him.
COMINIUS
220  Aged sir, hands off.
CORIOLANUS
221  Hence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bones
222  Out of thy garments.
SICINIUS
223  Help, ye citizens!
MENENIUS
224  On both sides more respect.
SICINIUS
225  Here's he that would take from you all your power.
BRUTUS
226  Seize him, AEdiles!
Citizens
227  Down with him! down with him!
Senators, &C
228  Weapons, weapons, weapons!
They all bustle about CORIOLANUS, crying
229  'Tribunes!' 'Patricians!' 'Citizens!' 'What, ho!'
230  'Sicinius!' 'Brutus!' 'Coriolanus!' 'Citizens!'
231  'Peace, peace, peace!' 'Stay, hold, peace!'
MENENIUS
232  What is about to be? I am out of breath;
233  Confusion's near; I cannot speak. You, tribunes
234  To the people! Coriolanus, patience!
235  Speak, good Sicinius.
SICINIUS
236  Hear me, people; peace!
Citizens
237  Let's hear our tribune: peace Speak, speak, speak.
SICINIUS
238  You are at point to lose your liberties:
239  Marcius would have all from you; Marcius,
240  Whom late you have named for consul.
MENENIUS
241  Fie, fie, fie!
242  This is the way to kindle, not to quench.
First Senator
243  To unbuild the city and to lay all flat.
SICINIUS
244  What is the city but the people?
Citizens
245  True,
246  The people are the city.
BRUTUS
247  By the consent of all, we were establish'd
248  The people's magistrates.
Citizens
249  You so remain.
MENENIUS
250  And so are like to do.
COMINIUS
251  That is the way to lay the city flat;
252  To bring the roof to the foundation,
253  And bury all, which yet distinctly ranges,
254  In heaps and piles of ruin.
SICINIUS
255  This deserves death.
BRUTUS
256  Or let us stand to our authority,
257  Or let us lose it. We do here pronounce,
258  Upon the part o' the people, in whose power
259  We were elected theirs, Marcius is worthy
260  Of present death.
SICINIUS
261  Therefore lay hold of him;
262  Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence
263  Into destruction cast him.
BRUTUS
264  AEdiles, seize him!
Citizens
265  Yield, Marcius, yield!
MENENIUS
266  Hear me one word;
267  Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.
AEdile
268  Peace, peace!
MENENIUS
To BRUTUS
269   Be that you seem, truly your
270  country's friend,
271  And temperately proceed to what you would
272  Thus violently redress.
BRUTUS
273  Sir, those cold ways,
274  That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous
275  Where the disease is violent. Lay hands upon him,
276  And bear him to the rock.
CORIOLANUS
277  No, I'll die here.
Drawing his sword
278  There's some among you have beheld me fighting:
279  Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.
MENENIUS
280  Down with that sword! Tribunes, withdraw awhile.
BRUTUS
281  Lay hands upon him.
COMINIUS
282  Help Marcius, help,
283  You that be noble; help him, young and old!
Citizens
284  Down with him, down with him!
MENENIUS
285  Go, get you to your house; be gone, away!
286  All will be naught else.
Second Senator
287  Get you gone.
COMINIUS
288  Stand fast;
289  We have as many friends as enemies.
MENENIUS
290  Sham it be put to that?
First Senator
291  The gods forbid!
292  I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;
293  Leave us to cure this cause.
MENENIUS
294  For 'tis a sore upon us,
295  You cannot tent yourself: be gone, beseech you.
COMINIUS
296  Come, sir, along with us.
CORIOLANUS
297  I would they were barbarians--as they are,
298  Though in Rome litter'd--not Romans--as they are not,
299  Though calved i' the porch o' the Capitol--
MENENIUS
300  Be gone;
301  Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;
302  One time will owe another.
CORIOLANUS
303  On fair ground
304  I could beat forty of them.
COMINIUS
305  I could myself
306  Take up a brace o' the best of them; yea, the
307  two tribunes:
308  But now 'tis odds beyond arithmetic;
309  And manhood is call'd foolery, when it stands
310  Against a falling fabric. Will you hence,
311  Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend
312  Like interrupted waters and o'erbear
313  What they are used to bear.
MENENIUS
314  Pray you, be gone:
315  I'll try whether my old wit be in request
316  With those that have but little: this must be patch'd
317  With cloth of any colour.
COMINIUS
318  Nay, come away.
Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, and others

A Patrician
319  This man has marr'd his fortune.
MENENIUS
320  His nature is too noble for the world:
321  He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
322  Or Jove for's power to thunder. His heart's his mouth:
323  What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent;
324  And, being angry, does forget that ever
325  He heard the name of death.
A noise within
326  Here's goodly work!
Second Patrician
327  I would they were abed!
MENENIUS
328  I would they were in Tiber! What the vengeance!
329  Could he not speak 'em fair?
Re-enter BRUTUS and SICINIUS, with the rabble

SICINIUS
330  Where is this viper
331  That would depopulate the city and
332  Be every man himself?
MENENIUS
333  You worthy tribunes,--
SICINIUS
334  He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock
335  With rigorous hands: he hath resisted law,
336  And therefore law shall scorn him further trial
337  Than the severity of the public power
338  Which he so sets at nought.
First Citizen
339  He shall well know
340  The noble tribunes are the people's mouths,
341  And we their hands.
Citizens
342  He shall, sure on't.
MENENIUS
343  Sir, sir,--
SICINIUS
344  Peace!
MENENIUS
345  Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt
346  With modest warrant.
SICINIUS
347  Sir, how comes't that you
348  Have holp to make this rescue?
MENENIUS
349  Hear me speak:
350  As I do know the consul's worthiness,
351  So can I name his faults,--
SICINIUS
352  Consul! what consul?
MENENIUS
353  The consul Coriolanus.
BRUTUS
354  He consul!
Citizens
355  No, no, no, no, no.
MENENIUS
356  If, by the tribunes' leave, and yours, good people,
357  I may be heard, I would crave a word or two;
358  The which shall turn you to no further harm
359  Than so much loss of time.
SICINIUS
360  Speak briefly then;
361  For we are peremptory to dispatch
362  This viperous traitor: to eject him hence
363  Were but one danger, and to keep him here
364  Our certain death: therefore it is decreed
365  He dies to-night.
MENENIUS
366  Now the good gods forbid
367  That our renowned Rome, whose gratitude
368  Towards her deserved children is enroll'd
369  In Jove's own book, like an unnatural dam
370  Should now eat up her own!
SICINIUS
371  He's a disease that must be cut away.
MENENIUS
372  O, he's a limb that has but a disease;
373  Mortal, to cut it off; to cure it, easy.
374  What has he done to Rome that's worthy death?
375  Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost--
376  Which, I dare vouch, is more than that he hath,
377  By many an ounce--he dropp'd it for his country;
378  And what is left, to lose it by his country,
379  Were to us all, that do't and suffer it,
380  A brand to the end o' the world.
SICINIUS
381  This is clean kam.
BRUTUS
382  Merely awry: when he did love his country,
383  It honour'd him.
MENENIUS
384  The service of the foot
385  Being once gangrened, is not then respected
386  For what before it was.
BRUTUS
387  We'll hear no more.
388  Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence:
389  Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
390  Spread further.
MENENIUS
391  One word more, one word.
392  This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find
393  The harm of unscann'd swiftness, will too late
394  Tie leaden pounds to's heels. Proceed by process;
395  Lest parties, as he is beloved, break out,
396  And sack great Rome with Romans.
BRUTUS
397  If it were so,--
SICINIUS
398  What do ye talk?
399  Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
400  Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted? Come.
MENENIUS
401  Consider this: he has been bred i' the wars
402  Since he could draw a sword, and is ill school'd
403  In bolted language; meal and bran together
404  He throws without distinction. Give me leave,
405  I'll go to him, and undertake to bring him
406  Where he shall answer, by a lawful form,
407  In peace, to his utmost peril.
First Senator
408  Noble tribunes,
409  It is the humane way: the other course
410  Will prove too bloody, and the end of it
411  Unknown to the beginning.
SICINIUS
412  Noble Menenius,
413  Be you then as the people's officer.
414  Masters, lay down your weapons.
BRUTUS
415  Go not home.
SICINIUS
416  Meet on the market-place. We'll attend you there:
417  Where, if you bring not Marcius, we'll proceed
418  In our first way.
MENENIUS
419  I'll bring him to you.
To the Senators
420  Let me desire your company: he must come,
421  Or what is worst will follow.
First Senator
422  Pray you, let's to him.
Exeunt

< (Previous) ACT II, SCENE IIIACT III, SCENE II (Next) >
Scene Index
ACT I
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI
  • SCENE VII
  • SCENE VIII
  • SCENE IX
  • SCENE X


  • ACT II
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE III


  • ACT III
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III


  • ACT IV
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI
  • SCENE VII


  • ACT V
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI

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