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Home > Coriolanus > ACT II - SCENE I. Rome. A public place.

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ACT II - SCENE I. Rome. A public place.
MENENIUS
1    The augurer tells me we shall have news to-night.
BRUTUS
2    Good or bad?
MENENIUS
3    Not according to the prayer of the people, for they
4    love not Marcius.
SICINIUS
5    Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.
MENENIUS
6    Pray you, who does the wolf love?
SICINIUS
7    The lamb.
MENENIUS
8    Ay, to devour him; as the hungry plebeians would the
9    noble Marcius.
BRUTUS
10   He's a lamb indeed, that baes like a bear.
MENENIUS
11   He's a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You two
12   are old men: tell me one thing that I shall ask you.
Both
13   Well, sir.
MENENIUS
14   In what enormity is Marcius poor in, that you two
15   have not in abundance?
BRUTUS
16   He's poor in no one fault, but stored with all.
SICINIUS
17   Especially in pride.
BRUTUS
18   And topping all others in boasting.
MENENIUS
19   This is strange now: do you two know how you are
20   censured here in the city, I mean of us o' the
21   right-hand file? do you?
Both
22   Why, how are we censured?
MENENIUS
23   Because you talk of pride now,--will you not be angry?
Both
24   Well, well, sir, well.
MENENIUS
25   Why, 'tis no great matter; for a very little thief of
26   occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience:
27   give your dispositions the reins, and be angry at
28   your pleasures; at the least if you take it as a
29   pleasure to you in being so. You blame Marcius for
30   being proud?
BRUTUS
31   We do it not alone, sir.
MENENIUS
32   I know you can do very little alone; for your helps
33   are many, or else your actions would grow wondrous
34   single: your abilities are too infant-like for
35   doing much alone. You talk of pride: O that you
36   could turn your eyes toward the napes of your necks,
37   and make but an interior survey of your good selves!
38   O that you could!
BRUTUS
39   What then, sir?
MENENIUS
40   Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,
41   proud, violent, testy magistrates, alias fools, as
42   any in Rome.
SICINIUS
43   Menenius, you are known well enough too.
MENENIUS
44   I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that
45   loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying
46   Tiber in't; said to be something imperfect in
47   favouring the first complaint; hasty and tinder-like
48   upon too trivial motion; one that converses more
49   with the buttock of the night than with the forehead
50   of the morning: what I think I utter, and spend my
51   malice in my breath. Meeting two such wealsmen as
52   you are--I cannot call you Lycurguses--if the drink
53   you give me touch my palate adversely, I make a
54   crooked face at it. I can't say your worships have
55   delivered the matter well, when I find the ass in
56   compound with the major part of your syllables: and
57   though I must be content to bear with those that say
58   you are reverend grave men, yet they lie deadly that
59   tell you you have good faces. If you see this in
60   the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known
61   well enough too? what barm can your bisson
62   conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be
63   known well enough too?
BRUTUS
64   Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.
MENENIUS
65   You know neither me, yourselves nor any thing. You
66   are ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs: you
67   wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a
68   cause between an orange wife and a fosset-seller;
69   and then rejourn the controversy of three pence to a
70   second day of audience. When you are hearing a
71   matter between party and party, if you chance to be
72   pinched with the colic, you make faces like
73   mummers; set up the bloody flag against all
74   patience; and, in roaring for a chamber-pot,
75   dismiss the controversy bleeding the more entangled
76   by your hearing: all the peace you make in their
77   cause is, calling both the parties knaves. You are
78   a pair of strange ones.
BRUTUS
79   Come, come, you are well understood to be a
80   perfecter giber for the table than a necessary
81   bencher in the Capitol.
MENENIUS
82   Our very priests must become mockers, if they shall
83   encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When
84   you speak best unto the purpose, it is not worth the
85   wagging of your beards; and your beards deserve not
86   so honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's
87   cushion, or to be entombed in an ass's pack-
88   saddle. Yet you must be saying, Marcius is proud;
89   who in a cheap estimation, is worth predecessors
90   since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the
91   best of 'em were hereditary hangmen. God-den to
92   your worships: more of your conversation would
93   infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly
94   plebeians: I will be bold to take my leave of you.
BRUTUS and SICINIUS go aside
Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, and VALERIA
95   How now, my as fair as noble ladies,--and the moon,
96   were she earthly, no nobler,--whither do you follow
97   your eyes so fast?
VOLUMNIA
98   Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; for
99   the love of Juno, let's go.
MENENIUS
100  Ha! Marcius coming home!
VOLUMNIA
101  Ay, worthy Menenius; and with most prosperous
102  approbation.
MENENIUS
103  Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!
104  Marcius coming home!
VOLUMNIA
105  Nay,'tis true.
VOLUMNIA
106  Look, here's a letter from him: the state hath
107  another, his wife another; and, I think, there's one
108  at home for you.
MENENIUS
109  I will make my very house reel tonight: a letter for
110  me!
VIRGILIA
111  Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw't.
MENENIUS
112  A letter for me! it gives me an estate of seven
113  years' health; in which time I will make a lip at
114  the physician: the most sovereign prescription in
115  Galen is but empiricutic, and, to this preservative,
116  of no better report than a horse-drench. Is he
117  not wounded? he was wont to come home wounded.
VIRGILIA
118  O, no, no, no.
VOLUMNIA
119  O, he is wounded; I thank the gods for't.
MENENIUS
120  So do I too, if it be not too much: brings a'
121  victory in his pocket? the wounds become him.
VOLUMNIA
122  On's brows: Menenius, he comes the third time home
123  with the oaken garland.
MENENIUS
124  Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?
VOLUMNIA
125  Titus Lartius writes, they fought together, but
126  Aufidius got off.
MENENIUS
127  And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him that:
128  an he had stayed by him, I would not have been so
129  fidiused for all the chests in Corioli, and the gold
130  that's in them. Is the senate possessed of this?
VOLUMNIA
131  Good ladies, let's go. Yes, yes, yes; the senate
132  has letters from the general, wherein he gives my
133  son the whole name of the war: he hath in this
134  action outdone his former deeds doubly
VALERIA
135  In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.
MENENIUS
136  Wondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not without his
137  true purchasing.
VIRGILIA
138  The gods grant them true!
VOLUMNIA
139  True! pow, wow.
MENENIUS
140  True! I'll be sworn they are true.
141  Where is he wounded?
To the Tribunes
142  God save your good worships! Marcius is coming
143  home: he has more cause to be proud. Where is he wounded?
VOLUMNIA
144  I' the shoulder and i' the left arm there will be
145  large cicatrices to show the people, when he shall
146  stand for his place. He received in the repulse of
147  Tarquin seven hurts i' the body.
MENENIUS
148  One i' the neck, and two i' the thigh,--there's
149  nine that I know.
VOLUMNIA
150  He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five
151  wounds upon him.
MENENIUS
152  Now it's twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy's grave.
A shout and flourish
153  Hark! the trumpets.
VOLUMNIA
154  These are the ushers of Marcius: before him he
155  carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears:
156  Death, that dark spirit, in 's nervy arm doth lie;
157  Which, being advanced, declines, and then men die.
Herald
158  Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight
159  Within Corioli gates: where he hath won,
160  With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these
161  In honour follows Coriolanus.
162  Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
Flourish

All
163  Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
CORIOLANUS
164  No more of this; it does offend my heart:
165  Pray now, no more.
COMINIUS
166  Look, sir, your mother!
CORIOLANUS
167  O,
168  You have, I know, petition'd all the gods
169  For my prosperity!
Kneels

VOLUMNIA
170  Nay, my good soldier, up;
171  My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and
172  By deed-achieving honour newly named,--
173  What is it?--Coriolanus must I call thee?--
174  But O, thy wife!
CORIOLANUS
175  My gracious silence, hail!
176  Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home,
177  That weep'st to see me triumph? Ay, my dear,
178  Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
179  And mothers that lack sons.
MENENIUS
180  Now, the gods crown thee!
CORIOLANUS
181  And live you yet?
To VALERIA
182  O my sweet lady, pardon.
VOLUMNIA
183  I know not where to turn: O, welcome home:
184  And welcome, general: and ye're welcome all.
MENENIUS
185  A hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep
186  And I could laugh, I am light and heavy. Welcome.
187  A curse begin at very root on's heart,
188  That is not glad to see thee! You are three
189  That Rome should dote on: yet, by the faith of men,
190  We have some old crab-trees here
191  at home that will not
192  Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors:
193  We call a nettle but a nettle and
194  The faults of fools but folly.
COMINIUS
195  Ever right.
CORIOLANUS
196  Menenius ever, ever.
Herald
197  Give way there, and go on!
CORIOLANUS
To VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA
198   Your hand, and yours:
199  Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
200  The good patricians must be visited;
201  From whom I have received not only greetings,
202  But with them change of honours.
VOLUMNIA
203  I have lived
204  To see inherited my very wishes
205  And the buildings of my fancy: only
206  There's one thing wanting, which I doubt not but
207  Our Rome will cast upon thee.
CORIOLANUS
208  Know, good mother,
209  I had rather be their servant in my way,
210  Than sway with them in theirs.
COMINIUS
211  On, to the Capitol!
BRUTUS
212  All tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights
213  Are spectacled to see him: your prattling nurse
214  Into a rapture lets her baby cry
215  While she chats him: the kitchen malkin pins
216  Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck,
217  Clambering the walls to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows,
218  Are smother'd up, leads fill'd, and ridges horsed
219  With variable complexions, all agreeing
220  In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens
221  Do press among the popular throngs and puff
222  To win a vulgar station: or veil'd dames
223  Commit the war of white and damask in
224  Their nicely-gawded cheeks to the wanton spoil
225  Of Phoebus' burning kisses: such a pother
226  As if that whatsoever god who leads him
227  Were slily crept into his human powers
228  And gave him graceful posture.
SICINIUS
229  On the sudden,
230  I warrant him consul.
BRUTUS
231  Then our office may,
232  During his power, go sleep.
SICINIUS
233  He cannot temperately transport his honours
234  From where he should begin and end, but will
235  Lose those he hath won.
BRUTUS
236  In that there's comfort.
SICINIUS
237  Doubt not
238  The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
239  Upon their ancient malice will forget
240  With the least cause these his new honours, which
241  That he will give them make I as little question
242  As he is proud to do't.
BRUTUS
243  I heard him swear,
244  Were he to stand for consul, never would he
245  Appear i' the market-place nor on him put
246  The napless vesture of humility;
247  Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds
248  To the people, beg their stinking breaths.
SICINIUS
249  'Tis right.
BRUTUS
250  It was his word: O, he would miss it rather
251  Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him,
252  And the desire of the nobles.
SICINIUS
253  I wish no better
254  Than have him hold that purpose and to put it
255  In execution.
BRUTUS
256  'Tis most like he will.
SICINIUS
257  It shall be to him then as our good wills,
258  A sure destruction.
BRUTUS
259  So it must fall out
260  To him or our authorities. For an end,
261  We must suggest the people in what hatred
262  He still hath held them; that to's power he would
263  Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders and
264  Dispropertied their freedoms, holding them,
265  In human action and capacity,
266  Of no more soul nor fitness for the world
267  Than camels in the war, who have their provand
268  Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows
269  For sinking under them.
SICINIUS
270  This, as you say, suggested
271  At some time when his soaring insolence
272  Shall touch the people--which time shall not want,
273  If he be put upon 't; and that's as easy
274  As to set dogs on sheep--will be his fire
275  To kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze
276  Shall darken him for ever.
Enter a Messenger

BRUTUS
277  What's the matter?
Messenger
278  You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought
279  That Marcius shall be consul:
280  I have seen the dumb men throng to see him and
281  The blind to bear him speak: matrons flung gloves,
282  Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers,
283  Upon him as he pass'd: the nobles bended,
284  As to Jove's statue, and the commons made
285  A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts:
286  I never saw the like.
BRUTUS
287  Let's to the Capitol;
288  And carry with us ears and eyes for the time,
289  But hearts for the event.
SICINIUS
290  Have with you.
Exeunt

< (Previous) ACT I, SCENE XACT II, SCENE III (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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