William Shakespeare, The Tragedies
(Oxford, 1916)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)  
[Created: 1 August, 2021]
[Updated: February 6, 2023 ]
The Guillaumin Collection
This title is part of “The Guillaumin Collection” within “The Digital Library of Liberty and Power”. It has been more richly coded and has some features which other titles in the library do not have, such as the original page numbers, formatting which makes it look as much like the original text as possible, and a citation tool which makes it possible for scholars to link to an individual paragraph which is of interest to them. These titles are also available in a variety of eBook formats for reading on portable devices.

William Shakespeare, The Complete Works (London: Oxford University Press, 1916).http://davidmhart.com/liberty/OtherWorks/Shakespeare/1916-OxfordCompleteWorks/EnhancedHTMLversion/Shakespeare_Tragedies1916.html


This book is part of a collection of works by William Shakespeare (1564-1616).


Editor’s Note

This “enhanced HTML” version of the plays is taken from The Complete Works of William Shakespeare edited by Craig and published by OUP in 1916. Because of the length of the book and the complexities of the coding I have taken the plays and split them into into three parts following the practice of the First Folio edition: The Comedies, The Histories, and The Tragedies. The entire book (which also includes the poems) with a simpler coding can be found here in HTML and facs. PDF [125.3 MB].

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (London: Oxford University Press, 1916).

For the component parts, see:



Table of Contents (abbreviated)




Table of Contents (full)


The Tragedies"


The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (London: Oxford University Press, 1916).

See the complete volume in facs. PDF.



Table of Contents (abbreviated)




Table of Contents (full)




Priam, King of Troy.
Hector,      } his Sons.
Troilus,     }
Paris, }
Deiphobus, }
Helenus,     }
Margarelon, a Bastard Son of Priam.
Æneas,    } Trojan Commanders.
Antenor, }
Calchas, a Trojan Priest, taking part with the Greeks.
Pandarus, Uncle to Cressida.
Agamemnon, the Grecian General.
Menelaus, his Brother.
Achilles, } Grecian Commanders.
Ajax,        }
Ulysses,  }
Nestor,      } Grecian Commanders.
Diomedes,   }
Patroclus, }
Thersites, a deformed and scurrilous Grecian.
Alexander, Servant to Cressida.
Servant to Troilus.
Servant to Paris.
Servant to Diomedes.
Helen, Wife to Menelaus.
Andromache, Wife to Hector.
Cassandra, Daughter to Priam; a prophetess.
Cressida, Daughter to Calchas.
Trojan and Greek Soldiers, and Attendants.



Scene.Troy, and the Grecian Camp before it.


In Troy there lies the scene. From isles of Greece

The princes orgulous, their high blood chaf’d,

Have to the port of Athens sent their ships,

Fraught with the ministers and instruments  4

Of cruel war: sixty and nine, that wore

Their crownets regal, from the Athenian bay

Put forth toward Phrygia; and their vow is made

To ransack Troy, within whose strong immures  8

The ravish’d Helen, Menelaus’ queen,

With wanton Paris sleeps; and that’s the quarrel.

To Tenedos they come,

And the deep-drawing barks do there disgorge

Their war-like fraughtage: now on Dardan plains  13

The fresh and yet unbruised Greeks do pitch

Their brave pavilions: Priam’s six-gated city,

Dardan, and Tymbria, Ilias, Chetas, Trojan,

And Antenorides, with massy staples  17

And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts,

Sperr up the sons of Troy.

Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits,  20

On one and other side, Trojan and Greek,

Sets all on hazard. And hither am I come

A prologue arm’d, but not in confidence

Of author’s pen or actor’s voice, but suited  24

In like conditions as our argument,

To tell you, fair beholders, that our play

Leaps o’er the vaunt and firstlings of those broils,

Beginning in the middle; starting thence away

To what may be digested in a play.  29

Like or find fault; do as your pleasures are:

Now good or bad, ’tis but the chance of war.


Scene I.— Troy. Before Priam’s Palace.

Enter Troilus armed, and Pandarus.


Call here my varlet, I’ll unarm again:

Why should I war without the walls of Troy,

That find such cruel battle here within?

Each Trojan that is master of his heart,  4

Let him to field; Troilus, alas! has none.


Will this gear ne’er be mended?


The Greeks are strong, and skilful to their strength.

Fierce to their skill, and to their fierceness valiant;  8

But I am weaker than a woman’s tear,

Tamer than sleep, fonder than ignorance,

Less valiant than the virgin in the night,

And skilless as unpractis’d infancy.  12


Well, I have told you enough of this: for my part, I’ll not meddle nor make no further. He that will have a cake out of the wheat must tarry the grinding.  16


Have I not tarried?


Ay, the grinding; but you must tarry the bolting.


Have I not tarried?  20


Ay, the bolting; but you must tarry the leavening.


Still have I tarried.


Ay, to the leavening; but here’s yet in the word ‘hereafter’ the kneading, the making of the cake, the heating of the oven, and the baking; nay, you must stay the cooling too, or you may chance to burn your lips.  28


Patience herself, what goddess e’er she be,

Doth lesser blench at sufferance than I do.

At Priam’s royal table do I sit;

And when fair Cressid comes into my thoughts,—

So, traitor! ‘when she comes’!—When is she thence?  33


Well, she looked yesternight fairer than ever I saw her look, or any woman else.


I was about to tell thee: when my heart,

As wedged with a sigh, would rive in twain,  37

Lest Hector or my father should perceive me,

I have—as when the sun doth light a storm—

Buried this sigh in wrinkle of a smile;  40

But sorrow, that is couch’d in seeming gladness,

Is like that mirth fate turns to sudden sadness.


An her hair were not somewhat darker than Helen’s,—well, go to,—there were no more comparison between the women: but, for my part, she is my kins woman; I would not, as they term it, praise her, but I would somebody had heard her talk yesterday, as I did: I will not dispraise your sister Cassandra’s wit, but—  49


O Pandarus! I tell thee, Pandarus,—

When I do tell thee, there my hopes lie drown’d,

Reply not in how many fathoms deep  52

They lie indrench’d. I tell thee I am mad

In Cressid’s love: thou answer’st, she is fair;

Pour’st in the open ulcer of my heart

Her eyes, her hair, her cheek, her gait, her voice;

Handlest in thy discourse, O! that her hand,  57

In whose comparison all whites are ink,

Writing their own reproach; to whose soft seizure

The cygnet’s down is harsh, and spirit of sense

Hard as the palm of ploughman: this thou tell’st me,  61

As true thou tell’st me, when I say I love her;

But, saying thus, instead of oil and balm,

Thou lay’st in every gash that love hath given me  64

The knife that made it.


I speak no more than truth.


Thou dost not speak so much.


Faith, I’ll not meddle in’t. Let her be as she is: if she be fair, ’tis the better for her; an she be not, she has the mends in her own hands.


Good Pandarus, how now, Pandarus!  72


I have had my labour for my travail; ill-thought on of her, and ill-thought on of you: gone between, and between, but small thanks for my labour.  76


What! art thou angry, Pandarus? what! with me?


Because she’s kin to me, therefore she’s not so fair as Helen: an she were not kin to me, she would be as fair on Friday as Helen is on Sunday. But what care I? I care not an she were a black-a-moor; ’tis all one to me.


Say I she is not fair?  83


I do not care whether you do or no. She’s a fool to stay behind her father: let her to the Greeks; and so I’ll tell her the next time I see her. For my part, I’ll meddle nor make no more i’ the matter.  88




Not I.


Sweet Pandarus,—


Pray you, speak no more to me! I will leave all as I found it, and there an end.  93

[Exit Pandarus. An alarum.


Peace, you ungracious clamours! peace, rude sounds!

Fools on both sides! Helen must needs bo fair,

When with your blood you daily paint her thus.

I cannot fight upon this argument;  97

It is too starv’d a subject for my sword.

But Pandarus,—O gods! how do you plague me.

I cannot come to Cressid but by Pandar;  100

And he’s as tetchy to be woo’d to woo

As she is stubborn-chaste against all suit.

Tell me, Apollo, for thy Daphne’s love,

What Cressid is, what Pandar, and what we?  104

Her bed is India; there she lies, a pearl:

Between our Ilium and where she resides

Let it be call’d the wild and wandering flood;

Ourself the merchant, and this sailing Pandar

Our doubtful hope, our convoy and our bark.  109

Alarum. Enter Æneas.


How now, Prince Troilus! wherefore not afield?


Because not there: this woman’s answer sorts,

For womanish it is to be from thence.  112

What news, Æneas, from the field to-day?


That Paris is returned home, and hurt.


By whom, Æneas?


Troilus, by Menelaus.


Let Paris bleed: ’tis but a scar to scorn;

Paris is gor’d with Menelaus’ horn.



Hark, what good sport is out of town to-day!  118


Better at home, if ‘would I might’ were ‘may.’

But to the sport abroad: are you bound thither?


In all swift haste.


Come, go we then together.


Scene II.— The Same. A Street.

Enter Cressida and Alexander.


Who were those went by?


Queen Hecuba and Helen.


And whither go they?


Up to the eastern tower,

Whose height commands as subject all the vale,

To see the battle. Hector, whose patience  4

Is as a virtue fix’d, to-day was mov’d:

He chid Andromache, and struck his armourer;

And, like as there were husbandry in war,

Before the sun rose he was harness’d light,  8

And to the field goes he; where every flower

Did, as a prophet, weep what it foresaw

In Hector’s wrath.


What was his cause of anger?


The noise goes, this: there is among the Greeks  12

A lord of Trojan blood, nephew to Hector;

They call him Ajax.


Good; and what of him?


They say he is a very man per se

And stands alone.  16


So do all men, unless they are drunk, sick, or have no legs.


This man, lady, hath robbed many beasts of their particular additions: he is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant: a man into whom nature hath so crowded humours that his valour is crushed into folly, his folly sauced with discretion: there is no man hath a virtue that he hath not a glimpse of, nor any man an attaint but he carries some stain of it. He is melancholy without cause, and merry against the hair; he hath the joints of every thing, but every thing so out of joint that he is a gouty Briareus, many hands and no use; or purblind Argus, all eyes and no sight.  31


But how should this man, that makes me smile, make Hector angry?


They say he yesterday coped Hector in the battle and struck him down; the disdain and shame whereof hath ever since kept Hector fasting and waking.  37


Who comes here?

Enter Pandarus.


Madam, your uncle Pandarus.


Hector’s a gallant man.  40


As may be in the world, lady.


What’s that? what’s that?


Good morrow, uncle Pandarus.


Good morrow, cousin Cressid. What do you talk of? Good morrow, Alexander.

How do you, cousin? When were you at Ilium?


This morning, uncle.  47


What were you talking of when I came? Was Hector armed and gone ere ye came to Ilium? Helen was not up, was she?


Hector was gone, but Helen was not up.


E’en so: Hector was stirring early.  52


That were we talking of, and of his anger.


Was he angry?


So he says here.


True, he was so; I know the cause too: he’ll lay about him to-day, I can tell them that: and there’s Troilus will not come far behind him; let them take heed of Troilus, I can tell them that too.  60


What! is he angry too?


Who, Troilus? Troilus is the better man of the two.


O Jupiter! there’s no comparison.  64


What! not between Troilus and Hector?

Do you know a man if you see him?


Ay, if I ever saw him before and knew him.  68


Well, I say Troilus is Troilus.


Then you say as I say; for I am sure he is not Hector.


No, nor Hector is not Troilus in some degrees.  73


’Tis just to each of them; he is himself.


Himself! Alas, poor Troilus, I would he were.  76


So he is.


Condition, I had gone bare-foot to India.


He is not Hector.


Himself! no, he’s not himself. Would a’ were himself: well, the gods are above; time must friend or end: well, Troilus, well, I would my heart were in her body. No, Hector is not a better man than Troilus.  84


Excuse me.


He is elder.


Pardon me, pardon me.


Th’ other’s not come to’t; you shall tell me another tale when the other’s come to’t. Hector shall not have his wit this year.


He shall not need it if he have his own.


Nor his qualities.  92


No matter.


Nor his beauty.


’Twould not become him; his own’s better.  96


You have no judgment, niece: Helen herself swore th’ other day, that Troilus, for a brown favour,—for so ’tis I must confess,—not brown neither,—  100


No, but brown.


Faith, to say truth, brown and not brown.


To say the truth, true and not true.  104


She prais’d his complexion above Paris.


Why, Paris hath colour enough.


So he has.


Then Troilus should have too much: if she praised him above, his complexion is higher than his: he having colour enough, and the other higher, is too flaming a praise for a good complexion. I had as lief Helen’s golden tongue had commended Troilus for a copper nose.  113


I swear to you, I think Helen loves him better than Paris.


Then she’s a merry Greek indeed.  116


Nay, I am sure she does. She came to him th’ other day into the compassed window, and, you know, he has not past three or four hairs on his chin,—  120


Indeed, a tapster’s arithmetic may soon bring his particulars therein to a total.


Why, he is very young; and yet will he, within three pound, lift as much as his brother Hector.  125


Is he so young a man, and so old a lifter?


But to prove to you that Helen loves him: she came and puts me her white hand to his cloven chin,—  130


Juno have mercy! how came it cloven?


Why, you know, ’tis dimpled. I think his smiling becomes him better than any man in all Phrygia.


O! he smiles valiantly.


Does he not?  136


O! yes, an ’twere a cloud in autumn.


Why, go to, then. But to prove to you that Helen loves Troilus,—


Troilus will stand to the proof, if you’ll prove it so.  141


Troilus! why he esteems her no more than I esteem an addle egg.


If you love an addle egg as well as you love an idle head, you would eat chickens i’ the shell.  146


I cannot choose but laugh, to think how she tickled his chin: indeed, she has a marvell’s white hand, I must needs confess,—


Without the rack.  150


And she takes upon her to spy a white hair on his chin.


Alas! poor chin! many a wart is richer.


But there was such laughing: Queen Hecuba laughed that her eyes ran o’er.


With millstones.  156


And Cassandra laughed.


But there was more temperate fire under the pot of her eyes: did her eyes run o’er too?


And Hector laughed.  160


At what was all this laughing?


Marry, at the white hair that Helen spied on Troilus’ chin.


An’t had been a green hair, I should have laughed too.  165


They laughed not so much at the hair as at his pretty answer.


What was his answer?  168


Quoth she, ‘Here’s but one-and-fifty hairs on your chin, and one of them is white.’


This is her question.


That’s true; make no question of that. ‘One-and-fifty hairs,’ quoth he, ‘and one white: that white hair is my father, and all the rest are his sons.’ ‘Jupiter!’ quoth she, ‘which of these hairs is Paris, my husband?’ ‘The forked one,’ quoth he; ‘pluck’t out, and give it him.’ But there was such laughing, and Helen so blushed, and Paris so chafed, and all the rest so laughed, that it passed.  180


So let it now, for it has been a great while going by.


Well, cousin, I told you a thing yesterday; think on’t.  184


So I do.


I’ll be sworn ’tis true: he will weep you, an ’twere a man born in April.


And I’ll spring up in his tears, an ’twere a nettle against May.

[A retreat sounded.


Hark! they are coming from the field. Shall we stand up here, and see them as they pass toward Ilium? good niece, do; sweet niece, Cressida.


At your pleasure.  193


Here, here; here’s an excellent place: here we may see most bravely. I’ll tell you them all by their names as they pass by, but mark Troilus above the rest.  197


Speak not so loud.

Æneas passes over the stage.


That’s Æneas: is not that a brave man? he’s one of the flowers of Troy, I can tell you: but mark Troilus; you shall see anon.  201

Antenor passes over.


Who’s that?


That’s Antenor: he has a shrewd wit, I can tell you; and he’s a man good enough: he’s one o’ the soundest judgments in Troy, whosoever, and a proper man of person. When comes Troilus? I’ll show you Troilus anon: if he see me, you shall see him nod at me.  208


Will he give you the nod?


You shall see.


If he do, the rich shall have more.

Hector passes over.


That’s Hector, that, that, look you, that; there’s a fellow! Go thy way, Hector! There’s a brave man, niece. O brave Hector! Look how he looks! there’s a countenance! Is’t not a brave man?  216


O! a brave man.


Is a’ not? It does a man’s heart good. Look you what hacks are on his helmet! look you yonder, do you see? look you there: there’s no jesting; there’s laying on, take’t off who will, as they say: there be hacks!  222


Be those with swords?


Swords? any thing, he cares not; an the devil come to him, it’s all one: by God’s lid, it does one’s heart good. Yonder comes Paris, yonder comes Paris.  227

Paris crosses over.

Look ye yonder, niece: is’t not a gallant man too, is’t not? Why, this is brave now. Who said he came hurt home to-day? he’s not hurt: why, this will do Helen’s heart good now, ha! Would I could see Troilus now! You shall see Troilus anon.  233


Who’s that?

Helenus passes over.


That’s Helenus. I marvel where Troilus is. That’s Helenus. I think he went not forth to-day. That’s Helenus.  237


Can Helenus fight, uncle?


Helenus? no, yes, he’ll fight indifferent well. I marvel where Troilus is. Hark! do you not hear the people cry, ‘Troilus?’ Helenus is a priest.  242


What sneaking fellow comes yonder?

Troilus passes over.


Where? yonder? that’s Deiphobus.

Tis Troilus! there’s a man, niece! Hem! Brave

Troilus! the prince of chivalry!  246


Peace! for shame, peace!


Mark him; note him: O brave Troilus! look well upon him, niece: look you how his sword is bloodied, and his helmet more hacked than Hector’s; and how he looks, and how he goes! O admirable youth! he ne’er saw three-and-twenty. Go thy way, Troilus, go thy way! Had I a sister were a grace, or a daughter a goddess, he should take his choice. O admirable man! Paris? Paris is dirt to him; and, I warrant, Helen, to change, would give an eye to boot.


Here come more.  259

Soldiers pass over.


Asses, fools, dolts! chaff and bran, chaff and bran! porridge after meat! I could live and die i’ the eyes of Troilus. Ne’er look, ne’er look; the eagles are gone: crows and daws, crows and daws! I had rather be such a man as Troilus than Agamemnon and all Greece.  265


There is among the Greeks Achilles, a better man than Troilus.


Achilles! a drayman, a porter, a very camel.  269


Well, well.


‘Well, well!’ Why, have you any discretion? have you any eyes? Do you know what a man is? Is not birth, beauty, good shape, discourse, manhood, learning, gentleness, virtue, youth, liberality, and so forth, the spice and salt that season a man?  276


Ay, a minced man: and then to be baked with no date in the pie, for then the man’s date’s out.


You are such a woman! one knows not at what ward you lie.  281


Upon my back, to defend my belly; upon my wit, to defend my wiles; upon my secrecy, to defend mine honesty; my mask, to defend my beauty; and you, to defend all these: and at all these wards I lie, at a thousand watches.


Say one of your watches.  288


Nay, I’ll watch you for that; and that’s one of the chiefest of them too: if I cannot ward what I would not have hit, I can watch you for telling how I took the blow; unless it swell past hiding, and then it’s past watching.  293


You are such another!

Enter Troilus’ Boy.


Sir, my lord would instantly speak with you.  296




At your own house; there he unarms him.


Good boy, tell him I come. [Exit Boy.] I doubt he be hurt. Fare ye well, good niece.


Adieu, uncle.


I’ll be with you, niece, by and by.


To bring, uncle?


Ay, a token from Troilus.  304


By the same token, you are a bawd.

[Exit Pandarus.

Words, vows, gifts, tears, and love’s full sacrifice

He offers in another’s enterprise;

But more in Troilus thousand-fold I see  308

Than in the glass of Pandar’s praise may be.

Yet hold I off. Women are angels, wooing:

Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing:

That she belov’d knows nought that knows not this:  312

Men prize the thing ungain’d more than it is:

That she was never yet, that ever knew

Love got so sweet as when desire did sue.

Therefore this maxim out of love I teach:  316

Achievement is command; ungain’d, beseech:

Then though my heart’s content firm love doth bear,

Nothing of that shall from mine eyes appear.


Scene III.— The Grecian Camp. Before Agamemnon’s Tent.

Sennet. Enter Agamemnon, Nestor, Ulysses, Menelaus, and Others.



What grief hath set the jaundice on your cheeks?

The ample proposition that hope makes

In all designs begun on earth below  4

Fails in the promis’d largeness: checks and disasters

Grow in the veins of actions highest rear’d;

As knots, by the conflux of meeting sap,

Infect the sound pine and divert his grain  8

Tortive and errant from his course of growth.

Nor, princes, is it matter new to us

That we come short of our suppose so far

That after seven years’ siege yet Troy walls stand;  12

Sith every action that hath gone before,

Whereof we have record, trial did draw

Bias and thwart, not answering the aim,

And that unbodied figure of the thought  16

That gave’t surmised shape. Why then, you princes,

Do you with cheeks abash’d behold our works,

And call them shames? which are indeed nought else

But the protractive trials of great Jove,  20

To find persistive constancy in men:

The fineness of which metal is not found

In Fortune’s love; for then, the bold and coward,

The wise and fool, the artist and unread,  24

The hard and soft, seem all affin’d and kin:

But, in the wind and tempest of her frown,

Distinction, with a broad and powerful fan,

Puffing at all, winnows the light away;  28

And what hath mass or matter, by itself

Lies rich in virtue and unmingled.


With due observance of thy god-like seat,

Great Agamemnon, Nestor shall apply  32

Thy latest words. In the reproof of chance

Lies the true proof of men: the sea being smooth,

How many shallow bauble boats dare sail

Upon her patient breast, making their way  36

With those of nobler bulk!

But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage

The gentle Thetis, and anon behold

The strong-ribb’d bark through liquid mountains cut,  40

Bounding between the two moist elements,

Like Perseus’ horse: where’s then the saucy boat

Whose weak untimber’d sides but even now

Co-rivall’d greatness? either to harbour fled,  44

Or made a toast for Neptune. Even so

Doth valour’s show and valour’s worth divide

In storms of fortune; for in her ray and brightness

The herd hath more annoyance by the breese  48

Than by the tiger; but when the splitting wind

Makes flexible the knees of knotted oaks,

And flies fled under shade, why then the thing of courage,

As rous’d with rage, with rage doth sympathize,

And with an accent tun’d in self-same key,  53

Retorts to chiding fortune.



Thou great commander, nerve and bone of Greece,

Heart of our numbers, soul and only spirit,  56

In whom the tempers and the minds of all

Should be shut up, hear what Ulysses speaks.

Besides the applause and approbation

The which, [To Agamemnon.] most mighty for thy place and sway,  60

[To Nestor.] And thou most reverend for thy stretch’d-out life,

I give to both your speeches, which were such

As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece

Should hold up high in brass; and such again  64

As venerable Nestor, hatch’d in silver,

Should with a bond of air, strong as the axle-tree

On which heaven rides, knit all the Greekish ears

To his experienc’d tongue, yet let it please hoth,  68

Thou great, and wise, to hear Ulysses speak.


Speak, Prince of Ithaca; and be’t of less expect

That matter needless, of importless burden,

Divide thy lips, than we are confident,  72

When rank Thersites opes his mastick jaws,

We shall hear music, wit, and oracle.


Troy, yet upon his basis, had been down,

And the great Hector’s sword had lack’d a master,  76

But for these instances.

The specialty of rule hath been neglected:

And look, how many Grecian tents do stand

Hollow upon this plain, so many hollow factions.  80

When that the general is not like the hive

To whom the foragers shall all repair,

What honey is expected? Degree being vizarded,

The unworthiest shows as fairly in the mask.  84

The heavens themselves, the planets, and this centre

Observe degree, priority, and place,

Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,

Office, and custom, in all line of order:  88

And therefore is the glorious planet Sol

In noble eminence enthron’d and spher’d

Amidst the other; whose med’cinable eye

Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil,  92

And posts, like the commandment of a king,

Sans check, to good and bad: but when the planets

In evil mixture to disorder wander,

What plagues, and what portents, what mutiny,

What raging of the sea, shaking of earth,  97

Commotion in the winds, frights, changes, horrors,

Divert and crack, rend and deracinate

The unity and married calm of states  100

Quite from their fixure! O! when degree is shak’d,

Which is the ladder to all high designs,

The enterprise is sick. How could communities,

Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities,

Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,  105

The primogenitive and due of birth,

Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels,

But by degree, stand in authentic place?  108

Take but degree away, untune that string,

And, hark! what discord follows; each thing meets

In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters

Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores,

And make a sop of all this solid globe:  113

Strength should be lord of imbecility,

And the rude son should strike his father dead:

Force should be right; or rather, right and wrong—  116

Between whose endless jar justice resides—

Should lose their names, and so should justice too.

Then every thing includes itself in power,

Power into will, will into appetite;  120

And appetite, a universal wolf,

So doubly seconded with will and power,

Must make perforce a universal prey,

And last eat up himself. Great Agamemnon,

This chaos, when degree is suffocate,  125

Follows the choking.

And this neglection of degree it is

That by a pace goes backward, with a purpose

It hath to climb. The general’s disdain’d  129

By him one step below, he by the next,

That next by him beneath; so every step,

Exampled by the first pace that is sick  132

Of his superior, grows to an envious fever

Of pale and bloodless emulation:

And ’tis this fever that keeps Troy on foot,

Not her own sinews. To end a tale of length,

Troy in our weakness lives, not in her strength.


Most wisely hath Ulysses here discover’d

The fever whereof all our power is sick.


The nature of the sickness found, Ulysses,  140

What is the remedy?


The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns

The sinew and the forehand of our host,

Having his ear full of his airy fame,  144

Grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent

Lies mocking our designs. With him Patroclus

Upon a lazy bed the livelong day

Breaks scurril jests,  148

And with ridiculous and awkward action—

Which, slanderer, he imitation calls—

He pageants us. Sometime, great Agamemnon,

Thy topless deputation he puts on  152

And, like a strutting player, whose conceit

Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich

To hear the wooden dialogue and sound

’Twixt his stretch’d footing and the scaffoldage,—  156

Such to-be-pitied and o’er-wrested seeming

He acts thy greatness in:—and when he speaks,

’Tis like a chime a mending; with terms unsquar’d,

Which, from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropp’d,  160

Would seem hyperboles. At this fusty stuff

The large Achilles, on his press’d bed lolling,

From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause;

Cries, ‘Excellent! ’tis Agamemnon just.  164

Now play me Nestor; hem, and stroke thy beard,

As he being drest to some oration.’

That’s done;—as near as the extremest ends

Of parallels, like as Vulcan and his wife:—  168

Yet good Achilles still cries, ‘Excellent!

’Tis Nestor right. Now play him me, Patroclus,

Arming to answer in a night alarm.’

And then, forsooth, the faint defects of age  172

Must be the scene of mirth; to cough and spit,

And with a palsy-fumbling on his gorget,

Shake in and out the rivet: and at this sport

Sir Valour dies; cries, ‘O! enough, Patroclus;

Or give me ribs of steel; I shall split all  177

In pleasure of my spleen.’ And in this fashion,

All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes,

Severals and generals of grace exact,  180

Achievements, plots, orders, preventions,

Excitements to the field, or speech for truce,

Success or loss, what is or is not, serves

As stuff for these two to make paradoxes.  184


And in the imitation of these twain—

Whom, as Ulysses says, opinion crowns

With an imperial voice—many are infect.

Ajax is grown self-will’d, and bears his head  188

In such a rein, in full as proud a place

As broad Achilles; keeps his tent like him;

Makes factious feasts; rails on our state of war,

Bold as an oracle, and sets Thersites—  192

A slave whose gall coins slanders like a mint—

To match us in comparison with dirt;

To weaken and discredit our exposure,

How rank soever rounded in with danger.  196


They tax our policy, and call it cowardice;

Count wisdom as no member of the war;

Forestall prescience, and esteem no act

But that of hand: the still and mental parts,  200

That do contrive how many hands shall strike,

When fitness calls them on, and know by measure

Of their observant toil the enemies’ weight,—

Why, this hath not a finger’s dignity:  204

They call this bed-work, mappery, closet-war;

So that the ram that batters down the wall,

For the great swing and rudeness of his poise,

They place before his hand that made the engine,

Or those that with the fineness of their souls  209

By reason guides his execution.


Let this be granted, and Achilles’ horse

Makes many Thetis’ sons.

[A tucket.


What trumpet? look, Menelaus.  213


From Troy.

Enter Æneas.


What would you ’fore our tent?


Is this great Agamemnon’s tent, I pray you?  216


Even this.


May one, that is a herald and a prince,

Do a fair message to his kingly ears?


With surety stronger than Achilles’ arm  220

’Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one voice

Call Agamemnon head and general.


Fair leave and large security. How may

A stranger to those most imperial looks  224

Know them from eyes of other mortals?





I ask, that I might waken reverence,

And bid the cheek be ready with a blush  228

Modest as morning when she coldly eyes

The youthful Phœbus:

Which is that god in office, guiding men?

Which is the high and mighty Agamemnon?  232


This Trojan scorns us; or the men of Troy

Are ceremonious courtiers.


Courtiers as free, as debonair, unarm’d,

As bending angels; that’s their fame in peace:

But when they would seem soldiers, they have galls,  237

Good arms, strong joints, true swords; and, Jove’s accord,

Nothing so full of heart. But peace, Æneas!

Peace, Trojan! lay thy finger on thy lips!  240

The worthiness of praise distains his worth,

If that the prais’d himself bring the praise forth;

But what the repining enemy commends,

That breath fame blows; that praise, sole pure, transcends.  244


Sir, you of Troy, call you yourself Æneas?


Ay, Greek, that is my name.


What’s your affair, I pray you?


Sir, pardon; ’tis for Agamemnon’s ears.


He hears nought privately that comes from Troy.  249


Nor I from Troy come not to whisper him:

I bring a trumpet to awake his ear,

To set his sense on the attentive bent,  252

And then to speak.


Speak frankly as the wind:

It is not Agamemnon’s sleeping hour;

That thou shalt know, Trojan, he is awake,

He tells thee so himself.


Trumpet, blow aloud,  256

Send thy brass voice through all these lazy tents;

And every Greek of mettle, let him know,

What Troy means fairly shall be spoke aloud.

[Trumpet sounds.

We have, great Agamemnon, here in Troy.  260

A prince called Hector,—Priam is his father,—

Who in this dull and long-continu’d truce

Is rusty grown: he bade me take a trumpet,

And to this purpose speak: kings, princes, lords!

If there be one among the fair’st of Greece  265

That holds his honour higher than his ease,

That seeks his praise more than he fears his peril,

That knows his valour, and knows not his fear,

That loves his mistress more than in confession,  269

With truant vows to her own lips he loves,

And dare avow her beauty and her worth

In other arms than hers,—to him this challenge.

Hector, in view of Trojans and of Greeks,  273

Shall make it good, or do his best to do it,

He hath a lady wiser, fairer, truer,

Than ever Greek did compass in his arms;  276

And will to-morrow with his trumpet call,

Mid-way between your tents and walls of Troy,

To rouse a Grecian that is true in love:

If any come, Hector shall honour him;  280

If none, he’ll say in Troy when he retires,

The Grecian dames are sunburnt, and not worth

The splinter of a lance. Even so much.


This shall be told our lovers, Lord Æneas;  284

If none of them have soul in such a kind,

We left them all at home: but we are soldiers;

And may that soldier a mere recreant prove,

That means not, hath not, or is not in love!  288

If then one is, or hath, or means to be,

That one meets Hector; if none else, I am he.


Tell him of Nestor, one that was a man

When Hector’s grandsire suck’d: he is old now;

But if there be not in our Grecian host  293

One noble man that hath one spark of fire

To answer for his love, tell him from me,

I’ll hide my silver beard in a gold beaver,  296

And in my vantbrace put this wither’d brawn;

And, meeting him, will tell him that my lady

Was fairer than his grandam, and as chaste

As may be in the world: his youth in flood,  300

I’ll prove this truth with my three drops of blood.


Now heavens forbid such scarcity of youth!




Fair Lord Æneas, let me touch your hand;  304

To our pavilion shall I lead you first.

Achilles shall have word of this intent;

So shall each lord of Greece, from tent to tent:

Yourself shall feast with us before you go,  308

And find the welcome of a noble foe.

[Exeunt all but Ulysses and Nestor.




What says Ulysses?


I have a young conception in my brain;  312

Be you my time to bring it to some shape.


What is’t?


This ’tis:

Blunt wedges rive hard knots: the seeded pride

That hath to this maturity blown up  317

In rank Achilles, must or now be cropp’d,

Or, shedding, breed a nursery of like evil,

To overbulk us all.


Well, and how?  320


This challenge that the gallant Hector sends,

However it is spread in general name,

Relates in purpose only to Achilles.


The purpose is perspicuous even as substance  324

Whose grossness little characters sum up:

And, in the publication, make no strain,

But that Achilles, were his brain as barren

As banks of Libya,—though, Apollo knows,  328

’Tis dry enough,—will with great speed of judgment,

Ay, with celerity, find Hector’s purpose

Pointing on him.


And wake him to the answer, think you?  332


Yes, ’tis most meet: whom may you else oppose,

That can from Hector bring those honours off,

If not Achilles? Though’t be a sportful combat,

Yet in the trial much opinion dwells;  336

For here the Trojans taste our dear’st repute

With their fin’st palate: and trust to me, Ulysses,

Our imputation shall be oddly pois’d

In this wild action; for the success,  340

Although particular, shall give a scantling

Of good or bad unto the general;

And in such indexes, although small pricks

To their subsequent volumes, there is seen  344

The baby figure of the giant mass

Of things to come at large. It is suppos’d

He that meets Hector issues from our choice;

And choice, being mutual act of all our souls,  348

Makes merit her election, and doth boil,

As ’twere from forth us all, a man distill’d

Out of our virtues; who miscarrying,

What heart receives from bence the conquering part,  352

To steel a strong opinion to themselves?

Which entertain’d, limbs are his instruments,

In no less working than are swords and bows

Directive by the limbs.  356


Give pardon to my speech:

Therefore ’tis meet Achilles meet not Hector.

Let us like merchants show our foulest wares,

And think perchance they’ll sell; if not,  360

The lustre of the better yet to show

Shall show the better. Do not consent

That ever Hector and Achilles meet;

For both our honour and our shame in this  364

Are dogg’d with two strange followers.


I see them not with my old eyes: what are they?


What glory our Achilles shares from Hector,

Were he not proud, we all should share with him:  368

But he already is too insolent;

And we were better parch in Afric sun

Than in the pride and salt scorn of his eyes,

Should he ’scape Hector fair: if he were foil’d,  372

Why then we did our main opinion crush

In taint of our best man. No; make a lottery;

And by device let blockish Ajax draw

The sort to fight with Hector: among ourselves

Give him allowance as the worthier man,  377

For that will physic the great Myrmidon

Who broils in loud applause; and make him fall

His crest that prouder than blue Iris bends.  380

If the dull brainless Ajax come safe off,

We’ll dress him up in voices: if he fail,

Yet go we under our opinion still

That we have better men. But, hit or miss,  384

Our project’s life this shape of sense assumes:

Ajax employ’d plucks down Achilles’ plumes.



Now I begin to relish thy advice;  388

And I will give a taste of it forthwith

To Agamemnon: go we to him straight.

Two curs shall tame each other: pride alone

Must tarre the mastiffs on, as ’twere their bone.



Scene I.— A Part of the Grecian Camp.

Enter Ajax and Thersites.




Agamemnon, how if he had boils? full, all over, generally?


Thersites!  4


And those boils did run? Say so, did not the general run then? were not that a botchy core?


Dog!  8


Then would come some matter from him: I see none now.


Thou bitch-wolf’s son, canst thou not hear?

Feel, then.

[Strikes him.


The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel beef-witted lord!


Speak then, thou vinewedst leaven, speak: I will beat thee into handsomeness.  16


I shall sooner rail thee into wit and holiness: but I think thy horse will sooner con an oration than thou learn a prayer without book. Thou canst strike, canst thou? a red murrain o’ thy jade’s tricks!  21


Toadstool, learn me the proclamation.


Dost thou think I have no sense, thou strikest me thus?  24


The proclamation!


Thou art proclaimed a fool, I think.


Do not, porpentine, do not: my fingers itch.  28


I would thou didst itch from head to foot, and I had the scratching of thee; I would make thee the loathsomest scab of Greece. When thou art forth in the incursions, thou strikest as slow as another.  33


I say, the proclamation!


Thou grumblest and railest every hour on Achilles, and thou art as full of envy at his greatness as Cerberus is at Proserpina’s beauty, ay that thou barkest at him.


Mistress Thersites!


Thou shouldst strike him.  40




He would pun thee into shivers with his fist, as a sailor breaks a biscuit.


You whoreson cur.

[Beating him.


Do, do.  45


Thou stool for a witch!


Ay, do, do; thou sodden-witted lord! thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows; an assinego may tutor thee: thou scurvy-valiant ass! thou art here but to thrash Trojans; and thou art bought and sold among those of any wit, like a barbarian slave. If thou use to beat me, I will begin at thy heel, and tell what thou art by inches, thou thing of no bowels, thou!


You dog!


You scurvy lord!  56


You cur!

[Beating him.


Mars his idiot! do, rudeness; do, camel; do, do.

Enter Achilles and Patroclus.


Why, how now, Ajax! wherefore do you this?  60

How now, Thersites! what’s the matter, man?


You see him there, do you?


Ay; what’s the matter?


Nay, look upon him.  64


So I do: what’s the matter?


Nay, but regard him well.


‘Well!’ why, so I do.


But yet you look not well upon him; for, whosoever you take him to be, he is Ajax.  69


I know that, fool.


Ay, but that fool knows not himself.


Therefore I beat thee.  72


Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he utters! his evasions have ears thus long. I have bobbed his brain more than he has beat my bones: I will buy nine sparrows for a penny, and his pia mater is not worth the ninth part of a sparrow. This lord, Achilles, Ajax, who wears his wit in his belly, and his guts in his head, I’ll tell you what I say of him.  80




I say, this Ajax,—

[Ajax offers to strike him.


Nay, good Ajax.


Has not so much wit—  84


Nay, I must hold you.


As will stop the eye of Helen’s needle, for whom he comes to fight.


Peace, fool!  88


I would have peace and quietness, but the fool will not: he there; that he; look you there.


O thou damned cur! I shall—  92


Will you set your wit to a fool’s?


No, I warrant you; for a fool’s will shame it.


Good words, Thersites.  96


What’s the quarrel?


I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenour of the proclamation, and he rails upon me.  100


I serve thee not.


Well, go to, go to.


I serve here voluntary.


Your last service was sufferance, ’twas not voluntary; no man is beaten voluntary: Ajax was here the voluntary, and you as under an impress.  107


Even so; a great deal of your wit too lies in your sinews, or else there be liars. Hector shall have a great catch if he knock out either of your brains: a’ were as good crack a fusty nut with no kernel.  112


What, with me too, Thersites?


There’s Ulysses and old Nestor, whose wit was mouldy ere your grandsires had nails on their toes, yoke you like draught-oxen, and make you plough up the wars.  117


What, what?


Yes, good sooth: to, Achilles! to, Ajax! to!  120


I shall cut out your tongue.


’Tis no matter; I shall speak as much as thou afterwards.


No more words, Thersites; peace!  124


I will hold my peace when Achilles’ brach bids me, shall I?


There’s for you, Patroclus.


I will see you hanged, like clotpoles, ere I come any more to your tents: I will keep where there is wit stirring and leave the faction of fools.



A good riddance.  132


Marry, this, sir, is proclaim’d through all our host:

That Hector, by the fifth hour of the sun,

Will, with a trumpet, ’twixt our tents and Troy

To morrow morning call some knight to arms

That hath a stomach; and such a one that dare  137

Maintain—I know not what: ’tis trash. Farewell.


Farewell. Who shall answer him?


I know not: it is put to lottery; otherwise,  140

He knew his man.


O, meaning you. I will go learn more of it.


Scene II.— Troy. A Room in Priam’s Palace.

Enter Priam, Hector, Troilus, Paris, and Helenus.


After so many hours, lives, speeches spent,

Thus once again says Nestor from the Greeks:

‘Deliver Helen, and all damage else,

As honour, loss of time, travail, expense,  4

Wounds, friends, and what else dear that is consum’d

In hot digestion of this cormorant war,

Shall be struck off.’ Hector, what say you to’t?


Though no man lesser fears the Greeks than I,  8

As far as toucheth my particular,

Yet, dread Priam,

There is no lady of more softer bowels,

More spongy to suck in the sense of fear,  12

More ready to cry out ‘Who knows what follows?’

Than Hector is. The wound of peace is surety,

Surety secure; but modest doubt is call’d

The beacon of the wise, the tent that searches  16

To the bottom of the worst. Let Helen go:

Since the first sword was drawn about this question,

Every tithe soul, ’mongst many thousand dismes,

Hath been as dear as Helen; I mean, of ours:

If we have lost so many tenths of ours,  21

To guard a thing not ours nor worth to us,

Had it our name, the value of one ten,

What merit’s in that reason which denies  24

The yielding of her up?


Fie, fie! my brother,

Weigh you the worth and honour of a king

So great as our dread father in a scale

Of common ounces? will you with counters sum

The past proportion of his infinite?  29

And buckle in a waist most fathomless

With spans and inches so diminutive

As fears and reasons? fie, for godly shame!  32


No marvel, though you bite so sharp at reasons,

You are so empty of them. Should not our father

Bear the great sway of his affairs with reasons,

Because your speech hath none that tells him so?  36


You are for dreams and slumbers, brother priest;

You fur your gloves with reason. Here are your reasons:

You know an enemy intends you harm;

You know a sword employ’d is perilous,  40

And reason flies the object of all harm:

Who marvels then, when Helenus beholds

A Grecian and his sword, if he do set

The very wings of reason to his heels,  44

And fly like chidden Mercury from Jove,

Or like a star disorb’d? Nay, if we talk of reason,

Let’s shut our gates and sleep: manhood and honour

Should have hare-hearts, would they but fat their thoughts  48

With this cramm’d reason: reason and respect

Make livers pale, and lustihood deject.


Brother, she is not worth what she doth cost

The holding.


What is aught but as ’tis valu’d?


But value dwells not in particular will;

It holds his estimate and dignity

As well wherein ’tis precious of itself

As in the prizer. ’Tis mad idolatry  56

To make the service greater than the god;

And the will dotes that is inclinable

To what infectiously itself affects,

Without some image of the affected merit.  60


I take to-day a wife, and my election

Is led on in the conduct of my will;

My will enkindled by mine eyes and ears,

Two traded pilots ’twixt the dangerous shores  64

Of will and judgment. How may I avoid,

Although my will distaste what it elected,

The wife I chose? there can be no evasion

To blench from this and to stand firm by honour.  68

We turn not back the silks upon the merchant

When we have soil’d them, nor the remainder viands

We do not throw in unrespective sink

Because we now are full. It was thought meet

Paris should do some vengeance on the Greeks:

Your breath of full consent bellied his sails;

The seas and winds—old wranglers—took a truce

And did him service: he touch’d the ports desir’d,  76

And for an old aunt whom the Greeks held captive

He brought a Grecian queen, whose youth and freshness

Wrinkles Apollo’s, and makes stale the morning.

Why keep we her? the Grecians keep our aunt:

Is she worth keeping? why, she is a pearl,  81

Whose price hath launch’d above a thousand ships,

And turn’d crown’d kings to merchants.

If you’ll avouch ’twas wisdom Paris went,—  84

As you must needs, for you all cried ‘Go, go,’—

If you’ll confess he brought home noble prize,—

As you must needs, for you all clapp’d your hands,

And cry’d ‘Inestimable!’—why do you now  88

The issue of your proper wisdoms rate,

And do a deed that Fortune never did,

Beggar the estimation which you priz’d

Richer than sea and land? O! theft most base,

That we have stol’n what we do fear to keep!  93

But thieves unworthy of a thing so stol’n,

That in their country did them that disgrace

We fear to warrant in our native place.  96


[Within.] Cry, Trojans, cry!


What noise? what shriek?


’Tis our mad sister, I do know her voice


[Within.] Cry, Trojans!


It is Cassandra.  100

Enter Cassandra, raving.


Cry, Trojans, cry! lend me ten thousand eyes,

And I will fill them with prophetic tears.


Peace, sister, peace!


Virgins and boys, mid-age and wrinkled eld,  104

Soft infancy, that nothing canst but cry,

Add to my clamours! let us pay betimes

A moiety of that mass of moan to come.

Cry, Trojans, cry! practise your eyes with tears!

Troy must not be, nor goodly Ilion stand;  109

Our firebrand brother, Paris, burns us all.

Cry, Trojans, cry! a Helen and a woe!

Cry, cry! Troy burns, or else let Helen go.



Now, youthful Troilus, do not these high strains  113

Of divination in our sister work

Some touches of remorse? or is your blood

So madly hot that no discourse of reason,  116

Nor fear of bad success in a bad cause,

Can qualify the same?


Why, brother Hector,

We may not think the justness of each act

Such and no other than event doth form it,  120

Nor once deject the courage of our minds,

Because Cassandra’s mad: her brain-sick raptures

Cannot distaste the goodness of a quarrel

Which hath our several honours all engag’d  124

To make it gracious. For my private part,

I am no more touch’d than all Priam’s sons;

And Jove forbid there should be done amongst us

Such things as might offend the weakest spleen

To fight for and maintain.  129


Else might the world convince of levity

As well my undertakings as your counsels;

But I attest the gods, your full consent  132

Gave wings to my propension and cut off

All fears attending on so dire a project:

For what, alas! can these my single arms?

What propugnation is in one man’s valour,  136

To stand the push and enmity of those

This quarrel would excite? Yet, I protest,

Were I alone to pass the difficulties,

And had as ample power as I have will,  140

Paris should ne’er retract what he hath done,

Nor faint in the pursuit.


Paris, you speak

Like one besotted on your sweet delights:

You have the honey still, but these the gall;  144

So to be valiant is no praise at all.


Sir, I propose not merely to myself

The pleasure such a beauty brings with it;

But I would have the soil of her fair rape  148

Wip’d off, in honourable keeping her.

What treason were it to the ransack’d queen,

Disgrace to your great worths, and shame to me,

Now to deliver her possession up,  152

On terms of base compulsion! Can it be

That so degenerate a strain as this

Should once set footing in your generous bosoms?

There’s not the meanest spirit on our party  156

Without a heart to dare or sword to draw

When Helen is defended, nor none so noble

Whose life were ill bestow’d or death unfam’d

Where Helen is the subject: then, I say,  160

Well may we fight for her, whom, we know well,

The world’s large spaces cannot parallel.


Paris and Troilus, you have both said well;

And on the cause and question now in hand  164

Have gloz’d, but superficially; not much

Unlike young men, whom Aristotle thought

Unfit to hear moral philosophy.

The reasons you allege do more conduce  168

To the hot passion of distemper’d blood

Than to make up a free determination

’Twixt right and wrong; for pleasure and revenge

Have ears more deaf than adders to the voice

Of any true decision. Nature craves  173

All dues be render’d to their owners: now,

What nearer debt in all humanity

Than wife is to the husband? if this law  176

Of nature be corrupted through affection,

And that great minds, of partial indulgence

To their benumbed wills, resist the saine;

There is a law in each well-order’d nation  180

To curb those raging appetites that are

Most disobedient and refractory.

If Helen then be wife to Sparta’s king,

As it is known she is, these moral laws  184

Of nature, and of nations, speak aloud

To have her back return’d: thus to persist

In doing wrong extenuates not wrong,

But makes it much more heavy. Hector’s opinion  188

Is this, in way of truth; yet, ne’ertheless,

My spritely brethren, I propend to you

In resolution to keep Helen still;

For ’tis a cause that hath no mean dependance

Upon our joint and several dignities.  193


Why, there you touch’d the life of our design:

Were it not glory that we more affected

Than the performance of our heaving spleens,

I would not wish a drop of Trojan blood  197

Spent more in her defence. But, worthy Hector,

She is a theme of honour and renown,

A spur to valiant and magnanimous deeds,  200

Whose present courage may beat down our foes,

And fame in time to come canonize us;

For, I presume, brave Hector would not lose

So rich advantage of a promis’d glory  204

As smiles upon the forehead of this action

For the wide world’s revenue.


I am yours,

You valiant offspring of great Priamus.

I have a roisting challenge sent amongst  208

The dull and factious nobles of the Greeks

Will strike amazement to their drowsy spirits.

I was advertis’d their great general slept

Whilst emulation in the army crept:  212

This, I presume, will wake him.


Scene III.— The Grecian Camp. Before Achilles’ Tent.

Enter Thersites.


How now, Thersites! what, lost in the labyrinth of thy fury! Shall the elephant Ajax carry it thus? he beats me, and I rail at him: O worthy satisfaction! Would it were otherwise; that I could beat him, whilst he railed at me. ’Sfoot, I’ll learn to conjure and raise devils, but I’ll see some issue of my spiteful execrations. Then there’s Achilles, a rare enginer. If Troy be not taken till these two undermine it, the walls will stand till they fall of themselves. O! thou great thunder-darter of Olympus, forget that thou art Jove the king of gods, and, Mercury, lose all the serpentine craft of thy caduceus, if ye take not that little little less than little wit from them that they have; which short-armed ignorance itself knows is so abundant scarce it will not in circumvention deliver a fly from a spider, without drawing their massy irons and cutting the web. After this, the vengeance on the whole camp! or, rather, the Neapolitan bone-ache! for that, methinks, is the curse dependant on those that war for a placket. I have said my prayers, and devil Envy say Amen. What, ho! my Lord Achilles!  24

Enter Patroclus.


Who’s there? Thersites! Good Thersites, come in and rail.


If I could have remembered a gilt counterfeit, thou wouldst not have slipped out of my contemplation: but it is no matter; thyself upon thyself! The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue! heaven bless thee from a tutor, and discipline come not near thee! Let thy blood be thy direction till thy death! then, if she that lays thee out says thou art a fair corpse, I’ll be sworn and sworn upon’t she never shrouded any but lazars. Amen. Where’s Achilles?  37


What! art thou devout? wast thou in prayer?


Ay; the heavens hear me!  40

Enter Achilles.


Who’s there?


Thersites, my lord.


Where, where? Art thou come? Why, my cheese, my digestion, why hast thou not served thyself in to my table so many meals? Come, what’s Agamemnon?


Thy commander, Achilles. Then tell me, Patroclus, what’s Achilles?  48


Thy lord, Thersites. Then tell me, I pray thee, what’s thyself?


Thy knower, Patroclus. Then tell me, Patroclus, what art thou?  52


Thou mayst tell that knowest.


O! tell, tell.


I’ll decline the whole question. Agamemnon commands Achilles; Achilles is my lord; I am Patroclus’ knower; and Patroclus is a fool.


You rascal!


Peace, fool! I have not done.  60


He is a privileged man. Proceed, Thersites.


Agamemnon is a fool; Achilles is a fool; Thersites is a fool; and, as aforesaid, Patroclus is a fool.  65


Derive this; come.


Agamemnon is a fool to offer to command Achilles; Achilles is a fool to be commanded of Agamemnon; Thersites is a fool to serve such a fool; and Patroclus is a fool positive.


Why am I a fool?  72


Make that demand to the Creator. It suffices me thou art. Look you, who comes here?


Patroclus, I’ll speak with nobody. Come in with me, Thersites.



Here is such patchery, such juggling, and such knavery! all the argument is a cuckold and a whore; a good quarrel to draw emulous factions and bleed to death upon. Now, the dry serpigo on the subject! and war and lechery confound all!


Enter Agamemnon, Ulysses, Nestor, Diomedes, and Ajax.


Where is Achilles?  84


Within his tent; but ill-dispos’d, my lord.


Let it be known to him that we are here.

He shent our messengers; and we lay by

Our appertainments, visiting of him:  88

Let him be told so; lest perchance he think

We dare not move the question of our place,

Or know not what we are.


I shall say so to him.



We saw him at the opening of his tent:  92

He is not sick.


Yes, lion-sick, sick of proud heart: you may call it melancholy if you will favour the man; but, by my head, ’tis pride: but why, why? let him show us a cause. A word, my lord.

[Takes Agamemnon aside.


What moves Ajax thus to bay at him?


Achilles hath inveigled his fool from him.  101


Who, Thersites?




Then will Ajax lack matter, if he have lost his argument.  105


No; you see, he is his argument that has his argument, Achilles.


All the better; their fraction is more our wish than their faction: but it was a strong composure a fool could disunite.


The amity that wisdom knits not folly may easily untie. Here comes Patroclus.  112

Re-enter Patroclus.


No Achilles with him.


The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy: his legs are legs for necessity, not for flexure.  116


Achilles bids me say, he is much sorry

If any thing more than your sport and pleasure

Did move your greatness and this noble state

To call upon him; he hopes it is no other  120

But, for your health and your digestion sake,

An after-dinner’s breath.


Hear you, Patroclus:

We are too well acquainted with these answers:

But his evasion, wing’d thus swift with scorn,

Cannot outfly our apprehensions.  125

Much attribute he hath, and much the reason

Why we ascribe it to him; yet all his virtues,

Not virtuously on his own part beheld,  128

Do in our eyes begin to lose their gloss,

Yea, like fair fruit in an unwholesome dish,

Are like to rot untasted. Go and tell him,

We come to speak with him; and you shall not sin  132

If you do say we think him over-proud

And under-honest, in self-assumption greater

Than in the note of judgment; and worthier than himself  135

Here tend the savage strangeness he puts on,

Disguise the holy strength of their command,

And underwrite in an observing kind

His humorous predominance; yea, watch

His pettish lunes, his ebbs, his flows, as if  140

The passage and whole carriage of this action

Rode on his tide. Go tell him this, and add,

That if he overhold his price so much,

We’ll none of him; but let him, like an engine

Not portable, lie under this report:  145

‘Bring action hither, this cannot go to war:’

A stirring dwarf we do allowance give

Before a sleeping giant: tell him so.  148


I shall; and bring his answer presently.



In second voice we’ll not be satisfied;

We come to speak with him. Ulysses, enter you.

[Exit Ulysses.


What is he more than another?  152


No more than what he thinks he is.


Is he so much? Do you not think he thinks himself a better man than I am?


No question.  156


Will you subscribe his thought, and say he is?


No, noble Ajax; you are as strong, as valiant, as wise, no less noble, much more gentle, and altogether more tractable.  161


Why should a man be proud? How doth pride grow? I know not what pride is.


Your mind is the clearer, Ajax, and your virtues the fairer. He that is proud eats up himself: pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the deed, devours the deed in the praise.  169


I do hate a proud man, as I hate the engendering of toads.


[Aside.] Yet he loves himself: is’t not strange?  173

Re-enter Ulysses.


Achilles will not to the field to-morrow.


What’s his excuse?


He doth rely on none,

But carries on the stream of his dispose  176

Without observance or respect of any,

In will peculiar and in self-admission.


Why will he not upon our fair request

Untent his person and share the air with us?


Things small as nothing, for request’s sake only,  181

He makes important: possess’d he is with greatness,

And speaks not to himself but with a pride

That quarrels at self-breath: imagin’d worth

Holds in his blood such swoln and hot discourse,  185

That ’twixt his mental and his active parts

Kingdom’d Achilles in commotion rages

And batters down himself: what should I say?

He is so plaguy proud, that the death-tokens of it  189

Cry ‘No recovery.’


Let Ajax go to him.

Dear lord, go you and meet him in his tent:

’Tis said he holds you well, and will be led  192

At your request a little from himself.


O Agamemnon! let it not be so.

We’ll consecrate the steps that Ajax makes

When they go from Achilles: shall the proud lord  196

That bastes his arrogance with his own seam,

And never suffers matter of the world

Enter his thoughts, save such as do revolve

And ruminate himself, shall he be worshipp’d

Of that we hold an idol more than he?  201

No, this thrice-worthy and right valiant lord

Must not so stale his palm, nobly acquir’d;

Nor, by my will, assubjugate his merit,  204

As amply titled as Achilles is,

By going to Achilles:

That were to enlard his fat-already pride,

And add more coals to Cancer when he burns

With entertaining great Hyperion.  209

This lord go to him! Jupiter forbid,

And say in thunder, ‘Achilles go to him.’


[Aside.] O! this is well; he rubs the vein of him.  213


[Aside.] And how his silence drinks up this applause!


If I go to him, with my armed fist  216

I’ll pash him o’er the face.


O, no! you shall not go.


An a’ be proud with me, I’ll pheeze his pride.

Let me go to him.  220


Not for the worth that hangs upon our quarrel.


A paltry, insolent fellow!


[Aside.] How he describes himself!


Can he not be sociable?  224


[Aside.] The raven chides blackness.


I’ll let his humours blood.


[Aside.] He will be the physician that should be the patient.  228


An all men were o’ my mind,—


[Aside.] Wit would be out of fashion.


A’ should not bear it so, a’ should eat swords first: shall pride carry it?  232


[Aside.] An’t would, you’d carry half.


[Aside.] A’ would have ten shares.


I will knead him; I will make him supple.


[Aside.] He’s not yet through warm: force him with praises: pour in, pour in; his ambition is dry.  238


[To Agamemnon.] My lord, you feed too much on this dislike.


Our noble general, do not do so.  240


You must prepare to fight without Achilles.


Why, ’tis this naming of him does him harm.

Here is a man—but ’tis before his face;

I will be silent.


Wherefore should you so?  244

He is not emulous, as Achilles is.


Know the whole world, he is as valiant.


A whoreson dog, that shall palter thus with us! Would he were a Trojan!  248


What a vice were it in Ajax now,—


If he were proud,—


Or covetous of praise,—


Ay, or surly borne,—  252


Or strange, or self-affected!


Thank the heavens, lord, thou art of sweet composure;

Praise him that got thee, her that gave thee suck:

Fam’d be thy tutor, and thy parts of nature  256

Thrice-fam’d, beyond all erudition:

But he that disciplin’d thy arms to fight,

Let Mars divide eternity in twain,

And give him half: and, for thy vigour,  260

Bull-bearing Milo his addition yield

To sinewy Ajax. I will not praise thy wisdom,

Which, like a bourn, a pale, a shore, confines

Thy spacious and dilated parts: here’s Nestor

Instructed by the antiquary times,  265

He must, he is, he cannot but be wise;

But pardon, father Nestor, were your days

As green as Ajax, and your brain so temper’d,

You should not have the eminence of him,  269

But be as Ajax.


Shall I call you father?


Ay, my good son.


Be rul’d by him, Lord Ajax.


There is no tarrying here; the hart Achilles  272

Keeps thicket. Please it our great general

To call together all his state of war;

Fresh kings are come to Troy: to-morrow,

We must with all our main of power stand fast:

And here’s a lord,—come knights from east to west,  277

And cull their flower, Ajax shall cope the best.


Go we to council. Let Achilles sleep:

Light boats sail swift, though greater hulks draw deep.



Scene I.— Troy. Priam’s Palace.

Enter Pandarus and a Servant.


Friend! you! pray you, a word: do not you follow the young Lord Paris?


Ay, sir, when he goes before me.


You depend upon him, I mean?  4


Sir, I do depend upon the Lord.


You depend upon a noble gentleman;

I must needs praise him.


The Lord be praised!  8


You know me, do you not?


Faith, sir, superficially.


Friend, know me better. I am the

Lord Pandarus.  12


I hope I shall know your honour better.


I do desire it.


You are in the state of grace.  16


Grace! not so, friend; honour and lordship are my titles. [Music within.] What music is this?


I do but partly know, sir: it is music in parts.  21


Know you the musicians?


Wholly, sir.


Who play they to?  24


To the hearers, sir.


At whose pleasure, friend?


At mine, sir, and theirs that love music.


Command, I mean, friend.  28


Who shall I command, sir?


Friend, we understand not one another:

I am too courtly, and thou art too cunning. At whose request do these men play?  32


That’s to’t, indeed, sir. Marry, sir, at the request of Paris my lord, who is there in person; with him the mortal Venus, the heartblood of beauty, love’s invisible soul.  36


Who, my cousin Cressida?


No, sir, Helen: could you not find out that by her attributes?


It should seem, fellow, that thou hast not seen the Lady Cressida. I come to speak with Paris from the Prince Troilus: I will make a complimental assault upon him, for my business seethes.  44


Sodden business: there’s a stewed phrase, indeed.

Enter Paris and Helen, attended.


Fair be to you, my lord, and to all this fair company! fair desires, in all fair measures, fairly guide them! especially to you, fair queen! fair thoughts be your fair pillow!  50


Dear lord, you are full of fair words.


You speak your fair pleasure, sweet queen. Fair prince, here is good broken music.


You have broke it, cousin; and, by my life, you shall make it whole again: you shall piece it out with a piece of your performance. Nell, he is full of harmony.  57


Truly, lady, no.


O, sir!


Rude, in sooth; in good sooth, very rude.  61


Well said, my lord! Well, you say so in fits.


I have business to my lord, dear queen.

My lord, will you vouchsafe me a word?  65


Nay, this shall not hedge us out: we’ll hear you sing, certainly.


Well, sweet queen, you are pleasant with me. But, marry, thus, my lord. My dear lord and most esteemed friend, your brother Troilus—


My Lord Pandarus; honey-sweet lord,—  73


Go to, sweet queen, go to: commends himself most affectionately to you.


You shall not bob us out of our melody: if you do, our melancholy upon your head!


Sweet queen, sweet queen! that’s a sweet queen, i’ faith.  80


And to make a sweet lady sad is a sour offence.


Nay, that shall not serve your turn; that shall it not, in truth, la! Nay, I care not for such words: no, no. And, my lord, he desires you, that if the king call for him at supper, you will make his excuse.


My Lord Pandarus,—  88


What says my sweet queen, my very sweet queen?


What exploit’s in hand? where sups he to-night?  92


Nay, but my lord,—


What says my sweet queen! My cousin will fall out with you. You must know where he sups.  96


I’ll lay my life, with my disposer Cressida.


No, no, no such matter; you are wide. Come, your disposer is sick.  100


Well, I’ll make excuse.


Ay, good my lord. Why should you say Cressida? no, your poor disposer’s sick.


I spy.  104


You spy! what do you spy? Come, give me an instrument. Now, sweet queen.


Why, this is kindly done.


My niece is horribly in love with a thing you have, sweet queen.  109


She shall have it, my lord, if it be not my Lord Paris.


He! no, she’ll none of him; they two are twain.  113


Falling in, after falling out, may make them three.


Come, come, I’ll hear no more of this.

I’ll sing you a song now.  117


Ay, ay, prithee now. By my troth, sweet lord, thou hast a fine forehead.


Ay, you may, you may.  120


Let thy song be love: this love will undo us all. O Cupid, Cupid, Cupid!


Love! ay, that it shall, i’ faith.


Ay, good now, love, love, nothing but love.  125


In good troth, it begins so:


Love, love, nothing but love, still more!

For, oh! love’s bow  128

Shoots buck and doe:

The shaft confounds,

Not that it wounds,

But tickles still the sore.  132

These lovers cry O! O! they die!

Yet that which seems the wound to kill,

Doth turn O! O! to ha! ha! he!

So dying love lives still:  136

O! O! a while, but ha! ha! ha!

O! O! groans out for ha! ha! ha!



In love, i’ faith, to the very tip of the nose.  141


He eats nothing but doves, love; and that breeds hot blood, and hot blood begets hot thoughts, and hot thoughts beget hot deeds, and hot deeds is love.  145


Is this the generation of love? hot blood? hot thoughts, and hot deeds? Why, they are vipers: is love a generation of vipers? Sweet lord, who’s a-field to-day?  149


Hector, Deiphobus, Helenus, Antenor, and all the gallantry of Troy: I would fain have armed to-day, but my Nell would not have it so. How chance my brother Troilus went not?  153


He hangs the lip at something: you know all, Lord Pandarus.


Not I, honey-sweet queen. I long to hear how they sped to-day. You’ll remember your brother’s excuse?


To a hair.


Farewell, sweet queen.  160


Commend me to your niece.


I will, sweet queen.

[Exit. A retreat sounded.


They’re come from field: let us to Priam’s hall

To greet the warriors. Sweet Helen, I must woo you  164

To help unarm our Hector: his stubborn buckles,

With these your white enchanting fingers touch’d,

Shall more obey than to the edge of steel

Or force of Greekish sinews; you shall do more  168

Than all the island kings,—disarm great Hector.


’Twill make us proud to be his servant, Paris;

Yea, what he shall receive of us in duty

Gives us more palm in beauty than we have,  172

Yea, overshines ourself.


Sweet, above thought I love thee.


Scene II.— The Same. PandarusOrchard.

Enter Pandarus and Troilus’ Boy, meeting.


How now! where’s thy master? at my cousin Cressida’s?


No, sir; he stays for you to conduct him thither.  4

Enter Troilus.


O! here he comes. How now, how now!


Sirrah, walk off.

[Exit Boy.


Have you seen my cousin?


No, Pandarus: I stalk about her door,

Like a strange soul upon the Stygian banks  9

Staying for waftage. O! be thou my Charon,

And give me swift transportance to those fields

Where I may wallow in the lily-beds  12

Propos’d for the deserver! O gentle Pandarus!

From Cupid’s shoulder pluck his painted wings,

And fly with me to Cressid.


Walk here i’ the orchard. I’ll bring her straight.



I am giddy, expectation whirls me round.

The imaginary relish is so sweet

That it enchants my sense. What will it be

When that the watery palate tastes indeed  20

Love’s thrice-repured nectar? death, I fear me,

Swounding destruction, or some joy too fine,

Too subtle-potent, tun’d too sharp in sweetness

For the capacity of my ruder powers:  24

I fear it much; and I do fear besides

That I shall lose distinction in my joys;

As doth a battle, when they charge on heaps

The enemy flying.  28

Re-enter Pandarus.


She’s making her ready: she’ll come straight: you must be witty now. She does so blush, and fetches her wind so short, as if she were frayed with a sprite: I’ll fetch her. It is the prettiest villain: she fetches her breath as short as a new-ta’en sparrow.



Even such a passion doth embrace my bosom;

My heart beats thicker than a fev’rous pulse;  36

And all my powers do their bestowing lose,

Like vassalage at unawares encountering

The eye of majesty.

Re-enter Pandarus with Cressida.


Come, come, what need you blush? shame’s a baby. Here she is now: swear the oaths now to her that you have sworn to me. What! are you gone again? you must be watched ere you be made tame, must you? Come your ways, come your ways; an you draw backward, we’ll put you i’ the fills. Why do you not speak to her? Come, draw this curtain, and let’s see your picture. Alas the day, how loath you are to offend day-light! an ’twere dark, you’d close sooner. So, so; rub on, and kiss the mistress. How now! a kiss in fee-farm! build there, carpenter; the air is sweet. Nay, you shall fight your hearts out ere I part you. The falcon as the tercel, for all the ducks i’ the river: go to, go to.


You have bereft me of all words, lady.


Words pay no debts, give her deeds; but she’ll bereave you of the deeds too if she call your activity in question. What! billing again? Here’s ‘In witness whereof the parties interchangeably’—Come in, come in: I’ll go get a fire.



Will you walk in, my lord?


O Cressida! how often have I wished me thus!  64


Wished, my lord! The gods grant,—O my lord!


What should they grant? what makes this pretty abruption? What too curious dreg espies my sweet lady in the fountain of our love?


More dregs than water, if my fears have eyes.


Fears make devils of cherubins; they never see truly.  73


Blind fear, that seeing reason leads, finds safer footing than blind reason stumbling without fear: to fear the worst oft cures the worse.  77


O! let my lady apprehend no fear: in all Cupid’s pageant there is presented no monster.


Nor nothing monstrous neither?  80


Nothing but our undertakings; when we vow to weep seas, live in fire, eat rocks, tame tigers; thinking it harder for our mistress to devise imposition enough than for us to undergo any difficulty imposed. This is the monstruosity in love, lady, that the will is infinite, and the execution confined; that the desire is boundless, and the act a slave to limit.  88


They say all lovers swear more performance than they are able, and yet reserve an ability that they never perform; vowing more than the perfection of ten and discharging less than the tenth part of one. They that have the voice of lions and the act of hares, are they not monsters?  95


Are there such? such are not we. Praise us as we are tasted, allow us as we prove; our head shall go bare, till merit crown it. No perfection in reversion shall have a praise in present: we will not name desert before his birth, and, being born, his addition shall be humble. Few words to fair faith: Troilus shall be such to Cressid, as what envy can say worst shall be a mock for his truth; and what truth can speak truest not truer than Troilus.  105


Will you walk in, my lord?

Re-enter Pandarus.


What! blushing still? have you not done talking yet?  108


Well, uncle, what folly I commit, I dedicate to you.


I thank you for that: if my lord get a boy of you, you’ll give him me. Be true to my lord; if he flinch, chide me for it.  113


You know now your hostages; your uncle’s word, and my firm faith.


Nay, I’ll give my word for her too. Our kindred, though they be long ere they are wooed, they are constant being won: they are burrs, I can tell you; they’ll stick where they are thrown.  120


Boldness comes to me now, and brings me heart:

Prince Troilus, I have lov’d you night and day

For many weary months.


Why was my Cressid then so hard to win?  124


Hard to seem won; but I was won, my lord,

With the first glance that ever—pardon me—

If I confess much you will play the tyrant.

I love you now; but, till now, not so much  128

But I might master it: in faith, I lie;

My thoughts were like unbridled children, grown

Too headstrong for their mother. See, we fools!

Why have I blabb’d? who shall be true to us  132

When we are so unsecret to ourselves?

But, though I lov’d you well, I woo’d you not;

And yet, good faith, I wish’d myself a man,

Or that we women had men’s privilege  136

Of speaking first. Sweet, bid me hold my tongue;

For in this rapture I shall surely speak

The thing I shall repent. See, see! your silence,

Cunning in dumbness, from my weakness draws

My very soul of counsel. Stop my mouth.  141


And shall, albeit sweet music issues thence.


Pretty, i’ faith.


My lord, I do beseech you, pardon me;

’Twas not my purpose thus to beg a kiss:  145

I am asham’d: O heavens! what have I done?

For this time will I take my leave, my lord.


Your leave, sweet Cressid?  148


Leave! an you take leave till to-morrow morning,—


Pray you, content you.


What offends you, lady?


Sir, mine own company.  152


You cannot shun yourself.


Let me go and try:

I have a kind of self resides with you;

But an unkind self, that itself will leave,  156

To be another’s fool. I would be gone:

Where is my wit? I speak I know not what.


Well know they what they speak that speak so wisely.


Perchance, my lord, I show more craft than love;  160

And fell so roundly to a large confession,

To angle for your thoughts: but you are wise,

Or else you love not, for to be wise, and love,

Exceeds man’s might; that dwells with gods above.  164


O! that I thought it could be in a woman—

As if it can I will presume in you—

To feed for aye her lamp and flames of love;

To keep her constancy in plight and youth,  168

Outliving beauty’s outward, with a mind

That doth renew swifter than blood decays:

Or that persuasion could but thus convince me,

That my integrity and truth to you  172

Might be affronted with the match and weight

Of such a winnow’d purity in love;

How were I then uplifted! but, alas!

I am as true as truth’s simplicity,  176

And simpler than the infancy of truth.


In that I’ll war with you.


O virtuous fight!

When right with right wars who shall be most right.

True swains in love shall in the world to come

Approve their truths by Troilus: when their rimes,  181

Full of protest, of oath, and big compare,

Want similes, truth tir’d with iteration,

As true as steel, as plantage to the moon,  184

As sun to day, as turtle to her mate,

As iron to adamant, as earth to the centre,

Yet, after all comparisons of truth,

As truth’s authentic author to be cited,  188

‘As true as Troilus’ shall crown up the verse

And sanctify the numbers.


Prophet may you be!

If I be false, or swerve a hair from truth,

When time is old and hath forgot itself,  192

When waterdrops have worn the stones of Troy,

And blind oblivion swallow’d cities up,

And mighty states characterless are grated

To dusty nothing, yet let memory,  196

From false to false, among false maids in love

Upbraid my falsehood! when they have said ‘as false

As air, as water, wind, or sandy earth,

As fox to lamb, as wolf to heifer’s calf,  200

Pard to the hind, or stepdame to her son;’

Yea, let them say, to stick the heart of falsehood,

‘As false as Cressid.’


Go to, a bargain made; seal it, seal it: I’ll be the witness. Here I hold your hand, here my cousin’s. If ever you prove false one to another, since I have taken such pains to bring you together, let all pitiful goers-between be called to the world’s end after my name; call them all Pandars; let all constant men be Troiluses, all false women Cressids, and all brokers-between Pandars! say, Amen.  212






Amen. Whereupon I will show you a chamber and a bed; which bed, because it shall not speak of your pretty encounters, press it to death: away!

And Cupid grant all tongue-tied maidens here

Bed, chamber, Pandar to provide this gear!  220


Scene III.— The Grecian Camp.

Enter Agamemnon, Ulysses, Diomedes, Nestor, Ajax, Menelaus, and Calchas.


Now, princes, for the service I have done you,

The advantage of the time prompts me aloud

To call for recompense. Appear it to your mind

That through the sight I bear in things to come,

I have abandon’d Troy, left my possession,  5

Incurr’d a traitor’s name; expos’d myself,

From certain and possess’d conveniences,

To doubtful fortunes; sequestering from me all

That time, acquaintance, custom, and condition

Made tame and most familiar to my nature;

And here, to do you service, have become

As new into the world, strange, unacquainted:

I do beseech you, as in way of taste,  13

To give me now a little benefit,

Out of those many register’d in promise,

Which, you say, live to come in my behalf.  16


What wouldst thou of us, Trojan? make demand.


You have a Trojan prisoner, call’d Antenor,

Yesterday took: Troy holds him very dear.

Oft have you—often have you thanks therefore—  20

Desir’d my Cressid in right great exchange,

Whom Troy hath still denied; but this Antenor

I know is such a wrest in their affairs

That their negociations all must slack,  24

Wanting his manage; and they will almost

Give us a prince of blood, a son of Priam,

In change of him: let him be sent, great princes,

And he shall buy my daughter; and her presence  28

Shall quite strike off all service I have done,

In most accepted pain.


Let Diomedes bear him,

And bring us Cressid hither: Calchas shall have

What he requests of us. Good Diomed,  32

Furnish you fairly for this interchange:

Withal bring word if Hector will to-morrow

Be answer’d in his challenge: Ajax is ready.


This shall I undertake; and ’tis a burden  36

Which I am proud to bear.

[Exeunt Diomedes and Calchas.

Enter Achilles and Patroclus, before their tent.


Achilles stands in the entrance of his tent:

Please it our general to pass strangely by him,

As if he were forgot; and, princes all,  40

Lay negligent and loose regard upon him:

I will come last. ’Tis like he’ll question me

Why such unplausive eyes are bent on him:

If so, I have derision med’cinable  44

To use between your strangeness and his pride,

Which his own will shall have desire to drink.

It may do good: pride hath no other glass

To show itself but pride, for supple knees  48

Feed arrogance and are the poor man’s fees.


We’ll execute your purpose, and put on

A form of strangeness as we pass along:

So do each lord, and either greet him not,  52

Or else disdainfully, which shall shake him more

Than if not look’d on. I will lead the way.


What! comes the general to speak with me?

You know my mind; I’ll fight no more ’gainst Troy.  56


What says Achilles? would he aught with us?


Would you, my lord, aught with the general?




Nothing, my lord.  60


The better.

[Exeunt Agamemnon and Nestor.


Good day, good day.


How do you? how do you?



What! does the cuckold scorn me?  64


How now, Patroclus?


Good morrow, Ajax.




Good morrow.  68


Ay, and good next day too.



What mean these fellows? Know they not Achilles?


They pass by strangely: they were us’d to bend,

To send their smiles before them to Achilles;  72

To come as humbly as they us’d to creep

To holy altars.


What! am I poor of late?

’Tis certain, greatness, once fall’n out with fortune,

Must fall out with men too: what the declin’d is

He shall as soon read in the eyes of others  77

As feel in his own fall; for men, like butterflies,

Show not their mealy wings but to the summer,

And not a man, for being simply man,  80

Hath any honour, but honour for those honours

That are without him, as places, riches, and favour,

Prizes of accident as oft as merit:

Which when they fall, as being slippery standers,  84

The love that lean’d on them as slippery too,

Do one pluck down another, and together

Die in the fall. But ’tis not so with me:

Fortune and I are friends: I do enjoy  88

At ample point all that I did possess,

Save these men’s looks; who do, methinks, find out

Something not worth in me such rich beholding

As they have often given. Here is Ulysses:  92

I’ll interrupt his reading.

How now, Ulysses!


Now, great Thetis’ son!


What are you reading?


A strange fellow here

Writes me,

That man, how dearly ever parted,

How much in having, or without or in,  97

Cannot make boast to have that which he hath,

Nor feels not what he owes but by reflection;

As when his virtues shining upon others  100

Heat them, and they retort that heat again

To the first giver.


This is not strange, Ulysses!

The beauty that is borne here in the face

The bearer knows not, but commends itself  104

To others’ eyes: nor doth the eye itself—

That most pure spirit of sense—behold itself,

Not going from itself; but eye to eye oppos’d

Salutes each other with each other’s form;  108

For speculation turns not to itself

Till it hath travell’d and is mirror’d there

Where it may see itself. This is not strange at all.


I do not strain at the position,  112

It is familiar, but at the author s drift;

Who in his circumstance expressly proves

That no man is the lord of any thing—

Though in and of him there be much consisting—  116

Till he communicate his parts to others:

Nor doth he of himself know them for aught

Till he behold them form’d in the applause

Where they’re extended; who, like an arch, reverberates  120

The voice again, or, like a gate of steel

Fronting the sun, receives and renders back

His figure and his heat. I was much rapt in this;

And apprehended here immediately  124

The unknown Ajax.

Heavens, what a man is there! a very horse,

That has he knows not what. Nature, what things there are,

Most abject in regard, and dear in use!  128

What things again most dear in the esteem

And poor in worth! Now shall we see to-morrow,

An act that very chance doth throw upon him,

Ajax renown’d. O heavens! what some men do;  132

While some men leave to do.

How some men creep in skittish Fortune’s hall,

Whiles others play the idiots in her eyes!

How one man eats into another’s pride,  136

While pride is fasting in his wantonness!

To see these Grecian lords! why, even already

They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder,

As if his foot were on brave Hector’s breast,  140

And great Troy shrinking.


I do believe it; for they pass’d by me

As misers do by beggars, neither gave to me

Good word or look: what! are my deeds forgot?


Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,  145

Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,

A great-siz’d monster of ingratitudes:

Those scraps are good deeds past; which are devour’d  148

As fast as they are made, forgot as soon

As done: perseverance, dear my lord,

Keeps honour bright: to have done, is to hang

Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail  152

In monumental mockery. Take the instant way;

For honour travels in a strait so narrow

Where one but goes abreast: keep, then, the path;

For emulation hath a thousand sons  156

That one by one pursue: if you give way,

Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,

Like to an enter’d tide they all rush by

And leave you hindmost;  160

Or, like a gallant horse fall’n in first rank,

Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,

O’errun and trampled on: then what they do in present,

Though less than yours in past, must o’ertop yours;  164

For time is like a fashionable host,

That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand,

And with his arms outstretch’d, as he would fly,

Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles,  168

And farewell goes out sighing. O! let not virtue seek

Remuneration for the thing it was;

For beauty, wit,

High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service,  172

Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all

To envious and calumniating time.

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,

That all with one consent praise new-born gawds,  176

Though they are made and moulded of things past,

And give to dust that is a little gilt

More laud than gilt o’er-dusted.

The present eye praises the present object:  180

Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,

That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax;

Since things in motion sooner catch the eye

Than what not stirs. The cry went once on thee,  184

And still it might, and yet it may again,

If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive,

And case thy reputation in thy tent;

Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late,

Made emulous missions ’mongst the gods themselves,  189

And drave great Mars to faction.


Of this my privacy

I have strong reasons.


But ’gainst your privacy

The reasons are more potent and heroical.  192

’Tis known, Achilles, that you are in love

With one of Priam’s daughters.


Ha! known!


Is that a wonder?  196

The providence that’s in a watchful state

Knows almost every grain of Plutus’ gold,

Finds bottom in the uncomprehensive deeps,

Keeps place with thought, and almost, like the gods,  200

Does thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles.

There is a mystery—with whom relation

Durst never meddle—in the soul of state,

Which hath an operation more divine  204

Than breath or pen can give expressure to.

All the commerce that you have had with Troy

As perfectly is ours as yours, my lord;

And better would it fit Achilles much  208

To throw down Hector than Polyxena;

But it must grieve young Pyrrhus now at home,

When fame shall in our islands sound her trump,

And all the Greekish girls shall tripping sing,

‘Great Hector’s sister did Achilles win,  213

But our great Ajax bravely beat down him.’

Farewell, my lord: I as your lover speak;

The fool slides o’er the ice that you should break.



To this effect, Achilles, have I mov’d you.  217

A woman impudent and mannish grown

Is not more loath’d than an effeminate man

In time of action. I stand condemn’d for this:

They think my little stomach to the war  221

And your great love to me restrains you thus.

Sweet, rouse yourself; and the weak wanton Cupid

Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold,

And, like a dew-drop from the lion’s mane,  225

Be shook to air.


Shall Ajax fight with Hector?


Ay; and perhaps receive much honour by him.


I see my reputation is at stake;  228

My fame is shrewdly gor’d.


O! then, beware;

Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves:

Omission to do what is necessary

Seals a commission to a blank of danger;  232

And danger, like an ague, subtly taints

Even then when we sit idly in the sun.


Go call Thersites hither, sweet Patroclus:

I’ll send the fool to Ajax and desire him  236

T’ invite the Trojan lords after the combat

To see us here unarmed. I have a woman’s longing,

An appetite that I am sick withal,

To see great Hector in his weeds of peace;  240

To talk with him and to behold his visage,

Even to my full of view. A labour sav’d!

Enter Thersites.


A wonder!


What?  244


Ajax goes up and down the field, asking for himself.


How so?


He must fight singly to-morrow with Hector, and is so prophetically proud of an heroical cudgelling that he raves in saying nothing.


How can that be?  252


Why, he stalks up and down like a peacock, a stride and a stand; ruminates like a hostess that hath no arithmetic but her brain to set down her reckoning; bites his lip with a politic regard, as who should say ‘There were wit in this head, an ’twould out;’ and so there is, but it lies as coldly in him as fire in a flint, which will not show without knocking. The man’s undone for ever; for if Hector break not his neck i’ the combat, he’ll break’t himself in vainglory. He knows not me: I said, ‘Good morrow, Ajax;’ and he replies, ‘Thanks, Agamemnon.’ What think you of this man that takes me for the general? He’s grown a very land-fish, languageless, a monster. A plague of opinion! a man may wear it on both sides, like a leather jerkin.  269


Thou must be my ambassador to him, Thersites.


Who, I? why, he’ll answer nobody; he professes not answering; speaking is for beggars; he wears his tongue in his arms. I will put on his presence: let Patroclus make demands to me, you shall see the pageant of Ajax.  276


To him, Patroclus: tell him, I humbly desire the valiant Ajax to invite the most valorous Hector to come unarmed to my tent; and to procure safe-conduct for his person of the magnanimous and most illustrious, six-or-seven-times-honoured captain-general of the Grecian army, Agamemnon, et cætera. Do this.


Jove bless great Ajax!  284




I come from the worthy Achilles,—




Who most humbly desires you to invite Hector to his tent,—  289




And to procure safe-conduct from Agamemnon.  292




Ay, my lord.




What say you to’t?  296


God be wi’ you, with all my heart.


Your answer, sir.


If to-morrow be a fair day, by eleven o’clock it will go one way or other; howsoever, he shall pay for me ere he has me.  301


Your answer, sir.


Fare you well, with all my heart.


Why, but he is not in this tune, is he?


No, but he’s out o’ tune thus. What music will be in him when Hector has knocked out his brains, I know not; but, I am sure, none, unless the fiddler Apollo get his sinews to make catlings on.  309


Come, thou shalt bear a letter to him straight.


Let me bear another to his horse, for that’s the more capable creature.  313


My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirr’d;

And I myself see not the bottom of it.

[Exeunt Achilles and Patroclus.


Would the fountain of your mind were clear again, that I might water an ass at it! I had rather be a tick in a sheep than such a valiant ignorance.



Scene I.— Troy. A Street.

Enter, on one side, Æneas, and Servant with a torch; on the other, Paris, Deiphobus, Antenor, Diomedes, and Others, with torches.


See, ho! who is that there?


It is the Lord Æneas.


Is the prince there in person?

Had I so good occasion to lie long

As you, Prince Paris, nothing but heavenly business  4

Should rob my bed-mate of my company.


That’s my mind too. Good morrow, Lord Æneas.


A valiant Greek, Æneas; take his hand:

Witness the process of your speech, wherein  8

You told how Diomed, a whole week by days,

Did haunt you in the field.


Health to you, valiant sir,

During all question of the gentle truce;

But when I meet you arm’d, as black defiance  12

As heart can think or courage execute.


The one and other Diomed embraces.

Our bloods are now in calm, and, so long, health!

But when contention and occasion meet,  16

By Jove, I’ll play the hunter for thy life

With all my force, pursuit, and policy.


And thou shalt hunt a lion, that will fly

With his face backward. In humane gentleness,

Welcome to Troy! now, by Anchises’ life,  21

Welcome, indeed! By Venus’ hand I swear,

No man alive can love in such a sort

The thing he means to kill more excellently.  24


We sympathize. Jove, let Æneas live,

If to my sword his fate be not the glory,

A thousand complete courses of the sun!

But, in mine emulous honour, let him die,  28

With every joint a wound, and that to-morrow!


We know each other well.


We do; and long to know each other worse.


This is the most despiteful gentle greeting,  32

The noblest hateful love, that e’er I heard of.

What business, lord, so early?


I was sent for to the king; but why, I know not.


His purpose meets you: ’twas to bring this Greek  36

To Calchas’ house, and there to render him,

For the enfreed Antenor, the fair Cressid.

Let’s have your company; or, if you please,

Haste there before us. I constantly do think—  40

Or rather, call my thought a certain knowledge—

My brother Troilus lodges there to-night:

Rouse him and give him note of our approach,

With the whole quality wherefore: I fear  44

We shall be much unwelcome.


That I assure you:

Troilus had rather Troy were borne to Greece

Than Cressid borne from Troy.


There is no help;

The bitter disposition of the time  48

Will have it so. On, lord; we’ll follow you.


Good morrow, all.



And tell me, noble Diomed; faith, tell me true,

Even in the soul of sound good-fellowship,  52

Who, in your thoughts, merits fair Helen best—

Myself or Menelaus?


Both alike:

He merits well to have her that doth seek her—

Not making any scruple of her soilure—  56

With such a hell of pain and world of charge,

And you as well to keep her that defend her—

Not palating the taste of her dishonour—

With such a costly loss of wealth and friends:  60

He, like a puling cuckold, would drink up

The lees and dregs of a flat tamed piece;

You, like a lecher, out of whorish loins

Are pleas’d to breed out your inheritors:  64

Both merits pois’d, each weighs nor less nor more;

But he as he, the heavier for a whore.


You are too bitter to your country-woman.


She’s bitter to her country. Hear me, Paris:  68

For every false drop in her bawdy veins

A Grecian’s life hath sunk; for every scruple

Of her contaminated carrion weight

A Trojan hath been slain. Since she could speak,  72

She hath not given so many good words breath

As for her Greeks and Trojans suffer’d death.


Fair Diomed, you do as chapmen do,

Dispraise the thing that you desire to buy;  76

But we in silence hold this virtue well,

We’ll not commend what we intend to sell.

Here lies our way.


Scene II.— The Same. A Court before PandarusHouse.

Enter Troilus and Cressida.


Dear, trouble not yourself: the morn is cold.


Then, sweet my lord, I’ll call mine uncle down:

He shall unbolt the gates.


Trouble him not;

To bed, to bed: sleep kill those pretty eyes,  4

And give as soft attachment to thy senses

As infants’ empty of all thought!


Good morrow then.


I prithee now, to bed.


Are you aweary of me?


O Cressida! but that the busy day,  8

Wak’d by the lark, hath rous’d the ribald crows,

And dreaming night will hide our joys no longer,

I would not from thee.


Night hath been too brief.


Beshrew the witch! with venomous wights she stays  12

As tediously as hell, but flies the grasps of love

With wings more momentary-swift than thought.

You will catch cold, and curse me.


Prithee, tarry:

You men will never tarry.  16

O foolish Cressid! I might have still held off,

And then you would have tarried. Hark! there’s one up.


[Within.] What! are all the doors open here?


It is your uncle.  20


A pestilence on him! now will he be mocking: I shall have such a life!

Enter Pandarus.


How now, how now! how go maiden-heads?

Here, you maid! where’s my cousin Cressid?  24


Go hang yourself, you naughty mocking uncle!

You bring me to do—and then you flout me too.


To do what? to do what? let her say what: what have I brought you to do?  28


Come, come; beshrew your heart! you’ll ne’er be good,

Nor suffer others.


Ha, ha! Alas, poor wretch! a poor capocchia! hast not slept to-night? would he not, a naughty man, let it sleep? a bugbear take him!


Did not I tell you? ’would he were knock’d o’ the head!

[Knocking within.

Who’s that at door? good uncle, go and see.  36

My lord, come you again into my chamber:

You smile, and mock me, as if I meant naughtily.


Ha, ha!


Come, you are deceiv’d, I think of no such thing.

[Knocking within.

How earnestly they knock! Pray you, come in:

I would not for half Troy have you seen here.

[Exeunt Troilus and Cressida.


[Going to the door.] Who’s there? what’s the matter? will you beat down the door? How now! what’s the matter?  45

Enter Æneas.


Good morrow, lord, good morrow.


Who’s there? my Lord Æneas! By my troth,

I knew you not: what news with you so early?


Is not Prince Troilus here?  49


Here! what should he do here?


Come, he is here, my lord: do not deny him: it doth import him much to speak with me.  53


Is he here, say you? ’tis more than I know, I’ll be sworn: for my own part, I came in late. What should he do here?  56


Who! nay, then: come, come, you’ll do him wrong ere you’re ’ware. You’ll be so true to him, to be false to him. Do not you know of him, but yet go fetch him hither; go.  60

Re-enter Troilus.


How now! what’s the matter?


My lord, I scarce have leisure to salute you,

My matter is so rash: there is at hand

Paris your brother, and Deiphobus,  64

The Grecian Diomed, and our Antenor

Deliver’d to us; and for him forthwith,

Ere the first sacrifice, within this hour,

We must give up to Diomedes’ hand  68

The Lady Cressida.


Is it so concluded?


By Priam, and the general state of Troy:

They are at hand and ready to effect it.


How my achievements mock me!  72

I will go meet them: and, my Lord Æneas,

We met by chance; you did not find me here.


Good, good, my lord; the secrets of nature

Have not more gift in taciturnity.  76

[Exeunt Troilus and Æneas.


Is’t possible? no sooner got but lost?

The devil take Antenor! the young prince will go mad: a plague upon Antenor! I would they had broke’s neck!  80

Enter Cressida.


How now! What is the matter? Who was here?


Ah! ah!


Why sigh you so profoundly? where’s my lord? gone! Tell me, sweet uncle, what’s the matter?


Would I were as deep under the earth as I am above!  88


O the gods! what’s the matter?


Prithee, get thee in. Would thou hadst ne’er been born! I knew thou wouldst be his death. O poor gentleman! A plague upon Antenor!  93


Good uncle, I beseech you, on my knees I beseech you, what’s the matter?


Thou must be gone, wench, thou must be gone; thou art changed for Antenor. Thou must to thy father, and be gone from Troilus: ’twill be his death; ’twill be his bane; he cannot bear it.  100


O you immortal gods! I will not go.


Thou must.


I will not, uncle: I have forgot my father;

I know no touch of consanguinity;  104

No kin, no love, no blood, no soul so near me

As the sweet Troilus. O you gods divine!

Make Cressid’s name the very crown of falsehood

If ever she leave Troilus! Time, force, and death,

Do to this body what extremes you can;  109

But the strong base and building of my love

Is as the very centre of the earth,

Drawing all things to it. I’ll go in and weep,—


Do, do.  113


Tear my bright hair, and scratch my praised cheeks,

Crack my clear voice with sobs, and break my heart

With sounding Troilus. I will not go from Troy.


Scene III.— The Same. Before PandarusHouse.

Enter Paris, Troilus, Æneas, Deiphobus, Antenor, and Diomedes.


It is great morning, and the hour prefix’d

Of her delivery to this valiant Greek

Comes fast upon. Good my brother Troilus,

Tell you the lady what she is to do,  4

And haste her to the purpose.


Walk into her house;

I’ll bring her to the Grecian presently:

And to his hand when I deliver her,

Think it an altar, and thy brother Troilus  8

A priest, there offering to it his own heart.



I know what ’tis to love;

And would, as I shall pity, I could help!

Please you walk in, my lords.


Scene IV.— The Same. A Room in PandarusHouse.

Enter Pandarus and Cressida.


Be moderate, be moderate.


Why tell you me of moderation?

The grief is fine, full, perfect, that I taste,

And violenteth in a sense as strong  4

As that which causeth it: how can I moderate it?

If I could temporize with my affection,

Or brew it to a weak and colder palate,

The like allayment could I give my grief:  8

My love admits no qualifying dross;

No more my grief, in such a precious loss.

Enter Troilus.


Here, here, here he comes. Ah! sweet ducks.


[Embracing him.] O Troilus! Troilus!


What a pair of spectacles is here! Let me embrace too. ‘O heart,’ as the goodly saying is,—

O heart, heavy heart,  16

Why sigh’st thou without breaking?

when he answers again,

Because thou canst not ease thy smart

By friendship nor by speaking.  20

There was never a truer rime. Let us cast away nothing, for we may live to have need of such a verse: we see it, we see it. How now, lambs!


Cressid, I love thee in so strain’d a purity,  24

That the bless’d gods, as angry with my fancy,

More bright in zeal than the devotion which

Cold lips blow to their deities, take thee from me.


Have the gods envy?  28


Ay, ay, ay, ay; ’tis too plain a case.


And is it true that I must go from Troy?


A hateful truth.


What! and from Troilus too?


From Troy and Troilus.


Is it possible?  32


And suddenly; where injury of chance

Puts back leave-taking, justles roughly by

All time of pause, rudely beguiles our lips

Of all rejoindure, forcibly prevents  36

Our lock’d embrasures, strangles our dear vows

Even in the birth of our own labouring breath.

We two, that with so many thousand sighs

Did buy each other, must poorly sell ourselves

With the rude brevity and discharge of one.  41

Injurious time now with a robber’s haste

Crams his rich thievery up, he knows not how:

As many farewells as be stars in heaven,  44

With distinct breath and consign’d kisses to them,

He fumbles up into a loose adieu,

And scants us with a single famish’d kiss,

Distasted with the salt of broken tears.  48


[Within.] My lord, is the lady ready?


Hark! you are call’d: some say the Genius so

Cries ‘Come!’ to him that instantly must die.

Bid them have patience; she shall come anon.


Where are my tears? rain, to lay this wind, or my heart will be blown up by the root!



I must then to the Grecians?


No remedy.


A woeful Cressid ’mongst the merry Greeks!  56

When shall we see again?


Hear me, my love. Be thou but true of heart,—


I true! how now! what wicked deem is this?


Nay, we must use expostulation kindly,

For it is parting from us:  61

I speak not ‘be thou true,’ as fearing thee,

For I will throw my glove to Death himself,

That there’s no maculation in thy heart;  64

But, ‘be thou true,’ say I, to fashion in

My sequent protestation; be thou true,

And I will see thee.


O! you shall be expos’d, my lord, to dangers  68

As infinite as imminent; but I’ll be true.


And I’ll grow friend with danger. Wear this sleeve.


And you this glove. When shall I see you?


I will corrupt the Grecian sentinels,  72

To give thee nightly visitation.

But yet, be true.


O heavens! ‘be true’ again!


Hear why I speak it, love:

The Grecian youths are full of quality;  76

They’re loving, well compos’d, with gifts of nature,

Flowing and swelling o’er with arts and exercise:

How novelty may move, and parts with person,

Alas! a kind of godly jealousy,—  80

Which, I beseech you, call a virtuous sin,—

Makes me afear’d.


O heavens! you love me not.


Die I a villain, then!

In this I do not call your faith in question  84

So mainly as my merit: I cannot sing,

Nor heel the high lavolt, nor sweeten talk,

Nor play at subtle games; fair virtues all,

To which the Grecians are most prompt and pregnant:  88

But I can tell that in each grace of these

There lurks a still and dumb-discoursive devil

That tempts most cunningly. But be not tempted.


Do you think I will?  92



But something may be done that we will not:

And sometimes we are devils to ourselves

When we will tempt the frailty of our powers,

Presuming on their changeful potency.  97


[Within.] Nay, good my lord,—


Come, kiss; and let us part.


[Within.] Brother Troilus!


Good brother, come you hither;

And bring Æneas and the Grecian with you.  100


My lord, will you be true?


Who, I? alas, it is my vice, my fault:

While others fish with craft for great opinion,

I with great truth catch mere simplicity;  104

Whilst some with cunning gild their copper crowns,

With truth and plainness I do wear mine bare.

Fear not my truth; the moral of my wit

Is plain, and true; there’s all the reach of it.

Enter Æneas, Paris, Antenor, Deiphobus, and Diomedes.

Welcome, Sir Diomed! Here is the lady  109

Which for Antenor we deliver you:

At the port, lord, I’ll give her to thy hand,

And by the way possess thee what she is.  112

Entreat her fair; and, by my soul, fair Greek,

If e’er thou stand at mercy of my sword,

Name Cressid, and thy life shall be as safe

As Priam is in Ilion.


Fair Lady Cressid,  116

So please you, save the thanks this prince expects:

The lustre in your eye, heaven in your cheek,

Pleads your fair usage; and to Diomed

You shall be mistress, and command him wholly.


Grecian, thou dost not use me courteously,  121

To shame the zeal of my petition to thee

In praising her: I tell thee, lord of Greece,

She is as far high-soaring o’er thy praises  124

As thou unworthy to be call’d her servant.

I charge thee use her well, even for my charge;

For, by the dreadful Pluto, if thou dost not,

Though the great bulk Achilles be thy guard,

I’ll cut thy throat.


O! be not mov’d, Prince Troilus:

Let me be privileg’d by my place and message

To be a speaker free; when I am hence,

I’ll answer to my lust; and know you, lord,  132

I’ll nothing do on charge: to her own worth

She shall be priz’d; but that you say ‘be’t so,’

I’ll speak it in my spirit and honour, ‘no.’


Come, to the port. I’ll tell thee, Diomed,

This brave shall oft make thee to hide thy head.  137

Lady, give me your hand, and, as you walk,

To our own selves bend we our needful talk.

[Exeunt Troilus, Cressida, and Diomedes. Trumpet sounded.


Hark! Hector’s trumpet.


How have we spent this morning!

The prince must think me tardy and remiss,  141

That swore to ride before him to the field.


’Tis Troilus’ fault. Come, come, to field with him.


Let us make ready straight.  144


Yea, with a bridegroom’s fresh alacrity,

Let us address to tend on Hector’s heels:

The glory of our Troy doth this day lie

On his fair worth and single chivalry.


Scene V.— The Grecian Camp. Lists set out.

Enter Ajax, armed; Agamemnon, Achilles, Patroclus, Menelaus, Ulysses, Nestor, and Others.


Here art thou in appointment fresh and fair,

Anticipating time with starting courage.

Give with thy trumpet a loud note to Troy,

Thou dreadful Ajax; that the appalled air  4

May pierce the head of the great combatant

And hale him hither.


Thou, trumpet, there’s my purse.

Now crack thy lungs, and split thy brazen pipe:

Blow, villain, till thy sphered bias cheek  8

Outswell the colic of puff’d Aquilon.

Come, stretch thy chest, and let thy eyes spout blood;

Thou blow’st for Hector.

[Trumpet sounds.


No trumpet answers.


’Tis but early days.  12


Is not yond Diomed with Calchas’ daughter?


’Tis he, I ken the manner of his gait;

He rises on the toe: that spirit of his

In aspiration lifts him from the earth.  16

Enter Diomedes, with Cressida.


Is this the Lady Cressid?


Even she.


Most dearly welcome to the Greeks, sweet lady.


Our general doth salute you with a kiss.


Yet is the kindness but particular;  20

’Twere better she were kiss’d in general.


And very courtly counsel: I’ll begin.

So much for Nestor.


I’ll take that winter from your lips, fair lady:  24

Achilles bids you welcome.


I had good argument for kissing once.


But that’s no argument for kissing now;

For thus popp’d Paris in his hardiment,  28

And parted thus you and your argument.


O, deadly gall, and theme of all our scorns!

For which we lose our heads to gild his horns.


The first was Menelaus’ kiss; this, mine:  32

Patroclus kisses you.


O! this is trim.


Paris and I, kiss evermore for him.


I’ll have my kiss, sir. Lady, by your leave.


In kissing, do you render or receive?  36


Both take and give.


I’ll make my match to live,

The kiss you take is better than you give;

Therefore no kiss.


I’ll give you boot; I’ll give you three for one.  40


You’re an odd man; give even, or give none.


An odd man, lady! every man is odd.


No, Paris is not; for, you know ’tis true,

That you are odd, and he is even with you.  44


You fillip me o’ the head.


No, I’ll be sworn.


It were no match, your nail against his horn.

May I, sweet lady, beg a kiss of you?


You may.


I do desire it.


Why, beg, then.  48


Why, then, for Venus’ sake, give me a kiss,

When Helen is a maid again, and his.


I am your debtor; claim it when ’tis due.


Never’s my day, and then a kiss of you.  52


Lady, a word: I’ll bring you to your father.

[Diomedes leads out Cressida.


A woman of quick sense.


Fie, fie upon her!

There’s language in her eye, her cheek, her lip,

Nay, her foot speaks; her wanton spirits look out  56

At every joint and motive of her body.

O! these encounterers, so glib of tongue,

That give a coasting welcome ere it comes,

And wide unclasp the tables of their thoughts

To every tickling reader, set them down  61

For sluttish spoils of opportunity

And daughters of the game.

[Trumpet within.


The Trojans’ trumpet.


Yonder comes the troop.  64

Enter Hector, armed; Æneas, Troilus, and other Trojans, with Attendants.


Hail, all you state of Greece! what shall be done

To him that victory commands? or do you purpose

A victor shall be known? will you the knights

Shall to the edge of all extremity  68

Pursue each other, or shall be divided

By any voice or order of the field?

Hector bade ask.


Which way would Hector have it?


He cares not; he’ll obey conditions.  72


’Tis done like Hector; but securely done,

A little proudly, and great deal misprising

The knight oppos’d.


If not Achilles, sir.

What is your name?


If not Achilles, nothing.  76


Therefore Achilles; but, whate’er, know this:

In the extremity of great and little,

Valour and pride excel themselves in Hector;

The one almost as infinite as all,  80

The other blank as nothing. Weigh him well,

And that which looks like pride is courtesy.

This Ajax is half made of Hector’s blood:

In love whereof half Hector stays at home;  84

Half heart, half hand, half Hector comes to seek

This blended knight, half Trojan, and half Greek.


A maiden battle, then? O! I perceive you.

Re-enter Diomedes.


Here is Sir Diomed. Go, gentle knight,  88

Stand by our Ajax: as you and Lord Æneas

Consent upon the order of their fight,

So be it; either to the uttermost,

Or else a breath: the combatants being kin  92

Half stints their strife before their strokes begin.

[Ajax and Hector enter the lists.


They are oppos’d already.


What Trojan is that same that looks so heavy?


The youngest son of Priam, a true knight:  96

Not yet mature, yet matchless; firm of word,

Speaking in deeds and deedless in his tongue;

Not soon provok’d, nor being provok’d soon calm’d:

His heart and hand both open and both free;  100

For what he has he gives, what thinks he shows;

Yet gives he not till judgment guide his bounty,

Nor dignifies an impure thought with breath.

Manly as Hector, but more dangerous;  104

For Hector, in his blaze of wrath, subscribes

To tender objects; but he in heat of action

Is more vindicative than jealous love.

They call him Troilus, and on him erect  108

A second hope, as fairly built as Hector.

Thus says Æneas; one that knows the youth

Even to his inches, and with private soul

Did in great Ilion thus translate him to me.  112

[Alarum. Hector and Ajax fight.


They are in action.


Now, Ajax, hold thine own!


Hector, thou sleep’st; awake thee!


His blows are well dispos’d: there, Ajax!


You must no more.

[Trumpets cease.


Princes, enough, so please you.  116


I am not warm yet; let us fight again.


As Hector pleases.


Why, then will I no more:

Thou art, great lord, my father’s sister’s son,

A cousin-german to great Priam’s seed;  120

The obligation of our blood forbids

A gory emulation ’twixt us twain.

Were thy commixtion Greek and Trojan so

That thou couldst say, ‘This hand is Grecian all,

And this is Trojan; the sinews of this leg  125

All Greek, and this all Troy; my mother’s blood

Runs on the dexter cheek, and this sinister

Bounds in my father’s,’ by Jove multipotent,  128

Thou shouldst not bear from me a Greekish member

Wherein my sword had not impressure made

Of our rank feud. But the just gods gainsay

That any drop thou borrow’dst from thy mother,

My sacred aunt, should by my mortal sword  133

Be drain’d! Let me embrace thee, Ajax;

By him that thunders, thou hast lusty arms;

Hector would have them fall upon him thus:

Cousin, all honour to thee!


I thank thee, Hector:

Thou art too gentle and too free a man:

I came to kill thee, cousin, and bear hence

A great addition earned in thy death.  140


Not Neoptolemus so mirable,

On whose bright crest Fame with her loud’st byes

Cries, ‘This is he!’ could promise to himself

A thought of added honour torn from Hector.


There is expectance here from both the sides,  145

What further you will do.


We’ll answer it;

The issue is embracement: Ajax, farewell.


If I might in entreaties find success,—

As seld I have the chance,—I would desire  149

My famous cousin to our Grecian tents.


’Tis Agamemnon’s wish, and great Achilles

Doth long to see unarm’d the valiant Hector.


Æneas, call my brother Troilus to me,

And signify this loving interview

To the expecters of our Trojan part;

Desire them home. Give me thy hand, my cousin;  156

I will go eat with thee and see your knights.


Great Agamemnon comes to meet us here.


The worthiest of them tell me name by name;

But for Achilles, mine own searching eyes  160

Shall find him by his large and portly size.


Worthy of arms! as welcome as to one

That would be rid of such an enemy;

But that’s no welcome; understand more clear,

What’s past and what’s to come is strew’d with husks  165

And formless ruin of oblivion;

But in this extant moment, faith and troth,

Strain’d purely from all hollow bias-drawing,  168

Bids thee, with most divine integrity,

From heart of very heart, great Hector, welcome.


I thank thee, most imperious Agamemnon.


[To Troilus.] My well-fam’d Lord of Troy, no less to you.  172


Let me confirm my princely brother’s greeting:

You brace of war-like brothers, welcome hither.


Whom must we answer?


The noble Menelaus.


O! you, my lord? by Mars his gauntlet, thanks!  176

Mock not that I affect the untraded oath;

Your quondam wife swears still by Venus’ glove:

She’s well, but bade me not commend her to you.


Name her not now, sir; she’s a deadly theme.  180


O! pardon; I offend.


I have, thou gallant Trojan, seen thee oft,

Labouring for destiny, make cruel way

Through ranks of Greekish youth: and I have seen thee,  184

As hot as Perseus, spur thy Phrygian steed,

Despising many forfeits and subduements,

When thou hast hung thy advanc’d sword i’ th’ air,

Not letting it decline on the declin’d;  188

That I have said to some my standers-by,

‘Lo! Jupiter is yonder, dealing life!’

And I have seen thee pause and take thy breath,

When that a ring of Greeks have hemm’d thee in,  192

Like an Olympian wrestling: this have I seen;

But this thy countenance, still lock’d in steel,

I never saw till now. I knew thy grandsire,

And once fought with him: he was a soldier good;  196

But, by great Mars, the captain of us all,

Never like thee. Let an old man embrace thee;

And, worthy warrior, welcome to our tents.


’Tis the old Nestor.  200


Let me embrace thee, good old chronicle,

That hast so long walk’d hand in hand with time:

Most reverend Nestor, I am glad to clasp thee.


I would my arms could match thee in contention,  204

As they contend with thee in courtesy.


I would they could.



By this white beard, I’d fight with thee to-morrow.  208

Well, welcome, welcome! I have seen the time.—


I wonder now how yonder city stands,

When we have here her base and pillar by us.


I know your favour, Lord Ulysses, well.

Ah! sir, there’s many a Greek and Trojan dead,

Since first I saw yourself and Diomed

In Ilion, on your Greekish embassy.


Sir, I foretold you then what would ensue:  216

My prophecy is but half his journey yet;

For yonder walls, that pertly front your town,

Yond towers, whose wanton tops do buss the clouds,

Must kiss their own feet.


I must not believe you:  220

There they stand yet, and modestly I think,

The fall of every Phrygian stone will cost

A drop of Grecian blood: the end crowns all,

And that old common arbitrator, Time,  224

Will one day end it.


So to him we leave it.

Most gentle and most valiant Hector, welcome.

After the general, I beseech you next

To feast with me and see me at my tent.  228


I shall forestall thee, Lord Ulysses, thou!

Now, Hector, I have fed mine eyes on thee;

I have with exact view perus’d thee, Hector,

And quoted joint by joint.


Is this Achilles?  232


I am Achilles.


Stand fair, I pray thee: let me look on thee.


Behold thy fill.


Nay, I have done already.


Thou art too brief: I will the second time,  236

As I would buy thee, view thee limb by limb.


O! like a book of sport thou’lt read me o’er;

But there’s more in me than thou understand’st.

Why dost thou so oppress me with thine eye?


Tell me, you heavens, in which part of his body  241

Shall I destroy him? whether there, or there, or there?

That I may give the local wound a name,

And make distinct the very breach whereout  244

Hector’s great spirit flew. Answer me, heavens!


It would discredit the bless’d gods, proud man,

To answer such a question. Stand again:

Think’st thou to catch my life so pleasantly  248

As to prenominate in nice conjecture

Where thou wilt hit me dead?


I tell thee, yea.


Wert thou an oracle to tell me so,

I’d not believe thee. Henceforth guard thee well,

For I’ll not kill thee there, nor there, nor there;

But, by the forge that stithied Mars his helm,

I’ll kill thee every where, yea, o’er and o’er.

You wisest Grecians, pardon me this brag;  256

His insolence draws folly from my lips;

But I’ll endeavour deeds to match these words,

Or may I never—


Do not chafe thee, cousin:

And you, Achilles, let these threats alone,  260

Till accident or purpose bring you to’t:

You may have every day enough of Hector,

If you have stomach. The general state, I fear,

Can scarce entreat you to be odd with him.  264


I pray you, let us see you in the field;

We have had pelting wars since you refus’d

The Grecians’ cause.


Dost thou entreat me, Hector?

To-morrow do I meet thee, fell as death;  268

To-night all friends.


Thy hand upon that match.


First, all you peers of Greece, go to my tent;

There in the full convive we afterwards,

As Hector’s leisure and your bounties shall  272

Concur together, severally entreat him.

Beat loud the tabourines, let the trumpets blow,

That this great soldier may his welcome know.

[Exeunt all except Troilus and Ulysses.


My Lord Ulysses, tell me, I beseech you,

In what place of the field doth Calchas keep?


At Menelaus’ tent, most princely Troilus:

There Diomed doth feast with him to-night;

Who neither looks upon the heaven nor earth,

But gives all gaze and bent of amorous view  281

On the fair Cressid.


Shall I, sweet lord, be bound to thee so much,

After we part from Agamemnon’s tent,  284

To bring me thither?


You shall command me, sir.

As gentle tell me, of what honour was

This Cressida in Troy? Had she no lover there

That wails her absence?  288


O, sir! to such as boasting show their scars

A mock is due. Will you walk on, my lord?

She was belov’d, she lov’d; she is, and doth:

But still sweet love is food for fortune’s tooth.



Scene I.— The Grecian Camp. Before AchillesTent.

Enter Achilles and Patroclus.


I’ll heat his blood with Greekish wine to-night,

Which with my scimitar I’ll cool to-morrow.

Patroclus, let us feast him to the height.


Here comes Thersites.

Enter Thersites.


How now, thou core of envy!  4

Thou crusty batch of nature, what’s the news?


Why, thou picture of what thou seemest, and idol of idiot-worshippers, here’s a letter for thee.  8


From whence, fragment?


Why, thou full dish of fool, from Troy.


Who keeps the tent now?


The surgeon’s box, or the patient’s wound.  13


Well said, adversity! and what need these tricks?


Prithee, be silent, boy: I profit not by thy talk: thou art thought to be Achilles’ male varlet.  18


Male varlet, you rogue! what’s that?


Why, his masculine whore. Now, the rotten diseases of the south, the guts-griping, ruptures, catarrhs, loads o’ gravel i’ the back, lethargies, cold palsies, raw eyes, dirt-rotten livers, wheezing lungs, bladders full of imposthume, sciaticas, lime-kilns i’ the palm, incurable bone-ache, and the rivelled fee-simple of the tetter, take and take again such preposterous discoveries!  28


Why, thou damnable box of envy, thou, what meanest thou to curse thus?


Do I curse thee?


Why, no, you ruinous butt, you whoreson indistinguishable cur, no.  33


No! why art thou then exasperate, thou idle immaterial skein of sleave silk, thou green sarcenet flap for a sore eye, thou tassel of a prodigal’s purse, thou? Ah! how the poor world is pestered with such water-flies, diminutives of nature.


Out, gall!  40


Finch egg!


My sweet Patroclus, I am thwarted quite

From my great purpose in to-morrow’s battle.

Here is a letter from Queen Hecuba,  44

A token from her daughter, my fair love,

Both taxing me and gaging me to keep

An oath that I have sworn. I will not break it:

Fall Greeks; fail fame; honour or go or stay;

My major vow lies here, this I’ll obey.  49

Come, come, Thersites, help to trim my tent;

This night in banqueting must all be spent.

Away, Patroclus!  52

[Exeunt Achilles and Patroclus.


With too much blood and too little brain, these two may run mad; but if with too much brain, and too little blood they do, I’ll be a curer of madmen. Here’s Agamemnon, an honest fellow enough, and one that loves quails, but he has not so much brain as ear-wax: and the goodly transformation of Jupiter there, his brother, the bull, the primitive statue, and oblique memorial of cuckolds; a thrifty shoeing-horn in a chain, hanging at his brother’s leg, to what form but that he is should wit larded with malice and malice forced with wit turn him to? To an ass, were nothing: he is both ass and ox; to an ox, were nothing: he is both ox and ass. To be a dog, a mule, a cat, a fitchew, a toad, a lizard, an owl, a puttock, or a herring without a roe, I would not care; but to be Menelaus! I would conspire against destiny. Ask me not what I would be, if I were not Thersites, for I care not to be the louse of a lazar, so I were not Menelaus. Hey-day! spirits and fires!  74

Enter Hector, Troilus, Ajax, Agamemnon, Ulysses, Nestor, Menelaus, and Diomedes, with lights.


We go wrong, we go wrong.


No, yonder ’tis;

There, where we see the lights.


I trouble you.  76


No, not a whit.


Here comes himself to guide you.

Re-enter Achilles.


Welcome, brave Hector; welcome, princes all.


So now, fair prince of Troy, I bid good-night.

Ajax commands the guard to tend on you.  80


Thanks and good-night to the Greeks’ general.


Good-night, my lord.


Good-night, sweet Lord Menelaus.


Sweet draught: ‘sweet,’ quoth a’! sweet sink, sweet sewer.  85


Good-night and welcome both at once, to those

That go or tarry.


Good-night.  88

[Exeunt Agamemnon and Menelaus.


Old Nestor tarries; and you too, Diomed,

Keep Hector company an hour or two.


I cannot, lord; I have important business,

The tide whereof is now. Good-night, great Hector.  92


Give me your hand.


[Aside to Troilus.] Follow his torch; he goes to Calchas’ tent.

I’ll keep you company.


Sweet sir, you honour me.


And so, good-night.  96

[Exit Diomedes; Ulysses and Troilus following.


Come, come, enter my tent.

[Exeunt Achilles, Hector, Ajax, and Nestor.


That same Diomed’s a false-hearted rogue, a most unjust knave; I will no more trust him when he leers than I will a serpent when he hisses. He will spend his mouth, and promise, like Brabbler the hound; but when he performs, astronomers foretell it: it is prodigious, there will come some change: the sun borrows of the moon when Diomed keeps his word. I will rather leave to see Hector, than not to dog him: they say he keeps a Trojan drab, and uses the traitor Calchas’ tent. I’ll after. Nothing but lechery! all incontinent varlets.


Scene II.— The Same. Before CalchasTent.

Enter Diomedes.


What, are you up here, ho! speak.


[Within.] Who calls?


Diomed. Calchas, I think. Where’s your daughter?


[Within.] She comes to you.  4

Enter Troilus and Ulysses, at a distance; after them Thersites.


Stand where the torch may not discover us.

Enter Cressida.


Cressid comes forth to him.


How now, my charge!


Now, my sweet guardian! Hark! a word with you.



Yea, so familiar!  8


She will sing any man at first sight.


And any man may sing her, if he can take her cliff; she’s noted.


Will you remember?  12


Remember! yes.


Nay, but do, then;

And let your mind be coupled with your words.


What should she remember?  16




Sweet honey Greek, tempt me no more to folly.




Nay, then,—


I’ll tell you what,—  20


Foh, foh! come, tell a pin: you are forsworn.


In faith, I cannot. What would you have me do?


A juggling trick,—to be secretly open.


What did you swear you would bestow on me?  24


I prithee, do not hold me to mine oath;

Bid me do anything but that, sweet Greek.




Hold, patience!  28


How now, Trojan?




No, no, good-night; I’ll be your fool no more.


Thy better must.


Hark! one word in your ear.  32


O plague and madness!


You are mov’d, prince; let us depart, I pray you,

Lest your displeasure should enlarge itself

To wrathful terms. This place is dangerous;  36

The time right deadly. I beseech you, go.


Behold, I pray you!


Nay, good my lord, go off:

You flow to great distraction; come, my lord.


I pray thee, stay.


You have not patience; come.  40


I pray you, stay. By hell, and all hell’s torments,

I will not speak a word!


And so, good-night.


Nay, but you part in anger.


Doth that grieve thee?

O wither’d truth!


Why, how now, lord!


By Jove,  44

I will be patient.


Guardian!—why, Greek!


Foh, foh! adieu; you palter.


In faith, I do not: come hither once again.


You shake, my lord, at something: will you go?  48

You will break out.


She strokes his cheek!


Come, come.


Nay, stay; by Jove, I will not speak a word:

There is between my will and all offences

A guard of patience: stay a little while.  52


How the devil Luxury, with his fat rump and potato finger, tickles these together! Fry, lechery, fry!


But will you, then?  56


In faith, I will, la; never trust me else.


Give me some token for the surety of it.


I’ll fetch you one.



You have sworn patience.


Fear me not, sweet lord;  60

I will not be myself, nor have cognition

Of what I feel: I am all patience.

Re-enter Cressida.


Now the pledge! now, now, now!


Here, Diomed, keep this sleeve.  64


O beauty! where is thy faith?


My lord,—


I will be patient; outwardly I will.


You look upon that sleeve; behold it well.

He lov’d me—O false wench!—Give’t to me again.  68


Whose was’t?


It is no matter, now I have’t again.

I will not meet with you to-morrow night.

I prithee, Diomed, visit me no more.


Now she sharpens: well said, whetstone!  72


I shall have it.


What, this?


Ay, that.


O! all you gods. O pretty, pretty pledge!

Thy master now lies thinking in his bed

Of thee and me; and sighs, and takes my glove,

And gives me norial dainty kisses to it,  77

As I kiss thee. Nay, do not snatch it from me;

He that takes that doth take my heart withal.


I had your heart before; this follows it.


I did swear patience.  81


You shall not have it, Diomed; faith you shall not;

I’ll give you something else.


I will have this. Whose was it?


’Tis no matter.


Come, tell me whose it was.  85


’Twas one’s that loved me better than you will.

But, now you have it, take it.


Whose was it?


By all Diana’s waiting-women yond,  88

And by herself, I will not tell you whose.


To-morrow will I wear it on my helm,

And grieve his spirit that dares not challenge it.


Wert thou the devil, and wor’st it on thy horn,  92

It should be challeng’d.


Well, well, ’tis done, ’tis past: and yet it is not:

I will not keep my word.


Why then, farewell;

Thou never shalt mock Diomed again.  96


You shall not go: one cannot speak a word,

But it straight starts you.


I do not like this fooling.


Nor I, by Pluto: but that that likes not me

Pleases me best.  100


What, shall I come? the hour?


Ay, come:—O Jove!—

Do come:—I shall be plagu’d.


Farewell till then.


Good-night: I prithee, come.—

[Exit Diomedes.

Troilus, farewell! one eye yet looks on thee,  104

But with my heart the other eye doth see.

Ah! poor our sex; this fault in us I find,

The error of our eye directs our mind.

What error leads must err. O! then conclude

Minds sway’d by eyes are full of turpitude.  109



A proof of strength she could not publish more,

Unless she said, ‘My mind is now turn’d whore.’


All’s done, my lord.


It is.


Why stay we, then?


To make a recordation to my soul  113

Of every syllable that here was spoke.

But if I tell how these two did co-act,

Shall I not lie in publishing a truth?  116

Sith yet there is a credence in my heart,

An esperance so obstinately strong,

That doth invert the attest of eyes and ears,

As if those organs had deceptions functions,

Created only to calumniate.  121

Was Cressid here?


I cannot conjure, Trojan.


She was not, sure.


Most sure she was.


Why, my negation hath no taste of madness.  124


Nor mine, my lord: Cressid was here but now.


Let it not be believ’d for womanhood!

Think we had mothers; do not give advantage

To stubborn critics, apt, without a theme,  128

For depravation, to square the general sex

By Cressid’s rule: rather think this not Cressid.


What hath she done, prince, that can soil our mothers?


Nothing at all, unless that this were she.


Will he swagger himself out on’s own eyes?  133


This she? no, this is Diomed’s Cressida.

If beauty have a soul, this is not she;

If souls guide vows, if vows be sanctimony,  136

If sanctimony be the gods’ delight,

If there be rule in unity itself,

This is not she. O madness of discourse,

That cause sets up with and against itself;  140

Bi-fold authority! where reason can revolt

Without perdition, and loss assume all reason

Without revolt: this is, and is not, Cressid.

Within my soul there doth conduce a fight  144

Of this strange nature that a thing inseparate

Divides more wider than the sky and earth;

And yet the spacious breadth of this division

Admits no orifice for a point as subtle  148

As Ariachne’s broken woof to enter.

Instance, O instance! strong as Pluto’s gates;

Cressid is mine, tied with the bonds of heaven:

Instance, O instance! strong as heaven itself;

The bonds of heaven are slipp’d, dissolv’d, and loos’d;  153

And with another knot, five-finger-tied,

The fractions of her faith, orts of her love,

The fragments, scraps, the bits, and greasy reliques  156

Of her o’er-eaten faith, are bound to Diomed.


May worthy Troilus be half attach’d

With that which here his passion doth express?


Ay, Greek; and that shall be divulged well  160

In characters as red as Mars his heart

Inflam’d with Venus: never did young man fancy

With so eternal and so fix’d a soul.

Hark, Greek: as much as I do Cressid love,  164

So much by weight hate I her Diomed;

That sleeve is mine that he’ll bear on his helm;

Were it a casque compos’d by Vulcan’s skill,

My sword should bite it. Not the dreadful spout

Which shipmen do the hurricano call,  169

Constring’d in mass by the almighty sun,

Shall dizzy with more clamour Neptune’s ear

In his descent than shall my prompted sword

Falling on Diomed.  173


He’ll tickle it for his concupy.


O Cressid! O false Cressid! false, false, false!

Let all untruths stand by thy stained name,  176

And they’ll seem glorious.


O! contain yourself;

Your passion draws ears hither.

Enter Æneas.


I have been seeking you this hour, my lord.

Hector, by this, is arming him in Troy:  180

Ajax, your guard, stays to conduct you home.


Have with you, prince. My courteous lord, adieu.

Farewell, revolted fair! and Diomed,

Stand fast, and wear a castle on thy head!  184


I’ll bring you to the gates.


Accept distracted thanks.

[Exeunt Troilus, Æneas, and Ulysses.


Would I could meet that rogue Diomed! I would croak like a raven; I would bode, I would bode. Patroclus would give me any thing for the intelligence of this whore: the parrot will not do more for an almond than he for a commodious drab. Lechery, lechery; still, wars and lechery: nothing else holds fashion. A burning devil take them!


Scene III.— Troy. Before Priam’s Palace.

Enter Hector and Andromache.


When was my lord so much ungently temper’d,

To stop his ears against admonishment?

Unarm, unarm, and do not fight to-day.


You train me to offend you; get you in:  4

By all the everlasting gods, I’ll go.


My dreams will, sure, prove ominous to the day.


No more, I say.

Enter Cassandra.


Where is my brother Hector?


Here, sister; arm’d, and bloody in intent.  8

Consort with me in loud and dear petition;

Pursue we him on knees; for I have dream’d

Of bloody turbulence, and this whole night

Hath nothing been but shapes and forms of slaughter.  12


O! ’tis true.


Ho! bid my trumpet sound.


No notes of sally, for the heavens, sweet brother.


Be gone, I say: the gods have heard me swear.


The gods are deaf to hot and peevish vows:  16

They are polluted offerings, more abhorr’d

Than spotted livers in the sacrifice.


O! be persuaded: do not count it holy

To hurt by being just: it is as lawful,  20

For we would give much, to use violent thefts,

And rob in the behalf of charity.


It is the purpose that makes strong the vow;

But vows to every purpose must not hold.  24

Unarm, sweet Hector.


Hold you still, I say;

Mine honour keeps the weather of my fate:

Life every man holds dear; but the dear man

Holds honour far more precious-dear than life.

Enter Troilus.

How now, young man! mean’st thou to fight to-day?  29


Cassandra, call my father to persuade.

[Exit Cassandra.


No, faith, young Troilus; doff thy harness, youth;

I am to-day i’ the vein of chivalry:  32

Let grow thy sinews till their knots be strong,

And tempt not yet the brushes of the war.

Unarm thee, go, and doubt thou not, brave boy,

I’ll stand to-day for thee and me and Troy.  36


Brother, you have a vice of mercy in you,

Which better fits a lion than a man.


What vice is that, good Troilus? chide me for it.


When many times the captive Grecian falls,  40

Even in the fan and wind of your fair sword,

You bid them rise, and live.


O! ’tis fair play.


Fool’s play, by heaven, Hector.


How now! how now!


For the love of all the gods,  44

Let’s leave the hermit pity with our mothers,

And when we have our armours buckled on,

The venom’d vengeance ride upon our swords,

Spur them to ruthful work, rein them from ruth.  48


Fie, savage, fie!


Hector, then ’tis wars.


Troilus, I would not have you fight to-day.


Who should withhold me?

Not fate, obedience, nor the hand of Mars  52

Beckoning with fiery truncheon my retire;

Not Priamus and Hecuba on knees,

Their eyes o’ergalled with recourse of tears;

Nor you, my brother, with your true sword drawn,  56

Oppos’d to hinder me, should stop my way,

But by my ruin.

Re-enter Cassandra, with Priam.


Lay hold upon him, Priam, hold him fast:

He is thy crutch; now if thou lose thy stay,  60

Thou on him leaning, and all Troy on thee,

Fall all together.


Come, Hector, come; go back:

Thy wife hath dream’d; thy mother hath had visions;

Cassandra doth foresee; and I myself  64

Am like a prophet suddenly enrapt,

To tell thee that this day is ominous:

Therefore, come back.


Æneas is a-field;

And I do stand engag’d to many Greeks,  68

Even in the faith of valour, to appear

This morning to them.


Ay, but thou shalt not go.


I must not break my faith.

You know me dutiful; therefore, dear sir,  72

Let me not shame respect, but give me leave

To take that course by your consent and voice,

Which you do here forbid me, royal Priam.


O Priam! yield not to him.


Do not, dear father.  76


Andromache, I am offended with you:

Upon the love you bear me, get you in.

[Exit Andromache.


This foolish, dreaming, superstitious girl

Makes all these bodements.


O farewell! dear Hector.  80

Look! how thou diest; look! how thy eye turns pale;

Look! how thy wounds do bleed at many vents:

Hark! how Troy roars: how Hecuba cries out!

How poor Andromache shrills her dolours forth!

Behold, distraction, frenzy, and amazement,  85

Like witless anticks, one another meet,

And all cry Hector! Hector’s dead! O Hector!


Away! Away!  88


Farewell. Yet, soft! Hector, I take my leave:

Thou dost thyself and all our Troy deceive.



You are amaz’d, my liege, at her exclaim.

Go in and cheer the town: we’ll forth and fight;

Do deeds worth praise and tell you them at night.  93


Farewell: the gods with safety stand about thee!

[Exeunt severally Priam and Hector. Alarums.


They are at it, hark! Proud Diomed, believe,

I come to lose my arm, or win my sleeve.  96

As Troilus is going out, enter, from the other side, Pandarus.


Do you hear, my lord? do you hear?


What now?


Here’s a letter come from yond poor girl.


Let me read.  100


A whoreson tisick, a whoreson rascally tisick so troubles me, and the foolish fortune of this girl; and what one thing, what another, that I shall leave you one o’ these days: and I have a rheum in mine eyes too, and such an ache in my bones that, unless a man were cursed, I cannot tell what to think on’t. What says she there?  108


Words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart;

The effect doth operate another way.

[Tearing the letter.

Go, wind to wind, there turn and change together.

My love with words and errors still she feeds,

But edifies another with her deeds.  113

[Exeunt severally.

Scene IV.— Between Troy and the Grecian Camp.

Alarums. Excursions. Enter Thersites.


Now they are clapper-clawing one another; I’ll go look on. That dissembling abominable varlet, Diomed, has got that same scurvy doting foolish young knave’s sleeve of Troy there in his helm: I would fain see them meet; that that same young Trojan ass, that loves the whore there, might send that Greekish whoremasterly villain, with the sleeve, back to the dissembling luxurious drab, on a sleeveless errand. O’ the other side, the policy of those crafty swearing rascals,—that stale old mouse-eaten dry cheese, Nestor, and that same dog-fox, Ulysses, is not proved worth a blackberry: they set me up, in policy, that mongrel cur, Ajax, against that dog of as bad a kind, Achilles; and now is the cur Ajax prouder than the cur Achilles, and will not arm to-day; whereupon the Grecians begin to proclaim barbarism, and policy grows into an ill opinion. Soft! here comes sleeve, and t’ other.  20

Enter Diomedes, Troilus following.


Fly not; for shouldst thou take the river Styx,

I would swim after.


Thou dost miscall retire:

I do not fly; but advantageous care

Withdrew me from the odds of multitude.  24

Have at thee!


Hold thy whore, Grecian! now for thy whore, Trojan! now the sleeve, now the sleeve!

[Exeunt Troilus and Diomedes, fighting.

Enter Hector.


What art thou, Greek? art thou for Hector’s match?  28

Art thou of blood and honour?


No, no, I am a rascal; a scurvy railing knave; a very filthy rogue.


I do believe thee: live.



God-a-mercy, that thou wilt believe me; but a plague break thy neck for frighting me! What’s become of the wenching rogues? I think they have swallowed one another: I would laugh at that miracle; yet, in a sort, lechery eats itself. I’ll seek them.


Scene V.— Another Part of the Plains.

Enter Diomedes and a Servant.


Go, go, my servant, take thou Troilus’ horse;

Present the fair steed to my Lady Cressid:

Fellow, commend my service to her beauty:

Tell her I have chastis’d the amorous Trojan,  4

And am her knight by proof.


I go, my lord.


Enter Agamemnon.


Renew, renew! The fierce Polydamas

Hath beat down Menon; bastard Margarelon

Hath Doreus prisoner,  8

And stands colossus-wise, waving his beam,

Upon the pashed corses of the kings

Epistrophus and Cedius; Polixenes is slain;

Amphimachus, and Thoas, deadly hurt;  12

Patroclus ta’en, or slain; and Palamedes

Sore hurt and bruis’d; the dreadful Sagittary

Appals our numbers: haste we, Diomed,

To reinforcement, or we perish all.  16

Enter Nestor.


Go, bear Patroclus’ body to Achilles;

And bid the snail-pac’d Ajax arm for shame.

There is a thousand Hectors in the field:

Now here he fights on Galathe his horse,  20

And there lacks work; anon he’s there afoot,

And there they fly or die, like scaled sculls

Before the belching whale; then is he yonder,

And there the strawy Greeks, ripe for his edge,

Fall down before him, like the mower’s swath:

Here, there, and everywhere, he leaves and takes,

Dexterity so obeying appetite

That what he will he does; and does so much

That proof is called impossibility.  29

Enter Ulysses.


O! courage, courage, princes; great Achilles

Is arming, weeping, cursing, vowing vengeance:

Patroclus’ wounds have rous’d his drowsy blood,

Together with his mangled Myrmidons,  33

That noseless, handless, hack’d and chipp’d, come to him,

Crying on Hector. Ajax hath lost a friend,

And foams at mouth, and he is arm’d and at it,  36

Roaring for Troilus, who hath done to-day

Mad and fantastic execution,

Engaging and redeeming of himself

With such a careless force and forceless care  40

As if that luck, in very spite of cunning,

Bade him win all.

Enter Ajax.


Troilus! thou coward Troilus!



Ay, there, there.


So, so, we draw together.

Enter Achilles.


Where is this Hector?

Come, come, thou boy-queller, show thy face;  45

Know what it is to meet Achilles angry:

Hector! where’s Hector? I will none but Hector.


Scene VI.— Another Part of the Plains.

Enter Ajax.


Troilus, thou coward Troilus, show thy head!

Enter Diomedes.


Troilus, I say! where’s Troilus?


What wouldst thou?


I would correct him.


Were I the general, thou shouldst have my office  4

Ere that correction. Troilus, I say! what, Troilus!

Enter Troilus.


O traitor Diomed! Turn thy false face, thou traitor!

And pay thy life thou ow’st me for my horse!


Ha! art thou there?  8


I’ll fight with him alone: stand, Diomed.


He is my prize; I will not look upon.


Come, both you cogging Greeks; have at you both!

[Exeunt, fighting.

Enter Hector.


Yea, Troilus? O, well fought, my youngest brother!  12

Enter Achilles.


Now I do see thee. Ha! have at thee, Hector!


Pause, if thou wilt.


I do disdain thy courtesy, proud Trojan.

Be happy that my arms are out of use:  16

My rest and negligence befriend thee now,

But thou anon shalt hear of me again;

Till when, go seek thy fortune.



Fare thee well:—

I would have been much more a fresher man,  20

Had I expected thee. How now, my brother!

Re-enter Troilus.


Ajax hath ta’en Æneas: shall it be?

No, by the flame of yonder glorious heaven,

He shall not carry him: I’ll be ta’en too,  24

Or bring him off. Fate, hear me what I say!

I reck not though I end my life to-day.


Enter One in sumptuous armour.


Stand, stand, thou Greek; thou art a goodly mark.

No? wilt thou not? I like thy armour well;  28

I’ll frush it, and unlock the rivets all,

But I’ll be master of it. Wilt thou not, beast, abide?

Why then, fly on, I’ll hunt thee for thy hide.


Scene VII.— Another Part of the Plains.

Enter Achilles, with Myrmidons.


Come here about me, you my Myrmidons;

Mark what I say. Attend me where I wheel:

Strike not a stroke, but keep yourselves in breath:

And when I have the bloody Hector found,  4

Empale him with your weapons round about;

In fellest manner execute your aims.

Follow me, sirs, and my proceedings eye:

It is decreed, Hector the great must die.  8


Enter Menelaus and Paris, fighting; then Thersites.


The cuckold and the cuckold-maker are at it. Now, bull! now, dog! ’Loo, Paris, ’loo! now, my double-henned sparrow! ’loo, Paris, ’loo! The bull has the game: ’ware horns, ho!

[Exeunt Paris and Menelaus.

Enter Margarelon.


Turn, slave, and fight.


What art thou?


A bastard son of Priam’s.  16


I am a bastard too; I love bastards: I am a bastard begot, bastard instructed, bastard in mind, bastard in valour, in every thing illegitimate. One bear will not bite another, and wherefore should one bastard? Take heed, the quarrel’s most ominous to us: if the son of a whore fight for a whore, he tempts judgment. Farewell, bastard.



The devil take thee, coward!


Scene VIII.— Another Part of the Plains.

Enter Hector.


Most putrefied core, so fair without,

Thy goodly armour thus hath cost thy life.

Now is my day’s work done; I’ll take good breath:

Rest, sword; thou hast thy fill of blood and death.

[Puts off his helmet, and hangs his shield behind him.

Enter Achilles and Myrmidons.


Look, Hector, how the sun begins to set;  5

How ugly night comes breathing at his heels:

Even with the vail and darking of the sun,

To close the day up, Hector’s life is done.  8


I am unarm’d; forego this vantage, Greek.


Strike, fellows, strike! this is the man I seek.

[Hector falls.

So, Ilion, fall thou next! now, Troy, sink down!

Here lies thy heart, thy sinews, and thy bone.  12

On! Myrmidons, and cry you all amain,

‘Achilles hath the mighty Hector slain.’—

[A retreat sounded.

Hark! a retreat upon our Grecian part.


The Trojan trumpets sound the like, my lord.  16


The dragon wing of night o’erspreads the earth,

And, stickler-like, the armies separates.

My half-supp’d sword, that frankly would have fed,

Pleas’d with this dainty bait, thus goes to bed.—

[Sheathes his sword.

Come, tie his body to my horse’s tail;  21

Along the field I will the Trojan trail.


Scene IX.— Another Part of the Plains.

Enter Agamemnon, Ajax, Menelaus, Nestor, Diomedes, and Others marching. Shouts within.


Hark! hark! what shout is that?


Peace, drums!

[Within.] Achilles!

Achilles! Hector’s slain! Achilles!


The bruit is, Hector’s slain, and by Achilles.


If it be so, yet bragless let it be;  4

Great Hector was a man as good as he.


March patiently along. Let one be sent

To pray Achilles see us at our tent.

If in his death the gods have us befriended,  8

Great Troy is ours, and our sharp wars are ended.

[Exeunt marching.

Scene X.— Another Part of the Plains.

Enter Æneas and Trojans.


Stand, ho! yet are we masters of the field.

Never go home; here starve we out the night.

Enter Troilus.


Hector is slain.


Hector! the gods forbid!


He’s dead; and at the murderer’s horse’s tail,  4

In beastly sort, dragg’d through the shameful field.

Frown on, you heavens, effect your rage with speed!

Sit, gods, upon your thrones, and smile at Troy!

I say, at once let your brief plagues be mercy,  8

And linger not our sure destructions on!


My lord, you do discomfort all the host.


You understand me not that tell me so.

I do not speak of flight, of fear, of death;  12

But dare all imminence that gods and men

Address their dangers in. Hector is gone:

Who shall tell Priam so, or Hecuba?

Let him that will a screech-owl aye be call’d  16

Go in to Troy, and say there Hector’s dead:

There is a word will Priam turn to stone,

Make wells and Niobes of the maids and wives,

Cold statues of the youth; and, in a word,  20

Scare Troy out of itself. But march away:

Hector is dead; there is no more to say.

Stay yet. You vile abominable tents,

Thus proudly pight upon our Phrygian plains,

Let Titan rise as early as he dare,  25

I’ll through and through you! And, thou great-siz’d coward,

No space of earth shall sunder our two hates:

I’ll haunt thee like a wicked conscience still,  28

That mouldeth goblins swift as frenzy’s thoughts.

Strike a free march to Troy! with comfort go:

Hope of revenge shall hide our inward woe.

[Exeunt Æneas and Trojan Forces.

As Troilus is going out, enter, from the other side, Pandarus.


But hear you, hear you!  32


Hence, broker lackey! ignomy and shame

Pursue thy life, and live aye with thy name!



A goodly medicine for my aching bones! O world! world! world! thus is the poor agent despised. O traitors and bawds, how earnestly are you set a-work, and how ill requited! why should our endeavour be so loved, and the performance so loathed? what verse for it? what instance for it?—Let me see!—  41

Full merrily the humble-bee doth sing,

Till he hath lost his honey and his sting;

And being once subdu’d in armed tail,  44

Sweet honey and sweet notes together fail.

Good traders in the flesh, set this in your painted cloths.

As many as be here of pander’s hall,  48

Your eyes, half out, weep out at Pandar’s fall;

Or if you cannot weep, yet give some groans,

Though not for me, yet for your aching bones.

Brethren and sisters of the hold-door trade,  52

Some two months hence my will shall here be made.

It should be now, but that my fear is this,

Some galled goose of Winchester would hiss.

Till then I’ll sweat, and seek about for eases;  56

And at that time bequeath you my diseases






Caius Marcius, afterwards Caius Marcius Coriolanus.
Titus Lartius, } Generals against the Volscians.
Cominius,        }
Menenius Agrippa, Friend to Coriolanus.
Sicinius Velutus, } Tribunes of the People.
Junius Brutus,     }
Young Marcius, Son to Coriolanus.
A Roman Herald.
Tullus Aufidius, General of the Volscians.
Lieutenant to Aufidius.
Conspirators with Aufidius.
Nicanor, a Roman.
A Citizen of Antium.
Adrian, a Volsce.
Two Volscian Guards.
Volumnia, Mother to Coriolanus.
Virgilia, Wife to Coriolanus.
Valeria, Friend to Virgilia.
Gentlewoman, attending on Virgilia.
Roman and Volscian Senators, Patricians, Ædiles, Lictors, Soldiers, Citizens, Messengers, Servants to Aufidius, and other Attendants.



Scene.Rome and the Neighbourhood; Corioli and the Neighbourhood; Antium.


Scene I.— Rome. A Street.

Enter a Company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons.

First Cit.

Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.


Speak, speak.

First Cit.

You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?  5


Resolved, resolved.

First Cit.

First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.  8


We know’t, we know’t.

First Cit.

Let us kill him, and we’ll have corn at our own price. Is’t a verdict?


No more talking on’t; let it be done.

Away, away!  13

Sec. Cit.

One word, good citizens.

First Cit.

We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good. What authority surfeits on would relieve us. If they would yield us but the superfluity, while it were wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely; but they think we are too dear: the leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an inventory to particularise their abundance; our sufferance is a gain to them. Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.  26

Sec. Cit.

Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?

First Cit.

Against him first: he’s a very dog to the commonalty.

Sec. Cit.

Consider you what services he has done for his country?  32

First Cit.

Very well; and could be content to give him good report for’t, but that he pays himself with being proud.

Sec. Cit.

Nay, but speak not maliciously.  36

First Cit.

I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be content to say it was for his country, he did it to please his mother, and to be partly proud; which he is, even to the altitude of his virtue.  42

Sec. Cit.

What he cannot help in his nature, you account a vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.  45

First Cit.

If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations: he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition. [Shouts within.] What shouts are these? The other side o’ the city is risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!


Come, come.

First Cit.

Soft! who comes here?  52

Enter Menenius Agrippa.

Sec. Cit.

Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved the people.

First Cit.

He’s one honest enough: would all the rest were so!  56


What work’s, my countrymen, in hand? Where go you

With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray you.

First Cit.

Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do, which now we’ll show ’em in deeds. They say poor suitors have strong breaths: they shall know we have strong arms too.  64


Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,

Will you undo yourselves?

First Cit.

We cannot, sir; we are undone already.  68


I tell you, friends, most charitable care

Have the patricians of you. For your wants,

Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well

Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them  72

Against the Roman state, whose course will on

The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs

Of more strong link asunder than can ever

Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,

The gods, not the patricians, make it, and  77

Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack!

You are transported by calamity

Thither where more attends you; and you slander  80

The helms o’ the state, who care for you like fathers,

When you curse them as enemies.

First Cit.

Care for us! True, indeed! They ne’er cared for us yet: suffer us to famish, and their storehouses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and there’s all the love they bear us.


Either you must  92

Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,

Or be accus’d of folly. I shall tell you

A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;

But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture

To scale’t a little more.  97

First Cit.

Well, I’ll hear it, sir; yet you must not think to fob off our disgrace with a tale; but, an’t please you, deliver.  100


There was a time when all the body’s members

Rebell’d against the belly; thus accus’d it:

That only like a gulf it did remain

I’ the midst o’ the body, idle and unactive,  104

Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing

Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments

Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,

And, mutually participate, did minister  108

Unto the appetite and affection common

Of the whole body. The belly answer’d,—

First Cit.

Well, sir, what answer made the belly?  112


Sir, I shall tell you.—With a kind of smile,

Which ne’er came from the lungs, but even thus—

For, look you, I may make the belly smile

As well as speak—it tauntingly replied  116

To the discontented members, the mutinous parts

That envied his receipt; even so most fitly

As you malign our senators for that

They are not such as you.

First Cit.

Your belly’s answer? What!

The kingly crowned head, the vigilant eye,  121

The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,

Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,

With other muniments and petty helps  124

In this our fabric, if that they—


What then?—

’Fore me, this fellow speaks! what then? what then?

First Cit.

Should by the cormorant belly be restrain’d,

Who is the sink o’ the body,—


Well, what then?  128

First Cit.

The former agents, if they did complain,

What could the belly answer?


I will tell you;

If you’ll bestow a small, of what you have little,

Patience a while, you’ll hear the belly’s answer.

First Cit.

You’re long about it.


Note me this, good friend;  133

Your most grave belly was deliberate,

Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer’d:

‘True is it, my incorporate friends,’ quoth he,

‘That I receive the general food at first,  137

Which you do live upon; and fit it is;

Because I am the store-house and the shop

Of the whole body: but, if you do remember,

I send it through the rivers of your blood,  141

Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o’ the brain;

And, through the cranks and offices of man,

The strongest nerves and small inferior veins

From me receive that natural competency  145

Whereby they live. And though that all at once,

You, my good friends,’—this says the belly, mark me,—

First Cit.

Ay, sir; well, well.


‘Though all at once cannot

See what I do deliver out to each,  149

Yet I can make my audit up, that all

From me do back receive the flour of all,

And leave me but the bran.’ What say you to’t?

First Cit.

It was an answer: how apply you this?  153


The senators of Rome are this good belly,

And you the mutinous members; for, examine

Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly  156

Touching the weal o’ the common, you shall find

No public benefit which you receive

But it proceeds or comes from them to you,

And no way from yourselves. What do you think,  160

You, the great toe of this assembly?

First Cit.

I the great toe? Why the great toe?


For that, being one o’ the lowest, basest, poorest,

Of this most wise rebellion, thou go’st foremost:  164

Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,

Lead’st first to win some vantage.

But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs:

Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;

The one side must have bale.

Enter Caius Marcius.

Hail, noble Marcius!


Thanks.—What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues,

That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,

Make yourselves scabs?

First Cit.

We have ever your good word.


He that will give good words to thee will flatter  173

Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,

That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you,

The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,  176

Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;

Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no,

Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,

Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is,  180

To make him worthy whose offence subdues him,

And curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness

Deserves your hate; and your affections are

A sick man’s appetite, who desires most that  184

Which would increase his evil. He that depends

Upon your favours swims with fins of lead

And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye?

With every minute you do change a mind,  188

And call him noble that was now your hate,

Him vile that was your garland. What’s the matter,

That in these several places of the city

You cry against the noble senate, who,  192

Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else

Would feed on one another? What’s their seeking?


For corn at their own rates; whereof they say

The city is well stor’d.


Hang ’em! They say!  196

They’ll sit by the fire, and presume to know

What’s done i’ the Capitol; who’s like to rise,

Who thrives, and who declines; side factions, and give out

Conjectural marriages; making parties strong,

And feebling such as stand not in their liking,

Below their cobbled shoes. They say there’s grain enough!  202

Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,

And let me use my sword, I’d make a quarry

With thousands of these quarter’d slaves, as high  205

As I could pick my lance.


Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;

For though abundantly they lack discretion,  208

Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,

What says the other troop?


They are dissolv’d: hang ’em!

They said they were an-hungry; sigh’d forth proverbs:

That hunger broke stone walls; that dogs must eat;  212

That meat was made for mouths; that the gods sent not

Corn for the rich men only. With these shreds

They vented their complainings; which being answer’d,

And a petition granted them, a strange one,—

To break the heart of generosity,  217

And make bold power look pale,—they threw their caps

As they would hang them on the horns o’ the moon,

Shouting their emulation.


What is granted them?


Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,  221

Of their own choice: one’s Junius Brutus,

Sicinius Velutus, and I know not—’Sdeath!

The rabble should have first unroof’d the city,

Ere so prevail’d with me; it will in time  225

Win upon power, and throw forth greater themes

For insurrection’s arguing.


This is strange.


Go; get you home, you fragments!  228

Enter a Messenger, hastily.


Where’s Caius Marcius?


Here: what’s the matter?


The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.


I am glad on’t; then we shall ha’ means to vent

Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.  232

Enter Cominius, Titus Lartius, and other Senators; Junius Brutus and Sicinius Velutus.

First Sen.

Marcius, ’tis true that you have lately told us;

The Volsces are in arms.


They have a leader,

Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to’t.

I sin in envying his nobility,  236

And were I anything but what I am,

I would wish me only he.


You have fought together.


Were half to half the world by the ears, and he

Upon my party, I’d revolt, to make  240

Only my wars with him: he is a lion

That I am proud to hunt.

First Sen.

Then, worthy Marcius,

Attend upon Cominius to these wars.


It is your former promise.


Sir, it is;  244

And I am constant. Titus Lartius, thou

Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus’ face.

What! art thou stiff? stand’st out?


No, Caius Marcius;

I’ll lean upon one crutch and fight with t’other,  248

Ere stay behind this business.


O! true-bred.

First Sen.

Your company to the Capitol; where I know

Our greatest friends attend us.


[To Cominius.] Lead you on:

[To Marcius.] Follow Cominius; we must follow you;  252

Right worthy you priority.


Noble Marcius!

First Sen.

[To the Citizens.] Hence! to your homes! be gone.


Nay, let them follow:

The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither

To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,

Your valour puts well forth; pray, follow.  257

[Exeunt Senators, Cominius, Marcius, Titus, and Menenius. Citizens steal away.


Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?


He has no equal.


When we were chosen tribunes for the people,—  260


Mark’d you his lip and eyes?


Nay, but his taunts.


Being mov’d, he will not spare to gird the gods.


Bemock the modest moon.


The present wars devour him; he is grown  264

Too proud to be so valiant.


Such a nature,

Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow

Which he treads on at noon. But I do wonder

His insolence can brook to be commanded  268

Under Cominius.


Fame, at the which he aims,

In whom already he is well grac’d, cannot

Better be held nor more attain’d than by

A place below the first; for what miscarries  272

Shall be the general’s fault, though he perform

To the utmost of a man; and giddy censure

Will then cry out of Marcius ‘O! if he

Had borne the business.’


Besides, if things go well,  276

Opinion, that so sticks on Marcius, shall

Of his demerits rob Cominius.



Half all Cominius’ honours are to Marcius,

Though Marcius earn’d them not; and all his faults  280

To Marcius shall be honours, though indeed

In aught he merit not.


Let’s hence and hear

How the dispatch is made; and in what fashion,

More than his singularity, he goes  284

Upon this present action.


Let’s along.


Scene II.— Corioli. The Senate-house.

Enter Tullus Aufidius and Senators.

First Sen.

So, your opinion is, Aufidius,

That they of Rome are enter’d in our counsels,

And know how we proceed.


Is it not yours?

What ever have been thought on in this state,  4

That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome

Had circumvention? ’Tis not four days gone

Since I heard thence; these are the words: I think

I have the letter here; yes, here it is.  8

They have press’d a power, but it is not known

Whether for east, or west: the dearth is great;

The people mutinous; and it is rumour’d,

Cominius, Marcius, your old enemy,—  12

Who is of Rome worse hated than of you,

And Titus Lartius, a most valiant Roman,

These three lead on this preparation

Whither ’tis bent: most likely ’tis for you:  16

Consider of it.

First Sen.

Our army’s in the field:

We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready

To answer us.


Nor did you think it folly

To keep your great pretences veil’d till when  20

They needs must show themselves; which in the hatching,

It seem’d, appear’d to Rome. By the discovery

We shall be shorten’d in our aim, which was

To take in many towns ere almost Rome  24

Should know we were afoot.

Sec. Sen.

Noble Aufidius,

Take your commission; hie you to your bands;

Let us alone to guard Corioli:

If they set down before’s, for the remove  28

Bring up your army; but, I think you’ll find

They’ve not prepared for us.


O! doubt not that;

I speak from certainties. Nay, more;

Some parcels of their power are forth already,  32

And only hitherward. I leave your honours.

If we and Caius Marcius chance to meet,

’Tis sworn between us we shall ever strike

Till one can do no more.


The gods assist you!  36


And keep your honours safe!

First Sen.


Sec. Sen.





Scene III.— Rome. A Room in Marcius’s House.

Enter Volumnia and Virgilia: they set them down on two low stools and sew.


I pray you, daughter, sing; or express yourself in a more comfortable sort. If my son were my husband, I would freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he won honour than in the embracements of his bed where he would show most love. When yet he was but tender-bodied and the only son of my womb, when youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way, when for a day of kings’ entreaties a mother should not sell him an hour from her beholding, I, considering how honour would become such a person, that it was no better than picture-like to hang by the wall, if renown made it not stir, was pleased to let him seek danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child than now in first seeing he had proved himself a man.  19


But had he died in the business, madam; how then?


Then, his good report should have been my son; I therein would have found issue. Hear me profess sincerely: had I a dozen sons, each in my love alike, and none less dear than thine and my good Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.  28

Enter a Gentlewoman.


Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.


Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.


Indeed, you shall not.  32

Methinks I hear hither your husband’s drum,

See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair,

As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him:

Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus:

‘Come on, you cowards! you were got in fear,

Though you were born in Rome.’ His bloody brow

With his mail’d hand then wiping, forth he goes,

Like to a harvestman that’s task’d to mow  40

Or all or lose his hire.


His bloody brow! O Jupiter! no blood.


Away, you fool! it more becomes a man

Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba,  44

When she did suckle Hector, look’d not lovelier

Than Hector’s forehead when it spit forth blood

At Grecian swords, contemning. Tell Valeria

We are fit to bid her welcome.  48

[Exit Gentlewoman.


Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!


He’ll beat Aufidius’ head below his knee,

And tread upon his neck.

Re-enter Gentlewoman, with Valeria and an Usher.


My ladies both, good day to you.  52


Sweet madam.


I am glad to see your ladyship.


How do you both? you are manifest housekeepers. What are you sewing here? A fine spot, in good faith. How does your little son?  58


I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.


He had rather see the swords and hear a drum, than look upon his schoolmaster.  61


O’ my word, the father’s son; I’ll swear ’tis a very pretty boy. O’ my troth, I looked upon him o’ Wednesday half an hour together: he has such a confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded butterfly; and when he caught it, he let it go again; and after it again; and over and over he comes, and up again; catched it again: or whether his fall enraged him, or how ’twas, he did so set his teeth and tear it; O! I warrant, how he mammocked it!


One on’s father’s moods.  72


Indeed, la, ’tis a noble child.


A crack, madam.


Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play the idle huswife with me this afternoon.  77


No, good madam; I will not out of doors.


Not out of doors!


She shall, she shall.  80


Indeed, no, by your patience; I’ll not over the threshold till my lord return from the wars.


Fie! you confine yourself most unreasonably. Come; you must go visit the good lady that lies in.  86


I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her with my prayers; but I cannot go thither.


Why, I pray you?


’Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.  91


You would be another Penelope; yet, they say, all the yarn she spun in Ulysses’ absence did but fill Ithaca full of moths. Come; I would your cambric were sensible as your finger, that you might leave pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.  97


No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I will not forth.


In truth, la, go with me; and I’ll tell you excellent news of your husband.  101


O, good madam, there can be none yet.


Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news from him last night.  104


Indeed, madam?


In earnest, it’s true; I heard a senator speak it. Thus it is: The Volsces have an army forth; against whom Cominius the general is gone, with one part of our Roman power: your lord and Titus Lartius are set down before their city Corioli; they nothing doubt prevailing and to make it brief wars. This is true, on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.  113


Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in every thing hereafter.


Let her alone, lady: as she is now she will but disease our better mirth.  117


In troth, I think she would. Fare you well then. Come, good sweet lady. Prithee, Virgilia, turn thy solemness out o’ door, and go along with us.  121


No, at a word, madam; indeed I must not. I wish you much mirth.


Well then, farewell.


Scene IV.— Before Corioli.

Enter, with drum and colours, Marcius, Titus Lartius, Officers, and Soldiers. To them a Messenger.


Yonder comes news: a wager they have met.


My horse to yours, no.


’Tis done.




Say, has our general met the enemy?


They lie in view, but have not spoke as yet.  4


So the good horse is mine.


I’ll buy him of you.


No, I’ll nor sell nor give him; lend you him I will

For half a hundred years. Summon the town.


How far off lie these armies?


Within this mile and half.  8


Then shall we hear their ’larum, and they ours.

Now, Mars, I prithee, make us quick in work,

That we with smoking swords may march from hence,

To help our fielded friends! Come, blow thy blast.  12

A Parley sounded. Enter, on the Walls, two Senators, and Others.

Tullus Aufidius, is he within your walls?

First Sen.

No, nor a man that fears you less than he,

That’s lesser than a little. Hark, our drums

[Drums afar off.

Are bringing forth our youth: we’ll break our walls,  16

Rather than they shall pound us up: our gates,

Which yet seem shut, we have but pinn’d with rushes;

They’ll open of themselves. Hark you, far off!

[Alarum afar off.

There is Aufidius: list, what work he makes  20

Amongst your cloven army.


O! they are at it!


Their noise be our instruction. Ladders, ho!

The Volsces enter, and pass over the stage.


They fear us not, but issue forth their city.

Now put your shields before your hearts, and fight  24

With hearts more proof than shields. Advance, brave Titus:

They do disdain us much beyond our thoughts,

Which makes me sweat with wrath. Come on, my fellows:

He that retires, I’ll take him for a Volsce,  28

And he shall feel mine edge.

Alarum. The Romans are beaten back to their trenches. Re-enter Marcius.


All the contagion of the south light on you,

You shames of Rome! you herd of—Boils and plagues

Plaster you o’er, that you may be abhorr’d  32

Further than seen, and one infect another

Against the wind a mile! You souls of geese,

That bear the shapes of men, how have you run

From slaves that apes would beat! Pluto and hell!  36

All hurt behind; backs red, and faces pale

With flight and agu’d fear! Mend and charge home,

Or, by the fires of heaven, I’ll leave the foe

And make my wars on you; look to ’t: come on;

If you’ll stand fast, we’ll beat them to their wives,  41

As they us to our trenches follow’d.

Another alarum. The Volsces and Romans re-enter, and the fight is renewed. The Volsces retire into Corioli, and Marcius follows them to the gates.

So, now the gates are ope: now prove good seconds:

’Tis for the followers Fortune widens them,  44

Not for the fliers: mark me, and do the like.

[He enters the gates.

First Sol.

Foolhardiness! not I.

Sec. Sol.

Nor I.

[Marcius is shut in.

Third Sol.

See, they have shut him in.


To the pot, I warrant him.

[Alarum continues.

Re-enter Titus Lartius.


What is become of Marcius?


Slain, sir, doubtless.  48

First Sol.

Following the fliers at the very heels,

With them he enters; who, upon the sudden,

Clapp’d-to their gates; he is himself alone,

To answer all the city.


O noble fellow!  52

Who, sensibly, outdares his senseless sword,

And, when it bows, stands up. Thou art left, Marcius:

A carbuncle entire, as big as thou art,

Were not so rich a jewel. Thou wast a soldier

Even to Cato’s wish, not fierce and terrible  57

Only in strokes; but, with thy grim looks and

The thunder-like percussion of thy sounds,

Thou mad’st thine enemies shake, as if the world  60

Were feverous and did tremble.

Re-enter Marcius, bleeding, assaulted by the enemy.

First Sol.

Look, sir!


O! ’tis Marcius!

Let’s fetch him off, or make remain alike.

[They fight, and all enter the city.

Scene V.— Corioli. A Street.

Enter certain Romans, with spoils.

First Rom.

This will I carry to Rome.

Sec. Rom.

And I this.

Third Rom.

A murrain on’t! I took this for silver.

[Alarum continues still ajar off.

Enter Marcius and Titus Lartius, with a trumpet.


See here these movers that do prize their hours  4

At a crack’d drachme! Cushions, leaden spoons,

Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would

Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves,

Ere yet the fight be done, pack up. Down with them!  8

And hark, what noise the general makes! To him!

There is the man of my soul’s hate, Aufidius,

Piercing our Romans: then, valiant Titus, take

Convenient numbers to make good the city,  12

Whilst I, with those that have the spirit, will haste

To help Cominius.


Worthy sir, thou bleed’st;

Thy exercise hath been too violent

For a second course of fight.


Sir, praise me not;  16

My work hath yet not warm’d me: fare you well:

The blood I drop is rather physical

Than dangerous to me: to Aufidius thus

I will appear, and fight.


Now the fair goddess, Fortune,  20

Fall deep in love with thee; and her great charms

Misguide thy opposers’ swords! Bold gentleman,

Prosperity be thy page!


Thy friend no less

Than those she places highest! So, farewell.  24


Thou worthiest Marcius!—

[Exit Marcius.

Go, sound thy trumpet in the market-place;

Call thither all the officers of the town,

Where they shall know our mind. Away!  28


Scene VI.— Near the Camp of Cominius.

Enter Cominius and Forces, retreating.


Breathe you, my friends: well fought; we are come off

Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands,

Nor cowardly in retire: believe me, sirs,

We shall be charg’d again. Whiles we have struck,  4

By interims and conveying gusts we have heard

The charges of our friends. Ye Roman gods!

Lead their successes as we wish our own,

That both our powers, with smiling fronts encountering,  8

May give you thankful sacrifice.

Enter a Messenger.

Thy news?


The citizens of Corioli have issu’d,

And given to Lartius and to Marcius battle:

I saw our party to their trenches driven,  12

And then I came away.


Though thou speak’st truth,

Methinks thou speak’st not well. How long is’t since?


Above an hour, my lord.


’Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums:  16

How couldst thou in a mile confound an hour,

And bring thy news so late?


Spies of the Volsces

Held me in chase, that I was forc’d to wheel

Three or four miles about; else had I, sir,  20

Half an hour since brought my report.


Who’s yonder,

That does appear as he were flay’d? O gods!

He has the stamp of Marcius; and I have

Before-time seen him thus.


[Within.] Come I too late?  24


The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabor,

More than I know the sound of Marcius’ tongue

From every meaner man.

Enter Marcius.


Come I too late?


Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,  28

But mantled in your own.


O! let me clip ye

In arms as sound as when I woo’d, in heart

As merry as when our nuptial day was done,

And tapers burn’d to bedward.


Flower of warriors.  32

How is’t with Titus Lartius?


As with a man busied about decrees:

Condemning some to death, and some to exile;

Ransoming him, or pitying, threat’ning the other;  36

Holding Corioli in the name of Rome,

Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,

To let him slip at will.


Where is that slave

Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?  40

Where is he? Call him hither.


Let him alone;

He did inform the truth: but for our gentlemen,

The common file—a plague! tribunes for them!—

The mouse ne’er shunn’d the cat as they did budge  44

From rascals worse than they.


But how prevail’d you?


Will the time serve to tell? I do not think.

Where is the enemy? Are you lords o’ the field?

If not, why cease you till you are so?  48


Marcius, we have at disadvantage fought,

And did retire to win our purpose.


How lies their battle? Know you on which side

They have plac’d their men of trust?


As I guess, Marcius,  52

Their bands i’ the vaward are the Antiates,

Of their best trust; o’er them Aufidius,

Their very heart of hope.


I do beseech you,

By all the battles wherein we have fought,  56

By the blood we have shed together, by the vows

We have made to endure friends, that you directly

Set me against Aufidius and his Antiates;

And that you not delay the present, but,  60

Filling the air with swords advanc’d and darts,

We prove this very hour.


Though I could wish

You were conducted to a gentle bath,

And balms applied to you, yet dare I never  64

Deny your asking: take your choice of those

That best can aid your action.


Those are they

That most are willing. If any such be here—

As it were sin to doubt—that love this painting

Wherein you see me smear’d; if any fear  69

Lesser his person than an ill report;

If any think brave death outweighs bad life,

And that his country’s dearer than himself;  72

Let him, alone, or so many so minded,

Wave thus, to express his disposition,

And follow Marcius.

[They all shout, and wave their swords; take him up in their arms, and cast up their caps.

O! me alone? Make you a sword of me?  76

If these shows be not outward, which of you

But is four Volsces? None of you but is

Able to bear against the great Aufidius

A shield as hard as his. A certain number,  80

Though thanks to all, must I select from all: the rest

Shall bear the business in some other fight,

As cause will be obey’d. Please you to march;

And four shall quickly draw out my command,

Which men are best inclin’d.


March on, my fellows:  85

Make good this ostentation, and you shall

Divide in all with us.


Scene VII.— The Gates of Corioli.

Titus Lartius, having set a guard upon Corioli, going with drum and trumpet towards Cominius and Caius Marcius, enters with a Lieutenant, a party of Soldiers, and a Scout.


So; let the ports be guarded: keep your duties,

As I have set them down. If I do send, dispatch

Those centuries to our aid; the rest will serve

For a short holding: if we lose the field,  4

We cannot keep the town.


Fear not our care, sir.


Hence, and shut your gates upon us.

Our guider, come; to the Roman camp conduct us.


Scene VIII.— A Field of Battle between the Roman and the Volscian Camps.

Alarum. Enter from opposite sides Marcius and Aufidius.


I’ll fight with none but thee; for I do hate thee

Worse than a promise-breaker.


We hate alike:

Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor

More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.  4


Let the first budger die the other’s slave,

And the gods doom him after!


If I fly, Marcius,

Halloo me like a hare.


Within these three hours, Tullus,  8

Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,

And made what work I pleas’d; ’tis not my blood

Wherein thou seest me mask’d; for thy revenge

Wrench up thy power to the highest.


Wert thou the Hector  12

That was the whip of your bragg’d progeny,

Thou shouldst not ’scape me here.—

[They fight, and certain Volsces come to the aid of Aufidius.

Officious, and not valiant, you have sham’d me

In your condemned seconds.  16

[Exeunt fighting, all driven in by Marcius.

Scene IX.— The Roman Camp.

Alarum. A retreat sounded. Flourish. Enter from one side, Cominius and Romans; from the other side, Marcius, with his arm in a scarf, and other Romans.


If I should tell thee o’er this thy day’s work,

Thou’lt not believe thy deeds: but I’ll report it

Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles,

Where great patricians shall attend and shrug,  4

I’ the end, admire; where ladies shall be frighted,

And, gladly quak’d, hear more; where the dull Tribunes,

That, with the fusty plebeians, hate thine honours,

Shall say, against their hearts,  8

‘We thank the gods our Rome hath such a soldier!’

Yet cam’st thou to a morsel of this feast,

Having fully din’d before.

Enter Titus Lartius, with his power, from the pursuit.


O general,

Here is the steed, we the caparison:  12

Hadst thou beheld—


Pray now, no more: my mother,

Who has a charter to extol her blood,

When she does praise me grieves me. I have done

As you have done; that’s what I can; induc’d

As you have been; that’s for my country:  17

He that has but effected his good will

Hath overta’en mine act.


You shall not be

The grave of your deserving; Rome must know

The value of her own: ’twere a concealment  21

Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement,

To hide your doings; and to silence that,

Which, to the spire and top of praises vouch’d,

Would seem but modest. Therefore, I beseech you,—  25

In sign of what you are, not to reward

What you have done,—before our army hear me.


I have some wounds upon me, and they smart  28

To hear themselves remember’d.


Should they not.

Well might they fester ’gainst ingratitude,

And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses,

Whereof we have ta’en good, and good store, of all  32

The treasure, in this field achiev’d and city,

We render you the tenth; to be ta’en forth,

Before the common distribution,

At your only choice.


I thank you, general;  36

But cannot make my heart consent to take

A bribe to pay my sword: I do refuse it;

And stand upon my common part with those

That have beheld the doing.  40

[A long flourish. They all cry ‘Marcius! Marcius!’ cast up their caps and lances: Cominius and Lartius stand bare.


May these same instruments, which you profane,

Never sound more! When drums and trumpets shall

I’ the field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be

Made all of false-fac’d soothing!  44

When steel grows soft as is the parasite’s silk,

Let him be made a coverture for the wars!

No more, I say! For that I have not wash’d

My nose that bled, or foil’d some debile wretch,

Which, without note, here’s many else have done,  49

You shout me forth

In acclamations hyperbolical;

As if I lov’d my little should be dieted  52

In praises sauc’d with lies.


Too modest are you;

More cruel to your good report than grateful

To us that give you truly. By your patience,

If ’gainst yourself you be incens’d, we’ll put you,

Like one that means his proper harm, in manacles,  57

Then reason safely with you. Therefore, be it known,

As to us, to all the world, that Caius Marcius

Wears this war’s garland; in token of the which,

My noble steed, known to the camp, I give him,

With all his trim belonging; and from this time,

For what he did before Corioli, call him,

With all the applause and clamour of the host,

Caius Marcius Coriolanus! Bear  65

The addition nobly ever!


Caius Marcius Coriolanus!

[Flourish. Trumpets sound, and drums.


I will go wash;  68

And when my face is fair, you shall perceive

Whether I blush, or no: howbeit, I thank you.

I mean to stride your steed, and at all times

To undercrest your good addition  72

To the fairness of my power.


So, to our tent;

Where, ere we do repose us, we will write

To Rome of our success. You, Titus Lartius,

Must to Corioli back: send us to Rome  76

The best, with whom we may articulate,

For their own good and ours.


I shall, my lord.


The gods begin to mock me. I, that now

Refus’d most princely gifts, am bound to beg  80

Of my lord general.


Take it; ’tis yours. What is’t?


I sometime lay here in Corioli

At a poor man’s house; he us’d me kindly:

He cried to me; I saw him prisoner;  84

But then Aufidius was within my view,

And wrath o’erwhelm’d my pity: I request you

To give my poor host freedom.


O! well begg’d!

Were he the butcher of my son, he should  88

Be free as is the wind. Deliver him, Titus.


Marcius, his name?


By Jupiter! forgot.

I am weary; yea, my memory is tir’d.

Have we no wine here?


Go we to our tent:  92

The blood upon your visage dries; ’tis time

It should be look’d to: come.


Scene X.— The Camp of the Volsces.

A Flourish. Cornets. Enter Tullus Aufidius, bloody, with two or three Soldiers.


The town is ta’en!

First Sol.

’Twill be deliver’d back on good condition.



I would I were a Roman; for I cannot,  4

Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition!

What good condition can a treaty find

I’ the part that is at mercy? Five times, Marcius,

I have fought with thee; so often hast thou beat me,  8

And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter

As often as we eat. By the elements,

If e’er again I meet him beard to beard,

He is mine, or I am his: mine emulation  12

Hath not that honour in’t it had; for where

I thought to crush him in an equal force—

True sword to sword—I’ll potch at him some way

Or wrath or craft may get him.

First Sol.

He’s the devil.  16


Bolder, though not so subtle. My valour’s poison’d

With only suffering stain by him; for him

Shall fly out of itself. Nor sleep nor sanctuary,

Being naked, sick, nor fane nor Capitol,  20

The prayers of priests, nor times of sacrifice,

Embarquements all of fury, shall lift up

Their rotten privilege and custom ’gainst

My hate to Marcius. Where I find him, were it

At home, upon my brother’s guard, even there

Against the hospitable canon, would I

Wash my fierce hand in ’s heart. Go you to the city;

Learn how ’tis held, and what they are that must  28

Be hostages for Rome.

First Sol.

Will not you go?


I am attended at the cypress grove: I pray you—

’Tis south the city mills—bring me word thither

How the world goes, that to the pace of it  32

I may spur on my journey.

First Sol.

I shall, sir.



Scene I.— Rome. A Public Place.

Enter Menenius, Sicinius, and Brutus.


The augurer tells me we shall have news to-night.


Good or bad?


Not according to the prayer of the people, for they love not Marcius.  5


Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.


Pray you, who does the wolf love?  8


The lamb.


Ay, to devour him; as the hungry plebeians would the noble Marcius.


He’s a lamb indeed, that baes like a bear.  13


He’s a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You two are old men; tell me one thing that I shall ask you.  16


Well, sir.


Well, sir.


In what enormity is Marcius poor in, that you two have not in abundance?


He’s poor in no one fault, but stored with all.  21


Especially in pride.


And topping all others in boasting.


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?  26


Why, how are we censured?


Because you talk of pride now,—Will you not be angry?


Well, well, sir; well.  30


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 pleasure to you in being so. You blame Marcius for being proud?


We do it not alone, sir.  37


I know you can do very little alone; for your helps are many, or else your actions would grow wondrous single: your abilities are too infant-like, for doing much alone. You talk of pride: O! that you could turn your eyes towards the napes of your necks, and make but an interior survey of your good selves. O! that you could.  45


What then, sir?


Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting, proud, violent, testy magistrates—alias fools—as any in Rome.  49


Menenius, you are known well enough too.


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 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 crooked face at it. I cannot 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 tell you have good faces. If you see this in the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known well enough too? What harm can your bisson conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be known well enough too?  73


Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.


You know neither me, yourselves, nor anything. 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, 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 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.  90


Come, come, you are well understood to be a perfecter giber for the table than a necessary bencher in the Capitol.  93


Our very priests must become mockers if they shall encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When 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 Marcius is proud; who, in a cheap estimation, is worth all your predecessors since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the best of ’em were hereditary hangmen. Good den to your worships: more of your conversation would infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly 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 your eyes so fast?  111


Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; for the love of Juno, let’s go.


Ha! Marcius coming home?


Ay, worthy Menenius; and with most prosperous approbation.  116


Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo! Marcius coming home!


Nay, ’tis true.


Nay, ’tis true.


Look, here’s a letter from him: the state hath another, his wife another; and, I think, there’s one at home for you.


I will make my very house reel to-night. A letter for me!  124


Yes, certain, there’s a letter for you; I saw it.


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, of no better report than a horse-drench. Is he not wounded? he was wont to come home wounded.  133


O! no, no, no.


O! he is wounded, I thank the gods for’t.


So do I too, if it be not too much. Brings a’ victory in his pocket? The wounds become him.


On ’s brows, Menenius; he comes the third time home with the oaken garland.  140


Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?


Titus Lartius writes they fought together, but Aufidius got off.  143


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?  148


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.  153


In troth there’s wondrous things spoke of him.


Wondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not without his true purchasing.  157


The gods grant them true!


True! pow, wow.


True! I’ll be sworn they are true. Where is he wounded? [To the Tribunes.] God save your good worships! Marcius is coming home: he has more cause to be proud. [To Volumnia.] Where is he wounded?  164


I’ the shoulder, and i’ the left arm: there will be 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.  168


One i’ the neck, and two i’ the thigh, there’s nine that I know.


He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five wounds upon him.  172


Now, it’s twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy’s grave. [A shout and flourish.] Hark! the trumpets.


These are the ushers of Marcius: before him he carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears:  178

Death, that dark spirit, in ’s nervy arm doth lie;

Which, being advanc’d, declines, and then men die.

A Sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter Cominius and Titus Lartius; between them, Coriolanus, crowned with an oaken garland; with Captains, Soldiers, and a Herald.


Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight

Within Corioli gates: where he hath won,

With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these

In honour follows Coriolanus.  184

Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!



Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!


No more of this; it does offend my heart:

Pray now, no more.


Look, sir, your mother!



You have, I know, petition’d all the gods  189

For my prosperity.



Nay, my good soldier, up;

My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and

By deed-achieving honour newly nam’d,—  192

What is it?—Coriolanus must I call thee?

But O! thy wife!—


My gracious silence, hail!

Wouldst thou have laugh’d had I come coffin’d home,

That weep’st to see me triumph? Ah! my dear,

Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,  197

And mothers that lack sons.


Now, the gods crown thee!


And live you yet? [To Valeria.] O my sweet lady, pardon.


I know not where to turn: O! welcome home;  200

And welcome, general; and ye’re welcome all.


A hundred thousand welcomes: I could weep,

And I could laugh; I am light, and heavy. Welcome.

A curse begnaw at very root on ’s heart  204

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

Be grafted to your relish. Yet, welcome, warriors!  208

We call a nettle but a nettle, and

The faults of fools but folly.


Ever right.


Menenius, ever, ever.


Give way there, and go on!


[To Volumnia and Valeria.] Your hand, and yours:  212

Ere in our own house I do shade my head,

The good patricians must be visited;

From whom I have receiv’d not only greetings,

But with them change of honours.


I have liv’d  216

To see inherited my very wishes,

And the buildings of my fancy: only

There’s one thing wanting, which I doubt not but

Our Rome will cast upon thee.


Know, good mother,  220

I had rather be their servant in my way

Than sway with them in theirs.


On, to the Capitol!

[Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before. The Tribunes remain.


All tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights  224

Are spectacled to see him: your prattling nurse

Into a rapture lets her baby cry

While she chats him: the kitchen malkin pins

Her richest lockram ’bout her reechy neck,  228

Clambering the walls to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows,

Are smother’d up, leads fill’d, and ridges hors’d

With variable complexions, all agreeing  231

In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens

Do press among the popular throngs, and puff

To win a vulgar station: our veil’d dames

Commit the war of white and damask in

Their nicely-gawded cheeks to the wanton spoil

Of Phœbus’ burning kisses: such a pother  237

As if that whatsoever god who leads him

Were slily crept into his human powers,

And gave him graceful posture.


On the sudden  240

I warrant him consul.


Then our office may,

During his power, go sleep.


He cannot temperately transport his honours

From where he should begin and end, but will

Lose those he hath won.


In that there’s comfort.  245


Doubt not, the commoners, for whom we stand,

But they upon their ancient malice will

Forget with the least cause these his new honours,  248

Which that he’ll give them, make I as little question

As he is proud to do’t.


I heard him swear,

Were he to stand for consul, never would he

Appear i’ the market-place, nor on him put  252

The napless vesture of humility;

Nor, showing, as the manner is, his wounds

To the people, beg their stinking breaths.


’Tis right.


It was his word. O! he would miss it rather  256

Than carry it but by the suit o’ the gentry to him

And the desire of the nobles.


I wish no better

Than have him hold that purpose and to put it

In execution.


’Tis most like he will.  260


It shall be to him then, as our good wills,

A sure destruction.


So it must fall out

To him or our authorities. For an end,

We must suggest the people in what hatred  264

He still hath held them; that to his power he would

Have made them mules, silenc’d their pleaders, and

Dispropertied their freedoms; holding them,

In human action and capacity,  268

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.


This, as you say, suggested  272

At some time when his soaring insolence

Shall teach 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  276

To kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze

Shall darken him for ever.

Enter a Messenger.


What’s the matter?


You are sent for to the Capitol. ’Tis thought

That Marcius shall be consul.  280

I have seen the dumb men throng to see him, and

The blind to hear him speak: matrons flung gloves,

Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers

Upon him as he pass’d; the nobles bended,  284

As to Jove’s statue, and the commons made

A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts:

I never saw the like.


Let’s to the Capitol;

And carry with us ears and eyes for the time,  288

But hearts for the event.


Have with you.


Scene II.— The Same. The Capitol.

Enter two Officers to lay cushions.

First Off.

Come, come, they are almost here.

How many stand for consulships?

Sec. Off.

Three, they say; but ’tis thought of every one Coriolanus will carry it.  4

First Off.

That’s a brave fellow; but he’s vengeance proud, and loves not the common people.  7

Sec. Off.

Faith, there have 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 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.  17

First Off.

If he did not care whether he had their love or no, he waved indifferently ’twixt doing them neither good nor harm; but he seeks their hate with greater devotion than they can render it him; and leaves nothing undone that may fully discover him their opposite. Now, to seem to affect the malice and displeasure of the people is as bad as that which he dislikes, to flatter them for their love.  26

Sec. Off.

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, bonneted, without any further deed to have them at all 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 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 Off.

No more of him; he is a worthy man: make way, they are coming.  41

A Sennet. Enter, with Lictors before them, Cominius the Consul, Menenius, Coriolanus, many other Senators, Sicinius and Brutus. The Senators take their places; the Tribunes take theirs also by themselves.


Having determin’d of the Volsces, and

To send for Titus Lartius, it remains,

As the main point of this our after-meeting,  44

To gratify his noble service that

Hath thus stood for his country: therefore, please you,

Most reverend and grave elders, to desire

The present consul, and last general  48

In our well-found successes, to report

A little of that worthy work perform’d

By Caius Marcius Coriolanus, whom

We meet here both to thank and to remember

With honours like himself.

First Sen.

Speak, good Cominius:  53

Leave nothing out for length, and make us think

Rather our state’s defective for requital,

Than we to stretch it out. [To the Tribunes.] Masters o’ the people,  56

We do request your kindest ears, and, after,

Your loving motion toward the common body,

To yield what passes here.


We are convented

Upon a pleasing treaty, and have hearts  60

Inclinable to honour and advance

The theme of our assembly.


Which the rather

We shall be bless’d to do, if he remember

A kinder value of the people than  64

He hath hereto priz’d them at.


That’s off, that’s off;

I would you rather had been silent. Please you

To hear Cominius speak?


Most willingly;

But yet my caution was more pertinent  68

Than the rebuke you give it.


He loves your people;

But tie him not to be their bedfellow.

Worthy Cominius, speak.

[Coriolanus rises, and offers to go away.

Nay, keep your place.

First Sen.

Sit, Coriolanus; never shame to hear  72

What you have nobly done.


Your honours’ pardon:

I had rather have my wounds to heal again

Than hear say how I got them.


Sir, I hope

My words disbench’d you not.


No, sir: yet oft,  76

When blows have made me stay, I fled from words.

You sooth’d not, therefore hurt not. But your people,

I love them as they weigh.


Pray now, sit down.


I had rather have one scratch my head i’ the sun  80

When the alarum were struck than idly sit

To hear my nothings monster’d.



Masters of the people,

Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter,—

That’s thousand to one good one,—when you now see  84

He had rather venture all his limbs for honour

Than one on ’s ears to hear it. Proceed, Cominius.


I shall lack voice: the deeds of Coriolanus

Should not be utter’d feebly. It is held  88

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 counterpois’d. At sixteen years,  92

When Tarquin made a head for Rome, he fought

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  96

The bristled lips before him. He bestrid

An o’er-press’d Roman, and i’ the consul’s view

Slew three opposers: Tarquin’s self he met,

And struck him on his knee: in that day’s feats,  100

When he might act the woman in the scene,

He prov’d best man i’ the field, and for his meed

Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age

Man-enter’d thus, he waxed like a sea,  104

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,

And by his rare example made the coward  109

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,  112

Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot

He was a thing of blood, whose every motion

Was tim’d with dying cries: alone he enter’d

The mortal gate of the city, which he painted

With shunless destiny; aidless came off,  117

And with a sudden re-enforcement struck

Corioli like a planet. Now all’s his:

When by and by the din of war ’gan pierce  120

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

Run reeking o’er the lives of men, as if  124

’Twere a perpetual spoil; and till we call’d

Both field and city ours, he never stood

To ease his breast with panting.


Worthy man!

First Sen.

He cannot but with measure fit the honours  128

Which we devise him.


Our spoils he kick’d at,

And look’d upon things precious as they were

The common muck o’ the world: he covets less

Than misery itself would give; rewards  132

His deeds with doing them, and is content

To spend the time to end it.


He’s right noble:

Let him be call’d for.

First Sen.

Call Coriolanus.


He doth appear.  136

Re-enter Coriolanus.


The senate, Coriolanus, are well pleas’d

To make thee consul.


I do owe them still

My life and services.


It then remains

That you do speak to the people.


I do beseech you,

Let me o’erleap that custom, for I cannot  141

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.


Sir, the people  144

Must have their voices; neither will they bate

One jot of ceremony.


Put them not to ’t:

Pray you, go fit you to the custom, and

Take to you, as your predecessors have,  148

Your honour with your form.


It is a part

That I shall blush in acting, and might well

Be taken from the people.


[Aside to Sicinius.] Mark you that?


To brag unto them, thus I did, and thus;

Show them the unaching scars which I should hide,  153

As if I had receiv’d them for the hire

Of their breath only!


Do not stand upon’t.

We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,

Our purpose to them; and to our noble consul

Wish we all joy and honour.


To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!

[Flourish. Exeunt all but Sicinius and Brutus.


You see how he intends to use the people.  160


May they perceive ’s intent! He will require them,

As if he did contemn what he requested

Should be in them to give.


Come; we’ll inform them

Of our proceedings here: on the market-place

I know they do attend us.


Scene III.— The Same. The Forum.

Enter several Citizens.

First Cit.

Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.

Sec. Cit.

We may, sir, if we will.  3

Third Cit.

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 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 monstrous members.  14

First Cit.

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.  18

Third Cit.

We have been called so of many; not that our heads are some brown, some black, some abram, 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 once to all the points o’ the compass.

Sec. Cit.

Think you so? Which way do you judge my wit would fly?  28

Third Cit.

Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man’s will; ’tis strongly wedged up in a block-head; but if it were at liberty, ’twould, sure, southward.  32

Sec. Cit.

Why that way?

Third Cit.

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.  37

Sec. Cit.

You are never without your tricks. you may, you may.

Third Cit.

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.  43

Re-enter Coriolanus, in a gown of humility, and Menenius.

Here he comes, and in a gown of humility mark his behaviour. We are not to stay all together, but to come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos, and 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’ll direct you how you shall go by him.


Content, content.

[Exeunt Citizens.


O, sir, you are not right: have you not known  53

The worthiest men have done’t?


What must I say?

‘I pray, sir,’—Plague upon’t! I cannot bring

My tongue to such a pace. ‘Look, sir, my wounds!  56

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.’


O me! the gods!

You must not speak of that: you must desire them  60

To think upon you.


Think upon me! Hang ’em!

I would they would forget me, like the virtues

Which our divines lose by ’em.


You’ll mar all:

I’ll leave you. Pray you, speak to ’em, I pray you,  64

In wholesome manner.


Bid them wash their faces,

And keep their teeth clean.

[Exit Menenius.

So, here comes a brace.

Re-enter two Citizens.

You know the cause, sir, of my standing here?

First Cit.

We do, sir; tell us what hath brought you to ’t.  69


Mine own desert.

Sec. Cit.

Your own desert!


Ay, not mine own desire.  72

First Cit.

How! not your own desire?


No, sir, ’twas never my desire yet to trouble the poor with begging.

First Cit.

You must think, if we give you any thing, we hope to gain by you.  77


Well, then, I pray, your price o’ the consulship?

First Cit.

The price is, to ask it kindly.  80


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?

Sec. Cit.

You shall ha ’t, worthy sir.  84


A match, sir. There is in all two worthy voices begged. I have your alms: adieu.

First Cit.

But this is something odd.

Sec. Cit.

An ’twere to give again,—but ’tis no matter.

[Exeunt the two Citizens.

Re-enter two other Citizens.


Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your voices that I may be consul, I have here the customary gown.  92

Third Cit.

You have deserved nobly of your country, and you have not deserved nobly.


Your enigma?  95

Third Cit.

You have been a scourge to her enemies, you have been a rod to her friends; you have not indeed loved the common people.


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 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 bountifully to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you, I may be consul.  110

Fourth Cit.

We hope to find you our friend, and therefore give you our voices heartily.

Third Cit.

You have received many wounds for your country.  114


I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.  117

Both Cit.

The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!



Most sweet voices!

Better it is to die, better to starve,  120

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:

What custom wills, in all things should we do ’t,

The dust on antique time would lie unswept,

And mountainous error be too highly heap’d

For truth to o’er-peer. Rather than fool it so,

Let the high office and the honour go  129

To one that would do thus. I am half through;

The one part suffer’d, the other will I do.

Here come more voices.  132

Re-enter three other Citizens.

Your voices: for your voices I have fought;

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:  137

Indeed, I would be consul.

Fifth Cit.

He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest man’s voice.  140

Sixth Cit.

Therefore let him be consul. The gods give him joy, and make him good friend to the people!


Amen, amen.  144

God save thee, noble consul!

[Exeunt Citizens.


Worthy voices!

Re-enter Menenius, with Brutus and Sicinius.


You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes

Endue you with the people’s voice: remains

That, in the official marks invested, you  148

Anon do meet the senate.


Is this done?


The custom of request you have discharg’d:

The people do admit you, and are summon’d

To meet anon, upon your approbation.  152


Where? at the senate-house?


There, Coriolanus.


May I change these garments?


You may, sir.


That I’ll straight do; and, knowing myself again,  156

Repair to the senate-house.


I’ll keep you company. Will you along?


We stay here for the people.


Fare you well.

[Exeunt Coriolanus and Menenius.

He has it now; and by his looks, methinks,  160

’Tis warm at’s heart.


With a proud heart he wore

His humble weeds. Will you dismiss the people?

Re-enter Citizens.


How now, my masters! have you chose this man?

First Cit.

He has our voices, sir.  164


We pray the gods he may deserve your love.

Sec. Cit.

Amen, sir. To my poor unworthy notice,

He mock’d us when he begg’d our voices.

Third Cit.


He flouted us downright.  168

First Cit.

No, ’tis his kind of speech; he did not mock us.

Sec. Cit.

Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says

He used us scornfully: he should have show’d us

His marks of merit, wounds receiv’d for’s country.  172


Why, so he did, I am sure.


No, no; no man saw ’em.

Third Cit.

He said he had wounds, which he could show in private;

And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,

‘I would be consul,’ says he: ‘aged custom,  176

But by your voices, will not so permit me;

Your voices therefore:’ when we granted that,

Here was, ‘I thank you for your voices, thank you,

Your most sweet voices: now you have left your voices  180

I have no further with you.’ Was not this mockery?


Why, either were you ignorant to see ’t,

Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness

To yield your voices?


Could you not have told him

As you were lesson’d, when he had no power,  185

But was a petty servant to the state,

He was your enemy, ever spake against

Your liberties and the charters that you bear

I’ the body of the weal; and now, arriving  189

A place of potency and sway o’ the state,

If he should still malignantly remain

Fast foe to the plebeii, your voices might  192

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  196

Translate his malice towards you into love,

Standing your friendly lord.


Thus to have said,

As you were fore-advis’d, had touch’d his spirit

And tried his inclination; from him pluck’d  200

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  204

Tying him to aught; so, putting him to rage,

You should have ta’en the advantage of his choler,

And pass’d him unelected.


Did you perceive

He did solicit you in free contempt  208

When he did need your loves, and do you think

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?


Have you  213

Ere now denied the asker? and now again

Of him that did not ask, but mock, bestow

Your su’d-for tongues?  216

Third Cit.

He’s not confirm’d; we may deny him yet.

Sec. Cit.

And will deny him:

I’ll have five hundred voices of that sound.

First Cit.

Ay, twice five hundred and their friends to piece ’em.  220


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

Than dogs that are as often beat for barking  224

As therefore kept to do so.


Let them assemble;

And, on a safer judgment, all revoke

Your ignorant election. Enforce his pride,

And his old hate unto you; besides, forget not  228

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,  232

Which most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion

After the inveterate hate he bears you.



A fault on us, your tribunes; that we labour’d,—

No impediment between,—but that you must

Cast your election on him.


Say, you chose him  237

More after our commandment than as guided

By your own true affections; and that, your minds,

Pre-occupied with what you rather must do  240

Than what you should, made you against the grain

To voice him consul: lay the fault on us.


Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you,

How youngly he began to serve his country,  244

How long continu’d, and what stock he springs of,

The noble house o’ the Marcians, from whence came

That Ancus Marcius, Numa’s daughter’s son,

Who, after great Hostilius, here was king;  248

Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,

That our best water brought by conduits hither;

And Censorinus, that was so surnam’d,—

And nobly nam’d so, twice being censor,—  252

Was his great ancestor.


One thus descended,

That hath, beside, well in his person wrought

To be set high in place, we did commend

To your remembrances: but you have found,

Scaling his present bearing with his past,  257

That he’s your fixed enemy, and revoke

Your sudden approbation.


Say you ne’er had done ’t—

Harp on that still—but by our putting on;  260

And presently, when you have drawn your number,

Repair to the Capitol.


We will so; almost all

Repent in their election.

[Exeunt Citizens.


Let them go on;

This mutiny were better put in hazard  264

Than stay, past doubt, for greater.

If, as his nature is, he fall in rage

With their refusal, both observe and answer

The vantage of his anger.


To the Capitol, come:  268

We will be there before the stream o’ the people;

And this shall seem, as partly ’tis, their own,

Which we have goaded onward.



Scene I.— Rome. A Street.

Cornets. Enter Coriolanus, Menenius, Cominius, Titus Lartius, Senators, and Patricians.


Tullus Aufidius then had made new head?


He had, my lord; and that it was which caus’d

Our swifter composition.


So then the Volsces stand but as at first,

Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road  5

Upon ’s again.


They are worn, lord consul, so,

That we shall hardly in our ages see

Their banners wave again.


Saw you Aufidius?  8


On safe-guard he came to me; and did curse

Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely

Yielded the town: he is retir’d to Antium.


Spoke he of me?


He did, my lord.


How? what?  12


How often he had met you, sword to sword;

That of all things upon the earth he hated

Your person most, that he would pawn his fortunes

To hopeless restitution, so he might  16

Be call’d your vanquisher.


At Antium lives he?


At Antium.


I wish I had a cause to seek him there,

To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.  20

Enter Sicinius and Brutus.

Behold! these are the tribunes of the people,

The tongues o’ the common mouth: I do despise them;

For they do prank them in authority

Against all noble sufferance.


Pass no further.  24


Ha! what is that?


It will be dangerous to go on: no further.


What makes this change?


The matter?


Hath he not pass’d the noble and the common?  28


Cominius, no.


Have I had children’s voices?

First Sen.

Tribunes, give way; he shall to the market-place.


The people are incens’d against him.



Or all will fall in broil.


Are these your herd?  32

Must these have voices, that can yield them now,

And straight disclaim their tongues? What are your offices?

You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth?

Have you not set them on?


Be calm, be calm.  36


It is a purpos’d thing, and grows by plot,

To curb the will of the nobility:

Suffer’t, and live with such as cannot rule

Nor ever will be rul’d.


Call’t not a plot:  40

The people cry you mock’d them, and of late,

When corn was given them gratis, you repin’d;

Scandall’d the suppliants for the people, call’d them

Time-pleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.  44


Why, this was known before.


Not to them all.


Have you inform’d them sithence?


How! I inform them!


You are like to do such business.


Not unlike,

Each way, to better yours.  48


Why then should I be consul? By yond clouds,

Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me

Your fellow tribune.


You show too much of that

For which the people stir; if you will pass  52

To where you are bound, you must inquire your way,

Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit;

Or never be so noble as a consul,

Nor yoke with him for tribune.


Let’s be calm.  56


The people are abus’d; set on. This paltering

Becomes not Rome, nor has Coriolanus

Deserv’d this so dishonour’d rub, laid falsely

I’ the plain way of his merit.


Tell me of corn!  60

This was my speech, and I will speak’t again,—


Not now, not now.

First Sen.

Not in this heat, sir, now.


Now, as I live, I will. My nobler friends,

I crave their pardons:  64

For the mutable, rank-scented many, let them

Regard me as I do not flatter, and

Therein behold themselves: I say again,

In soothing them we nourish ’gainst our senate

The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,  69

Which we ourselves have plough’d for, sow’d and scatter’d,

By mingling them with us, the honour’d number;

Who lack’d not virtue, no, nor power, but that

Which they have given to beggars.


Well, no more.  73

First Sen.

No more words, we beseech you.


How! no more!

As for my country I have shed my blood,

Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs  76

Coin words till they decay against those measles,

Which we disdain should tetter us, yet sought

The very way to catch them.


You speak o’ the people,

As if you were a god to punish, not  80

A man of their infirmity.


’Twere well

We let the people know’t.


What, what? his choler?



Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,  84

By Jove, ’twould be my mind!


It is a mind

That shall remain a poison where it is,

Not poison any further.


Shall remain!

Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you  88

His absolute ‘shall?’


’Twas from the canon.



O good but most unwise patricians! why,

You grave but reckless senators, have you thus

Given Hydra here to choose an officer,  92

That with his peremptory ‘shall,’ being but

The horn and noise o’ the monster’s, wants not spirit

To say he’ll turn your current in a ditch,

And make your channel his? If he have power,

Then vail your ignorance; if none, awake  97

Your dangerous lenity. If you are learned,

Be not as common fools; if you are not,

Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians  100

If they be senators; and they are no less,

When, both your voices blended, the great’st taste

Most palates theirs. They choose their magistrate,

And such a one as he, who puts his ‘shall,’  104

His popular ‘shall,’ against a graver bench

Than ever frown’d in Greece. By Jove himself!

It makes the consuls base; and my soul aches

To know, when two authorities are up;  108

Neither supreme, how soon confusion

May enter ’twixt the gap of both and take

The one by the other.


Well, on to the market-place.


Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth

The corn o’ the store-house gratis, as ’twas us’d

Sometime in Greece,—


Well, well; no more of that.


Though there the people had more absolute power,

I say, they nourish’d disobedience, fed  116

The ruin of the state.


Why, shall the people give

One that speaks thus their voice?


I’ll give my reasons,

More worthier than their voices. They know the corn  119

Was not our recompense, resting well assur’d

They ne’er did service for ’t. Being press’d to the war,

Even when the navel of the state was touch’d,

They would not thread the gates: this kind of service  123

Did not deserve corn gratis. Being i’ the war,

Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they show’d

Most valour, spoke not for them. The accusation

Which they have often made against the senate,

All cause unborn, could never be the motive  128

Of our so frank donation. Well, what then?

How shall this bisson multitude digest

The senate’s courtesy? Let deeds express

What’s like to be their words: ‘We did request it;  132

We are the greater poll, and in true fear

They gave us our demands.’ Thus we debase

The nature of our seats, and make the rabble

Call our cares, fears; which will in time break ope  136

The locks o’ the senate, and bring in the crows

To peck the eagles.


Come, enough.


Enough, with over-measure.


No, take more:

What may be sworn by, both divine and human,

Seal what I end withal! This double worship,  141

Where one part does disdain with cause, the other

Insult without all reason; where gentry, title, wisdom,

Cannot conclude, but by the yea and no  144

Of general ignorance,—it must omit

Real necessities, and give way the while

To unstable slightness: purpose so barr’d, it follows

Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore, beseech you,—  148

You that will be less fearful than discreet,

That love the fundamental part of state

More than you doubt the change on ’t, that prefer

A noble life before a long, and wish  152

To jump a body with a dangerous physic

That’s sure of death without it, at once pluck out

The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick

The sweet which is their poison. Your dishonour  156

Mangles true judgment, and bereaves the state

Of that integrity which should become it,

Not having the power to do the good it would,

For the ill which doth control ’t.


He has said enough.  160


He has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer

As traitors do.


Thou wretch! despite o’erwhelm thee!

What should the people do with these bald tribunes?  164

On whom depending, their obedience fails

To the greater bench. In a rebellion,

When what’s not meet, but what must be, was law,

Then were they chosen: in a better hour,  168

Let what is meet be said it must be meet,

And throw their power i’ the dust.


Manifest treason!


This a consul? no.


The ædiles, ho! Let him be apprehended.  172

Enter an Ædile.


Go, call the people; [Exit Ædile] in whose name, myself

Attach thee as a traitorous innovator,

A foe to the public weal: obey, I charge thee,

And follow to thine answer.


Hence, old goat!  176


We’ll surety him.


Aged sir, hands off.


Hence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bones

Out of thy garments.


Help, ye citizens!

Re-enter Ædiles, with Others, and a rabble of Citizens.


On both sides more respect.  180


Here’s he that would take from you all your power.


Seize him, ædiles!


Down with him!—down with him!—


Weapons!—weapons!—weapons!—  184

[They all bustle about Coriolanus, crying Tribunes!—patricians!—citizens!—What ho!—Sicinius! — Brutus! — Coriolanus!—Citizens! Peace!—Peace!—Peace!—Stay!—Hold!—Peace!


What is about to be?—I am out of breath;  188

Confusion’s near; I cannot speak. You, tribunes

To the people! Coriolanus, patience!

Speak, good Sicinius.


Hear me, people; peace!


Let’s hear our tribune:—Peace!—Speak, speak, speak.  192


You are at point to lose your liberties:

Marcius would have all from you; Marcius,

Whom late you have nam’d for consul.


Fie, fie, fie!

This is the way to kindle, not to quench.  196

First Sen.

To unbuild the city and to lay all flat.


What is the city but the people?



The people are the city.


By the consent of all, we were establish’d

The people’s magistrates.


You so remain.  201


And so are like to do.


That is the way to lay the city flat;

To bring the roof to the foundation,  204

And bury all, which yet distinctly ranges,

In heaps and piles of ruin.


This deserves death.


Or let us stand to our authority,

Or let us lose it. We do here pronounce,  208

Upon the part o’ the people, in whose power

We were elected theirs, Marcius is worthy

Of present death.


Therefore lay hold of him;

Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence

Into destruction cast him.


Ædiles, seize him!  213


Yield, Marcius, yield!


Hear me one word;

Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.


Peace, peace!  216


Be that you seem, truly your country’s friends,

And temperately proceed to what you would

Thus violently redress.


Sir, those cold ways,

That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous

Where the disease is violent. Lay hands upon him,  221

And bear him to the rock.


No, I’ll die here.

[Drawing his sword.

There’s some among you have beheld me fighting:

Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.  224


Down with that sword! Tribunes, withdraw awhile.


Lay hands upon him.


Help Marcius, help,

You that be noble; help him, young and old!


Down with him!—down with him!

[In this mutiny the Tribunes, the Ædiles, and the People are beat in.


Go, get you to your house; be gone, away!  229

All will be naught else.

Sec. Sen.

Get you gone.


Stand fast;

We have as many friends as enemies.


Shall it be put to that?

First Sen.

The gods forbid!

I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;  233

Leave us to cure this cause.


For ’tis a sore upon us,

You cannot tent yourself: be gone, beseech you.


Come, sir, along with us.  236


I would they were barbarians,—as they are,

Though in Rome litter’d,—not Romans,—as they are not,

Though calv’d i’ the porch o’ the Capitol,—


Be gone;

Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;  240

One time will owe another.


On fair ground

I could beat forty of them.


I could myself

Take up a brace o’ the best of them; yea, the two tribunes.


But now ’tis odds beyond arithmetic;

And manhood is call’d foolery when it stands  245

Against a falling fabric. Will you hence,

Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend

Like interrupted waters and o’erbear  248

What they are us’d to bear.


Pray you, be gone.

I’ll try whether my old wit be in request

With those that have but little: this must be patch’d

With cloth of any colour.


Nay, come away.  252

[Exeunt Coriolanus, Cominius, and Others.

First Pat.

This man has marr’d his fortune.


His nature is too noble for the world:

He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,

Or Jove for ’s power to thunder. His heart’s his mouth:  256

What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent;

And, being angry, does forget that ever

He heard the name of death.

[A noise within.

Here’s goodly work!

Sec. Pat.

I would they were a-bed!


I would they were in Tiber! What the vengeance!  261

Could he not speak ’em fair?

Re-enter Brutus and Sicinius, with the rabble.


Where is this viper

That would depopulate the city and

Be every man himself?


You worthy tribunes,—


He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock  265

With rigorous hands: he hath resisted law,

And therefore law shall scorn him further trial

Than the severity of the public power,  268

Which he so sets at nought.

First Cit.

He shall well know

The noble tribunes are the people’s mouths,

And we their hands.


He shall, sure on’t.


Sir, sir,—


Peace!  272


Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt

With modest warrant.


Sir, how comes ’t that you

Have holp to make this rescue?


Hear me speak:

As I do know the consul’s worthiness,  276

So can I name his faults.


Consul! what consul?


The Consul Coriolanus.


He consul!


No, no, no, no, no.


If, by the tribunes’ leave, and yours, good people,  280

I may be heard, I would crave a word or two,

The which shall turn you to no further harm

Than so much loss of time.


Speak briefly then;

For we are peremptory to dispatch  284

This viperous traitor. To eject him hence

Were but one danger, and to keep him here

Our certain death; therefore it is decreed

He dies to-night.


Now the good gods forbid  288

That our renowned Rome, whose gratitude

Towards her deserved children is enroll’d

In Jove’s own book, like an unnatural dam

Should now eat up her own!  292


He’s a disease that must be cut away.


O! he’s a limb that has but a disease;

Mortal to cut it off; to cure it easy.

What has he done to Rome that’s worthy death?  296

Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost,—

Which, I dare vouch, is more than that he hath

By many an ounce,—he dropp’d it for his country;

And what is left, to lose it by his country,  300

Were to us all, that do’t and suffer it,

A brand to th’ end o’ the world.


This is clean kam.


Merely awry: when he did love his country

It honour’d him.


The service of the foot  304

Being once gangren’d, is not then respected

For what before it was.


We’ll hear no more.

Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence,

Lest his infection, being of catching nature,  308

Spread further.


One word more, one word.

This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find

The harm of unscann’d swiftness, will, too late,

Tie leaden pounds to’s heels. Proceed by process;  312

Lest parties—as he is belov’d—break out,

And sack great Rome with Romans.


If ’twere so,—


What do ye talk?

Have we not had a taste of his obedience?  316

Our ædiles smote? ourselves resisted? Come!


Consider this: he has been bred i’ the wars

Since he could draw a sword, and is ill school’d

In bolted language; meal and bran together  320

He throws without distinction. Give me leave,

I’ll go to him, and undertake to bring him

Where he shall answer by a lawful form,—

In peace,—to his utmost peril.

First Sen.

Noble tribunes,  324

It is the humane way: the other course

Will prove too bloody, and the end of it

Unknown to the beginning.


Noble Menenius,

Be you then as the people’s officer.  328

Masters, lay down your weapons.


Go not home.


Meet on the market-place. We’ll attend you there:

Where, if you bring not Marcius, we’ll proceed

In our first way.  332


I’ll bring him to you.

[To the Senators.] Let me desire your company. He must come,

Or what is worst will follow.

First Sen.

Pray you, let’s to him.


Scene II.— The Same. A Room in Coriolanus’s House.

Enter Coriolanus and Patricians.


Let them pull all about mine ears; present me

Death on the wheel, or at wild horses’ heels;

Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock,

That the precipitation might down stretch  4

Below the beam of sight; yet will I still

Be thus to them.

First Pat.

You do the nobler.


I muse my mother

Does not approve me further, who was wont  8

To call them woollen vassals, things created

To buy and sell with groats, to show bare heads

In congregations, to yawn, be still, and wonder,

When one but of my ordinance stood up  12

To speak of peace or war.

Enter Volumnia.

I talk of you:

Why did you wish me milder? Would you have me

False to my nature? Rather say I play

The man I am.


O! sir, sir, sir,  16

I would have had you put your power well on

Before you had worn it out.


Let go.


You might have been enough the man you are

With striving less to be so: lesser had been  20

The thwarting of your dispositions if

You had not show’d them how you were dispos’d,

Ere they lack’d power to cross you.


Let them hang.


Ay, and burn too.  24

Enter Menenius and Senators.


Come, come; you have been too rough, something too rough;

You must return and mend it.

First Sen

There’s no remedy;

Unless, by not so doing, our good city

Cleave in the midst, and perish.


Pray be counsell’d.  28

I have a heart of mettle apt as yours,

But yet a brain that leads my use of anger

To better vantage.


Well said, noble woman!

Before he should thus stoop to the herd, but that  32

The violent fit o’ the time craves it as physic

For the whole state, I would put mine armour on,

Which I can scarcely bear.


What must I do?


Return to the tribunes.


Well, what then? what then?  36


Repent what you have spoke.


For them! I cannot do it to the gods;

Must I then do’t to them?


You are too absolute;

Though therein you can never be too noble,  40

But when extremities speak. I have heard you say,

Honour and policy, like unsever’d friends,

I’ the war do grow together: grant that, and tell me,

In peace what each of them by th’ other lose,  44

That they combine not there.


Tush, tush!


A good demand.


If it be honour in your wars to seem

The same you are not,—which, for your best ends,

You adopt your policy,—how is it less or worse,

That it shall hold companionship in peace  49

With honour, as in war, since that to both

It stands in like request?


Why force you this?


Because that now it lies you on to speak  52

To the people; not by your own instruction,

Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you,

But with such words that are but rooted in

Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables

Of no allowance to your bosom’s truth.  57

Now, this no more dishonours you at all

Than to take in a town with gentle words,

Which else would put you to your fortune and

The hazard of much blood.  61

I would dissemble with my nature where

My fortunes and my friends at stake requir’d

I should do so in honour: I am in this,  64

Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles;

And you will rather show our general louts

How you can frown than spend a fawn upon ’em,

For the inheritance of their loves and safeguard  68

Of what that want might ruin.


Noble lady!

Come, go with us; speak fair; you may salve so,

Not what is dangerous present, but the loss

Of what is past.


I prithee now, my son,  72

Go to them, with this bonnet in thy hand;

And thus far having stretch’d it,—here be with them,

Thy knee bussing the stones,—for in such business

Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant  76

More learned than the ears,—waving thy head,

Which often, thus, correcting thy stout heart,

Now humble as the ripest mulberry

That will not hold the handling: or say to them,

Thou art their soldier, and being bred in broils

Hast not the soft way which, thou dost confess,

Were fit for thee to use as they to claim,

In asking their good loves; but thou wilt frame

Thyself, forsooth, hereafter theirs, so far  85

As thou hast power and person.


This but done,

Even as she speaks, why, their hearts were yours;

For they have pardons, being ask’d, as free  88

As words to little purpose.


Prithee now,

Go, and be rul’d; although I know thou hadst rather

Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf

Than flatter him in a bower. Here is Cominius.

Enter Cominius.


I have been i’ the market-place; and, sir, ’tis fit  93

You make strong party, or defend yourself

By calmness or by absence: all’s in anger.


Only fair speech.


I think ’twill serve if he  96

Can thereto frame his spirit.


He must, and will.

Prithee now, say you will, and go about it.


Must I go show them my unbarbed sconce?

Must I with my base tongue give to my noble heart  100

A lie that it must bear? Well, I will do’t:

Yet, were there but this single plot to lose,

This mould of Marcius, they to dust should grind it,

And throw ’t against the wind. To the market-place!  104

You have put me now to such a part which never

I shall discharge to the life.


Come, come, we’ll prompt you.


I prithee now, sweet son, as thou hast said

My praises made thee first a soldier, so,  108

To have my praise for this, perform a part

Thou hast not done before.


Well, I must do ’t:

Away, my disposition, and possess me

Some harlot’s spirit! My throat of war be turn’d,

Which quired with my drum, into a pipe  113

Small as a eunuch, or the virgin voice

That babies lulls asleep! The smiles of knaves

Tent in my cheeks, and school-boys’ tears take up  116

The glasses of my sight! A beggar’s tongue

Make motion through my lips, and my arm’d knees,

Who bow’d but in my stirrup, bend like his

That hath receiv’d an alms! I will not do ’t,  120

Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth,

And by my body’s action teach my mind

A most inherent baseness.


At thy choice then:

To beg of thee it is my more dishonour  124

Than thou of them. Come all to ruin; let

Thy mother rather feel thy pride than fear

Thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death

With as big heart as thou. Do as thou list,  128

Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck’dst it from me,

But owe thy pride thyself.


Pray, be content:

Mother, I am going to the market-place;

Chide me no more. I’ll mountebank their loves,  132

Cog their hearts from them, and come home belov’d

Of all the trades in Rome. Look, I am going:

Commend me to my wife. I’ll return consul,

Or never trust to what my tongue can do  136

I’ the way of flattery further.


Do your will.



Away! the tribunes do attend you: arm yourself

To answer mildly; for they are prepar’d

With accusations, as I hear, more strong  140

Than are upon you yet.


The word is ‘mildly.’


Pray you, let us go:

Let them accuse me by invention, I

Will answer in mine honour.


Ay, but mildly.  144


Well, mildly be it then. Mildly!


Scene III.— The Same. The Forum.

Enter Sicinius and Brutus.


In this point charge him home, that he affects

Tyrannical power: if he evade us there,

Enforce him with his envy to the people,

And that the spoil got on the Antiates  4

Was ne’er distributed.—

Enter an Ædile.

What, will he come?


He’s coming.


How accompanied?


With old Menenius, and those senators

That always favour’d him.


Have you a catalogue  8

Of all the voices that we have procur’d,

Set down by the poll?


I have; ’tis ready.


Have you collected them by tribes?


I have.


Assemble presently the people hither;  12

And when they hear me say, ‘It shall be so,

I’ the right and strength o’ the commons,’ be it either

For death, for fine, or banishment, then let them,

If I say, fine, cry ‘fine,’—if death, cry ‘death,’  16

Insisting on the old prerogative

And power i’ the truth o’ the cause.


I shall inform them.


And when such time they have begun to cry,

Let them not cease, but with a din confus’d  20

Enforce the present execution

Of what we chance to sentence.


Very well.


Make them be strong and ready for this hint,

When we shall hap to give ’t them.


Go about it.  24

[Exit Ædile.

Put him to choler straight. He hath been us’d

Ever to conquer, and to have his worth

Of contradiction: being once chaf’d, he cannot

Be rein’d again to temperance; then he speaks

What’s in his heart; and that is there which looks  29

With us to break his neck.


Well, here he comes.

Enter Coriolanus, Menenius, Cominius, Senators, and Patricians.


Calmly, I do beseech you.


Ay, as an ostler, that for the poorest piece  32

Will bear the knave by the volume. The honour’d gods

Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice

Supplied with worthy men! plant love among us!

Throng our large temples with the shows of peace,  36

And not our streets with war!

First Sen.

Amen, amen.


A noble wish.

Re-enter Ædile, with Citizens.


Draw near, ye people.


List to your tribunes; audience; peace! I say.


First, hear me speak.

Both Tri.

Well, say. Peace, ho!  40


Shall I be charg’d no further than this present?

Must all determine here?


I do demand,

If you submit you to the people’s voices,

Allow their officers, and are content  44

To suffer lawful censure for such faults

As shall be prov’d upon you?


I am content.


Lo! citizens, he says he is content:

The war-like service he has done, consider; think  48

Upon the wounds his body bears, which show

Like graves i’ the holy churchyard.


Scratches with briers,

Scars to move laughter only.


Consider further,

That when he speaks not like a citizen,  52

You find him like a soldier: do not take

His rougher accents for malicious sounds,

But, as I say, such as become a soldier,

Rather than envy you.


Well, well; no more.  56


What is the matter,

That being pass’d for consul with full voice

I am so dishonour’d that the very hour

You take it off again?


Answer to us.  60


Say, then: ’tis true, I ought so.


We charge you, that you have contriv’d to take

From Rome all season’d office, and to wind

Yourself into a power tyrannical;  64

For which you are a traitor to the people.


How! Traitor!


Nay, temperately; your promise.


The fires i’ the lowest hell fold-in the people!

Call me their traitor! Thou injurious tribune!

Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths,

In thy hands clutch’d as many millions, in

Thy lying tongue both numbers, I would say

‘Thou liest’ unto thee with a voice as free  72

As I do pray the gods.


Mark you this, people!


To the rock!—to the rock with him!



We need not put new matter to his charge:

What you have seen him do, and heard him speak,  76

Beating your officers, cursing yourselves,

Opposing laws with strokes, and here defying

Those whose great power must try him; even this,

So criminal and in such capital kind,  80

Deserves the extremest death.


But since he hath

Serv’d well for Rome,—


What do you prate of service?


I talk of that, that know it.




Is this the promise that you made your mother?  84


Know, I pray you,—


I’ll know no further:

Let them pronounce the steep Tarpeian death,

Vagabond exile, flaying, pent to linger

But with a grain a day, I would not buy  88

Their mercy at the price of one fair word,

Nor check my courage for what they can give,

To have ’t with saying ‘Good morrow.’


For that he has,—

As much as in him lies,—from time to time  92

Envied against the people, seeking means

To pluck away their power, as now at last

Given hostile strokes, and that not in the presence

Of dreaded justice, but on the ministers  96

That do distribute it; in the name o’ the people,

And in the power of us the tribunes, we,

Even from this instant, banish him our city,

In peril of precipitation  100

From off the rock Tarpeian, never more

To enter our Rome gates: i’ the people’s name,

I say, it shall be so.


It shall be so,—It shall be so,—Let him away.—  104

He’s banish’d, and it shall be so.


Hear me, my masters, and my common friends,—


He’s sentenc’d; no more hearing.


Let me speak:

I have been consul, and can show for Rome  108

Her enemies’ marks upon me. I do love

My country’s good with a respect more tender,

More holy, and profound, than mine own life,

My dear wife’s estimate, her womb’s increase,

And treasure of my loins; then if I would  113

Speak that—


We know your drift: speak what?


There’s no more to be said, but he is banish’d,

As enemy to the people and his country:  116

It shall be so.


It shall be so,—it shall be so.


You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate

As reek o’ the rotten fens, whose loves I prize

As the dead carcases of unburied men  120

That do corrupt my air, I banish you;

And here remain with your uncertainty!

Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!

Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,  124

Fan you into despair! Have the power still

To banish your defenders; till at length

Your ignorance,—which finds not, till it feels,—

Making but reservation of yourselves,—  128

Still your own foes,—deliver you as most

Abated captives to some nation

That won you without blows! Despising,

For you, the city, thus I turn my back:  132

There is a world elsewhere.

[Exeunt Coriolanus, Cominius, Menenius, Senators, and Patricians.


The people’s enemy is gone, is gone!


Our enemy is banish’d!—he is gone!—Hoo! hoo!

[They all shout and throw up their caps.


Go, see him out at gates, and follow him,

As he hath follow’d you, with all despite;  137

Give him deserv’d vexation. Let a guard

Attend us through the city.


Come, come,—let us see him out at gates! come!  140

The gods preserve our noble tribunes! Come!



Scene I.— Rome. Before a Gate of the City.

Enter Coriolanus, Volumnia, Virgilia, Menenius, Cominius, and several young Patricians.


Come, leave your tears: a brief farewell: the beast

With many heads butts me away. Nay, mother,

Where is your ancient courage? you were us’d,

To say extremity was the trier of spirits;  4

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  8

A noble cunning: you were us’d to load me

With precepts that would make invincible

The heart that conn’d them.


O heavens! O heavens!


Nay, I prithee, woman,—


Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome,  13

And occupations perish!


What, what, what!

I shall be lov’d when I am lack’d. Nay, mother,

Resume that spirit, when you were wont to say,

If you had been the wife of Hercules,  17

Six of his labours you’d have done, and sav’d

Your husband so much sweat. Cominius,

Droop not; adieu. Farewell, my wife! my mother!  20

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 stern, and thou hast oft beheld

Heart-hardening spectacles; tell these sad women  25

’Tis fond to wail inevitable strokes

As ’tis to laugh at them. My mother, you wot well

My hazards still have been your solace; and  28

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  32

With cautelous baits and practice.


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  36

That starts i’ the way before thee.


O the gods!


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  40

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.


Fare ye well:  44

Thou hast years upon thee; and thou art too full

Of the wars’ surfeits, to go rove with one

That’s yet unbruis’d: bring me but out at gate.

Come, my sweet wife, my dearest mother, and  48

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  52

But what is like me formerly.


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’d with thee every foot.


Give me thy hand:  57



Scene II.— The Same. A Street near the Gate.

Enter Sicinius, Brutus, and an Ædile.


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.


Now we have shown our power,

Let us seem humbler after it is done  4

Than when it was a-doing.


Bid them home;

Say their great enemy is gone, and they

Stand in their ancient strength.


Dismiss them home.

[Exit Ædile.

Enter Volumnia, Virgilia, and Menenius.

Here comes his mother.


Let’s not meet her.




They say she’s mad.  9


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


O! you’re well met. The hoarded plague o’ the gods

Requite your love!


Peace, peace! be not so loud.


If that I could for weeping, you should hear,—  13

Nay, and you shall hear some. [To Brutus.] Will you be gone?


[To Sicinius.] You shall stay too. I would I had the power

To say so to my husband.


Are you mankind?  16


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?


O blessed heavens!


More noble blows than ever thou wise words;  21

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,  24

His good sword in his hand.


What then?


What then!

He’d make an end of thy posterity.


Bastards and all.

Good man, the wounds that he does bear for Rome!  28


Come, come: peace!


I would he had continu’d to his country

As he began, and not unknit himself

The noble knot he made.


I would he had.  32


‘I would he had!’ ’Twas you incens’d 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.


Pray, let us go.  36


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,—  40

This lady’s husband here, this, do you see,—

Whom you have banish’d, does exceed you all.


Well, well, we’ll leave you.


Why stay we to be baited

With one that wants her wits?


Take my prayers with you.

[Exeunt Tribunes.

I would the gods had nothing else to do  45

But to confirm my curses! Could I meet ’em

But once a day, it would unclog my heart

Of what lies heavy to ’t.


You have told them home,

And, by my troth, you have cause. You’ll sup with me?  49


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,  52

In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.


Fie, fie, fie!


Scene III.— A Highway between Rome and Antium.

Enter a Roman and a Volsce, meeting.


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


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


I am a Roman; and my services are, as you are, against ’em: know you me yet?  5


Nicanor? No.


The same, sir.


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.


There hath been in Rome strange insurrections: the people against the senators, patricians, and nobles.  15


Hath been! Is it ended then? Our state thinks not-so; they are in a most war-like preparation, and hope to come upon them in the heat of their division.  19


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.


Coriolanus banished!  28


Banished, sir.


You will be welcome with this intelligence, Nicanor.  31


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.  38


He cannot choose. I am most fortunate, thus accidentally to encounter you: you have ended my business, and I will merrily accompany you home.  42


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?  46


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.  50


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.


You take my part from me, sir; I have the most cause to be glad of yours.  56


Well, let us go together.


Scene IV.— Antium. Before AufidiusHouse.

Enter Coriolanus, in mean apparel, disguised and muffled.


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,  4

Lest that thy wives with spits and boys with stones

In puny battle slay me.

Enter a Citizen.

Save you, sir.


And you.


Direct me, if it be your will,

Where great Aufidius lies. Is he in Antium?  8


He is, and feasts the nobles of the state

At his house this night.


Which is his house, beseech you?


This, here before you.


Thank you, sir. Farewell.

[Exit Citizen.

O world! thy slippery turns. Friends now fast sworn,  12

Whose double bosoms seem to wear one heart,

Whose hours, whose bed, whose meal, and exercise,

Are still together, who twin, as ’twere, in love

Unseparable, shall within this hour,  16

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,  20

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,  24

He does fair justice; if he give me way,

I’ll do his country service.


Scene V.— The Same. A Hall in AufidiusHouse.

Music within. Enter a Servingman.

First Serv.

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


Enter a Second Servingman.

Sec. Serv.

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


Enter Coriolanus.


A goodly house: the feast smells well; but I  5

Appear not like a guest.

Re-enter the First Servingman.

First Serv.

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



I have deserv’d no better entertainment,

In being Coriolanus.  11

Re-enter Second Servingman.

Sec. Serv.

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



Sec. Serv.

‘Away!’ Get you away.  16


Now, thou art troublesome.

Sec. Serv.

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

Enter a Third Servingman. Re-enter the First.

Third Serv.

What fellow’s this?  20

First Serv.

A strange one as ever I looked on:

I cannot get him out o’ the house: prithee, call my master to him.

Third Serv.

What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you, avoid the house.  25


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

Third Serv.

What are you?  28


A gentleman.

Third Serv.

A marvellous poor one.


True, so I am.

Third Serv.

Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other station; here’s no place for you; pray you, avoid: come.  34


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

[Pushes him away.

Third Serv.

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

Sec. Serv.

And I shall.


Third Serv.

Where dwell’st thou?  40


Under the canopy.

Third Serv.

‘Under the canopy!’



Third Serv.

Where’s that?  44


I’ the city of kites and crows.

Third Serv.

‘I’ the city of kites and crows!’ What an ass it is! Then thou dwell’st with daws too?  48


No; I serve not thy master.

Third Serv.

How sir! Do you meddle with my master?


Ay; ’tis an honester service than to meddle with thy mistress.  53

Thou prat’st, and prat’st: serve with thy trencher. Hence.

[Beats him away.

Enter Aufidius and First Servingman.


Where is this fellow?

Sec. Serv.

Here, sir: I’d have beaten him like a dog, but for disturbing the lords within.  57


Whence com’st thou? what wouldst thou? Thy name?

Why speak’st not? Speak, man: what’s thy name?


[Unmuffling.] If, Tullus,  60

Not yet thou know’st me, and, seeing me, dost not

Think me for the man I am, necessity

Commands me name myself.


What is thy name?

[Servants retire.


A name unmusical to the Volscians’ ears,

And harsh in sound to thine.


Say, what’s thy name?  65

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?


Prepare thy brow to frown. Know’st thou me yet?  69


I know thee not. Thy name?


My name is Caius Marcius, who hath done

To thee particularly, and to all the Volsces,  72

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  76

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,  80

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  84

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,  89

Stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast

A heart of wreak in thee, that will revenge

Thine own particular wrongs and stop those maims  92

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  96

Against my canker’d country with the spleen

Of all the under fiends. But if so be

Thou dar’st not this, and that to prove more fortunes

Thou art tir’d, then, in a word, I also am  100

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,  104

Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country’s breast,

And cannot live but to thy shame, unless

It be to do thee service.


O Marcius, Marcius!

Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart  108

A root of ancient envy. If Jupiter

Should from yond cloud speak divine things,

And say, ‘’Tis true,’ I’d not believe them more

Than thee, all noble Marcius. Let me twine

Mine arms about that body, where against  113

My grained ash a hundred times hath broke,

And scarr’d the moon with splinters: here I clip

The anvil of my sword, and do contest  116

As hotly and as nobly with thy love

As ever in ambitious strength I did

Contend against thy valour. Know thou first,

I lov’d the maid I married; never man  120

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,  124

We have a power on foot; and I had purpose

Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn,

Or lose mine arm for ’t. Thou hast beat me out  127

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 wak’d half dead with nothing. Worthy Marcius,  132

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,  136

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 prepar’d against your territories,  140

Though not for Rome itself.


You bless me, gods!


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 experienc’d, 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,  148

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;  152

Yet, Marcius, that was much. Your hand: most welcome!

[Exeunt Coriolanus and Aufidius.

First Serv.

[Advancing.] Here’s a strange alteration!

Sec. Serv.

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.  159

First Serv.

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

Sec. Serv.

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.  165

First Serv.

He had so; looking as it were,— would I were hanged but I thought there was more in him than I could think.  168

Sec. Serv.

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

First Serv.

I think he is; but a greater soldier than he you wot on.  172

Sec. Serv.

Who? my master?

First Serv.

Nay, it’s no matter for that.

Sec. Serv.

Worth six on him.

First Serv.

Nay, not so neither; but I take him to be the greater soldier.  177

Sec. Serv.

Faith, look you, one cannot tell how to say that: for the defence of a town our general is excellent.  180

First Serv.

Ay, and for an assault too.

Re-enter Third Servingman.

Third Serv.

O slaves! I can tell you news; news, you rascals.

First Serv.

What, what, what? let’s partake.

Sec. Serv.

What, what, what? let’s partake.

Third Serv.

I would not be a Roman, of all nations; I had as lief be a condemned man.  186

First Serv.

Wherefore? wherefore?

Sec. Serv.

Wherefore? wherefore?

Third Serv.

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

First Serv.

Why do you say ‘thwack our general?’  191

Third Serv.

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

Sec. Serv.

Come, we are fellows and friends: he was ever too hard for him; I have heard him say so himself.  196

First Serv.

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

Sec. Serv.

An he had been cannibally given, he might have broiled and eaten him too.  201

First Serv.

But, more of thy news.

Third Serv.

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, our general is out 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 sowle the porter of Rome gates by the ears: he will mow down all before him, and leave his passage polled.  216

Sec. Serv.

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

Third Serv.

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 Serv.

Directitude! what’s that?  224

Sec. Serv.

But when they shall see, sir, his crest up again, and the man in blood, they will out of their burrows, like comes after rain, and revel all with him.  228

First Serv.

But when goes this forward?

Third Serv.

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.  233

Sec. Serv.

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

First Serv.

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.  242

Sec. Serv.

’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 Serv.

Ay, and it makes men hate one another.  247

Third Serv.

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.  251


In, in, in, in!


Scene VI.— Rome. A Public Place.

Enter Sicinius and Brutus.


We hear not of him, neither need we fear him;

His remedies are tame i’ the present peace

And quietness o’ the people, which before

Were in wild hurry. Here do we make his friends  4

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 singing in their shops and going

About their functions friendly.  9

Enter Menenius.


We stood to ’t in good time. Is this Menenius?


’Tis he, ’tis he O! he is grown most kind

Of late. Hail, sir!


Hail to you both!  12


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.


All’s well; and might have been much better, if  16

He could have temporiz’d.


Where is he, hear you?


Nay, I hear nothing: his mother and his wife

Hear nothing from him.

Enter three or four Citizens.


The gods preserve you both!


Good den, our neighbours.  20


Good den to you all, good den to you all.

First Cit.

Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees,

Are bound to pray for you both.


Live, and thrive!


Farewell, kind neighbours: we wish’d Coriolanus  24

Had lov’d you as we did.


Now the gods keep you!


Farewell, farewell.

[Exeunt Citizens.


Farewell, farewell.


This is a happier and more comely time

Than when these fellows ran about the streets

Crying confusion.


Caius Marcius was  29

A worthy officer i’ the war; but insolent,

O’ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,



And affecting one sole throne.  32

Without assistance.


I think not so.


We should by this, to all our lamentation,

If he had gone forth consul, found it so.


The gods have well prevented it, and Rome  36

Sits safe and still without him.

Enter an Ædile.


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,  40

And with the deepest malice of the war

Destroy what lies before them.


’Tis Aufidius,

Who, hearing of our Marcius’ banishment,

Thrusts forth his horns again into the world;  44

Which were inshell’d when Marcius stood for Rome,

And durst not once peep out.


Come, what talk you of Marcius?


Go see this rumourer whipp’d. It cannot be  48

The Volsces dare break with us.


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,  52

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.


Tell not me:  56

I know this cannot be.


Not possible.

Enter a Messenger.


The nobles in great earnestness are going

All to the senate-house: some news is come,

That turns their countenances.


’Tis this slave.—  60

Go whip him ’fore the people’s eyes: his raising;

Nothing but his report.


Yes, worthy sir,

The slave’s report is seconded; and more,

More fearful, is deliver’d.


What more fearful?  64


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  68

The young’st and oldest thing.


This is most likely.


Rais’d only, that the weaker sort may wish

Good Marcius home again.


The very trick on ’t.


This is unlikely:  72

He and Aufidius can no more atone,

Than violentest contrariety.

Enter another Messenger.

Sec. Mess.

You are sent for to the senate:

A fearful army, led by Caius Marcius,  76

Associated with Aufidius, rages

Upon our territories; and have already

O’erborne their way, consum’d with fire, and took

What lay before them.  80

Enter Cominius.


O! you have made good work!


What news? what news?


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,—


What’s the news? what’s the news?  85


Your temples burned in their cement, and

Your franchises, whereon you stood, confin’d

Into an auger’s bore.


Pray now, your news?—  88

You have made fair work, I fear me. Pray, your news?

If Marcius should be join’d with Volscians,—



He is their god: he leads them like a thing

Made by some other deity than Nature,  92

That shapes man better; and they follow him,

Against us brats, with no less confidence

Than boys pursuing summer butterflies,

Or butchers killing flies.


You have made good work,  96

You, and your apron-men; you that stood so much

Upon the voice of occupation and

The breath of garlic-eaters!


He will shake

Your Rome about your ears.


As Hercules  100

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


But is this true, sir?


Ay; and you’ll look pale

Before you find it other. All the regions

Do smilingly revolt; and who resist  104

Are mock’d for valiant ignorance,

And perish constant fools. Who is’t can blame him?

Your enemies, and his, find something in him.


We are all undone unless  108

The noble man have mercy.


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  112

Should say, ‘Be good to Rome,’ they charg’d him even

As those should do that had deserv’d his hate,

And therein show’d like enemies.


’Tis true:

If he were putting to my house the brand  116

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!


You have brought

A trembling upon Rome, such as was never  120

So incapable of help.


Say not we brought it.


Say not we brought it.


How! Was it we? We lov’d him; but, like beasts

And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,

Who did hoot him out o’ the city.


But I fear  124

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,  128

That Rome can make against them.

Enter a troop of Citizens.


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  132

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,  136

And pay you for your voices. ’Tis no matter;

If he could burn us all into one coal,

We have deserv’d it.


Faith, we hear fearful news.

First Cit.

For mine own part,

When I said banish him, I said ’twas pity.  141

Sec. Cit.

And so did I.

Third Cit.

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.


You’re goodly things, you voices!


You have made

Good work, you and your cry! Shall’s to the Capitol?  149


O! ay; what else?

[Exeunt Cominius and Menenius.


Go, masters, get you home; be not dismay’d:

These are a side that would be glad to have  152

This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,

And show no sign of fear.

First Cit.

The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let’s home. I ever said we were i’ the wrong when we banished him.  157

Sec. Cit.

So did we all. But come, let’s home.

[Exeunt Citizens.


I do not like this news.


Nor I.  160


Let’s to the Capitol. Would half my wealth

Would buy this for a lie!


Pray let us go.


Scene VII.— A Camp at a small distance from Rome.

Enter Aufidius and his Lieutenant.


Do they still fly to the Roman?


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;  4

And you are darken’d in this action, sir,

Even by your own.


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  9

When first I did embrace him; yet his nature

In that’s no changeling, and I must excuse

What cannot be amended.


Yet, I wish, sir,—  12

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.  16


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  20

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  24

That which shall break his neck or hazard mine,

Whene’er we come to our account.


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


All places yield to him ere he sits down;

And the nobility of Rome are his:  29

The senators and patricians love him too:

The tribunes are no soldiers; and their people

Will be as rash in the repeal as hasty  32

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  36

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  40

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  44

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  48

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  52

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.



Scene I.— Rome. A Public Place.

Enter Menenius, Cominius, Sicinius, Brutus, and Others.


No, I’ll not go: you hear what he hath said

Which was sometime his general; who lov’d him

In a most dear particular. He call’d me father:

But what o’ that? Go, you that banish’d him;  4

A mile before his tent fall down, and knee

The way into his mercy. Nay, if he coy’d

To hear Cominius speak, I’ll keep at home.


He would not seem to know me.


Do you hear?  8


Yet one time he did call me by my name.

I urg’d our old acquaintance, and the drops

That we have bled together. Coriolanus

He would not answer to; forbad all names;  12

He was a kind of nothing, titleless,

Till he had forg’d himself a name o’ the fire

Of burning Rome.


Why, so: you have made good work!

A pair of tribunes that have rack’d for Rome,  16

To make coals cheap: a noble memory!


I minded him how royal ’twas to pardon

When it was less expected: he replied,

It was a bare petition of a state  20

To one whom they had punish’d.


Very well.

Could he say less?


I offer’d to awaken his regard

For’s private friends: his answer to me was,  24

He could not stay to pick them in a pile

Of noisome musty chaff: he said ’twas folly,

For one poor grain or two, to leave unburnt,

And still to nose the offence.


For one poor grain or two!  28

I am one of those; his mother, wife, his child,

And this brave fellow too, we are the grains:

You are the musty chaff, and you are smelt

Above the moon. We must be burnt for you.  32


Nay, pray, be patient: if you refuse your aid

In this so-never-needed help, yet do not

Upbraid’s with our distress. But, sure, if you

Would be your country’s pleader, your good tongue,  36

More than the instant army we can make,

Might stop our countryman.


No; I’ll not meddle.


Pray you, go to him.


What should I do?  40


Only make trial what your love can do

For Rome, towards Marcius.


Well; and say that Marcius

Return me, as Cominius is return’d,

Unheard; what then?  44

But as a discontented friend, grief-shot

With his unkindness? say ’t be so?


Yet your good will

Must have that thanks from Rome, after the measure

As you intended well.


I’ll undertake it:  48

I think he’ll hear me. Yet, to bite his lip,

And hum at good Cominius, much unhearts me.

He was not taken well; he had not din’d:

The veins unfill’d, our blood is cold, and then  52

We pout upon the morning, are unapt

To give or to forgive; but when we have stuff’d

These pipes and these conveyances of our blood

With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls  56

Than in our priest-like fasts: therefore, I’ll watch him

Till he be dieted to my request,

And then I’ll set upon him.


You know the very road into his kindness,  60

And cannot lose your way.


Good faith, I’ll prove him,

Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledge

Of my success.



He’ll never hear him.




I tell you he does sit in gold, his eye  64

Red as ’twould burn Rome, and his injury

The gaoler to his pity. I kneel’d before him;

’Twas very faintly he said ‘Rise;’ dismiss’d me

Thus, with his speechless hand: what he would do  68

He sent in writing after me; what he would not,

Bound with an oath to yield to his conditions:

So that all hope is vain

Unless his noble mother and his wife,  72

Who, as I hear, mean to solicit him

For mercy to his country. Therefore let’s hence,

And with our fair entreaties haste them on.


Scene II.— The Volscian Camp before Rome. The Guards at their stations.

Enter to them, Menenius.

First Guard.

Stay! whence are you?

Sec. Guard.

Stand! and go back.


You guard like men; ’tis well; but, by your leave,

I am an officer of state, and come

To speak with Coriolanus.

First Guard.

From whence?


From Rome.

First Guard.

You may not pass; you must return: our general  5

Will no more hear from thence.

Sec. Guard.

You’ll see your Rome embrac’d with fire before

You’ll speak with Coriolanus.


Good my friends,

If you have heard your general talk of Rome,  9

And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks

My name hath touch’d your ears: it is Menenius.

First Guard.

Be it so; go back: the virtue of your name  12

Is not here passable.


I tell thee, fellow,

Thy general is my lover: I have been

The book of his good acts, whence men have read

His fame unparallel’d, haply amplified;  16

For I have ever glorified my friends—

Of whom he’s chief—with all the size that verity

Would without lapsing suffer: nay, sometimes,

Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground,  20

I have tumbled past the throw, and in his praise

Have almost stamp’d the leasing. Therefore, fellow,

I must have leave to pass.

First Guard.

Faith, sir, if you had told as many lies in his behalf as you have uttered words in your own, you should not pass here; no, though it were as virtuous to lie as to live chastely. Therefore go back.  28


Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius, always factionary on the party of your general.

Sec. Guard.

Howsoever you have been his liar—as you say you have—I am one that, telling true under him, must say you cannot pass. Therefore go back.  35


Has he dined, canst thou tell? for I would not speak with him till after dinner.

First Guard.

You are a Roman, are you?


I am as thy general is.  39

First Guard.

Then you should hate Rome, as he does. Can you, when you have pushed out your gates the very defender of them, and, in a violent popular ignorance, given your enemy your shield, think to front his revenges with the easy groans of old women, the virginal palms of your daughters, or with the palsied intercession of such a decayed dotant as you seem to be? Can you think to blow out the intended fire your city is ready to flame in with such weak breath as this? No, you are deceived; therefore, back to Rome, and prepare for your execution: you are condemned, our general has sworn you out of reprieve and pardon.  53


Sirrah, if thy captain know I were here, he would use me with estimation.

Sec. Guard.

Come, my captain knows you not.


I mean, thy general.  57

First Guard.

My general cares not for you.

Back, I say: go, lest I let forth your half-pint of blood; back, that’s the utmost of your having: back.  61


Nay, but, fellow, fellow,—

Enter Coriolanus and Aufidius.


What’s the matter?


Now, you companion, I’ll say an errand for you: you shall know now that I am in estimation; you shall perceive that a Jack guardant cannot office me from my son Coriolanus: guess, but by my entertainment with him, if thou standest not i’ the state of hanging, or of some death more long in spectatorship, and crueller in suffering; behold now presently, and swound for what’s to come upon thee. [To Coriolanus.] The glorious gods sit in hourly synod about thy particular prosperity, and love thee no worse than thy old father Menenius does! O my son! my son! thou art preparing fire for us; look thee, here’s water to quench it. I was hardly moved to come to thee; but being assured none but myself could move thee, I have been blown out of your gates with sighs; and conjure thee to pardon Rome, and thy petitionary countrymen. The good gods assuage thy wrath, and turn the dregs of it upon this varlet here; this, who, like a block, hath denied my access to thee.  85




How! away!


Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs  88

Are servanted to others: though I owe

My revenge properly, my remission lies

In Volscian breasts. That we have been familiar,

Ingrate forgetfulness shall poison, rather  92

Than pity note how much. Therefore, be gone:

Mine ears against your suits are stronger than

Your gates against my force. Yet, for I lov’d thee,

Take this along; I writ it for thy sake,  96

[Gives a paper.

And would have sent it. Another word, Menenius,

I will not hear thee speak. This man, Aufidius,

Was my belov’d in Rome: yet thou behold’st!


You keep a constant temper.  100

[Exeunt Coriolanus and Aufidius.

First Guard.

Now, sir, is your name Menenius?

Sec. Guard.

’Tis a spell, you see, of much power. You know the way home again.

First Guard.

Do you hear how we are shent for keeping your greatness back?  105

Sec. Guard.

What cause, do you think, I have to swound?


I neither care for the world, nor your general: for such things as you, I can scarce think there’s any, ye’re so slight. He that hath a will to die by himself fears it not from another. Let your general do his worst. For you, be that you are, long; and your misery increase with your age! I say to you, as I was said to, Away!


First Guard.

A noble fellow, I warrant him.

Sec. Guard.

The worthy fellow is our general: he is the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken.


Scene III.— The Tent of Coriolanus.

Enter Coriolanus, Aufidius, and Others.


We will before the walls of Rome to-morrow

Set down our host. My partner in this action,

You must report to the Volscian lords, how plainly

I have borne this business.


Only their ends  4

You have respected; stopp’d your ears against

The general suit of Rome; never admitted

A private whisper; no, not with such friends

That thought them sure of you.


This last old man,  8

Whom with a crack’d heart I have sent to Rome,

Lov’d me above the measure of a father;

Nay, godded me indeed. Their latest refuge

Was to send him; for whose old love I have,  12

Though I show’d sourly to him, once more offer’d

The first conditions, which they did refuse,

And cannot now accept, to grace him only

That thought he could do more. A very little  16

I have yielded to; fresh embassies and suits,

Nor from the state, nor private friends, hereafter

Will I lend ear to. [Shout within.] Ha! what shout is this?

Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow  20

In the same time ’tis made? I will not.

Enter, in mourning habits, Virgilia, Volumnia, leading young Marcius, Valeria, and Attendants.

My wife comes foremost; then the honour’d mould

Wherein this trunk was fram’d, and in her hand

The grandchild to her blood. But out, affection!  24

All bond and privilege of nature, break!

Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.

What is that curtsy worth? or those doves’ eyes,

Which can make gods forsworn? I melt, and am not  28

Of stronger earth than others. My mother bows,

As if Olympus to a molehill should

In supplication nod; and my young boy

Hath an aspect of intercession, which  32

Great nature cries, ‘Deny not.’ Let the Volsces

Plough Rome, and harrow Italy; I’ll never

Be such a gosling to obey instinct, but stand

As if a man were author of himself  36

And knew no other kin.


My lord and husband!


These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.


The sorrow that delivers us thus chang’d

Makes you think so.


Like a dull actor now,  40

I have forgot my part, and I am out,

Even to a full disgrace. Best of my flesh,

Forgive my tyranny; but do not say

For that, ‘Forgive our Romans.’ O! a kiss  44

Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!

Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss

I carried from thee, dear, and my true lip

Hath virgin’d it e’er since. You gods! I prate,

And the most noble mother of the world  49

Leave unsaluted. Sink, my knee, i’ the earth;


Of thy deep duty more impression show

Than that of common sons.


O! stand up bless’d;  52

Whilst, with no softer cushion than the flint,

I kneel before thee, and unproperly

Show duty, as mistaken all this while

Between the child and parent.



What is this?  56

Your knees to me! to your corrected son!

Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach

Fillip the stars; then let the mutinous winds

Strike the proud cedars ’gainst the fiery sun,  60

Murd’ring impossibility, to make

What cannot be, slight work.


Thou art my warrior;

I holp to frame thee. Do you know this lady?


The noble sister of Publicola,  64

The moon of Rome; chaste as the icicle

That’s curdied by the frost from purest snow,

And hangs on Dian’s temple: dear Valeria!


This is a poor epitome of yours,  68

[Pointing to the Child.

Which by the interpretation of full time

May show like all yourself.


The god of soldiers,

With the consent of supreme Jove, inform

Thy thoughts with nobleness; that thou mayst prove  72

To shame unvulnerable, and stick i’ the wars

Like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw,

And saving those that eye thee!


Your knee, sirrah.


That’s my brave boy!  76


Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself,

Are suitors to you.


I beseech you, peace:

Or, if you’d ask, remember this before:

The things I have forsworn to grant may never

Be held by you denials. Do not bid me  81

Dismiss my soldiers, or capitulate

Again with Rome’s mechanics: tell me not

Wherein I seem unnatural: desire not  84

To allay my rages and revenges with

Your colder reasons.


O! no more, no more;

You have said you will not grant us any thing;

For we have nothing else to ask but that  88

Which you deny already: yet we will ask;

That, if you fail in our request, the blame

May hang upon your hardness. Therefore, hear us.


Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark; for we’ll  92

Hear nought from Rome in private. Your request?


Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment

And state of bodies would bewray what life

We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself

How more unfortunate than all living women

Are we come hither: since that thy sight, which should  98

Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance with comforts,

Constrains them weep and shake with fear and sorrow;  100

Making the mother, wife, and child to see

The son, the husband, and the father tearing

His country’s bowels out. And to poor we

Thine enmity’s most capital: thou barr’st us  104

Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort

That all but we enjoy; for how can we,

Alas! how can we for our country pray,

Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,  108

Whereto we are bound? Alack! or we must lose

The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,

Our comfort in the country. We must find

An evident calamity, though we had  112

Our wish, which side should win; for either thou

Must, as a foreign recreant, be led

With manacles through our streets, or else

Triumphantly tread on thy country’s ruin,  116

And bear the palm for having bravely shed

Thy wife and children’s blood. For myself, son,

I purpose not to wait on Fortune till

These wars determine: if I cannot persuade thee  120

Rather to show a noble grace to both parts

Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner

March to assault thy country than to tread—

Trust to’t, thou shalt not—on thy mother’s womb,  124

That brought thee to this world.


Ay, and mine,

That brought you forth this boy, to keep your name

Living to time.


A’ shall not tread on me:

I’ll run away till I am bigger, but then I’ll fight.  128


Not of a woman’s tenderness to be,

Requires nor child nor woman’s face to see.

I have sat too long.



Nay, go not from us thus.

If it were so, that our request did tend  132

To save the Romans, thereby to destroy

The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn us,

As poisonous of your honour: no; our suit

Is, that you reconcile them: while the Volsces

May say, ‘This mercy we have show’d;’ the Romans,  137

‘This we receiv’d;’ and each in either side

Give the all-hail to thee, and cry, ‘Be bless’d

For making up this peace!’ Thou know’st, great son,  140

The end of war’s uncertain; but this certain,

That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit

Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name

Whose repetition will be dogg’d with curses;  144

Whose chronicle thus writ: ‘The man was noble,

But with his last attempt he wip’d it out,

Destroy’d his country, and his name remains

To the ensuing age abhorr’d.’ Speak to me, son!  148

Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour,

To imitate the graces of the gods;

To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o’ the air,

And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt  152

That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak?

Think’st thou it honourable for a noble man

Still to remember wrongs? Daughter, speak you:

He cares not for your weeping. Speak thou, boy:  156

Perhaps thy childishness will move him more

Than can our reasons. There is no man in the world

More bound to ’s mother; yet here he lets me prate

Like one i’ the stocks. Thou hast never in thy life  160

Show’d thy dear mother any courtesy;

When she—poor hen! fond of no second brood—

Has cluck’d thee to the wars, and safely home,

Loaden with honour. Say my request’s unjust,

And spurn me back; but if it be not so,  165

Thou art not honest, and the gods will plague thee,

That thou restrain’st from me the duty which

To a mother’s part belongs. He turns away:

Down, ladies; let us shame him with our knees.

To his surname Coriolanus ’longs more pride

Than pity to our prayers. Down: an end;

This is the last: so we will home to Rome,  172

And die among our neighbours. Nay, behold us.

This boy, that cannot tell what he would have,

But kneels and holds up hands for fellowship,

Does reason our petition with more strength  176

Than thou hast to deny ’t. Come, let us go:

This fellow had a Volscian to his mother;

His wife is in Corioli, and his child

Like him by chance. Yet give us our dispatch:

I am hush’d until our city be a-fire,  181

And then I’ll speak a little.


[Holding Volumnia by the hand, silent.]

O, mother, mother!

What have you done? Behold! the heavens do ope,

The gods look down, and this unnatural scene

They laugh at. O my mother! mother! O!  185

You have won a happy victory to Rome;

But, for your son, believe it, O! believe it,

Most dangerously you have with him prevail’d,  188

If not most mortal to him. But let it come.

Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,

I’ll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius,

Were you in my stead, would you have heard

A mother less, or granted less, Aufidius?  193


I was mov’d withal.


I dare be sworn you were:

And, sir, it is no little thing to make

Mine eyes to sweat compassion. But, good sir,

What peace you’ll make, advise me: for my part,  197

I’ll not to Rome, I’ll back with you; and pray you,

Stand to me in this cause. O mother! wife!


[Aside.] I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and thy honour  200

At difference in thee: out of that I’ll work

Myself a former fortune.

[The ladies make signs to Coriolanus.


Ay, by and by;

But we will drink together; and you shall bear

A better witness back than words, which we,  204

On like conditions, would have counter-seal’d.

Come, enter with us. Ladies, you deserve

To have a temple built you: all the swords

In Italy, and her confederate arms,  208

Could not have made this peace.


Scene IV.— Rome. A Public Place.

Enter Menenius and Sicinius.


See you yond coign o’ the Capitol, yond corner-stone?


Why, what of that?  3


If it be possible for you to displace it with your little finger, there is some hope the ladies of Rome, especially his mother, may prevail with him. But I say, there is no hope in ’t. Our throats are sentenced and stay upon execution.  9


Is’t possible that so short a time can alter the condition of a man?


There is differency between a grub and a butterfly; yet your butterfly was a grub. This Marcius is grown from man to dragon: he has wings; he’s more than a creeping thing.


He loved his mother dearly.  16


So did he me; and he no more remembers his mother now than an eight-year-old horse. The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes: when he walks, he moves like an engine, and the ground shrinks before his treading: he is able to pierce a corslet with his eye; talks like a knell, and his hum is a battery. He sits in his state, as a thing made for Alexander. What he bids be done is finished with his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but eternity and a heaven to throne in.


Yes, mercy, if you report him truly.  28


I paint him in the character. Mark what mercy his mother shall bring from him: there is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger; that shall our poor city find: and all this is ’long of you.  33


The gods be good unto us!


No, in such a case the gods will not be good unto us. When we banished him, we respected not them; and, he returning to break our necks, they respect not us.

Enter a Messenger.


Sir, if you’d save your life, fly to your house:

The plebeians have got your fellow-tribune,  40

And hale him up and down; all swearing, if

The Roman ladies bring not comfort home,

They’ll give him death by inches.

Enter a second Messenger.


What’s the news?

Sec. Mess.

Good news, good news! the ladies have prevail’d,  44

The Volscians are dislodg’d, and Marcius gone.

A merrier day did never yet greet Rome,

No, not the expulsion of the Tarquins.



Art thou certain this is true? is it most certain?  48

Sec. Mess.

As certain as I know the sun is fire:

Where have you lurk’d that you make doubt of it?

Ne’er through an arch so hurried the blown tide,

As the recomforted through the gates. Why, hark you!  52

[Trumpets and hautboys sounded, and drums beaten, all together. Shouting also within.

The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries, and fifes,

Tabors, and cymbals, and the shouting Romans,

Make the sun dance. Hark you!

[A shout within.


This is good news:

I will go meet the ladies. This Volumnia  56

Is worth of consuls, senators, patricians,

A city full; of tribunes, such as you,

A sea and land full. You have pray’d well to-day:  59

This morning for ten thousand of your throats

I’d not have given a doit. Hark, how they joy!

[Music still and shouts.


First, the gods bless you for your tidings; next,

Accept my thankfulness.

Sec. Mess.

Sir, we have all

Great cause to give great thanks.


They are near the city?  64

Sec. Mess.

Almost at point to enter.


We will meet them,

And help the joy.


Enter the Ladies, accompanied by Senators, Patricians, and People. They pass over the stage.

First Sen.

Behold our patroness, the life of Rome!

Call all your tribes together, praise the gods,  68

And make triumphant fires; strew flowers before them:

Unshout the noise that banish’d Marcius;

Repeal him with the welcome of his mother;

Cry, ‘Welcome, ladies, welcome!’


Welcome, ladies,  72


[A flourish with drums and trumpets. Exeunt.

Scene V.— Corioli. A Public Place.

Enter Tullus Aufidius, with Attendants.


Go tell the lords o’ the city I am here:

Deliver them this paper: having read it,

Bid them repair to the market-place; where I,

Even in theirs and in the commons’ ears,  4

Will vouch the truth of it. Him I accuse

The city ports by this hath enter’d, and

Intends to appear before the people, hoping

To purge himself with words: dispatch.  8

[Exeunt Attendants.

Enter three or four Conspirators of Aufidiusfaction.

Most welcome!

First Con.

How is it with our general?


Even so

As with a man by his own alms empoison’d,

And with his charity slain.

Sec. Con.

Most noble sir,  12

If you do hold the same intent wherein

You wish’d us parties, we’ll deliver you

Of your great danger.


Sir, I cannot tell:

We must proceed as we do find the people.  16

Third Con.

The people will remain uncertain whilst

’Twixt you there’s difference; but the fall of either

Makes the survivor heir of all.


I know it;

And my pretext to strike at him admits  20

A good construction. I rais’d him, and I pawn’d

Mine honour for his truth: who being so heighten’d,

He water’d his new plants with dews of flattery,

Seducing so my friends; and, to this end,  24

He bow’d his nature, never known before

But to be rough, unswayable, and free.

Third Con.

Sir, his stoutness

When he did stand for consul, which he lost  28

By lack of stooping,—


That I would have spoke of:

Being banish’d for’t, he came unto my hearth;

Presented to my knife his throat: I took him;

Made him joint-servant with me; gave him way

In all his own desires; nay, let him choose  33

Out of my files, his projects to accomplish,

My best and freshest men; serv’d his designments

In mine own person; holp to reap the fame  36

Which he did end all his; and took some pride

To do myself this wrong: till, at the last,

I seem’d his follower, not partner; and

He wag’d me with his countenance, as if  40

I had been mercenary.

First Con.

So he did, my lord:

The army marvell’d at it; and, in the last,

When we had carried Rome, and that we look’d

For no less spoil than glory,—


There was it;  44

For which my sinews shall be stretch’d upon him.

At a few drops of women’s rheum, which are

As cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labour

Of our great action: therefore shall he die,  48

And I’ll renew me in his fall. But, hark!

[Drums and trumpets sound, with great shouts of the People.

First Con.

Your native town you enter’d like a post,

And had no welcomes home; but he returns,

Splitting the air with noise.

Sec. Con.

And patient fools,  52

Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear

With giving him glory.

Third Con.

Therefore, at your vantage,

Ere he express himself, or move the people

With what he would say, let him feel your sword,  56

Which we will second. When he lies along,

After your way his tale pronounc’d shall bury

His reasons with his body.


Say no more:

Here come the lords.  60

Enter the Lords of the city.


You are most welcome home.


I have not deserv’d it.

But, worthy lords, have you with heed perus’d

What I have written to you?


We have.

First Lord.

And grieve to hear ’t.

What faults he made before the last, I think  64

Might have found easy fines; but there to end

Where he was to begin, and give away

The benefit of our levies, answering us

With our own charge, making a treaty where  68

There was a yielding, this admits no excuse.


He approaches: you shall hear him.

Enter Coriolanus, with drums and colours; a crowd of Citizens with him.


Hail, lords! I am return’d your soldier;

No more infected with my country’s love  72

Than when I parted hence, but still subsisting

Under your great command. You are to know,

That prosperously I have attempted and

With bloody passage led your wars even to  76

The gates of Rome. Our spoils we have brought home

Do more than counterpoise a full third part

The charges of the action. We have made peace

With no less honour to the Antiates  80

Than shame to the Romans; and we here deliver,

Subscrib’d by the consuls and patricians,

Together with the seal o’ the senate, what

We have compounded on.


Read it not, noble lords;  84

But tell the traitor in the highest degree

He hath abus’d your powers.


Traitor! How now?


Ay, traitor, Marcius.




Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius. Dost thou think  88

I’ll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol’n name

Coriolanus in Corioli?

You lords and heads of the state, perfidiously

He has betray’d your business, and given up,  92

For certain drops of salt, your city Rome,

I say ‘your city,’ to his wife and mother;

Breaking his oath and resolution like

A twist of rotten silk, never admitting  96

Counsel o’ the war, but at his nurse’s tears

He whin’d and roar’d away your victory,

That pages blush’d at him, and men of heart

Look’d wondering each at other.


Hear’st thou, Mars?  100


Name not the god, thou boy of tears.




No more.


Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart

Too great for what contains it. Boy! O slave!

Pardon me, lords, ’tis the first time that ever  105

I was forc’d to scold. Your judgments, my grave lords,

Must give this cur the lie: and his own notion—

Who wears my stripes impress’d upon him, that  108

Must bear my beating to his grave—shall join

To thrust the lie unto him.

First Lord.

Peace, both, and hear me speak.


Cut me to pieces, Volsces; men and lads,  112

Stain all your edges on me. Boy! False hound!

If you have writ your annals true, ’tis there,

That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I

Flutter’d your Volscians in Corioli:  116

Alone I did it. Boy!


Why, noble lords,

Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune,

Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,

’Fore your own eyes and ears?


Let him die for ’t.  120

All the People.

Tear him to pieces.—Do it presently.—He killed my son.—My daughter.—He killed my cousin Marcus.—He killed my father.  124

Sec. Lord.

Peace, ho! no outrage: peace!

The man is noble and his fame folds in

This orb o’ the earth. His last offences to us

Shall have judicious hearing. Stand, Aufidius,

And trouble not the peace.


O! that I had him,  129

With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe,

To use my lawful sword!


Insolent villain!


Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!

[Aufidius and the Conspirators draw, and kill Coriolanus, who falls: Aufidius stands on his body.


Hold, hold, hold, hold!  132


My noble masters, hear me speak.

First Lord.

O Tullus!

Sec. Lord.

Thou hast done a deed whereat valour will weep.

Third Lord.

Tread not upon him. Masters all, be quiet.

Put up your swords.  136


My lords, when you shall know,—as in this rage,

Provok’d by him, you cannot,—the great danger

Which this man’s life did owe you, you’ll rejoice

That he is thus cut off. Please it your honours

To call me to your senate, I’ll deliver  141

Myself your loyal servant, or endure

Your heaviest censure.

First Lord.

Bear from hence his body;

And mourn you for him! Let him be regarded

As the most noble corse that ever herald  145

Did follow to his urn.

Sec. Lord.

His own impatience

Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.

Let’s make the best of it.


My rage is gone,  148

And I am struck with sorrow. Take him up:

Help, three o’ the chiefest soldiers; I’ll be one.

Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully;

Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he

Hath widow’d and unchilded many a one,  153

Which to this hour bewail the injury,

Yet he shall have a noble memory.


[Exeunt, bearing the body of Coriolanus. A dead march sounded.





Saturninus, Son to the late Emperor of Rome, and afterwards declared Emperor.
Bassianus, Brother to Saturninus, in love with Lavinia.
Titus Andronicus, a Roman, General against the Goths.
Marcus Andronicus, Tribune of the People, and brother to Titus.
Lucius,  } Sons to Titus Andronicus.
Mutius,  }
Young Lucius, a Boy, Son to Lucius.
Publius, Son to Marcus Andronicus.
Sempronius,} Kinsmen to Titus.
Caius,          }
Valentine,    }
Æmilius, a noble Roman.
Alarbus,    } Sons to Tamora.
Chiron,     }
Aaron, a Moor, beloved by Tamora.
A Captain, Tribune, Messenger, and Clown; Romans.
Goths and Romans.
Tamora, Queen of the Goths.
Lavinia, Daughter to Titus Andronicus.
A Nurse, and a black Child.
Senators, Tribunes, Officers, Soldiers, and Attendants.



Scene.Rome, and the Country near it.


Scene I.— Rome.

The Tomb of the Andronici appearing. The Tribunes and Senators aloft; and then enter Saturninus and his Followers at one door, and Bassianus and his Followers at the other, with drum and colours.


Noble patricians, patrons of my right,

Defend the justice of my cause with arms;

And, countrymen, my loving followers,

Plead my successive title with your swords:  4

I am his first-born son that was the last

That wore the imperial diadem of Rome;

Then let my father’s honours live in me,

Nor wrong mine age with this indignity.  8


Romans, friends, followers, favourers of my right,

If ever Bassianus, Cæsar’s son,

Were gracious in the eyes of royal Rome,

Keep then this passage to the Capitol,  12

And suffer not dishonour to approach

The imperial seat, to virtue consecrate,

To justice, continence, and nobility;

But let desert in pure election shine,  16

And, Romans, fight for freedom in your choice.

Enter Marcus Andronicus, aloft, with the crown.


Princes, that strive by factions and by friends

Ambitiously for rule and empery,

Know that the people of Rome, for whom we stand  20

A special party, have, by common voice,

In election for the Roman empery,

Chosen Andronicus, surnamed Pius,

For many good and great deserts to Rome:  24

A nobler man, a braver warrior,

Lives not this day within the city walls:

He by the senate is accited home

From weary wars against the barbarous Goths;

That, with his sons, a terror to our foes,  29

Hath yok’d a nation, strong, train’d up in arms.

Ten years are spent since first he undertook

This cause of Rome, and chastised with arms  32

Our enemies’ pride: five times he hath return’d

Bleeding to Rome, bearing his valiant sons

In coffins from the field;

And now at last, laden with honour’s spoils,  36

Returns the good Andronicus to Rome,

Renowned Titus, flourishing in arms.

Let us entreat, by honour of his name,

Whom worthily you would have now succeed,  40

And in the Capitol and senate’s right,

Whom you pretend to honour and adore,

That you withdraw you and abate your strength;

Dismiss your followers, and, as suitors should,

Plead your deserts in peace and humbleness.  45


How fair the tribune speaks to calm my thoughts!


Marcus Andronicus, so I do affy

In thy uprightness and integrity,  48

And so I love and honour thee and thine,

Thy noble brother Titus and his sons,

And her to whom my thoughts are humbled all,

Gracious Lavinia, Rome’s rich ornament,  52

That I will here dismiss my loving friends,

And to my fortunes and the people’s favour

Commit my cause in balance to be weigh’d.

[Exeunt the Followers of Bassianus.


Friends, that have been thus forward in my right,  56

I thank you all and here dismiss you all;

And to the love and favour of my country

Commit myself, my person, and the cause.

[Exeunt the Followers of Saturninus.

Rome, be as just and gracious unto me  60

As I am confident and kind to thee.

Open the gates, and let me in.


Tribunes, and me, a poor competitor.

[Flourish. They go up into the Senate-house.

Enter a Captain.


Romans, make way! the good Andronicus,  64

Patron of virtue, Rome’s best champion,

Successful in the battles that he fights,

With honour and with fortune is return’d

From where he circumscribed with his sword,  68

And brought to yoke, the enemies of Rome.

Drums and trumpets sounded, and then enter Martius and Mutius; after them two Men bearing a coffin covered with black; then Lucius and Quintus. After them Titus Andronicus; and then Tamora, with Alarbus, Chiron, Demetrius, Aaron, and other Goths, prisoners; Soldiers and people following. The bearers set down the coffin, and Titus speaks.


Hail, Rome, victorious in thy mourning weeds!

Lo! as the bark, that hath discharg’d her fraught,

Returns with precious lading to the bay  72

From whence at first she weigh’d her anchorage,

Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs,

To re-salute his country with his tears,

Tears of true joy for his return to Rome.  76

Thou great defender of this Capitol,

Stand gracious to the rites that we intend!

Romans, of five-and-twenty valiant sons,

Half of the number that King Priam had,  80

Behold the poor remains, alive, and dead!

These that survive let Rome reward with love;

These that I bring unto their latest home.

With burial among their ancestors:  84

Here Goths have given me leave to sheathe my sword.

Titus, unkind and careless of thine own,

Why suffer’st thou thy sons, unburied yet

To hover on the dreadful shore of Styx?  88

Make way to lay them by their brethren.

[The tomb is opened.

There greet in silence, as the dead are wont,

And sleep in peace, slain in your country’s wars!

O sacred receptacle of my joys,  92

Sweet cell of virtue and nobility,

How many sons of mine hast thou in store,

That thou wilt never render to me more!


Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths,  96

That we may hew his limbs, and on a pile

Ad manes fratrum sacrifice his flesh,

Before this earthy prison of their bones;

That so the shadows be not unappeas’d,  100

Nor we disturb’d with prodigies on earth.


I give him you, the noblest that survives

The eldest son of this distressed queen.


Stay, Roman brethren! Gracious conqueror,  104

Victorious Titus, rue the tears I shed,

A mother’s tears in passion for her son:

And if thy sons were ever dear to thee,

O! think my son to be as dear to me.  108

Sufficeth not that we are brought to Rome,

To beautify thy triumphs and return,

Captive to thee and to thy Roman yoke;

But must my sons be slaughter’d in the streets  112

For valiant doings in their country’s cause?

O! if to fight for king and commonweal

Were piety in thine, it is in these.

Andronicus, stain not thy tomb with blood:  116

Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods?

Draw near them then in being merciful;

Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge:

Thrice-noble Titus, spare my first-born son.  120


Patient yourself, madam, and pardon me.

These are their brethren, whom your Goths beheld

Alive and dead, and for their brethren slain

Religiously they ask a sacrifice:  124

To this your son is mark’d, and die he must,

To appease their groaning shadows that are gone.


Away with him! and make a fire straight;

And with our swords, upon a pile of wood,  128

Let’s hew his limbs till they be clean consum’d.

[Exeunt Lucius, Quintus, Martius, and Mutius, with Alarbus.


O cruel, irreligious piety!


Was ever Scythia half so barbarous?


Oppose not Scythia to ambitious Rome.

Alarbus goes to rest, and we survive  133

To tremble under Titus’ threatening look.

Then, madam, stand resolv’d; but hope withal

The self-same gods, that arm’d the Queen of Troy  136

With opportunity of sharp revenge

Upon the Thracian tyrant in his tent,

May favour Tamora, the Queen of Goths—

When Goths were Goths, and Tamora was queen—  140

To quit the bloody wrongs upon her foes.

Re-enter Lucius, Quintus, Martius, and Mutius, with their swords bloody.


See, lord and father, how we have perform’d

Our Roman rites. Alarbus’ limbs are lopp’d,

And entrails feed the sacrificing fire,  144

Whose smoke, like incense, doth perfume the sky.

Remaineth nought but to inter our brethren,

And with loud ’larums welcome them to Rome.


Let it be so; and let Andronicus  148

Make this his latest farewell to their souls.

[Trumpets sounded, and the coffin laid in the tomb.

In peace and honour rest you here, my sons;

Rome’s readiest champions, repose you here in rest,

Secure from worldly chances and mishaps!  152

Here lurks no treason, here no envy swells,

Here grow no damned drugs, here are no storms,

No noise, but silence and eternal sleep:

In peace and honour rest you here, my sons!  156

Enter Lavinia.


In peace and honour live Lord Titus long;

My noble lord and father, live in fame!

Lo! at this tomb my tributary tears

I render for my brethren’s obsequies;  160

And at thy feet I kneel, with tears of joy

Shed on the earth for thy return to Rome.

O! bless me here with thy victorious hand,

Whose fortunes Rome’s best citizens applaud.


Kind Rome, that hast thus lovingly reserv’d  165

The cordial of mine age to glad my heart!

Lavinia, live; outlive thy father’s days,

And fame’s eternal date, for virtue’s praise!  168

Enter Marcus Andronicus and Tribunes; re-enter Saturninus, Bassianus, and Others.


Long live Lord Titus, my beloved brother,

Gracious triumpher in the eyes of Rome!


Thanks, gentle Tribune, noble brother Marcus.


And welcome, nephews, from successful wars,  172

You that survive, and you that sleep in fame!

Fair lords, your fortunes are alike in all,

That in your country’s service drew your swords;

But safer triumph is this funeral pomp,  176

That hath aspir’d to Solon’s happiness,

And triumphs over chance in honour’s bed.

Titus Andronicus, the people of Rome,

Whose friend in justice thou hast ever been,  180

Send thee by me, their tribune and their trust,

This palliament of white and spotless hue;

And name thee in election for the empire,

With these our late-deceased emperor’s sons:  184

Be candidatus then, and put it on,

And help to set a head on headless Rome.


A better head her glorious body fits

Than his that shakes for age and feebleness.  188

What should I don this robe, and trouble you?

Be chosen with proclamations to-day,

To-morrow yield up rule, resign my life,

And set abroad new business for you all?  192

Rome, I have been thy soldier forty years,

And led my country’s strength successfully,

And buried one-and-twenty valiant sons,

Knighted in field, slain manfully in arms,  196

In right and service of their noble country.

Give me a staff of honour for mine age,

But not a sceptre to control the world:

Upright he held it, lords, that held it last.  200


Titus, thou shalt obtain and ask the empery.


Proud and ambitious tribune, canst thou tell?


Patience, Prince Saturninus.


Romans, do me right:

Patricians, draw your swords, and sheathe them not  204

Till Saturninus be Rome’s emperor.

Andronicus, would thou wert shipp’d to hell,

Rather than rob me of the people’s hearts!


Proud Saturnine, interrupter of the good  208

That noble-minded Titus means to thee!


Content thee, prince; I will restore to thee

The people’s hearts, and wean them from themselves.


Andronicus, I do not flatter thee,  212

But honour thee, and will do till I die:

My faction if thou strengthen with thy friends,

I will most thankful be; and thanks to men

Of noble minds is honourable meed.  216


People of Rome, and people’s tribunes here,

I ask your voices and your suffrages:

Will you bestow them friendly on Andronicus?


To gratify the good Andronicus,

And gratulate his safe return to Rome,  221

The people will accept whom he admits.


Tribunes, I thank you; and this suit I make,

That you create your emperor’s eldest son,  224

Lord Saturnine; whose virtues will, I hope,

Reflect on Rome as Titan’s rays on earth,

And ripen justice in this commonweal:

Then, if you will elect by my advice,  228

Crown him, and say, ‘Long live our emperor!’


With voices and applause of every sort,

Patricians and plebeians, we create

Lord Saturninus Rome’s great emperor,  232

And say, ‘Long live our Emperor Saturnine!’

[A long flourish.


Titus Andronicus, for thy favours done

To us in our election this day,

I give thee thanks in part of thy deserts,  236

And will with deeds requite thy gentleness:

And, for an onset, Titus, to advance

Thy name and honourable family,

Lavinia will I make my empress,  240

Rome’s royal mistress, mistress of my heart,

And in the sacred Pantheon her espouse.

Tell me, Andronicus, doth this motion please thee?


It doth, my worthy lord; and in this match  244

I hold me highly honour’d of your Grace:

And here in sight of Rome to Saturnine,

King and commander of our commonweal,

The wide world’s emperor, do I consecrate  248

My sword, my chariot, and my prisoners;

Presents well worthy Rome’s imperious lord:

Receive them then, the tribute that I owe,

Mine honour’s ensigns humbled at thy feet.  252


Thanks, noble Titus, father of my life!

How proud I am of thee and of thy gifts

Rome shall record, and, when I do forget

The least of these unspeakable deserts,  256

Romans, forget your fealty to me.


[To Tamora.] Now, madam, are you prisoner to an emperor;

To him that, for your honour and your state,

Will use you nobly and your followers.  260


A goodly lady, trust me; of the hue

That I would choose, were I to choose anew.

Clear up, fair queen, that cloudy countenance:

Though chance of war hath wrought this change of cheer,  264

Thou com’st not to be made a scorn in Rome:

Princely shall be thy usage every way.

Rest on my word, and let not discontent  267

Daunt all your hopes: madam, he comforts you

Can make you greater than the Queen of Goths.

Lavinia, you are not displeas’d with this?


Not I, my lord; sith true nobility

Warrants these words in princely courtesy.  272


Thanks, sweet Lavinia. Romans, let us go;

Ransomless here we set our prisoners free:

Proclaim our honours, lords, with trump and drum.

[Flourish. Saturninus courts Tamora in dumb show.


Lord Titus, by your leave, this maid is mine.

[Seizing Lavinia.


How, sir! Are you in earnest then, my lord?  277


Ay, noble Titus; and resolv’d withal

To do myself this reason and this right.


Suum cuique is our Roman justice:  280

This prince in justice seizeth but his own.


And that he will, and shall, if Lucius live.


Traitors, avaunt! Where is the emperor’s guard?

Treason, my lord! Lavinia is surpris’d.  284


Surpris’d! By whom?


By him that justly may

Bear his betroth’d from all the world away.

[Exeunt Marcus and Bassianus with Lavinia.


Brothers, help to convey her hence away,

And with my sword I’ll keep this door safe.  288

[Exeunt Lucius, Quintus, and Martius.


Follow, my lord, and I’ll soon bring her back.


My lord, you pass not here.


What! villain boy;

Barr’st me my way in Rome?

[Stabs Mutius.


Help, Lucius, help!


Re-enter Lucius.


My lord, you are unjust; and, more than so,  292

In wrongful quarrel you have slain your son.


Nor thou, nor he, are any sons of mine;

My sons would never so dishonour me.

Traitor, restore Lavinia to the emperor.  296


Dead, if you will; but not to be his wife

That is another’s lawful promis’d love.



No, Titus, no; the emperor needs her not,

Nor her, nor thee, nor any of thy stock:  300

I’ll trust, by leisure, him that mocks me once;

Thee never, nor thy traitorous haughty sons,

Confederates all thus to dishonour me.

Was none in Rome to make a stale  304

But Saturnine? Full well, Andronicus,

Agreed these deeds with that proud brag of thine,

That saidst I begg’d the empire at thy hands.


O monstrous! what reproachful words are these!  308


But go thy ways; go, give that changing piece

To him that flourish’d for her with his sword.

A valiant son-in-law thou shalt enjoy;

One fit to bandy with thy lawless sons,  312

To ruffle in the commonwealth of Rome.


These words are razors to my wounded heart.


And therefore, lovely Tamora, Queen of Goths,

That like the stately Phœbe ’mongst her nymphs,  316

Dost overshine the gallant’st dames of Rome,

If thou be pleas’d with this my sudden choice,

Behold, I choose thee, Tamora, for my bride,

And will create thee Empress of Rome.  320

Speak, Queen of Goths, dost thou applaud my choice?

And here I swear by all the Roman gods,

Sith priest and holy water are so near,

And tapers burn so bright, and every thing  324

In readiness for Hymenæus stand,

I will not re-salute the streets of Rome,

Or climb my palace, till from forth this place

I lead espous’d my bride along with me.  328


And here, in sight of heaven, to Rome I swear,

If Saturnine advance the Queen of Goths,

She will a handmaid be to his desires,

A loving nurse, a mother to his youth.  332


Ascend, fair queen, Pantheon. Lords, accompany

Your noble emperor, and his lovely bride,

Sent by the heavens for Prince Saturnine,

Whose wisdom hath her fortune conquered:  336

There shall we consummate our spousal rights.

[Exeunt all but Titus.


I am not bid to wait upon this bride.

Titus, when wert thou wont to walk alone,  339

Dishonour’d thus, and challenged of wrongs?

Re-enter Marcus, Lucius, Quintus, and Martius.


O! Titus, see, O! see what thou hast done;

In a bad quarrel slain a virtuous son.


No, foolish tribune, no; no son of mine,

Nor thou, nor these, confederates in the deed  344

That hath dishonour’d all our family:

Unworthy brother, and unworthy sons!


But let us give him burial, as becomes;

Give Mutius burial with our brethren.  348


Traitors, away! he rests not in this tomb.

This monument five hundred years hath stood,

Which I have sumptuously re-edified:

Here none but soldiers and Rome’s servitors  352

Repose in fame; none basely slain in brawls.

Bury him where you can; he comes not here.


My lord, this is impiety in you.

My nephew Mutius’ deeds do plead for him;  356

He must be buried with his brethren.


And shall, or him we will accompany.


And shall, or him we will accompany.


And shall! What villain was it spake that word?


He that would vouch it in any place but here.  360


What! would you bury him in my despite?


No, noble Titus; but entreat of thee

To pardon Mutius, and to bury him.


Marcus, even thou hast struck upon my crest,  364

And, with these boys, mine honour thou hast wounded:

My foes I do repute you every one;

So, trouble me no more, but get you gone.


He is not with himself; let us withdraw.  368


Not I, till Mutius’ bones be buried.

[Marcus and the sons of Titus kneel.


Brother, for in that name doth nature plead,—


Father, and in that name doth nature speak,—


Speak thou no more, if all the rest will speed.  372


Renowned Titus, more than half my soul,—


Dear father, soul and substance of us all,—


Suffer thy brother Marcus to inter

His noble nephew here in virtue’s nest,  376

That died in honour and Lavinia’s cause.

Thou art a Roman; be not barbarous:

The Greeks upon advice did bury Ajax

That slew himself; and wise Laertes’ son  380

Did graciously plead for his funerals.

Let not young Mutius then, that was thy joy,

Be barr’d his entrance here.


Rise, Marcus, rise.

The dismall’st day is this that e’er I saw,  384

To be dishonour’d by my sons in Rome!

Well, bury him, and bury me the next.

[Mutius is put into the tomb.


There lie thy bones, sweet Mutius, with thy friends,

Till we with trophies do adorn thy tomb.  388


[Kneeling.] No man shed tears for noble Mutius;

He lives in fame that died in virtue’s cause.


My lord,—to step out of these dreary dumps,—

How comes it that the subtle Queen of Goths  392

Is of a sudden thus advanc’d in Rome?


I know not, Marcus; but I know it is,

Whether by device or no, the heavens can tell.

Is she not, then, beholding to the man  396

That brought her for this high good turn so far?


Yes, and will nobly him remunerate.

Flourish. Re-enter, on one side, Saturninus, attended; Tamora, Demetrius, Chiron, and Aaron: on the other side, Bassianus, Lavinia and Others.


So, Bassianus, you have play’d your prize:

God give you joy, sir, of your gallant bride.  400


And you of yours, my lord! I say no more,

Nor wish no less; and so I take my leave.


Traitor, if Rome have law or we have power,

Thou and thy faction shall repent this rape.  404


Rape call you it, my lord, to seize my own,

My true-betrothed love and now my wife?

But let the laws of Rome determine all;

Meanwhile, I am possess’d of that is mine.  408


’Tis good, sir: you are very short with us;

But, if we live, we’ll be as sharp with you.


My lord, what I have done, as best I may,

Answer I must and shall do with my life.  412

Only thus much I give your Grace to know:

By all the duties that I owe to Rome,

This noble gentleman, Lord Titus here,

Is in opinion and in honour wrong’d;  416

That, in the rescue of Lavinia,

With his own hand did slay his youngest son,

In zeal to you and highly mov’d to wrath

To be controll’d in that he frankly gave:  420

Receive him then to favour, Saturnine,

That hath express’d himself in all his deeds

A father and a friend to thee and Rome.


Prince Bassianus, leave to plead my deeds:  424

’Tis thou and those that have dishonour’d me.

Rome and the righteous heavens be my judge,

How I have lov’d and honour’d Saturnine!


My worthy lord, if ever Tamora  428

Were gracious in those princely eyes of thine,

Then hear me speak indifferently for all;

And at my suit, sweet, pardon what is past.


What, madam! be dishonour’d openly,

And basely put it up without revenge?  433


Not so, my lord; the gods of Rome forfend

I should be author to dishonour you!

But on mine honour dare I undertake  436

For good Lord Titus’ innocence in all,

Whose fury not dissembled speaks his griefs.

Then, at my suit, look graciously on him;

Lose not so noble a friend on vain suppose,  440

Nor with sour looks afflict his gentle heart.

[Aside to Saturninus.] My lord, be rul’d by me, be won at last;

Dissemble all your griefs and discontents:

You are but newly planted in your throne;  444

Lest then, the people, and patricians too,

Upon a just survey, take Titus’ part,

And so supplant you for ingratitude,

Which Rome reputes to be a heinous sin,  448

Yield at entreats, and then let me alone.

I’ll find a day to massacre them all,

And raze their faction and their family,

The cruel father, and his traitorous sons,  452

To whom I sued for my dear son’s life;

And make them know what ’tis to let a queen

Kneel in the streets and beg for grace in vain.

[Aloud.] Come, come, sweet emperor; come, Andronicus;  456

Take up this good old man, and cheer the heart

That dies in tempest of thy angry frown:


Rise, Titus, rise; my empress hath prevail’d.  459


I thank your majesty, and her, my lord.

These words, these looks, infuse new life in me.


Titus, I am incorporate in Rome,

A Roman now adopted happily,

And must advise the emperor for his good.  464

This day all quarrels die, Andronicus;

And let it be mine honour, good my lord,

That I have reconcil’d your friends and you.

For you, Prince Bassianus, I have pass’d  468

My word and promise to the emperor,

That you will be more mild and tractable.

And fear not, lords, and you, Lavinia,

By my advice, all humbled on your knees,  472

You shall ask pardon of his majesty.


We do; and vow to heaven and to his highness,

That what we did was mildly, as we might,

Tendering our sister’s honour and our own.  476


That on mine honour here I do protest.


Away, and talk not; trouble us no more.


Nay, nay, sweet emperor, we must all be friends:

The tribune and his nephews kneel for grace;  480

I will not be denied: sweet heart, look back.


Marcus, for thy sake, and thy brother’s here,

And at my lovely Tamora’s entreats,

I do remit these young men’s heinous faults:  484

Stand up.

Lavinia, though you left me like a churl,

I found a friend, and sure as death I swore

I would not part a bachelor from the priest.  488

Come; if the emperor’s court can feast two brides,

You are my guest, Lavinia, and your friends.

This day shall be a love-day, Tamora.


To-morrow, an it please your majesty  492

To hunt the panther and the hart with me,

With horn and hound we’ll give your Grace bon jour.


Be it so, Titus, and gramercy too.

[Trumpets. Exeunt.


Scene I.— Rome. Before the Palace. Enter Aaron.


Now climbeth Tamora Olympus’ top,

Safe out of Fortune’s shot; and sits aloft,

Secure of thunder’s crack or lightning flash,

Advanc’d above pale envy’s threat’ning reach.  4

As when the golden sun salutes the morn,

And, having gilt the ocean with his beams,

Gallops the zodiac in his glistering coach,

And overlooks the highest-peering hills;  8

So Tamora.

Upon her wit doth earthly honour wait

And virtue stoops and trembles at her frown.

Then, Aaron, arm thy heart, and fit thy thoughts

To mount aloft with thy imperial mistress,  13

And mount her pitch, whom thou in triumph long

Hast prisoner held, fetter’d in amorous chains,

And faster bound to Aaron’s charming eyes  16

Than is Prometheus tied to Caucasus.

Away with slavish weeds and servile thoughts!

I will be bright, and shine in pearl and gold,

To wait upon this new-made empress.  20

To wait, said I? to wanton with this queen,

This goddess, this Semiramis, this nymph,

This siren, that will charm Rome’s Saturnine,

And see his shipwrack and his commonweal’s.  24

Holla! what storm is this?

Enter Demetrius and Chiron, braving.


Chiron, thy years want wit, thy wit wants edge

And manners, to intrude where I am grac’d,

And may, for aught thou know’st, affected be.  28


Demetrius, thou dost over-ween in all

And so in this, to bear me down with braves.

’Tis not the difference of a year or two

Makes me less gracious or thee more fortunate:

I am as able and as fit as thou  33

To serve, and to deserve my mistress’ grace;

And that my sword upon thee shall approve,

And plead my passions for Lavinia’s love.  36


Clubs, clubs! these lovers will not keep the peace.


Why, boy, although our mother, unadvis’d,

Gave you a dancing-rapier by your side,

Are you so desperate grown, to threat your friends?  40

Go to; have your lath glu’d within your sheath

Till you know better how to handle it.


Meanwhile, sir, with the little skill I have,

Full well shalt thou perceive how much I dare.


Ay, boy, grow ye so brave?

[They draw.


Why, how now, lords!  45

So near the emperor’s palace dare you draw,

And maintain such a quarrel openly?

Full well I wot the ground of all this grudge:  48

I would not for a million of gold

The cause were known to them it most concerns;

Nor would your noble mother for much more

Be so dishonour’d in the court of Rome.  52

For shame, put up.


Not I, till I have sheath’d

My rapier in his bosom, and withal

Thrust those reproachful speeches down his throat

That he hath breath’d in my dishonour here.  56


For that I am prepar’d and full resolv’d,

Foul-spoken coward, that thunder’st with thy tongue,

And with thy weapon nothing dar’st perform!


Away, I say!  60

Now, by the gods that war-like Goths adore,

This petty brabble will undo us all.

Why, lords, and think you not how dangerous

It is to jet upon a prince’s right?  64

What! is Lavinia then become so loose,

Or Bassianus so degenerate,

That for her love such quarrels may be broach’d

Without controlment, justice, or revenge?  68

Young lords, beware! an should the empress know

This discord’s ground, the music would not please.


I care not, I, knew she and all the world:

I love Lavinia more than all the world.  72


Youngling, learn thou to make some meaner choice:

Lavinia is thine elder brother’s hope.


Why, are ye mad? or know ye not in Rome

How furious and impatient they be,  76

And cannot brook competitors in love?

I tell you, lords, you do but plot your deaths

By this device.


Aaron, a thousand deaths

Would I propose, to achieve her whom I love.  80


To achieve her! how?


Why mak’st thou it so strange?

She is a woman, therefore may be woo’d;

She is a woman, therefore may be won;

She is Lavinia, therefore must be lov’d.  84

What, man! more water glideth by the mill

Than wots the miller of; and easy it is

Of a cut loaf to steal a shive, we know:

Though Bassianus be the emperor’s brother,  88

Better than he have worn Vulcan’s badge.


[Aside.] Ay, and as good as Saturninus may.


Then why should he despair that knows to court it

With words, fair looks, and liberality?  92

What! hast thou not full often struck a doe,

And borne her cleanly by the keeper’s nose?


Why, then, it seems, some certain snatch or so

Would serve your turns.


Ay, so the turn were serv’d.  96


Aaron, thou hast hit it.


Would you had hit it too!

Then should not we be tir’d with this ado.

Why, hark ye, hark ye! and are you such fools

To square for this? Would it offend you then  100

That both should speed?


Faith, not me.


Nor me, so I were one.