William Shakespeare, Coriolanus (1607-08)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)  


This is a part of a collection of works by William Shakespeare.


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 HTML and facs. PDF.



Table of Contents







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.