Study Guide

Coriolanus

by William Shakespeare

Coriolanus eText - Act III

Act III

Act III, Scene 1

ACT III.

SCENE I. Rome. A street

[Cornets. Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS,
Senators, and Patricians.]

CORIOLANUS.
Tullus Aufidius, then, had made new head?

LARTIUS.
He had, my lord; and that it was which caus'd
Our swifter composition.

CORIOLANUS.
So then the Volsces stand but as at first;
Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road
Upon's again.

COMINIUS.
They are worn, lord consul, so
That we shall hardly in our ages see
Their banners wave again.

CORIOLANUS.
Saw you Aufidius?

LARTIUS.
On safeguard he came to me; and did curse
Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely
Yielded the town; he is retir'd to Antium.

CORIOLANUS.
Spoke he of me?

LARTIUS.
He did, my lord.

CORIOLANUS.
How? What?

LARTIUS.
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
Be call'd your vanquisher.

CORIOLANUS.
At Antium lives he?

LARTIUS.
At Antium.

CORIOLANUS.
I wish I had a cause to seek him there,
To oppose his hatred fully.--Welcome home. [To Laertes.]

[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.

SICINIUS.
Pass no further.

CORIOLANUS.
Ha! what is that?

BRUTUS.
It will be dangerous to go on: no further.

CORIOLANUS.
What makes this change?

MENENIUS.
The matter?

COMINIUS.
Hath he not pass'd the noble and the commons?

BRUTUS.
Cominius, no.

CORIOLANUS.
Have I had children's voices?

FIRST SENATOR.
Tribunes, give way; he shall to the market-place.

BRUTUS.
The people are incens'd against him.

SICINIUS.
Stop,
Or all will fall in broil.

CORIOLANUS.
Are these your herd?--
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?

MENENIUS.
Be calm, be calm.

CORIOLANUS.
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.

BRUTUS.
Call't not a plot:
The people cry you mock'd them; and of late,
When corn was given them gratis, you repin'd;
Scandal'd the suppliants for the people,--call'd them
Time-pleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.

CORIOLANUS.
Why, this was known before.

BRUTUS.
Not to them all.

CORIOLANUS.
Have you inform'd them sithence?

BRUTUS.
How! I inform them!

COMINIUS.
You are like to do such business.

BRUTUS.
Not unlike,
Each way, to better yours.

CORIOLANUS.
Why, then, should I be consul? By yond clouds,
Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
Your fellow tribune.

SICINIUS.
You show too much of that
For which the people stir: if you will pass
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.

MENENIUS.
Let's be calm.

COMINIUS.
The people are abus'd; set on. This palt'ring
Becomes not Rome; nor has Coriolanus
Deserv'd this so dishonour'd rub, laid falsely
I' the plain way of his merit.

CORIOLANUS.
Tell me of corn!
This was my speech, and I will speak't again,--

MENENIUS.
Not now, not now.

FIRST SENATOR.
Not in this heat, sir, now.

CORIOLANUS.
Now, as I live, I will.--My nobler friends,
I crave their pardons:
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,
Which we ourselves have plough'd for, sow'd, and scatter'd,
By mingling them with us, the honour'd number,
Who lack not virtue, no, nor power, but that
Which they have given to beggars.

MENENIUS.
Well, no more.

FIRST SENATOR.
No more words, we beseech you.

CORIOLANUS.
How! no more!
As for my country I have shed my blood,
Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs
Coin words till their decay against those measles
Which we disdain should tetter us, yet sought
The very way to catch them.

BRUTUS.
You speak o' the people
As if you were a god, to punish, not
A man of their infirmity.

SICINIUS.
'Twere well
We let the people know't.

MENENIUS.
What, what? his choler?

CORIOLANUS.
Choler!
Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,
By Jove, 'twould be my mind!

SICINIUS.
It is a mind
That shall remain a poison where it is,
Not poison any further.

CORIOLANUS.
Shall remain!--
Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you
His absolute 'shall'?

COMINIUS.
'Twas from the canon.

CORIOLANUS.
'Shall'!
O good, but most unwise patricians! why,
You grave but reckless senators, have you thus
Given Hydra leave to choose an officer,
That with his peremptory 'shall,' being but
The horn and noise o' the monster, 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
Your dangerous lenity. If you are learn'd,
Be not as common fools; if you are not,
Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians,
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,'
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,
Neither supreme, how soon confusion
May enter 'twixt the gap of both and take
The one by the other.

COMINIUS.
Well, on to the market-place.

CORIOLANUS.
Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth
The corn o' the storehouse gratis, as 'twas us'd
Sometime in Greece,--

MENENIUS.
Well, well, no more of that.

CORIOLANUS.
Though there the people had more absolute power,--
I say they nourish'd disobedience, fed
The ruin of the state.

BRUTUS.
Why shall the people give
One that speaks thus their voice?

CORIOLANUS.
I'll give my reasons,
More worthier than their voices. They know the corn
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
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
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;
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 the locks o' the senate and bring in
The crows to peck the eagles.--

MENENIUS.
Come, enough.

BRUTUS.
Enough, with over-measure.

CORIOLANUS.
No, take more:
What may be sworn by, both divine and human,
Seal what I end withal!--This double worship,--
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
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,--
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
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
Mangles true judgment, and bereaves the state
Of that integrity which should become't;
Not having the power to do the good it would,
For the ill which doth control't.

BRUTUS.
Has said enough.

SICINIUS.
Has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer
As traitors do.

CORIOLANUS.
Thou wretch, despite o'erwhelm thee!--
What should the people do with these bald tribunes?
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
Let what is meet be said it must be meet,
And throw their power i' the dust.

BRUTUS.
Manifest treason!

SICINIUS.
This a consul? no.

BRUTUS.
The aediles, ho!--Let him be apprehended.

SICINIUS.
Go call the people [Exit BRUTUS.]; 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.

CORIOLANUS.
Hence, old goat!

SENATORS and PATRICIANS.
We'll surety him.

COMINIUS.
Aged sir, hands off.

CORIOLANUS.
Hence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bones
Out of thy garments.

SICINIUS.
Help, ye citizens!

[Re-enter Brutus, with the AEDILES and a rabble of Citizens.]

MENENIUS.
On both sides more respect.

SICINIUS.
Here's he that would take from you all your power.

BRUTUS.
Seize him, aediles.

PLEBEIANS.
Down with him! down with him!

SECOND SENATOR.
Weapons, weapons, weapons!

[They all bustle about CORIOLANUS.]

Tribunes! patricians! citizens!--What, ho!--
Sicinius, Brutus, Coriolanus, Citizens!

CITIZENS.
Peace, peace, peace; stay, hold, peace!

MENENIUS.
What is about to be?--I am out of breath;
Confusion's near: I cannot speak.--You tribunes
To the people,--Coriolanus, patience:--
Speak, good Sicinius.

SICINIUS.
Hear me, people: peace!

CITIZENS.
Let's hear our tribune: peace!--
Speak, speak, speak.

SICINIUS.
You are at point to lose your liberties;
Marcius would have all from you; Marcius,
Whom late you have nam'd for consul.

MENENIUS.
Fie, fie, fie!
This is the way to kindle, not to quench.

FIRST SENATOR.
To unbuild the city, and to lay all flat.

SICINIUS.
What is the city but the people?
CITIZENS.
True,
The people are the city.

BRUTUS.
By the consent of all, we were establish'd
The people's magistrates.

CITIZENS.
You so remain.

MENENIUS.
And so are like to do.

COMINIUS.
That is the way to lay the city flat;
To bring the roof to the foundation,
And bury all which yet distinctly ranges,
In heaps and piles of ruin.

SICINIUS.
This deserves death.

BRUTUS.
Or let us stand to our authority,
Or let us lose it.--We do here pronounce,
Upon the part o' the people, in whose power
We were elected theirs, Marcius is worthy
Of present death.

SICINIUS.
Therefore lay hold of him;
Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence
Into destruction cast him.

BRUTUS.
Aediles, seize him!

CITIZENS.
Yield, Marcius, yield!

MENENIUS.
Hear me one word;
Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.

AEDILES.
Peace, peace!

MENENIUS.
Be that you seem, truly your country's friends,
And temperately proceed to what you would
Thus violently redress.

BRUTUS.
Sir, those cold ways,
That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous
Where the disease is violent.--Lay hands upon him
And bear him to the rock.

CORIOLANUS.
No; I'll die here. [Draws his sword.]
There's some among you have beheld me fighting;
Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.

MENENIUS.
Down with that sword!--Tribunes, withdraw awhile.

BRUTUS.
Lay hands upon him.

MENENIUS.
Help Marcius, help,
You that be noble; help him, young and old!

CITIZENS.
Down with him, down with him!

[In this mutiny the TRIBUNES, the AEDILES, and the people are
beat in.]

MENENIUS.
Go, get you to your house; be gone, away!
All will be nought else.

SECOND SENATOR.
Get you gone.

CORIOLANUS.
Stand fast;
We have as many friends as enemies.

MENENIUS.
Shall it be put to that?

FIRST SENATOR.
The gods forbid:
I pr'ythee, noble friend, home to thy house;
Leave us to cure this cause.

MENENIUS.
For 'tis a sore upon us
You cannot tent yourself; be gone, beseech you.

COMINIUS.
Come, sir, along with us.

CORIOLANUS.
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.

MENENIUS.
Be gone;
Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;
One time will owe another.

CORIOLANUS.
On fair ground
I could beat forty of them.

MENENIUS.
I could myself
Take up a brace o' the best of them; yea, the two tribunes.

COMINIUS.
But now 'tis odds beyond arithmetic;
And manhood is call'd foolery when it stands
Against a falling fabric.--Will you hence,
Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend
Like interrupted waters, and o'erbear
What they are used to bear.

MENENIUS.
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.

COMINIUS.
Nay, come away.

[Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, and others.]

FIRST PATRICIAN.
This man has marr'd his fortune.

MENENIUS.
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:
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!

SECOND PATRICIAN.
I would they were a-bed!

MENENIUS.
I would they were in Tiber!
What the vengeance, could he not speak 'em fair?

[Re-enter BRUTUS and SICINIUS, with the rabble.]

SICINIUS.
Where is this viper
That would depopulate the city and
Be every man himself?

MENENIUS.
You worthy tribunes,--

SICINIUS.
He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock
With rigorous hands: he hath resisted law,
And therefore law shall scorn him further trial
Than the severity of the public power,
Which he so sets at nought.

FIRST CITIZEN.
He shall well know
The noble tribunes are the people's mouths,
And we their hands.

CITIZENS.
He shall, sure on't.

MENENIUS.
Sir, sir,--

SICINIUS.
Peace!

MENENIUS.
Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt
With modest warrant.

SICINIUS.
Sir, how comes't that you
Have holp to make this rescue?

MENENIUS.
Hear me speak:--
As I do know the consul's worthiness,
So can I name his faults,--

SICINIUS.
Consul!--what consul?

MENENIUS.
The consul Coriolanus.

BRUTUS.
He consul!

CITIZENS.
No, no, no, no, no.

MENENIUS.
If, by the tribunes' leave, and yours, good people,
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.

SICINIUS.
Speak briefly, then;
For we are peremptory to dispatch
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.

MENENIUS.
Now the good gods forbid
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!

SICINIUS.
He's a disease that must be cut away.

MENENIUS.
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?
Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost,--
Which I dare vouch is more than that he hath
By many an ounce,--he dropt it for his country;
And what is left, to lose it by his country
Were to us all, that do't and suffer it
A brand to the end o' the world.

SICINIUS.
This is clean kam.

BRUTUS.
Merely awry: when he did love his country,
It honour'd him.

MENENIUS.
The service of the foot,
Being once gangren'd, is not then respected
For what before it was.

BRUTUS.
We'll hear no more.--
Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence;
Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
Spread further.

MENENIUS.
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;
Lest parties,--as he is belov'd,--break out,
And sack great Rome with Romans.

BRUTUS.
If it were so,--

SICINIUS.
What do ye talk?
Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted?--come,--

MENENIUS.
Consider this:--he has been bred i' the wars
Since 'a could draw a sword, and is ill school'd
In bolted language; meal and bran together
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 SENATOR.
Noble tribunes,
It is the humane way: the other course
Will prove too bloody; and the end of it
Unknown to the beginning.

SICINIUS.
Noble Menenius,
Be you then as the people's officer.--
Masters, lay down your weapons.

BRUTUS.
Go not home.

SICINIUS.
Meet on the market-place.--We'll attend you there:
Where, if you bring not Marcius, we'll proceed
In our first way.

MENENIUS.
I'll bring him to you.--
[To the SENATORS.] Let me desire your company: he must come,
Or what is worst will follow.

FIRST SENATOR.
Pray you let's to him.

[Exeunt.]

Act III, Scene 2

SCENE II. Rome. A room in CORIOLANUS'S house.

[Enter CORIOLANUS and Patricians.]

CORIOLANUS.
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
Below the beam of sight; yet will I still
Be thus to them.

FIRST PATRICIAN.
You do the nobler.

CORIOLANUS.
I muse my mother
Does not approve me further, who was wont
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
To speak of peace or war.

[Enter VOLUMNIA.]

I talk of you: [To Volumnia.]
Why did you wish me milder? Would you have me
False to my nature? Rather say, I play
The man I am.

VOLUMNIA.
O, sir, sir, sir,
I would have had you put your power well on
Before you had worn it out.

CORIOLANUS.
Let go.

VOLUMNIA.
You might have been enough the man you are
With striving less to be so: lesser had been
The thwartings of your dispositions, if
You had not show'd them how ye were dispos'd,
Ere they lack'd power to cross you.

CORIOLANUS.
Let them hang.

VOLUMNIA.
Ay, and burn too.

[Enter MENENIUS with the SENATORS.]

MENENIUS.
Come, come, you have been too rough, something too rough;
You must return and mend it.

FIRST SENATOR.
There's no remedy;
Unless, by not so doing, our good city
Cleave in the midst, and perish.

VOLUMNIA.
Pray be counsell'd;
I have a heart as little apt as yours,
But yet a brain that leads my use of anger
To better vantage.

MENENIUS.
Well said, noble woman!
Before he should thus stoop to the herd, but that
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.

CORIOLANUS.
What must I do?

MENENIUS.
Return to the tribunes.

CORIOLANUS.
Well, what then? what then?

MENENIUS.
Repent what you have spoke.

CORIOLANUS.
For them?--I cannot do it to the gods;
Must I then do't to them?

VOLUMNIA.
You are too absolute;
Though therein you can never be too noble
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
That they combine not there.

CORIOLANUS.
Tush, tush!

MENENIUS.
A good demand.

VOLUMNIA.
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
With honour as in war; since that to both
It stands in like request?

CORIOLANUS.
Why force you this?

VOLUMNIA.
Because that now it lies you on to speak
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.
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.
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
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
Of what that want might ruin.

MENENIUS.
Noble lady!--
Come, go with us; speak fair: you may salve so,
Not what is dangerous present, but the loss
Of what is past.

VOLUMNIA.
I pr'ythee now, my son,
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 busines
Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant
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
As thou hast power and person.

MENENIUS.
This but done
Even as she speaks, why, their hearts were yours:
For they have pardons, being ask'd, as free
As words to little purpose.

VOLUMNIA.
Pr'ythee now,
Go, and be rul'd; although I know thou had'st rather
Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf
Than flatter him in a bower.

[Enter COMINIUS.]

Here is Cominius.

COMINIUS.
I have been i' the market-place; and, sir, 'tis fit
You make strong party, or defend yourself
By calmness or by absence: all's in anger.

MENENIUS.
Only fair speech.

COMINIUS.
I think 'twill serve, if he
Can thereto frame his spirit.

VOLUMNIA.
He must, and will.--
Pr'ythee now, say you will, and go about it.

CORIOLANUS.
Must I go show them my unbarb'd sconce? must I
With my base tongue, give to my noble heart
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:--
You have put me now to such a part which never
I shall discharge to the life.

COMINIUS.
Come, come, we'll prompt you.

VOLUMNIA.
I pr'ythee now, sweet son,--as thou hast said
My praises made thee first a soldier, so,
To have my praise for this, perform a part
Thou hast not done before.

CORIOLANUS.
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
Small as an eunuch, or the virgin voice
That babies lulls asleep! the smiles of knaves
Tent in my cheeks; and school-boys' tears take up
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;
Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth,
And by my body's action teach my mind
A most inherent baseness.

VOLUMNIA.
At thy choice, then:
To beg of thee, it is my more dishonour
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.
Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck'dst it from me;
But owe thy pride thyself.

CORIOLANUS.
Pray, be content:
Mother, I am going to the market-place;
Chide me no more. I'll mountebank their loves,
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
I' the way of flattery further.

VOLUMNIA.
Do your will.

[Exit.]

COMINIUS.
Away! The tribunes do attend you: arm yourself
To answer mildly; for they are prepar'd
With accusations, as I hear, more strong
Than are upon you yet.

CORIOLANUS.
The word is, mildly.--Pray you let us go:
Let them accuse me by invention, I
Will answer in mine honour.

MENENIUS.
Ay, but mildly.

CORIOLANUS.
Well, mildly be it then; mildly.

[Exeunt.]

Act III, Scene 3

SCENE III. Rome. The Forum.

[Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS.]

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
Was ne'er distributed.

[Enter an AEDILE.]

What, will he come?

AEDILE.
He's coming.

BRUTUS.
How accompanied?

AEDILE.
With old Menenius, and those senators
That always favour'd him.

SICINIUS.
Have you a catalogue
Of all the voices that we have procur'd,
Set down by the poll?

AEDILE.
I have; 'tis ready.

SICINIUS.
Have you collected them by tribes?

AEDILE.
I have.

SICINIUS.
Assemble presently the people hither:
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;'
Insisting on the old prerogative
And power i' the truth o' the cause.

AEDILE.
I shall inform them.

BRUTUS.
And when such time they have begun to cry,
Let them not cease, but with a din confus'd
Enforce the present execution
Of what we chance to sentence.

AEDILE.
Very well.

SICINIUS.
Make them be strong, and ready for this hint,
When we shall hap to give't them.

BRUTUS.
Go about it.

[Exit AEDILE.]
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
With us to break his neck.

SICINIUS.
Well, here he comes.

[Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, COMINIUS, Senators, and Patricians.]

MENENIUS.
Calmly, I do beseech you.

CORIOLANUS.
Ay, as an ostler, that for the poorest piece
Will bear the knave by the volume.--The honoured gods
Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice
Supplied with worthy men! plant love among's!
Throng our large temples with the shows of peace,
And not our streets with war!

FIRST SENATOR.
Amen, amen!

MENENIUS.
A noble wish.

[Re-enter the AEDILE, with Citizens.]

SICINIUS.
Draw near, ye people.

AEDILE.
List to your tribunes; audience: peace, I say!

CORIOLANUS.
First, hear me speak.

BOTH TRIBUNES.
Well, say.--Peace, ho!

CORIOLANUS.
Shall I be charg'd no further than this present?
Must all determine here?

SICINIUS.
I do demand,
If you submit you to the people's voices,
Allow their officers, and are content
To suffer lawful censure for such faults
As shall be proved upon you.

CORIOLANUS.
I am content.

MENENIUS.
Lo, citizens, he says he is content:
The warlike service he has done, consider; think
Upon the wounds his body bears, which show
Like graves i' the holy churchyard.

CORIOLANUS.
Scratches with briers,
Scars to move laughter only.

MENENIUS.
Consider further,
That when he speaks not like a citizen,
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.

COMINIUS.
Well, well, no more.

CORIOLANUS.
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?

SICINIUS.
Answer to us.

CORIOLANUS.
Say then: 'tis true, I ought so.

SICINIUS.
We charge you that you have contriv'd to take
From Rome all season'd office, and to wind
Yourself into a power tyrannical;
For which you are a traitor to the people.

CORIOLANUS.
How! traitor!

MENENIUS.
Nay, temperately; your promise.

CORIOLANUS.
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
As I do pray the gods.

SICINIUS.
Mark you this, people?

CITIZENS.
To the rock, to the rock, with him!

SICINIUS.
Peace!
We need not put new matter to his charge:
What you have seen him do and heard him speak,
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,
Deserves the extremest death.

BRUTUS.
But since he hath
Serv'd well for Rome,--

CORIOLANUS.
What do you prate of service?

BRUTUS.
I talk of that that know it.

CORIOLANUS.
You?

MENENIUS.
Is this the promise that you made your mother?

COMINIUS.
Know, I pray you,--

CORIOLANUS.
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
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.

SICINIUS.
For that he has,--
As much as in him lies,--from time to time
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
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
From off the rock Tarpeian, never more
To enter our Rome gates: I' the people's name,
I say it shall be so.

CITIZENS.
It shall be so, it shall be so; let him away;
He's banished, and it shall be so.

COMINIUS.
Hear me, my masters and my common friends,--

SICINIUS.
He's sentenc'd; no more hearing.

COMINIUS.
Let me speak:
I have been consul, and can show for Rome
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
Speak that,--

SICINIUS.
We know your drift. Speak what?

BRUTUS.
There's no more to be said, but he is banish'd,
As enemy to the people and his country:
It shall be so.

CITIZENS.
It shall be so, it shall be so.

CORIOLANUS.
You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
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,
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,--
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:
There is a world elsewhere.

[Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, MENENIUS, Senators, and
Patricians.]

AEDILE.
The people's enemy is gone, is gone!

CITIZENS.
Our enemy is banish'd, he is gone! Hoo! hoo!

[Shouting, and throwing up their caps.]

SICINIUS.
Go, see him out at gates, and follow him,
As he hath follow'd you, with all despite;
Give him deserv'd vexation. Let a guard
Attend us through the city.

CITIZENS.
Come, come, let's see him out at gates; come.
The gods preserve our noble tribunes! Come.

[Exeunt.]