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Speeches (Lines) for First Citizen
in "Coriolanus"

Total: 33

# Act, Scene, Line
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Speech text



(stage directions). [Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with staves,]
clubs, and other weapons]

First Citizen. Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.



All. Speak, speak.

First Citizen. You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?



All. Resolved. resolved.

First Citizen. First, you know Caius CORIOLANUS is chief enemy to the people.



All. We know't, we know't.

First Citizen. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price.
Is't a verdict?



Second Citizen. One word, good citizens.

First Citizen. 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.



Second Citizen. Consider you what services he has done for his country?

First Citizen. Very well; and could be content to give him good
report fort, but that he pays himself with being proud.



Second Citizen. Nay, but speak not maliciously.

First Citizen. 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 till the altitude of his virtue.



Second Citizen. What he cannot help in his nature, you account a
vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.

First Citizen. 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!



All. Come, come.

First Citizen. Soft! who comes here?



Second Citizen. Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved
the people.

First Citizen. He's one honest enough: would all the rest were so!



Menenius Agrippa. What work's, my countrymen, in hand? where go you
With bats and clubs? The matter? speak, I pray you.

First Citizen. 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.



Menenius Agrippa. Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,
Will you undo yourselves?

First Citizen. We cannot, sir, we are undone already.



Menenius Agrippa. 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
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
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
You are transported by calamity
Thither where more attends you, and you slander
The helms o' the state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies.

First Citizen. Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us
yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses
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.



Menenius Agrippa. Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accused 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 stale 't a little more.

First Citizen. 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.



Menenius Agrippa. There was a time when all the body's members
Rebell'd against the belly, thus accused it:
That only like a gulf it did remain
I' the midst o' the body, idle and unactive,
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
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answer'd—

First Citizen. Well, sir, what answer made the belly?



Menenius Agrippa. 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
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 Citizen. Your belly's answer? What!
The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter.
With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabric, if that they—



Menenius Agrippa. What then?
'Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? what then?

First Citizen. Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,
Who is the sink o' the body,—



Menenius Agrippa. Well, what then?

First Citizen. The former agents, if they did complain,
What could the belly answer?



Menenius Agrippa. I will tell you
If you'll bestow a small—of what you have little—
Patience awhile, you'll hear the belly's answer.

First Citizen. Ye're long about it.



Menenius Agrippa. Note me this, good friend;
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,
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,
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
Whereby they live: and though that all at once,
You, my good friends,'—this says the belly, mark me,—

First Citizen. Ay, sir; well, well.



Menenius Agrippa. 'Though all at once cannot
See what I do deliver out to each,
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 Citizen. It was an answer: how apply you this?



Menenius Agrippa. The senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members; for examine
Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly
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,
You, the great toe of this assembly?

First Citizen. I the great toe! why the great toe?



Coriolanus. Thanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,
That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?

First Citizen. We have ever your good word.



(stage directions). [Enter seven or eight Citizens]

First Citizen. Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.



Third Citizen. 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.

First Citizen. 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.



Coriolanus. Well then, I pray, your price o' the consulship?

First Citizen. The price is to ask it kindly.



Sicinius Velutus. How now, my masters! have you chose this man?

First Citizen. He has our voices, sir.



Third Citizen. Certainly
He flouted us downright.

First Citizen. No,'tis his kind of speech: he did not mock us.



Second Citizen. And will deny him:
I'll have five hundred voices of that sound.

First Citizen. I twice five hundred and their friends to piece 'em.



Sicinius Velutus. 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.



Junius Brutus. God-den to you all, god-den to you all.

First Citizen. Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees,
Are bound to pray for you both.



Citizens. Faith, we hear fearful news.

First Citizen. For mine own part,
When I said, banish him, I said 'twas pity.



Sicinius Velutus. Go, masters, get you home; be not dismay'd:
These are a side that would be glad to have
This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,
And show no sign of fear.

First Citizen. The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let's home.
I ever said we were i' the wrong when we banished

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