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Speeches (Lines) for Menenius Agrippa
in "Coriolanus"

Total: 162

# Act, Scene, Line
(Click to see in context)
Speech text



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?

Menenius Agrippa. For that, being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest,
Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost:
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.
Hail, noble CORIOLANUS!



Coriolanus. He that will give good words to thee will flatter
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,
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
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
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,
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,
Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else
Would feed on one another? What's their seeking?

Menenius Agrippa. For corn at their own rates; whereof, they say,
The city is well stored.



Coriolanus. Hang 'em! They say!
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!
Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,
And let me use my sword, I'll make a quarry
With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high
As I could pick my lance.

Menenius Agrippa. Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
For though abundantly they lack discretion,
Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
What says the other troop?



Coriolanus. They are dissolved: hang 'em!
They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs,
That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
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,
And make bold power look pale—they threw their caps
As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon,
Shouting their emulation.

Menenius Agrippa. What is granted them?



Coriolanus. Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
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
Win upon power and throw forth greater themes
For insurrection's arguing.

Menenius Agrippa. This is strange.



Titus Lartius. No, Caius CORIOLANUS;
I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with t'other,
Ere stay behind this business.

Menenius Agrippa. O, true-bred!



(stage directions). [Enter MENENIUS with the two Tribunes of the people,]

Menenius Agrippa. The augurer tells me we shall have news to-night.



Junius Brutus. Good or bad?

Menenius Agrippa. Not according to the prayer of the people, for they
love not CORIOLANUS.



Sicinius Velutus. Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.

Menenius Agrippa. Pray you, who does the wolf love?



Sicinius Velutus. The lamb.

Menenius Agrippa. Ay, to devour him; as the hungry plebeians would the



Junius Brutus. He's a lamb indeed, that baes like a bear.

Menenius Agrippa. He's a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You two
are old men: tell me one thing that I shall ask you.



Both. Well, sir.

Menenius Agrippa. In what enormity is CORIOLANUS poor in, that you two
have not in abundance?



Junius Brutus. And topping all others in boasting.

Menenius Agrippa. 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?



Both. Why, how are we censured?

Menenius Agrippa. Because you talk of pride now,—will you not be angry?



Both. Well, well, sir, well.

Menenius Agrippa. 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 CORIOLANUS for
being proud?



Junius Brutus. We do it not alone, sir.

Menenius Agrippa. 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 toward the napes of your necks,
and make but an interior survey of your good selves!
O that you could!



Junius Brutus. What then, sir?

Menenius Agrippa. Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,
proud, violent, testy magistrates, alias fools, as
any in Rome.



Sicinius Velutus. Menenius, you are known well enough too.

Menenius Agrippa. 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 can't 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 you have good faces. If you see this in
the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known
well enough too? what barm can your bisson
conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be
known well enough too?



Junius Brutus. Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.

Menenius Agrippa. You know neither me, yourselves nor any thing. 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.



Junius Brutus. Come, come, you are well understood to be a
perfecter giber for the table than a necessary
bencher in the Capitol.

Menenius Agrippa. 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, CORIOLANUS is proud;
who in a cheap estimation, is worth predecessors
since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the
best of 'em were hereditary hangmen. God-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]
How now, my as fair as noble ladies,—and the moon,
were she earthly, no nobler,—whither do you follow
your eyes so fast?



Volumnia. Honourable Menenius, my boy CORIOLANUS approaches; for
the love of Juno, let's go.

Menenius Agrippa. Ha! CORIOLANUS coming home!



Volumnia. Ay, worthy Menenius; and with most prosperous

Menenius Agrippa. Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!
CORIOLANUS coming home!



Volumnia. Look, here's a letter from him: the state hath
another, his wife another; and, I think, there's one
at home for you.

Menenius Agrippa. I will make my very house reel tonight: a letter for



Virgilia. Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw't.

Menenius Agrippa. 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.



Volumnia. O, he is wounded; I thank the gods for't.

Menenius Agrippa. So do I too, if it be not too much: brings a'
victory in his pocket? the wounds become him.



Volumnia. On's brows: Menenius, he comes the third time home
with the oaken garland.

Menenius Agrippa. Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?



Volumnia. Titus TITUS writes, they fought together, but
Aufidius got off.

Menenius Agrippa. 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?



Valeria. In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.

Menenius Agrippa. Wondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not without his
true purchasing.



Volumnia. True! pow, wow.

Menenius Agrippa. True! I'll be sworn they are true.
Where is he wounded?
[To the Tribunes]
God save your good worships! CORIOLANUS is coming
home: he has more cause to be proud. Where is he wounded?



Volumnia. 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.

Menenius Agrippa. One i' the neck, and two i' the thigh,—there's
nine that I know.



Volumnia. He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five
wounds upon him.

Menenius Agrippa. Now it's twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy's grave.
[A shout and flourish]
Hark! the trumpets.



Coriolanus. My gracious silence, hail!
Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home,
That weep'st to see me triumph? Ay, my dear,
Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
And mothers that lack sons.

Menenius Agrippa. Now, the gods crown thee!



Volumnia. I know not where to turn: O, welcome home:
And welcome, general: and ye're welcome all.

Menenius Agrippa. A hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep
And I could laugh, I am light and heavy. Welcome.
A curse begin at very root on's heart,
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:
We call a nettle but a nettle and
The faults of fools but folly.



First Officer. No more of him; he is a worthy man: make way, they
are coming.
[A sennet. Enter, with actors before them, COMINIUS]
the consul, MENENIUS, CORIOLANUS, Senators,
SICINIUS and BRUTUS. The Senators take their
places; the Tribunes take their Places by
themselves. CORIOLANUS stands]

Menenius Agrippa. Having determined of the Volsces and
To send for Titus TITUS, it remains,
As the main point of this our after-meeting,
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
In our well-found successes, to report
A little of that worthy work perform'd
By Caius CORIOLANUS Coriolanus, whom
We met here both to thank and to remember
With honours like himself.



Junius Brutus. Which the rather
We shall be blest to do, if he remember
A kinder value of the people than
He hath hereto prized them at.

Menenius Agrippa. That's off, that's off;
I would you rather had been silent. Please you
To hear Cominius speak?



Junius Brutus. Most willingly;
But yet my caution was more pertinent
Than the rebuke you give it.

Menenius Agrippa. He loves your people
But tie him not to be their bedfellow.
Worthy Cominius, speak.
[CORIOLANUS offers to go away]
Nay, keep your place.



Coriolanus. No, sir: yet oft,
When blows have made me stay, I fled from words.
You soothed not, therefore hurt not: but
your people,
I love them as they weigh.

Menenius Agrippa. Pray now, sit down.



(stage directions). [Exit]

Menenius Agrippa. Masters of the people,
Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter—
That's thousand to one good one—when you now see
He had rather venture all his limbs for honour
Than one on's ears to hear it? Proceed, Cominius.



Cominius. I shall lack voice: the deeds of Coriolanus
Should not be utter'd feebly. It is held
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 counterpoised. At sixteen years,
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
The bristled lips before him: be 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,
When he might act the woman in the scene,
He proved 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,
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
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,
Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot
He was a thing of blood, whose every motion
Was timed with dying cries: alone he enter'd
The mortal gate of the city, which he painted
With shunless destiny; aidless came off,
And with a sudden reinforcement struck
Corioli like a planet: now all's his:
When, by and by, the din of war gan pierce
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
'Twere a perpetual spoil: and till we call'd
Both field and city ours, he never stood
To ease his breast with panting.

Menenius Agrippa. Worthy man!



Cominius. Our spoils he kick'd at,
And look'd upon things precious as they were
The common muck of the world: he covets less
Than misery itself would give; rewards
His deeds with doing them, and is content
To spend the time to end it.

Menenius Agrippa. He's right noble:
Let him be call'd for.



(stage directions). [Re-enter CORIOLANUS]

Menenius Agrippa. The senate, Coriolanus, are well pleased
To make thee consul.



Coriolanus. I do owe them still
My life and services.

Menenius Agrippa. It then remains
That you do speak to the people.



Sicinius Velutus. Sir, the people
Must have their voices; neither will they bate
One jot of ceremony.

Menenius Agrippa. Put them not to't:
Pray you, go fit you to the custom and
Take to you, as your predecessors have,
Your honour with your form.



Coriolanus. To brag unto them, thus I did, and thus;
Show them the unaching scars which I should hide,
As if I had received them for the hire
Of their breath only!

Menenius Agrippa. 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.Senators. To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!
[Flourish of cornets. Exeunt all but SICINIUS]



(stage directions). [Exeunt Citizens]

Menenius Agrippa. O sir, you are not right: have you not known
The worthiest men have done't?



Coriolanus. What must I say?
'I Pray, sir'—Plague upon't! I cannot bring
My tongue to such a pace:—'Look, sir, my wounds!
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.'

Menenius Agrippa. O me, the gods!
You must not speak of that: you must desire them
To think upon you.



Coriolanus. Think upon me! hang 'em!
I would they would forget me, like the virtues
Which our divines lose by 'em.

Menenius Agrippa. You'll mar all:
I'll leave you: pray you, speak to 'em, I pray you,
In wholesome manner.



(stage directions). [Re-enter MENENIUS, with BRUTUS and SICINIUS]

Menenius Agrippa. You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes
Endue you with the people's voice: remains
That, in the official marks invested, you
Anon do meet the senate.



Coriolanus. That I'll straight do; and, knowing myself again,
Repair to the senate-house.

Menenius Agrippa. I'll keep you company. Will you along?



Coriolanus. What makes this change?

Menenius Agrippa. The matter?



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 Agrippa. Be calm, be calm.



Sicinius Velutus. 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 Agrippa. Let's be calm.



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

Menenius Agrippa. Not now, not 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 Agrippa. Well, no more.



Sicinius Velutus. 'Twere well
We let the people know't.

Menenius Agrippa. What, what? his choler?



Coriolanus. Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth
The corn o' the storehouse gratis, as 'twas used
Sometime in Greece,—

Menenius Agrippa. Well, well, no more of that.



Coriolanus. I'll give my reasons,
More worthier than their voices. They know the corn
Was not our recompense, resting well assured
That 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 Agrippa. Come, enough.



Sicinius Velutus. Help, ye citizens!
[Enter a rabble of Citizens (Plebeians), with]
the AEdiles]

Menenius Agrippa. On both sides more respect.



Citizens. Down with him! down with him!
[They all bustle about CORIOLANUS, crying]
'Tribunes!' 'Patricians!' 'Citizens!' 'What, ho!'
'Sicinius!' 'Brutus!' 'Coriolanus!' 'Citizens!'
'Peace, peace, peace!' 'Stay, hold, peace!'

Menenius Agrippa. 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 Velutus. You are at point to lose your liberties:
CORIOLANUS would have all from you; CORIOLANUS,
Whom late you have named for consul.

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



Citizens. You so remain.

Menenius Agrippa. And so are like to do.



Citizens. Yield, CORIOLANUS, yield!

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



Aedile. Peace, peace!

Menenius Agrippa. [To BRUTUS] Be that you seem, truly your
country's friend,
And temperately proceed to what you would
Thus violently redress.



Coriolanus. 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.

Menenius Agrippa. Down with that sword! Tribunes, withdraw awhile.



Citizens. Down with him, down with him!
[In this mutiny, the Tribunes, the AEdiles, and the]
People, are beat in]

Menenius Agrippa. Go, get you to your house; be gone, away!
All will be naught else.



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

Menenius Agrippa. Sham it be put to that?



First Senator. The gods forbid!
I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;
Leave us to cure this cause.

Menenius Agrippa. For 'tis a sore upon us,
You cannot tent yourself: be gone, beseech you.



Coriolanus. I would they were barbarians—as they are,
Though in Rome litter'd—not Romans—as they are not,
Though calved i' the porch o' the Capitol—

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



Cominius. 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
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 Agrippa. 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.



Patrician. This man has marr'd his fortune.

Menenius Agrippa. 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 abed!

Menenius Agrippa. I would they were in Tiber! What the vengeance!
Could he not speak 'em fair?



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

Menenius Agrippa. You worthy tribunes,—



Citizens. He shall, sure on't.

Menenius Agrippa. Sir, sir,—



Sicinius Velutus. Peace!

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



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

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



Sicinius Velutus. Consul! what consul?

Menenius Agrippa. The consul Coriolanus.



Citizens. No, no, no, no, no.

Menenius Agrippa. 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 Velutus. 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 Agrippa. 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 Velutus. He's a disease that must be cut away.

Menenius Agrippa. 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 dropp'd 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.



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

Menenius Agrippa. The service of the foot
Being once gangrened, is not then respected
For what before it was.



Junius 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 Agrippa. 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 beloved, break out,
And sack great Rome with Romans.



Sicinius Velutus. What do ye talk?
Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted? Come.

Menenius Agrippa. 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
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.



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

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



(stage directions). [Enter MENENIUS and Senators]

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



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 Agrippa. 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 Agrippa. Return to the tribunes.



Coriolanus. Well, what then? what then?

Menenius Agrippa. Repent what you have spoke.



Coriolanus. Tush, tush!

Menenius Agrippa. A good demand.



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 required
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 Agrippa. 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 prithee 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 business
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 Agrippa. 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.



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 Agrippa. Only fair speech.



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

Menenius Agrippa. Ay, but mildly.



Sicinius Velutus. Well, here he comes.
with Senators and Patricians]

Menenius Agrippa. Calmly, I do beseech you.



First Senator. Amen, amen.

Menenius Agrippa. A noble wish.



Coriolanus. I am content.

Menenius Agrippa. 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 Agrippa. 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.



Coriolanus. How! traitor!

Menenius Agrippa. Nay, temperately; your promise.



Coriolanus. You?

Menenius Agrippa. Is this the promise that you made your mother?



Coriolanus. Fare ye well:
Thou hast years upon thee; and thou art too full
Of the wars' surfeits, to go rove with one
That's yet unbruised: bring me but out at gate.
Come, my sweet wife, my dearest mother, and
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
But what is like me formerly.

Menenius Agrippa. 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'ld with thee every foot.



Volumnia. O, ye're well met: the hoarded plague o' the gods
Requite your love!

Menenius Agrippa. Peace, peace; be not so loud.



Volumnia. Bastards and all.
Good man, the wounds that he does bear for Rome!

Menenius Agrippa. Come, come, peace.



Volumnia. Take my prayers with you.
[Exeunt Tribunes]
I would the gods had nothing else to do
But to confirm my curses! Could I meet 'em
But once a-day, it would unclog my heart
Of what lies heavy to't.

Menenius Agrippa. You have told them home;
And, by my troth, you have cause. You'll sup with me?



Volumnia. 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,
In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.

Menenius Agrippa. Fie, fie, fie!



Both Tribunes. Hail sir!

Menenius Agrippa. Hail to you both!



Sicinius Velutus. 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.

Menenius Agrippa. All's well; and might have been much better, if
He could have temporized.



Sicinius Velutus. Where is he, hear you?

Menenius Agrippa. Nay, I hear nothing: his mother and his wife
Hear nothing from him.



Sicinius Velutus. And affecting one sole throne,
Without assistance.

Menenius Agrippa. I think not so.



Aedile. 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,
And with the deepest malice of the war
Destroy what lies before 'em.

Menenius Agrippa. 'Tis Aufidius,
Who, hearing of our CORIOLANUS' banishment,
Thrusts forth his horns again into the world;
Which were inshell'd when CORIOLANUS stood for Rome,
And durst not once peep out.



Junius Brutus. Go see this rumourer whipp'd. It cannot be
The Volsces dare break with us.

Menenius Agrippa. 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,
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.



Sicinius Velutus. The very trick on't.

Menenius Agrippa. This is unlikely:
He and Aufidius can no more atone
Than violentest contrariety.



Cominius. O, you have made good work!

Menenius Agrippa. What news? what news?



Cominius. 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,—

Menenius Agrippa. What's the news? what's the news?



Cominius. Your temples burned in their cement, and
Your franchises, whereon you stood, confined
Into an auger's bore.

Menenius Agrippa. Pray now, your news?
You have made fair work, I fear me.—Pray, your news?—
If CORIOLANUS should be join'd with Volscians,—



Cominius. If!
He is their god: he leads them like a thing
Made by some other deity than nature,
That shapes man better; and they follow him,
Against us brats, with no less confidence
Than boys pursuing summer butterflies,
Or butchers killing flies.

Menenius Agrippa. You have made good work,
You and your apron-men; you that stood so up much
on the voice of occupation and
The breath of garlic-eaters!



Cominius. He will shake
Your Rome about your ears.

Menenius Agrippa. As Hercules
Did shake down mellow fruit.
You have made fair work!



Cominius. Ay; and you'll look pale
Before you find it other. All the regions
Do smilingly revolt; and who resist
Are mock'd for valiant ignorance,
And perish constant fools. Who is't can blame him?
Your enemies and his find something in him.

Menenius Agrippa. We are all undone, unless
The noble man have mercy.



Cominius. 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
Should say 'Be good to Rome,' they charged him even
As those should do that had deserved his hate,
And therein show'd like enemies.

Menenius Agrippa. 'Tis true:
If he were putting to my house the brand
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!



Both Tribunes. Say not we brought it.

Menenius Agrippa. How! Was it we? we loved him but, like beasts
And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,
Who did hoot him out o' the city.



(stage directions). [Enter a troop of Citizens]

Menenius Agrippa. 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
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,
And pay you for your voices. 'Tis no matter;
if he could burn us all into one coal,
We have deserved it.



Cominius. Ye re goodly things, you voices!

Menenius Agrippa. You have made
Good work, you and your cry! Shall's to the Capitol?



(stage directions). [Enter MENENIUS, COMINIUS, SICINIUS, BRUTUS,]
and others]

Menenius Agrippa. No, I'll not go: you hear what he hath said
Which was sometime his general; who loved him
In a most dear particular. He call'd me father:
But what o' that? Go, you that banish'd him;
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.



Cominius. He would not seem to know me.

Menenius Agrippa. Do you hear?



Cominius. Yet one time he did call me by my name:
I urged our old acquaintance, and the drops
That we have bled together. Coriolanus
He would not answer to: forbad all names;
He was a kind of nothing, titleless,
Till he had forged himself a name o' the fire
Of burning Rome.

Menenius Agrippa. Why, so: you have made good work!
A pair of tribunes that have rack'd for Rome,
To make coals cheap,—a noble memory!



Cominius. I minded him how royal 'twas to pardon
When it was less expected: he replied,
It was a bare petition of a state
To one whom they had punish'd.

Menenius Agrippa. Very well:
Could he say less?



Cominius. I offer'd to awaken his regard
For's private friends: his answer to me was,
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.

Menenius Agrippa. For one poor grain or two!
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.



Sicinius Velutus. 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,
More than the instant army we can make,
Might stop our countryman.

Menenius Agrippa. No, I'll not meddle.



Sicinius Velutus. Pray you, go to him.

Menenius Agrippa. What should I do?



Junius Brutus. Only make trial what your love can do
For Rome, towards CORIOLANUS.

Menenius Agrippa. Well, and say that CORIOLANUS
Return me, as Cominius is return'd,
Unheard; what then?
But as a discontented friend, grief-shot
With his unkindness? say't be so?



Sicinius Velutus. Yet your good will
must have that thanks from Rome, after the measure
As you intended well.

Menenius Agrippa. I'll undertake 't:
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 dined:
The veins unfill'd, our blood is cold, and then
We pout upon the morning, are unapt
To give or to forgive; but when we have stuff'd
These and these conveyances of our blood
With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls
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.



Junius Brutus. You know the very road into his kindness,
And cannot lose your way.

Menenius Agrippa. Good faith, I'll prove him,
Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledge
Of my success.



Second Senator. Stand, and go back.

Menenius Agrippa. You guard like men; 'tis well: but, by your leave,
I am an officer of state, and come
To speak with Coriolanus.



First Senator. From whence?

Menenius Agrippa. From Rome.



Second Senator. You'll see your Rome embraced with fire before
You'll speak with Coriolanus.

Menenius Agrippa. Good my friends,
If you have heard your general talk of Rome,
And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks,
My name hath touch'd your ears it is Menenius.



First Senator. Be it so; go back: the virtue of your name
Is not here passable.

Menenius Agrippa. I tell thee, fellow,
The general is my lover: I have been
The book of his good acts, whence men have read
His name unparallel'd, haply amplified;
For I have ever verified 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,
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 Senator. 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.

Menenius Agrippa. Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius,
always factionary on the party of your general.



Second Senator. 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.

Menenius Agrippa. Has he dined, canst thou tell? for I would not
speak with him till after dinner.



First Senator. You are a Roman, are you?

Menenius Agrippa. I am, as thy general is.



First Senator. 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.

Menenius Agrippa. Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he would
use me with estimation.



Second Senator. Come, my captain knows you not.

Menenius Agrippa. I mean, thy general.



First Senator. 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.

Menenius Agrippa. Nay, but, fellow, fellow,—



Coriolanus. What's the matter?

Menenius Agrippa. 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 swoon for what's to come upon thee.
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.



Coriolanus. Away!

Menenius Agrippa. How! away!



Second Senator. What cause, do you think, I have to swoon?

Menenius Agrippa. 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!



(stage directions). [Enter MENENIUS and SICINIUS]

Menenius Agrippa. See you yond coign o' the Capitol, yond



Sicinius Velutus. Why, what of that?

Menenius Agrippa. 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.



Sicinius Velutus. Is't possible that so short a time can alter the
condition of a man!

Menenius Agrippa. There is differency between a grub and a butterfly;
yet your butterfly was a grub. This CORIOLANUS is grown
from man to dragon: he has wings; he's more than a
creeping thing.



Sicinius Velutus. He loved his mother dearly.

Menenius Agrippa. 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.



Sicinius Velutus. Yes, mercy, if you report him truly.

Menenius Agrippa. 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



Sicinius Velutus. The gods be good unto us!

Menenius Agrippa. 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.



(stage directions). [A shout within]

Menenius Agrippa. This is good news:
I will go meet the ladies. This Volumnia
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:
This morning for ten thousand of your throats
I'd not have given a doit. Hark, how they joy!

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