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Act I, Scene 4

Before Corioli.


[Enter, with drum and colours, CORIOLANUS, TITUS LARTIUS, Captains and Soldiers. To them a Messenger]

  • Coriolanus. Yonder comes news. A wager they have met.
  • Messenger. They lie in view; but have not spoke as yet.
  • Titus Lartius. No, I'll nor sell nor give him: lend you him I will
    For half a hundred years. Summon the town.
  • Coriolanus. 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.
    [They sound a parley. Enter two Senators with others] 495
    on the walls]
    Tutus Aufidius, is he within your walls?
  • First Senator. No, nor a man that fears you less than he,
    That's lesser than a little.
    [Drums afar off] 500
    Hark! our drums
    Are bringing forth our youth. We'll break our walls,
    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. 505
    [Alarum afar off]
    Hark you. far off!
    There is Aufidius; list, what work he makes
    Amongst your cloven army.

[Enter the army of the Volsces]

  • Coriolanus. They fear us not, but issue forth their city.
    Now put your shields before your hearts, and fight
    With hearts more proof than shields. Advance, 515
    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,
    And he shall feel mine edge. 520
    [Alarum. The Romans are beat back to their]
    trenches. Re-enter CORIOLANUS cursing]
  • Coriolanus. 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 525
    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!
    All hurt behind; backs red, and faces pale 530
    With flight and agued 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,
    As they us to our trenches followed. 535
    [Another alarum. The Volsces fly, and CORIOLANUS]
    follows them to the gates]
    So, now the gates are ope: now prove good seconds:
    'Tis for the followers fortune widens them,
    Not for the fliers: mark me, and do the like. 540

[Enters the gates]

[CORIOLANUS is shut in]

  • All. To the pot, I warrant him.

[Alarum continues]


  • All. Slain, sir, doubtless. 550
  • First Soldier. 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.
  • Titus Lartius. O noble fellow! 555
    Who sensibly outdares his senseless sword,
    And, when it bows, stands up. Thou art left, CORIOLANUS:
    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 560
    Only in strokes; but, with thy grim looks and
    The thunder-like percussion of thy sounds,
    Thou madst thine enemies shake, as if the world
    Were feverous and did tremble.

[Re-enter CORIOLANUS, bleeding, assaulted by the enemy]

  • Titus Lartius. O,'tis CORIOLANUS!
    Let's fetch him off, or make remain alike.

[They fight, and all enter the city]