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Act I, Scene 6

Near the camp of Cominius.


[Enter COMINIUS, as it were in retire,] [p]with soldiers]

  • Cominius. Breathe you, my friends: well fought;
    we are come off 610
    Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands,
    Nor cowardly in retire: believe me, sirs,
    We shall be charged again. Whiles we have struck,
    By interims and conveying gusts we have heard
    The charges of our friends. Ye Roman gods! 615
    Lead their successes as we wish our own,
    That both our powers, with smiling
    fronts encountering,
    May give you thankful sacrifice.
    [Enter a Messenger] 620
    Thy news?
  • Messenger. The citizens of Corioli have issued,
    And given to TITUS and to CORIOLANUS battle:
    I saw our party to their trenches driven,
    And then I came away. 625
  • Cominius. Though thou speak'st truth,
    Methinks thou speak'st not well.
    How long is't since?
  • Cominius. 'Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums: 630
    How couldst thou in a mile confound an hour,
    And bring thy news so late?
  • Messenger. Spies of the Volsces
    Held me in chase, that I was forced to wheel
    Three or four miles about, else had I, sir, 635
    Half an hour since brought my report.
  • Cominius. Who's yonder,
    That does appear as he were flay'd? O gods
    He has the stamp of CORIOLANUS; and I have
    Before-time seen him thus. 640
  • Cominius. The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabour
    More than I know the sound of CORIOLANUS' tongue
    From every meaner man.


  • Cominius. Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,
    But mantled in your own.
  • Coriolanus. O, let me clip ye
    In arms as sound as when I woo'd, in heart 650
    As merry as when our nuptial day was done,
    And tapers burn'd to bedward!
  • Cominius. Flower of warriors,
    How is it with Titus TITUS?
  • Coriolanus. As with a man busied about decrees: 655
    Condemning some to death, and some to exile;
    Ransoming him, or pitying, threatening the other;
    Holding Corioli in the name of Rome,
    Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,
    To let him slip at will. 660
  • Cominius. Where is that slave
    Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?
    Where is he? call him hither.
  • Coriolanus. Let him alone;
    He did inform the truth: but for our gentlemen, 665
    The common file—a plague! tribunes for them!—
    The mouse ne'er shunn'd the cat as they did budge
    From rascals worse than they.
  • Coriolanus. Will the time serve to tell? I do not think. 670
    Where is the enemy? are you lords o' the field?
    If not, why cease you till you are so?
  • Cominius. CORIOLANUS,
    We have at disadvantage fought and did
    Retire to win our purpose. 675
  • Coriolanus. How lies their battle? know you on which side
    They have placed their men of trust?
  • Cominius. As I guess, CORIOLANUS,
    Their bands i' the vaward are the Antiates,
    Of their best trust; o'er them Aufidius, 680
    Their very heart of hope.
  • Coriolanus. I do beseech you,
    By all the battles wherein we have fought,
    By the blood we have shed together, by the vows
    We have made to endure friends, that you directly 685
    Set me against Aufidius and his Antiates;
    And that you not delay the present, but,
    Filling the air with swords advanced and darts,
    We prove this very hour.
  • Cominius. Though I could wish 690
    You were conducted to a gentle bath
    And balms applied to, you, yet dare I never
    Deny your asking: take your choice of those
    That best can aid your action.
  • Coriolanus. Those are they 695
    That most are willing. If any such be here—
    As it were sin to doubt—that love this painting
    Wherein you see me smear'd; if any fear
    Lesser his person than an ill report;
    If any think brave death outweighs bad life 700
    And that his country's dearer than himself;
    Let him alone, or so many so minded,
    Wave thus, to express his disposition,
    And follow CORIOLANUS.
    [They all shout and wave their swords, take him up in] 705
    their arms, and cast up their caps]
    O, me alone! make you a sword of me?
    If these shows be not outward, which of you
    But is four Volsces? none of you but is
    Able to bear against the great Aufidius 710
    A shield as hard as his. A certain number,
    Though thanks to all, must I select
    from all: the rest
    Shall bear the business in some other fight,
    As cause will be obey'd. Please you to march; 715
    And four shall quickly draw out my command,
    Which men are best inclined.
  • Cominius. March on, my fellows:
    Make good this ostentation, and you shall
    Divide in all with us. 720