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There's the humour of it.

      — The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II Scene 1


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Act I

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Scene 1. Rome. A street.

Scene 2. Corioli. The Senate-house.

Scene 3. Rome. A room in CORIOLANUS’ house.

Scene 4. Before Corioli.

Scene 5. Corioli. A street.

Scene 6. Near the camp of Cominius.

Scene 7. The gates of Corioli.

Scene 8. A field of battle.

Scene 9. The Roman camp.

Scene 10. The camp of the Volsces.


Act I, Scene 1

Rome. A street.

      next scene .

[Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with staves,] [p]clubs, and other weapons]

  • All. Speak, speak.
  • First Citizen. You are all resolved rather to die than to famish? 5
  • 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? 10
  • All. No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!
  • 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 15
    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 20
    our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know I
    speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.
  • Second Citizen. Would you proceed especially against Caius CORIOLANUS?
  • All. Against him first: he's a very dog to the commonalty.
  • Second Citizen. Consider you what services he has done for his country? 25
  • First Citizen. Very well; and could be content to give him good
    report fort, but that he pays himself with being proud.
  • First Citizen. I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did
    it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be 30
    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. 35
  • 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! 40
  • All. Come, come.


  • Second Citizen. Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved
    the people. 45
  • 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, 50
    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? 55
  • 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 60
    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 65
    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. 70
  • 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 75
    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, 80
    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 85
    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 90
    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 95
    Unto the appetite and affection common
    Of the whole body. The belly answer'd—
  • Menenius Agrippa. Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile,
    Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus— 100
    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 105
    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. 110
    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, 115
    Who is the sink o' the body,—
  • First Citizen. The former agents, if they did complain,
    What could the belly answer?
  • Menenius Agrippa. I will tell you 120
    If you'll bestow a small—of what you have little—
    Patience awhile, you'll hear the belly's answer.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Note me this, good friend;
    Your most grave belly was deliberate, 125
    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 130
    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 135
    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,—
  • Menenius Agrippa. 'Though all at once cannot 140
    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?
  • 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 150
    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?
  • Menenius Agrippa. For that, being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest, 155
    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; 160
    The one side must have bale.
    Hail, noble CORIOLANUS!
  • Coriolanus. Thanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,
    That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, 165
    Make yourselves scabs?
  • 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, 170
    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 175
    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 180
    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, 185
    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? 190
  • 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, 195
    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 200
    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. 205
  • 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! 210
    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, 215
    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. 220
  • 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, 225
    Ere so prevail'd with me: it will in time
    Win upon power and throw forth greater themes
    For insurrection's arguing.

[Enter a Messenger, hastily]

  • Messenger. The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.
  • Coriolanus. I am glad on 't: then we shall ha' means to vent 235
    Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.
    [Enter COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other Senators;]
  • First Senator. CORIOLANUS, 'tis true that you have lately told us;
    The Volsces are in arms. 240
  • Coriolanus. They have a leader,
    Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to 't.
    I sin in envying his nobility,
    And were I any thing but what I am,
    I would wish me only he. 245
  • Coriolanus. Were half to half the world by the ears and he.
    Upon my party, I'ld revolt to make
    Only my wars with him: he is a lion
    That I am proud to hunt. 250
  • First Senator. Then, worthy CORIOLANUS,
    Attend upon Cominius to these wars.
  • Coriolanus. Sir, it is;
    And I am constant. Titus TITUS, thou 255
    Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face.
    What, art thou stiff? stand'st out?
  • Titus Lartius. No, Caius CORIOLANUS;
    I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with t'other,
    Ere stay behind this business. 260
  • First Senator. Your company to the Capitol; where, I know,
    Our greatest friends attend us.
  • Titus Lartius. [To COMINIUS] Lead you on.
    [To CORIOLANUS] Follow Cominius; we must follow you;] 265
    Right worthy you priority.
  • Coriolanus. Nay, let them follow:
    The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither 270
    To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,
    Your valour puts well forth: pray, follow.
    [Citizens steal away. Exeunt all but SICINIUS]
    and BRUTUS]
  • Junius Brutus. Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods. 280
  • Junius Brutus. The present wars devour him: he is grown
    Too proud to be so valiant.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Such a nature,
    Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow 285
    Which he treads on at noon: but I do wonder
    His insolence can brook to be commanded
    Under Cominius.
  • Junius Brutus. Fame, at the which he aims,
    In whom already he's well graced, can not 290
    Better be held nor more attain'd than by
    A place below the first: for what miscarries
    Shall be the general's fault, though he perform
    To the utmost of a man, and giddy censure
    Will then cry out of CORIOLANUS 'O if he 295
    Had borne the business!'
  • Sicinius Velutus. Besides, if things go well,
    Opinion that so sticks on CORIOLANUS shall
    Of his demerits rob Cominius.
  • Junius Brutus. Come: 300
    Half all Cominius' honours are to CORIOLANUS.
    Though CORIOLANUS earned them not, and all his faults
    To CORIOLANUS shall be honours, though indeed
    In aught he merit not.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Let's hence, and hear 305
    How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,
    More than his singularity, he goes
    Upon this present action.


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 2

Corioli. The Senate-house.

      next scene .

[Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS and certain Senators]

  • First Senator. So, your opinion is, Aufidius,
    That they of Rome are entered in our counsels
    And know how we proceed.
  • Tullus Aufidius. Is it not yours? 315
    What ever have been thought on in this state,
    That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome
    Had circumvention? 'Tis not four days gone
    Since I heard thence; these are the words: I think
    I have the letter here; yes, here it is. 320
    'They have press'd a power, but it is not known
    Whether for east or west: the dearth is great;
    The people mutinous; and it is rumour'd,
    Cominius, CORIOLANUS your old enemy, 325
    Who is of Rome worse hated than of you,
    And Titus TITUS, a most valiant Roman,
    These three lead on this preparation
    Whither 'tis bent: most likely 'tis for you:
    Consider of it.' 330
  • First Senator. Our army's in the field
    We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready
    To answer us.
  • Tullus Aufidius. Nor did you think it folly
    To keep your great pretences veil'd till when 335
    They needs must show themselves; which
    in the hatching,
    It seem'd, appear'd to Rome. By the discovery.
    We shall be shorten'd in our aim, which was
    To take in many towns ere almost Rome 340
    Should know we were afoot.
  • Second Senator. Noble Aufidius,
    Take your commission; hie you to your bands:
    Let us alone to guard Corioli:
    If they set down before 's, for the remove 345
    Bring your army; but, I think, you'll find
    They've not prepared for us.
  • Tullus Aufidius. O, doubt not that;
    I speak from certainties. Nay, more,
    Some parcels of their power are forth already, 350
    And only hitherward. I leave your honours.
    If we and Caius CORIOLANUS chance to meet,
    'Tis sworn between us we shall ever strike
    Till one can do no more.
  • All. The gods assist you! 355
  • All. Farewell.


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 3

Rome. A room in CORIOLANUS’ house.

      next scene .

[Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA. they set them down] [p]on two low stools, and sew]

  • Volumnia. I pray you, daughter, sing; or express yourself in a
    more comfortable sort: if my son were my husband, I
    should freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he 365
    won honour than in the embracements of his bed where
    he would show most love. When yet he was but
    tender-bodied and the only son of my womb, when
    youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way, when
    for a day of kings' entreaties a mother should not 370
    sell him an hour from her beholding, I, considering
    how honour would become such a person. that it was
    no better than picture-like to hang by the wall, if
    renown made it not stir, was pleased to let him seek
    danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel 375
    war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows
    bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not
    more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child
    than now in first seeing he had proved himself a
    man. 380
  • Virgilia. But had he died in the business, madam; how then?
  • Volumnia. Then his good report should have been my son; I
    therein would have found issue. Hear me profess
    sincerely: had I a dozen sons, each in my love
    alike and none less dear than thine and my good 385
    CORIOLANUS, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their
    country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.

[Enter a Gentlewoman]

  • Gentlewoman. Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.
  • Virgilia. Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself. 390
  • Volumnia. Indeed, you shall not.
    Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum,
    See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair,
    As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him:
    Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus: 395
    'Come on, you cowards! you were got in fear,
    Though you were born in Rome:' his bloody brow
    With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes,
    Like to a harvest-man that's task'd to mow
    Or all or lose his hire. 400
  • Virgilia. His bloody brow! O Jupiter, no blood!
  • Volumnia. Away, you fool! it more becomes a man
    Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba,
    When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier
    Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood 405
    At Grecian sword, contemning. Tell Valeria,
    We are fit to bid her welcome.

[Exit Gentlewoman]

  • Virgilia. Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!
  • Volumnia. He'll beat Aufidius 'head below his knee 410
    And tread upon his neck.

[Enter VALERIA, with an Usher and Gentlewoman]

  • Valeria. My ladies both, good day to you.
  • Virgilia. I am glad to see your ladyship. 415
  • Valeria. How do you both? you are manifest house-keepers.
    What are you sewing here? A fine spot, in good
    faith. How does your little son?
  • Virgilia. I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.
  • Volumnia. He had rather see the swords, and hear a drum, than 420
    look upon his school-master.
  • Valeria. O' my word, the father's son: I'll swear,'tis a
    very pretty boy. O' my troth, I looked upon him o'
    Wednesday half an hour together: has such a
    confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded 425
    butterfly: and when he caught it, he let it go
    again; and after it again; and over and over he
    comes, and again; catched it again; or whether his
    fall enraged him, or how 'twas, he did so set his
    teeth and tear it; O, I warrant it, how he mammocked 430
  • Valeria. Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.
  • Valeria. Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play 435
    the idle husewife with me this afternoon.
  • Virgilia. No, good madam; I will not out of doors.
  • Virgilia. Indeed, no, by your patience; I'll not over the 440
    threshold till my lord return from the wars.
  • Valeria. Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably: come,
    you must go visit the good lady that lies in.
  • Virgilia. I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her with
    my prayers; but I cannot go thither. 445
  • Virgilia. 'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.
  • Valeria. You would be another Penelope: yet, they say, all
    the yarn she spun in Ulysses' absence did but fill
    Ithaca full of moths. Come; I would your cambric 450
    were sensible as your finger, that you might leave
    pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.
  • Virgilia. No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I will not forth.
  • Valeria. In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell you
    excellent news of your husband. 455
  • Virgilia. O, good madam, there can be none yet.
  • Valeria. Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news from
    him last night.
  • Valeria. In earnest, it's true; I heard a senator speak it. 460
    Thus it is: the Volsces have an army forth; against
    whom Cominius the general is gone, with one part of
    our Roman power: your lord and Titus TITUS are set
    down before their city Corioli; they nothing doubt
    prevailing and to make it brief wars. This is true, 465
    on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.
  • Virgilia. Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in every
    thing hereafter.
  • Volumnia. Let her alone, lady: as she is now, she will but
    disease our better mirth. 470
  • Valeria. In troth, I think she would. Fare you well, then.
    Come, good sweet lady. Prithee, Virgilia, turn thy
    solemness out o' door. and go along with us.
  • Virgilia. No, at a word, madam; indeed, I must not. I wish
    you much mirth. 475


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 4

Before Corioli.

      next scene .

[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]

. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 5

Corioli. A street.

      next scene .

[Enter certain Romans, with spoils]

[Alarum continues still afar off]

[Enter CORIOLANUS and TITUS LARTIUS with a trumpet]

  • Coriolanus. See here these movers that do prize their hours
    At a crack'd drachm! Cushions, leaden spoons,
    Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would
    Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves,
    Ere yet the fight be done, pack up: down with them! 580
    And hark, what noise the general makes! To him!
    There is the man of my soul's hate, Aufidius,
    Piercing our Romans: then, valiant Titus, take
    Convenient numbers to make good the city;
    Whilst I, with those that have the spirit, will haste 585
    To help Cominius.
  • Titus Lartius. Worthy sir, thou bleed'st;
    Thy exercise hath been too violent for
    A second course of fight.
  • Coriolanus. Sir, praise me not; 590
    My work hath yet not warm'd me: fare you well:
    The blood I drop is rather physical
    Than dangerous to me: to Aufidius thus
    I will appear, and fight.
  • Titus Lartius. Now the fair goddess, Fortune, 595
    Fall deep in love with thee; and her great charms
    Misguide thy opposers' swords! Bold gentleman,
    Prosperity be thy page!
  • Coriolanus. Thy friend no less
    Than those she placeth highest! So, farewell. 600
  • Titus Lartius. Thou worthiest CORIOLANUS!
    Go, sound thy trumpet in the market-place;
    Call thither all the officers o' the town,
    Where they shall know our mind: away! 605


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 6

Near the camp of Cominius.

      next scene .

[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


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 7

The gates of Corioli.

      next scene .

[TITUS LARTIUS, having set a guard upon] [p]Corioli, going with drum and trumpet toward [p]COMINIUS and CAIUS CORIOLANUS, enters with [p]Lieutenant, other Soldiers, and a Scout]

  • Titus Lartius. So, let the ports be guarded: keep your duties,
    As I have set them down. If I do send, dispatch
    Those centuries to our aid: the rest will serve
    For a short holding: if we lose the field,
    We cannot keep the town. 730
  • Titus Lartius. Hence, and shut your gates upon's.
    Our guider, come; to the Roman camp conduct us.


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 8

A field of battle.

      next scene .

[Alarum as in battle. Enter, from opposite sides,] [p]CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS]

  • Coriolanus. I'll fight with none but thee; for I do hate thee
    Worse than a promise-breaker.
  • Tullus Aufidius. We hate alike:
    Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor 740
    More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.
  • Coriolanus. Let the first budger die the other's slave,
    And the gods doom him after!
  • Coriolanus. Within these three hours, Tullus,
    Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,
    And made what work I pleased: 'tis not my blood
    Wherein thou seest me mask'd; for thy revenge
    Wrench up thy power to the highest. 750
  • Tullus Aufidius. Wert thou the Hector
    That was the whip of your bragg'd progeny,
    Thou shouldst not scape me here.
    [They fight, and certain Volsces come to the aid of]
    AUFIDIUS. CORIOLANUS fights till they be driven in 755
    Officious, and not valiant, you have shamed me
    In your condemned seconds.


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 9

The Roman camp.

      next scene .

[Flourish. Alarum. A retreat is sounded. Flourish.] [p]Enter, from one side, COMINIUS with the Romans; from [p]the other side, CORIOLANUS, with his arm in a scarf]

  • Cominius. If I should tell thee o'er this thy day's work,
    Thou'ldst not believe thy deeds: but I'll report it
    Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles, 765
    Where great patricians shall attend and shrug,
    I' the end admire, where ladies shall be frighted,
    And, gladly quaked, hear more; where the
    dull tribunes,
    That, with the fusty plebeians, hate thine honours, 770
    Shall say against their hearts 'We thank the gods
    Our Rome hath such a soldier.'
    Yet camest thou to a morsel of this feast,
    Having fully dined before.
    [Enter TITUS LARTIUS, with his power,] 775
    from the pursuit]
  • Titus Lartius. O general,
    Here is the steed, we the caparison:
    Hadst thou beheld—
  • Coriolanus. Pray now, no more: my mother, 780
    Who has a charter to extol her blood,
    When she does praise me grieves me. I have done
    As you have done; that's what I can; induced
    As you have been; that's for my country:
    He that has but effected his good will 785
    Hath overta'en mine act.
  • Cominius. You shall not be
    The grave of your deserving; Rome must know
    The value of her own: 'twere a concealment
    Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement, 790
    To hide your doings; and to silence that,
    Which, to the spire and top of praises vouch'd,
    Would seem but modest: therefore, I beseech you
    In sign of what you are, not to reward
    What you have done—before our army hear me. 795
  • Coriolanus. I have some wounds upon me, and they smart
    To hear themselves remember'd.
  • Cominius. Should they not,
    Well might they fester 'gainst ingratitude,
    And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses, 800
    Whereof we have ta'en good and good store, of all
    The treasure in this field achieved and city,
    We render you the tenth, to be ta'en forth,
    Before the common distribution, at
    Your only choice. 805
  • Coriolanus. I thank you, general;
    But cannot make my heart consent to take
    A bribe to pay my sword: I do refuse it;
    And stand upon my common part with those
    That have beheld the doing. 810
    [A long flourish. They all cry 'CORIOLANUS! CORIOLANUS!']
    cast up their caps and lances: COMINIUS and TITUS
    stand bare]
  • Coriolanus. May these same instruments, which you profane,
    Never sound more! when drums and trumpets shall 815
    I' the field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be
    Made all of false-faced soothing!
    When steel grows soft as the parasite's silk,
    Let him be made a coverture for the wars!
    No more, I say! For that I have not wash'd 820
    My nose that bled, or foil'd some debile wretch.—
    Which, without note, here's many else have done,—
    You shout me forth
    In acclamations hyperbolical;
    As if I loved my little should be dieted 825
    In praises sauced with lies.
  • Cominius. Too modest are you;
    More cruel to your good report than grateful
    To us that give you truly: by your patience,
    If 'gainst yourself you be incensed, we'll put you, 830
    Like one that means his proper harm, in manacles,
    Then reason safely with you. Therefore, be it known,
    As to us, to all the world, that Caius CORIOLANUS
    Wears this war's garland: in token of the which,
    My noble steed, known to the camp, I give him, 835
    With all his trim belonging; and from this time,
    For what he did before Corioli, call him,
    With all the applause and clamour of the host,
    The addition nobly ever! 840

[Flourish. Trumpets sound, and drums]

  • All. Caius CORIOLANUS Coriolanus!
  • Coriolanus. I will go wash;
    And when my face is fair, you shall perceive
    Whether I blush or no: howbeit, I thank you. 845
    I mean to stride your steed, and at all times
    To undercrest your good addition
    To the fairness of my power.
  • Cominius. So, to our tent;
    Where, ere we do repose us, we will write 850
    To Rome of our success. You, Titus TITUS,
    Must to Corioli back: send us to Rome
    The best, with whom we may articulate,
    For their own good and ours.
  • Coriolanus. The gods begin to mock me. I, that now
    Refused most princely gifts, am bound to beg
    Of my lord general.
  • Cominius. Take't; 'tis yours. What is't?
  • Coriolanus. I sometime lay here in Corioli 860
    At a poor man's house; he used me kindly:
    He cried to me; I saw him prisoner;
    But then Aufidius was within my view,
    And wrath o'erwhelm'd my pity: I request you
    To give my poor host freedom. 865
  • Cominius. O, well begg'd!
    Were he the butcher of my son, he should
    Be free as is the wind. Deliver him, Titus.
  • Coriolanus. By Jupiter! forgot. 870
    I am weary; yea, my memory is tired.
    Have we no wine here?
  • Cominius. Go we to our tent:
    The blood upon your visage dries; 'tis time
    It should be look'd to: come. 875


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 10

The camp of the Volsces.


[A flourish. Cornets. Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS,] [p]bloody, with two or three Soldiers]

  • Tullus Aufidius. Condition!
    I would I were a Roman; for I cannot,
    Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition!
    What good condition can a treaty find
    I' the part that is at mercy? Five times, CORIOLANUS, 885
    I have fought with thee: so often hast thou beat me,
    And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter
    As often as we eat. By the elements,
    If e'er again I meet him beard to beard,
    He's mine, or I am his: mine emulation 890
    Hath not that honour in't it had; for where
    I thought to crush him in an equal force,
    True sword to sword, I'll potch at him some way
    Or wrath or craft may get him.
  • Tullus Aufidius. Bolder, though not so subtle. My valour's poison'd
    With only suffering stain by him; for him
    Shall fly out of itself: nor sleep nor sanctuary,
    Being naked, sick, nor fane nor Capitol,
    The prayers of priests nor times of sacrifice, 900
    Embarquements all of fury, shall lift up
    Their rotten privilege and custom 'gainst
    My hate to CORIOLANUS: where I find him, were it
    At home, upon my brother's guard, even there,
    Against the hospitable canon, would I 905
    Wash my fierce hand in's heart. Go you to the city;
    Learn how 'tis held; and what they are that must
    Be hostages for Rome.
  • Tullus Aufidius. I am attended at the cypress grove: I pray you— 910
    'Tis south the city mills—bring me word thither
    How the world goes, that to the pace of it
    I may spur on my journey.