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Act II, Scene 2

The same. The Capitol.


[Enter two Officers, to lay cushions]

  • First Officer. Come, come, they are almost here. How many stand 1225
    for consulships?
  • Second Officer. Three, they say: but 'tis thought of every one
    Coriolanus will carry it.
  • First Officer. That's a brave fellow; but he's vengeance proud, and
    loves not the common people. 1230
  • Second Officer. Faith, there had been many great men that have
    flattered the people, who ne'er loved them; and there
    be many that they have loved, they know not
    wherefore: so that, if they love they know not why,
    they hate upon no better a ground: therefore, for 1235
    Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate
    him manifests the true knowledge he has in their
    disposition; and out of his noble carelessness lets
    them plainly see't.
  • First Officer. If he did not care whether he had their love or no, 1240
    he waved indifferently 'twixt doing them neither
    good nor harm: but he seeks their hate with greater
    devotion than can render it him; and leaves
    nothing undone that may fully discover him their
    opposite. Now, to seem to affect the malice and 1245
    displeasure of the people is as bad as that which he
    dislikes, to flatter them for their love.
  • Second Officer. He hath deserved worthily of his country: and his
    ascent is not by such easy degrees as those who,
    having been supple and courteous to the people, 1250
    bonneted, without any further deed to have them at
    an into their estimation and report: but he hath so
    planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions
    in their hearts, that for their tongues to be
    silent, and not confess so much, were a kind of 1255
    ingrateful injury; to report otherwise, were a
    malice, that, giving itself the lie, would pluck
    reproof and rebuke from every ear that heard it.
  • First Officer. No more of him; he is a worthy man: make way, they
    are coming. 1260
    [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] 1265
  • 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, 1270
    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 1275
    By Caius CORIOLANUS Coriolanus, whom
    We met here both to thank and to remember
    With honours like himself.
  • First Senator. Speak, good Cominius:
    Leave nothing out for length, and make us think 1280
    Rather our state's defective for requital
    Than we to stretch it out.
    [To the Tribunes]
    Masters o' the people,
    We do request your kindest ears, and after, 1285
    Your loving motion toward the common body,
    To yield what passes here.
  • Sicinius Velutus. We are convented
    Upon a pleasing treaty, and have hearts
    Inclinable to honour and advance 1290
    The theme of our assembly.
  • 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. 1295
  • 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 1300
    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] 1305
    Nay, keep your place.
  • First Senator. Sit, Coriolanus; never shame to hear
    What you have nobly done.
  • Coriolanus. Your horror's pardon:
    I had rather have my wounds to heal again 1310
    Than hear say how I got them.
  • Coriolanus. No, sir: yet oft,
    When blows have made me stay, I fled from words. 1315
    You soothed not, therefore hurt not: but
    your people,
    I love them as they weigh.
  • Coriolanus. I had rather have one scratch my head i' the sun 1320
    When the alarum were struck than idly sit
    To hear my nothings monster'd.


  • Menenius Agrippa. Masters of the people,
    Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter— 1325
    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 1330
    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 1335
    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 1340
    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 1345
    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; 1350
    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 1355
    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 1360
    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 1365
    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.
  • First Senator. He cannot but with measure fit the honours
    Which we devise him.
  • 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 1375
    Than misery itself would give; rewards
    His deeds with doing them, and is content
    To spend the time to end it.


  • Menenius Agrippa. The senate, Coriolanus, are well pleased
    To make thee consul. 1385
  • Coriolanus. I do owe them still
    My life and services.
  • Coriolanus. I do beseech you, 1390
    Let me o'erleap that custom, for I cannot
    Put on the gown, stand naked and entreat them,
    For my wounds' sake, to give their suffrage: please you
    That I may pass this doing.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Sir, the people 1395
    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, 1400
    Your honour with your form.
  • Coriolanus. It is apart
    That I shall blush in acting, and might well
    Be taken from the people.
  • 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. 1410
    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]
    and BRUTUS] 1415
  • Sicinius Velutus. May they perceive's intent! He will require them,
    As if he did contemn what he requested
    Should be in them to give.
  • Junius Brutus. Come, we'll inform them 1420
    Of our proceedings here: on the marketplace,
    I know, they do attend us.