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Act II, Scene 3

The same. The Forum.


[Enter seven or eight Citizens]

  • First Citizen. Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him. 1425
  • Third Citizen. We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a
    power that we have no power to do; for if he show us
    his wounds and tell us his deeds, we are to put our
    tongues into those wounds and speak for them; so, if 1430
    he tell us his noble deeds, we must also tell him
    our noble acceptance of them. Ingratitude is
    monstrous, and for the multitude to be ingrateful,
    were to make a monster of the multitude: of the
    which we being members, should bring ourselves to be 1435
    monstrous members.
  • First Citizen. And to make us no better thought of, a little help
    will serve; for once we stood up about the corn, he
    himself stuck not to call us the many-headed multitude.
  • Third Citizen. We have been called so of many; not that our heads 1440
    are some brown, some black, some auburn, some bald,
    but that our wits are so diversely coloured: and
    truly I think if all our wits were to issue out of
    one skull, they would fly east, west, north, south,
    and their consent of one direct way should be at 1445
    once to all the points o' the compass.
  • Second Citizen. Think you so? Which way do you judge my wit would
  • Third Citizen. Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man's
    will;'tis strongly wedged up in a block-head, but 1450
    if it were at liberty, 'twould, sure, southward.
  • Third Citizen. To lose itself in a fog, where being three parts
    melted away with rotten dews, the fourth would return
    for conscience sake, to help to get thee a wife. 1455
  • Third Citizen. Are you all resolved to give your voices? But
    that's no matter, the greater part carries it. I
    say, if he would incline to the people, there was
    never a worthier man. 1460
    [Enter CORIOLANUS in a gown of humility,]
    with MENENIUS]
    Here he comes, and in the gown of humility: mark his
    behavior. We are not to stay all together, but to
    come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos, and 1465
    by threes. He's to make his requests by
    particulars; wherein every one of us has a single
    honour, in giving him our own voices with our own
    tongues: therefore follow me, and I direct you how
    you shall go by him. 1470
  • All. Content, content.

[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? 1475
    '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.' 1480
  • 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 1485
    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.


  • Coriolanus. Bid them wash their faces
    And keep their teeth clean.
    [Re-enter two of the Citizens]
    So, here comes a brace.
    [Re-enter a third Citizen] 1495
    You know the cause, air, of my standing here.
  • Coriolanus. No, sir,'twas never my desire yet to trouble the
    poor with begging.
  • Third Citizen. You must think, if we give you any thing, we hope to
    gain by you. 1505
  • Coriolanus. Well then, I pray, your price o' the consulship?
  • Coriolanus. Kindly! Sir, I pray, let me ha't: I have wounds to
    show you, which shall be yours in private. Your
    good voice, sir; what say you? 1510
  • Coriolanus. A match, sir. There's in all two worthy voices
    begged. I have your alms: adieu.

[Exeunt the three Citizens]

[Re-enter two other Citizens]

  • Coriolanus. Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your
    voices that I may be consul, I have here the
    customary gown. 1520
  • Fourth Citizen. You have deserved nobly of your country, and you
    have not deserved nobly.
  • Fourth Citizen. You have been a scourge to her enemies, you have
    been a rod to her friends; you have not indeed loved 1525
    the common people.
  • Coriolanus. You should account me the more virtuous that I have
    not been common in my love. I will, sir, flatter my
    sworn brother, the people, to earn a dearer
    estimation of them; 'tis a condition they account 1530
    gentle: and since the wisdom of their choice is
    rather to have my hat than my heart, I will practise
    the insinuating nod and be off to them most
    counterfeitly; that is, sir, I will counterfeit the
    bewitchment of some popular man and give it 1535
    bountiful to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you,
    I may be consul.
  • Fifth Citizen. We hope to find you our friend; and therefore give
    you our voices heartily.
  • Coriolanus. I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I
    will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.


  • Coriolanus. Most sweet voices! 1545
    Better it is to die, better to starve,
    Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.
    Why in this woolvish toge should I stand here,
    To beg of Hob and Dick, that do appear,
    Their needless vouches? Custom calls me to't: 1550
    What custom wills, in all things should we do't,
    The dust on antique time would lie unswept,
    And mountainous error be too highly heapt
    For truth to o'er-peer. Rather than fool it so,
    Let the high office and the honour go 1555
    To one that would do thus. I am half through;
    The one part suffer'd, the other will I do.
    [Re-enter three Citizens more]
    Here come more voices.
    Your voices: for your voices I have fought; 1560
    Watch'd for your voices; for Your voices bear
    Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six
    I have seen and heard of; for your voices have
    Done many things, some less, some more your voices:
    Indeed I would be consul. 1565
  • Sixth Citizen. He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest
    man's voice.
  • Seventh Citizen. Therefore let him be consul: the gods give him joy,
    and make him good friend to the people!



  • Menenius Agrippa. You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes
    Endue you with the people's voice: remains 1575
    That, in the official marks invested, you
    Anon do meet the senate.
  • Sicinius Velutus. The custom of request you have discharged:
    The people do admit you, and are summon'd 1580
    To meet anon, upon your approbation.
  • Coriolanus. That I'll straight do; and, knowing myself again,
    Repair to the senate-house.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Fare you well. 1590
    He has it now, and by his looks methink
    'Tis warm at 's heart.
  • Junius Brutus. With a proud heart he wore his humble weeds.
    will you dismiss the people? 1595

[Re-enter Citizens]

  • Second Citizen. Amen, sir: to my poor unworthy notice, 1600
    He mock'd us when he begg'd our voices.
  • Second Citizen. Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says 1605
    He used us scornfully: he should have show'd us
    His marks of merit, wounds received for's country.
  • Third Citizen. He said he had wounds, which he could show 1610
    in private;
    And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
    'I would be consul,' says he: 'aged custom,
    But by your voices, will not so permit me;
    Your voices therefore.' When we granted that, 1615
    Here was 'I thank you for your voices: thank you:
    Your most sweet voices: now you have left
    your voices,
    I have no further with you.' Was not this mockery?
  • Sicinius Velutus. Why either were you ignorant to see't, 1620
    Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness
    To yield your voices?
  • Junius Brutus. Could you not have told him
    As you were lesson'd, when he had no power,
    But was a petty servant to the state, 1625
    He was your enemy, ever spake against
    Your liberties and the charters that you bear
    I' the body of the weal; and now, arriving
    A place of potency and sway o' the state,
    If he should still malignantly remain 1630
    Fast foe to the plebeii, your voices might
    Be curses to yourselves? You should have said
    That as his worthy deeds did claim no less
    Than what he stood for, so his gracious nature
    Would think upon you for your voices and 1635
    Translate his malice towards you into love,
    Standing your friendly lord.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Thus to have said,
    As you were fore-advised, had touch'd his spirit
    And tried his inclination; from him pluck'd 1640
    Either his gracious promise, which you might,
    As cause had call'd you up, have held him to
    Or else it would have gall'd his surly nature,
    Which easily endures not article
    Tying him to aught; so putting him to rage, 1645
    You should have ta'en the advantage of his choler
    And pass'd him unelected.
  • Junius Brutus. Did you perceive
    He did solicit you in free contempt
    When he did need your loves, and do you think 1650
    That his contempt shall not be bruising to you,
    When he hath power to crush? Why, had your bodies
    No heart among you? or had you tongues to cry
    Against the rectorship of judgment?
  • Sicinius Velutus. Have you 1655
    Ere now denied the asker? and now again
    Of him that did not ask, but mock, bestow
    Your sued-for tongues?
  • Second Citizen. And will deny him: 1660
    I'll have five hundred voices of that sound.
  • First Citizen. I twice five hundred and their friends to piece 'em.
  • Junius Brutus. Get you hence instantly, and tell those friends,
    They have chose a consul that will from them take
    Their liberties; make them of no more voice 1665
    Than dogs that are as often beat for barking
    As therefore kept to do so.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Let them assemble,
    And on a safer judgment all revoke
    Your ignorant election; enforce his pride, 1670
    And his old hate unto you; besides, forget not
    With what contempt he wore the humble weed,
    How in his suit he scorn'd you; but your loves,
    Thinking upon his services, took from you
    The apprehension of his present portance, 1675
    Which most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion
    After the inveterate hate he bears you.
  • Junius Brutus. Lay
    A fault on us, your tribunes; that we laboured,
    No impediment between, but that you must 1680
    Cast your election on him.
  • Sicinius Velutus. Say, you chose him
    More after our commandment than as guided
    By your own true affections, and that your minds,
    Preoccupied with what you rather must do 1685
    Than what you should, made you against the grain
    To voice him consul: lay the fault on us.
  • Junius Brutus. Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you.
    How youngly he began to serve his country,
    How long continued, and what stock he springs of, 1690
    The noble house o' the Marcians, from whence came
    That Ancus CORIOLANUS, Numa's daughter's son,
    Who, after great Hostilius, here was king;
    Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,
    That our beat water brought by conduits hither; 1695
    And [Censorinus,] nobly named so,
    Twice being [by the people chosen] censor,
    Was his great ancestor.
  • Sicinius Velutus. One thus descended,
    That hath beside well in his person wrought 1700
    To be set high in place, we did commend
    To your remembrances: but you have found,
    Scaling his present bearing with his past,
    That he's your fixed enemy, and revoke
    Your sudden approbation. 1705
  • Junius Brutus. Say, you ne'er had done't—
    Harp on that still—but by our putting on;
    And presently, when you have drawn your number,
    Repair to the Capitol.
  • All. We will so: almost all 1710
    Repent in their election.

[Exeunt Citizens]

  • Junius Brutus. Let them go on;
    This mutiny were better put in hazard,
    Than stay, past doubt, for greater: 1715
    If, as his nature is, he fall in rage
    With their refusal, both observe and answer
    The vantage of his anger.
  • Sicinius Velutus. To the Capitol, come:
    We will be there before the stream o' the people; 1720
    And this shall seem, as partly 'tis, their own,
    Which we have goaded onward.