Titus Lartius. How often he had met you, sword to sword;
That of all things upon the earth he hated
Your person most, that he would pawn his fortunes
To hopeless restitution, so he might
1745 Be call'd your vanquisher.
Coriolanus. I wish I had a cause to seek him there,
To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.
1750 [Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS] Behold, these are the tribunes of the people,
The tongues o' the common mouth: I do despise them;
For they do prank them in authority,
Against all noble sufferance.
Coriolanus. Are these your herd?
Must these have voices, that can yield them now
And straight disclaim their tongues? What are
1770 your offices?
You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth?
Have you not set them on?
Coriolanus. It is a purposed thing, and grows by plot,
1775 To curb the will of the nobility:
Suffer't, and live with such as cannot rule
Nor ever will be ruled.
Junius Brutus. Call't not a plot:
The people cry you mock'd them, and of late,
1780 When corn was given them gratis, you repined;
Scandal'd the suppliants for the people, call'd them
Time-pleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.
Coriolanus. Why then should I be consul? By yond clouds,
Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
Your fellow tribune.
Sicinius Velutus. You show too much of that
For which the people stir: if you will pass
1795 To where you are bound, you must inquire your way,
Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit,
Or never be so noble as a consul,
Nor yoke with him for tribune.
Coriolanus. Now, as I live, I will. My nobler friends,
I crave their pardons:
1810 For the mutable, rank-scented many, let them
Regard me as I do not flatter, and
Therein behold themselves: I say again,
In soothing them, we nourish 'gainst our senate
The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
1815 Which we ourselves have plough'd for, sow'd,
By mingling them with us, the honour'd number,
Who lack not virtue, no, nor power, but that
Which they have given to beggars.
Coriolanus. How! no more!
As for my country I have shed my blood,
Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs
1825 Coin words till their decay against those measles,
Which we disdain should tatter us, yet sought
The very way to catch them.
Junius Brutus. You speak o' the people,
As if you were a god to punish, not
1830 A man of their infirmity.
1845 O good but most unwise patricians! why,
You grave but reckless senators, have you thus
Given Hydra here to choose an officer,
That with his peremptory 'shall,' being but
The horn and noise o' the monster's, wants not spirit
1850 To say he'll turn your current in a ditch,
And make your channel his? If he have power
Then vail your ignorance; if none, awake
Your dangerous lenity. If you are learn'd,
Be not as common fools; if you are not,
1855 Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians,
If they be senators: and they are no less,
When, both your voices blended, the great'st taste
Most palates theirs. They choose their magistrate,
And such a one as he, who puts his 'shall,'
1860 His popular 'shall' against a graver bench
Than ever frown in Greece. By Jove himself!
It makes the consuls base: and my soul aches
To know, when two authorities are up,
Neither supreme, how soon confusion
1865 May enter 'twixt the gap of both and take
The one by the other.
Coriolanus. Though there the people had more absolute power,
I say, they nourish'd disobedience, fed
The ruin of the state.
Junius Brutus. Why, shall the people give
One that speaks thus their voice?
Coriolanus. I'll give my reasons,
More worthier than their voices. They know the corn
Was not our recompense, resting well assured
1880 That ne'er did service for't: being press'd to the war,
Even when the navel of the state was touch'd,
They would not thread the gates. This kind of service
Did not deserve corn gratis. Being i' the war
Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they show'd
1885 Most valour, spoke not for them: the accusation
Which they have often made against the senate,
All cause unborn, could never be the motive
Of our so frank donation. Well, what then?
How shall this bisson multitude digest
1890 The senate's courtesy? Let deeds express
What's like to be their words: 'we did request it;
We are the greater poll, and in true fear
They gave us our demands.' Thus we debase
The nature of our seats and make the rabble
1895 Call our cares fears; which will in time
Break ope the locks o' the senate and bring in
The crows to peck the eagles.
Coriolanus. No, take more:
What may be sworn by, both divine and human,
Seal what I end withal! This double worship,
Where one part does disdain with cause, the other
Insult without all reason, where gentry, title, wisdom,
1905 Cannot conclude but by the yea and no
Of general ignorance,—it must omit
Real necessities, and give way the while
To unstable slightness: purpose so barr'd,
1910 Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore, beseech you,—
You that will be less fearful than discreet,
That love the fundamental part of state
More than you doubt the change on't, that prefer
A noble life before a long, and wish
1915 To jump a body with a dangerous physic
That's sure of death without it, at once pluck out
The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick
The sweet which is their poison: your dishonour
Mangles true judgment and bereaves the state
1920 Of that integrity which should become't,
Not having the power to do the good it would,
For the in which doth control't.
Sicinius Velutus. Has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer
1925 As traitors do.
Coriolanus. Thou wretch, despite o'erwhelm thee!
What should the people do with these bald tribunes?
On whom depending, their obedience fails
To the greater bench: in a rebellion,
1930 When what's not meet, but what must be, was law,
Then were they chosen: in a better hour,
Let what is meet be said it must be meet,
And throw their power i' the dust.
Citizens. Down with him! down with him!
[They all bustle about CORIOLANUS, crying] 'Tribunes!' 'Patricians!' 'Citizens!' 'What, ho!'
'Sicinius!' 'Brutus!' 'Coriolanus!' 'Citizens!'
1960 'Peace, peace, peace!' 'Stay, hold, peace!'
Menenius Agrippa. What is about to be? I am out of breath;
Confusion's near; I cannot speak. You, tribunes
To the people! Coriolanus, patience!
1965 Speak, good Sicinius.
Junius Brutus. Or let us stand to our authority,
Or let us lose it. We do here pronounce,
Upon the part o' the people, in whose power
We were elected theirs, CORIOLANUS is worthy
1990 Of present death.
Sicinius Velutus. Therefore lay hold of him;
Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence
Into destruction cast him.
Coriolanus. I would they were barbarians—as they are,
Though in Rome litter'd—not Romans—as they are not,
Though calved i' the porch o' the Capitol—
Menenius Agrippa. Be gone;
Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;
2035 One time will owe another.
Coriolanus. On fair ground
I could beat forty of them.
Cominius. I could myself
Take up a brace o' the best of them; yea, the
2040 two tribunes:
But now 'tis odds beyond arithmetic;
And manhood is call'd foolery, when it stands
Against a falling fabric. Will you hence,
Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend
2045 Like interrupted waters and o'erbear
What they are used to bear.
Menenius Agrippa. Pray you, be gone:
I'll try whether my old wit be in request
With those that have but little: this must be patch'd
2050 With cloth of any colour.
Menenius Agrippa. His nature is too noble for the world:
2055 He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
Or Jove for's power to thunder. His heart's his mouth:
What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent;
And, being angry, does forget that ever
He heard the name of death.
2060 [A noise within] Here's goodly work!
Sicinius Velutus. He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock
With rigorous hands: he hath resisted law,
And therefore law shall scorn him further trial
Than the severity of the public power
Which he so sets at nought.
First Citizen. He shall well know
The noble tribunes are the people's mouths,
And we their hands.
Menenius Agrippa. If, by the tribunes' leave, and yours, good people,
I may be heard, I would crave a word or two;
The which shall turn you to no further harm
2095 Than so much loss of time.
Sicinius Velutus. Speak briefly then;
For we are peremptory to dispatch
This viperous traitor: to eject him hence
Were but one danger, and to keep him here
2100 Our certain death: therefore it is decreed
He dies to-night.
Menenius Agrippa. Now the good gods forbid
That our renowned Rome, whose gratitude
Towards her deserved children is enroll'd
2105 In Jove's own book, like an unnatural dam
Should now eat up her own!
Menenius Agrippa. O, he's a limb that has but a disease;
Mortal, to cut it off; to cure it, easy.
2110 What has he done to Rome that's worthy death?
Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost—
Which, I dare vouch, is more than that he hath,
By many an ounce—he dropp'd it for his country;
And what is left, to lose it by his country,
2115 Were to us all, that do't and suffer it,
A brand to the end o' the world.
Junius Brutus. Merely awry: when he did love his country,
It honour'd him.
Menenius Agrippa. The service of the foot
Being once gangrened, is not then respected
For what before it was.
Junius Brutus. We'll hear no more.
Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence:
2125 Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
Menenius Agrippa. One word more, one word.
This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find
The harm of unscann'd swiftness, will too late
2130 Tie leaden pounds to's heels. Proceed by process;
Lest parties, as he is beloved, break out,
And sack great Rome with Romans.
Sicinius Velutus. What do ye talk?
2135 Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted? Come.
Menenius Agrippa. Consider this: he has been bred i' the wars
Since he could draw a sword, and is ill school'd
In bolted language; meal and bran together
2140 He throws without distinction. Give me leave,
I'll go to him, and undertake to bring him
Where he shall answer, by a lawful form,
In peace, to his utmost peril.
First Senator. Noble tribunes,
2145 It is the humane way: the other course
Will prove too bloody, and the end of it
Unknown to the beginning.
Sicinius Velutus. Noble Menenius,
Be you then as the people's officer.
2150 Masters, lay down your weapons.
Coriolanus. Let them puff all about mine ears, present me
Death on the wheel or at wild horses' heels,
Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock,
2165 That the precipitation might down stretch
Below the beam of sight, yet will I still
Be thus to them.
Coriolanus. I muse my mother
2170 Does not approve me further, who was wont
To call them woollen vassals, things created
To buy and sell with groats, to show bare heads
In congregations, to yawn, be still and wonder,
When one but of my ordinance stood up
2175 To speak of peace or war.
[Enter VOLUMNIA] I talk of you:
Why did you wish me milder? would you have me
False to my nature? Rather say I play
2180 The man I am.
Volumnia. O, sir, sir, sir,
I would have had you put your power well on,
Before you had worn it out.
Volumnia. You might have been enough the man you are,
With striving less to be so; lesser had been
The thwartings of your dispositions, if
You had not show'd them how ye were disposed
Ere they lack'd power to cross you.
Menenius Agrippa. Come, come, you have been too rough, something
2195 You must return and mend it.
First Senator. There's no remedy;
Unless, by not so doing, our good city
Cleave in the midst, and perish.
Volumnia. Pray, be counsell'd:
2200 I have a heart as little apt as yours,
But yet a brain that leads my use of anger
To better vantage.
Menenius Agrippa. Well said, noble woman?
Before he should thus stoop to the herd, but that
2205 The violent fit o' the time craves it as physic
For the whole state, I would put mine armour on,
Which I can scarcely bear.
Coriolanus. For them! I cannot do it to the gods;
Must I then do't to them?
Volumnia. You are too absolute;
2215 Though therein you can never be too noble,
But when extremities speak. I have heard you say,
Honour and policy, like unsever'd friends,
I' the war do grow together: grant that, and tell me,
In peace what each of them by the other lose,
2220 That they combine not there.
Volumnia. If it be honour in your wars to seem
The same you are not, which, for your best ends,
2225 You adopt your policy, how is it less or worse,
That it shall hold companionship in peace
With honour, as in war, since that to both
It stands in like request?
Volumnia. Because that now it lies you on to speak
To the people; not by your own instruction,
Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you,
But with such words that are but rooted in
Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables
2235 Of no allowance to your bosom's truth.
Now, this no more dishonours you at all
Than to take in a town with gentle words,
Which else would put you to your fortune and
The hazard of much blood.
2240 I would dissemble with my nature where
My fortunes and my friends at stake required
I should do so in honour: I am in this,
Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles;
And you will rather show our general louts
2245 How you can frown than spend a fawn upon 'em,
For the inheritance of their loves and safeguard
Of what that want might ruin.
Menenius Agrippa. Noble lady!
Come, go with us; speak fair: you may salve so,
2250 Not what is dangerous present, but the loss
Of what is past.
Volumnia. I prithee now, my son,
Go to them, with this bonnet in thy hand;
And thus far having stretch'd it—here be with them—
2255 Thy knee bussing the stones—for in such business
Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant
More learned than the ears—waving thy head,
Which often, thus, correcting thy stout heart,
Now humble as the ripest mulberry
2260 That will not hold the handling: or say to them,
Thou art their soldier, and being bred in broils
Hast not the soft way which, thou dost confess,
Were fit for thee to use as they to claim,
In asking their good loves, but thou wilt frame
2265 Thyself, forsooth, hereafter theirs, so far
As thou hast power and person.
Menenius Agrippa. This but done,
Even as she speaks, why, their hearts were yours;
For they have pardons, being ask'd, as free
2270 As words to little purpose.
Volumnia. Prithee now,
Go, and be ruled: although I know thou hadst rather
Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf
Than flatter him in a bower. Here is Cominius.
Cominius. I have been i' the market-place; and, sir,'tis fit
You make strong party, or defend yourself
By calmness or by absence: all's in anger.
Cominius. I think 'twill serve, if he
Can thereto frame his spirit.
Volumnia. He must, and will
Prithee now, say you will, and go about it.
Coriolanus. Must I go show them my unbarbed sconce?
2285 Must I with base tongue give my noble heart
A lie that it must bear? Well, I will do't:
Yet, were there but this single plot to lose,
This mould of CORIOLANUS, they to dust should grind it
And throw't against the wind. To the market-place!
2290 You have put me now to such a part which never
I shall discharge to the life.
Volumnia. I prithee now, sweet son, as thou hast said
My praises made thee first a soldier, so,
2295 To have my praise for this, perform a part
Thou hast not done before.
Coriolanus. Well, I must do't:
Away, my disposition, and possess me
Some harlot's spirit! my throat of war be turn'd,
2300 Which quired with my drum, into a pipe
Small as an eunuch, or the virgin voice
That babies lulls asleep! the smiles of knaves
Tent in my cheeks, and schoolboys' tears take up
The glasses of my sight! a beggar's tongue
2305 Make motion through my lips, and my arm'd knees,
Who bow'd but in my stirrup, bend like his
That hath received an alms! I will not do't,
Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth
And by my body's action teach my mind
2310 A most inherent baseness.
Volumnia. At thy choice, then:
To beg of thee, it is my more dishonour
Than thou of them. Come all to ruin; let
Thy mother rather feel thy pride than fear
2315 Thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death
With as big heart as thou. Do as thou list
Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck'dst it from me,
But owe thy pride thyself.
Coriolanus. Pray, be content:
2320 Mother, I am going to the market-place;
Chide me no more. I'll mountebank their loves,
Cog their hearts from them, and come home beloved
Of all the trades in Rome. Look, I am going:
Commend me to my wife. I'll return consul;
2325 Or never trust to what my tongue can do
I' the way of flattery further.
Junius Brutus. In this point charge him home, that he affects
Tyrannical power: if he evade us there,
Enforce him with his envy to the people,
And that the spoil got on the Antiates
Was ne'er distributed.
2345 [Enter an AEdile] What, will he come?
Sicinius Velutus. Assemble presently the people hither;
And when they bear me say 'It shall be so
I' the right and strength o' the commons,' be it either
2360 For death, for fine, or banishment, then let them
If I say fine, cry 'Fine;' if death, cry 'Death.'
Insisting on the old prerogative
And power i' the truth o' the cause.
Sicinius Velutus. Make them be strong and ready for this hint,
When we shall hap to give 't them.
Junius Brutus. Go about it.
[Exit AEdile] Put him to choler straight: he hath been used
2375 Ever to conquer, and to have his worth
Of contradiction: being once chafed, he cannot
Be rein'd again to temperance; then he speaks
What's in his heart; and that is there which looks
With us to break his neck.
Sicinius Velutus. Well, here he comes.
[Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, and COMINIUS,] with Senators and Patricians]
Coriolanus. Ay, as an ostler, that for the poorest piece
2385 Will bear the knave by the volume. The honour'd gods
Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice
Supplied with worthy men! plant love among 's!
Throng our large temples with the shows of peace,
And not our streets with war!
Menenius Agrippa. Lo, citizens, he says he is content:
The warlike service he has done, consider; think
Upon the wounds his body bears, which show
Like graves i' the holy churchyard.
Coriolanus. Scratches with briers,
2410 Scars to move laughter only.
Menenius Agrippa. Consider further,
That when he speaks not like a citizen,
You find him like a soldier: do not take
His rougher accents for malicious sounds,
2415 But, as I say, such as become a soldier,
Rather than envy you.
Coriolanus. The fires i' the lowest hell fold-in the people!
Call me their traitor! Thou injurious tribune!
Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths,
In thy hand clutch'd as many millions, in
Thy lying tongue both numbers, I would say
2435 'Thou liest' unto thee with a voice as free
As I do pray the gods.
Sicinius Velutus. Peace!
2440 We need not put new matter to his charge:
What you have seen him do and heard him speak,
Beating your officers, cursing yourselves,
Opposing laws with strokes and here defying
Those whose great power must try him; even this,
2445 So criminal and in such capital kind,
Deserves the extremest death.
Coriolanus. I know no further:
2455 Let them pronounce the steep Tarpeian death,
Vagabond exile, raying, pent to linger
But with a grain a day, I would not buy
Their mercy at the price of one fair word;
Nor cheque my courage for what they can give,
2460 To have't with saying 'Good morrow.'
Sicinius Velutus. For that he has,
As much as in him lies, from time to time
Envied against the people, seeking means
To pluck away their power, as now at last
2465 Given hostile strokes, and that not in the presence
Of dreaded justice, but on the ministers
That do distribute it; in the name o' the people
And in the power of us the tribunes, we,
Even from this instant, banish him our city,
2470 In peril of precipitation
From off the rock Tarpeian never more
To enter our Rome gates: i' the people's name,
I say it shall be so.
Citizens. It shall be so, it shall be so; let him away:
2475 He's banish'd, and it shall be so.
Cominius. Hear me, my masters, and my common friends,—
Cominius. Let me speak:
I have been consul, and can show for Rome
2480 Her enemies' marks upon me. I do love
My country's good with a respect more tender,
More holy and profound, than mine own life,
My dear wife's estimate, her womb's increase,
And treasure of my loins; then if I would
2485 Speak that,—
Coriolanus. You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, I banish you;
2495 And here remain with your uncertainty!
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
Fan you into despair! Have the power still
To banish your defenders; till at length
2500 Your ignorance, which finds not till it feels,
Making not reservation of yourselves,
Still your own foes, deliver you as most
Abated captives to some nation
That won you without blows! Despising,
2505 For you, the city, thus I turn my back:
There is a world elsewhere.
[Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, MENENIUS, Senators,] and Patricians]