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Act IV, Scene 3

A highway between Rome and Antium.


[Enter CORIOLANUS, VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, MENENIUS,] [p]COMINIUS, with the young Nobility of Rome]

  • Coriolanus. Come, leave your tears: a brief farewell: the beast
    With many heads butts me away. Nay, mother,
    Where is your ancient courage? you were used
    To say extremity was the trier of spirits; 2525
    That common chances common men could bear;
    That when the sea was calm all boats alike
    Show'd mastership in floating; fortune's blows,
    When most struck home, being gentle wounded, craves
    A noble cunning: you were used to load me 2530
    With precepts that would make invincible
    The heart that conn'd them.
  • Volumnia. Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome, 2535
    And occupations perish!
  • Coriolanus. What, what, what!
    I shall be loved when I am lack'd. Nay, mother.
    Resume that spirit, when you were wont to say,
    If you had been the wife of Hercules, 2540
    Six of his labours you'ld have done, and saved
    Your husband so much sweat. Cominius,
    Droop not; adieu. Farewell, my wife, my mother:
    I'll do well yet. Thou old and true Menenius,
    Thy tears are salter than a younger man's, 2545
    And venomous to thine eyes. My sometime general,
    I have seen thee stem, and thou hast oft beheld
    Heart-hardening spectacles; tell these sad women
    'Tis fond to wail inevitable strokes,
    As 'tis to laugh at 'em. My mother, you wot well 2550
    My hazards still have been your solace: and
    Believe't not lightly—though I go alone,
    Like to a lonely dragon, that his fen
    Makes fear'd and talk'd of more than seen—your son
    Will or exceed the common or be caught 2555
    With cautelous baits and practise.
  • Volumnia. My first son.
    Whither wilt thou go? Take good Cominius
    With thee awhile: determine on some course,
    More than a wild exposture to each chance 2560
    That starts i' the way before thee.
  • Cominius. I'll follow thee a month, devise with thee
    Where thou shalt rest, that thou mayst hear of us
    And we of thee: so if the time thrust forth 2565
    A cause for thy repeal, we shall not send
    O'er the vast world to seek a single man,
    And lose advantage, which doth ever cool
    I' the absence of the needer.
  • Coriolanus. Fare ye well: 2570
    Thou hast years upon thee; and thou art too full
    Of the wars' surfeits, to go rove with one
    That's yet unbruised: bring me but out at gate.
    Come, my sweet wife, my dearest mother, and
    My friends of noble touch, when I am forth, 2575
    Bid me farewell, and smile. I pray you, come.
    While I remain above the ground, you shall
    Hear from me still, and never of me aught
    But what is like me formerly.
  • Menenius Agrippa. That's worthily 2580
    As any ear can hear. Come, let's not weep.
    If I could shake off but one seven years
    From these old arms and legs, by the good gods,
    I'ld with thee every foot.


[Enter a Roman and a Volsce, meeting]

  • Roman. I know you well, sir, and you know
    me: your name, I think, is Adrian. 2665
  • Volsce. It is so, sir: truly, I have forgot you.
  • Roman. I am a Roman; and my services are,
    as you are, against 'em: know you me yet?
  • Roman. The same, sir. 2670
  • Volsce. You had more beard when I last saw you; but your
    favour is well approved by your tongue. What's the
    news in Rome? I have a note from the Volscian state,
    to find you out there: you have well saved me a
    day's journey. 2675
  • Roman. There hath been in Rome strange insurrections; the
    people against the senators, patricians, and nobles.
  • Volsce. Hath been! is it ended, then? Our state thinks not
    so: they are in a most warlike preparation, and
    hope to come upon them in the heat of their division. 2680
  • Roman. The main blaze of it is past, but a small thing
    would make it flame again: for the nobles receive
    so to heart the banishment of that worthy
    Coriolanus, that they are in a ripe aptness to take
    all power from the people and to pluck from them 2685
    their tribunes for ever. This lies glowing, I can
    tell you, and is almost mature for the violent
    breaking out.
  • Roman. Banished, sir. 2690
  • Volsce. You will be welcome with this intelligence, Nicanor.
  • Roman. The day serves well for them now. I have heard it
    said, the fittest time to corrupt a man's wife is
    when she's fallen out with her husband. Your noble
    Tullus Aufidius will appear well in these wars, his 2695
    great opposer, Coriolanus, being now in no request
    of his country.
  • Volsce. He cannot choose. I am most fortunate, thus
    accidentally to encounter you: you have ended my
    business, and I will merrily accompany you home. 2700
  • Roman. I shall, between this and supper, tell you most
    strange things from Rome; all tending to the good of
    their adversaries. Have you an army ready, say you?
  • Volsce. A most royal one; the centurions and their charges,
    distinctly billeted, already in the entertainment, 2705
    and to be on foot at an hour's warning.
  • Roman. I am joyful to hear of their readiness, and am the
    man, I think, that shall set them in present action.
    So, sir, heartily well met, and most glad of your company.
  • Volsce. You take my part from me, sir; I have the most cause 2710
    to be glad of yours.
  • Roman. Well, let us go together.