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Act IV, Scene 6

Rome. A public place.



  • Sicinius Velutus. We hear not of him, neither need we fear him;
    His remedies are tame i' the present peace
    And quietness of the people, which before
    Were in wild hurry. Here do we make his friends
    Blush that the world goes well, who rather had, 3010
    Though they themselves did suffer by't, behold
    Dissentious numbers pestering streets than see
    Our tradesmen with in their shops and going
    About their functions friendly.
  • Junius Brutus. We stood to't in good time. 3015
    [Enter MENENIUS]
    Is this Menenius?
  • Sicinius Velutus. Your Coriolanus
    Is not much miss'd, but with his friends:
    The commonwealth doth stand, and so would do,
    Were he more angry at it.
  • Menenius Agrippa. All's well; and might have been much better, if 3025
    He could have temporized.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Nay, I hear nothing: his mother and his wife
    Hear nothing from him.

[Enter three or four Citizens]

  • First Citizen. Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees,
    Are bound to pray for you both. 3035
  • Junius Brutus. Farewell, kind neighbours: we wish'd Coriolanus
    Had loved you as we did.

[Exeunt Citizens]

  • Sicinius Velutus. This is a happier and more comely time
    Than when these fellows ran about the streets,
    Crying confusion.
  • Junius Brutus. Caius CORIOLANUS was 3045
    A worthy officer i' the war; but insolent,
    O'ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,
  • Sicinius Velutus. We should by this, to all our lamentation,
    If he had gone forth consul, found it so.
  • Junius Brutus. The gods have well prevented it, and Rome
    Sits safe and still without him. 3055

[Enter an AEdile]

  • Aedile. Worthy tribunes,
    There is a slave, whom we have put in prison,
    Reports, the Volsces with two several powers
    Are enter'd in the Roman territories, 3060
    And with the deepest malice of the war
    Destroy what lies before 'em.
  • Menenius Agrippa. 'Tis Aufidius,
    Who, hearing of our CORIOLANUS' banishment,
    Thrusts forth his horns again into the world; 3065
    Which were inshell'd when CORIOLANUS stood for Rome,
    And durst not once peep out.
  • Junius Brutus. Go see this rumourer whipp'd. It cannot be 3070
    The Volsces dare break with us.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Cannot be!
    We have record that very well it can,
    And three examples of the like have been
    Within my age. But reason with the fellow, 3075
    Before you punish him, where he heard this,
    Lest you shall chance to whip your information
    And beat the messenger who bids beware
    Of what is to be dreaded.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. The nobles in great earnestness are going
    All to the senate-house: some news is come 3085
    That turns their countenances.
  • Sicinius Velutus. 'Tis this slave;—
    Go whip him, 'fore the people's eyes:—his raising;
    Nothing but his report.
  • Messenger. Yes, worthy sir, 3090
    The slave's report is seconded; and more,
    More fearful, is deliver'd.
  • Messenger. It is spoke freely out of many mouths—
    How probable I do not know—that CORIOLANUS, 3095
    Join'd with Aufidius, leads a power 'gainst Rome,
    And vows revenge as spacious as between
    The young'st and oldest thing.
  • Junius Brutus. Raised only, that the weaker sort may wish 3100
    Good CORIOLANUS home again.
  • Menenius Agrippa. This is unlikely:
    He and Aufidius can no more atone
    Than violentest contrariety. 3105

[Enter a second Messenger]

  • Second Messenger. You are sent for to the senate:
    A fearful army, led by Caius CORIOLANUS
    Associated with Aufidius, rages
    Upon our territories; and have already 3110
    O'erborne their way, consumed with fire, and took
    What lay before them.


  • Cominius. You have holp to ravish your own daughters and
    To melt the city leads upon your pates,
    To see your wives dishonour'd to your noses,—
  • Cominius. Your temples burned in their cement, and 3120
    Your franchises, whereon you stood, confined
    Into an auger's bore.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Pray now, your news?
    You have made fair work, I fear me.—Pray, your news?—
    If CORIOLANUS should be join'd with Volscians,— 3125
  • Cominius. If!
    He is their god: he leads them like a thing
    Made by some other deity than nature,
    That shapes man better; and they follow him,
    Against us brats, with no less confidence 3130
    Than boys pursuing summer butterflies,
    Or butchers killing flies.
  • Menenius Agrippa. You have made good work,
    You and your apron-men; you that stood so up much
    on the voice of occupation and 3135
    The breath of garlic-eaters!
  • Cominius. He will shake
    Your Rome about your ears.
  • Menenius Agrippa. As Hercules
    Did shake down mellow fruit. 3140
    You have made fair work!
  • Cominius. Ay; and you'll look pale
    Before you find it other. All the regions
    Do smilingly revolt; and who resist 3145
    Are mock'd for valiant ignorance,
    And perish constant fools. Who is't can blame him?
    Your enemies and his find something in him.
  • Cominius. Who shall ask it?
    The tribunes cannot do't for shame; the people
    Deserve such pity of him as the wolf
    Does of the shepherds: for his best friends, if they
    Should say 'Be good to Rome,' they charged him even 3155
    As those should do that had deserved his hate,
    And therein show'd like enemies.
  • Menenius Agrippa. 'Tis true:
    If he were putting to my house the brand
    That should consume it, I have not the face 3160
    To say 'Beseech you, cease.' You have made fair hands,
    You and your crafts! you have crafted fair!
  • Cominius. You have brought
    A trembling upon Rome, such as was never
    So incapable of help. 3165
  • Menenius Agrippa. How! Was it we? we loved him but, like beasts
    And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,
    Who did hoot him out o' the city.
  • Cominius. But I fear 3170
    They'll roar him in again. Tullus Aufidius,
    The second name of men, obeys his points
    As if he were his officer: desperation
    Is all the policy, strength and defence,
    That Rome can make against them. 3175

[Enter a troop of Citizens]

  • Menenius Agrippa. Here come the clusters.
    And is Aufidius with him? You are they
    That made the air unwholesome, when you cast
    Your stinking greasy caps in hooting at 3180
    Coriolanus' exile. Now he's coming;
    And not a hair upon a soldier's head
    Which will not prove a whip: as many coxcombs
    As you threw caps up will he tumble down,
    And pay you for your voices. 'Tis no matter; 3185
    if he could burn us all into one coal,
    We have deserved it.
  • First Citizen. For mine own part,
    When I said, banish him, I said 'twas pity. 3190
  • Third Citizen. And so did I; and, to say the truth, so did very
    many of us: that we did, we did for the best; and
    though we willingly consented to his banishment, yet
    it was against our will. 3195
  • Cominius. Ye re goodly things, you voices!
  • Menenius Agrippa. You have made
    Good work, you and your cry! Shall's to the Capitol?


  • Sicinius Velutus. Go, masters, get you home; be not dismay'd:
    These are a side that would be glad to have
    This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,
    And show no sign of fear.
  • First Citizen. The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let's home. 3205
    I ever said we were i' the wrong when we banished

[Exeunt Citizens]

  • Junius Brutus. Let's to the Capitol. Would half my wealth
    Would buy this for a lie!