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Act V, Scene 2

Entrance of the Volscian camp before Rome.


Two Sentinels on guard.

[Enter to them, MENENIUS]

  • Menenius Agrippa. You guard like men; 'tis well: but, by your leave,
    I am an officer of state, and come
    To speak with Coriolanus.
  • First Senator. You may not pass, you must return: our general
    Will no more hear from thence.
  • Second Senator. You'll see your Rome embraced with fire before
    You'll speak with Coriolanus.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Good my friends, 3380
    If you have heard your general talk of Rome,
    And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks,
    My name hath touch'd your ears it is Menenius.
  • First Senator. Be it so; go back: the virtue of your name
    Is not here passable. 3385
  • Menenius Agrippa. I tell thee, fellow,
    The general is my lover: I have been
    The book of his good acts, whence men have read
    His name unparallel'd, haply amplified;
    For I have ever verified my friends, 3390
    Of whom he's chief, with all the size that verity
    Would without lapsing suffer: nay, sometimes,
    Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground,
    I have tumbled past the throw; and in his praise
    Have almost stamp'd the leasing: therefore, fellow, 3395
    I must have leave to pass.
  • First Senator. Faith, sir, if you had told as many lies in his
    behalf as you have uttered words in your own, you
    should not pass here; no, though it were as virtuous
    to lie as to live chastely. Therefore, go back. 3400
  • Menenius Agrippa. Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius,
    always factionary on the party of your general.
  • Second Senator. Howsoever you have been his liar, as you say you
    have, I am one that, telling true under him, must
    say, you cannot pass. Therefore, go back. 3405
  • Menenius Agrippa. Has he dined, canst thou tell? for I would not
    speak with him till after dinner.
  • First Senator. Then you should hate Rome, as he does. Can you, 3410
    when you have pushed out your gates the very
    defender of them, and, in a violent popular
    ignorance, given your enemy your shield, think to
    front his revenges with the easy groans of old
    women, the virginal palms of your daughters, or with 3415
    the palsied intercession of such a decayed dotant as
    you seem to be? Can you think to blow out the
    intended fire your city is ready to flame in, with
    such weak breath as this? No, you are deceived;
    therefore, back to Rome, and prepare for your 3420
    execution: you are condemned, our general has sworn
    you out of reprieve and pardon.
  • Menenius Agrippa. Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he would
    use me with estimation.
  • First Senator. My general cares not for you. Back, I say, go; lest
    I let forth your half-pint of blood; back,—that's
    the utmost of your having: back.


  • Menenius Agrippa. Now, you companion, I'll say an errand for you:
    You shall know now that I am in estimation; you shall
    perceive that a Jack guardant cannot office me from 3435
    my son Coriolanus: guess, but by my entertainment
    with him, if thou standest not i' the state of
    hanging, or of some death more long in
    spectatorship, and crueller in suffering; behold now
    presently, and swoon for what's to come upon thee. 3440
    The glorious gods sit in hourly synod about thy
    particular prosperity, and love thee no worse than
    thy old father Menenius does! O my son, my son!
    thou art preparing fire for us; look thee, here's 3445
    water to quench it. I was hardly moved to come to
    thee; but being assured none but myself could move
    thee, I have been blown out of your gates with
    sighs; and conjure thee to pardon Rome, and thy
    petitionary countrymen. The good gods assuage thy 3450
    wrath, and turn the dregs of it upon this varlet
    here,—this, who, like a block, hath denied my
    access to thee.
  • Coriolanus. Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs
    Are servanted to others: though I owe
    My revenge properly, my remission lies
    In Volscian breasts. That we have been familiar,
    Ingrate forgetfulness shall poison, rather 3460
    Than pity note how much. Therefore, be gone.
    Mine ears against your suits are stronger than
    Your gates against my force. Yet, for I loved thee,
    Take this along; I writ it for thy sake
    [Gives a letter] 3465
    And would have rent it. Another word, Menenius,
    I will not hear thee speak. This man, Aufidius,
    Was my beloved in Rome: yet thou behold'st!


  • Second Senator. 'Tis a spell, you see, of much power: you know the
    way home again.
  • First Senator. Do you hear how we are shent for keeping your
    greatness back? 3475
  • Menenius Agrippa. I neither care for the world nor your general: for
    such things as you, I can scarce think there's any,
    ye're so slight. He that hath a will to die by
    himself fears it not from another: let your general 3480
    do his worst. For you, be that you are, long; and
    your misery increase with your age! I say to you,
    as I was said to, Away!


  • Second Senator. The worthy fellow is our general: he's the rock, the
    oak not to be wind-shaken.