Plays  +  Sonnets  +  Poems  +  Concordance  +  Advanced Search  +  About OSS


print/save print/save view


Act V, Scene 6

Antium. A public place.


[Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, with Attendants]

  • Tullus Aufidius. Go tell the lords o' the city I am here:
    Deliver them this paper: having read it,
    Bid them repair to the market place; where I,
    Even in theirs and in the commons' ears, 3820
    Will vouch the truth of it. Him I accuse
    The city ports by this hath enter'd and
    Intends to appear before the people, hoping
    To purge herself with words: dispatch.
    [Exeunt Attendants] 3825
    [Enter three or four Conspirators of AUFIDIUS' faction]
    Most welcome!
  • Tullus Aufidius. Even so
    As with a man by his own alms empoison'd, 3830
    And with his charity slain.
  • Second Conspirator. Most noble sir,
    If you do hold the same intent wherein
    You wish'd us parties, we'll deliver you
    Of your great danger. 3835
  • Tullus Aufidius. Sir, I cannot tell:
    We must proceed as we do find the people.
  • Third Conspirator. The people will remain uncertain whilst
    'Twixt you there's difference; but the fall of either
    Makes the survivor heir of all. 3840
  • Tullus Aufidius. I know it;
    And my pretext to strike at him admits
    A good construction. I raised him, and I pawn'd
    Mine honour for his truth: who being so heighten'd,
    He water'd his new plants with dews of flattery, 3845
    Seducing so my friends; and, to this end,
    He bow'd his nature, never known before
    But to be rough, unswayable and free.
  • Third Conspirator. Sir, his stoutness
    When he did stand for consul, which he lost 3850
    By lack of stooping,—
  • Tullus Aufidius. That I would have spoke of:
    Being banish'd for't, he came unto my hearth;
    Presented to my knife his throat: I took him;
    Made him joint-servant with me; gave him way 3855
    In all his own desires; nay, let him choose
    Out of my files, his projects to accomplish,
    My best and freshest men; served his designments
    In mine own person; holp to reap the fame
    Which he did end all his; and took some pride 3860
    To do myself this wrong: till, at the last,
    I seem'd his follower, not partner, and
    He waged me with his countenance, as if
    I had been mercenary.
  • First Conspirator. So he did, my lord: 3865
    The army marvell'd at it, and, in the last,
    When he had carried Rome and that we look'd
    For no less spoil than glory,—
  • Tullus Aufidius. There was it:
    For which my sinews shall be stretch'd upon him. 3870
    At a few drops of women's rheum, which are
    As cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labour
    Of our great action: therefore shall he die,
    And I'll renew me in his fall. But, hark!
    [Drums and trumpets sound, with great shouts of] 3875
    the People]
  • First Conspirator. Your native town you enter'd like a post,
    And had no welcomes home: but he returns,
    Splitting the air with noise.
  • Second Conspirator. And patient fools, 3880
    Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear
    With giving him glory.
  • Third Conspirator. Therefore, at your vantage,
    Ere he express himself, or move the people
    With what he would say, let him feel your sword, 3885
    Which we will second. When he lies along,
    After your way his tale pronounced shall bury
    His reasons with his body.

[Enter the Lords of the city]

  • Tullus Aufidius. I have not deserved it.
    But, worthy lords, have you with heed perused
    What I have written to you? 3895
  • First Lord. And grieve to hear't.
    What faults he made before the last, I think
    Might have found easy fines: but there to end
    Where he was to begin and give away 3900
    The benefit of our levies, answering us
    With our own charge, making a treaty where
    There was a yielding,—this admits no excuse.
  • Tullus Aufidius. He approaches: you shall hear him.
    [Enter CORIOLANUS, marching with drum and] 3905
    colours; commoners being with him]
  • Coriolanus. Hail, lords! I am return'd your soldier,
    No more infected with my country's love
    Than when I parted hence, but still subsisting
    Under your great command. You are to know 3910
    That prosperously I have attempted and
    With bloody passage led your wars even to
    The gates of Rome. Our spoils we have brought home
    Do more than counterpoise a full third part
    The charges of the action. We have made peace 3915
    With no less honour to the Antiates
    Than shame to the Romans: and we here deliver,
    Subscribed by the consuls and patricians,
    Together with the seal o' the senate, what
    We have compounded on. 3920
  • Tullus Aufidius. Read it not, noble lords;
    But tell the traitor, in the high'st degree
    He hath abused your powers.
  • Tullus Aufidius. Ay, CORIOLANUS, Caius CORIOLANUS: dost thou think
    I'll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol'n name
    Coriolanus in Corioli?
    You lords and heads o' the state, perfidiously 3930
    He has betray'd your business, and given up,
    For certain drops of salt, your city Rome,
    I say 'your city,' to his wife and mother;
    Breaking his oath and resolution like
    A twist of rotten silk, never admitting 3935
    Counsel o' the war, but at his nurse's tears
    He whined and roar'd away your victory,
    That pages blush'd at him and men of heart
    Look'd wondering each at other.
  • Coriolanus. Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
    Too great for what contains it. Boy! O slave! 3945
    Pardon me, lords, 'tis the first time that ever
    I was forced to scold. Your judgments, my grave lords,
    Must give this cur the lie: and his own notion—
    Who wears my stripes impress'd upon him; that
    Must bear my beating to his grave—shall join 3950
    To thrust the lie unto him.
  • Coriolanus. Cut me to pieces, Volsces; men and lads,
    Stain all your edges on me. Boy! false hound!
    If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there, 3955
    That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I
    Flutter'd your Volscians in Corioli:
    Alone I did it. Boy!
  • Tullus Aufidius. Why, noble lords,
    Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune, 3960
    Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,
    'Fore your own eyes and ears?
  • All The People. 'Tear him to pieces.' 'Do it presently.' 'He kill'd
    my son.' 'My daughter.' 'He killed my cousin 3965
    Marcus.' 'He killed my father.'
  • Second Lord. Peace, ho! no outrage: peace!
    The man is noble and his fame folds-in
    This orb o' the earth. His last offences to us
    Shall have judicious hearing. Stand, Aufidius, 3970
    And trouble not the peace.
  • Coriolanus. O that I had him,
    With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe,
    To use my lawful sword!
  • All Conspirators. Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!
    [The Conspirators draw, and kill CORIOLANUS:]
    AUFIDIUS stands on his body]
  • Second Lord. Thou hast done a deed whereat valour will weep.
  • Third Lord. Tread not upon him. Masters all, be quiet;
    Put up your swords.
  • Tullus Aufidius. My lords, when you shall know—as in this rage, 3985
    Provoked by him, you cannot—the great danger
    Which this man's life did owe you, you'll rejoice
    That he is thus cut off. Please it your honours
    To call me to your senate, I'll deliver
    Myself your loyal servant, or endure 3990
    Your heaviest censure.
  • First Lord. Bear from hence his body;
    And mourn you for him: let him be regarded
    As the most noble corse that ever herald
    Did follow to his urn. 3995
  • Second Lord. His own impatience
    Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.
    Let's make the best of it.
  • Tullus Aufidius. My rage is gone;
    And I am struck with sorrow. Take him up. 4000
    Help, three o' the chiefest soldiers; I'll be one.
    Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully:
    Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he
    Hath widow'd and unchilded many a one,
    Which to this hour bewail the injury, 4005
    Yet he shall have a noble memory. Assist.

[Exeunt, bearing the body of CORIOLANUS. A dead march sounded]