Document:  All > Shakespeare > Tragedies > Coriolanus > Act III, scene I



	[Cornets. Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, all the
	Gentry, COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other Senators]

CORIOLANUS: Tullus Aufidius then had made new head?

LARTIUS: He had, my lord; and that it was which caused
	Our swifter composition.

CORIOLANUS: So then the Volsces stand but as at first,
	Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road.
	Upon's again.

COMINIUS: They are worn, lord consul, so,
	That we shall hardly in our ages see
	Their banners wave again.

CORIOLANUS: Saw you Aufidius?

LARTIUS: On safe-guard he came to me; and did curse
	Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely
	Yielded the town: he is retired to Antium.

CORIOLANUS: Spoke he of me?

LARTIUS:                   He did, my lord.

CORIOLANUS: How? what?

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
	Be call'd your vanquisher.

CORIOLANUS: At Antium lives he?

LARTIUS: At Antium.

CORIOLANUS: I wish I had a cause to seek him there,
	To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.

	[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.

SICINIUS: Pass no further.

CORIOLANUS: Ha! what is that?

BRUTUS: It will be dangerous to go on: no further.

CORIOLANUS: What makes this change?

MENENIUS: The matter?

COMINIUS: Hath he not pass'd the noble and the common?

BRUTUS: Cominius, no.

CORIOLANUS:                   Have I had children's voices?

First Senator: Tribunes, give way; he shall to the market-place.

BRUTUS: The people are incensed against him.

SICINIUS: Stop,
	Or all will fall in broil.

CORIOLANUS: Are these your herd?
	Must these have voices, that can yield them now
	And straight disclaim their tongues? What are
	your offices?
	You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth?
	Have you not set them on?

MENENIUS: Be calm, be calm.

CORIOLANUS: It is a purposed thing, and grows by plot,
	To curb the will of the nobility:
	Suffer't, and live with such as cannot rule
	Nor ever will be ruled.

BRUTUS: Call't not a plot:
	The people cry you mock'd them, and of late,
	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, this was known before.

BRUTUS: Not to them all.

CORIOLANUS: Have you inform'd them sithence?

BRUTUS: How! I inform them!

CORIOLANUS: You are like to do such business.

BRUTUS: Not unlike,
	Each way, to better yours.

CORIOLANUS: Why then should I be consul? By yond clouds,
	Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
	Your fellow tribune.

SICINIUS: You show too much of that
	For which the people stir: if you will pass
	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.

MENENIUS: Let's be calm.

COMINIUS: The people are abused; set on. This paltering
	Becomes not Rome, nor has Coriolanus
	Deserved this so dishonour'd rub, laid falsely
	I' the plain way of his merit.

CORIOLANUS: Tell me of corn!
	This was my speech, and I will speak't again--

MENENIUS: Not now, not now.

First Senator:                   Not in this heat, sir, now.

CORIOLANUS: Now, as I live, I will. My nobler friends,
	I crave their pardons:
	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,
	Which we ourselves have plough'd for, sow'd,
	and scatter'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.

MENENIUS: Well, no more.

First Senator: No more words, we beseech you.

CORIOLANUS: How! no more!
	As for my country I have shed my blood,
	Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs
	Coin words till their decay against those measles,
	Which we disdain should tatter us, yet sought
	The very way to catch them.

BRUTUS: You speak o' the people,
	As if you were a god to punish, not
	A man of their infirmity.

SICINIUS: 'Twere well
	We let the people know't.

MENENIUS: What, what? his choler?

CORIOLANUS: Choler!
	Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,
	By Jove, 'twould be my mind!

SICINIUS: It is a mind
	That shall remain a poison where it is,
	Not poison any further.

CORIOLANUS: Shall remain!
	Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you
	His absolute 'shall'?

COMINIUS: 'Twas from the canon.

CORIOLANUS: 'Shall'!
	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
	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,
	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,'
	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
	May enter 'twixt the gap of both and take
	The one by the other.

COMINIUS: Well, on to the market-place.

CORIOLANUS: Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth
	The corn o' the storehouse gratis, as 'twas used
	Sometime in Greece,--

MENENIUS: Well, well, no more of that.

CORIOLANUS: Though there the people had more absolute power,
	I say, they nourish'd disobedience, fed
	The ruin of the state.

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
	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
	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
	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
	Call our cares fears; which will in time
	Break ope the locks o' the senate and bring in
	The crows to peck the eagles.

MENENIUS: Come, enough.

BRUTUS: Enough, with over-measure.

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,
	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,
	it follows,
	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
	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
	Of that integrity which should become't,
	Not having the power to do the good it would,
	For the in which doth control't.

BRUTUS: Has said enough.

SICINIUS: Has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer
	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,
	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.

BRUTUS: Manifest treason!

SICINIUS:                   This a consul? no.

BRUTUS: The aediles, ho!

	[Enter an AEdile]

	Let him be apprehended.

SICINIUS: Go, call the people:

	[Exit AEdile]

		in whose name myself
	Attach thee as a traitorous innovator,
	A foe to the public weal: obey, I charge thee,
	And follow to thine answer.

CORIOLANUS: Hence, old goat!

Senators, &C: We'll surety him.

COMINIUS:                   Aged sir, hands off.

CORIOLANUS: Hence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bones
	Out of thy garments.

SICINIUS: Help, ye citizens!

	[Enter a rabble of Citizens (Plebeians), with
	the AEdiles]

MENENIUS: On both sides more respect.

SICINIUS: Here's he that would take from you all your power.

BRUTUS: Seize him, AEdiles!

Citizens: Down with him! down with him!

Senators, &C: Weapons, weapons, weapons!

	[They all bustle about CORIOLANUS, crying]

	'Tribunes!' 'Patricians!' 'Citizens!' 'What, ho!'
	'Sicinius!' 'Brutus!' 'Coriolanus!' 'Citizens!'
	'Peace, peace, peace!' 'Stay, hold, peace!'

MENENIUS: What is about to be? I am out of breath;
	Confusion's near; I cannot speak. You, tribunes
	To the people! Coriolanus, patience!
	Speak, good Sicinius.

SICINIUS: Hear me, people; peace!

Citizens: Let's hear our tribune: peace Speak, speak, speak.

SICINIUS: You are at point to lose your liberties:
	Marcius would have all from you; Marcius,
	Whom late you have named for consul.

MENENIUS: Fie, fie, fie!
	This is the way to kindle, not to quench.

First Senator: To unbuild the city and to lay all flat.

SICINIUS: What is the city but the people?

Citizens: True,
	The people are the city.

BRUTUS: By the consent of all, we were establish'd
	The people's magistrates.

Citizens: You so remain.

MENENIUS: And so are like to do.

COMINIUS: That is the way to lay the city flat;
	To bring the roof to the foundation,
	And bury all, which yet distinctly ranges,
	In heaps and piles of ruin.

SICINIUS: This deserves death.

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, Marcius is worthy
	Of present death.

SICINIUS:                   Therefore lay hold of him;
	Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence
	Into destruction cast him.

BRUTUS: AEdiles, seize him!

Citizens: Yield, Marcius, yield!

MENENIUS: Hear me one word;
	Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.

AEdile: Peace, peace!

MENENIUS: [To BRUTUS]  Be that you seem, truly your
	country's friend,
	And temperately proceed to what you would
	Thus violently redress.

BRUTUS: Sir, those cold ways,
	That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous
	Where the disease is violent. Lay hands upon him,
	And bear him to the rock.

CORIOLANUS: No, I'll die here.

	[Drawing his sword]

	There's some among you have beheld me fighting:
	Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.

MENENIUS: Down with that sword! Tribunes, withdraw awhile.

BRUTUS: Lay hands upon him.

COMINIUS: Help Marcius, help,
	You that be noble; help him, young and old!

Citizens: Down with him, down with him!

	[In this mutiny, the Tribunes, the AEdiles, and the
	People, are beat in]

MENENIUS: Go, get you to your house; be gone, away!
	All will be naught else.

Second Senator: Get you gone.

COMINIUS: Stand fast;
	We have as many friends as enemies.

MENENIUS: Sham it be put to that?

First Senator: The gods forbid!
	I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;
	Leave us to cure this cause.

MENENIUS: For 'tis a sore upon us,
	You cannot tent yourself: be gone, beseech you.

COMINIUS: Come, sir, along with us.

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: Be gone;
	Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;
	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
	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
	Like interrupted waters and o'erbear
	What they are used to bear.

MENENIUS: 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
	With cloth of any colour.

COMINIUS: Nay, come away.

	[Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, and others]

A Patrician: This man has marr'd his fortune.

MENENIUS: His nature is too noble for the world:
	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.

	[A noise within]

		      Here's goodly work!

Second Patrician: I would they were abed!

MENENIUS: I would they were in Tiber! What the vengeance!
	Could he not speak 'em fair?

	[Re-enter BRUTUS and SICINIUS, with the rabble]

SICINIUS: Where is this viper
	That would depopulate the city and
	Be every man himself?

MENENIUS: You worthy tribunes,--

SICINIUS: 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.

Citizens: He shall, sure on't.

MENENIUS: Sir, sir,--

SICINIUS: Peace!

MENENIUS: Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt
	With modest warrant.

SICINIUS: Sir, how comes't that you
	Have holp to make this rescue?

MENENIUS: Hear me speak:
	As I do know the consul's worthiness,
	So can I name his faults,--

SICINIUS: Consul! what consul?

MENENIUS: The consul Coriolanus.

BRUTUS: He consul!

Citizens: No, no, no, no, no.

MENENIUS: 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
	Than so much loss of time.

SICINIUS: 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
	Our certain death: therefore it is decreed
	He dies to-night.

MENENIUS:                   Now the good gods forbid
	That our renowned Rome, whose gratitude
	Towards her deserved children is enroll'd
	In Jove's own book, like an unnatural dam
	Should now eat up her own!

SICINIUS: He's a disease that must be cut away.

MENENIUS: O, he's a limb that has but a disease;
	Mortal, to cut it off; to cure it, easy.
	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,
	Were to us all, that do't and suffer it,
	A brand to the end o' the world.

SICINIUS: This is clean kam.

BRUTUS: Merely awry: when he did love his country,
	It honour'd him.

MENENIUS:                   The service of the foot
	Being once gangrened, is not then respected
	For what before it was.

BRUTUS: We'll hear no more.
	Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence:
	Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
	Spread further.

MENENIUS:                   One word more, one word.
	This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find
	The harm of unscann'd swiftness, will too late
	Tie leaden pounds to's heels. Proceed by process;
	Lest parties, as he is beloved, break out,
	And sack great Rome with Romans.

BRUTUS: If it were so,--

SICINIUS: What do ye talk?
	Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
	Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted? Come.

MENENIUS: 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
	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,
	It is the humane way: the other course
	Will prove too bloody, and the end of it
	Unknown to the beginning.

SICINIUS: Noble Menenius,
	Be you then as the people's officer.
	Masters, lay down your weapons.

BRUTUS: Go not home.

SICINIUS: Meet on the market-place. We'll attend you there:
	Where, if you bring not Marcius, we'll proceed
	In our first way.

MENENIUS:                   I'll bring him to you.

	[To the Senators]

	Let me desire your company: he must come,
	Or what is worst will follow.

First Senator: Pray you, let's to him.

	[Exeunt]




	CORIOLANUS






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