Title: The Tragedy of Coriolanus

Author: William Shakespeare

Language: English

Year of First Publication: 1597

Edition: First Folio, Isaac Jaggard, and Edward Blount, London, 1623

License: Public Domain

Last revision: June 16, 2020

The Tragedy of Coriolanus

William Shakespeare




Scene 1: Rome. A street.

Scene 2: Corioli. The Senate-house.

Scene 3: Rome. A room in Marcius' house.

Scene 4: Before Corioli.

Scene 5: Corioli. A street.

Scene 6: Near the camp of Cominius.

Scene 7: The gates of Corioli.

Scene 8: A field of battle.

Scene 9: The Roman camp.

Scene 10: The camp of the Volsces.



Scene 1: Rome. A public place.

Scene 2: The same. The Capitol.

Scene 3: The same. The Forum.



Scene 1: Rome. A street.

Scene 2: A room in CORIOLANUS'S house.

Scene 3: The same. The Forum.



Scene 1: Rome. Before a gate of the city.

Scene 2: The same. A street near the gate.

Scene 3: A highway between Rome and Antium.

Scene 4: Antium. Before Aufidius's house.

Scene 5: The same. A hall in Aufidius's house.

Scene 6: Rome. A public place.

Scene 7: A camp, at a small distance from Rome.



Scene 1: Rome. A public place.

Scene 2: Entrance of the Volscian camp before Rome.

Scene 3: The tent of Coriolanus.

Scene 4: Rome. A public place.

Scene 5: The same. A street near the gate.

Scene 6: Antium. A public place.



SCENE I. Rome. A street.

Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons

First Citizen

Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.


Speak, speak.

First Citizen

You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?


Resolved. resolved.

First Citizen

First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.


We know't, we know't.

First Citizen

Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price.

Is't a verdict?


No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!

Second Citizen

One word, good citizens.

First Citizen

We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good.

What authority surfeits on would relieve us: if they

would yield us but the superfluity, while it were

wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely;

but they think we are too dear: the leanness that

afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an

inventory to particularise their abundance; our

sufferance is a gain to them Let us revenge this with

our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know I

speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

Second Citizen

Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?


Against him first: he's a very dog to the commonalty.

Second Citizen

Consider you what services he has done for his country?

First Citizen

Very well; and could be content to give him good

report fort, but that he pays himself with being proud.

Second Citizen

Nay, but speak not maliciously.

First Citizen

I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did

it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be

content to say it was for his country he did it to

please his mother and to be partly proud; which he

is, even till the altitude of his virtue.

Second Citizen

What he cannot help in his nature, you account a

vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.

First Citizen

If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations;

he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition.

Shouts within

What shouts are these? The other side o' the city

is risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!


Come, come.

First Citizen

Soft! who comes here?


Second Citizen

Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved

the people.

First Citizen

He's one honest enough: would all the rest were so!


What work's, my countrymen, in hand? where go you

With bats and clubs? The matter? speak, I pray you.

First Citizen

Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have

had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do,

which now we'll show 'em in deeds. They say poor

suitors have strong breaths: they shall know we

have strong arms too.


Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,

Will you undo yourselves?

First Citizen

We cannot, sir, we are undone already.


I tell you, friends, most charitable care

Have the patricians of you. For your wants,

Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well

Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them

Against the Roman state, whose course will on

The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs

Of more strong link asunder than can ever

Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,

The gods, not the patricians, make it, and

Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,

You are transported by calamity

Thither where more attends you, and you slander

The helms o' the state, who care for you like fathers,

When you curse them as enemies.

First Citizen

Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us

yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses

crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to

support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act

established against the rich, and provide more

piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain

the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and

there's all the love they bear us.


Either you must

Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,

Or be accused of folly. I shall tell you

A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;

But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture

To stale 't a little more.

First Citizen

Well, I'll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to

fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, an 't please

you, deliver.


There was a time when all the body's members

Rebell'd against the belly, thus accused it:

That only like a gulf it did remain

I' the midst o' the body, idle and unactive,

Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing

Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments

Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,

And, mutually participate, did minister

Unto the appetite and affection common

Of the whole body. The belly answer'd--

First Citizen

Well, sir, what answer made the belly?


Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile,

Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus--

For, look you, I may make the belly smile

As well as speak--it tauntingly replied

To the discontented members, the mutinous parts

That envied his receipt; even so most fitly

As you malign our senators for that

They are not such as you.

First Citizen

Your belly's answer? What!

The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,

The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,

Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter.

With other muniments and petty helps

In this our fabric, if that they--


What then?

'Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? what then?

First Citizen

Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,

Who is the sink o' the body,--


Well, what then?

First Citizen

The former agents, if they did complain,

What could the belly answer?


I will tell you

If you'll bestow a small--of what you have little--

Patience awhile, you'll hear the belly's answer.

First Citizen

Ye're long about it.


Note me this, good friend;

Your most grave belly was deliberate,

Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer'd:

'True is it, my incorporate friends,' quoth he,

'That I receive the general food at first,

Which you do live upon; and fit it is,

Because I am the store-house and the shop

Of the whole body: but, if you do remember,

I send it through the rivers of your blood,

Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o' the brain;

And, through the cranks and offices of man,

The strongest nerves and small inferior veins

From me receive that natural competency

Whereby they live: and though that all at once,

You, my good friends,'--this says the belly, mark me,--

First Citizen

Ay, sir; well, well.


'Though all at once cannot

See what I do deliver out to each,

Yet I can make my audit up, that all

From me do back receive the flour of all,

And leave me but the bran.' What say you to't?

First Citizen

It was an answer: how apply you this?


The senators of Rome are this good belly,

And you the mutinous members; for examine

Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly

Touching the weal o' the common, you shall find

No public benefit which you receive

But it proceeds or comes from them to you

And no way from yourselves. What do you think,

You, the great toe of this assembly?

First Citizen

I the great toe! why the great toe?


For that, being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest,

Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost:

Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,

Lead'st first to win some vantage.

But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs:

Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;

The one side must have bale.


Hail, noble Marcius!


Thanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,

That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,

Make yourselves scabs?

First Citizen

We have ever your good word.


He that will give good words to thee will flatter

Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,

That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you,

The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,

Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;

Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no,

Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,

Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is

To make him worthy whose offence subdues him

And curse that justice did it.

Who deserves greatness

Deserves your hate; and your affections are

A sick man's appetite, who desires most that

Which would increase his evil. He that depends

Upon your favours swims with fins of lead

And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust Ye?

With every minute you do change a mind,

And call him noble that was now your hate,

Him vile that was your garland. What's the matter,

That in these several places of the city

You cry against the noble senate, who,

Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else

Would feed on one another? What's their seeking?


For corn at their own rates; whereof, they say,

The city is well stored.


Hang 'em! They say!

They'll sit by the fire, and presume to know

What's done i' the Capitol; who's like to rise,

Who thrives and who declines; side factions

and give out

Conjectural marriages; making parties strong

And feebling such as stand not in their liking

Below their cobbled shoes. They say there's

grain enough!

Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,

And let me use my sword, I'll make a quarry

With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high

As I could pick my lance.


Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;

For though abundantly they lack discretion,

Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,

What says the other troop?


They are dissolved: hang 'em!

They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs,

That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,

That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not

Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds

They vented their complainings; which being answer'd,

And a petition granted them, a strange one--

To break the heart of generosity,

And make bold power look pale--they threw their caps

As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon,

Shouting their emulation.


What is granted them?


Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,

Of their own choice: one's Junius Brutus,

Sicinius Velutus, and I know not--'Sdeath!

The rabble should have first unroof'd the city,

Ere so prevail'd with me: it will in time

Win upon power and throw forth greater themes

For insurrection's arguing.


This is strange.


Go, get you home, you fragments!

Enter a Messenger, hastily


Where's Caius Marcius?


Here: what's the matter?


The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.


I am glad on 't: then we shall ha' means to vent

Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.


First Senator

Marcius, 'tis true that you have lately told us;

The Volsces are in arms.


They have a leader,

Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to 't.

I sin in envying his nobility,

And were I any thing but what I am,

I would wish me only he.


You have fought together.


Were half to half the world by the ears and he.

Upon my party, I'ld revolt to make

Only my wars with him: he is a lion

That I am proud to hunt.

First Senator

Then, worthy Marcius,

Attend upon Cominius to these wars.


It is your former promise.


Sir, it is;

And I am constant. Titus Lartius, thou

Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face.

What, art thou stiff? stand'st out?


No, Caius Marcius;

I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with t'other,

Ere stay behind this business.


O, true-bred!

First Senator

Your company to the Capitol; where, I know,

Our greatest friends attend us.


[To COMINIUS] Lead you on.


Right worthy you priority.


Noble Marcius!

First Senator

[To the Citizens] Hence to your homes; be gone!


Nay, let them follow:

The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither

To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,

Your valour puts well forth: pray, follow.

Citizens steal away. Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS


Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?


He has no equal.


When we were chosen tribunes for the people,--


Mark'd you his lip and eyes?


Nay. but his taunts.


Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods.


Be-mock the modest moon.


The present wars devour him: he is grown

Too proud to be so valiant.


Such a nature,

Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow

Which he treads on at noon: but I do wonder

His insolence can brook to be commanded

Under Cominius.


Fame, at the which he aims,

In whom already he's well graced, can not

Better be held nor more attain'd than by

A place below the first: for what miscarries

Shall be the general's fault, though he perform

To the utmost of a man, and giddy censure

Will then cry out of Marcius 'O if he

Had borne the business!'


Besides, if things go well,

Opinion that so sticks on Marcius shall

Of his demerits rob Cominius.



Half all Cominius' honours are to Marcius.

Though Marcius earned them not, and all his faults

To Marcius shall be honours, though indeed

In aught he merit not.


Let's hence, and hear

How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,

More than his singularity, he goes

Upon this present action.


Lets along.


SCENE II. Corioli. The Senate-house.

Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS and certain Senators

First Senator

So, your opinion is, Aufidius,

That they of Rome are entered in our counsels

And know how we proceed.


Is it not yours?

What ever have been thought on in this state,

That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome

Had circumvention? 'Tis not four days gone

Since I heard thence; these are the words: I think

I have the letter here; yes, here it is.


'They have press'd a power, but it is not known

Whether for east or west: the dearth is great;

The people mutinous; and it is rumour'd,

Cominius, Marcius your old enemy,

Who is of Rome worse hated than of you,

And Titus Lartius, a most valiant Roman,

These three lead on this preparation

Whither 'tis bent: most likely 'tis for you:

Consider of it.'

First Senator

Our army's in the field

We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready

To answer us.


Nor did you think it folly

To keep your great pretences veil'd till when

They needs must show themselves; which

in the hatching,

It seem'd, appear'd to Rome. By the discovery.

We shall be shorten'd in our aim, which was

To take in many towns ere almost Rome

Should know we were afoot.

Second Senator

Noble Aufidius,

Take your commission; hie you to your bands:

Let us alone to guard Corioli:

If they set down before 's, for the remove

Bring your army; but, I think, you'll find

They've not prepared for us.


O, doubt not that;

I speak from certainties. Nay, more,

Some parcels of their power are forth already,

And only hitherward. I leave your honours.

If we and Caius Marcius chance to meet,

'Tis sworn between us we shall ever strike

Till one can do no more.


The gods assist you!


And keep your honours safe!

First Senator


Second Senator





SCENE III. Rome. A room in Marcius' house.

Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA they set them down on two low stools, and sew


I pray you, daughter, sing; or express yourself in a

more comfortable sort: if my son were my husband, I

should freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he

won honour than in the embracements of his bed where

he would show most love. When yet he was but

tender-bodied and the only son of my womb, when

youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way, when

for a day of kings' entreaties a mother should not

sell him an hour from her beholding, I, considering

how honour would become such a person. that it was

no better than picture-like to hang by the wall, if

renown made it not stir, was pleased to let him seek

danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel

war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows

bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not

more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child

than now in first seeing he had proved himself a



But had he died in the business, madam; how then?


Then his good report should have been my son; I

therein would have found issue. Hear me profess

sincerely: had I a dozen sons, each in my love

alike and none less dear than thine and my good

Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their

country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.

Enter a Gentlewoman


Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.


Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.


Indeed, you shall not.

Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum,

See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair,

As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him:

Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus:

'Come on, you cowards! you were got in fear,

Though you were born in Rome:' his bloody brow

With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes,

Like to a harvest-man that's task'd to mow

Or all or lose his hire.


His bloody brow! O Jupiter, no blood!


Away, you fool! it more becomes a man

Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba,

When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier

Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood

At Grecian sword, contemning. Tell Valeria,

We are fit to bid her welcome.

Exit Gentlewoman


Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!


He'll beat Aufidius 'head below his knee

And tread upon his neck.

Enter VALERIA, with an Usher and Gentlewoman


My ladies both, good day to you.


Sweet madam.


I am glad to see your ladyship.


How do you both? you are manifest house-keepers.

What are you sewing here? A fine spot, in good

faith. How does your little son?


I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.


He had rather see the swords, and hear a drum, than

look upon his school-master.


O' my word, the father's son: I'll swear,'tis a

very pretty boy. O' my troth, I looked upon him o'

Wednesday half an hour together: has such a

confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded

butterfly: and when he caught it, he let it go

again; and after it again; and over and over he

comes, and again; catched it again; or whether his

fall enraged him, or how 'twas, he did so set his

teeth and tear it; O, I warrant it, how he mammocked



One on 's father's moods.


Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.


A crack, madam.


Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play

the idle husewife with me this afternoon.


No, good madam; I will not out of doors.


Not out of doors!


She shall, she shall.


Indeed, no, by your patience; I'll not over the

threshold till my lord return from the wars.


Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably: come,

you must go visit the good lady that lies in.


I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her with

my prayers; but I cannot go thither.


Why, I pray you?


'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.


You would be another Penelope: yet, they say, all

the yarn she spun in Ulysses' absence did but fill

Ithaca full of moths. Come; I would your cambric

were sensible as your finger, that you might leave

pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.


No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I will not forth.


In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell you

excellent news of your husband.


O, good madam, there can be none yet.


Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news from

him last night.


Indeed, madam?


In earnest, it's true; I heard a senator speak it.

Thus it is: the Volsces have an army forth; against

whom Cominius the general is gone, with one part of

our Roman power: your lord and Titus Lartius are set

down before their city Corioli; they nothing doubt

prevailing and to make it brief wars. This is true,

on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.


Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in every

thing hereafter.


Let her alone, lady: as she is now, she will but

disease our better mirth.


In troth, I think she would. Fare you well, then.

Come, good sweet lady. Prithee, Virgilia, turn thy

solemness out o' door. and go along with us.


No, at a word, madam; indeed, I must not. I wish

you much mirth.


Well, then, farewell.


SCENE IV. Before Corioli.

Enter, with drum and colours, MARCIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, Captains and Soldiers. To them a Messenger


Yonder comes news. A wager they have met.


My horse to yours, no.


'Tis done.




Say, has our general met the enemy?


They lie in view; but have not spoke as yet.


So, the good horse is mine.


I'll buy him of you.


No, I'll nor sell nor give him: lend you him I will

For half a hundred years. Summon the town.


How far off lie these armies?


Within this mile and half.


Then shall we hear their 'larum, and they ours.

Now, Mars, I prithee, make us quick in work,

That we with smoking swords may march from hence,

To help our fielded friends! Come, blow thy blast.

They sound a parley. Enter two Senators with others on the walls

Tutus Aufidius, is he within your walls?

First Senator

No, nor a man that fears you less than he,

That's lesser than a little.

Drums afar off

Hark! our drums

Are bringing forth our youth. We'll break our walls,

Rather than they shall pound us up: our gates,

Which yet seem shut, we, have but pinn'd with rushes;

They'll open of themselves.

Alarum afar off

Hark you. far off!

There is Aufidius; list, what work he makes

Amongst your cloven army.


O, they are at it!


Their noise be our instruction. Ladders, ho!

Enter the army of the Volsces


They fear us not, but issue forth their city.

Now put your shields before your hearts, and fight

With hearts more proof than shields. Advance,

brave Titus:

They do disdain us much beyond our thoughts,

Which makes me sweat with wrath. Come on, my fellows:

He that retires I'll take him for a Volsce,

And he shall feel mine edge.

Alarum. The Romans are beat back to their trenches. Re-enter MARCIUS cursing


All the contagion of the south light on you,

You shames of Rome! you herd of--Boils and plagues

Plaster you o'er, that you may be abhorr'd

Further than seen and one infect another

Against the wind a mile! You souls of geese,

That bear the shapes of men, how have you run

From slaves that apes would beat! Pluto and hell!

All hurt behind; backs red, and faces pale

With flight and agued fear! Mend and charge home,

Or, by the fires of heaven, I'll leave the foe

And make my wars on you: look to't: come on;

If you'll stand fast, we'll beat them to their wives,

As they us to our trenches followed.

Another alarum. The Volsces fly, and MARCIUS follows them to the gates

So, now the gates are ope: now prove good seconds:

'Tis for the followers fortune widens them,

Not for the fliers: mark me, and do the like.

Enters the gates

First Soldier

Fool-hardiness; not I.

Second Soldier

Nor I.

MARCIUS is shut in

First Soldier

See, they have shut him in.


To the pot, I warrant him.

Alarum continues



What is become of Marcius?


Slain, sir, doubtless.

First Soldier

Following the fliers at the very heels,

With them he enters; who, upon the sudden,

Clapp'd to their gates: he is himself alone,

To answer all the city.


O noble fellow!

Who sensibly outdares his senseless sword,

And, when it bows, stands up. Thou art left, Marcius:

A carbuncle entire, as big as thou art,

Were not so rich a jewel. Thou wast a soldier

Even to Cato's wish, not fierce and terrible

Only in strokes; but, with thy grim looks and

The thunder-like percussion of thy sounds,

Thou madst thine enemies shake, as if the world

Were feverous and did tremble.

Re-enter MARCIUS, bleeding, assaulted by the enemy

First Soldier

Look, sir.


O,'tis Marcius!

Let's fetch him off, or make remain alike.

They fight, and all enter the city

SCENE V. Corioli. A street.

Enter certain Romans, with spoils

First Roman

This will I carry to Rome.

Second Roman

And I this.

Third Roman

A murrain on't! I took this for silver.

Alarum continues still afar off

Enter MARCIUS and TITUS LARTIUS with a trumpet


See here these movers that do prize their hours

At a crack'd drachm! Cushions, leaden spoons,

Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would

Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves,

Ere yet the fight be done, pack up: down with them!

And hark, what noise the general makes! To him!

There is the man of my soul's hate, Aufidius,

Piercing our Romans: then, valiant Titus, take

Convenient numbers to make good the city;

Whilst I, with those that have the spirit, will haste

To help Cominius.


Worthy sir, thou bleed'st;

Thy exercise hath been too violent for

A second course of fight.


Sir, praise me not;

My work hath yet not warm'd me: fare you well:

The blood I drop is rather physical

Than dangerous to me: to Aufidius thus

I will appear, and fight.


Now the fair goddess, Fortune,

Fall deep in love with thee; and her great charms

Misguide thy opposers' swords! Bold gentleman,

Prosperity be thy page!


Thy friend no less

Than those she placeth highest! So, farewell.


Thou worthiest Marcius!


Go, sound thy trumpet in the market-place;

Call thither all the officers o' the town,

Where they shall know our mind: away!


SCENE VI. Near the camp of Cominius.

Enter COMINIUS, as it were in retire, with soldiers


Breathe you, my friends: well fought;

we are come off

Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands,

Nor cowardly in retire: believe me, sirs,

We shall be charged again. Whiles we have struck,

By interims and conveying gusts we have heard

The charges of our friends. Ye Roman gods!

Lead their successes as we wish our own,

That both our powers, with smiling

fronts encountering,

May give you thankful sacrifice.

Enter a Messenger

Thy news?


The citizens of Corioli have issued,

And given to Lartius and to Marcius battle:

I saw our party to their trenches driven,

And then I came away.


Though thou speak'st truth,

Methinks thou speak'st not well.

How long is't since?


Above an hour, my lord.


'Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums:

How couldst thou in a mile confound an hour,

And bring thy news so late?


Spies of the Volsces

Held me in chase, that I was forced to wheel

Three or four miles about, else had I, sir,

Half an hour since brought my report.


Who's yonder,

That does appear as he were flay'd? O gods

He has the stamp of Marcius; and I have

Before-time seen him thus.


[Within] Come I too late?


The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabour

More than I know the sound of Marcius' tongue

From every meaner man.



Come I too late?


Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,

But mantled in your own.


O, let me clip ye

In arms as sound as when I woo'd, in heart

As merry as when our nuptial day was done,

And tapers burn'd to bedward!


Flower of warriors,

How is it with Titus Lartius?


As with a man busied about decrees:

Condemning some to death, and some to exile;

Ransoming him, or pitying, threatening the other;

Holding Corioli in the name of Rome,

Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,

To let him slip at will.


Where is that slave

Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?

Where is he? call him hither.


Let him alone;

He did inform the truth: but for our gentlemen,

The common file--a plague! tribunes for them!--

The mouse ne'er shunn'd the cat as they did budge

From rascals worse than they.


But how prevail'd you?


Will the time serve to tell? I do not think.

Where is the enemy? are you lords o' the field?

If not, why cease you till you are so?



We have at disadvantage fought and did

Retire to win our purpose.


How lies their battle? know you on which side

They have placed their men of trust?


As I guess, Marcius,

Their bands i' the vaward are the Antiates,

Of their best trust; o'er them Aufidius,

Their very heart of hope.


I do beseech you,

By all the battles wherein we have fought,

By the blood we have shed together, by the vows

We have made to endure friends, that you directly

Set me against Aufidius and his Antiates;

And that you not delay the present, but,

Filling the air with swords advanced and darts,

We prove this very hour.


Though I could wish

You were conducted to a gentle bath

And balms applied to, you, yet dare I never

Deny your asking: take your choice of those

That best can aid your action.


Those are they

That most are willing. If any such be here--

As it were sin to doubt--that love this painting

Wherein you see me smear'd; if any fear

Lesser his person than an ill report;

If any think brave death outweighs bad life

And that his country's dearer than himself;

Let him alone, or so many so minded,

Wave thus, to express his disposition,

And follow Marcius.

They all shout and wave their swords, take him up in their arms, and cast up their caps

O, me alone! make you a sword of me?

If these shows be not outward, which of you

But is four Volsces? none of you but is

Able to bear against the great Aufidius

A shield as hard as his. A certain number,

Though thanks to all, must I select

from all: the rest

Shall bear the business in some other fight,

As cause will be obey'd. Please you to march;

And four shall quickly draw out my command,

Which men are best inclined.


March on, my fellows:

Make good this ostentation, and you shall

Divide in all with us.


SCENE VII. The gates of Corioli.

TITUS LARTIUS, having set a guard upon Corioli, going with drum and trumpet toward COMINIUS and CAIUS MARCIUS, enters with Lieutenant, other Soldiers, and a Scout


So, let the ports be guarded: keep your duties,

As I have set them down. If I do send, dispatch

Those centuries to our aid: the rest will serve

For a short holding: if we lose the field,

We cannot keep the town.


Fear not our care, sir.


Hence, and shut your gates upon's.

Our guider, come; to the Roman camp conduct us.


SCENE VIII. A field of battle.

Alarum as in battle. Enter, from opposite sides, MARCIUS and AUFIDIUS


I'll fight with none but thee; for I do hate thee

Worse than a promise-breaker.


We hate alike:

Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor

More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.


Let the first budger die the other's slave,

And the gods doom him after!


If I fly, Marcius,

Holloa me like a hare.


Within these three hours, Tullus,

Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,

And made what work I pleased: 'tis not my blood

Wherein thou seest me mask'd; for thy revenge

Wrench up thy power to the highest.


Wert thou the Hector

That was the whip of your bragg'd progeny,

Thou shouldst not scape me here.

They fight, and certain Volsces come to the aid of AUFIDIUS. MARCIUS fights till they be driven in breathless

Officious, and not valiant, you have shamed me

In your condemned seconds.


SCENE IX. The Roman camp.

Flourish. Alarum. A retreat is sounded. Flourish. Enter, from one side, COMINIUS with the Romans; from the other side, MARCIUS, with his arm in a scarf


If I should tell thee o'er this thy day's work,

Thou'ldst not believe thy deeds: but I'll report it

Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles,

Where great patricians shall attend and shrug,

I' the end admire, where ladies shall be frighted,

And, gladly quaked, hear more; where the

dull tribunes,

That, with the fusty plebeians, hate thine honours,

Shall say against their hearts 'We thank the gods

Our Rome hath such a soldier.'

Yet camest thou to a morsel of this feast,

Having fully dined before.

Enter TITUS LARTIUS, with his power, from the pursuit


O general,

Here is the steed, we the caparison:

Hadst thou beheld--


Pray now, no more: my mother,

Who has a charter to extol her blood,

When she does praise me grieves me. I have done

As you have done; that's what I can; induced

As you have been; that's for my country:

He that has but effected his good will

Hath overta'en mine act.


You shall not be

The grave of your deserving; Rome must know

The value of her own: 'twere a concealment

Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement,

To hide your doings; and to silence that,

Which, to the spire and top of praises vouch'd,

Would seem but modest: therefore, I beseech you

In sign of what you are, not to reward

What you have done--before our army hear me.


I have some wounds upon me, and they smart

To hear themselves remember'd.


Should they not,

Well might they fester 'gainst ingratitude,

And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses,

Whereof we have ta'en good and good store, of all

The treasure in this field achieved and city,

We render you the tenth, to be ta'en forth,

Before the common distribution, at

Your only choice.


I thank you, general;

But cannot make my heart consent to take

A bribe to pay my sword: I do refuse it;

And stand upon my common part with those

That have beheld the doing.

A long flourish. They all cry 'Marcius! Marcius!' cast up their caps and lances: COMINIUS and LARTIUS stand bare


May these same instruments, which you profane,

Never sound more! when drums and trumpets shall

I' the field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be

Made all of false-faced soothing!

When steel grows soft as the parasite's silk,

Let him be made a coverture for the wars!

No more, I say! For that I have not wash'd

My nose that bled, or foil'd some debile wretch.--

Which, without note, here's many else have done,--

You shout me forth

In acclamations hyperbolical;

As if I loved my little should be dieted

In praises sauced with lies.


Too modest are you;

More cruel to your good report than grateful

To us that give you truly: by your patience,

If 'gainst yourself you be incensed, we'll put you,

Like one that means his proper harm, in manacles,

Then reason safely with you. Therefore, be it known,

As to us, to all the world, that Caius Marcius

Wears this war's garland: in token of the which,

My noble steed, known to the camp, I give him,

With all his trim belonging; and from this time,

For what he did before Corioli, call him,

With all the applause and clamour of the host,


The addition nobly ever!

Flourish. Trumpets sound, and drums


Caius Marcius Coriolanus!


I will go wash;

And when my face is fair, you shall perceive

Whether I blush or no: howbeit, I thank you.

I mean to stride your steed, and at all times

To undercrest your good addition

To the fairness of my power.


So, to our tent;

Where, ere we do repose us, we will write

To Rome of our success. You, Titus Lartius,

Must to Corioli back: send us to Rome

The best, with whom we may articulate,

For their own good and ours.


I shall, my lord.


The gods begin to mock me. I, that now

Refused most princely gifts, am bound to beg

Of my lord general.


Take't; 'tis yours. What is't?


I sometime lay here in Corioli

At a poor man's house; he used me kindly:

He cried to me; I saw him prisoner;

But then Aufidius was with in my view,

And wrath o'erwhelm'd my pity: I request you

To give my poor host freedom.


O, well begg'd!

Were he the butcher of my son, he should

Be free as is the wind. Deliver him, Titus.


Marcius, his name?


By Jupiter! forgot.

I am weary; yea, my memory is tired.

Have we no wine here?


Go we to our tent:

The blood upon your visage dries; 'tis time

It should be look'd to: come.


SCENE X. The camp of the Volsces.

A flourish. Cornets. Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, bloody, with two or three Soldiers


The town is ta'en!

First Soldier

'Twill be deliver'd back on good condition.



I would I were a Roman; for I cannot,

Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition!

What good condition can a treaty find

I' the part that is at mercy? Five times, Marcius,

I have fought with thee: so often hast thou beat me,

And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter

As often as we eat. By the elements,

If e'er again I meet him beard to beard,

He's mine, or I am his: mine emulation

Hath not that honour in't it had; for where

I thought to crush him in an equal force,

True sword to sword, I'll potch at him some way

Or wrath or craft may get him.

First Soldier

He's the devil.


Bolder, though not so subtle. My valour's poison'd

With only suffering stain by him; for him

Shall fly out of itself: nor sleep nor sanctuary,

Being naked, sick, nor fane nor Capitol,

The prayers of priests nor times of sacrifice,

Embarquements all of fury, shall lift up

Their rotten privilege and custom 'gainst

My hate to Marcius: where I find him, were it

At home, upon my brother's guard, even there,

Against the hospitable canon, would I

Wash my fierce hand in's heart. Go you to the city;

Learn how 'tis held; and what they are that must

Be hostages for Rome.

First Soldier

Will not you go?


I am attended at the cypress grove: I pray you--

'Tis south the city mills--bring me word thither

How the world goes, that to the pace of it

I may spur on my journey.

First Soldier

I shall, sir.



SCENE I. Rome. A public place.

Enter MENENIUS with the two Tribunes of the people, SICINIUS and BRUTUS.


The augurer tells me we shall have news to-night.


Good or bad?


Not according to the prayer of the people, for they

love not Marcius.


Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.


Pray you, who does the wolf love?


The lamb.


Ay, to devour him; as the hungry plebeians would the

noble Marcius.


He's a lamb indeed, that baes like a bear.


He's a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You two

are old men: tell me one thing that I shall ask you.


Well, sir.


In what enormity is Marcius poor in, that you two

have not in abundance?


He's poor in no one fault, but stored with all.


Especially in pride.


And topping all others in boasting.


This is strange now: do you two know how you are

censured here in the city, I mean of us o' the

right-hand file? do you?


Why, how are we censured?


Because you talk of pride now,--will you not be angry?


Well, well, sir, well.


Why, 'tis no great matter; for a very little thief of

occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience:

give your dispositions the reins, and be angry at

your pleasures; at the least if you take it as a

pleasure to you in being so. You blame Marcius for

being proud?


We do it not alone, sir.


I know you can do very little alone; for your helps

are many, or else your actions would grow wondrous

single: your abilities are too infant-like for

doing much alone. You talk of pride: O that you

could turn your eyes toward the napes of your necks,

and make but an interior survey of your good selves!

O that you could!


What then, sir?


Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,

proud, violent, testy magistrates, alias fools, as

any in Rome.


Menenius, you are known well enough too.


I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that

loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying

Tiber in't; said to be something imperfect in

favouring the first complaint; hasty and tinder-like

upon too trivial motion; one that converses more

with the buttock of the night than with the forehead

of the morning: what I think I utter, and spend my

malice in my breath. Meeting two such wealsmen as

you are--I cannot call you Lycurguses--if the drink

you give me touch my palate adversely, I make a

crooked face at it. I can't say your worships have

delivered the matter well, when I find the ass in

compound with the major part of your syllables: and

though I must be content to bear with those that say

you are reverend grave men, yet they lie deadly that

tell you you have good faces. If you see this in

the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known

well enough too? what barm can your bisson

conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be

known well enough too?


Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.


You know neither me, yourselves nor any thing. You

are ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs: you

wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a

cause between an orange wife and a fosset-seller;

and then rejourn the controversy of three pence to a

second day of audience. When you are hearing a

matter between party and party, if you chance to be

pinched with the colic, you make faces like

mummers; set up the bloody flag against all

patience; and, in roaring for a chamber-pot,

dismiss the controversy bleeding the more entangled

by your hearing: all the peace you make in their

cause is, calling both the parties knaves. You are

a pair of strange ones.


Come, come, you are well understood to be a

perfecter giber for the table than a necessary

bencher in the Capitol.


Our very priests must become mockers, if they shall

encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When

you speak best unto the purpose, it is not worth the

wagging of your beards; and your beards deserve not

so honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's

cushion, or to be entombed in an ass's pack-

saddle. Yet you must be saying, Marcius is proud;

who in a cheap estimation, is worth predecessors

since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the

best of 'em were hereditary hangmen. God-den to

your worships: more of your conversation would

infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly

plebeians: I will be bold to take my leave of you.

BRUTUS and SICINIUS go aside


How now, my as fair as noble ladies,--and the moon,

were she earthly, no nobler,--whither do you follow

your eyes so fast?


Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; for

the love of Juno, let's go.


Ha! Marcius coming home!


Ay, worthy Menenius; and with most prosperous



Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!

Marcius coming home!



Nay,'tis true.


Look, here's a letter from him: the state hath

another, his wife another; and, I think, there's one

at home for you.


I will make my very house reel tonight: a letter for



Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw't.


A letter for me! it gives me an estate of seven

years' health; in which time I will make a lip at

the physician: the most sovereign prescription in

Galen is but empiricutic, and, to this preservative,

of no better report than a horse-drench. Is he

not wounded? he was wont to come home wounded.


O, no, no, no.


O, he is wounded; I thank the gods for't.


So do I too, if it be not too much: brings a'

victory in his pocket? the wounds become him.


On's brows: Menenius, he comes the third time home

with the oaken garland.


Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?


Titus Lartius writes, they fought together, but

Aufidius got off.


And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him that:

an he had stayed by him, I would not have been so

fidiused for all the chests in Corioli, and the gold

that's in them. Is the senate possessed of this?


Good ladies, let's go. Yes, yes, yes; the senate

has letters from the general, wherein he gives my

son the whole name of the war: he hath in this

action outdone his former deeds doubly


In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.


Wondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not without his

true purchasing.


The gods grant them true!


True! pow, wow.


True! I'll be sworn they are true.

Where is he wounded?

To the Tribunes

God save your good worships! Marcius is coming

home: he has more cause to be proud. Where is he wounded?


I' the shoulder and i' the left arm there will be

large cicatrices to show the people, when he shall

stand for his place. He received in the repulse of

Tarquin seven hurts i' the body.


One i' the neck, and two i' the thigh,--there's

nine that I know.


He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five

wounds upon him.


Now it's twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy's grave.

A shout and flourish

Hark! the trumpets.


These are the ushers of Marcius: before him he

carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears:

Death, that dark spirit, in 's nervy arm doth lie;

Which, being advanced, declines, and then men die.

A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter COMINIUS the general, and TITUS LARTIUS; between them, CORIOLANUS, crowned with an oaken garland; with Captains and Soldiers, and a Herald


Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight

Within Corioli gates: where he hath won,

With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these

In honour follows Coriolanus.

Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!



Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!


No more of this; it does offend my heart:

Pray now, no more.


Look, sir, your mother!



You have, I know, petition'd all the gods

For my prosperity!



Nay, my good soldier, up;

My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and

By deed-achieving honour newly named,--

What is it?--Coriolanus must I call thee?--

But O, thy wife!


My gracious silence, hail!

Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home,

That weep'st to see me triumph? Ay, my dear,

Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,

And mothers that lack sons.


Now, the gods crown thee!


And live you yet?


O my sweet lady, pardon.


I know not where to turn: O, welcome home:

And welcome, general: and ye're welcome all.


A hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep

And I could laugh, I am light and heavy. Welcome.

A curse begin at very root on's heart,

That is not glad to see thee! You are three

That Rome should dote on: yet, by the faith of men,

We have some old crab-trees here

at home that will not

Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors:

We call a nettle but a nettle and

The faults of fools but folly.


Ever right.


Menenius ever, ever.


Give way there, and go on!


[To VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA] Your hand, and yours:

Ere in our own house I do shade my head,

The good patricians must be visited;

From whom I have received not only greetings,

But with them change of honours.


I have lived

To see inherited my very wishes

And the buildings of my fancy: only

There's one thing wanting, which I doubt not but

Our Rome will cast upon thee.


Know, good mother,

I had rather be their servant in my way,

Than sway with them in theirs.


On, to the Capitol!

Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before. BRUTUS and SICINIUS come forward


All tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights

Are spectacled to see him: your prattling nurse

Into a rapture lets her baby cry

While she chats him: the kitchen malkin pins

Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck,

Clambering the walls to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows,

Are smother'd up, leads fill'd, and ridges horsed

With variable complexions, all agreeing

In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens

Do press among the popular throngs and puff

To win a vulgar station: or veil'd dames

Commit the war of white and damask in

Their nicely-gawded cheeks to the wanton spoil

Of Phoebus' burning kisses: such a pother

As if that whatsoever god who leads him

Were slily crept into his human powers

And gave him graceful posture.


On the sudden,

I warrant him consul.


Then our office may,

During his power, go sleep.


He cannot temperately transport his honours

From where he should begin and end, but will

Lose those he hath won.


In that there's comfort.


Doubt not

The commoners, for whom we stand, but they

Upon their ancient malice will forget

With the least cause these his new honours, which

That he will give them make I as little question

As he is proud to do't.


I heard him swear,

Were he to stand for consul, never would he

Appear i' the market-place nor on him put

The napless vesture of humility;

Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds

To the people, beg their stinking breaths.


'Tis right.


It was his word: O, he would miss it rather

Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him,

And the desire of the nobles.


I wish no better

Than have him hold that purpose and to put it

In execution.


'Tis most like he will.


It shall be to him then as our good wills,

A sure destruction.


So it must fall out

To him or our authorities. For an end,

We must suggest the people in what hatred

He still hath held them; that to's power he would

Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders and

Dispropertied their freedoms, holding them,

In human action and capacity,

Of no more soul nor fitness for the world

Than camels in the war, who have their provand

Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows

For sinking under them.


This, as you say, suggested

At some time when his soaring insolence

Shall touch the people--which time shall not want,

If he be put upon 't; and that's as easy

As to set dogs on sheep--will be his fire

To kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze

Shall darken him for ever.

Enter a Messenger


What's the matter?


You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought

That Marcius shall be consul:

I have seen the dumb men throng to see him and

The blind to bear him speak: matrons flung gloves,

Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers,

Upon him as he pass'd: the nobles bended,

As to Jove's statue, and the commons made

A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts:

I never saw the like.


Let's to the Capitol;

And carry with us ears and eyes for the time,

But hearts for the event.


Have with you.


SCENE II. The same. The Capitol.

Enter two Officers, to lay cushions

First Officer

Come, come, they are almost here. How many stand

for consulships?

Second Officer

Three, they say: but 'tis thought of every one

Coriolanus will carry it.

First Officer

That's a brave fellow; but he's vengeance proud, and

loves not the common people.

Second Officer

Faith, there had been many great men that have

flattered the people, who ne'er loved them; and there

be many that they have loved, they know not

wherefore: so that, if they love they know not why,

they hate upon no better a ground: therefore, for

Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate

him manifests the true knowledge he has in their

disposition; and out of his noble carelessness lets

them plainly see't.

First Officer

If he did not care whether he had their love or no,

he waved indifferently 'twixt doing them neither

good nor harm: but he seeks their hate with greater

devotion than can render it him; and leaves

nothing undone that may fully discover him their

opposite. Now, to seem to affect the malice and

displeasure of the people is as bad as that which he

dislikes, to flatter them for their love.

Second Officer

He hath deserved worthily of his country: and his

ascent is not by such easy degrees as those who,

having been supple and courteous to the people,

bonneted, without any further deed to have them at

an into their estimation and report: but he hath so

planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions

in their hearts, that for their tongues to be

silent, and not confess so much, were a kind of

ingrateful injury; to report otherwise, were a

malice, that, giving itself the lie, would pluck

reproof and rebuke from every ear that heard it.

First Officer

No more of him; he is a worthy man: make way, they

are coming.

A sennet. Enter, with actors before them, COMINIUS the consul, MENENIUS, CORIOLANUS, Senators, SICINIUS and BRUTUS. The Senators take their places; the Tribunes take their Places by themselves. CORIOLANUS stands


Having determined of the Volsces and

To send for Titus Lartius, it remains,

As the main point of this our after-meeting,

To gratify his noble service that

Hath thus stood for his country: therefore,

please you,

Most reverend and grave elders, to desire

The present consul, and last general

In our well-found successes, to report

A little of that worthy work perform'd

By Caius Marcius Coriolanus, whom

We met here both to thank and to remember

With honours like himself.

First Senator

Speak, good Cominius:

Leave nothing out for length, and make us think

Rather our state's defective for requital

Than we to stretch it out.

To the Tribunes

Masters o' the people,

We do request your kindest ears, and after,

Your loving motion toward the common body,

To yield what passes here.


We are convented

Upon a pleasing treaty, and have hearts

Inclinable to honour and advance

The theme of our assembly.


Which the rather

We shall be blest to do, if he remember

A kinder value of the people than

He hath hereto prized them at.


That's off, that's off;

I would you rather had been silent. Please you

To hear Cominius speak?


Most willingly;

But yet my caution was more pertinent

Than the rebuke you give it.


He loves your people

But tie him not to be their bedfellow.

Worthy Cominius, speak.

CORIOLANUS offers to go away

Nay, keep your place.

First Senator

Sit, Coriolanus; never shame to hear

What you have nobly done.


Your horror's pardon:

I had rather have my wounds to heal again

Than hear say how I got them.


Sir, I hope

My words disbench'd you not.


No, sir: yet oft,

When blows have made me stay, I fled from words.

You soothed not, therefore hurt not: but

your people,

I love them as they weigh.


Pray now, sit down.


I had rather have one scratch my head i' the sun

When the alarum were struck than idly sit

To hear my nothings monster'd.



Masters of the people,

Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter--

That's thousand to one good one--when you now see

He had rather venture all his limbs for honour

Than one on's ears to hear it? Proceed, Cominius.


I shall lack voice: the deeds of Coriolanus

Should not be utter'd feebly. It is held

That valour is the chiefest virtue, and

Most dignifies the haver: if it be,

The man I speak of cannot in the world

Be singly counterpoised. At sixteen years,

When Tarquin made a head for Rome, he fought

Beyond the mark of others: our then dictator,

Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight,

When with his Amazonian chin he drove

The bristled lips before him: be bestrid

An o'er-press'd Roman and i' the consul's view

Slew three opposers: Tarquin's self he met,

And struck him on his knee: in that day's feats,

When he might act the woman in the scene,

He proved best man i' the field, and for his meed

Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age

Man-enter'd thus, he waxed like a sea,

And in the brunt of seventeen battles since

He lurch'd all swords of the garland. For this last,

Before and in Corioli, let me say,

I cannot speak him home: he stopp'd the fliers;

And by his rare example made the coward

Turn terror into sport: as weeds before

A vessel under sail, so men obey'd

And fell below his stem: his sword, death's stamp,

Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot

He was a thing of blood, whose every motion

Was timed with dying cries: alone he enter'd

The mortal gate of the city, which he painted

With shunless destiny; aidless came off,

And with a sudden reinforcement struck

Corioli like a planet: now all's his:

When, by and by, the din of war gan pierce

His ready sense; then straight his doubled spirit

Re-quicken'd what in flesh was fatigate,

And to the battle came he; where he did

Run reeking o'er the lives of men, as if

'Twere a perpetual spoil: and till we call'd

Both field and city ours, he never stood

To ease his breast with panting.


Worthy man!

First Senator

He cannot but with measure fit the honours

Which we devise him.


Our spoils he kick'd at,

And look'd upon things precious as they were

The common muck of the world: he covets less

Than misery itself would give; rewards

His deeds with doing them, and is content

To spend the time to end it.


He's right noble:

Let him be call'd for.

First Senator

Call Coriolanus.


He doth appear.



The senate, Coriolanus, are well pleased

To make thee consul.


I do owe them still

My life and services.


It then remains

That you do speak to the people.


I do beseech you,

Let me o'erleap that custom, for I cannot

Put on the gown, stand naked and entreat them,

For my wounds' sake, to give their suffrage: please you

That I may pass this doing.


Sir, the people

Must have their voices; neither will they bate

One jot of ceremony.


Put them not to't:

Pray you, go fit you to the custom and

Take to you, as your predecessors have,

Your honour with your form.


It is apart

That I shall blush in acting, and might well

Be taken from the people.


Mark you that?


To brag unto them, thus I did, and thus;

Show them the unaching scars which I should hide,

As if I had received them for the hire

Of their breath only!


Do not stand upon't.

We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,

Our purpose to them: and to our noble consul

Wish we all joy and honour.


To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!

Flourish of cornets. Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS


You see how he intends to use the people.


May they perceive's intent! He will require them,

As if he did contemn what he requested

Should be in them to give.


Come, we'll inform them

Of our proceedings here: on the marketplace,

I know, they do attend us.


SCENE III. The same. The Forum.

Enter seven or eight Citizens

First Citizen

Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.

Second Citizen

We may, sir, if we will.

Third Citizen

We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a

power that we have no power to do; for if he show us

his wounds and tell us his deeds, we are to put our

tongues into those wounds and speak for them; so, if

he tell us his noble deeds, we must also tell him

our noble acceptance of them. Ingratitude is

monstrous, and for the multitude to be ingrateful,

were to make a monster of the multitude: of the

which we being members, should bring ourselves to be

monstrous members.

First Citizen

And to make us no better thought of, a little help

will serve; for once we stood up about the corn, he

himself stuck not to call us the many-headed multitude.

Third Citizen

We have been called so of many; not that our heads

are some brown, some black, some auburn, some bald,

but that our wits are so diversely coloured: and

truly I think if all our wits were to issue out of

one skull, they would fly east, west, north, south,

and their consent of one direct way should be at

once to all the points o' the compass.

Second Citizen

Think you so? Which way do you judge my wit would


Third Citizen

Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man's

will;'tis strongly wedged up in a block-head, but

if it were at liberty, 'twould, sure, southward.

Second Citizen

Why that way?

Third Citizen

To lose itself in a fog, where being three parts

melted away with rotten dews, the fourth would return

for conscience sake, to help to get thee a wife.

Second Citizen

You are never without your tricks: you may, you may.

Third Citizen

Are you all resolved to give your voices? But

that's no matter, the greater part carries it. I

say, if he would incline to the people, there was

never a worthier man.

Enter CORIOLANUS in a gown of humility, with MENENIUS

Here he comes, and in the gown of humility: mark his

behavior. We are not to stay all together, but to

come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos, and

by threes. He's to make his requests by

particulars; wherein every one of us has a single

honour, in giving him our own voices with our own

tongues: therefore follow me, and I direct you how

you shall go by him.


Content, content.

Exeunt Citizens


O sir, you are not right: have you not known

The worthiest men have done't?


What must I say?

'I Pray, sir'--Plague upon't! I cannot bring

My tongue to such a pace:--'Look, sir, my wounds!

I got them in my country's service, when

Some certain of your brethren roar'd and ran

From the noise of our own drums.'


O me, the gods!

You must not speak of that: you must desire them

To think upon you.


Think upon me! hang 'em!

I would they would forget me, like the virtues

Which our divines lose by 'em.


You'll mar all:

I'll leave you: pray you, speak to 'em, I pray you,

In wholesome manner.



Bid them wash their faces

And keep their teeth clean.

Re-enter two of the Citizens

So, here comes a brace.

Re-enter a third Citizen

You know the cause, air, of my standing here.

Third Citizen

We do, sir; tell us what hath brought you to't.


Mine own desert.

Second Citizen

Your own desert!


Ay, but not mine own desire.

Third Citizen

How not your own desire?


No, sir,'twas never my desire yet to trouble the

poor with begging.

Third Citizen

You must think, if we give you any thing, we hope to

gain by you.


Well then, I pray, your price o' the consulship?

First Citizen

The price is to ask it kindly.


Kindly! Sir, I pray, let me ha't: I have wounds to

show you, which shall be yours in private. Your

good voice, sir; what say you?

Second Citizen

You shall ha' it, worthy sir.


A match, sir. There's in all two worthy voices

begged. I have your alms: adieu.

Third Citizen

But this is something odd.

Second Citizen

An 'twere to give again,--but 'tis no matter.

Exeunt the three Citizens

Re-enter two other Citizens


Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your

voices that I may be consul, I have here the

customary gown.

Fourth Citizen

You have deserved nobly of your country, and you

have not deserved nobly.


Your enigma?

Fourth Citizen

You have been a scourge to her enemies, you have

been a rod to her friends; you have not indeed loved

the common people.


You should account me the more virtuous that I have

not been common in my love. I will, sir, flatter my

sworn brother, the people, to earn a dearer

estimation of them; 'tis a condition they account

gentle: and since the wisdom of their choice is

rather to have my hat than my heart, I will practise

the insinuating nod and be off to them most

counterfeitly; that is, sir, I will counterfeit the

bewitchment of some popular man and give it

bountiful to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you,

I may be consul.

Fifth Citizen

We hope to find you our friend; and therefore give

you our voices heartily.

Fourth Citizen

You have received many wounds for your country.


I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I

will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.

Both Citizens

The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!



Most sweet voices!

Better it is to die, better to starve,

Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.

Why in this woolvish toge should I stand here,

To beg of Hob and Dick, that do appear,

Their needless vouches? Custom calls me to't:

What custom wills, in all things should we do't,

The dust on antique time would lie unswept,

And mountainous error be too highly heapt

For truth to o'er-peer. Rather than fool it so,

Let the high office and the honour go

To one that would do thus. I am half through;

The one part suffer'd, the other will I do.

Re-enter three Citizens more

Here come more voices.

Your voices: for your voices I have fought;

Watch'd for your voices; for Your voices bear

Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six

I have seen and heard of; for your voices have

Done many things, some less, some more your voices:

Indeed I would be consul.

Sixth Citizen

He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest

man's voice.

Seventh Citizen

Therefore let him be consul: the gods give him joy,

and make him good friend to the people!

All Citizens

Amen, amen. God save thee, noble consul!



Worthy voices!



You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes

Endue you with the people's voice: remains

That, in the official marks invested, you

Anon do meet the senate.


Is this done?


The custom of request you have discharged:

The people do admit you, and are summon'd

To meet anon, upon your approbation.


Where? at the senate-house?


There, Coriolanus.


May I change these garments?


You may, sir.


That I'll straight do; and, knowing myself again,

Repair to the senate-house.


I'll keep you company. Will you along?


We stay here for the people.


Fare you well.


He has it now, and by his looks methink

'Tis warm at 's heart.


With a proud heart he wore his humble weeds.

will you dismiss the people?

Re-enter Citizens


How now, my masters! have you chose this man?

First Citizen

He has our voices, sir.


We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.

Second Citizen

Amen, sir: to my poor unworthy notice,

He mock'd us when he begg'd our voices.

Third Citizen


He flouted us downright.

First Citizen

No,'tis his kind of speech: he did not mock us.

Second Citizen

Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says

He used us scornfully: he should have show'd us

His marks of merit, wounds received for's country.


Why, so he did, I am sure.


No, no; no man saw 'em.

Third Citizen

He said he had wounds, which he could show

in private;

And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,

'I would be consul,' says he: 'aged custom,

But by your voices, will not so permit me;

Your voices therefore.' When we granted that,

Here was 'I thank you for your voices: thank you:

Your most sweet voices: now you have left

your voices,

I have no further with you.' Was not this mockery?


Why either were you ignorant to see't,

Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness

To yield your voices?


Could you not have told him

As you were lesson'd, when he had no power,

But was a petty servant to the state,

He was your enemy, ever spake against

Your liberties and the charters that you bear

I' the body of the weal; and now, arriving

A place of potency and sway o' the state,

If he should still malignantly remain

Fast foe to the plebeii, your voices might

Be curses to yourselves? You should have said

That as his worthy deeds did claim no less

Than what he stood for, so his gracious nature

Would think upon you for your voices and

Translate his malice towards you into love,

Standing your friendly lord.


Thus to have said,

As you were fore-advised, had touch'd his spirit

And tried his inclination; from him pluck'd

Either his gracious promise, which you might,

As cause had call'd you up, have held him to

Or else it would have gall'd his surly nature,

Which easily endures not article

Tying him to aught; so putting him to rage,

You should have ta'en the advantage of his choler

And pass'd him unelected.


Did you perceive

He did solicit you in free contempt

When he did need your loves, and do you think

That his contempt shall not be bruising to you,

When he hath power to crush? Why, had your bodies

No heart among you? or had you tongues to cry

Against the rectorship of judgment?


Have you

Ere now denied the asker? and now again

Of him that did not ask, but mock, bestow

Your sued-for tongues?

Third Citizen

He's not confirm'd; we may deny him yet.

Second Citizen

And will deny him:

I'll have five hundred voices of that sound.

First Citizen

I twice five hundred and their friends to piece 'em.


Get you hence instantly, and tell those friends,

They have chose a consul that will from them take

Their liberties; make them of no more voice

Than dogs that are as often beat for barking

As therefore kept to do so.


Let them assemble,

And on a safer judgment all revoke

Your ignorant election; enforce his pride,

And his old hate unto you; besides, forget not

With what contempt he wore the humble weed,

How in his suit he scorn'd you; but your loves,

Thinking upon his services, took from you

The apprehension of his present portance,

Which most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion

After the inveterate hate he bears you.



A fault on us, your tribunes; that we laboured,

No impediment between, but that you must

Cast your election on him.


Say, you chose him

More after our commandment than as guided

By your own true affections, and that your minds,

Preoccupied with what you rather must do

Than what you should, made you against the grain

To voice him consul: lay the fault on us.


Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you.

How youngly he began to serve his country,

How long continued, and what stock he springs of,

The noble house o' the Marcians, from whence came

That Ancus Marcius, Numa's daughter's son,

Who, after great Hostilius, here was king;

Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,

That our beat water brought by conduits hither;

And [Censorinus,] nobly named so,

Twice being [by the people chosen] censor,

Was his great ancestor.


One thus descended,

That hath beside well in his person wrought

To be set high in place, we did commend

To your remembrances: but you have found,

Scaling his present bearing with his past,

That he's your fixed enemy, and revoke

Your sudden approbation.


Say, you ne'er had done't--

Harp on that still--but by our putting on;

And presently, when you have drawn your number,

Repair to the Capitol.


We will so: almost all

Repent in their election.

Exeunt Citizens


Let them go on;

This mutiny were better put in hazard,

Than stay, past doubt, for greater:

If, as his nature is, he fall in rage

With their refusal, both observe and answer

The vantage of his anger.


To the Capitol, come:

We will be there before the stream o' the people;

And this shall seem, as partly 'tis, their own,

Which we have goaded onward.



SCENE I. Rome. A street.

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


Tullus Aufidius then had made new head?


He had, my lord; and that it was which caused

Our swifter composition.


So then the Volsces stand but as at first,

Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road.

Upon's again.


They are worn, lord consul, so,

That we shall hardly in our ages see

Their banners wave again.


Saw you Aufidius?


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.


Spoke he of me?


He did, my lord.


How? what?


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.


At Antium lives he?


At Antium.


I wish I had a cause to seek him there,

To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.


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.


Pass no further.


Ha! what is that?


It will be dangerous to go on: no further.


What makes this change?


The matter?


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


Cominius, no.


Have I had children's voices?

First Senator

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


The people are incensed against him.



Or all will fall in broil.


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?


Be calm, be calm.


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.


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.


Why, this was known before.


Not to them all.


Have you inform'd them sithence?


How! I inform them!


You are like to do such business.


Not unlike,

Each way, to better yours.


Why then should I be consul? By yond clouds,

Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me

Your fellow tribune.


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.


Let's be calm.


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.


Tell me of corn!

This was my speech, and I will speak't again--


Not now, not now.

First Senator

Not in this heat, sir, now.


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.


Well, no more.

First Senator

No more words, we beseech you.


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.


You speak o' the people,

As if you were a god to punish, not

A man of their infirmity.


'Twere well

We let the people know't.


What, what? his choler?



Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,

By Jove, 'twould be my mind!


It is a mind

That shall remain a poison where it is,

Not poison any further.


Shall remain!

Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you

His absolute 'shall'?


'Twas from the canon.



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.


Well, on to the market-place.


Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth

The corn o' the storehouse gratis, as 'twas used

Sometime in Greece,--


Well, well, no more of that.


Though there the people had more absolute power,

I say, they nourish'd disobedience, fed

The ruin of the state.


Why, shall the people give

One that speaks thus their voice?


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.


Come, enough.


Enough, with over-measure.


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.


Has said enough.


Has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer

As traitors do.


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.


Manifest treason!


This a consul? no.


The aediles, ho!

Enter an AEdile

Let him be apprehended.


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.


Hence, old goat!

Senators, and C We'll surety him.


Aged sir, hands off.


Hence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bones

Out of thy garments.


Help, ye citizens!

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


On both sides more respect.


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


Seize him, AEdiles!


Down with him! down with him!

Senators, and 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!'


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.


Hear me, people; peace!


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


You are at point to lose your liberties:

Marcius would have all from you; Marcius,

Whom late you have named for consul.


Fie, fie, fie!

This is the way to kindle, not to quench.

First Senator

To unbuild the city and to lay all flat.


What is the city but the people?



The people are the city.


By the consent of all, we were establish'd

The people's magistrates.


You so remain.


And so are like to do.


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.


This deserves death.


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.


Therefore lay hold of him;

Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence

Into destruction cast him.


AEdiles, seize him!


Yield, Marcius, yield!


Hear me one word;

Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.


Peace, peace!


[To BRUTUS] Be that you seem, truly your

country's friend,

And temperately proceed to what you would

Thus violently redress.


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.


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.


Down with that sword! Tribunes, withdraw awhile.


Lay hands upon him.


Help Marcius, help,

You that be noble; help him, young and old!


Down with him, down with him!

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


Go, get you to your house; be gone, away!

All will be naught else.

Second Senator

Get you gone.


Stand fast;

We have as many friends as enemies.


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.


For 'tis a sore upon us,

You cannot tent yourself: be gone, beseech you.


Come, sir, along with us.


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--


Be gone;

Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;

One time will owe another.


On fair ground

I could beat forty of them.


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.


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.


Nay, come away.

Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, and others

A Patrician

This man has marr'd his fortune.


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!


I would they were in Tiber! What the vengeance!

Could he not speak 'em fair?

Re-enter BRUTUS and SICINIUS, with the rabble


Where is this viper

That would depopulate the city and

Be every man himself?


You worthy tribunes,--


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.


He shall, sure on't.


Sir, sir,--




Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt

With modest warrant.


Sir, how comes't that you

Have holp to make this rescue?


Hear me speak:

As I do know the consul's worthiness,

So can I name his faults,--


Consul! what consul?


The consul Coriolanus.


He consul!


No, no, no, no, no.


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.


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.


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!


He's a disease that must be cut away.


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.


This is clean kam.


Merely awry: when he did love his country,

It honour'd him.


The service of the foot

Being once gangrened, is not then respected

For what before it was.


We'll hear no more.

Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence:

Lest his infection, being of catching nature,

Spread further.


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.


If it were so,--


What do ye talk?

Have we not had a taste of his obedience?

Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted? Come.


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.


Noble Menenius,

Be you then as the people's officer.

Masters, lay down your weapons.


Go not home.


Meet on the market-place. We'll attend you there:

Where, if you bring not Marcius, we'll proceed

In our first way.


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.


SCENE II. A room in CORIOLANUS'S house.

Enter CORIOLANUS with Patricians


Let them puff all about mine ears, present me

Death on the wheel or at wild horses' heels,

Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock,

That the precipitation might down stretch

Below the beam of sight, yet will I still

Be thus to them.

A Patrician

You do the nobler.


I muse my mother

Does not approve me further, who was wont

To call them woollen vassals, things created

To buy and sell with groats, to show bare heads

In congregations, to yawn, be still and wonder,

When one but of my ordinance stood up

To speak of peace or war.


I talk of you:

Why did you wish me milder? would you have me

False to my nature? Rather say I play

The man I am.


O, sir, sir, sir,

I would have had you put your power well on,

Before you had worn it out.


Let go.


You might have been enough the man you are,

With striving less to be so; lesser had been

The thwartings of your dispositions, if

You had not show'd them how ye were disposed

Ere they lack'd power to cross you.


Let them hang.

A Patrician

Ay, and burn too.

Enter MENENIUS and Senators


Come, come, you have been too rough, something

too rough;

You must return and mend it.

First Senator

There's no remedy;

Unless, by not so doing, our good city

Cleave in the midst, and perish.


Pray, be counsell'd:

I have a heart as little apt as yours,

But yet a brain that leads my use of anger

To better vantage.


Well said, noble woman?

Before he should thus stoop to the herd, but that

The violent fit o' the time craves it as physic

For the whole state, I would put mine armour on,

Which I can scarcely bear.


What must I do?


Return to the tribunes.


Well, what then? what then?


Repent what you have spoke.


For them! I cannot do it to the gods;

Must I then do't to them?


You are too absolute;

Though therein you can never be too noble,

But when extremities speak. I have heard you say,

Honour and policy, like unsever'd friends,

I' the war do grow together: grant that, and tell me,

In peace what each of them by the other lose,

That they combine not there.


Tush, tush!


A good demand.


If it be honour in your wars to seem

The same you are not, which, for your best ends,

You adopt your policy, how is it less or worse,

That it shall hold companionship in peace

With honour, as in war, since that to both

It stands in like request?


Why force you this?


Because that now it lies you on to speak

To the people; not by your own instruction,

Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you,

But with such words that are but rooted in

Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables

Of no allowance to your bosom's truth.

Now, this no more dishonours you at all

Than to take in a town with gentle words,

Which else would put you to your fortune and

The hazard of much blood.

I would dissemble with my nature where

My fortunes and my friends at stake required

I should do so in honour: I am in this,

Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles;

And you will rather show our general louts

How you can frown than spend a fawn upon 'em,

For the inheritance of their loves and safeguard

Of what that want might ruin.


Noble lady!

Come, go with us; speak fair: you may salve so,

Not what is dangerous present, but the loss

Of what is past.


I prithee now, my son,

Go to them, with this bonnet in thy hand;

And thus far having stretch'd it--here be with them--

Thy knee bussing the stones--for in such business

Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant

More learned than the ears--waving thy head,

Which often, thus, correcting thy stout heart,

Now humble as the ripest mulberry

That will not hold the handling: or say to them,

Thou art their soldier, and being bred in broils

Hast not the soft way which, thou dost confess,

Were fit for thee to use as they to claim,

In asking their good loves, but thou wilt frame

Thyself, forsooth, hereafter theirs, so far

As thou hast power and person.


This but done,

Even as she speaks, why, their hearts were yours;

For they have pardons, being ask'd, as free

As words to little purpose.


Prithee now,

Go, and be ruled: although I know thou hadst rather

Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf

Than flatter him in a bower. Here is Cominius.



I have been i' the market-place; and, sir,'tis fit

You make strong party, or defend yourself

By calmness or by absence: all's in anger.


Only fair speech.


I think 'twill serve, if he

Can thereto frame his spirit.


He must, and will

Prithee now, say you will, and go about it.


Must I go show them my unbarbed sconce?

Must I with base tongue give my noble heart

A lie that it must bear? Well, I will do't:

Yet, were there but this single plot to lose,

This mould of Marcius, they to dust should grind it

And throw't against the wind. To the market-place!

You have put me now to such a part which never

I shall discharge to the life.


Come, come, we'll prompt you.


I prithee now, sweet son, as thou hast said

My praises made thee first a soldier, so,

To have my praise for this, perform a part

Thou hast not done before.


Well, I must do't:

Away, my disposition, and possess me

Some harlot's spirit! my throat of war be turn'd,

Which quired with my drum, into a pipe

Small as an eunuch, or the virgin voice

That babies lulls asleep! the smiles of knaves

Tent in my cheeks, and schoolboys' tears take up

The glasses of my sight! a beggar's tongue

Make motion through my lips, and my arm'd knees,

Who bow'd but in my stirrup, bend like his

That hath received an alms! I will not do't,

Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth

And by my body's action teach my mind

A most inherent baseness.


At thy choice, then:

To beg of thee, it is my more dishonour

Than thou of them. Come all to ruin; let

Thy mother rather feel thy pride than fear

Thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death

With as big heart as thou. Do as thou list

Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck'dst it from me,

But owe thy pride thyself.


Pray, be content:

Mother, I am going to the market-place;

Chide me no more. I'll mountebank their loves,

Cog their hearts from them, and come home beloved

Of all the trades in Rome. Look, I am going:

Commend me to my wife. I'll return consul;

Or never trust to what my tongue can do

I' the way of flattery further.


Do your will.



Away! the tribunes do attend you: arm yourself

To answer mildly; for they are prepared

With accusations, as I hear, more strong

Than are upon you yet.


The word is 'mildly.' Pray you, let us go:

Let them accuse me by invention, I

Will answer in mine honour.


Ay, but mildly.


Well, mildly be it then. Mildly!


SCENE III. The same. The Forum.



In this point charge him home, that he affects

Tyrannical power: if he evade us there,

Enforce him with his envy to the people,

And that the spoil got on the Antiates

Was ne'er distributed.

Enter an AEdile

What, will he come?


He's coming.


How accompanied?


With old Menenius, and those senators

That always favour'd him.


Have you a catalogue

Of all the voices that we have procured

Set down by the poll?


I have; 'tis ready.


Have you collected them by tribes?


I have.


Assemble presently the people hither;

And when they bear me say 'It shall be so

I' the right and strength o' the commons,' be it either

For death, for fine, or banishment, then let them

If I say fine, cry 'Fine;' if death, cry 'Death.'

Insisting on the old prerogative

And power i' the truth o' the cause.


I shall inform them.


And when such time they have begun to cry,

Let them not cease, but with a din confused

Enforce the present execution

Of what we chance to sentence.


Very well.


Make them be strong and ready for this hint,

When we shall hap to give 't them.


Go about it.

Exit AEdile

Put him to choler straight: he hath been used

Ever to conquer, and to have his worth

Of contradiction: being once chafed, he cannot

Be rein'd again to temperance; then he speaks

What's in his heart; and that is there which looks

With us to break his neck.


Well, here he comes.

Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, and COMINIUS, with Senators and Patricians


Calmly, I do beseech you.


Ay, as an ostler, that for the poorest piece

Will bear the knave by the volume. The honour'd gods

Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice

Supplied with worthy men! plant love among 's!

Throng our large temples with the shows of peace,

And not our streets with war!

First Senator

Amen, amen.


A noble wish.

Re-enter AEdile, with Citizens


Draw near, ye people.


List to your tribunes. Audience: peace, I say!


First, hear me speak.

Both Tribunes

Well, say. Peace, ho!


Shall I be charged no further than this present?

Must all determine here?


I do demand,

If you submit you to the people's voices,

Allow their officers and are content

To suffer lawful censure for such faults

As shall be proved upon you?


I am content.


Lo, citizens, he says he is content:

The warlike service he has done, consider; think

Upon the wounds his body bears, which show

Like graves i' the holy churchyard.


Scratches with briers,

Scars to move laughter only.


Consider further,

That when he speaks not like a citizen,

You find him like a soldier: do not take

His rougher accents for malicious sounds,

But, as I say, such as become a soldier,

Rather than envy you.


Well, well, no more.


What is the matter

That being pass'd for consul with full voice,

I am so dishonour'd that the very hour

You take it off again?


Answer to us.


Say, then: 'tis true, I ought so.


We charge you, that you have contrived to take

From Rome all season'd office and to wind

Yourself into a power tyrannical;

For which you are a traitor to the people.


How! traitor!


Nay, temperately; your promise.


The fires i' the lowest hell fold-in the people!

Call me their traitor! Thou injurious tribune!

Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths,

In thy hand clutch'd as many millions, in

Thy lying tongue both numbers, I would say

'Thou liest' unto thee with a voice as free

As I do pray the gods.


Mark you this, people?


To the rock, to the rock with him!



We need not put new matter to his charge:

What you have seen him do and heard him speak,

Beating your officers, cursing yourselves,

Opposing laws with strokes and here defying

Those whose great power must try him; even this,

So criminal and in such capital kind,

Deserves the extremest death.


But since he hath

Served well for Rome,--


What do you prate of service?


I talk of that, that know it.




Is this the promise that you made your mother?


Know, I pray you,--


I know no further:

Let them pronounce the steep Tarpeian death,

Vagabond exile, raying, pent to linger

But with a grain a day, I would not buy

Their mercy at the price of one fair word;

Nor cheque my courage for what they can give,

To have't with saying 'Good morrow.'


For that he has,

As much as in him lies, from time to time

Envied against the people, seeking means

To pluck away their power, as now at last

Given hostile strokes, and that not in the presence

Of dreaded justice, but on the ministers

That do distribute it; in the name o' the people

And in the power of us the tribunes, we,

Even from this instant, banish him our city,

In peril of precipitation

From off the rock Tarpeian never more

To enter our Rome gates: i' the people's name,

I say it shall be so.


It shall be so, it shall be so; let him away:

He's banish'd, and it shall be so.


Hear me, my masters, and my common friends,--


He's sentenced; no more hearing.


Let me speak:

I have been consul, and can show for Rome

Her enemies' marks upon me. I do love

My country's good with a respect more tender,

More holy and profound, than mine own life,

My dear wife's estimate, her womb's increase,

And treasure of my loins; then if I would

Speak that,--


We know your drift: speak what?


There's no more to be said, but he is banish'd,

As enemy to the people and his country:

It shall be so.


It shall be so, it shall be so.


You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate

As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize

As the dead carcasses of unburied men

That do corrupt my air, I banish you;

And here remain with your uncertainty!

Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!

Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,

Fan you into despair! Have the power still

To banish your defenders; till at length

Your ignorance, which finds not till it feels,

Making not reservation of yourselves,

Still your own foes, deliver you as most

Abated captives to some nation

That won you without blows! Despising,

For you, the city, thus I turn my back:

There is a world elsewhere.

Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, MENENIUS, Senators, and Patricians


The people's enemy is gone, is gone!


Our enemy is banish'd! he is gone! Hoo! hoo!

Shouting, and throwing up their caps


Go, see him out at gates, and follow him,

As he hath followed you, with all despite;

Give him deserved vexation. Let a guard

Attend us through the city.


Come, come; let's see him out at gates; come.

The gods preserve our noble tribunes! Come.



SCENE I. Rome. Before a gate of the city.



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;

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

With precepts that would make invincible

The heart that conn'd them.


O heavens! O heavens!


Nay! prithee, woman,--


Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome,

And occupations perish!


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,

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,

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

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

With cautelous baits and practise.


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

That starts i' the way before thee.


O the gods!


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

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.


Fare ye well:

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,

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.


That's worthily

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.


Give me thy hand: Come.


SCENE II. The same. A street near the gate.

Enter SICINIUS, BRUTUS, and an AEdile


Bid them all home; he's gone, and we'll no further.

The nobility are vex'd, whom we see have sided

In his behalf.


Now we have shown our power,

Let us seem humbler after it is done

Than when it was a-doing.


Bid them home:

Say their great enemy is gone, and they

Stand in their ancient strength.


Dismiss them home.

Exit AEdile

Here comes his mother.


Let's not meet her.




They say she's mad.


They have ta'en note of us: keep on your way.



O, ye're well met: the hoarded plague o' the gods

Requite your love!


Peace, peace; be not so loud.


If that I could for weeping, you should hear,--

Nay, and you shall hear some.


Will you be gone?


[To SICINIUS] You shall stay too: I would I had the power

To say so to my husband.


Are you mankind?


Ay, fool; is that a shame? Note but this fool.

Was not a man my father? Hadst thou foxship

To banish him that struck more blows for Rome

Than thou hast spoken words?


O blessed heavens!


More noble blows than ever thou wise words;

And for Rome's good. I'll tell thee what; yet go:

Nay, but thou shalt stay too: I would my son

Were in Arabia, and thy tribe before him,

His good sword in his hand.


What then?


What then!

He'ld make an end of thy posterity.


Bastards and all.

Good man, the wounds that he does bear for Rome!


Come, come, peace.


I would he had continued to his country

As he began, and not unknit himself

The noble knot he made.


I would he had.


'I would he had'! 'Twas you incensed the rabble:

Cats, that can judge as fitly of his worth

As I can of those mysteries which heaven

Will not have earth to know.


Pray, let us go.


Now, pray, sir, get you gone:

You have done a brave deed. Ere you go, hear this:--

As far as doth the Capitol exceed

The meanest house in Rome, so far my son--

This lady's husband here, this, do you see--

Whom you have banish'd, does exceed you all.


Well, well, we'll leave you.


Why stay we to be baited

With one that wants her wits?


Take my prayers with you.

Exeunt Tribunes

I would the gods had nothing else to do

But to confirm my curses! Could I meet 'em

But once a-day, it would unclog my heart

Of what lies heavy to't.


You have told them home;

And, by my troth, you have cause. You'll sup with me?


Anger's my meat; I sup upon myself,

And so shall starve with feeding. Come, let's go:

Leave this faint puling and lament as I do,

In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.


Fie, fie, fie!


SCENE III. A highway between Rome and Antium.

Enter a Roman and a Volsce, meeting


I know you well, sir, and you know

me: your name, I think, is Adrian.


It is so, sir: truly, I have forgot you.


I am a Roman; and my services are,

as you are, against 'em: know you me yet?


Nicanor? no.


The same, sir.


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.


There hath been in Rome strange insurrections; the

people against the senators, patricians, and nobles.


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.


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

their tribunes for ever. This lies glowing, I can

tell you, and is almost mature for the violent

breaking out.


Coriolanus banished!


Banished, sir.


You will be welcome with this intelligence, Nicanor.


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

great opposer, Coriolanus, being now in no request

of his country.


He cannot choose. I am most fortunate, thus

accidentally to encounter you: you have ended my

business, and I will merrily accompany you home.


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?


A most royal one; the centurions and their charges,

distinctly billeted, already in the entertainment,

and to be on foot at an hour's warning.


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.


You take my part from me, sir; I have the most cause

to be glad of yours.


Well, let us go together.


SCENE IV. Antium. Before Aufidius's house.

Enter CORIOLANUS in mean apparel, disguised and muffled


A goodly city is this Antium. City,

'Tis I that made thy widows: many an heir

Of these fair edifices 'fore my wars

Have I heard groan and drop: then know me not,

Lest that thy wives with spits and boys with stones

In puny battle slay me.

Enter a Citizen

Save you, sir.


And you.


Direct me, if it be your will,

Where great Aufidius lies: is he in Antium?


He is, and feasts the nobles of the state

At his house this night.


Which is his house, beseech you?


This, here before you.


Thank you, sir: farewell.

Exit Citizen

O world, thy slippery turns! Friends now fast sworn,

Whose double bosoms seem to wear one heart,

Whose house, whose bed, whose meal, and exercise,

Are still together, who twin, as 'twere, in love

Unseparable, shall within this hour,

On a dissension of a doit, break out

To bitterest enmity: so, fellest foes,

Whose passions and whose plots have broke their sleep,

To take the one the other, by some chance,

Some trick not worth an egg, shall grow dear friends

And interjoin their issues. So with me:

My birth-place hate I, and my love's upon

This enemy town. I'll enter: if he slay me,

He does fair justice; if he give me way,

I'll do his country service.


SCENE V. The same. A hall in Aufidius's house.

Music within. Enter a Servingman

First Servingman

Wine, wine, wine! What service

is here! I think our fellows are asleep.


Enter a second Servingman

Second Servingman

Where's Cotus? my master calls

for him. Cotus!




A goodly house: the feast smells well; but I

Appear not like a guest.

Re-enter the first Servingman

First Servingman

What would you have, friend? whence are you?

Here's no place for you: pray, go to the door.



I have deserved no better entertainment,

In being Coriolanus.

Re-enter second Servingman

Second Servingman

Whence are you, sir? Has the porter his eyes in his

head; that he gives entrance to such companions?

Pray, get you out.



Second Servingman

Away! get you away.


Now thou'rt troublesome.

Second Servingman

Are you so brave? I'll have you talked with anon.

Enter a third Servingman. The first meets him

Third Servingman

What fellow's this?

First Servingman

A strange one as ever I looked on: I cannot get him

out of the house: prithee, call my master to him.


Third Servingman

What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you, avoid

the house.


Let me but stand; I will not hurt your hearth.

Third Servingman

What are you?


A gentleman.

Third Servingman

A marvellous poor one.


True, so I am.

Third Servingman

Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other

station; here's no place for you; pray you, avoid: come.


Follow your function, go, and batten on cold bits.

Pushes him away

Third Servingman

What, you will not? Prithee, tell my master what a

strange guest he has here.

Second Servingman

And I shall.


Third Servingman

Where dwellest thou?


Under the canopy.

Third Servingman

Under the canopy!



Third Servingman

Where's that?


I' the city of kites and crows.

Third Servingman

I' the city of kites and crows! What an ass it is!

Then thou dwellest with daws too?


No, I serve not thy master.

Third Servingman

How, sir! do you meddle with my master?


Ay; 'tis an honester service than to meddle with thy

mistress. Thou pratest, and pratest; serve with thy

trencher, hence!

Beats him away. Exit third Servingman

Enter AUFIDIUS with the second Servingman


Where is this fellow?

Second Servingman

Here, sir: I'ld have beaten him like a dog, but for

disturbing the lords within.



Whence comest thou? what wouldst thou? thy name?

Why speak'st not? speak, man: what's thy name?


If, Tullus,


Not yet thou knowest me, and, seeing me, dost not

Think me for the man I am, necessity

Commands me name myself.


What is thy name?


A name unmusical to the Volscians' ears,

And harsh in sound to thine.


Say, what's thy name?

Thou hast a grim appearance, and thy face

Bears a command in't; though thy tackle's torn.

Thou show'st a noble vessel: what's thy name?


Prepare thy brow to frown: know'st

thou me yet?


I know thee not: thy name?


My name is Caius Marcius, who hath done

To thee particularly and to all the Volsces

Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness may

My surname, Coriolanus: the painful service,

The extreme dangers and the drops of blood

Shed for my thankless country are requited

But with that surname; a good memory,

And witness of the malice and displeasure

Which thou shouldst bear me: only that name remains;

The cruelty and envy of the people,

Permitted by our dastard nobles, who

Have all forsook me, hath devour'd the rest;

And suffer'd me by the voice of slaves to be

Whoop'd out of Rome. Now this extremity

Hath brought me to thy hearth; not out of hope--

Mistake me not--to save my life, for if

I had fear'd death, of all the men i' the world

I would have 'voided thee, but in mere spite,

To be full quit of those my banishers,

Stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast

A heart of wreak in thee, that wilt revenge

Thine own particular wrongs and stop those maims

Of shame seen through thy country, speed

thee straight,

And make my misery serve thy turn: so use it

That my revengeful services may prove

As benefits to thee, for I will fight

Against my canker'd country with the spleen

Of all the under fiends. But if so be

Thou darest not this and that to prove more fortunes

Thou'rt tired, then, in a word, I also am

Longer to live most weary, and present

My throat to thee and to thy ancient malice;

Which not to cut would show thee but a fool,

Since I have ever follow'd thee with hate,

Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country's breast,

And cannot live but to thy shame, unless

It be to do thee service.


O Marcius, Marcius!

Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart

A root of ancient envy. If Jupiter

Should from yond cloud speak divine things,

And say 'Tis true,' I'ld not believe them more

Than thee, all noble Marcius. Let me twine

Mine arms about that body, where against

My grained ash an hundred times hath broke

And scarr'd the moon with splinters: here I clip

The anvil of my sword, and do contest

As hotly and as nobly with thy love

As ever in ambitious strength I did

Contend against thy valour. Know thou first,

I loved the maid I married; never man

Sigh'd truer breath; but that I see thee here,

Thou noble thing! more dances my rapt heart

Than when I first my wedded mistress saw

Bestride my threshold. Why, thou Mars! I tell thee,

We have a power on foot; and I had purpose

Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn,

Or lose mine arm fort: thou hast beat me out

Twelve several times, and I have nightly since

Dreamt of encounters 'twixt thyself and me;

We have been down together in my sleep,

Unbuckling helms, fisting each other's throat,

And waked half dead with nothing. Worthy Marcius,

Had we no quarrel else to Rome, but that

Thou art thence banish'd, we would muster all

From twelve to seventy, and pouring war

Into the bowels of ungrateful Rome,

Like a bold flood o'er-bear. O, come, go in,

And take our friendly senators by the hands;

Who now are here, taking their leaves of me,

Who am prepared against your territories,

Though not for Rome itself.


You bless me, gods!


Therefore, most absolute sir, if thou wilt have

The leading of thine own revenges, take

The one half of my commission; and set down--

As best thou art experienced, since thou know'st

Thy country's strength and weakness,--thine own ways;

Whether to knock against the gates of Rome,

Or rudely visit them in parts remote,

To fright them, ere destroy. But come in:

Let me commend thee first to those that shall

Say yea to thy desires. A thousand welcomes!

And more a friend than e'er an enemy;

Yet, Marcius, that was much. Your hand: most welcome!

Exeunt CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS. The two Servingmen come forward

First Servingman

Here's a strange alteration!

Second Servingman

By my hand, I had thought to have strucken him with

a cudgel; and yet my mind gave me his clothes made a

false report of him.

First Servingman

What an arm he has! he turned me about with his

finger and his thumb, as one would set up a top.

Second Servingman

Nay, I knew by his face that there was something in

him: he had, sir, a kind of face, methought,--I

cannot tell how to term it.

First Servingman

He had so; looking as it were--would I were hanged,

but I thought there was more in him than I could think.

Second Servingman

So did I, I'll be sworn: he is simply the rarest

man i' the world.

First Servingman

I think he is: but a greater soldier than he you wot on.

Second Servingman

Who, my master?

First Servingman

Nay, it's no matter for that.

Second Servingman

Worth six on him.

First Servingman

Nay, not so neither: but I take him to be the

greater soldier.

Second Servingman

Faith, look you, one cannot tell how to say that:

for the defence of a town, our general is excellent.

First Servingman

Ay, and for an assault too.

Re-enter third Servingman

Third Servingman

O slaves, I can tell you news,-- news, you rascals!

First Servingman

Second Servingman

What, what, what? let's partake.

Third Servingman

I would not be a Roman, of all nations; I had as

lieve be a condemned man.

First Servingman

Second Servingman

Wherefore? wherefore?

Third Servingman

Why, here's he that was wont to thwack our general,

Caius Marcius.

First Servingman

Why do you say 'thwack our general '?

Third Servingman

I do not say 'thwack our general;' but he was always

good enough for him.

Second Servingman

Come, we are fellows and friends: he was ever too

hard for him; I have heard him say so himself.

First Servingman

He was too hard for him directly, to say the troth

on't: before Corioli he scotched him and notched

him like a carbon ado.

Second Servingman

An he had been cannibally given, he might have

broiled and eaten him too.

First Servingman

But, more of thy news?

Third Servingman

Why, he is so made on here within, as if he were son

and heir to Mars; set at upper end o' the table; no

question asked him by any of the senators, but they

stand bald before him: our general himself makes a

mistress of him: sanctifies himself with's hand and

turns up the white o' the eye to his discourse. But

the bottom of the news is that our general is cut i'

the middle and but one half of what he was

yesterday; for the other has half, by the entreaty

and grant of the whole table. He'll go, he says,

and sowl the porter of Rome gates by the ears: he

will mow all down before him, and leave his passage polled.

Second Servingman

And he's as like to do't as any man I can imagine.

Third Servingman

Do't! he will do't; for, look you, sir, he has as

many friends as enemies; which friends, sir, as it

were, durst not, look you, sir, show themselves, as

we term it, his friends whilst he's in directitude.

First Servingman

Directitude! what's that?

Third Servingman

But when they shall see, sir, his crest up again,

and the man in blood, they will out of their

burrows, like conies after rain, and revel all with


First Servingman

But when goes this forward?

Third Servingman

To-morrow; to-day; presently; you shall have the

drum struck up this afternoon: 'tis, as it were, a

parcel of their feast, and to be executed ere they

wipe their lips.

Second Servingman

Why, then we shall have a stirring world again.

This peace is nothing, but to rust iron, increase

tailors, and breed ballad-makers.

First Servingman

Let me have war, say I; it exceeds peace as far as

day does night; it's spritely, waking, audible, and

full of vent. Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy;

mulled, deaf, sleepy, insensible; a getter of more

bastard children than war's a destroyer of men.

Second Servingman

'Tis so: and as war, in some sort, may be said to

be a ravisher, so it cannot be denied but peace is a

great maker of cuckolds.

First Servingman

Ay, and it makes men hate one another.

Third Servingman

Reason; because they then less need one another.

The wars for my money. I hope to see Romans as cheap

as Volscians. They are rising, they are rising.


In, in, in, in!


SCENE VI. Rome. A public place.



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,

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.


We stood to't in good time.


Is this Menenius?


'Tis he,'tis he: O, he is grown most kind of late.

Both Tribunes

Hail sir!


Hail to you both!


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.


All's well; and might have been much better, if

He could have temporized.


Where is he, hear you?


Nay, I hear nothing: his mother and his wife

Hear nothing from him.

Enter three or four Citizens


The gods preserve you both!


God-den, our neighbours.


God-den to you all, god-den to you all.

First Citizen

Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees,

Are bound to pray for you both.


Live, and thrive!


Farewell, kind neighbours: we wish'd Coriolanus

Had loved you as we did.


Now the gods keep you!

Both Tribunes

Farewell, farewell.

Exeunt Citizens


This is a happier and more comely time

Than when these fellows ran about the streets,

Crying confusion.


Caius Marcius was

A worthy officer i' the war; but insolent,

O'ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,



And affecting one sole throne,

Without assistance.


I think not so.


We should by this, to all our lamentation,

If he had gone forth consul, found it so.


The gods have well prevented it, and Rome

Sits safe and still without him.

Enter an 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,

And with the deepest malice of the war

Destroy what lies before 'em.


'Tis Aufidius,

Who, hearing of our Marcius' banishment,

Thrusts forth his horns again into the world;

Which were inshell'd when Marcius stood for Rome,

And durst not once peep out.


Come, what talk you

Of Marcius?


Go see this rumourer whipp'd. It cannot be

The Volsces dare break with us.


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,

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.


Tell not me:

I know this cannot be.


Not possible.

Enter a Messenger


The nobles in great earnestness are going

All to the senate-house: some news is come

That turns their countenances.


'Tis this slave;--

Go whip him, 'fore the people's eyes:--his raising;

Nothing but his report.


Yes, worthy sir,

The slave's report is seconded; and more,

More fearful, is deliver'd.


What more fearful?


It is spoke freely out of many mouths--

How probable I do not know--that Marcius,

Join'd with Aufidius, leads a power 'gainst Rome,

And vows revenge as spacious as between

The young'st and oldest thing.


This is most likely!


Raised only, that the weaker sort may wish

Good Marcius home again.


The very trick on't.


This is unlikely:

He and Aufidius can no more atone

Than violentest contrariety.

Enter a second Messenger

Second Messenger

You are sent for to the senate:

A fearful army, led by Caius Marcius

Associated with Aufidius, rages

Upon our territories; and have already

O'erborne their way, consumed with fire, and took

What lay before them.



O, you have made good work!


What news? what news?


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,--


What's the news? what's the news?


Your temples burned in their cement, and

Your franchises, whereon you stood, confined

Into an auger's bore.


Pray now, your news?

You have made fair work, I fear me.--Pray, your news?--

If Marcius should be join'd with Volscians,--



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

Than boys pursuing summer butterflies,

Or butchers killing flies.


You have made good work,

You and your apron-men; you that stood so up much

on the voice of occupation and

The breath of garlic-eaters!


He will shake

Your Rome about your ears.


As Hercules

Did shake down mellow fruit.

You have made fair work!


But is this true, sir?


Ay; and you'll look pale

Before you find it other. All the regions

Do smilingly revolt; and who resist

Are mock'd for valiant ignorance,

And perish constant fools. Who is't can blame him?

Your enemies and his find something in him.


We are all undone, unless

The noble man have mercy.


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

As those should do that had deserved his hate,

And therein show'd like enemies.


'Tis true:

If he were putting to my house the brand

That should consume it, I have not the face

To say 'Beseech you, cease.' You have made fair hands,

You and your crafts! you have crafted fair!


You have brought

A trembling upon Rome, such as was never

So incapable of help.

Both Tribunes

Say not we brought it.


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.


But I fear

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.

Enter a troop of Citizens


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

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;

if he could burn us all into one coal,

We have deserved it.


Faith, we hear fearful news.

First Citizen

For mine own part,

When I said, banish him, I said 'twas pity.

Second Citizen

And so did I.

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.


Ye re goodly things, you voices!


You have made

Good work, you and your cry! Shall's to the Capitol?


O, ay, what else?



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.

I ever said we were i' the wrong when we banished


Second Citizen

So did we all. But, come, let's home.

Exeunt Citizens


I do not like this news.


Nor I.


Let's to the Capitol. Would half my wealth

Would buy this for a lie!


Pray, let us go.


SCENE VII. A camp, at a small distance from Rome.

Enter AUFIDIUS and his Lieutenant


Do they still fly to the Roman?


I do not know what witchcraft's in him, but

Your soldiers use him as the grace 'fore meat,

Their talk at table, and their thanks at end;

And you are darken'd in this action, sir,

Even by your own.


I cannot help it now,

Unless, by using means, I lame the foot

Of our design. He bears himself more proudlier,

Even to my person, than I thought he would

When first I did embrace him: yet his nature

In that's no changeling; and I must excuse

What cannot be amended.


Yet I wish, sir,--

I mean for your particular,--you had not

Join'd in commission with him; but either

Had borne the action of yourself, or else

To him had left it solely.


I understand thee well; and be thou sure,

when he shall come to his account, he knows not

What I can urge against him. Although it seems,

And so he thinks, and is no less apparent

To the vulgar eye, that he bears all things fairly.

And shows good husbandry for the Volscian state,

Fights dragon-like, and does achieve as soon

As draw his sword; yet he hath left undone

That which shall break his neck or hazard mine,

Whene'er we come to our account.


Sir, I beseech you, think you he'll carry Rome?


All places yield to him ere he sits down;

And the nobility of Rome are his:

The senators and patricians love him too:

The tribunes are no soldiers; and their people

Will be as rash in the repeal, as hasty

To expel him thence. I think he'll be to Rome

As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it

By sovereignty of nature. First he was

A noble servant to them; but he could not

Carry his honours even: whether 'twas pride,

Which out of daily fortune ever taints

The happy man; whether defect of judgment,

To fail in the disposing of those chances

Which he was lord of; or whether nature,

Not to be other than one thing, not moving

From the casque to the cushion, but commanding peace

Even with the same austerity and garb

As he controll'd the war; but one of these--

As he hath spices of them all, not all,

For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd,

So hated, and so banish'd: but he has a merit,

To choke it in the utterance. So our virtues

Lie in the interpretation of the time:

And power, unto itself most commendable,

Hath not a tomb so evident as a chair

To extol what it hath done.

One fire drives out one fire; one nail, one nail;

Rights by rights falter, strengths by strengths do fail.

Come, let's away. When, Caius, Rome is thine,

Thou art poor'st of all; then shortly art thou mine.



SCENE I. Rome. A public place.



No, I'll not go: you hear what he hath said

Which was sometime his general; who loved him

In a most dear particular. He call'd me father:

But what o' that? Go, you that banish'd him;

A mile before his tent fall down, and knee

The way into his mercy: nay, if he coy'd

To hear Cominius speak, I'll keep at home.


He would not seem to know me.


Do you hear?


Yet one time he did call me by my name:

I urged our old acquaintance, and the drops

That we have bled together. Coriolanus

He would not answer to: forbad all names;

He was a kind of nothing, titleless,

Till he had forged himself a name o' the fire

Of burning Rome.


Why, so: you have made good work!

A pair of tribunes that have rack'd for Rome,

To make coals cheap,--a noble memory!


I minded him how royal 'twas to pardon

When it was less expected: he replied,

It was a bare petition of a state

To one whom they had punish'd.


Very well:

Could he say less?


I offer'd to awaken his regard

For's private friends: his answer to me was,

He could not stay to pick them in a pile

Of noisome musty chaff: he said 'twas folly,

For one poor grain or two, to leave unburnt,

And still to nose the offence.


For one poor grain or two!

I am one of those; his mother, wife, his child,

And this brave fellow too, we are the grains:

You are the musty chaff; and you are smelt

Above the moon: we must be burnt for you.


Nay, pray, be patient: if you refuse your aid

In this so never-needed help, yet do not

Upbraid's with our distress. But, sure, if you

Would be your country's pleader, your good tongue,

More than the instant army we can make,

Might stop our countryman.


No, I'll not meddle.


Pray you, go to him.


What should I do?


Only make trial what your love can do

For Rome, towards Marcius.


Well, and say that Marcius

Return me, as Cominius is return'd,

Unheard; what then?

But as a discontented friend, grief-shot

With his unkindness? say't be so?


Yet your good will

must have that thanks from Rome, after the measure

As you intended well.


I'll undertake 't:

I think he'll hear me. Yet, to bite his lip

And hum at good Cominius, much unhearts me.

He was not taken well; he had not dined:

The veins unfill'd, our blood is cold, and then

We pout upon the morning, are unapt

To give or to forgive; but when we have stuff'd

These and these conveyances of our blood

With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls

Than in our priest-like fasts: therefore I'll watch him

Till he be dieted to my request,

And then I'll set upon him.


You know the very road into his kindness,

And cannot lose your way.


Good faith, I'll prove him,

Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledge

Of my success.



He'll never hear him.




I tell you, he does sit in gold, his eye

Red as 'twould burn Rome; and his injury

The gaoler to his pity. I kneel'd before him;

'Twas very faintly he said 'Rise;' dismiss'd me

Thus, with his speechless hand: what he would do,

He sent in writing after me; what he would not,

Bound with an oath to yield to his conditions:

So that all hope is vain.

Unless his noble mother, and his wife;

Who, as I hear, mean to solicit him

For mercy to his country. Therefore, let's hence,

And with our fair entreaties haste them on.


SCENE II. Entrance of the Volscian camp before Rome.

Two Sentinels on guard. Enter to them, MENENIUS

First Senator

Stay: whence are you?

Second Senator

Stand, and go back.


You guard like men; 'tis well: but, by your leave,

I am an officer of state, and come

To speak with Coriolanus.

First Senator

From whence?


From Rome.

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.


Good my friends,

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.


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,

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,

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.


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.


Has he dined, canst thou tell? for I would not

speak with him till after dinner.

First Senator

You are a Roman, are you?


I am, as thy general is.

First Senator

Then you should hate Rome, as he does. Can you,

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

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

execution: you are condemned, our general has sworn

you out of reprieve and pardon.


Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he would

use me with estimation.

Second Senator

Come, my captain knows you not.


I mean, thy general.

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.


Nay, but, fellow, fellow,--



What's the matter?


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

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.


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

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

wrath, and turn the dregs of it upon this varlet

here,--this, who, like a block, hath denied my

access to thee.




How! away!


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

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

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!


You keep a constant temper.


First Senator

Now, sir, is your name Menenius?

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?

Second Senator

What cause, do you think, I have to swoon?


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

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!


First Senator

A noble fellow, I warrant him.

Second Senator

The worthy fellow is our general: he's the rock, the

oak not to be wind-shaken.


SCENE III. The tent of Coriolanus.

Enter CORIOLANUS, AUFIDIUS, and others


We will before the walls of Rome tomorrow

Set down our host. My partner in this action,

You must report to the Volscian lords, how plainly

I have borne this business.


Only their ends

You have respected; stopp'd your ears against

The general suit of Rome; never admitted

A private whisper, no, not with such friends

That thought them sure of you.


This last old man,

Whom with a crack'd heart I have sent to Rome,

Loved me above the measure of a father;

Nay, godded me, indeed. Their latest refuge

Was to send him; for whose old love I have,

Though I show'd sourly to him, once more offer'd

The first conditions, which they did refuse

And cannot now accept; to grace him only

That thought he could do more, a very little

I have yielded to: fresh embassies and suits,

Nor from the state nor private friends, hereafter

Will I lend ear to. Ha! what shout is this?

Shout within

Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow

In the same time 'tis made? I will not.

Enter in mourning habits, VIRGILIA, VOLUMNIA, leading young MARCIUS, VALERIA, and Attendants

My wife comes foremost; then the honour'd mould

Wherein this trunk was framed, and in her hand

The grandchild to her blood. But, out, affection!

All bond and privilege of nature, break!

Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.

What is that curt'sy worth? or those doves' eyes,

Which can make gods forsworn? I melt, and am not

Of stronger earth than others. My mother bows;

As if Olympus to a molehill should

In supplication nod: and my young boy

Hath an aspect of intercession, which

Great nature cries 'Deny not.' let the Volsces

Plough Rome and harrow Italy: I'll never

Be such a gosling to obey instinct, but stand,

As if a man were author of himself

And knew no other kin.


My lord and husband!


These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.


The sorrow that delivers us thus changed

Makes you think so.


Like a dull actor now,

I have forgot my part, and I am out,

Even to a full disgrace. Best of my flesh,

Forgive my tyranny; but do not say

For that 'Forgive our Romans.' O, a kiss

Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!

Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss

I carried from thee, dear; and my true lip

Hath virgin'd it e'er since. You gods! I prate,

And the most noble mother of the world

Leave unsaluted: sink, my knee, i' the earth;


Of thy deep duty more impression show

Than that of common sons.


O, stand up blest!

Whilst, with no softer cushion than the flint,

I kneel before thee; and unproperly

Show duty, as mistaken all this while

Between the child and parent.



What is this?

Your knees to me? to your corrected son?

Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach

Fillip the stars; then let the mutinous winds

Strike the proud cedars 'gainst the fiery sun;

Murdering impossibility, to make

What cannot be, slight work.


Thou art my warrior;

I holp to frame thee. Do you know this lady?


The noble sister of Publicola,

The moon of Rome, chaste as the icicle

That's curdied by the frost from purest snow

And hangs on Dian's temple: dear Valeria!


This is a poor epitome of yours,

Which by the interpretation of full time

May show like all yourself.


The god of soldiers,

With the consent of supreme Jove, inform

Thy thoughts with nobleness; that thou mayst prove

To shame unvulnerable, and stick i' the wars

Like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw,

And saving those that eye thee!


Your knee, sirrah.


That's my brave boy!


Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself,

Are suitors to you.


I beseech you, peace:

Or, if you'ld ask, remember this before:

The thing I have forsworn to grant may never

Be held by you denials. Do not bid me

Dismiss my soldiers, or capitulate

Again with Rome's mechanics: tell me not

Wherein I seem unnatural: desire not

To ally my rages and revenges with

Your colder reasons.


O, no more, no more!

You have said you will not grant us any thing;

For we have nothing else to ask, but that

Which you deny already: yet we will ask;

That, if you fail in our request, the blame

May hang upon your hardness: therefore hear us.


Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark; for we'll

Hear nought from Rome in private. Your request?


Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment

And state of bodies would bewray what life

We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself

How more unfortunate than all living women

Are we come hither: since that thy sight,

which should

Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance

with comforts,

Constrains them weep and shake with fear and sorrow;

Making the mother, wife and child to see

The son, the husband and the father tearing

His country's bowels out. And to poor we

Thine enmity's most capital: thou barr'st us

Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort

That all but we enjoy; for how can we,

Alas, how can we for our country pray.

Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,

Whereto we are bound? alack, or we must lose

The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,

Our comfort in the country. We must find

An evident calamity, though we had

Our wish, which side should win: for either thou

Must, as a foreign recreant, be led

With manacles thorough our streets, or else

triumphantly tread on thy country's ruin,

And bear the palm for having bravely shed

Thy wife and children's blood. For myself, son,

I purpose not to wait on fortune till

These wars determine: if I cannot persuade thee

Rather to show a noble grace to both parts

Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner

March to assault thy country than to tread--

Trust to't, thou shalt not--on thy mother's womb,

That brought thee to this world.


Ay, and mine,

That brought you forth this boy, to keep your name

Living to time.


A' shall not tread on me;

I'll run away till I am bigger, but then I'll fight.


Not of a woman's tenderness to be,

Requires nor child nor woman's face to see.

I have sat too long.



Nay, go not from us thus.

If it were so that our request did tend

To save the Romans, thereby to destroy

The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn us,

As poisonous of your honour: no; our suit

Is that you reconcile them: while the Volsces

May say 'This mercy we have show'd;' the Romans,

'This we received;' and each in either side

Give the all-hail to thee and cry 'Be blest

For making up this peace!' Thou know'st, great son,

The end of war's uncertain, but this certain,

That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit

Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name,

Whose repetition will be dogg'd with curses;

Whose chronicle thus writ: 'The man was noble,

But with his last attempt he wiped it out;

Destroy'd his country, and his name remains

To the ensuing age abhorr'd.' Speak to me, son:

Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour,

To imitate the graces of the gods;

To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o' the air,

And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt

That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak?

Think'st thou it honourable for a noble man

Still to remember wrongs? Daughter, speak you:

He cares not for your weeping. Speak thou, boy:

Perhaps thy childishness will move him more

Than can our reasons. There's no man in the world

More bound to 's mother; yet here he lets me prate

Like one i' the stocks. Thou hast never in thy life

Show'd thy dear mother any courtesy,

When she, poor hen, fond of no second brood,

Has cluck'd thee to the wars and safely home,

Loaden with honour. Say my request's unjust,

And spurn me back: but if it be not so,

Thou art not honest; and the gods will plague thee,

That thou restrain'st from me the duty which

To a mother's part belongs. He turns away:

Down, ladies; let us shame him with our knees.

To his surname Coriolanus 'longs more pride

Than pity to our prayers. Down: an end;

This is the last: so we will home to Rome,

And die among our neighbours. Nay, behold 's:

This boy, that cannot tell what he would have

But kneels and holds up bands for fellowship,

Does reason our petition with more strength

Than thou hast to deny 't. Come, let us go:

This fellow had a Volscian to his mother;

His wife is in Corioli and his child

Like him by chance. Yet give us our dispatch:

I am hush'd until our city be a-fire,

And then I'll speak a little.

He holds her by the hand, silent


O mother, mother!

What have you done? Behold, the heavens do ope,

The gods look down, and this unnatural scene

They laugh at. O my mother, mother! O!

You have won a happy victory to Rome;

But, for your son,--believe it, O, believe it,

Most dangerously you have with him prevail'd,

If not most mortal to him. But, let it come.

Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,

I'll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius,

Were you in my stead, would you have heard

A mother less? or granted less, Aufidius?


I was moved withal.


I dare be sworn you were:

And, sir, it is no little thing to make

Mine eyes to sweat compassion. But, good sir,

What peace you'll make, advise me: for my part,

I'll not to Rome, I'll back with you; and pray you,

Stand to me in this cause. O mother! wife!


[Aside] I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and

thy honour

At difference in thee: out of that I'll work

Myself a former fortune.

The Ladies make signs to CORIOLANUS


Ay, by and by;


But we will drink together; and you shall bear

A better witness back than words, which we,

On like conditions, will have counter-seal'd.

Come, enter with us. Ladies, you deserve

To have a temple built you: all the swords

In Italy, and her confederate arms,

Could not have made this peace.


SCENE IV. Rome. A public place.



See you yond coign o' the Capitol, yond



Why, what of that?


If it be possible for you to displace it with your

little finger, there is some hope the ladies of

Rome, especially his mother, may prevail with him.

But I say there is no hope in't: our throats are

sentenced and stay upon execution.


Is't possible that so short a time can alter the

condition of a man!


There is differency between a grub and a butterfly;

yet your butterfly was a grub. This Marcius is grown

from man to dragon: he has wings; he's more than a

creeping thing.


He loved his mother dearly.


So did he me: and he no more remembers his mother

now than an eight-year-old horse. The tartness

of his face sours ripe grapes: when he walks, he

moves like an engine, and the ground shrinks before

his treading: he is able to pierce a corslet with

his eye; talks like a knell, and his hum is a

battery. He sits in his state, as a thing made for

Alexander. What he bids be done is finished with

his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but eternity

and a heaven to throne in.


Yes, mercy, if you report him truly.


I paint him in the character. Mark what mercy his

mother shall bring from him: there is no more mercy

in him than there is milk in a male tiger; that

shall our poor city find: and all this is long of



The gods be good unto us!


No, in such a case the gods will not be good unto

us. When we banished him, we respected not them;

and, he returning to break our necks, they respect not us.

Enter a Messenger


Sir, if you'ld save your life, fly to your house:

The plebeians have got your fellow-tribune

And hale him up and down, all swearing, if

The Roman ladies bring not comfort home,

They'll give him death by inches.

Enter a second Messenger


What's the news?

Second Messenger

Good news, good news; the ladies have prevail'd,

The Volscians are dislodged, and Marcius gone:

A merrier day did never yet greet Rome,

No, not the expulsion of the Tarquins.



Art thou certain this is true? is it most certain?

Second Messenger

As certain as I know the sun is fire:

Where have you lurk'd, that you make doubt of it?

Ne'er through an arch so hurried the blown tide,

As the recomforted through the gates. Why, hark you!

Trumpets; hautboys; drums beat; all together

The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries and fifes,

Tabours and cymbals and the shouting Romans,

Make the sun dance. Hark you!

A shout within


This is good news:

I will go meet the ladies. This Volumnia

Is worth of consuls, senators, patricians,

A city full; of tribunes, such as you,

A sea and land full. You have pray'd well to-day:

This morning for ten thousand of your throats

I'd not have given a doit. Hark, how they joy!

Music still, with shouts


First, the gods bless you for your tidings; next,

Accept my thankfulness.

Second Messenger

Sir, we have all

Great cause to give great thanks.


They are near the city?

Second Messenger

Almost at point to enter.


We will meet them,

And help the joy.


SCENE V. The same. A street near the gate.

Enter two Senators with VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, VALERIA, and c. passing over the stage, followed by Patricians and others

First Senator

Behold our patroness, the life of Rome!

Call all your tribes together, praise the gods,

And make triumphant fires; strew flowers before them:

Unshout the noise that banish'd Marcius,

Repeal him with the welcome of his mother;

Cry 'Welcome, ladies, welcome!'


Welcome, ladies, Welcome!

A flourish with drums and trumpets. Exeunt

SCENE VI. Antium. A public place.

Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, with Attendants


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,

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

Enter three or four Conspirators of AUFIDIUS' faction

Most welcome!

First Conspirator

How is it with our general?


Even so

As with a man by his own alms empoison'd,

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.


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.


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,

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

By lack of stooping,--


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

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

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:

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,--


There was it:

For which my sinews shall be stretch'd upon him.

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 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,

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,

Which we will second. When he lies along,

After your way his tale pronounced shall bury

His reasons with his body.


Say no more:

Here come the lords.

Enter the Lords of the city

All The Lords

You are most welcome home.


I have not deserved it.

But, worthy lords, have you with heed perused

What I have written to you?


We have.

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

The benefit of our levies, answering us

With our own charge, making a treaty where

There was a yielding,--this admits no excuse.


He approaches: you shall hear him.

Enter CORIOLANUS, marching with drum and colours; commoners being with him


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

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

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.


Read it not, noble lords;

But tell the traitor, in the high'st degree

He hath abused your powers.


Traitor! how now!


Ay, traitor, Marcius!




Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius: 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

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

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.


Hear'st thou, Mars?


Name not the god, thou boy of tears!




No more.


Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart

Too great for what contains it. Boy! O slave!

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

To thrust the lie unto him.

First Lord

Peace, both, and hear me speak.


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,

That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I

Flutter'd your Volscians in Corioli:

Alone I did it. Boy!


Why, noble lords,

Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune,

Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,

'Fore your own eyes and ears?

All Conspirators

Let him die for't.

All The People

'Tear him to pieces.' 'Do it presently.' 'He kill'd

my son.' 'My daughter.' 'He killed my cousin

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,

And trouble not the peace.


O that I had him,

With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe,

To use my lawful sword!


Insolent villain!

All Conspirators

Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!

The Conspirators draw, and kill CORIOLANUS: AUFIDIUS stands on his body


Hold, hold, hold, hold!


My noble masters, hear me speak.

First Lord

O Tullus,--

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.


My lords, when you shall know--as in this rage,

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

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.

Second Lord

His own impatience

Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.

Let's make the best of it.


My rage is gone;

And I am struck with sorrow. Take him up.

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,

Yet he shall have a noble memory. Assist.

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