|The Tragedy of Coriolanus|
| Act 3, Scene 1
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Cornets. Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, all the Gentry, COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other SenatorsCORIOLANUS
Tullus Aufidius then had made new head?LARTIUS
He had, my lord; and that it was which causedCORIOLANUS
Our swifter composition.
So then the Volsces stand but as at first,COMINIUS
Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road.
They are worn, lord consul, so,CORIOLANUS
That we shall hardly in our ages see
Their banners wave again.
Saw you Aufidius?LARTIUS
On safe-guard he came to me; and did curseCORIOLANUS
Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely
Yielded the town: he is retired to Antium.
Spoke he of me?LARTIUS
He did, my lord.CORIOLANUS
How often he had met you, sword to sword;CORIOLANUS
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?LARTIUS
I wish I had a cause to seek him there,SICINIUS
To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.
Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUSBehold, 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.CORIOLANUS
Ha! what is that?BRUTUS
It will be dangerous to go on: no further.CORIOLANUS
What makes this change?MENENIUS
Hath he not pass'd the noble and the common?BRUTUS
Have I had children's voices?First Senator
Tribunes, give way; he shall to the market-place.BRUTUS
The people are incensed against him.SICINIUS
Or all will fall in broil.
Are these your herd?MENENIUS
Must these have voices, that can yield them now
And straight disclaim their tongues? What are
You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth?
Have you not set them on?
Be calm, be calm.CORIOLANUS
It is a purposed thing, and grows by plot,BRUTUS
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:CORIOLANUS
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.BRUTUS
Not to them all.CORIOLANUS
Have you inform'd them sithence?BRUTUS
How! I inform them!CORIOLANUS
You are like to do such business.BRUTUS
Each way, to better yours.
Why then should I be consul? By yond clouds,SICINIUS
Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
Your fellow tribune.
You show too much of thatMENENIUS
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.COMINIUS
The people are abused; set on. This palteringCORIOLANUS
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!MENENIUS
This was my speech, and I will speak't again--
Not now, not now.First Senator
Not in this heat, sir, now.CORIOLANUS
Now, as I live, I will. My nobler friends,MENENIUS
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,
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.CORIOLANUS
How! no more!BRUTUS
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,SICINIUS
As if you were a god to punish, not
A man of their infirmity.
We let the people know't.
What, what? his choler?CORIOLANUS
Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,
By Jove, 'twould be my mind!
It is a mindCORIOLANUS
That shall remain a poison where it is,
Not poison any further.
Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you
His absolute 'shall'?
'Twas from the canon.CORIOLANUS
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.CORIOLANUS
Whoever gave that counsel, to give forthMENENIUS
The corn o' the storehouse gratis, as 'twas used
Sometime in Greece,--
Well, well, no more of that.CORIOLANUS
Though there the people had more absolute power,BRUTUS
I say, they nourish'd disobedience, fed
The ruin of the state.
Why, shall the people giveCORIOLANUS
One that speaks thus their voice?
I'll give my reasons,MENENIUS
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.
Enough, with over-measure.CORIOLANUS
No, take more:BRUTUS
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,
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.SICINIUS
Has spoken like a traitor, and shall answerCORIOLANUS
As traitors do.
Thou wretch, despite o'erwhelm thee!BRUTUS
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.
This a consul? no.BRUTUS
The aediles, ho!SICINIUS
Enter an AEdileLet him be apprehended.
Go, call the people:CORIOLANUS
Exit AEdilein 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!COMINIUS
Senators, & C We'll surety him.
Aged sir, hands off.CORIOLANUS
Hence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bonesSICINIUS
Out of thy garments.
Help, ye citizens!MENENIUS
Enter a rabble of Citizens (Plebeians), with the AEdiles
On both sides more respect.SICINIUS
Here's he that would take from you all your power.BRUTUS
Seize him, AEdiles!Citizens
Down with him! down with him!MENENIUS
Senators, & C Weapons, weapons, weapons!
They all bustle about CORIOLANUS, crying'Tribunes!' 'Patricians!' 'Citizens!' 'What, ho!'
'Sicinius!' 'Brutus!' 'Coriolanus!' 'Citizens!'
'Peace, peace, peace!' 'Stay, hold, peace!'
What is about to be? I am out of breath;SICINIUS
Confusion's near; I cannot speak. You, tribunes
To the people! Coriolanus, patience!
Speak, good Sicinius.
Hear me, people; peace!Citizens
Let's hear our tribune: peace Speak, speak, speak.SICINIUS
You are at point to lose your liberties:MENENIUS
Marcius would have all from you; Marcius,
Whom late you have named for consul.
Fie, fie, fie!First Senator
This is the way to kindle, not to quench.
To unbuild the city and to lay all flat.SICINIUS
What is the city but the people?Citizens
The people are the city.
By the consent of all, we were establish'dCitizens
The people's magistrates.
You so remain.MENENIUS
And so are like to do.COMINIUS
That is the way to lay the city flat;SICINIUS
To bring the roof to the foundation,
And bury all, which yet distinctly ranges,
In heaps and piles of ruin.
This deserves death.BRUTUS
Or let us stand to our authority,SICINIUS
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;BRUTUS
Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence
Into destruction cast him.
AEdiles, seize him!Citizens
Yield, Marcius, yield!MENENIUS
Hear me one word;AEdile
Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.
[To BRUTUS] Be that you seem, truly yourBRUTUS
And temperately proceed to what you would
Thus violently redress.
Sir, those cold ways,CORIOLANUS
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.MENENIUS
Drawing his swordThere's some among you have beheld me fighting:
Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.
Down with that sword! Tribunes, withdraw awhile.BRUTUS
Lay hands upon him.COMINIUS
Help Marcius, help,Citizens
You that be noble; help him, young and old!
Down with him, down with him!MENENIUS
In this mutiny, the Tribunes, the AEdiles, and the People, are beat in
Go, get you to your house; be gone, away!Second Senator
All will be naught else.
Get you gone.COMINIUS
We have as many friends as enemies.
Sham it be put to that?First Senator
The gods forbid!MENENIUS
I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;
Leave us to cure this cause.
For 'tis a sore upon us,COMINIUS
You cannot tent yourself: be gone, beseech you.
Come, sir, along with us.CORIOLANUS
I would they were barbarians--as they are,MENENIUS
Though in Rome litter'd--not Romans--as they are not,
Though calved i' the porch o' the Capitol--
Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;
One time will owe another.
On fair groundCOMINIUS
I could beat forty of them.
I could myselfMENENIUS
Take up a brace o' the best of them; yea, the
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:COMINIUS
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.A Patrician
Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, and others
This man has marr'd his fortune.MENENIUS
His nature is too noble for the world:Second Patrician
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 withinHere's goodly work!
I would they were abed!MENENIUS
I would they were in Tiber! What the vengeance!SICINIUS
Could he not speak 'em fair?
Re-enter BRUTUS and SICINIUS, with the rabble
Where is this viperMENENIUS
That would depopulate the city and
Be every man himself?
You worthy tribunes,--SICINIUS
He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rockFirst Citizen
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.
He shall well knowCitizens
The noble tribunes are the people's mouths,
And we their hands.
He shall, sure on't.MENENIUS
Do not cry havoc, where you should but huntSICINIUS
With modest warrant.
Sir, how comes't that youMENENIUS
Have holp to make this rescue?
Hear me speak:SICINIUS
As I do know the consul's worthiness,
So can I name his faults,--
Consul! what consul?MENENIUS
The consul Coriolanus.BRUTUS
No, no, no, no, no.MENENIUS
If, by the tribunes' leave, and yours, good people,SICINIUS
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;MENENIUS
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 forbidSICINIUS
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.MENENIUS
O, he's a limb that has but a disease;SICINIUS
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.BRUTUS
Merely awry: when he did love his country,MENENIUS
It honour'd him.
The service of the footBRUTUS
Being once gangrened, is not then respected
For what before it was.
We'll hear no more.MENENIUS
Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence:
Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
One word more, one word.BRUTUS
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,--SICINIUS
What do ye talk?MENENIUS
Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted? Come.
Consider this: he has been bred i' the warsFirst Senator
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.
It is the humane way: the other course
Will prove too bloody, and the end of it
Unknown to the beginning.
Be you then as the people's officer.
Masters, lay down your weapons.
Go not home.SICINIUS
Meet on the market-place. We'll attend you there:MENENIUS
Where, if you bring not Marcius, we'll proceed
In our first way.
I'll bring him to you.First Senator
To the SenatorsLet me desire your company: he must come,
Or what is worst will follow.
Pray you, let's to him.
| Act 3, Scene 1
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