|The Tragedy of Coriolanus|
| Act 3, Scene 2
Previous scene | Next scene
Enter CORIOLANUS with PatriciansCORIOLANUS
Let them puff all about mine ears, present meA Patrician
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.
You do the nobler.CORIOLANUS
I muse my motherVOLUMNIA
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.
Enter VOLUMNIAI 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,CORIOLANUS
I would have had you put your power well on,
Before you had worn it out.
You might have been enough the man you are,CORIOLANUS
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.MENENIUS
Enter MENENIUS and Senators
Come, come, you have been too rough, somethingFirst Senator
You must return and mend it.
There's no remedy;VOLUMNIA
Unless, by not so doing, our good city
Cleave in the midst, and perish.
Pray, be counsell'd:MENENIUS
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?CORIOLANUS
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?MENENIUS
Return to the tribunes.CORIOLANUS
Well, what then? what then?MENENIUS
Repent what you have spoke.CORIOLANUS
For them! I cannot do it to the gods;VOLUMNIA
Must I then do't to them?
You are too absolute;CORIOLANUS
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.
A good demand.VOLUMNIA
If it be honour in your wars to seemCORIOLANUS
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?VOLUMNIA
Because that now it lies you on to speakMENENIUS
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.
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,MENENIUS
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,VOLUMNIA
Even as she speaks, why, their hearts were yours;
For they have pardons, being ask'd, as free
As words to little purpose.
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 fitMENENIUS
You make strong party, or defend yourself
By calmness or by absence: all's in anger.
Only fair speech.COMINIUS
I think 'twill serve, if heVOLUMNIA
Can thereto frame his spirit.
He must, and willCORIOLANUS
Prithee now, say you will, and go about it.
Must I go show them my unbarbed sconce?COMINIUS
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.VOLUMNIA
I prithee now, sweet son, as thou hast saidCORIOLANUS
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:VOLUMNIA
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:CORIOLANUS
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:VOLUMNIA
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.COMINIUS
Away! the tribunes do attend you: arm yourselfCORIOLANUS
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:MENENIUS
Let them accuse me by invention, I
Will answer in mine honour.
Ay, but mildly.CORIOLANUS
Well, mildly be it then. Mildly!
| Act 3, Scene 2
Previous scene | Next scene