William Shakespeare's Coriolanus in the complete original text.
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Coriolanus

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Act II. Scene I.

Act II. Scene I.—Rome. A Public Place.

Enter MENENIUS, SICINIUS, and BRUTUS.

Men. The augurer tells me we shall have
news to-night.
Bru. Good or bad?
Men. Not according to the prayer of the
people, for they love not Marcius.
Sic. Nature teaches beasts to know their
friends.
Men. Pray you, who does the wolf love?
Sic. The lamb.
Men. Ay, to devour him; as the hungry ple-
beians would the noble Marcius.
Bru. He's a lamb indeed, that baes like a
bear.
Men. He's a bear indeed, that lives like a
lamb. You two are old men; tell me one thing
that I shall ask you.
Sic. & Bru.} Well, sir.
Men. In what enormity is Marcius poor in,
that you two have not in abundance?
Bru. He's poor in no one fault, but stored
with all.
Sic. Especially in pride.
Bru. And topping all others in boasting.
Men. 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?
Both. Why, how are we censured?
Men. Because you talk of pride now,—Will
you not be angry?
Both. Well, well, sir; well.
Men. 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?
Bru. We do it not alone, sir.
Men. 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
towards the napes of your necks, and make but
an interior survey of your good selves. O! that
you could.
Bru. What then, sir?
Men. Why, then you should discover a brace
of unmeriting, proud, violent, testy magistrates—
alias fools—as any in Rome.
Sic. Menenius, you are known well enough
too.
Men. I am known to be a humorous patri-
cian, 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 com-
plaint; hasty and tinder-like upon too trivial
motion; one that converses more with the but-
tock 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 weals-
men as you are,—I cannot call you Lycurguses,—
if the drink you give me touch my palate ad-
versely, I make a crooked face at it. I cannot
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 have good faces. If you see this in the map
of my microcosm, follows it that I am known
well enough too? What harm can your bisson
conspectuities glean out of this character, if I
be known well enough too?
Bru. Come, sir, come, we know you well
enough.
Men. You know neither me, yourselves, nor
anything. 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 be-
tween party and party, if you chance to be pinch-
ed with the colic, you make faces like mummers,
set up the bloody flag against all patience, and,
in ro-aring for a chamber-pot, dismiss the con-
troversy 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.
Bru. Come, come, you are well understood
to be a perfecter giber for the table than a
necessary bencher in the Capitol.
Men. 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 honour-
able 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 all your predecessors
since Deucalion, though peradventure some of
the best of 'em were hereditary hangmen. Good
den to your warships: more of your conversa-
tion 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.

Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, and VALERIA.
How now, my as fair as noble ladies,—and the
moon, were she earthly, no nobler,—whither do
you follow your eyes so fast? m
Vol. Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius
approaches; for the love of Juno, let's go.
Men. Ha! Marcius coming home?
Vol. Ay, worthy Menenius; and with most
prosperous approbation.
Men. Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank
thee. Hoo! Marcius coming home!
Vol. & Vir.} Nay, tis tru.
Vol. Look, here's a letter from him: the
state hath another, his wife another; and, I
think, there's one at home for you.
Men. I will make my very house reel to-
night. A letter for me!
Vir. Yes, certain, there's a letter for you;
I saw it.
Men. 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.
Vir. O! no, no, no.
Vol. O! he is wounded, I thank the gods for't.
Men. So do I too, if it be not too much.
Brings a' victory in his pocket? The wounds
become him.
Vol. On's brows, Menenius; he comes the
third time home with the oaken garland.
Men. Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?
Vol. Titus Lartius writes they fought toge-
ther, but Aufidius got oft:
Men. And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant
him that: an he had stay'd 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 pos-
sessed of this?
Vol. 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
bath in this action outdone his former deeds
doubly.
Val. In troth there's wondrous things spoke
of him.
Men. Wondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not
without his true purchasing.
Vir. The gods grant them true!
Vol. True! pow, wow.
Men. 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. [To
VOLUMNIA.] Where is he wounded?
Vol. 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.
Men. One i' the neck, and two i' the thigh,
there's nine that I know.
Vol. He had, before this last expedition,
twenty-five wounds upon him.
Men. Now, it's twenty-seven: every gash was
an enemy's grave. [A shout and flourish.] Hark!
the trumpets.
Vol. 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 advanc'd, declines, and then men die.

A Sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter COMINIUS
and TITUS LARTIUS; between them, CORIOLA-
NUS, crowned with an oaken garland; with
Captains, Soldiers, and a Herald.
Her. 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!
[Flourish,
All. Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
Cor. No more of this; it does offend my heart:
Pray now, no more.
Com. Look, sir, your mother!
Cor. O!
You have, I know, petition'd all the gods
For my prosperity. [Kneels.
Vol. Nay, my good soldier, up;
My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and
By deed-achieving honour newly nam'd,—
What is it?—Coriolanus must I call thee?
But O! thy wife!—
Cor. My gracious silence, hail!
Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd
home,
That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah! my dear,
Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
And mothers that lack sons.
Men. Now, the gods crown thee!
Cor. And live you yet? [To VALERIA.] O my
sweet lady, pardon.
Vol. I know not where to turn: O! welcome
home;
And welcome, general; and ye're welcome all.
Men. A hundred thousand welcomes: I could
weep,
And I could laugh; I am light, and heavy.
Welcome.
A curse begnaw 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, war-
riors!
We call a nettle but a nettle, and
The faults of fools but folly.
Com. Ever right.
Cor. Menenius, ever, ever.
Her. Give way there, and go on!
Cor. [To VOLUMNIA and VALERIA.] Your
hand, and yours:
Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
The good patricians must be visited;
From whom I have receiv'd not only greetings,
But with them change of honours.
Vol. I have liv'd
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.
Cor. Know, good mother,
I had rather be their servant in my way
Than sway with them in theirs.
Com. On, to the Capitol!
[Flourish. Comets. Exeunt in state, as
before. The Tribunes remain.
Bru. 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 chafes 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 hors'd
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: our 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.
Sic. On the sudden
I warrant him consul.
Bru. Then our office may,
During his power, go sleep.
Sic. He cannot temperately transport his
honours
From where he should begin and end, but will
Lose those be hath won.
Bru. In that there's comfort.
Sic. Doubt not, the commoners, for whom
we stand,
But they upon their ancient malice will
Forget with the least cause these bis new
honours,
Which that he'll give them, make I as little
question
As he is proud to do't.
Bru. 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.
Sic. 'Tis right.
Bru. It was his word, O! he would miss it
rather
Than carry it by the suit o' the gentry to him
And the desire of the nobles.
Sic. I wish no better
Than have him hold that purpose and to put it
In execution.
Bru. 'Tis most like he will.
Sic. It shall be to him then, as our good
wills,
A sure destruction.
Bru. 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 his 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.
Sic. This, as you say, suggested
At some time when his soaring insolence
Shall reach 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.
Bru. What's the matter?
Mess. 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 hear 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.
Bru. Let's to the Capitol;
And carry with us ears and eyes for the time,
But hearts for the event.
Sic. Have with you. [Exeunt.
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