Act V. Scene
Scene II.The Volscian Camp before Rome.
The Guards at their stations.
Enter to them, MENENIUS.
First Guard. Stay! whence are you?
Sec. Guard. Stand! and go back.
Men. You guard like men; 'tis well; but, by
I am an officer of state, and come
To speak with Coriolanus.
First Guard. From whence?
Men. From Rome.
First Guard. You may not pass; you must
return: our general
Will no more hear from thence.
Sec. Guard. You'll see your Rome embrac'd
with fire before
Youll speak with Coriolanus.
Men. 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 Mene-
First Guard. Be it so; go back: the virtue
Is not here passable.
Men. I tell thee, fellow,
Thy general is my lover: I have been
The book of his good acts, whence men have
His fame unparallel'd, haply amplified;
For I have ever glorified my friends
Of whom he's chiefwith 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,
I must have leave to pass.
First Guard. Faith, sir, if you had told
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.
Men. Prithee, fellow, remember my name is
Menenius, always factionary on the party of your
Sec. Guard. Howsoever you have been his
liaras you say you haveI am one that, telling
true under him, must say you cannot pass.
Therefore go back.
Men. Has he dined, canst thou tell? for I
would not speak with him till after dinner.
First Guard. You are a Roman, are you?
Men. I am as thy general is.
First Guard. Then you should hate Rome,
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.
Men. Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here,
he would use me with estimation.
Sec. Guard. Come, my captain knows you not.
Men. I mean, thy general.
First Guard. 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:
Men. Nay, but, fellow, fellow,
Enter CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS.
Cor. What's the matter?
Men. 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 Corio-
lanus: 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 swound for what's to come upon thee. [To
CORIOLANUS.] 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.
Men. How! away!
Cor. Wife, mother, child, I know not My
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 lov'd
Take this along; I writ it for thy sake,
[Gives a paper.
And would have sent it. Another word, Me-
I will not hear thee speak. This man, Aufidius,
Was my belov'd in Rome: yet thou behold'st!
Auf. You keep a constant temper.
Exeunt CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS.
First Guard. Now, sir, is your name Menenius?
Sec. Guard. 'Tis a spell, you see, of much
power. You know the way home again.
First Guard. Do you hear how we are shent
for keeping your greatness back?
Sec. Guard. What cause, do you think, I
Men. 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 Guard. A noble fellow, I warrant him.
Sec. Guard. The worthy fellow is our general:
he is the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken.