Coriolanus


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with staves,

clubs, and other weapons


FIRST CITIZEN

Before we proceed any further, hear me

speak.


ALL

Speak, speak.


FIRST CITIZEN

You are all resolved rather to die than to

famish?


ALL

Resolved, resolved.


FIRST CITIZEN

First, you know Caius Martius is chief

enemy to the people?


ALL

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?
verdict (n.) 3 unanimous decision, agreed judgement


ALL

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
authority (n.) 4 those in authority, the ruling class
good (adj.) 10 rich, wealthy, substantial
surfeit (v.) 1 feed to excess, overindulge, glut

us. If they would yield us but the superfluity while it

were wholesome, we might guess they relieved us
guess (v.) 1 assume, surmise, suppose
wholesome (adj.) 5 good, nutritious, fit to eat

humanely. But they think we are too dear. The leanness
dear (adj.) 4 expensive, costly
humanely (adv.) out of fellow feeling, as fellow human beings

that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an inventory
inventory (n.) detailed list, itemization
object (n.) 1 spectacle, sight, object of attention

to particularise their abundance. Our sufferance is a
particularize (v.) give details of, itemize
sufferance (n.) 1 distress, suffering, hardship

gain to them. Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we
pike (n.) 4 pitchfork, hayfork

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 Martius?


FIRST CITIZEN

Against him first. He's a very dog to the
dog (n.) 2 ruthless enemy, merciless beast

commonalty.
commonalty (n.) common people, community


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 for't, but that he pays himself with being
content (adj.) 1 agreeable, willing, ready See Topics: Frequency count

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
end (n.) 1 purpose, aim, design
famously (adv.) gloriously, with renown
soft-conscienced (adj.) soft-headed, easy-going, lacking real convictions

men can be content to say it was for his country, he did
content (adj.) 3 satisfied, calm, easy in mind

it to please his mother and to be partly proud, which he

is, even to the altitude of his virtue.
virtue (n.) 3 courage, valour, bravery


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 (n.) 1 recital, narration, relating

repetition.

Shouts within

What shouts are these? The other side o'th' city is risen.

Why stay we prating here? To th' Capitol!


ALL

Come, come.


FIRST CITIZEN

Soft, who comes here?

Enter Menenius Agrippa


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!


MENENIUS

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

With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray you.
bat (n.) cudgel, staff, stick
matter (n.) 5 reason, cause, ground


FIRST CITIZEN

Our business is not unknown to th'

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
suitor (n.) petitioner, supplicant, entreater

we have strong arms too.


MENENIUS

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

Will you undo yourselves?


FIRST CITIZEN

We cannot, sir, we are undone already.
undo (v.) 1 ruin, destroy, wipe out
undone (adj.) ruined, destroyed, brought down See Topics: Frequency count


MENENIUS

I tell you, friends, most charitable care

Have the patricians of you. For your wants,

Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
dearth (n.) 1 scarcity, shortage, lack [of food], famine

Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them

Against the Roman state, whose course will on
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count

The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
curb (n.) controlling chain or strap passed under a horse's jaw; check, restraint

Of more strong link asunder than can ever

Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,
dearth (n.) 1 scarcity, shortage, lack [of food], famine
impediment (n.) obstruction, hindrance, obstacle

The gods, not the patricians, make it, and

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

You are transported by calamity
transport (v.) 1 carry off, move along

Thither where more attends you, and you slander

The helms o'th' state, who care for you like fathers,
helm (n.) 2 helmsman, guide, pilot

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 storehouses

crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to

support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established
wholesome (adj.) 2 reasonable, sensible, rational

against the rich, and provide more piercing
piercing (adj.) 2 oppressive, severe, distressing

statutes daily to chain up and restrain the poor. If the
statute (n.) 1 law, decree, regulation

wars eat us not up, they will; and there's all the love they

bear us.


MENENIUS

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,
pretty (adj.) 2 nice, proper, apt

But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture

To stale't a little more.
stale (v.) 1 make stale, wear out


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
disgrace (n.) 1 misfortune, calamity, injury
fob off (v.) put off with a trick, get rid of, dispose of

you, deliver.
deliver (v.) 1 report [to], communicate [to], tell, describe


MENENIUS

There was a time when all the body's members

Rebelled against the belly, thus accused it:

That only like a gulf it did remain
gulf (n.) 2 abyss, chasm, pit

I'th' midst o'th' body, idle and unactive,
unactive (adj.) inactive, slothful, sluggish

Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
cupboard (v.) stow away, keep in, hoard
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count
viand (n.) (usually plural) food, victuals, foodstuff

Like labour with the rest, where th' other instruments
instrument (n.) 3 organ, faculty, functioning part
like (adj.) 1 same, similar, alike, equal See Topics: Frequency count

Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
devise (v.) 1 ponder, deliberate, think

And, mutually participate, did minister

Unto the appetite and affection common
affection (n.) 1 fancy, inclination, desire

Of the whole body. The belly answered –


FIRST CITIZEN

Well, sir, what answer made the belly?


MENENIUS

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
taintingly (adv.) [probable error for] tauntingly

To th' discontented members, the mutinous parts

That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
fitly (adv.) 1 justly, fittingly, aptly
receipt (n.) 1 what is received, acquisition, gain

As you malign our senators for that

They are not such as you.


FIRST CITIZEN

Your belly's answer – What!

The kingly crownéd 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
muniment (n.) support, furnishing, provision

In this our fabric, if that they –


MENENIUS

What then?

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


FIRST CITIZEN

Should by the cormorant belly be restrained
cormorant (adj.) greedy, insatiable, all-devouring

Who is the sink o'th' body –
sink (n.) cesspool, waste pit, sewer


MENENIUS

Well, what then?


FIRST CITIZEN

The former agents, if they did complain,

What could the belly answer?


MENENIUS

I will tell you.

If you'll bestow a small – of what you have little –
bestow (v.) 1 give, provide, grant

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


FIRST CITIZEN

Y'are long about it.


MENENIUS

Note me this, good friend –

Your most grave belly was deliberate,

Not rash like his accusers, and thus answered.

‘ True is it, my incorporate friends,’ quoth he,
incorporate (adj.) united in one body, combined in one entity
quoth (v.) said See Topics: Frequency count

‘ That I receive the general food at first

Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
fit (adj.) 1 suited, fitting, appropriate

Because I am the storehouse and the shop
shop (n.) workshop, workroom

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 th' seat o'th' brain;
seat (n.) 1 throne

And, through the cranks and offices of man,
crank (n.) 1 winding passage, meandering duct
office (n.) 8 (plural) servants' quarters, service rooms

The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
nerve (n.) 1 sinew, ligament, muscle

From me receive that natural competency
competency (n.) 1 means of life, sufficiency

Whereby they live. And though that all at once ’ –

You, my good friends, this says the belly, mark me –
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count


FIRST CITIZEN

Ay, sir, well, well.


MENENIUS

‘ 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,
flour (n.) fine essence, best part

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


FIRST CITIZEN

It was an answer. How apply you this?


MENENIUS

The senators of Rome are this good belly,

And you the mutinous members. For examine

Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly
counsel (n.) 2 opinion, judgement
digest, disgest (v.) 4 understand, interpret, comprehend

Touching the weal o'th' common, you shall find
common (n.) 2 state, people, community
touch (v.) 1 affect, concern, regard, relate to
weal 2 welfare, well-being, prosperity

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?


MENENIUS

For that being one o'th' lowest, basest, poorest
base (adj.) 2 low-born, lowly, plebeian, of lower rank See Topics: Frequency count

Of this most wise rebellion, thou goest foremost.

Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
blood, in [hunting] full of life, in fine condition
rascal (n.) 2 young or inferior deer in a herd; one of the common herd
rascal (n.) 1 worthless wretch, good-for-nothing

Lead'st first to win some vantage.
vantage (n.) 2 advantageous position, place of vantage, superiority

But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs.
bat (n.) cudgel, staff, stick
stiff (adj.) 1 stout, strong, tough

Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;

The one side must have bale.

Enter Caius Martius
bale (n.) sorrow, pain, misfortune

Hail, noble Martius!


MARTIUS

Thanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues,
dissentious (adj.) quarrelsome, argumentative, fractious

That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion

Make yourselves scabs?


FIRST CITIZEN

We have ever your good word.


MARTIUS

He that will give good words to thee will flatter

Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,
abhorring (n.) 1 abhorrence, disgust, loathing

That like nor peace nor war? The one affrights you,
affright (v.) frighten, terrify, scare

The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
proud (adj.) 3 high-spirited, high-mettled

Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;

Where foxes, geese. You are no surer, no,
sure (adj.) 4 loyal, trustworthy, steadfast

Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,

Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is
virtue (n.) 1 quality, accomplishment, ability

To make him worthy whose offence subdues him
subdue (v.) 2 control, overcome

And curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness

Deserves your hate; and your affections are
affection (n.) 1 fancy, inclination, desire

A sick man's appetite, who desires most that

Which would increase his evil. He that depends
evil (n.) 2 malady, illness, disease

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
garland (n.) 2 pride, glory, hero

That in these several places of the city
several (adj.) 2 various, sundry, respective, individual

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?
seeking (n.) suit, petition


MENENIUS

For corn at their own rates, whereof they say

The city is well stored.


MARTIUS

                         Hang 'em! They say?

They'll sit by th' fire and presume to know

What's done i'th' Capitol, who's like to rise,

Who thrives and who declines; side factions and give out
decline (v.) 2 fall, descend, come down
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count
side (v.) take sides with, join

Conjectural marriages, making parties strong

And feebling such as stand not in their liking
feeble (v.) make feeble, weaken

Below their cobbled shoes. They say there's grain enough!
cobbled (adj.) roughly mended, patched, botched

Would the nobility lay aside their ruth
ruth (n.) pity, compassion, sympathy

And let me use my sword, I'd make a quarry
quarry (n.) [in hunting] heap of dead, pile of bodies

With thousands of these quartered slaves as high
quartered (adj.) 1 cut into four pieces

As I could pick my lance.
pick (v.) 1 throw, pitch, hurl


MENENIUS

Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded,

For though abundantly they lack discretion,

Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
passing (adv.) very, exceedingly, extremely

What says the other troop?
dissolve (v.) 2 separate, part, break up


MARTIUS

                         They are dissolved. Hang 'em!

They said they were an-hungry, sighed 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 answered,
complaining (n.) 1 grievance, complaint, gripe
vent (v.) 1 utter, express, air, proclaim

And a petition granted them – a strange one,

To break the heart of generosity
generosity (n.) nobility, aristocracy

And make bold power look pale – they threw their caps
power (n.) 3 authority, government

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

Shouting their emulation.
emulation (n.) 2 triumph, success, accomplishment


MENENIUS

                         What is granted them?


MARTIUS

Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,

Of their own choice. One's Junius Brutus, one

Sicinius Velutus, and I know not.'Sdeath!

The rabble should have first unroofed the city

Ere so prevailed with me. It will in time

Win upon power and throw forth greater themes
power (n.) 3 authority, government
theme (n.) 1 subject, subject-matter, topic of discourse
win upon (v.) prevail over, overcome

For insurrection's arguing.


MENENIUS

                         This is strange.


MARTIUS

Go get you home, you fragments.

Enter a Messenger, hastily


MESSENGER

Where's Caius Martius?


MARTIUS

                         Here. What's the matter?


MESSENGER

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


MARTIUS

I am glad on't. Then we shall ha' means to vent
vent (v.) 2 get rid of, cast out

Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.

Enter Cominius, Titus Lartius, with other Senators;

Junius Brutus and Sicinius Velutus


FIRST SENATOR

Martius, 'tis true that you have lately told us:

The Volsces are in arms.


MARTIUS

                         They have a leader,

Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to't.
to it, to't to the test, to death

I sin in envying his nobility,

And were I anything but what I am,

I would wish me only he.
together (adv.) 3 against each other


COMINIUS

                         You have fought together.


MARTIUS

Were half to half the world by th' ears and he
ears, by the at odds, fighting like beasts

Upon my party, I'd revolt, to make
party (n.) 1 side, faction, camp

Only my wars with him. He is a lion

That I am proud to hunt.


FIRST SENATOR

                         Then, worthy Martius,

Attend upon Cominius to these wars.
attend (v.) 2 serve, follow, wait [on/upon]


COMINIUS

It is your former promise.


MARTIUS

                         Sir, it is,

And I am constant. Titus Lartius, thou
constant (adj.) 1 faithful, steadfast, true

Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face.

What, art thou stiff? Stand'st out?
stand out (v.) 1 not take part, not be involved
stiff (adj.) 3 disabled, incapacitated, unable to join in


LARTIUS

                         No, Caius Martius,

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

Ere stay behind this business.


MENENIUS

                         O, true bred!


FIRST SENATOR

Your company to th' Capitol, where I know

Our greatest friends attend us.


Lartius

(to Cominius)
attend (v.) 1 await, wait for, expect See Topics: Frequency count

                          Lead you on.

(to Martius) Follow Cominius. We must follow you.

Right worthy you priority.


COMINIUS

                         Noble Martius!


FIRST SENATOR

(to the Citizens)

Hence to your homes; be gone!


MARTIUS

                         Nay, let them follow.

The Volsces have much corn. Take these rats thither

To gnaw their garners. (Citizens steal away) Worshipful mutineers,

Your valour puts well forth. Pray follow.
put forth (v.) 3 make a show, come forward, promise

Exeunt Patricians. Sicicnius and Brutus stay behind


SICINIUS

Was ever man so proud as is this Martius?


BRUTUS

He has no equal.


SICINIUS

When we were chosen tribunes for the people –


BRUTUS

Marked you his lip and eyes?
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count


SICINIUS

                         Nay, but his taunts.


BRUTUS

Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods.
gird (v.) 2 mock, taunt, laugh [at]
move (v.) 2 move to anger, provoke, exasperate
spare (v.) 1 omit, avoid, refrain [from]


SICINIUS

Bemock the modest moon.
bemock (v.) mock at, taunt, flout


BRUTUS

The present wars devour him; he is grown

Too proud to be so valiant.


SICINIUS

                         Such a nature,

Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
success (n.) 1 result, outcome, issue
tickle (v.) 4 flatter, gratify, please

Which he treads on at noon. But I do wonder

His insolence can brook to be commanded
brook (v.) 1 endure, tolerate, put up with
command (v.) 3 entrust, authorize, delegate

Under Cominius.


BRUTUS

                         Fame, at the which he aims –

In whom already he's well graced – cannot

Better be held nor more attained than by

A place below the first; for what miscarries
miscarry (v.) 3 go wrong, fail, be unsuccessful
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count

Shall be the general's fault, though he perform

To th' utmost of a man, and giddy censure
censure (n.) 1 assessment, opinion, judgement, criticism
giddy (adj.) 1 frivolous, flighty, fickle, irresponsible

Will then cry out of Martius, ‘ O, if he

Had borne the business!’


SICINIUS

                         Besides, if things go well,

Opinion that so sticks on Martius, shall
opinion (n.) 1 public opinion, popular judgement
stick (v.) 1 be placed, be fixed

Of his demerits rob Cominius.
demerit (n.) (plural) merits, deserts, deserving


BRUTUS

                         Come.

Half all Cominius' honours are to Martius,

Though Martius earned them not; and all his faults

To Martius shall be honours, though indeed

In aught he merit not.
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count
dispatch, despatch (n.) 1 settlement of business, sorting out of affairs


SICINIUS

                         Let's hence and hear

How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,

More than his singularity, he goes
singularity (n.) 1 individuality, distinctiveness, personal qualities

Upon this present action.


BRUTUS

                         Let's along.

Exeunt

 
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