Enter Menenius, with the two Tribunes of the People,
Sicinius and Brutus
The augurer tells me we shall have news
Good or bad?
Not according to the prayer of the people, for
they love not Martius.
Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.
Pray you, who does the wolf love?
Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians
would the noble Martius.
He's a lamb indeed, that baas like a bear.
He's a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You
two are old men; tell me one thing that I shall ask you.
In what enormity is Martius poor in that you
two have not in abundance?
He's poor in no one fault, but stored with all.
Especially in pride.
And topping all others in boasting.
This is strange now. Do you two know how
you are censured here in the city – I mean of us o'th'
censure (v.) 1
judge, think of, give an opinion of [not involving blame]
right-hand file? Do you?
Why, how are we censured?
Because you talk of pride now – will you not
Well, well, sir, well?
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 Martius for being proud?
We do it not alone, sir.
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 toward the napes of your necks, and make but
an interior survey of your good selves! O that you could!
What then, sir?
Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,
proud, violent, testy magistrates – alias fools –
as any in Rome.
Menenius, you are known well enough too.
I am known to be a humorous patrician, 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 complaint, hasty and tinder-like upon too
trivial motion; one that converses more with the buttock
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 wealsmen as you are – I cannot call
public servant, one devoted to the well-being of the state
you Lycurguses – if the drink you give me touch my
palate adversely, 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?
Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.
You know neither me, yourselves, nor any
thing. You are ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs.
cap (n.) 1
removal of a cap, respectful salutation
leg (n.) 1
bending of a knee, genuflection, obeisance
You wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a
cause between an orange-wife and a faucet-seller, and
cause (n.) 5
court case, legal action, matter before the court
then rejourn the controversy of threepence to a second
day of audience. When you are hearing a matter between
party and party, if you chance to be pinched with the
colic, you make faces like mummers, set up the bloody
flag against all patience, and, in roaring for a chamber-pot,
dismiss the controversy 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
cause (n.) 5
court case, legal action, matter before the court
Come, come, you are well understood to be a perfecter
giber for the table than a necessary bencher in the
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 honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's cushion or to
mender of old clothes, tailor who does repairs, patcher-up
be entombed in an ass's pack-saddle. Yet you must be
saying Martius 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-e'en to your worships. More of your
conversation would infect my brain, being the herdsmen
of the beastly plebeians. I will be bold to take my leave
Brutus and Sicinius stand 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?
Honourable Menenius, my boy Martius
approaches. For the love of Juno, let's go.
Ha? Martius coming home?
Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous
Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!
Martius coming home?
VIRGILIA and VALERIA
Look, here's a letter from him. The state hath
another, his wife another, and I think there's one at home
I will make my very house reel tonight. A
letter for me?
Yes, certain, there's a letter for you, I saw't.
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.
O, no, no, no.
O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for't.
So do I too – if it be not too much. Brings 'a
victory in his pocket, the wounds become him.
On's brows, Menenius. He comes the third
brow (n.) 4
forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]
time home with the oaken garland.
Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?
Titus Lartius writes they fought together,
but Aufidius got off.
And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him
that. An he had stayed by him, I would not have been so
fidiused for all the chests in Corioles and the gold that's
[jocular form of ‘Aufidius’] treated as Aufidius was treated
in them. Is the Senate possessed of this?
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 hath in this
action outdone his former deeds doubly.
In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.
Wondrous? Ay, I warrant you, and not without
his true purchasing.
The gods grant them true.
True? Pow waw!
True? I'll be sworn they are true. Where is
he wounded? (To the Tribunes) God save your good
worships! Martius is coming home. He has more cause
to be proud. – Where is he wounded?
I'th' shoulder and i'th' 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'th' body.
One i'th' neck, and two i'th' thigh – there's nine
that I know.
He had before this last expedition twenty-five
wounds upon him.
Now it's twenty-seven. Every gash was an
enemy's grave. (A shout and flourish) Hark, the trumpets.
These are the ushers of Martius. Before him
he carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears.
Death, that dark spirit, in's nervy arm doth lie,
Which, being advanced, declines, and then men die.
A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter Cominius the
General, and Titus Lartius; between them, Coriolanus,
crowned with an oaken garland; with Captains and
Soldiers and a Herald
Know, Rome, that all alone Martius did fight
Within Corioles gates, where he hath won,
With fame, a name to Caius Martius; these
In honour follows ‘ Coriolanus.’
Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
No more of this; it does offend my heart.
Pray now, no more.
Look, sir, your mother!
You have, I know, petitioned all the gods
For my prosperity!
Nay, my good soldier, up,
My gentle Martius, worthy Caius, and
By deed-achieving honour newly named –
What is it? – Coriolanus must I call thee? –
But, O, thy wife!
My gracious silence, hail!
Wouldst thou have laughed had I come coffined home,
That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,
Such eyes the widows in Corioles wear,
And mothers that lack sons.
Now the gods crown thee!
And live you yet? (To Valeria) O my sweet lady, pardon.
I know not where to turn. O, welcome home.
And welcome, general, and y'are welcome all.
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, warriors.
We call a nettle but a nettle and
The faults of fools but folly.
Menenius ever, ever.
Give way there, and go on.
(to Volumnia and Virgilia)
Your hand, and yours:
Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
The good patricians must be visited,
From whom I have received not only greetings,
But with them change of honours.
I have lived
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.
Know, good mother,
I had rather be their servant in my way
Than sway with them in theirs.
On, to the Capitol.
Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before.
Brutus and Sicinius come forward
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 chats him. The kitchen malkin pins
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck,
Clambering the walls to eye him. Stalls, bulks, windows
bulk (n.) 3
projecting part of a building, structure for displaying goods at the front of a shop
stand in front of a shop displaying goods for sale
Are smothered up, leads filled, and ridges horsed
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 veiled dames
Commit the war of white and damask in
Their nicely gawded cheeks to th' 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.
On the sudden
I warrant him consul.
Then our office may
During his power go sleep.
He cannot temperately transport his honours
From where he should begin and end, but will
Lose those he hath won.
In that there's comfort.
The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
Upon their ancient malice will forget
With the least cause these his new honours, which
That he will give them make I as little question
As he is proud to do't.
I heard him swear,
Were he to stand for consul, never would he
Appear i'th' market-place nor on him put
The napless vesture of humility,
Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds
To th' people, beg their stinking breaths.
It was his word. O, he would miss it rather
Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him
And the desire of the nobles.
I wish no better
Than have him hold that purpose and to put it
'Tis most like he will.
It shall be to him then as our good wills,
A sure destruction.
So it must fall out
To him, or our authority's for an end.
We must suggest the people in what hatred
He still hath held them; that to's 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.
This, as you say, suggested
At some time when his soaring insolence
Shall touch 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
What's the matter?
You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought
That Martius 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 passed. 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.
Let's to the Capitol,
And carry with us ears and eyes for th' time,
But hearts for the event.
Have with you.