Enter seven or eight Citizens
Once, if he do require our voices, we
ought not to deny him.
We may, sir, if we will.
We have power in ourselves to do it, but
it is a power that we have no power to do. For if he show
us his wounds and tell us his deeds, we are to put our
tongues into those wounds and speak for them. So, if he
tell us his noble deeds, we must also tell him our noble
acceptance of them. Ingratitude is monstrous, and for
the multitude to be ingrateful were to make a monster of
the multitude; of the which we being members should
bring ourselves to be monstrous members.
And to make us no better thought of a
little help will serve; for once we stood up about the
corn, he himself stuck not to call us the many-headed
We have been called so of many; not
that our heads are some brown, some black, some abram,
some bald, but that our wits are so diversely coloured.
And truly I think if all our wits were to issue out of one
skull, they would fly east, west, north, south, and their
consent of one direct way should be at once to all the
points o'th' compass.
Think you so? Which way do you
judge my wit would fly?
Nay, your wit will not so soon out as
another man's will – 'tis strongly wedged up in a blockhead;
but if it were at liberty 'twould sure southward.
Why that way?
To lose itself in a fog, where being three
parts melted away with rotten dews, the fourth would
return for conscience' sake to help to get thee a wife.
You are never without your tricks. You
may, you may!
Are you all resolved to give your voices?
But that's no matter, the greater part carries it. I say, if
he would incline to the people, there was never a worthier
Enter Coriolanus in a gown of humility, with
Here he comes, and in the gown of humility. Mark his
behaviour. We are not to stay all together, but to come
by him where he stands, by ones, by twos, and by threes.
He's to make his requests by particulars, wherein every
one of us has a single honour, in giving him our own
voices with our own tongues. Therefore follow me, and
I'll direct you how you shall go by him.
O sir, you are not right. Have you not known
The worthiest men have done't?
What must I say? –
‘ I pray, sir ’ – Plague upon't! I cannot bring
My tongue to such a pace. ‘ Look, sir, my wounds!
I got them in my country's service, when
Some certain of your brethren roared and ran
From th' noise of our own drums.’
O me, the gods!
You must not speak of that. You must desire them
To think upon you.
Think upon me? Hang 'em!
I would they would forget me, like the virtues
Which our divines lose by 'em.
You'll mar all.
I'll leave you. Pray you speak to 'em, I pray you,
In wholesome manner.
Enter three of the Citizens
Bid them wash their faces
And keep their teeth clean. So, here comes a brace.
You know the cause, sir, of my standing here.
We do, sir. Tell us what hath brought you to't.
Mine own desert.
Your own desert?
Ay, but not mine own desire.
How not your own desire?
No, sir,'twas never my desire yet to trouble
the poor with begging.
You must think, if we give you anything,
we hope to gain by you.
Well then, I pray, your price
The price is to ask it kindly.
Kindly, sir, I pray let me ha't. I have
wounds to show you, which shall be yours in private.
(to the Second Citizen) Your good voice, sir. What say
You shall ha't, worthy sir.
A match, sir. There's in all two worthy
voices begged. I have your alms. Adieu.
But this is something odd.
An 'twere to give again – but 'tis no
Enter two other Citizens
Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune
of your voices that I may be consul, I have here the
You have deserved nobly of your
country, and you have not deserved nobly.
You have been a scourge to her
enemies, you have been a rod to her friends. You have
not indeed loved the common people.
You should account me the more virtuous
that I have not been common in my love. I will, sir, flatter
my sworn brother, the people, to earn a dearer estimation
of them. 'Tis a condition they account gentle;
and since the wisdom of their choice is rather to have my
hat than my heart, I will practise the insinuating nod and
be off to them most counterfeitly. That is, sir, I will
counterfeit the bewitchment of some popular man and
give it bountiful to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you,
I may be consul.
We hope to find you our friend, and
therefore give you our voices heartily.
You have received many wounds for
I will not seal your knowledge with showing
them. I will make much of your voices and so trouble
you no farther.
The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!
Most sweet voices!
Better it is to die, better to starve,
Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.
Why in this wolvish toge should I stand here
To beg of Hob and Dick that does appear
Their needless vouches? Custom calls me to't.
What custom wills, in all things should we do't,
The dust on antique time would lie unswept
And mountainous error be too highly heaped
For truth to o'erpeer. Rather than fool it so,
Let the high office and the honour go
To one that would do thus. I am half through;
The one part suffered, the other will I do.
Enter three Citizens more
Here come more voices.
Your voices! For your voices I have fought,
Watched for your voices; for your voices bear
Of wounds two dozen odd. Battles thrice six
I have seen and heard of; for your voices have
Done many things, some less, some more. Your voices!
Indeed, I would be consul.
He has done nobly, and cannot go without
any honest man's voice.
Therefore let him be consul. The
gods give him joy and make him good friend to the
Amen, amen. God save thee, noble Consul!
Enter Menenius, with Brutus and Sicinius
You have stood your limitation, and the Tribunes
Endue you with the people's voice. Remains
That in th' official marks invested you
Anon do meet the Senate.
Is this done?
The custom of request you have discharged.
The people do admit you, and are summoned
To meet anon upon your approbation.
Where? at the Senate House?
May I change these garments?
You may, sir.
That I'll straight do and, knowing myself again,
Repair to th' Senate House.
I'll keep you company. (To the Tribunes) Will you along?
We stay here for the people.
Fare you well.
Exeunt Coriolanus and Menenius
He has it now, and by his looks methinks
'Tis warm at's heart.
With a proud heart he wore
His humble weeds. Will you dismiss the people?
Enter the Plebeians
How now, my masters, have you chose this man?
He has our voices, sir.
We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.
Amen, sir. To my poor unworthy notice,
He mocked us when he begged our voices.
He flouted us downright.
No,'tis his kind of speech – he did not mock us.
Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says
He used us scornfully. He should have showed us
His marks of merit, wounds received for's country.
Why, so he did, I am sure.
No, no! No man saw 'em.
He said he had wounds which he could show in private,
And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
‘ I would be consul,’ says he. ‘ Aged custom
But by your voices will not so permit me;
Your voices therefore.’ When we granted that,
Here was ‘ I thank you for your voices. Thank you,
Your most sweet voices. Now you have left your voices,
I have no further with you.’ Was not this mockery?
Why either were you ignorant to see't,
Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness
To yield your voices?
Could you not have told him –
As you were lessoned – when he had no power,
But was a petty servant to the state,
He was your enemy, ever spake against
Your liberties and the charters that you bear
I'th' body of the weal; and now, arriving
body (n.) 2
corporate body, collective mass [of people]
state, community, commonwealth
A place of potency and sway o'th' state,
sway (n.) 2
controlling influence, guiding power, direction
If he should still malignantly remain
Fast foe to th' plebeii, your voices might
Be curses to yourselves? You should have said
That as his worthy deeds did claim no less
Than what he stood for, so his gracious nature
Would think upon you for your voices and
Translate his malice towards you into love,
Standing your friendly lord.
Thus to have said,
As you were fore-advised, had touched his spirit
And tried his inclination; from him plucked
Either his gracious promise, which you might,
As cause had called you up, have held him to;
Or else it would have galled his surly nature,
Which easily endures not article
Tying him to aught. So putting him to rage,
You should have ta'en th' advantage of his choler
And passed him unelected.
Did you perceive
He did solicit you in free contempt
When he did need your loves, and do you think
That his contempt shall not be bruising to you
When he hath power to crush? Why, had your bodies
No heart among you? Or had you tongues to cry
Against the rectorship of judgement?
Ere now denied the asker, and now again,
Of him that did not ask but mock, bestow
Your sued-for tongues?
He's not confirmed; we may deny him yet.
And will deny him:
I'll have five hundred voices of that sound.
I twice five hundred and their friends to piece 'em.
Get you hence instantly, and tell those friends
They have chose a consul that will from them take
Their liberties; make them of no more voice
Than dogs that are as often beat for barking
As therefore kept to do so.
Let them assemble,
And on a safer judgement all revoke
Your ignorant election. Enforce his pride
And his old hate unto you. Besides, forget not
With what contempt he wore the humble weed,
How in his suit he scorned you; but your loves,
Thinking upon his services, took from you
Th' apprehension of his present portance,
Which most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion
After the inveterate hate he bears you.
A fault on us, your Tribunes, that we laboured,
No impediment between, but that you must
Cast your election on him.
Say, you chose him
More after our commandment than as guided
By your own true affections, and that your minds,
Pre-occupied with what you rather must do
Than what you should, made you against the grain
To voice him consul. Lay the fault on us.
Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you,
How youngly he began to serve his country,
How long continued, and what stock he springs of –
The noble house o'th' Martians, from whence came
That Ancus Martius, Numa's daughter's son,
Who after great Hostilius here was king.
Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,
That our best water brought by conduits hither;
And Censorinus, nobly named so,
Twice being by the people chosen censor,
Was his great ancestor.
One thus descended,
That hath beside well in his person wrought
To be set high in place, we did commend
To your remembrances. But you have found,
Scaling his present bearing with his past,
That he's your fixed enemy, and revoke
Your sudden approbation.
Say you ne'er had done't –
Harp on that still – but by our putting on.
And presently, when you have drawn your number,
Repair to th' Capitol.
We will so. Almost all
Repent in their election.
Let them go on.
This mutiny were better put in hazard
Than stay, past doubt, for greater.
If, as his nature is, he fall in rage
With their refusal, both observe and answer
The vantage of his anger.
To th' Capitol, come.
We will be there before the stream o'th' people;
And this shall seem, as partly 'tis, their own,
Which we have goaded onward.