Enter Menenius to the Watch on guard
Stay. Whence are you?
Stand, and go back.
You guard like men, 'tis well. But, by your leave,
I am an officer of state and come
To speak with Coriolanus.
You may not pass, you must return. Our general
Will no more hear from thence.
You'll see your Rome embraced with fire before
You'll speak with Coriolanus.
Good my friends,
If you have heard your general talk of Rome,
And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks
lots to blanks
[in a lottery] drawing of a winning ticket rather than a blank ticket
My name hath touched your ears: it is Menenius.
Be it so; go back. The virtue of your name
Is not here passable.
I tell thee, fellow,
Thy general is my lover. I have been
The book of his good acts whence men have read
His fame unparalleled haply amplified.
For I have ever varnished my friends –
Of whom he's chief – with 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 stamped the leasing. Therefore, fellow,
I must have leave to pass.
Faith, sir, if you had told as 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.
Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius,
always factionary on the party of your general.
Howsoever you have been his liar, as
you say you have, I am one that, telling true under him,
must say you cannot pass. Therefore, go back.
Has he dined, canst thou tell? For I would not
speak with him till after dinner.
You are a Roman, are you?
I am, as thy general is.
Then you should hate Rome, as 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
dotard, dullard, one whose mind is impaired by age
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.
Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he
would use me with estimation.
Come, my captain knows you not.
I mean thy general.
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. Back.
Nay, but fellow, fellow –
Enter Coriolanus with Aufidius
What's the matter?
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
Jack (n.) 1
Jack-in-office, ill-mannered fellow, lout, knave
my son Coriolanus. Guess but by my entertainment with
him. If thou stand'st not i'th' state of hanging, or of
some death more long in spectatorship and crueller in
suffering, behold now presently and swoon 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.
Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs
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 loved thee,
Take this along. I writ it for thy sake
(gives a letter)
And would have sent it. Another word, Menenius,
I will not hear thee speak. This man, Aufidius,
Was my beloved in Rome; yet thou behold'st.
You keep a constant temper.
The Guard and Menenius stay behind
Now, sir, is your name Menenius?
'Tis a spell, you see, of much power.
You know the way home again.
Do you hear how we are shent for keeping
shent (v.) 1
[from obsolete verb ‘shend’] blamed, rebuked, reproached
your greatness back?
What cause do you think I have to
I neither care for th' world nor your general.
For such things as you, I can scarce think there's any,
y'are 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!
A noble fellow, I warrant him.
The worthy fellow is our general. He's
the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken.