Coriolanus


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Menenius to the Watch on guard


FIRST WATCH

Stay. Whence are you?


SECOND WATCH

                         Stand, and go back.


MENENIUS

You guard like men, 'tis well. But, by your leave,

I am an officer of state and come

To speak with Coriolanus.


FIRST WATCH

                         From whence?


MENENIUS

                                                         From Rome.


FIRST WATCH

You may not pass, you must return. Our general

Will no more hear from thence.


SECOND WATCH

You'll see your Rome embraced with fire before

You'll speak with Coriolanus.


MENENIUS

                         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.


FIRST WATCH

Be it so; go back. The virtue of your name

Is not here passable.


MENENIUS

                         I tell thee, fellow,

Thy general is my lover. I have been
lover (n.) companion, comrade, dear friend

The book of his good acts whence men have read

His fame unparalleled haply amplified.
haply (adv.) perhaps, maybe, by chance, with luck See Topics: Frequency count

For I have ever varnished my friends –
verify (v.) 2 support, back up, bolster

Of whom he's chief – with all the size that verity
verity (n.) 1 truth, truthfulness, veracity

Would without lapsing suffer. Nay, sometimes,
lapsing (n.) slipping, collapsing, failing

Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground,
ground (n.) 6 green, surface, lawn
like to / unto (conj./prep.) similar to, comparable with
subtle, subtile (adj.) 2 tricky, deceptive, treacherous

I have tumbled past the throw, and in his praise
throw (n.) throwing distance, mark
tumble (v.) 3 [bowling] overshoot, move too far

Have almost stamped the leasing. Therefore, fellow,
leasing (n.) 1 lie, falsehood, untruth
stamp (v.) 2 authenticate, endorse, validate

I must have leave to pass.


FIRST WATCH

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.


MENENIUS

Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius,

always factionary on the party of your general.
factionary (n.) activist, partisan, champion
party (n.) 1 side, faction, camp


SECOND WATCH

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.


MENENIUS

Has he dined, canst thou tell? For I would not

speak with him till after dinner.


FIRST WATCH

You are a Roman, are you?


MENENIUS

I am, as thy general is.


FIRST WATCH

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
ignorance (n.) 1 negligence, obtuseness, lack of understanding

given your enemy your shield, think to front his revenges
front (v.) 1 confront, face, meet

with the easy groans of old women, the virginal palms of
easy (adj.) 1 slight, petty, insignificant
virginal (adj.) 2 of young girls

your daughters, or with the palsied intercession of such

a decayed dotant as you seem to be? Can you think to
dotant (n.) 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.


MENENIUS

Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he

would use me with estimation.
estimation (n.) 1 esteem, respect, reputation
use (v.) 2 treat, deal with, manage


FIRST WATCH

Come, my captain knows you not.


MENENIUS

I mean thy general.


FIRST WATCH

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.


MENENIUS

Nay, but fellow, fellow –

Enter Coriolanus with Aufidius


CORIOLANUS

What's the matter?


MENENIUS

Now, you companion, I'll say an errand for
companion (n.) 1 rogue, rascal, fellow
errand (n.) message, report, news
say (v.) 2 deliver, report, tell

you. You shall know now that I am in estimation. You
estimation (n.) 1 esteem, respect, reputation

shall perceive that a Jack guardant cannot office me from
guardant (n.) guard, protector, keeper
Jack (n.) 1 Jack-in-office, ill-mannered fellow, lout, knave
office (v.) 1 officiously withhold, use petty authority to block

my son Coriolanus. Guess but by my entertainment with
entertainment (n.) 2 pleasant reception, favourable welcome

him. If thou stand'st not i'th' state of hanging, or of

some death more long in spectatorship and crueller in
spectatorship (n.) presentation to onlookers, display before spectators

suffering, behold now presently and swoon for what's to
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count
swound (v.) faint, swoon

come upon thee. (To Coriolanus) The glorious gods sit in

hourly synod about thy particular prosperity and love
particular (adj.) 1 personal, special, private
synod (n.) assembly, council, gathering

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
hardly (adv.) 1 with great difficulty, only with difficulty

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
petitionary (adj.) imploring, suppliant, entreating

countrymen. The good gods assuage thy wrath and turn

the dregs of it upon this varlet here – this, who, like a
varlet (n.) 1 knave, rogue, rascal, ruffian

block, hath denied my access to thee.
block (n.) 1 blockhead


CORIOLANUS

Away!


MENENIUS

How? Away?


CORIOLANUS

Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs

Are servanted to others. Though I owe
owe (v.) 1 own, possess, have See Topics: Frequency count
servant (v.) put in service, make submissive

My revenge properly, my remission lies
properly (adv.) privately, personally
remission (n.) 2 power to pardon, inclination to forgive

In Volscian breasts. That we have been familiar,

Ingrate forgetfulness shall poison rather
ingrate (adj.) ungrateful, unthankful, unappreciative

Than pity note how much. Therefore be gone.

Mine ears against your suits are stronger than
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

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.


AUFIDIUS

You keep a constant temper.
temper (n.) 1 frame of mind, temperament, disposition

Exeunt

The Guard and Menenius stay behind


FIRST WATCH

Now, sir, is your name Menenius?


SECOND WATCH

'Tis a spell, you see, of much power.

You know the way home again.


FIRST WATCH

Do you hear how we are shent for keeping
shent (v.) 1 [from obsolete verb ‘shend’] blamed, rebuked, reproached

your greatness back?


SECOND WATCH

What cause do you think I have to

swoon?
swound (v.) faint, swoon


MENENIUS

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
die by oneself die by one's own hand, commit suicide
slight (adj.) 1 worthless, insignificant, good-for-nothing

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!

Exit


FIRST WATCH

A noble fellow, I warrant him.


SECOND WATCH

The worthy fellow is our general. He's

the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken.

Exit Watch

 
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