Coriolanus


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Coriolanus and Aufidius with others. They sit


CORIOLANUS

We will before the walls of Rome tomorrow

Set down our host. My partner in this action,

You must report to th' Volscian lords how plainly
plainly (adv.) 1 openly, straightforwardly, without reserve

I have borne this business.
end (n.) 1 purpose, aim, design


AUFIDIUS

                         Only their ends

You have respected; stopped your ears against
stop (v.) 2 stop up, close (up), shut

The general suit of Rome; never admitted
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

A private whisper – no, not with such friends

That thought them sure of you.


CORIOLANUS

                         This last old man,

Whom with a cracked heart I have sent to Rome,

Loved me above the measure of a father,
measure (n.) 1 extent, size, amount, quantity, mass

Nay, godded me indeed. Their latest refuge
god (v.) make a god of, idolize
latest (adj.) last, final
refuge (n.) resource, last defence, final recourse

Was to send him; for whose old love I have –

Though I showed sourly to him – once more offered

The first conditions, which they did refuse

And cannot now accept, to grace him only
grace (v.) 1 favour, add merit to, do honour to

That thought he could do more. A very little

I have yielded to. Fresh embassies and suits,
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

Nor from the state nor private friends, hereafter

Will I lend ear to. (Shouts within) Ha! What shout is this?

(aside) Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow

In the same time 'tis made? I will not.

Enter Virgilia, Volumnia, Valeria, young Martius,

with Attendants

My wife comes foremost, then the honoured mould

Wherein this trunk was framed, and in her hand

The grandchild to her blood. But out, affection!

All bond and privilege of nature, break!
bond (n.) 3 tie, binding, obligation

Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.
obstinate (adj.) unyielding, inflexible, hard-hearted

What is that curtsy worth? Or those dove's eyes,

Which can make gods forsworn? I melt, and am not
forsworn (adj.) perjured, falsely swearing

Of stronger earth than others. My mother bows,

As if Olympus to a molehill should

In supplication nod, and my young boy

Hath an aspect of intercession which
aspect (n.) 1 [of a human face] look, appearance, expression

Great Nature cries ‘ Deny not.’ Let the Volsces

Plough Rome and harrow Italy! I'll never

Be such a gosling to obey instinct, but stand
gosling (n.) beginner, greenhorn, novice

As if a man were author of himself

And knew no other kin.


VIRGILIA

                         My lord and husband!


CORIOLANUS

These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.
deliver (v.) 5 present, show, display


VIRGILIA

The sorrow that delivers us thus changed

Makes you think so.


CORIOLANUS

(aside)

                          Like a dull actor now

I have forgot my part and I am out,
out (adv.) 2 at a loss, put out, nonplussed; unable to remember one's lines

Even to a full disgrace. (Rising and going to her) Best of my flesh,

Forgive my tyranny; but do not say
tyranny (n.) cruelty, barbarity, unmerciful violence

For that, ‘ Forgive our Romans.’ O, a kiss

Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!

Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss

I carried from thee, dear, and my true lip

Hath virgined it e'er since. You gods! I pray,
virgin (v.) remain a virgin, stay chaste

And the most noble mother of the world

Leave unsaluted. Sink, my knee, i'th' earth;

He kneels

Of thy deep duty more impression show
impression (n.) 2 indentation, depth of presence

Than that of common sons.
blessed, blest (adj.) 1 lucky, fortunate, happy


VOLUMNIA

                         O, stand up blest!

He rises

Whilst with no softer cushion than the flint

I kneel before thee, and unproperly
unproperly (adv.) improperly, unfittingly, against all propriety

Show duty as mistaken all this while

Between the child and parent.

She kneels


CORIOLANUS

                         What's this?

Your knees to me? To your corrected son?
corrected (adj.) chastised, rebuked, reprimanded

He raises her
hungry (adj.) barren, sterile, unfertile

Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach

Fillip the stars. Then let the mutinous winds
fillip, fillop (v.) strike smartly against, tap against, touch

Strike the proud cedars 'gainst the fiery sun,

Murdering impossibility, to make

What cannot be slight work.


VOLUMNIA

                         Thou art my warrior;

I holp to frame thee. Do you know this lady?


CORIOLANUS

The noble sister of Publicola,

The moon of Rome, chaste as the icicle

That's curdied by the frost from purest snow
curdy (v.) congeal, solidify

And hangs on Dian's temple – dear Valeria!


VOLUMNIA

(indicating young Martius)
epitome (n.) miniature, abridgement, abstract

This is a poor epitome of yours,

Which by th' interpretation of full time
interpretation (n.) rendering, treatment, execution

May show like all yourself.


CORIOLANUS

                         The god of soldiers,

With the consent of supreme Jove, inform

Thy thoughts with nobleness, that thou mayst prove

To shame unvulnerable, and stick i'th' wars
stick (v.) 6 shine out, stand out, be prominent
unvulnerable (adj.) invulnerable, unassailable

Like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw,
flaw (n.) 1 gust, squall, blast
sea-mark (n.) prominent landmark used as a guide for sailors, beacon
stand (v.) 13 make a stand [against], fight, resist

And saving those that eye thee!


VOLUMNIA

                         Your knee, sirrah.


CORIOLANUS

That's my brave boy!
brave (adj.) 1 fine, excellent, splendid, impressive See Topics: Frequency count


VOLUMNIA

Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself

Are suitors to you.
suitor (n.) petitioner, supplicant, entreater


CORIOLANUS

                         I beseech you, peace!

Or, if you'd ask, remember this before:

The thing I have forsworn to grant may never
forswear (v), past forms forsworn, forswore 2 abandon, renounce, reject, give up See Topics: Frequency count

Be held by you denials. Do not bid me
forswear (v), past forms forsworn, forswore 3 deny, repudiate, refuse to admit See Topics: Frequency count

Dismiss my soldiers, or capitulate
capitulate (v.) 1 bargain, parley, treat

Again with Rome's mechanics. Tell me not
mechanic (n.) workman, handicraftsman

Wherein I seem unnatural. Desire not

T' allay my rages and revenges with

Your colder reasons.


VOLUMNIA

                         O, no more, no more!

You have said you will not grant us any thing –

For we have nothing else to ask but that

Which you deny already. Yet we will ask,

That, if you fail in our request, the blame
fail (v.) 1 fall short, let down, disappoint

May hang upon your hardness. Therefore hear us.


CORIOLANUS

Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark; for we'll
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

Hear nought from Rome in private. (He sits) Your request?


VOLUMNIA

Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment
raiment (n.) clothing, clothes, dress

And state of bodies would bewray what life
bewray (v.) 1 betray, reveal, expose

We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself

How more unfortunate than all living women

Are we come hither; since that thy sight, which should

Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance with comforts,

Constrains them weep and shake with fear and sorrow,

Making the mother, wife, and child to see

The son, the husband, and the father tearing

His country's bowels out. And to poor we

Thine enmity's most capital. Thou barr'st us
capital (adj.) 3 worthy of the death penalty, punishable by death

Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort

That all but we enjoy. For how can we,

Alas, how can we for our country pray,

Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,

Whereto we are bound? Alack, or we must lose

The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,

Our comfort in the country. We must find

An evident calamity, though we had
evident (adj.) 2 inevitable, certain, inescapable

Our wish, which side should win. For either thou

Must, as a foreign recreant be led
recreant (n.) 2 deserter, renegade, villain

With manacles through our streets, or else

Triumphantly tread on thy country's ruin,

And bear the palm for having bravely shed
bravely (adv.) 1 splendidly, worthily, excellently
palm (n.) 1 palm leaf as a symbol of victory

Thy wife and children's blood. For myself, son,

I purpose not to wait on fortune till
purpose (v.) 1 intend, plan

These wars determine. If I cannot persuade thee
determine (v.) 3 be decided, be concluded, make an end

Rather to show a noble grace to both parts
grace (n.) 5 favour, good will

Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner

March to assault thy country than to tread –

Trust to't, thou shalt not – on thy mother's womb
trust (v.) 2 depend, be sure, rely

That brought thee to this world.


VIRGILIA

                         Ay, and mine,

That brought you forth this boy to keep your name

Living to time.


BOY

                         'A shall not tread on me!

I'll run away till I am bigger, but then I'll fight.


CORIOLANUS

Not of a woman's tenderness to be

Requires nor child nor woman's face to see.

I have sat too long.

He rises


VOLUMNIA

                         Nay, go not from us thus.

If it were so that our request did tend

To save the Romans, thereby to destroy

The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn us

As poisonous of your honour. No, our suit
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

Is that you reconcile them, while the Volsces

May say ‘ This mercy we have showed,’ the Romans

‘ This we received,’ and each in either side

Give the all-hail to thee and cry ‘ Be blest
all-hail (n.) acclamation, salutation, praise

For making up this peace!’ Thou know'st, great son,

The end of war's uncertain; but this certain,

That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit

Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name

Whose repetition will be dogged with curses,

Whose chronicle thus writ: ‘ The man was noble,

But with his last attempt he wiped it out,

Destroyed his country, and his name remains

To the ensuing age abhorred.’ Speak to me, son.

Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour,
affect (v.) 5 cultivate, aim at, seek out
affect (v.) 3 assume, display, put on, practise in an artificial way

To imitate the graces of the gods,

To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o'th' air,

And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt
bolt (n.) 3 thunderbolt
sulphur (n.) 2 lightning

That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak?
rive (v.) 1 split, rend, cleave

Think'st thou it honourable for a nobleman

Still to remember wrongs? Daughter, speak you:
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

He cares not for your weeping. Speak thou, boy.

Perhaps thy childishness will move him more

Than can our reasons. There's no man in the world

More bound to's mother, yet here he lets me prate
prate (v.) prattle, chatter, blather See Topics: Frequency count

Like one i'th' stocks. Thou hast never in thy life

Showed thy dear mother any courtesy,

When she, poor hen, fond of no second brood,
fond (adj.) 5 eager [for], desirous [of]

Has clucked thee to the wars, and safely home,

Loaden with honour. Say my request's unjust,

And spurn me back. But if it be not so,
spurn (v.) 1 reject, scorn, despise, treat with contempt

Thou art not honest, and the gods will plague thee
honest (adj.) 2 honourable, respectable, upright

That thou restrain'st from me the duty which
restrain (v.) 1 withhold, keep back, hold back

To a mother's part belongs. He turns away.

Down ladies! Let us shame him with our knees.

To his surname Coriolanus 'longs more pride

Than pity to our prayers. Down! An end;

The four kneel

This is the last. So, we will home to Rome,

And die among our neighbours. Nay, behold 's!

This boy, that cannot tell what he would have

But kneels and holds up hands for fellowship,

Does reason our petition with more strength
reason (v.) 4 argue for, plead for, support

Than thou hast to deny't. Come, let us go.

They rise

This fellow had a Volscian to his mother;

His wife is in Corioles, and his child

Like him by chance. Yet give us our dispatch.
dispatch, despatch (n.) 5 dismissal, leave to go

I am hushed until our city be afire,

And then I'll speak a little.


CORIOLANUS

Holds her by the hand, silent

O mother, mother!

What have you done? Behold, the heavens do ope,
ope (v.) open See Topics: Frequency count

The gods look down, and this unnatural scene

They laugh at. O my mother, mother! O!

You have won a happy victory to Rome.

But for your son – believe it, O believe it –

Most dangerously you have with him prevailed,

If not most mortal to him. But let it come.
mortal (adv.) fatally, lethally, destructively

Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,
true (adj.) 11 true to one's promise, faithful to one's undertaking

I'll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius,
convenient (adj.) fitting, suitable, appropriate

Were you in my stead, would you have heard

A mother less? Or granted less, Aufidius?


AUFIDIUS

I was moved withal.


CORIOLANUS

                         I dare be sworn you were!

And, sir, it is no little thing to make

Mine eyes to sweat compassion. But, good sir,

What peace you'll make, advise me. For my part,

I'll not to Rome, I'll back with you, and pray you,

Stand to me in this cause. O mother! Wife!
stand to (v.) 2 stand by, side with, support


AUFIDIUS

(aside)

I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and thy honour

At difference in thee. Out of that I'll work
difference (n.) 1 quarrel, disagreement, dispute

Myself a former fortune.


CORIOLANUS

(to the ladies)

                          Ay, by and by.

But we will drink together; and you shall bear

A better witness back than words, which we,

On like conditions, will have counter-sealed.
counter-seal (v.) provide with an additional seal, countersign
like (adj.) 1 same, similar, alike, equal See Topics: Frequency count

Come, enter with us. Ladies, you deserve

To have a temple built you. All the swords

In Italy, and her confederate arms,

Could not have made this peace.

Exeunt

 
  Previous scene     Next scene
--%>