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Coriolanus

Complete Text With Definitions of Difficult Words and Explanations of Difficult Passages

Edited by Michael J. Cummings

Home Page: Shakespeare Index      The Coriolanus Study Guide

Introduction

The following version of William Shakespeare's Coriolanus is based on the text in the authoritative 1914 Oxford Edition of Shakespeare's works, edited by W. J. Craig. The Oxford text numbers the lines, including those with stage directions such as "Enter" and "Exit." Notes and definitions (annotations), as well as Shakespeare's stage directions, appear in brackets. Here is an example:
While she chats [talks about] him: the kitchen malkin [mawkin: slovenly woman] pins
Her richest lockram [collar] ’bout her reechy [dirty] neck

Characters

Protagonist: Coriolanus
Antagonists: (1) Common People of Rome, (2) the Volscians

Coriolanus (Caius Marcius): Roman warrior of quick temper and great pride, who thinks like a lion when he should think like a fox. His birth name is Caius Marcius, but he receives the honorary name of Coriolanus after he conquers the enemy city of Corioli. Like protagonists in ancient Greek tragedies, Coriolanus's arrogance and inflexibility precipitate his downfall. Toward the end of the play, he does bend his iron will away from vengeance against Rome—but it is too late. The die has been cast.
Volumnia: Ambitious, meddlesome mother of Coriolanus. She had exercised considerable control over his character formation. She is not unlike the strong-willed mothers in another Shakespeare play, King John. In some historical accounts, Volumnia is identified as Veturia, and Coriolanus's wife as Volumnia.
Virgilia: Gentle and soft-spoken wife of Coriolanus. In her sweetness and delicacy, she is reminiscent of Desdemona in Shakespeare's play Othello.
Menenius Agrippa (full historical name: Agrippa Menius Lanatus): Sensible patrician politician and friend of Coriolanus.
Cominius: General in the Roman army in the war against the Volscians.
Titus Lartius: General in the Roman army in the war against the Volscians.
Sicinius Velutus, Junius Brutus: Tribunes of the people. A tribune was an elected official charged with safeguarding the rights of commoners, called plebeians.
Tullus Aufidius: General of the Volscians, or Volsci, who occupied a valley south of Rome.
Lieutenant of Aufidius
Conspirators Supporting Aufidius Against Coriolanus: First conspirator, second conspirator, third conspirator.
Young Marcius: Son of Coriolanus.
Valeria: Friend of Virgilia.
Gentlewoman Attending Virgilia
Adrian: Volscian who meets a Roman, Nicanor, on the road between Rome and Antium. Nicanor informs him that the Roman citizens have banished Coriolanus.
Nicanor: Roman citizen. See the previous entry.
Minor Characters: Citizen of Antium, two Volscian guards, Roman herald, Roman and Volscian senators, patricians, aediles (officials enforcing the law and overseeing public buildings and roads, markets, sanitation facilities, and certain public events), lictors (magistrates' assistants who helped makes arrests), soldiers, citizens, messengers, servants of Aufidius, other attendants.

Text

Act 1, Scene 1: Rome. A street.
Act 1, Scene 2: Corioli. The Senate-house.
Act 1, Scene 3: A room in Marcius's house.
Act 1, Scene 4: Before Corioli.
Act 1, Scene 5: Corioli. A street.
Act 1, Scene 6: Near the camp of Cominius.
Act 1, Scene 7: The gates of Corioli.
Act 1, Scene 8: A field of battle between the Roman and Volscian camps.
Act 1, Scene 9: The Roman camp.
Act 1, Scene 10: The camp of the Volsces.

Act 2, Scene 1: Rome. A public place.
Act 2, Scene 2: Rome. The Capitol.
Act 2, Scene 3: Rome. The Forum

Act 3, Scene 1: Rome. A street.
Act 3, Scene 2: Rome. A room in Coriolanus's house.
Act 3, Scene 3: Rome. The Forum.

Act 4, Scene 1: Rome. Before a gate of the city.
Act 4, Scene 2: Rome. A street near the gate.
Act 4, Scene 3: A highway between Rome and Antium.
Act 4, Scene 4: Antium. Before Aufidius's house.
Act 4, Scene 5: Antium. A hall in Aufidius's house.
Act 4, Scene 6: Rome. A public place.
Act 4, Scene 7: A camp at a small distance from Rome.

Act 5, Scene 1: Rome. A public place.
Act 5, Scene 2: The Volscian camp before Rome. The guards at their stations.
Act 5, Scene 3: The tent of Coriolanus.
Act 5, Scene 4: Rome. A public place.
Act 5, Scene 5: Corioli. A public place.
 

Act 1, Scene 1

Rome. A street.
Enter a Company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons.
   
FIRST CITIZEN:  Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.   
ALL:  Speak, speak.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?            5
ALL:  Resolved, resolved.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people. 
[Caius Marcius: Name of the title character before he is called Coriolanus.] 
ALL:  We know ’t, we know ’t.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  Let us kill him, and we’ll have corn at our own price. Is ’t a verdict?   
[corn: Various grains, including wheat, oats, and barley]
ALL:  No more talking on ’t; let it be done. Away, away!            10
SECOND CITIZEN:  One word, good citizens.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good. [We are regarded as poor citizens while the wealthy upper classes are regarded as good citizens.] What authority surfeits on [the food that these high and mighty citizens gorge on] would relieve us. If they would yield us but the superfluity [extra food they don't need], while it were wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely; but they think we are too dear [too expensive to support]: the leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an inventory to particularise [demonstrate; point out] their abundance; our sufferance is a gain to them. Let us revenge this with our pikes [spears], ere [before] we become rakes [as thin as rakes]: for the gods know I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?   
FIRST CITIZEN:  Against him first: he’s a very dog to the commonalty.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  Consider you what services he has done for his country?            15
FIRST CITIZEN:  Very well; and could be content to give him good report for ’t, but that he pays himself with being proud.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  Nay, but speak not maliciously.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be content to say it was for his country, he did it to please his mother, and to be partly proud; which he is, even to the altitude of his virtue [which he is, even to the highest degree].   
SECOND CITIZEN:  What he cannot help in his nature, you account a vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations: he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition.  [Shouts within.]  What shouts are these? The other side o’ the city is risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!            20
ALL:  Come, come.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  Soft! [Wait a minute!] who comes here?   
 
Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA.
   
SECOND CITIZEN:  Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved the people.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  He’s one honest enough: would all the rest were so!            25
MENENIUS:  What work’s [work is], my countrymen, in hand? Where go you   
With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray you.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have had inkling this fortnight [in the last two weeks] what we intend to do, which now we’ll show ’em in deeds. They say poor suitors have strong breaths: they shall know we have strong arms too.   
MENENIUS:  Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,   
Will you undo yourselves?            30
FIRST CITIZEN:  We cannot, sir; we are undone already.   
MENENIUS:  I tell you, friends, most charitable care   
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,   
Your suffering in this dearth [scarcity of food], you may as well   
Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them            35
Against the Roman state, whose course will on [continue on]   
The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs   
Of more strong link asunder than can ever   
Appear in your impediment [opposition; opposing forces]. For the dearth,   
The gods, not the patricians, make it, and            40
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack!   
[For the . . . help: For food, the gods will provide it, not the patricians. So bend your knees to them, not arms, to receive help.]
You are transported by calamity   
Thither where more attends you; and you slander   
The helms o’ the state, who care for you like fathers,   
When you curse them as enemies.            45
[You are . . . enemies: You are acting rashly because of your misfortune. But you slander the leaders of the state, who care for you like fathers when you curse them as enemies.]
FIRST CITIZEN:  Care for us! True, indeed! They ne’er cared for us yet: suffer us to famish, and their storehouses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, [charging interest at an excessive rate] to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes [burdensome laws] daily to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and there’s all the love they bear us.   
MENENIUS:  Either you must   
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,   
Or be accus’d of folly. I shall tell you   
A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;            50
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture   
To stale it a little more.   
[I will . . . more: I will venture to tell it again at the risk of making it seem old and stale.]
FIRST CITIZEN:  Well, I’ll hear it, sir; yet you must not think to fob off [dismiss] our disgrace with a tale; but, an [if] ’t please you, deliver.   
MENENIUS:  There was a time when all the body’s members   
Rebell’d against the belly; thus accus’d it:            55
That only like a gulf it did remain   
I’ the midst o’ the body, idle and unactive,   
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing   
Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments   
Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,            60
And, mutually participate, did minister   
Unto the appetite and affection common   
Of the whole body. The belly answer’d,—  
[There was a time . . . whole body: There was a time when all the members of the body rebelled against the belly because they thought it simply sat in the middle of the body, lazy and inactive but still consuming food. Meanwhile, the other members of the body worked to sustain the entire body.]
FIRST CITIZEN:  Well, sir, what answer made the belly?   
MENENIUS:  Sir, I shall tell you.—With a kind of smile,            65
Which ne’er came from the lungs, but even thus—   
For, look you, I may make the belly smile   
As well as speak—it tauntingly replied   
To the discontented members, the mutinous parts   
That envied his receipt; even so most fitly            70
As you malign our senators for that   
They are not such as you.   
[it tauntingly . . . such as you: It taunted the discontented, rebellious members angry that he was eating food they worked for. You are like those rebellious members when you malign our senators in the belief that they are doing nothing on your behalf.]
FIRST CITIZEN:  Your belly’s answer? What!   
The kingly crowned head, the vigilant eye,   
The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,            75
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,   
With other muniments and petty helps   
In this our fabric, if that they—   
MENENIUS:  What then?—   
’Fore me, this fellow speaks! what then? what then?            80
FIRST CITIZEN:  Should by the cormorant belly be restrain’d,   
Who is the sink o’ the body,—   
[Lines 73-82: The First Citizen asks how the belly answered the other members—the head, the eye, the heart, the arm, the leg, the tongue, and so on—which all had certain rights to the food and claims against the body. Menenius says, "What then, what then?" The First Citizen finishes his sentence, asking why the greedy (cormorant) belly should restrain the other members.]
MENENIUS:  Well, what then?   
FIRST CITIZEN:  The former agents, if they did complain,   
What could the belly answer?            85
MENENIUS:  I will tell you;   
If you’ll bestow a small, of what you have little,   
Patience a while, you’ll hear the belly’s answer.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  You’re long about it.   
MENENIUS:  Note me this, good friend;            90
Your most grave belly was deliberate,   
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer’d:   
‘True is it, my incorporate friends,’ quoth he,   
[incorporate friends: The rebellious members. They are "incorporated"—that is, united—in the same body.]
‘That I receive the general food at first,   
Which you do live upon; and fit it is;            95
Because I am the store-house and the shop   
Of the whole body: but, if you do remember,   
I send it [the food] through the rivers of your blood,   
Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o’ the brain;   
And, through the cranks and offices of man,            100
[Line 100: And through the twists and turns of the bloodstream and the functions of the body, send this food to all the body parts in need of nourishment.]
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins   
From me receive that natural competency [sustenance; vigor]   
Whereby they live. And though that all at once,   
You, my good friends,’—this says the belly, mark me,—   
FIRST CITIZEN:  Ay, sir; well, well.            105
MENENIUS:  ‘Though all at once cannot   
See what I do deliver out to each,   
Yet I can make my audit up, that all   
From me do back receive the flour of all,   
And leave me but the bran.’ What say you to ’t?            110
FIRST CITIZEN:  It was an answer: how apply you this?   
MENENIUS:  The senators of Rome are this good belly,   
And you the mutinous members; for, examine   
Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly   
Touching the weal o’ the common [welfare of the common people], you shall find            115
No public benefit which you receive   
But it proceeds or comes from them to you,   
And no way from yourselves. What do you think,   
You, the great toe of this assembly?   
FIRST CITIZEN:  I the great toe? Why the great toe?            120
MENENIUS:  For that, being one o’ the lowest, basest, poorest,   
Of this most wise rebellion, thou go’st foremost:   
Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,   
Lead’st first to win some vantage.   
But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs:            125
Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;   
The one side must have bale [must suffer injury].   
 
Enter CAIUS MARCIUS.
   
Hail, noble Marcius!   
MARTIUS:  Thanks.—What’s the matter, you dissentious [rebellious] rogues,            130
That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,   
Make yourselves scabs [contemptible persons]?   
FIRST CITIZEN: We have ever your good word.   
MARTIUS:  He that will give good words to thee will flatter   
Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,            135
[will flatter . . . abhorring: He that will flatter you has no words except those that brand you as detestable.]
That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights [frightens] you,   
The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,   
Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;   
Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no,   
Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,            140
[He that . . . ice (137-140): He that trusts you will find that you turn out to be hares, not lions; geese, not foxes. You are no more reliable than a coal fire on ice.]
Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue [your idea of virtue] is,   
To make him worthy whose offence subdues him [whose own crime ruins him],   
And curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness   
Deserves [receives] your hate; and your affections are   
A sick man’s appetite, who desires most that            145
Which would increase his evil. He that depends   
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead   
And hews down oaks with rushes [plants with hollow stems]. Hang ye! Trust ye?   
With every minute you do change a [your] mind,   
And call him noble that was now your hate,            150
[Line 150: And call a man noble that you previously hated]
Him vile that was your garland [friend; supporter]. What’s the matter,   
That in these several places of the city   
You cry against the noble senate, who,   
Under the gods, keep you in awe [in check; in an obedient state], which else   
Would feed on one another? What’s their seeking?            155
[which else . . . seeking: Otherwise you would feed on one another. Menenius, what do they want?]
MENENIUS:  For corn at their own rates; whereof they say   
The city is well stor’d.   
MARTIUS:  Hang ’em! They say!   
[Line 158: That's what they say. Well, let them hang.]
They’ll sit by the fire, and presume to know   
What’s done i’ the Capitol; who’s like to rise [to achieve prominence],            160
Who thrives, and who declines; side factions [who takes sides], and give out   
Conjectural marriages [speculate on who marries whom]; making parties strong,   
And feebling such as stand not in their liking,   
[Line 163: And weakening parties that they do not like]
Below their cobbled shoes. They say there’s grain enough!   
Would the nobility lay aside their ruth [mercy; compassion],            165
And let me use my sword, I’d make a quarry [big pile]  
With thousands of these quarter’d slaves, as high   
As I could pick [hurl] my lance.   
MENENIUS:  Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;   
For though abundantly they lack discretion,            170
Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,   
What says the other troop?   
MARTIUS:  They are dissolv’d: hang ’em!   
They said they were an-hungry; sigh’d forth proverbs:   
That hunger broke stone walls; that dogs must eat;            175
That meat was made for mouths; that the gods sent not   
Corn for the rich men only. With these shreds   
They vented their complainings; which being answer’d,   
And a petition granted them, a strange one,—   
To break the heart of generosity,            180
[Line 180: To break the heart of generous patricians]
And make bold power look pale,—they threw their caps   
As they would hang them on the horns o’ the moon,   
Shouting their emulation [trying to outdo one another with the loudness of their shouts].   
MENENIUS:  What is granted them?   
MARTIUS:  Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,            185
[tribune: Roman officer who protected the rights of commoners]
Of their own choice: one’s Junius Brutus,   
Sicinius Velutus, and I know not—’Sdeath! 
['Sdeath: By his death—that is, by the death of God] 
The rabble should have first unroof’d the city,   
Ere so prevail’d with me; it will in time   
Win upon power, and throw forth greater themes            190
For insurrection’s arguing.  
[Lines 188-191: Before I would allow them to have their way, they would have to raise the roof of the city. In time, they will gain more power and find other ways to sow upheaval and rebellion.]
MENENIUS: This is strange.   
MARTIUS:  Go; get you home, you fragments [you rabble]!   
 
Enter a Messenger, hastily.
   
MESSENGER:  Where’s Caius Marcius?            195
MARTIUS:  Here: what’s the matter?   
MESSENGER:  The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.   
[Volsces: Ancient people of west-central Italy]
MARTIUS:  I am glad on ’t; then we shall ha’ [have] means to vent   
Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.  
[means to vent . . . superfluity: War will give us a way to get rid of these stupid commoners.] 
 
Enter COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other Senators; JUNIUS BRUTUS and SICINIUS VELUTUS.   200

FIRST SENATOR:  Marcius, ’tis true that you have lately told us;   
The Volsces are in arms.   
MARTIUS: They have a leader,   
Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to ’t. 
[put you to 't: Test you.] 
I sin in envying his nobility,            205
And were I anything but what I am,   
I would wish me only he.   
COMINIUS: You have fought together.   
MARTIUS:  Were half to half the world by the ears, and he  
[Were . . . ears: If half the world were quarreling with the other half]
Upon my party, I’d revolt, to make            210
Only my wars with him: he is a lion   
That I am proud to hunt.   
FIRST SENATOR: Then, worthy Marcius,   
Attend upon Cominius to these wars.   
COMINIUS:  It is your former promise.            215
MARTIUS:  Sir, it is;   
And I am constant. [I can be relied on.] Titus Lartius, thou   
Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus’ face.   
What! art thou stiff? stand’st out?
[What . . . out: What! Do you stiffen yourself against my aims? Do you oppose them?]   
TITUS: No, Caius Marcius;            220
I’ll lean upon one crutch and fight with t’ other,   
Ere stay behind this business.
[Ere . . . business: Before I would oppose you]   
MENENIUS:  O! true-bred.   
FIRST SENATOR:  Your company to the Capitol; where I know   
Our greatest friends attend [await] us.            225
TITUS:  [To COMINIUS.]  Lead you on:   
[To MARCIUS.]  Follow Cominius; we must follow you;   
Right worthy you priority.
[Right . . . priority: It is only right that you should lead us.]  
COMINIUS: Noble Marcius!   
FIRST SENATOR:  [To the Citizens.] Hence! to your homes! be gone.            230
MARTIUS:  Nay, let them follow:   
The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither   
To gnaw their garners [stores of grain; granaries]. Worshipful mutiners [mutineers],   
Your valour puts well forth; pray, follow.  [Exeunt Senators, COMINIUS, MARCIUS, TITUS, and MENENIUS.  Citizens steal away.   
SICINIUS:  Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?            235
BRUTUS:  He has no equal.   
SICINIUS:  When we were chosen tribunes for the people,—   
BRUTUS:  Mark’d you [did you notice] his lip and eyes?   
SICINIUS: Nay, but his taunts.   
BRUTUS:  Being mov’d, he will not spare to gird [jeer] the gods.            240
SICINIUS:  Bemock the modest moon.   
BRUTUS:  The present wars devour him; he is grown   
Too proud to be so valiant.   
SICINIUS: Such a nature,   
Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow            245
Which he treads on at noon. But I do wonder   
His insolence can brook [tolerate] to be commanded   
Under Cominius.   
BRUTUS: Fame, at the which he aims,   
In whom already he is well grac’d, cannot            250
Better be held nor more attain’d than by   
A place below the first; for what miscarries
Shall be the general’s fault, though he perform   
To the utmost of a man; and giddy censure   
Will then cry out of Marcius ‘O! if he            255
Had borne the business.’   
[Fame . . . business: He aims to gain more fame, which he already has in abundance. He will be in a good position—second to Cominius—to maintain or add to his fame. For, if anything goes wrong, it shall be the fault of General Cominius, even though he performs to his utmost ability. Critics will say, "O! It's too bad Marcius wasn't in charge."]
SICINIUS:  Besides, if things go well,   
Opinion, that so sticks on Marcius, shall   
Of his demerits rob Cominius.   
[Of . . . Cominius: Rob Cominius of what he deserves]
BRUTUS: Come:            260
Half all Cominius’ honours are to Marcius,   
Though Marcius earn’d them not; and all his faults   
To Marcius shall be honours, though indeed   
In aught [anything] he merit not.   
SICINIUS: Let’s hence and hear            265
How the dispatch is made [how everything turns out]; and in what fashion,   
More than his singularity [manner; behavior], he goes   
Upon this present action.   
BRUTUS: Let’s along [let's go].  [Exeunt.

Act 1, Scene 2

Corioli. The senate house.
Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS and Senators.

FIRST SENATOR: So, your opinion is, Aufidius,   
That they of Rome are enter’d in our counsels [are aware of our plans],   
And know how we proceed.            5
AUFIDIUS:  Is it not yours?   
What ever have been thought on in this state,   
That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome   
Had circumvention? ’Tis not four days gone   
[What ever . . . circumvention: Whenever we considered action against the Romans, they always seemed to know what we were planning.]
Since I heard thence; these are the words: I think            10
I have the letter here; yes, here it is.   
They have press’d a power [mustered an army], but it is not known   
Whether for east, or west: the dearth is great;   
The people mutinous; and it is rumour’d,   
Cominius, Marcius, your old enemy,—            15
Who is of Rome worse hated than of [by] you,—   
And Titus Lartius, a most valiant Roman,   
These three lead on this preparation   
Whither ’tis bent [wherever the army goes]: most likely ’tis for you:   
Consider of it.            20
FIRST SENATOR:  Our army’s in the field:   
We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready   
To answer us.   
AUFIDIUS:  Nor did you think it folly   
To keep your great pretences veil’d till when            25
They needs must show themselves; which in the hatching [discovery; disclosing],   
It seem’d, appear’d to Rome. By the discovery   
We shall be shorten’d [come up short; fail] in our aim, which was   
To take in many towns ere almost Rome
[ere almost Rome: Almost before Rome]
Should know we were afoot.            30
SECOND SENATOR: Noble Aufidius,   
Take your commission [document approving Aufidius as commander]; hie you to your bands [troops];   
Let us alone to guard Corioli:   
If they set down before’s [if they lay siege to Corioli], for the remove   
Bring up your army; but, I think you’ll find            35
They’ve not prepared for us.   
AUFIDIUS:  O! doubt not that;   
I speak from certainties. Nay, more;   
Some parcels of their power [army] are forth already,   
And only hitherward [nearby]. I leave your honours.            40
If we and Caius Marcius chance to meet,   
’Tis sworn between us we shall ever strike   
Till one can do no more.   
ALL:  The gods assist you!   
AUFIDIUS:  And keep your honours safe!            45
FIRST SENATOR: Farewell.   
SECOND SENATOR: Farewell.   
ALL:  Farewell.  [Exeunt.

Act 1, Scene 3

Rome. A room in MARCIUS'S house.
Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA: they sit on two low stools and sew.

VOLUMNIA:  I pray you, daughter, sing; or express yourself in a more comfortable sort. If my son were my husband, I would freelier [more freely] rejoice in that absence wherein he won honour than in the embracements of his bed where he would show most love. When yet he was but tender-bodied and the only son of my womb, when youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way [when he was a handsome youth and attracted all gazes to him], when for a day of kings’ entreaties a mother should not sell him an hour from her beholding, I, considering how honour would become such a person, that it was no better than picture-like to hang by the wall, if renown made it not stir [that he was no better than a picture on the wall if he did not earn renown], was pleased to let him seek danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows bound with oak [he returned, wearing a wreath of oak leaves signifying his great valor in battle], I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child than now in first seeing he had proved himself a man.   
VIRGILIA:  But had he died in the business, madam; how then?   
VOLUMNIA:  Then, his good report should have been my son [the report of his valor would comfort me like a son]; I therein would have found issue [found a new child to take joy in]. Hear me profess sincerely: had I a dozen sons, each in my love alike, and none less dear than thine and my good Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country than one voluptuously surfeit [enjoying luxury] out of action.            5
 
Enter a Gentlewoman.
   
GENTLEWOMAN:  Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.   
VIRGILIA:  Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.   
VOLUMNIA:  Indeed, you shall not.   
Methinks I hear hither [nearby] your husband’s drum,            10
See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair,   
As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him:   
Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus:   
‘Come on, you cowards! you were got [born; begotten] in fear,   
Though you were born in Rome.’ His bloody brow            15
With his mail’d hand [hand protected with armor] then wiping, forth he goes,   
Like to a harvestman that’s task’d to mow   
Or all or lose his hire.   
[Lines 17-18: Like a farm laborer hired to mow the field. If he fails to perform his task, he loses his job.]
VIRGILIA:  His bloody brow! O Jupiter! no blood.   
[Jupiter or Jove: The Roman name for the king of the gods. His Greek name was Zeus.]
VOLUMNIA:  Away, you fool! it more becomes a man            20
Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba (see Trojan War),   
[it more . . . trophy: The bloody brow of a man is a greater testament to his worth than a trophy gilded with gold.]
When she did suckle Hector (see Trojan War), look’d not lovelier   
Than Hector’s forehead when it spit forth blood   
At Grecian swords, contemning [despising; disdaining]. Tell Valeria   
We are fit to bid her welcome.  [Exit Gentlewoman.            25
VIRGILIA:  Heavens bless [safeguard] my lord from fell Aufidius!   
VOLUMNIA:  He’ll beat Aufidius’ head below his knee,   
And tread upon his neck.   
 
Re-enter Gentlewoman, with VALERIA and an Usher.
   
Val.  My ladies both, good day to you.            30
VOLUMNIA:  Sweet madam.   
VIRGILIA:  I am glad to see your ladyship.   
Val.  How do you both? you are manifest housekeepers [good homemakers]. What are you sewing here? A fine spot, in good faith. How does your little son?   
VIRGILIA:  I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.   
VOLUMNIA:  He had rather see the swords and hear a drum, than look upon his schoolmaster.            35
Val.  O’ my word, the father’s son [oh, he is like his father]; I’ll swear ’tis a very pretty boy. O’ my troth [oh, I can truly say], I looked upon him o’ Wednesday half an hour together: he has such a confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded butterfly; and when he caught it, he let it go again; and after it again; and over and over he comes, and up again; catched it again: or whether his fall enraged him, or how ’twas, he did so set his teeth and tear it; O! I warrant, how he mammocked it [ripped it apart]!   
VOLUMNIA:  One on ’s father’s moods [He has his father's moods].   
Val.  Indeed, la, ’tis a noble child.   
VIRGILIA:  A crack, madam.
[crack: G. B. Harrison says crack means imp. (Shakespeare: The Complete Works. New York: Harcourt, 1952, page 1275)]   
Val.  Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play the idle huswife [housewife] with me this afternoon.            40
VIRGILIA:  No, good madam; I will not out of doors.   
Val.  Not out of doors!   
VOLUMNIA:  She shall, she shall.   
VIRGILIA:  Indeed, no, by your patience; I’ll not over the threshold till my lord return from the wars.   
VOLUMNIA:  Fie! you confine yourself most unreasonably. Come; you must go visit the good lady that lies in.            45
VIRGILIA:  I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her with my prayers; but I cannot go thither.   
VOLUMNIA:  Why, I pray you?   
VIRGILIA:  ’Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.   
Val.  You would be another Penelope; yet, they say, all the yarn she spun in Ulysses’ absence did but fill Ithaca full of moths. Come; I would your cambric were sensible as your finger, that you might leave pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us. 
[Penelope: Wife of the Greek warrior, Ulysses, who spent ten years fighting in the Trojan War, then ten more years on a perilous journey returning home. While he was gone, Penelope spent her days weaving a burial shroud for her husband's father, Laertes.]  
[cambric: Linen]
VIRGILIA:  No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I will not forth.            50
Val.  In truth, la, go with me; and I’ll tell you excellent news of your husband.   
VIRGILIA:  O, good madam, there can be none yet.   
Val.  Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news from him last night.   
VIRGILIA:  Indeed, madam?   
Val.  In earnest, it’s true; I heard a senator speak it. Thus it is: The Volsces have an army forth; against whom Cominius the general is gone, with one part of our Roman power [army]: your lord and Titus Lartius are set down before their city Corioli; they nothing doubt prevailing [they do not doubt that they will defeat the Volsces] and to make it brief wars. This is true, on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.            55
VIRGILIA:  Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in every thing hereafter.   
VOLUMNIA:  Let her alone, lady: as she is now she will but disease our better mirth.   
Val.  In troth [truth], I think she would. Fare you well then. Come, good sweet lady. Prithee, Virgilia, turn thy solemness out o’ door, and go along with us.   
VIRGILIA:  No, at a word, madam; indeed I must not. I wish you much mirth.   
Val.  Well then, farewell.  [Exeunt.            60

Act 1, Scene 4

Before Corioli.
Enter, with drum and colours [flag], MARCIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, Officers, and Soldiers. To them a Messenger.

MARTIUS:  Yonder comes news: a wager they have met.   
[a wager . . . met: I'll bet Cominius has encountered the enemy.]
LARTIUS:  My horse to yours, no. [I'll bet my horse that he hasn't.]  
MARTIUS:  ’Tis done.            5
LARTIUS: Agreed.   
MARTIUS:  Say, has our general met the enemy?   
MESSENGER:  They lie in view, but have not spoke as yet.   
LARTIUS:  So the good horse is mine.   
MARTIUS: I’ll buy him of you.            10
LARTIUS:  No, I’ll nor sell nor give him; lend you him I will   
For half a hundred years. Summon the town.   
MARTIUS:  How far off lie these armies?   
MESSENGER: Within this mile and half.   
MARTIUS:  Then shall we hear their ’larum [alarum, or alarm: call to arms], and they ours.            15
Now, Mars, I prithee, make us quick in work,   
[Mars: In ancient mythology, the Roman name for the Greek god of war, Ares.]
That we with smoking swords may march from hence [here],   
To help our fielded friends [friends in the field of battle]! Come, blow thy blast.   
 
A Parley sounded [trumpet blown to summon the enemies to a conference under a truce].  Enter, on the Walls, two Senators, and Others.
   
Tullus Aufidius, is he within your walls [the walls of the city of Corioli]?            20
FIRST SENATOR:  No, nor a man that fears you less than he,   
That’s lesser than a little. Hark, our drums  [Drums afar off.   
Are bringing forth our youth: we’ll break our walls,   
Rather than they shall pound us up [trap us within the walls; pound us up like dogs in a kennel]: our gates.   
Which yet seem shut, we have but pinn’d with rushes [we have secured only with flimsy plants];            25
They’ll open of themselves. Hark you, far off!  [Alarum afar off.   
There is Aufidius: list [listen to; hear] what work he makes   
Amongst your cloven [divided; split] army.   
MARTIUS: O! they are at it!   
LARTIUS:  Their noise be our instruction. Ladders, ho!            30
 
The  Volsces enter, and pass over the stage.
   
MARTIUS:  They fear us not, but issue forth their city.   
Now put your shields before your hearts, and fight   
With hearts more proof [stronger] than shields. Advance, brave Titus:   
They do disdain us much beyond our thoughts [more than we can imagine],            35
Which makes me sweat with wrath. Come on, my fellows:   
He that retires, I’ll take him for a Volsce,   
And he shall feel mine edge [the edge of my sword].   
 
Alarum. The Romans are beaten back to their trenches. Re-enter MARCIUS.
   
MARTIUS:  All the contagion of the south light on you,            40
You shames of Rome! you herd of—Boils and plagues   
Plaster you o’er, that you may be abhorr’d 
[you herd of . . . o'er: you herd of—I hope boils and plagues plaster your bodies] 
Further than seen, and one infect another   
Against the wind a mile! You souls of geese,   
That bear the shapes of men, how have you run            45
From slaves that apes would beat! Pluto and hell!   
[Pluto: Roman name for Hades, the Greek god of the Underworld]
All hurt behind; backs red, and faces pale   
With flight and agu’d [agued: feverish] fear! Mend [sew up your fears] and charge home,   
Or, by the fires of heaven [moon and stars], I’ll leave the foe   
And make my wars on you; look to ’t: come on;            50
If you’ll stand fast, we’ll beat them to their wives,   
As they us to our trenches follow’d.   
 
Another alarum.  The Volsces and Romans re-enter, and the fight is renewed.  The Volsces retire into Corioli, and MARCIUS follows them to the gates.
   
So, now the gates are ope [open]: now prove good seconds [now back me up]:   
’Tis for the followers Fortune widens them,            55
Not for the fliers: mark me, and do the like.  [He enters the gates.   
FIRST SOLDIER:  Foolhardiness! not I.   
SECOND SOLDIER:  Nor I.  [MARCIUS is shut in.   
THIRD SOLDIER:  See, they  have shut him in.   
ALL: To the pot, I warrant him.  [Alarum continues.            60
[pot: Pot over a fire that melts metals or other materials]
 
Re-enter TITUS LARTIUS.
   
LARTIUS:  What is become of Marcius?   
ALL:  Slain, sir, doubtless.   
FIRST SOLDIER:  Following the fliers at the very heels,   
With them he enters; who, upon the sudden,            65
Clapp’d-to their gates; he is himself alone,   
To answer all the city.   
LARTIUS:  O noble fellow!   
Who, sensibly, outdares his senseless sword,   
And, when it bows, stands up. Thou art left, Marcius:            70
A carbuncle [precious gem] entire, as big as thou art,   
Were not so rich a jewel. Thou wast a soldier   
Even to Cato’s wish, not fierce and terrible   
[Cato (234-149 BC): Prominent Roman senator]
Only in strokes; but, with thy grim looks and   
The thunder-like percussion of thy sounds,            75
Thou mad’st thine enemies shake, as if the world   
Were feverous and did tremble.   
 
Re-enter MARCIUS, bleeding, assaulted by the enemy.
   
FIRST SOLDIER: Look, sir!   
LARTIUS:  O! ’tis Marcius!            80
Let’s fetch him off, or make remain alike.  [They fight, and all enter the city.
[Let's . . . off: Let's go to his rescue instead of standing here.]

Act 1, Scene 5

Corioli. A street.
Enter certain Romans, with spoils [seized property; plunder; booty].

FIRST ROMAN:  This will I carry to Rome.   
SECOND ROMAN:  And I this.   
THIRD ROMAN:  A murrain [plague] on ’t! I took this for silver.  [Alarum continues still afar off.
MARTIUS:  See here these movers that do prize their hours   
At a crack’d drachma! Cushions, leaden spoons,   
[crack'd: Of little value]
[drachma: Silver coin of ancient Greece]
Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would   
[Irons of doit: Iron objects worth about a doit, a copper coin (also called a duit) worth no more than a cent or two.]
[doublets: Close-fitting jackets for men]
Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves,            10
Ere [before] yet the fight be done, pack up [they pack their bags with plunder]. Down with them!   
And hark, what noise the general makes! To him!   
There is the man of my soul’s hate, Aufidius,   
Piercing our Romans: then, valiant Titus, take   
Convenient numbers to make good the city,            15
Whilst I, with those that have the spirit, will haste   
To help Cominius.   
LARTIUS:  Worthy sir, thou bleed’st;   
Thy exercise hath been too violent   
For a second course of fight.            20
MARTIUS:  Sir, praise me not;   
My work hath yet not warm’d me: fare you well:   
The blood I drop is rather physical [helpful]  
Than dangerous to me: to Aufidius thus   
I will appear, and fight.            25
LARTIUS:  Now the fair goddess, Fortune,   
Fall deep in love with thee; and her great charms   
Misguide thy opposers’ swords! Bold gentleman,   
Prosperity be thy page!   
MARTIUS:  Thy friend no less            30
Than those she places highest! So, farewell.   
LARTIUS:  Thou worthiest Marcius!—  [Exit MARCIUS.   
Go, sound thy trumpet in the market-place;   
Call thither all the officers of the town,   
Where they shall know our mind. Away!  [Exeunt.            35

Act 1, Scene 6

Near the camp of COMINIUS.
Enter COMINIUS and Forces, retreating.

COMINIUS: Breathe you [pause to take a breath], my friends: well fought; we are come off   
Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands,   
Nor cowardly in retire: believe me, sirs,            5
We shall be charg’d again. Whiles we have struck,   
By interims and conveying gusts we have heard   
[By . . . gusts: By the pauses created by gusts of wind]
The charges of our friends. Ye Roman gods!   
Lead their successes as we wish our own,   
That both our powers [armies], with smiling fronts encountering,            10
May give you thankful sacrifice.   
 
Enter a Messenger.
   
Thy news?   
MESSENGER:  The citizens of Corioli have issu’d,   
And given to Lartius and to Marcius battle:            15
I saw our party to their trenches driven,   
And then I came away.   
COMINIUS:  Though thou speak’st truth,   
Methinks thou speak’st not well. How long is ’t since?   
MESSENGER:  Above an hour, my lord.            20
COMINIUS:  ’Tis not a mile; briefly [a short while ago] we heard their drums:   
How couldst thou in a mile confound [spend] an hour,   
And bring thy news so late?   
MESSENGER:  Spies of the Volsces   
Held me in chase, that I was forc’d to wheel            25
Three or four miles about; else had I, sir,   
Half an hour since brought my report.   
COMINIUS:  Who’s yonder,   
That does appear as he were flay’d? O gods!   
He has the stamp [the look; the appearance] of Marcius; and I have            30
Before-time seen him thus.   
MARTIUS:  [Within.]  Come I too late?   
COMINIUS:  The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabor [small drum],   
More than I know the sound of Marcius’ tongue   
From every meaner man.            35
 
Enter MARCIUS.
   
MARTIUS:  Come I too late?   
COMINIUS:  Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,   
But mantled in your own.   
MARTIUS:  O! let me clip [hug; embrace] ye            40
In arms as sound as when I woo’d, in heart   
As merry as when our nuptial day was done,   
And tapers burn’d to bedward.   
COMINIUS:  Flower of warriors [You are the brightest flower of all the warriors].   
How is ’t with Titus Lartius?            45
MARTIUS:  As with a man busied about decrees:   
Condemning some to death, and some to exile;   
Ransoming him [one man], or pitying, threat’ning the other;   
Holding Corioli in the name of Rome,   
Even like a fawning [affectionate] greyhound in the leash,            50
To let him slip at will.   
COMINIUS:  Where is that slave   
Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?   
Where is he? Call him hither.   
MARTIUS:  Let him alone;            55
He did inform the truth: but for our gentlemen [volunteers],   
The common file [common recruits]—a plague! tribunes for them!—   
The mouse ne’er shunn’d the cat as they did budge   
From rascals worse than they.   
COMINIUS:  But how prevail’d you?            60
MARTIUS:  Will the time serve to tell? I do not think.   
Where is the enemy? Are you lords o’ the field?   
If not, why cease you till you are so?   
COMINIUS:  Marcius, we have at disadvantage fought,   
And did retire to win our purpose.            65
MARTIUS:  How lies their battle [troop formation]? Know you on which side   
They have plac’d their men of trust?   
COMINIUS:  As I guess, Marcius,   
Their bands i’ the vaward [front] are the Antiates,   
[Antiates: Citizens of Antium (present-day Anzio, Italy)
Of their best trust; o’er them Aufidius,            70
Their very heart of hope.   
MARTIUS:  I do beseech you,   
By all the battles wherein we have fought,   
By the blood we have shed together, by the vows   
We have made to endure friends, that you directly            75
Set me against Aufidius and his Antiates;   
And that you not delay the present, but,   
Filling the air with swords advanc’d and darts,   
We prove this very hour.   
COMINIUS:  Though I could wish            80
You were conducted to a gentle bath,   
And balms applied to you, yet dare I never   
Deny your asking: take your choice of those   
That best can aid your action.   
MARTIUS:  Those are they            85
That most are willing. If any such be here—   
As it were sin to doubt—that love this painting [blood "painted" on Marcius in the fighting]   
Wherein you see me smear’d; if any fear   
Lesser his person than an ill report;   
If any think brave death outweighs bad life,            90
And that his country’s dearer than himself;   
Let him, alone, or so many so minded,   
Wave thus, to express his disposition,   
And follow Marcius.  [They all shout, and wave their swords; take him up in their arms, and cast up their caps.   
O! me alone? Make you a sword of me? [Are you elevating me as if I were a sword?]           95
If these shows be not outward, which of you   
But is [is equal to] four Volsces? None of you but is   
Able to bear against the great Aufidius   
A shield as hard as his. A certain number,   
Though thanks to all, must I select from all: the rest            100
Shall bear the business in some other fight,   
As cause will be obey’d [as circumstances require]. Please you to march;   
And four shall quickly draw out my command,
Which men are best inclin’d.   
[Lines 103-104: And four of you officers shall choose the men best suited to go with me.]    
COMINIUS:  March on, my fellows:            105
Make good this ostentation, and you shall   
Divide in all with us.  [Exeunt.   
[Lines 106-107: Live up to your show of bravery, and you will share in all the plunder we take.]

Act 1, Scene 7

The gates of Corioli.
TITUS LARTIUS, having set a guard upon CORIOLI, going with drum and trumpet towards COMINIUS and CAIUS MARCIUS, enters with a Lieutenant, a party of Soldiers, and a Scout.

LARTIUS:  So; let the ports [city gates] be guarded: keep your duties,   
As I have set them down. If I do send [if I do send for help], dispatch   
Those centuries [army units that each have a hundred soldiers] to our aid; the rest will serve            5
For a short holding: if we lose the field,   
We cannot keep the town.   
LIEUTENANT:  Fear not our care, sir.   
LARTIUS:  Hence [go], and shut your gates upon us.   
Our guider, come; to the Roman camp conduct us.  [Exeunt.            10

Act 1, Scene 8

A field of battle between the Roman and the Volscian camps.
Alarum [call to arms sounded by a trumpet]. Enter from opposite sides MARCIUS and AUFIDIUS.

MARTIUS:  I’ll fight with none but thee; for I do hate thee   
Worse than a promise-breaker.   
AUFIDIUS: We hate alike:            5
Not Afric [Africa] owns a serpent I abhor   
More than thy fame and envy. Fix [anchor] thy foot.   
MARTIUS:  Let the first budger [let the first man who budges] die the other’s slave,   
And the gods doom him after!   
AUFIDIUS:  If I fly, Marcius,            10
Halloo me like a hare.   
MARTIUS:  Within these three hours, Tullus,   
Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,   
And made what work I pleas’d; ’tis not my blood   
Wherein thou seest me mask’d; for thy revenge            15
['tis not . . . mask'd: That's not my blood you see on me.]
Wrench up thy power to the highest.   
AUFIDIUS: Wert thou the Hector   
That was the whip of your bragg’d progeny,   
[Wert . . . progeny: Even if you were Troy's greatest warrior, Hector, who led your ancestors—the founders of Rome—into battle]
Thou shouldst not ’scape me here.—  [They fight, and certain Volsces come to the aid of AUFIDIUS.   
Officious, and not valiant, you have sham’d me            20
In your condemned seconds.  [Exeunt fighting, all driven in by MARCIUS.
[Officious . . . seconds: Aufidius tells the Volscians who came to his aid that they have shamed him in doing so.]

Act 1, Scene 9

The Roman camp.
Alarum. A retreat sounded. Flourish [loud trumpet fanfare]. Enter from one side, COMINIUS and Romans; from the other side, MARCIUS, with his arm in a scarf, and other Romans.

COMINIUS:  If I should tell thee o’er [talk over with you] this thy day’s work,   
Thou’lt not believe thy deeds: but I’ll report it   
Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles,            5
Where great patricians shall attend [listen] and shrug [shrug in disbelief],   
In the end, admire; where ladies shall be frighted,   
And, gladly quak’d, hear more; where the dull Tribunes,   
[where ladies . . . more: where ladies shall be frightened by the story of your slaughter of the enemy and, liking what they hear, continue to listen]
That, with the fusty [bad-smelling] plebeians, hate thine honours,   
Shall say, against their hearts,            10
‘We thank the gods our Rome hath such a soldier!’   
Yet cam’st thou to a morsel of this feast,   
Having fully din’d before.   
 
Enter TITUS LARTIUS, with his power [army], from the pursuit.
   
LARTIUS:  O general,            15
Here is the steed, we the caparison: 
[Here . . . caparison: Marcius was the horse that led us into battle. We were merely the decorations on the horse. A caparison is a richly ornamented covering.] 
Hadst thou beheld—   
MARTIUS:  Pray now, no more: my mother,   
Who has a charter to extol her blood,  
[blood: Lineage; family history; ancestry]
When she does praise me grieves me. I have done            20
As you have done; that’s what I can; induc’d   
As you have been; that’s for my country:   
He that has but effected his good will
Hath overta’en mine act.   
[Lines 23-34: He that has done his utmost in the fighting has more than matched my efforts.]  
COMINIUS:  You shall not be            25
The grave of your deserving; Rome must know   
[You . . . deserving: You should not try to bury the praise you deserve]
The value of her own: ’twere a concealment   
Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement [slander; a lie intended to humiliate someone],   
To hide your doings; and to silence that,   
Which, to the spire and top of praises vouch’d [which deserves the highest praises],            30
Would seem but modest. Therefore, I beseech you,—   
In sign of what you are, not to reward   
What you have done,—before our army hear me.   
MARTIUS:  I have some wounds upon me, and they smart   
To hear themselves remember’d.            35
COMINIUS: Should they not.   
Well might they fester ’gainst ingratitude,   
And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses,
[Should . . . death: If they are not remembered with praise, they might fester and kill you.]    
Whereof we have ta’en good, and good store, of all   
The treasure, in this field achiev’d and city,            40
We render you the tenth [one-tenth of all plunder]; to be ta’en forth,   
Before the common distribution,   
At your only choice.  
[Lines 42-43: Before the plunder is distributed, you will have the first choice.] 
MARTIUS:  I thank you, general;   
But cannot make my heart consent to take            45
A bribe to pay my sword: I do refuse it;   
And stand upon my common part with those   
That have beheld the doing.
[And stand . . . doing: I stand like the other soldiers and will share the plunder with them.]

[A long [trumpet] flourish. They all cry ‘Marcius! Marcius!’ cast up their caps and lances: COMINIUS and LARTIUS stand bare.]   

MARTIUS:  May these same instruments [trumpets], which you profane,   
Never sound more! When drums and trumpets shall            50
I’ the field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be   
Made all of false-fac’d soothing [flattery; insincere praise]!   
When steel grows soft as is the parasite’s silk,   
Let him be made a coverture for the wars!   
No more, I say! For that I have not wash’d            55
My nose that bled, or foil’d [defeated] some debile [weak] wretch,   
Which, without note, here’s many else have done,   
You shout me forth   
In acclamations hyperbolical [exaggerated praise];   
As if I lov’d my little should be dieted            60
[Line 60: Little is used as a noun meaning small accomplishment. Dieted means described.]
In praises sauc’d with lies.   
COMINIUS: Too modest are you;   
More cruel to your good report than grateful   
To us that give you truly. By your patience,   
If ’gainst yourself you be incens’d, we’ll put you,            65
Like one that means his proper harm, in manacles,   
Then reason safely with you. Therefore, be it known,   
As to us, to all the world, that Caius Marcius   
Wears this war’s garland; in token of the which,   
My noble steed, known to the camp, I give him,            70
With all his trim belonging; and from this time,   
For what he did before Corioli, call him,   
With all the applause and clamour of the host,   
CAIUS MARCIUS CORIOLANUS! Bear   
The addition [the addition of Coriolanus to his name] nobly ever!            75
ALL: Caius Marcius Coriolanus!  [Flourish. Trumpets sound, and drums.   
[The rest of the play refers to Marcius as Coriolanus in the capital letters preceding his dialogue.]
CORIOLANUS:  I will go wash;   
And when my face is fair, you shall perceive   
Whether I blush, or no: howbeit [be that as it may], I thank you.   
I mean to stride your steed, and at all times            80
To undercrest your good addition   
To the fairness of my power.  
[Lines 81-82: To honor the name you have given me to the best of my ability]
COMINIUS:  So, to our tent;   
Where, ere [before] we do repose us, we will write   
To Rome of our success. You, Titus Lartius,            85
Must to Corioli back: send us to Rome   
The best, with whom we may articulate,   
For their own good and ours.   
[Lines 85-88, beginning with you: You, Titus Lartius, must go back to Corioli. There, select the most distinguished among our enemy and send them to Rome to forge a peace agreement for their good and ours.]
LARTIUS:  I shall, my lord.   
CORIOLANUS:  The gods begin to mock me. I, that now            90
Refus’d most princely gifts, am bound to beg   
Of my lord general.   
COMINIUS:  Take it; ’tis yours. What is ’t?   
CORIOLANUS:  I sometime lay [stayed; lodged] here in Corioli   
At a poor man’s house; he us’d me kindly:            95
He cried to me; I saw him prisoner;   
But then Aufidius was within my view,   
And wrath o’erwhelm’d my pity: I request you   
To give my poor host freedom.   
COMINIUS:  O! well begg’d!            100
Were he the butcher of my son, he should   
Be free as is the wind. Deliver him, Titus.   
LARTIUS:  Marcius, his name?   
CORIOLANUS:  By Jupiter [Roman name for the king of the gods. His Greek name was Zeus.]! Forgot.   
I am weary; yea, my memory is tir’d.            105
Have we no wine here?   
COMINIUS:  Go we to our tent:   
The blood upon your visage dries; ’tis time   
It should be look’d to: come.  [Exeunt.

Act 1, Scene 10

The camp of the Volsces.
A flourish. Cornets. Enter TULLIUS AUFIDIUS, with two or three soldiers.
[Cornets: Brass instruments in the trumpet family]

AUFIDIUS:  The town is ta’en [taken]!   
First Sol.  ’Twill be deliver’d back on good condition [terms of a treaty].   
AUFIDIUS:  Condition!            5
I would I were a Roman; for I cannot,   
Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition!   
What good condition can a treaty find   
I’ the part that is at mercy? Five times, Marcius,   
[Line 9: In the army that has been defeated]
I have fought with thee; so often hast thou beat me,            10
And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter   
As often as we eat. By the elements,   
[elements: Earth, water, air, and fire]
If e’er again I meet him beard to beard,   
He is mine, or I am his: mine emulation [envy; jealousy]   
Hath not that honour in ’t it had; for where            15
I thought to crush him in an equal force—   
True sword to sword—I’ll potch [stab; poke] at him some way   
Or wrath or craft may get him.   
First Sol.  He’s the devil.   
AUFIDIUS:  Bolder, though not so subtle. My valour’s poison’d            20
With only suffering stain by him; for him   
Shall fly out of itself. Nor sleep nor sanctuary,  
Being naked, sick, nor fane [temple] nor Capitol,   
The prayers of priests, nor times of sacrifice,   
Embarquements [obstacles] all of fury, shall lift up            25
Their rotten privilege and custom ’gainst   
My hate to [for] Marcius. Where I find him, were it   
At home, upon my brother’s guard, even there   
Against the hospitable canon [against the rules of hospitality], would I   
Wash my fierce hand in ’s [his] heart. Go you to the city;            30
Learn how ’tis held, and what they are that must   
Be hostages for Rome.   
First Sol.  Will not you go?   
AUFIDIUS:  I am attended [waited for] at the cypress grove: I pray you—   
’Tis south [of] the city mills—bring me word thither [there]            35
How the world goes, that to the pace of it   
I may spur on my journey.   
First Sol.  I shall, sir.  [Exeunt.   

Act 2, Scene 1

Rome. A public place.
Enter MENENIUS, SICINIUS, and BRUTUS.

MENENIUS:  The augurer [seer; prophet; soothsayer] tells me we shall have news to-night.   
BRUTUS:  Good or bad?   
MENENIUS:  Not according to the prayer of the people, for they love not Marcius.            5
SICINIUS:  Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.   
MENENIUS:  Pray you, who does the wolf love?   
SICINIUS:  The lamb.   
MENENIUS:  Ay, to devour him; as the hungry plebeians would the noble Marcius.   
BRUTUS:  He’s a lamb indeed, that baas like a bear.            10
MENENIUS:  He’s a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You two are old men; tell me one thing that I shall ask you.   
SICINIUS and BRUTUS:  Well, sir.   
MENENIUS:  In what enormity is Marcius poor in, that you two have not in abundance?   
BRUTUS:  He’s poor in no one fault, but stored with all.   
SICINIUS:  Especially in pride.            15
BRUTUS:  And topping all others in boasting.   
MENENIUS:  This is strange now: do you two know how you are censured [rated; judged] here in the city, I mean of us o’ the right-hand file [of the patrician class]? Do you?   
BOTH:  Why, how are we censured?   
MENENIUS:  Because you talk of pride now,—Will you not be angry?   
BOTH:  Well, well, sir; well.            20
MENENIUS:  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 Marcius for being proud?   
BRUTUS:  We do it not alone, sir.   
MENENIUS:  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 towards the napes of your necks, and make but an interior survey of your good selves. O! that you could.   
BRUTUS:  What then, sir?   
MENENIUS:  Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting, proud, violent, testy magistrates—alias [also known as] fools—as any in Rome.            25
SICINIUS:  Menenius, you are known well enough too.   
MENENIUS:  I am known to be a humorous [capricious; fanciful; whimsical] patrician, and one that loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying Tiber [diluting water] in ’t; said to be something imperfect in favouring the first complaint [said to be biased, favoring the first complainant over the second]; 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 you Lycurguses [wise men, like Lycurgus, who developed the constitution and legal system of Sparta]—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 [when I find stupidity in the words you speak]; 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 [face], follows it that I am known well enough too? What harm can your bisson conspectuities [blind visions] glean out of this character, if I be known well enough too?   
BRUTUS:  Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.   
MENENIUS:  You know neither me, yourselves, nor anything. You are ambitious for poor knaves’ caps and legs [you want respect]: you wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a cause between an orange-wife [woman who sells oranges] and a fosset-seller [seller of faucets], and then rejourn [adjourn; postpone] the controversy of three-pence 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 [abdominal pain], you make faces like mummers [masked merrymakers; pantomimists], set up the bloody flag against all patience [you oppose all patience], and, in roaring for a chamber-pot, dismiss the controversy bleeding [without resolving it], 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 strange ones.   
BRUTUS:  Come, come, you are well understood to be a perfecter giber [jokester] for the table than a necessary bencher [senator; legislator] in the Capitol.            30
MENENIUS:  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 [mender's; sewer's] cushion, or to be entombed in an ass’s pack-saddle. Yet you must be saying Marcius is proud; who, in a cheap estimation, is worth all your predecessors since Deucalion [a survivor of the great flood of antiquity], though peradventure some of the best of ’em were hereditary hangmen. Good den [good evening] 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 of you.  [BRUTUS and SICINIUS go aside.   

Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, and VALERIA.
   
How now, my as fair as noble ladies,—and the moon [the Roman moon goddess, Diana, whose Greek name was Artemis], were she earthly, no nobler,—whither do you follow your eyes so fast?   
VOLUMNIA:  Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; for the love of Juno, let’s go.   
[Juno: In Roman mythology, the name of the queen of the gods. Her Greek name was Hera.]
MENENIUS:  Ha! Marcius coming home?            35
VOLUMNIA:  Ay, worthy Menenius; and with most prosperous approbation.   
MENENIUS:  Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo! Marcius coming home!   
VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA:  Nay, ’tis true.   
VOLUMNIA:  Look, here’s a letter from him: the state [Roman senate] hath another, his wife another; and, I think, there’s one at home for you.   
MENENIUS:  I will make my very house reel [dance] to-night. A letter for me!            40
VIRGILIA:  Yes, certain, there’s a letter for you; I saw it.   
MENENIUS:  A letter for me! It gives me an estate of seven years’ health; in which time I will make a lip [make a face] at the physician: the most sovereign prescription in Galen is but empiricutic, and, to this preservative [compared to this honor], of no better report than a horse-drench [preparation to purge the bowels of a horse]. Is he not wounded? he was wont to come home wounded.  
[Galen: Renowned Greek physician and medical historian.]
[empiricutic: Based on observation and experiment rather than established science]
VIRGILIA:  O! no, no, no.   
VOLUMNIA:  O! he is wounded, I thank the gods for ’t.   
MENENIUS:  So do I too, if it be not too much. Brings a’ victory in his pocket? The wounds become him.            45
VOLUMNIA:  On ’s [his] brows, Menenius; he comes the third time home with the oaken garland [wreath of oak leaves signifying his great valor in battle].   
MENENIUS:  Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?   
VOLUMNIA:  Titus Lartius writes they fought together, but Aufidius got off.   
MENENIUS:  And ’twas time for him too, I’ll warrant him that: an [if] he had stayed by him I would not have been so fidiused [treated the same way that Marcius treated Aufidius] for all the chests in Corioli, and the gold that’s in them. Is the senate possessed of this [possessed of this information]?   
VOLUMNIA:  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.            50
Val.  In troth [truth] there’s wondrous things spoke of him.   
MENENIUS:  Wondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not without his true purchasing [valor; courageous fighting].   
VIRGILIA:  The gods grant them true!   
VOLUMNIA:  True! pow, wow.   
MENENIUS:  True! I’ll be sworn they are true. Where is he wounded?  [To the Tribunes.]  God save your good worships! Marcius is coming home: he has more cause to be proud.  [To VOLUMNIA.]  Where is he wounded?            55
VOLUMNIA:  I’ the shoulder, and i’ the left arm: there will be large cicatrices [scars] to show the people when he shall stand for his place [run for elected office]. He received in the repulse of Tarquin seven hurts i’ the body.   
MENENIUS:  One i’ the neck, and two i’ the thigh, there’s nine that I know.   
VOLUMNIA:  He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five wounds upon him.   
MENENIUS:  Now, it’s twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy’s grave.  [A shout and flourish.]  Hark! the trumpets.   
VOLUMNIA:  These are the ushers of Marcius: before him he carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears:            60
Death, that dark spirit, in ’s nervy arm doth lie;   
Which, being advanc’d, declines, and then men die.   
 
A Sennet [ceremonial music].  Trumpets sound.  Enter COMINIUS and TITUS LARTIUS; between them, CORIOLANUS, crowned with an oaken garland; with Captains, Soldiers, and a Herald.
   
HERALD:  Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight   
Within Corioli gates: where he hath won,            65
With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these   
In honour follows Coriolanus.   
Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!  [Flourish.   
ALL:  Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!   
CORIOLANUS:  No more of this; it does offend my heart:            70
Pray now, no more.   
COMINIUS:  Look, sir, your mother!   
CORIOLANUS:  O!   
You have, I know, petition’d all the gods   
For my prosperity.  [Kneels.            75
VOLUMNIA:  Nay, my good soldier, up;   
My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and   
By deed-achieving honour newly nam’d,—   
What is it?—Coriolanus must I call thee?   
But O! thy wife!—            80
CORIOLANUS:  My gracious silence [Virgilia], hail!   
Wouldst thou have laugh’d had I come coffin’d home,   
That weep’st to see me triumph? Ah! my dear,   
Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,   
And mothers that lack sons.            85
MENENIUS:  Now, the gods crown thee!   
CORIOLANUS:  And live you yet?  [To VALERIA.]  O my sweet lady, pardon.   
VOLUMNIA:  I know not where to turn: O! welcome home;   
And welcome, general; and ye’re [ye are] welcome all.   
MENENIUS:  A hundred thousand welcomes: I could weep,            90
And I could laugh; I am light, and heavy. Welcome.   
A curse begnaw at very root on ’s [his; anyone's] heart   
That is not glad to see thee! You are three [Coriolanus, Cominius, and Titus Lartius]  
That Rome should dote on; yet, by the faith of men,   
We have some old crab-trees here at home that will not            95
Be grafted to your relish. Yet, welcome, warriors! 
[Lines 95-96: Yet there are some old crabs here at home that will not praise you for your accomplishments.] 
We call a nettle but a nettle, and   
The faults of fools but folly.   
COMINIUS:  Ever right.   
CORIOLANUS:  Menenius, ever, ever.            100
HERALD:  Give way there, and go on!   
CORIOLANUS:  [To VOLUMNIA and VALERIA.]  Your hand, and yours:   
Ere [before] in our own house I do shade my head,   
The good patricians must be visited;   
From whom I have receiv’d not only greetings,            105
But with them change of [additional] honours.   
VOLUMNIA:  I have liv’d   
To see inherited my very wishes,   
And the buildings of my fancy [and my dreams become reality]: only   
There’s one thing wanting, which I doubt not but            110
Our Rome will cast upon thee.   
CORIOLANUS:  Know, good mother,   
I had rather be their servant in my way   
Than sway with them in theirs.   
COMINIUS:  On, to the Capitol!  [FlourishCornetsExeunt in state, as before. The Tribunes remain.            115
BRUTUS:  All tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights [those with weak eyesight]  
Are spectacled [have put on spectacles] to see him: your prattling nurse   
Into a rapture lets her baby cry   
[Line 118: Lets her baby go into a crying spell.]
While she chats [talks about] him: the kitchen malkin [mawkin: slovenly woman] pins   
Her richest lockram [collar] ’bout her reechy [dirty] neck,            120
Clambering the walls to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows,   
Are smother’d up, leads fill’d, and ridges hors’d   
With variable complexions, all agreeing   
[Lines 121-123: Climbing the walls to see him. From vendors' stalls, storefronts, windows, and rooftops, citizens of various backgrounds gaze upon Coriolanus, all of them agreeing]
In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens 
[seld-shown flamens: Seldom-seen flamens. A flamen was any of fifteen priests, each serving a major or minor deity.]
Do press among the popular throngs, and puff            125
To win a vulgar station: our veil’d dames   
[Lines 125-126: Do circulate among the common people and wear themselves out trying to find a vantage point among them.]
Commit the war of white and damask in   
Their nicely-gawded cheeks to the wanton spoil   
Of Phœbus’ burning kisses: such a pother 
As if that whatsoever god who leads him            130
Were slily crept into his human powers,   
And gave him graceful posture.   
[126-132: Our veiled ladies paint their white cheeks with pink only to have the hot sun (Phoebus Apollo was the sun god) burn them with his kisses. Their commotion makes it seem as if they are following a graceful god who has taken human form.]   
SICINIUS:  On the sudden   
I warrant him consul.  
[133-134: It occurs to me that Marcius should be consul. (A consul was one of two officials, elected annually, as the highest authorities in Rome.)]
BRUTUS:  Then our office may,            135
During his power, go sleep.   
[Lines 135-136: Then our job as tribunes and protectors of the common people may become unnecessary during his tenure.]
SICINIUS:  He cannot temperately transport his honours   
From where he should begin and end, but will   
Lose those he hath won.   
BRUTUS:  In that there’s comfort.            140
SICINIUS:  Doubt not, 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’ll give them, make I as little question   
As he is proud to do ’t.            145
[Lines 141-145: Doubt not that the commoners we protect will forget, for the flimsiest reason, his newly won honors. Be assured that his pride will compel him to talk about those honors.]
BRUTUS:  I heard him swear,   
Were he to stand for consul, never would he   
Appear i’ the market-place, nor on him put   
The napless vesture [threadbare apparel; worn-out toga] of humility;   
Nor, showing, as the manner is, his wounds            150
To the people, beg their stinking breaths.   
SICINIUS:  ’Tis right.   
BRUTUS:  It was his word. O! he would miss it rather   
Than carry it but by the suit o’ the gentry to him   
And the desire of the nobles.            155
[Lines 153-155: It was his word that he would not kowtow to the commoners. However, he would cooperate at the request of the gentry and the noblemen.]
SICINIUS:  I wish no better   
Than have him hold that purpose and to put it   
In execution.   
BRUTUS:  ’Tis most like he will.   
SICINIUS:  It shall be to him then, as our good wills,            160
A sure destruction.   
BRUTUS:  So it must fall out   
To him or our authorities. For an end [for bringing this matter to a conclusion],   
We must suggest [stir up; urge on] the people in what hatred   
He still hath held them; that to his power he would            165
Have made them mules, silenc’d their pleaders, and   
Dispropertied [taken away] 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 [provender: hay; feed]           170
Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows   
For sinking under them.   
SICINIUS:  This, as you say, suggested   
At some time when his soaring insolence   
Shall teach the people—which time shall not want,            175
If he be put upon ’t [if he has a mind to do it]; 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.             180

BRUTUS:  What’s the matter?   
MESSENGER:  You are sent for to the Capitol. ’Tis thought   
That Marcius shall be consul.   
I have seen the dumb men throng to see him, and   
The blind to hear him speak: matrons flung gloves,            185
Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers [handkerchiefs] 
Upon him as he pass’d; 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.            190
BRUTUS:  Let’s to the Capitol;   
And carry with us ears and eyes for the time [for the time being],   
But hearts for the event [future].   
SICINIUS:  Have with you. [I agree with you.]  [Exeunt.   

Act 2, Scene 2

Rome. The Capitol.
Enter two Officers to lay cushions.

FIRST OFFICER:  Come, come, they are almost here. How many stand for consulships?   
SECOND OFFICER:  Three, they say; but ’tis thought of every one Coriolanus will carry it [will be elected].   
FIRST OFFICER:  That’s a brave fellow; but he’s vengeance proud, and loves not the common people.            5
SECOND OFFICER:  Faith, there have been many great men that have flattered the people, who ne’er loved them; and there be many that they have loved, they know not wherefore [why]: so that if they love they know not why, they hate upon no better a ground. Therefore, for Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate him manifests the true knowledge he has in their disposition; and out of his noble carelessness lets them plainly see ’t [what he is thinking].   
FIRST OFFICER:  If he did not care whether he had their love or no, he waved indifferently ’twixt [between] doing them neither good nor harm; but he seeks their hate with greater devotion than they can render it him; and leaves nothing undone that may fully discover him their opposite [foe]. Now, to seem to affect the malice and displeasure of the people is as bad as that which he dislikes, to flatter them for their love.   
SECOND OFFICER:  He hath deserved worthily of his country; and his ascent is not by such easy degrees as those who, having been supple [respectful] and courteous to the people, bonneted [taking off their hats in salute to the people], without any further deed to have them at all into their estimation and report; but he hath so planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions in their hearts, that for their tongues to be silent, and not confess so much, were a kind of ingrateful injury; to report otherwise, were a malice, that, giving itself the lie, would pluck reproof and rebuke from every ear that heard it.   
FIRST OFFICER:  No more of him; he is a worthy man: make way, they are coming.   
 
A Sennet.  Enter, with Lictors before them, COMINIUS the Consul, MENENIUS, CORIOLANUS, many other Senators, SICINIUS and BRUTUS.  The Senators take their places; the Tribunes take theirs also by themselves.
[Lictors: Minor Roman officials who served as bodyguards to magistrates.]             10

MENENIUS:  Having determin’d of the Volsces, and  
To send for Titus Lartius, it remains,   
As the main point of this our after-meeting,   
To gratify his noble service that   
[Lines 11-14: Having decided what to do with the Volsces and having determined to send for Titus Lartius, we now must turn to the main point of our meeting: to reward the noble service of Coriolanus.]
Hath thus stood for his country: therefore, please you,            15
Most reverend and grave elders, to desire   
The present consul, and last general   
In our well-found successes, to report   
A little of that worthy work perform’d   
By Caius Marcius Coriolanus, whom            20
We meet here both to thank and to remember   
With honours like himself.   
FIRST SENATOR:  Speak, good Cominius:   
Leave nothing out for length, and make us think   
Rather our state’s defective for requital,            25
Than we to stretch it out.  [To the Tribunes.]  
[Line 24-26: Don't leave out any details. Make us think that any reward we give Coriolanus cannot adequately compensate him for his great valor. Don't give the impression that we will not be generous. The First Senator then addresses the Tribunes.]
Masters o’ the people,   
We do request your kindest ears, and, after,   
Your loving motion toward the common body,   
To yield what passes here.            30
[Lines 29-30: Your loving recommendation to the commoners to approve what happens here.]
SICINIUS:  We are convented   
Upon a pleasing treaty, and have hearts   
Inclinable to honour and advance   
The theme of our assembly.   
[Lines 31-34: We have convened to work out a pleasing agreement that will honor and advance the theme of our assembly.]
BRUTUS:  Which the rather            35
We shall be bless’d [happy] to do, if he remember [would adopt; would espouse]  
A kinder value [a better opinion] of the people than   
He hath hereto priz’d them at.   
MENENIUS:  That’s off, that’s off; [that's out of order.]  
I would you rather had been silent. Please you            40
To hear Cominius speak?   
BRUTUS:  Most willingly;   
But yet my caution was more pertinent [was better advice]  
Than the rebuke you give it.   
MENENIUS:  He loves your people;            45
But tie him not to be their bedfellow.   
[Line 46: But don't force him to become a close friend of them.]
Worthy Cominius, speak.  [CORIOLANUS rises, and offers to go away.   
Nay, keep your place.   
FIRST SENATOR:  Sit, Coriolanus; never shame to hear   
What you have nobly done.            50
CORIOLANUS:   Your honours’ pardon:   
I had rather have my wounds to heal again   
Than hear say how I got them.   
BRUTUS:  Sir, I hope   
My words disbench’d you not.            55
[disbench'd you not: Did not cause you to get up to leave; did not upset you]
CORIOLANUS:  No, sir: yet oft,   
When blows have made me stay, I fled from words.   
You sooth’d not, therefore hurt not. But your people,   
I love them as they weigh.   
[Lines 58-59: You did not heap flattery on me and therefore did not hurt me. As for the commoners you protect, I love them for the weight of their worth.]
MENENIUS:  Pray now, sit down.            60
CORIOLANUS:  I had rather have one scratch my head i’ the sun   
When the alarum were struck than idly sit   
To hear my nothings monster’d.  [Exit. 
[nothings monster'd: Deeds exaggerated] 
MENENIUS:  Masters of the people,   
Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter,—            65
That’s thousand to one good one,—when you now see   
He had rather venture all his limbs for honour   
Than one on ’s ears to hear it. Proceed, Cominius. 
[Lines 65-68: How can he please the people when, for honor, he would rather risk his life in battle than hear tales told about his heroics.]
COMINIUS:  I shall lack voice: the deeds of Coriolanus   
Should not be utter’d feebly. It is held            70
That valour is the chiefest virtue, and   
Most dignifies the haver: if it be,   
The man I speak of cannot in the world   
Be singly counterpois’d. At sixteen years,   
[Lines 69-74: I wish I had a stronger voice to shout out the deeds of Coriolanus for all to hear. Valor is the chief of all virtues, distinguishing the man who displays it. If that is so, the man I speak of cannot in the world be matched by any other man.]
When Tarquin made a head for Rome, he fought            75
Beyond the mark of others; our then dictator,   
[Tarquin: Tarquin the Proud (Lucius Tarquinius Superbus), the last king of Rome, who was overthrown when the Romans decided to establish a representative form of government.]
Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight,   
When with his Amazonian [beardless, like the female warriors of myth, for he was only sixteen] chin he drove   
The bristled lips [older enemy soldiers] before him. He bestrid [stood over]  
An o’er-press’d Roman, and i’ the consul’s view            80
Slew three opposers: Tarquin’s self he met,   
And struck him on his knee: in that day’s feats,   
When he might act the woman in the scene,   
He prov’d best man i’ the field, and for his meed [reward]   
Was brow-bound with the oak [wreath of oak leaves]. His pupil age            85
Man-enter’d thus, he waxed like a sea,   
[His pupil . . . sea: On that day, this teenager became a man and rose up like an ocean wave.]
And in the brunt of seventeen battles since   
He lurch’d all swords of the garland.  For this last,   
[He . . . garland: He deflected all swords to win high honors.]
Before and in Corioli, let me say,   
I cannot speak him home: he stopp’d the fliers,            90
[Line 90: I cannot praise him enough: he stopped those fleeing]
And by his rare example made the coward   
Turn terror into sport: as weeds before   
A vessel under sail, so men obey’d,   
And fell below his stem [prow, a curved beam in the front of a ship]: his sword, death’s stamp,   
Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot            95
He was a thing of blood, whose every motion   
Was tim’d with dying cries: alone he enter’d   
The mortal gate of the city, which he painted   
With shunless [unavoidable] destiny; aidless came off [without help, devastated the enemy],   
And with a sudden re-enforcement struck            100
Corioli like a planet. Now all’s his:   
When by and by the din of war ’gan [began to] pierce   
His ready sense; then straight his doubled spirit   
Re-quicken’d what in flesh was fatigate [fatigued; tired; worn out],   
And to the battle came he; where he did            105
Run reeking [fuming; smoking] o’er the lives of men, as if   
’Twere a perpetual spoil [massacre]; and till we call’d   
Both field and city ours, he never stood   
To ease his breast with panting.   
MENENIUS:  Worthy man!            110
FIRST SENATOR:  He cannot but with measure fit the honours   
Which we devise him.   
[Lines 111-112: He is fit beyond measure for the honors we devise for him.]
COMINIUS:   Our spoils he kick’d at,   
And look’d upon things precious as they were   
The common muck o’ the world: he covets less            115
Than misery itself would give; rewards   
His deeds with doing them, and is content   
To spend the time to end it.   
[Lines 113-118: He spurned his share of the plunder we took, looking upon valuable prizes of war as common muck. He covets less than misery would grant him. His reward for his valorous deeds is the satisfaction of having done them. He is thus content.]
MENENIUS:  He’s right noble:   
Let him be call’d for.            120
FIRST SENATOR:  Call Coriolanus.   
Off.  He doth appear.   
 
Re-enter CORIOLANUS.
   
MENENIUS:  The senate, Coriolanus, are well pleas’d   
To make thee consul.            125
CORIOLANUS:  I do owe them still    
My life and services.   
MENENIUS:  It then remains   
That you do speak to the people.   
CORIOLANUS:  I do beseech you,            130
Let me o’erleap [avoid; leave out] that custom, for I cannot   
Put on the gown, stand naked, and entreat them,   
For my wounds’ sake, to give their suffrage [to vote for me]: please you,   
That I may pass [be exempt from] this doing.   
SICINIUS:  Sir, the people            135
Must have their voices; neither will they bate [eliminate; omit; lessen]  
One jot of ceremony.   
MENENIUS:  Put them not to ’t:   
Pray you, go fit you to the custom, and   
Take to you, as your predecessors have,            140
Your honour with your form.
[Lines 139-141: I beg you, Coriolanus, to abide by the custom and present yourself, as your predecessors have, honorably before the people.]  
CORIOLANUS:  It is a part   
That I shall blush in acting, and might well   
Be taken from the people.   
BRUTUS:  [Aside to SICINIUS.]  Mark you that?            145
CORIOLANUS:  To brag unto them, thus I did, and thus;   
Show them the unaching scars which I should hide,   
As if I had receiv’d them for the hire   
Of their breath only!   
MENENIUS:  Do not stand upon ’t.            150
We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,   
Our purpose to them; and to our noble consul   
Wish we all joy and honour.   
SENATOR  To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!  [Flourish. Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS.   
BRUTUS:  You see how he intends to use the people.            155
SICINIUS:  May they perceive ’s intent! He will require them,   
As if he did contemn [despise] what he requested   
Should be in them to give.   
BRUTUS:  Come; we’ll inform them   
Of our proceedings here: on the market-place            160
I know they do attend us.  [Exeunt.

Act 2, Scene 3

Rome. The Forum.
Enter several Citizens.

FIRST CITIZEN:  Once [keep in mind that], if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  We may, sir, if we will.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  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.            5
FIRST CITIZEN:  And to make us no better thought of, a little help will serve; for once we stood up about the corn [after we complained about the shortage of corn], he himself stuck not to call us the many-headed multitude [he himself wasted no time in calling us the many-headed multitude].   
THIRD CITIZEN:  We have been called so of many; not that our heads are some brown, some black, some abram [archaic term for auburn], 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’ the compass.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  Think you so? Which way do you judge my wit would fly?   
THIRD CITIZEN:  Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man’s will; ’tis strongly wedged up in a block-head; but if it were at liberty, ’twould, sure, southward.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  Why that way?            10
THIRD CITIZEN:  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.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  You are never without your tricks [wisecracks]: you may, you may.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  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 man.   
 
Re-enter CORIOLANUS, in a gown of humility, and MENENIUS.

Here he comes, and in a 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.            15
ALL:  Content, content.  [Exeunt Citizens.   
MENENIUS:  O, sir, you are not right: have you not known   
The worthiest men have done ’t?   
CORIOLANUS:  What must I say?   
‘I pray, sir,’—Plague upon ’t! I cannot bring            20
My tongue to such a pace. ‘Look, sir, my wounds!   
I got them in my country’s service, when   
Some certain of your brethren roar’d and ran   
From the noise of our own drums.’   
MENENIUS: O me! the gods!            25
You must not speak of that: you must desire them   
To think upon you.   
CORIOLANUS:  Think upon me! Hang ’em!   
I would they would forget me, like the virtues   
Which our divines lose by ’em.            30
[Lines 29-30: I wish they would forget me, like the virtues which our holy men preach but do not abide by.]
MENENIUS:  You’ll mar all:   
I’ll leave you. Pray you, speak to ’em, I pray you,   
In wholesome [agreeable] manner.   
CORIOLANUS:  Bid them wash their faces,   
And keep their teeth clean.  [Exit MENENIUS.            35
So, here comes a brace [pair].   
 
Re-enter two Citizens.

You know the cause, sir, of my standing here?   
FIRST CITIZEN:  We do, sir; tell us what hath brought you to ’t.   
CORIOLANUS:  Mine own desert.            40
SECOND CITIZEN:  Your own desert!   
CORIOLANUS:  Ay, not mine own desire.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  How! not your own desire?   
CORIOLANUS:  No, sir, ’twas never my desire yet to trouble the poor with begging.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  You must think, if we give you any thing, we hope to gain by you.            45
CORIOLANUS:  Well, then, I pray, your price o’ the consulship?   
FIRST CITIZEN:  The price is, to ask it kindly.   
CORIOLANUS:  Kindly! sir, I pray, let me ha ’t [have it]: I have wounds to show you, which shall be yours in private. Your good voice, sir; what say you?   
SECOND CITIZEN:  You shall ha ’t [have it], worthy sir.   
CORIOLANUS:  A match [a deal is struck, then], sir. There is in all two worthy voices begged. I have your alms [promise]: adieu [French for good-bye].            50
FIRST CITIZEN:  But this is something odd.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  An ’twere to give again,—but ’tis no matter.  [Exeunt the two Citizens.   
 
Re-enter two other Citizens.

CORIOLANUS:  Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your voices that I may be consul, I have here the customary gown.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  You have deserved nobly of your country, and you have not deserved nobly.            55
CORIOLANUS:  Your enigma? [What do you mean?]  
THIRD CITIZEN:  You have been a scourge to her [Rome's] enemies, you have been a rod [tyrant; cruel disciplinarian] to her friends; you have not indeed loved the common people.   
CORIOLANUS:  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 [a way of behaving] they account gentle [acceptable]: and since the wisdom of their choice is rather to have my hat than my heart, I will practise the insinuating [polite; flattering] nod, and be off [remove my hat] to them most counterfeitly;
that is, sir, I will counterfeit the bewitchment [pretend to have the pleasing behavior] of some popular man, and give it bountifully to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you, I may be consul.   
FOURTH CITIZEN:  We hope to find you our friend, and therefore give you our voices heartily.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  You have received many wounds for your country.            60
CORIOLANUS:  I will not seal [confirm; verify] your knowledge with showing them. I will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.   
BOTH CITIZENS:  The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!  [Exeunt.  
CORIOLANUS:  Most sweet voices!   
Better it is to die, better to starve,   
Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.            65
[Line 65: Than plead for a reward which is due to us.]
Why in this woolvish toge should I stand here,   
To beg of Hob and Dick, that do appear,   
Their needless vouches? Custom calls me to ’t:  
[Lines 66-68: Why should I stand here in this stupid toga to beg like a sheep for the approval of Joe Blow or John Doe? Custom says I should.]
What custom wills, in all things should we do ’t,   
The dust on antique time would lie unswept,            70
And mountainous error be too highly heap’d   
For truth to o’er-peer [to peer over]. Rather than fool it so,  
[Lines 70-72: A criticism of what Coriolanus perceives as outdated customs and traditions]
Let the high office and the honour go   
To one that would do thus. I am half through;   
The one part suffer’d, the other will I do.            75
Here come more voices.   
 
Re-enter three other Citizens.

Your voices [citizens and their opinions]: for your voices I have fought;   
Watch’d [gave protection] for your voices; for your voices bear   
Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six            80
I have seen and heard of; for your voices have   
Done many things, some less, some more; your voices:   
Indeed, I would be consul.   
FIFTH CITIZEN: He has done nobly, and cannot go without any honest man’s voice.   
SIXTH CITIZEN:  Therefore let him be consul. The gods give him joy, and make him good friend to the people!            85
ALL:  Amen, amen.   
God save thee, noble consul!  [Exeunt Citizens.   
CORIOLANUS:  Worthy voices!   
 
Re-enter MENENIUS, with BRUTUS and SICINIUS.

MENENIUS:  You have stood your limitation; and the tribunes            90
Endue [invest] you with the people’s voice: remains   
That, in the official marks invested, you   
Anon do meet the senate.   
[Lines 90-93: You have stood the test. And the tribunes regard you as the voice of the people. What remains is for you to meet soon with the senate in the insignia of your office.]
CORIOLANUS:  Is this done?   
SICINIUS:  The custom of request you have discharg’d:            95
The people do admit you, and are summon’d   
To meet anon, upon your approbation.   
CORIOLANUS:  Where? at the senate-house?   
SICINIUS:   There, Coriolanus.   
CORIOLANUS:  May I change these garments?            100
SICINIUS:  You may, sir.   
CORIOLANUS:  That I’ll straight do; and, knowing myself again,   
Repair [go] to the senate-house.   
MENENIUS:  I’ll keep you company. Will you along?   
BRUTUS:  We stay here for the people.            105
SICINIUS:  Fare you well.  [Exeunt CORIOLANUS and MENENIUS.   
He has it now; and by his looks, methinks,   
’Tis warm at ’s [at his] heart.   
BRUTUS:  With a proud heart he wore   
His humble weeds [clothing; toga]. Will you dismiss the people?            110
 
Re-enter Citizens.

SICINIUS:  How now, my masters! have you chose this man?   
FIRST CITIZEN:  He has our voices, sir.   
BRUTUS:  We pray the gods he may deserve your love.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  Amen, sir. To my poor unworthy notice,            115
He mock’d us when he begg’d our voices.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  Certainly,   
He flouted us downright.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  No, ’tis his kind of speech; he did not mock us.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says            120
He used us scornfully: he should have show’d us   
His marks of merit, wounds receiv’d for ’s [for his] country.   
SICINIUS:  Why, so he did, I am sure.   
ALL:  No, no; no man saw ’em.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  He said he had wounds, which he could show in private;            125
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; 
[aged . . . me: According to custom, I can be consul only if I have your voices (approval).] 
Your voices therefore:’ when we granted that,   
Here was, ‘I thank you for your voices, thank you,            130
Your most sweet voices: now you have left your voices   
I have no further with you.’ Was not this mockery?   
SICINIUS:  Why, either were you ignorant to see ’t,   
Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness   
To yield your voices?            135
BRUTUS:  Could you not have told him   
As you were lesson’d [taught], when he had no power,   
But was a petty servant to the state,   
He was your enemy, ever spake [spoke] against   
Your liberties and the charters [rights and privileges] that you bear            140
I’ the body of the weal [commonwealth; state] and now, arriving [arriving at]  
A place of potency and sway o’ the state,   
If he should still malignantly remain   
Fast foe to the plebeii [plebeians; commoners], your voices might   
Be curses to yourselves? You should have said            145
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 [standing as] your friendly lord.            150
SICINIUS:  Thus to have said,   
As you were fore-advis’d, had touch’d his spirit   
And tried his inclination; from him pluck’d 
[Thus . . . inclination: Thus, if you had said what you were advised to say, you would have touched his spirit and made him think about how he would treat you.] 
Either his gracious promise, which you might,   
As cause had call’d you up, have held him to;            155
Or else it would have gall’d his surly nature,   
Which easily endures not article   
Tying him to aught; so, putting him to rage,   
You should have ta’en the advantage of his choler,   
And pass’d him unelected.            160
[Lines 154-160: Either you would have received his promise to look after your needs, or you would have enraged him to the point that he would have become your adversary. Had he become angry, you could have responded by saying that you would not vote for him to become consul.]
BRUTUS:  Did you perceive   
He did solicit yo
u in free [obvious] 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            165
No heart among you? or had you tongues to cry   
Against the rectorship of judgment?
[or had . . . judgment: Or had you no gumption to speak out with common sense and good judgment?]  
SICINIUS:  Have you   
Ere [before] now denied the asker? and now again   
Of him that did not ask, but mock, bestow            170
Your su’d-for tongues?   
[Lines 168-170: Surely you have previously refused to endorse a candidate who asked for your approval. Now you're ready to vote for a man that did not ask you but instead mocked you.]
THIRD CITIZEN:  He’s not confirm’d; we may deny him yet.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  And will deny him:   
I’ll have five hundred voices [voters] of that sound.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  Ay, twice five hundred and their friends to piece ’em [to add to them].            175
BRUTUS:  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.            180
SICINIUS:  Let them assemble;   
And, on a safer judgment, all revoke   
Your ignorant election. Enforce [Emphasize] his pride,   
And his old hate unto you; besides, forget not   
With what contempt he wore the humble weed [toga];            185
How in his suit [plea for votes] he scorn’d you; but your loves,   
Thinking upon his services, took from you   
The apprehension of his present portance,   
[but your loves . . . portance: But your desire for his services blinded you to his scornful attitude toward you.]
Which most gibingly [derisively], ungravely [without dignity], he did fashion [make; design]   
After the inveterate [thoroughgoing; constant] hate he bears you.            190
BRUTUS:  Lay   
A fault on us, your tribunes; that we labour’d,—   
No impediment between,—but that you must   
Cast your election on him.   
SICINIUS:  Say, you chose him            195
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 [approve] him consul: lay the fault on us.            200
BRUTUS:  Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you,   
How youngly he began to serve his country,   
How long continu’d, and what stock [ancestry] he springs of,   
The noble house o’ the Marcians, from whence came   
That Ancus Marcius, Numa’s daughter’s son,            205
Who, after great Hostilius, here was king;   
[Ancus Marcius (677-617 BC): Fourth king of Rome.]
[Numa's daughter: Pompilia, daughter of the second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius (753-673 BC).]
[Hostilius: Tullus Hostilius (673-642 BC): Third king of Rome, who suceeded Numa Pompilius.]
Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,   
That our best water brought by conduits hither;   
And Censorinus, that was so surnam’d,—   
And nobly nam’d so, twice being censor,—            210
Was his great ancestor.  
SICINIUS:  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,            215
Scaling his present bearing with his past,   
That he’s your fixed enemy, and revoke   
Your sudden approbation.   
[Lines 212-218: Say also that we recommended him to you because, besides his distinguished ancestry, he performed deeds that would set him in a high place. But then say that after we made our recommendation, you found out—after witnessing his behavior toward you—that he's your sworn enemy. Finally, say that you now take back your approval of him.
BRUTUS:  Say you ne’er had done ’t—   
Harp on that still—but by our putting on;            220
And presently, when you have drawn your number,   
Repair to the Capitol. 
[Lines 219-222: Say you never would have approved of him—make that point clear—if we tribunes had not recommended him. Now, when you and your fellow citizens are ready, go to the Capitol.] 
ALL:  We will so; almost all   
Repent in their election.  [Exeunt Citizens.   
BRUTUS:  Let them go on;            225
This mutiny were better put in hazard   
Than stay, past doubt, for greater.   
[Lines 226-227: It's better to allow their uprising against Coriolanus now than to risk a greater uprising later.]
If, as his nature is, he fall in rage   
With their refusal, both observe and answer   
The vantage of his anger.            230
[both observe . . . anger: His nature is such that he is quick to anger. If he does fall into a rage because of their refusal to elect him, take note that his anger will be to our advantage.]
SICINIUS:   To the Capitol, come:   
We will be there before the stream o’ the people;   
And this shall seem, as partly ’tis, their own,   
Which we have goaded onward.  [Exeunt.

Act 3, Scene 1

Rome. A street.

Cornets.  Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, Senators, and Patricians.
   
CORIOLANUS:  Tullus Aufidius then had made new head [had assembled new forces]?   
LARTIUS:  He had, my lord; and that it was which caus’d   
Our swifter composition.            5
CORIOLANUS:  So then the Volsces stand but as at first,   
Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road   
Upon ’s again [to make war upon us again].   
COMINIUS:  They are worn, lord consul, so,   
That we shall hardly in our ages see            10
Their banners wave again.   
CORIOLANUS:   Saw you Aufidius?   
LARTIUS:  On safe-guard [under a flag of truce] he came to me; and did curse   
Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely   
Yielded the town: he is retir’d to Antium [Volscian capital].            15
CORIOLANUS:  Spoke he of me?   
LARTIUS: He did, my lord.   
CORIOLANUS:   How? what?   
LARTIUS:  How often he had met you, sword to sword;   
That of all things upon the earth he hated            20
Your person most, that he would pawn his fortunes   
To hopeless restitution, so he might   
Be call’d your vanquisher.   
CORIOLANUS:  At Antium lives he?   
LARTIUS:  At Antium.            25
CORIOLANUS:  I wish I had a cause to seek him there,   
To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.   
 
Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS.
   
Behold! these are the tribunes of the people,   
The tongues o’ the common mouth: I do despise them;            30
For they do prank them in authority   
Against all noble sufferance.   
[Line 31-32: For they conceive of themselves as the authority in Rome against the wishes of the nobility.]
SICINIUS:  Pass no further.   
CORIOLANUS:  Ha! what is that?   
BRUTUS:  It will be dangerous to go on: no further.            35
CORIOLANUS:  What makes this change? [Why are you stopping me? What's the matter?]
MENENIUS:  The matter?   
COMINIUS:  Hath he not pass’d the noble and the common?   
BRUTUS:  Cominius, no.   
CORIOLANUS:  Have I had children’s voices [votes]?            40
FIRST SENATOR:  Tribunes, give way; he shall to the market-place.   
BRUTUS:  The people are incens’d against him.   
SICINIUS:  Stop,   
Or all will fall in broil.   
CORIOLANUS:  Are these your herd [Are these people your commoners]?            45
Must these have voices [votes], that can yield [renounce; invalidate] them now,   
And straight disclaim their tongues? What are your offices [responsibilities; duties]?   
You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth?   
Have you not set them on?  
[Lines 48-49: You speak for them as protectors of their rights. I think you have set them against me.]
MENENIUS:  Be calm, be calm.            50
CORIOLANUS:  It is a purpos’d thing, and grows by plot,   
To curb the will of the nobility:   
Suffer ’t, and live with such as cannot rule   
Nor ever will be rul’d.   
[Lines 51-54: Your purpose is to thwart the will of the nobility. If Rome does not stop your plot, uproar and chaos will follow.]
BRUTUS:  Call ’t not a plot:            55
The people cry you mock’d them, and of late,   
When corn was given them gratis [free; without payment], you repin’d [complained];   
Scandall’d the suppliants for the people, call’d them   
Time-pleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.   
[Lines 58-59: Scorned the advocates for the people, calling them opportunists, flatterers, enemies of the nobility.]
CORIOLANUS:  Why, this was known before.            60
BRUTUS:  Not to them all.   
CORIOLANUS:  Have you inform’d them sithence [since then]?   
BRUTUS:  How! I inform them!   
CORIOLANUS:  You are like to do such business.   
BRUTUS:  Not unlike,            65
Each way, to better yours.
[Lines 65-66: I am not unlikely to do whatever I can to get the better of you.]  
CORIOLANUS:  Why then should I be consul? By yond [yonder] clouds,   
Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me   
Your fellow tribune.   

SICINIUS:  You show too much of that            70
For which the people stir; if you will pass   
To where you are bound, you must inquire your way,   
Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit;  
Or never be so noble as a consul,   
Nor yoke with him for tribune.            75
[if you . . . for tribune: If you wish to achieve your goal of becoming a consul, you must seek it with a gentler spirit. If you don't, you will never be a consul or even a tribune.]
MENENIUS:  Let’s be calm.   
COMINIUS:  The people are abus’d [misled]; set on. This paltering [quibbling; bargaining] 
Becomes not Rome, nor has Coriolanus   
Deserv’d this so dishonour’d rub [irritation; obstacle], laid falsely   
I’ the plain way of his merit.            80
CORIOLANUS:   Tell me of corn!   
This was my speech, and I will speak ’t again,—   
MENENIUS:  Not now, not now.   
FIRST SENATOR:  Not in this heat, sir, now.   
CORIOLANUS:  Now, as I live, I will. My nobler friends,            85
I crave their pardons:   
For the mutable, rank-scented many [for the fickle, bad-smelling commoners], let them   
Regard me as I do not flatter, and   
Therein behold themselves: I say again,   
In soothing them we nourish ’gainst our senate            90
The cockle [weed that grows in wheat fields] of rebellion, insolence, sedition,   
Which we ourselves have plough’d for, sow’d and scatter’d,   
By mingling them with us, the honour’d number;   
[Lines 92-93: We ourselves have planted this weed by allowing the commoners to mingle with us, the nobility of Rome, as the weed mingles with wheat.]
Who lack’d not virtue, no, nor power, but that   
Which they have given to beggars.            95
[Lines 94-95: We noble Romans do not lack virtue or power except what we have given to these lowly commoners.]
MENENIUS:  Well, no more.   
FIRST SENATOR:  No more words, we beseech you.   
CORIOLANUS:  How! no more!   
As for my country I have shed my blood,   
Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs            100
Coin words till they decay against those measles [disease, referring to the commoners]   
Which we disdain should tetter [infect] us, yet sought   
The very way to catch them [the disease].   
BRUTUS:  You speak o’ the people,   
As if you were a god to punish, not            105
A man of their infirmity.   
SICINIUS:  ’Twere well   
We let the people know ’t.   
MENENIUS:  What, what? his choler [anger]?   
CORIOLANUS:  Choler!            110
Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,   
By Jove, ’twould be my mind!   
SICINIUS:  It is a mind   
That shall remain a poison where it is,   
Not poison any further.            115
CORIOLANUS:  Shall remain!   
Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you   
His absolute ‘shall?’   
[Line 117-118: Do you hear this poor excuse for Triton? He dares to say I "shall remain." (Triton was the son of the god of the sea, Neptune, whose Greek name was Poseidon. Triton was depicted as using a trumpet made from a conch shell. Minnows is an insulting metaphor for the commoners.)]
COMINIUS:  ’Twas from the canon [law].   
CORIOLANUS:  ‘Shall!’            120
O good but most unwise patricians! why,   
You grave but reckless senators, have you thus   
Given Hydra here to choose an officer,
[Hydra: In Greek mythology, a monster with nine heads.]   
That with his peremptory ‘shall,’ being but   
The horn and noise o’ the monster’s, wants not spirit            125
To say he’ll turn your current in a ditch,   
And make your channel his? If he have power,  
Then vail your ignorance; if none, awake   
Your dangerous lenity. If you are learned,   
Be not as common fools; if you are not,            130
Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians   
If they be senators; and they are no less,   
When, both your voices blended, the great’st taste   
Most palates theirs. They choose their magistrate,   
And such a one as he, who puts his ‘shall,’            135
His popular ‘shall,’ against a graver bench   
Than ever frown’d in Greece. By Jove himself!   
It makes the consuls base; and my soul aches   
To know, when two authorities are up,   
Neither supreme, how soon confusion            140
May enter ’twixt the gap of both and take   
The one by the other.  
[Lines 126-142: To say he'll divert the course of your stream into a ditch, then use the bed of the waterway as his own. If he has power, then cast off the ignorance that granted it to him. You are educated men, but you act like fools. If you are not as wise as your education suggests, then let the tribunes and commoners sit on cushions beside you as equals. You senators are commoners if you allow the tribunes and commoners to be senators. The commoners choose their magistrate, or protector. But such a protector as Sicinius dares to use shall to order us around and make the high office of consul seem base. When two authorities are in power but neither supreme, confusion takes over.]
COMINIUS:  Well, on to the market-place.   
CORIOLANUS:  Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth   
The corn o’ the store-house grátis [free of charge], as ’twas us’d            145
Sometime in Greece,—   
MENENIUS:   Well, well; no more of that.   
CORIOLANUS:  Though there the people had more absolute power,   
I say, they nourish’d disobedience, fed   
The ruin of the state.            150
BRUTUS:  Why, shall the people give   
One that speaks thus their voice?   
CORIOLANUS:  I’ll give my reasons,   
More worthier than their voices. They know the corn   
Was not our recompense [payment for military duty], resting well assur’d            155
They ne’er did service for ’t. Being press’d to the war,   
Even when the navel of the state was touch’d,
[Line 157: Even when the Volscians threatened Rome]   
They would not thread the gates [go through the gates]: this kind of service   
Did not deserve corn gratis. Being i’ the war,   
Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they show’d            160
Most valour, spoke not for them. The accusation   
Which they have often made against the senate,   
All cause unborn [without cause; baseless], could never be the motive   
Of our so frank [sincere] donation. Well, what then?   
How shall this bisson [short-sighted] multitude digest            165
The senate’s courtesy? Let deeds express   
What’s like to be their words: ‘We did request it;   
We are the greater poll [majority; we have the most votes], and in true fear   
They gave us our demands.’ Thus we debase   
The nature of our seats, and make the rabble            170
Call our cares, fears; which will in time break ope   
The locks o’ the senate, and bring in the crows   
To peck the eagles.   
MENENIUS:  Come, enough.   
BRUTUS:  Enough, with over-measure.            175
CORIOLANUS:  No, take more:   
What may be sworn by, both divine and human,   
Seal what I end withal! This double worship,   
Where one part does disdain with cause, the other   
Insult without all reason; where gentry [noblemen], title, wisdom,            180
Cannot conclude [decide], but by the yea and no   
Of general ignorance,—it must omit   
Real necessities, and give way the while   
To unstable slightness: purpose so barr’d, it follows   
Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore, beseech you,—            185
You that will be less fearful than discreet [cowardly; reserved; cautious],
That love the fundamental part of state   
More than you doubt the change on ’t, that prefer   
A noble life before a long, and wish   
To jump [treat; administer] a body with a dangerous physic            190
That’s sure of death without it, at once pluck out   
The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick   
The sweet which is their poison. Your dishonour [deplorable attitude]  
Mangles true judgment, and bereaves the state   
Of that integrity which should become it,            195
Not having the power to do the good it would,   
For the ill which doth control ’t.   
BRUTUS:  He has said enough.   
SICINIUS:  He has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer   
As traitors do.            200
CORIOLANUS:  Thou wretch! despite [insults; bad luck] o’erwhelm thee!   
What should the people do with these bald [without merit; having no redeeming quality] tribunes?   
On whom depending, their obedience fails   
To the greater bench [to the senate]. In a rebellion,   
When what’s not meet, but what must be, was law,            205
Then were they chosen: in a better hour,   
Let what is meet be said it must be meet,   
And throw their power i’ the dust.   
BRUTUS:  Manifest treason!   
SICINIUS:  This a consul? no.            210
BRUTUS:  The ædiles, ho! Let him be apprehended.   
[Aediles: Enforcers of order; law officers]
 
Enter an Aedile.
   
SICINIUS:  Go, call the people;  [Exit Aedile] in whose name, myself   
Attach [arrest] thee as a traitorous innovator [rebel; plotter against the state],   
A foe to the public weal [welfare]: obey, I charge thee,            215
And follow to thine answer.   
CORIOLANUS:  Hence [go away], old goat!   
SENATOR  We’ll surety [post bail for] him.   
COMINIUS:  Aged sir, hands off.   
CORIOLANUS:  Hence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bones            220
Out of thy garments.   
SICINIUS:  Help, ye citizens!   
 
Re-enter Aediles, with Others, and a rabble of Citizens.
   
MENENIUS:  On both sides more respect.   
SICINIUS:  Here’s he that would take from you all your power.            225
BRUTUS:  Seize him, aediles!   
CITIZENS:  Down with him!—down with him!—   
SENATOR  Weapons!—weapons!—weapons!—  [They all bustle about CORIOLANUS, crying   
Tribunes!—patricians!—citizens!—What ho!—   
Sicinius!—Brutus!—Coriolanus!—Citizens!            230
Peace!—Peace!—Peace!—Stay!—Hold!—Peace!   
MENENIUS:  What is about to be?—I am out of breath;   
Confusion’s near; I cannot speak. You, tribunes   
To the people! Coriolanus, patience!   
Speak, good Sicinius.            235
SICINIUS:  Hear me, people; peace!   
CITIZENS:  Let’s hear our tribune:—Peace!—Speak, speak, speak.   
SICINIUS:  You are at point to lose your liberties:   
Marcius would have all [take your rights] from you; Marcius,   
Whom late you have nam’d for consul.            240
MENENIUS:  Fie, fie, fie!   
This is the way to kindle, not to quench.
[Line 242: This is the way to cause an uproar, not to stop one.]  
FIRST SENATOR:  To unbuild the city and to lay all flat.  
[Line 243: This is the way to tear down the city.]
SICINIUS:  What is the city but the people?   
CITIZENS:   True,            245
The people are the city.   
BRUTUS:  By the consent of all, we were establish’d   
The people’s magistrates.   
CITIZENS:  You so remain.   
MENENIUS:  And so are like to do.            250
COMINIUS:  That is the way to lay the city flat;   
To bring the roof to the foundation,   
And bury all, which yet distinctly ranges [which at this moment remains intact],   
In heaps and piles of ruin.   
SICINIUS:  This deserves death.            255
BRUTUS:  Or let us stand to our authority,   
Or let us lose it. We do here pronounce,   
Upon the part o’ the people, in whose power   
We were elected theirs, Marcius is worthy   
Of present [immediate] death.            260
SICINIUS:  Therefore lay hold of him;   
Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence   
Into destruction cast him.  
[rock Tarpeian: Cliff on the Capitoline Hill in Rome. Convicted criminals were sometimes sentenced to be cast off the Tarpeian rock.]
BRUTUS:  Aediles, seize him!   
CITIZENS:  Yield, Marcius, yield!            265
MENENIUS:  Hear me one word;   
Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.   
AEDILES:  Peace, peace!   
MENENIUS:  Be that you seem, truly your country’s friends,   
And temperately proceed to what you would            270
Thus violently redress.   
BRUTUS:  Sir, those cold ways,   
That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous   
Where the disease is violent. Lay hands upon him,   
And bear him to the rock.            275
CORIOLANUS:  No, I’ll die here.  [Drawing his sword.   
There’s some among you have beheld me fighting:   
Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.   
MENENIUS:  Down with that sword! Tribunes, withdraw awhile.   
BRUTUS:  Lay hands upon him.            280
MENENIUS:  Help Marcius, help,   
You that be noble; help him, young and old!   
CITIZENS:  Down with him!—down with him!  [In this mutiny the Tribunes, the Aediles, and the People are beat in.   
MENENIUS:  Go, get you to your house; be gone, away!   
All will be naught [disaster] else.            285
SECOND SENATOR:  Get you gone.   
CORIOLANUS:   Stand fast;   
We have as many friends as enemies.   
MENENIUS:  Shall it be put to that?   
FIRST SENATOR:  The gods forbid!            290
I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;   
Leave us to cure this cause.   
MENENIUS:  For ’tis a sore upon us,   
You cannot tent yourself [heal yourself in their eyes]: be gone, beseech you.   
COMINIUS:  Come, sir, along with us.            295
CORIOLANUS:  I would they were barbarians,—as they are,   
Though in Rome litter’d,—not Romans,—as they are not,   
Though calv’d i’ the porch o’ the Capitol,—   
[Line 298: Though born here in Rome within sight of the Capitol]
MENENIUS:  Be gone;   
Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;            300
One time will owe another.
[Line 301: The time will come for you to get back at them.]  
CORIOLANUS:  On fair ground   
I could beat forty of them.   
MENENIUS:  I could myself   
Take up a brace [pair] o’ the best of them; yea, the two tribunes.            305
COMINIUS:  But now ’tis odds beyond arithmetic;   
And manhood is call’d foolery when it stands   
Against a falling fabric. Will you hence,   
Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend   
Like interrupted waters and o’erbear            310
What they are us’d to bear.   
[Lines 306-311: But the odds are against us. A man is a fool to stand against a wild rabble. Will you leave before the citizens return? Their rage is as violent as a river that overflows its banks.]
MENENIUS:  Pray you, be gone.   
I’ll try whether my old wit be in request   
With those that have but little: this must be patch’d   
With cloth of any colour.            315
COMINIUS:  Nay, come away.  [Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, and Others.   
FIRST PATRICIAN:  This man has marr’d his fortune.   
MENENIUS:  His nature is too noble for the world:   
He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,   
[Neptune: In ancient mythology, the Roman name for the god of the sea. His Greek name was Poseidon.]
Or Jove for ’s [for his] power to thunder. His heart’s his mouth:            320
What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent;   
And, being angry, does forget that ever   
He heard the name of death.  [A noise within.   
Here’s goodly work!   
SECOND PATRICIAN:  I would they were a-bed!            325
MENENIUS:  I would they were in Tiber [in the Tiber River]! What the vengeance!   
Could he not speak ’em fair?   
 
Re-enter BRUTUS and SICINIUS, with the rabble.
   
SICINIUS:  Where is this viper   
That would depopulate the city and            330
Be every man himself?   
MENENIUS:  You worthy tribunes,—   
SICINIUS:  He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock   
With rigorous hands: he hath resisted law,   
And therefore law shall scorn him further trial            335
Than the severity of the public power,   
Which he so sets at nought.   
[Lines 335-337: And therefore he will receive no further trial except the severity of the will of the people, whom he regards as nothing.]
FIRST CITIZEN:  He shall well know   
The noble tribunes are the people’s mouths,   
And we their hands.            340
CITIZENS:  He shall, sure on ’t.   
MENENIUS:  Sir, sir,—   
SICINIUS:  Peace!   
MENENIUS:  Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt   
With modest warrant.            345
[Lines 344-345: Be modest, not extreme, in your judgment of him.]
SICINIUS:  Sir, how comes ’t that you   
Have holp [helped] to make this rescue [to make a plea on his behalf]?   
MENENIUS:  Hear me speak:   
As I do know the consul’s worthiness,   
So can I name his faults.            350
SICINIUS:  Consul! what consul?   
MENENIUS:  The Consul Coriolanus.   
BRUTUS:  He consul!   
CITIZENS:  No, no, no, no, no.   
MENENIUS:  If, by the tribunes’ leave, and yours, good people,            355
I may be heard, I would crave a word or two,   
The which shall turn you to no further harm   
Than so much loss of time.   
SICINIUS:  Speak briefly then;   
For we are peremptory [firm; determined] to dispatch            360
This viperous traitor. To eject him hence   
Were but one danger, and to keep him here   
Our certain death; therefore it is decreed   
He dies to-night.   
MENENIUS:  Now the good gods forbid            365
That our renowned Rome, whose gratitude   
Towards her deserved children is enroll’d   
In Jove’s own book, like an unnatural dam   
Should now eat up her own!   
SICINIUS:  He’s a disease that must be cut away.            370
MENENIUS:  O! he’s a limb that has but a disease;   
Mortal to cut it off; to cure it easy.   
What has he done to Rome that’s worthy death?   
Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost,—   
Which, I dare vouch, is more than that he hath            375
By many an ounce,—he dropp’d it for his country;   
And what is left, to lose it by his country,   
Were to us all, that do ’t and suffer it,   
A brand [mark of disgrace and dishonor] to th’ end o’ the world.   
SICINIUS:  This is clean kam [sheer nonsense; very wrong].            380
BRUTUS:  Merely awry [off course; askew]: when he did love his country   
It honour’d him.   
MENENIUS:  The service of the foot   
Being once gangren’d, is not then respected   
For what before it was.            385
BRUTUS:  We’ll hear no more.   
Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence,   
Lest his infection, being of catching nature,   
Spread further.   
MENENIUS:  One word more, one word.            390
This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find   
The harm of unscann’d swiftness [the harm of being too hasty], will, too late,   
Tie leaden pounds [weights] to’s [to his] heels. Proceed by process [legal means];   
Lest parties—as he is belov’d—break out,   
And sack great Rome with Romans.            395
BRUTUS:  If ’twere so,—   
SICINIUS:  What do ye talk?   
Have we not had a taste of his obedience?   
Our aediles smote [beaten]? ourselves resisted? Come!   
MENENIUS:  Consider this: he has been bred i’ the wars            400
Since he could draw a sword, and is ill school’d   
In bolted [careful; prudent] language; meal and bran together   
He throws without distinction. Give me leave,   
I’ll go to him, and undertake to bring him   
Where he shall answer by a lawful form,—            405
In peace,—to his utmost peril.   
FIRST SENATOR:  Noble tribunes,   
It is the humane way: the other course   
Will prove too bloody, and the end of it   
Unknown to the beginning.            410
SICINIUS:  Noble Menenius,   
Be you then as the people’s officer.   
Masters, lay down your weapons.   
BRUTUS:  Go not home.   
SICINIUS:  Meet on the market-place. We’ll attend you there:            415
Where, if you bring not Marcius, we’ll proceed   
In our first way.   
MENENIUS:  I’ll bring him to you.   
[To the Senators.]  Let me desire your company. He must come,   
Or what is worst will follow.            420
FIRST SENATOR:  Pray you, let’s to him.  [Exeunt.   

Act 3, Scene 2

Rome. A room in Coriolanus's house.
Enter CORIOLANUS and Patricians.

CORIOLANUS:  Let them pull all about mine ears; present me    
Death on the wheel [torture device], or at wild horses’ heels;    
Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock,            5
That the precipitation [steepness; slope; incline] might down stretch    
Below the beam [range; limit] of sight; yet will I still    
Be thus [be an adversary] to them.    
FIRST PATRICIAN: You do the nobler.    
CORIOLANUS:  I muse [wonder why] my mother            10
Does not approve me further [does not show more enthusiasm for what I do], who was wont    
To call them woollen vassals [slaves wearing woolen clothes], things created   
To buy and sell with groats, to show bare heads 
[groat: Coin with a value equivalent to a few pennies] 
In congregations, to yawn, be still, and wonder,    
When one but of my ordinance [standing; rank] stood up            15
To speak of peace or war.    
 
Enter VOLUMINA.
   
        I talk of you:    
Why did you wish me milder? Would you have me    
False to my nature? Rather say I play            20
The man I am.    
VOLUMNIA:  O! sir, sir, sir,    
I would have had you put your power well on    
Before you had worn it out.    
CORIOLANUS:  Let go. [That's enough.]           25
VOLUMNIA:  You might have been enough the man you are    
With striving less to be so: lesser had been    
The thwarting of your dispositions if    
You had not show’d them how you were dispos’d,   
Ere [before] they lack’d power to cross you.            30
[Lines 29-30: You should have concealed your contempt for them. But because you didn't, they're now using their power to oppose you.]
CORIOLANUS:  Let them hang.    
VOLUMNIA:  Ay, and burn too.    
 
Enter MENENIUS and Senators.
   
MENENIUS [to Coriolanus]:  Come, come; you have been too rough, something too rough;    
You must return and mend it.            35
FIRST SENATOR:  There’s no remedy;    
Unless, by not so doing, our good city    
Cleave [split apart] in the midst, and perish.    
VOLUMNIA: Pray be counsell’d.    
I have a heart of mettle [spirit; courage; fortitude] apt as yours,            40
But yet a brain that leads my use of anger    
To better vantage [advantage].    
MENENIUS:  Well said, noble woman!    
Before he should thus stoop to the herd, but that    
The violent fit o’ the time craves it as physic            45
For the whole state, I would put mine armour on,    
Which I can scarcely bear. 
[Lines 44-47: Before Coriolanus stoops to the commoners, which the violent rioters want him to do as a penalty to satisfy the state, I would put my armor on.]  
CORIOLANUS:  What must I do?    
MENENIUS:  Return to the tribunes.    
CORIOLANUS:  Well, what then? what then?            50
MENENIUS:  Repent what you have spoke.    
CORIOLANUS:  For them! I cannot do it to the gods;    
Must I then do ’t to them?    
VOLUMNIA:  You are too absolute [stubborn; unyielding];    
Though therein you can never be too noble,            55
But when extremities speak. I have heard you say,
[Though . . . . speak: Although you would be justified in asserting yourself in times of crisis and danger.]  
Honour and policy [craftiness; slyness], like unsever’d [inseparable] friends,    
In the war do grow together: grant that, and tell me,    
In peace what each of them by th’ other lose,    
That they combine not there.            60
CORIOLANUS:   Tush, tush!    
MENENIUS:  A good demand.    
VOLUMNIA:  If it be honour in your wars to seem    
The same [what; that which] you are not,—which, for your best ends,    
You adopt your policy,—how is it less or worse,            65
That it shall hold companionship in peace    
With honour, as in war, since that to both    
It stands in like request?    
CORIOLANUS:  Why force you this?    
VOLUMNIA:  Because that now it lies you on [it requires you] to speak            70
To the people; not by your own instruction [opinion; belief; conviction],    
Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you,    
But with such words that are but rooted in    
Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables    
Of no allowance to your bosom’s truth.            75
[though but . . . truth: Though these words do not truly represent what you believe]
Now, this no more dishonours you at all    
Than to take in [conquer] a town with gentle words,    
Which else would put you to your fortune and    
The hazard of much blood.
[Lines 78-79: Rather than having to shed blood to conquer it]   
I would dissemble with my nature where            80
My fortunes and my friends at stake requir’d    
I should do so in honour: I am in this,   
Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles;  
[I would dissemble . . . honour: I would rather lie or become a hypocrite if my fortunes and my friends were at stake. I would do so with honor. I am speaking these words as if I were your wife, your son, these senators and nobles.]
And you will rather show our general louts    
How you can frown than spend a fawn upon ’em,            85
[Lines 84-85: And you would rather frown at these louts than try to appease them]
For the inheritance of their loves and safeguard    
Of what that want might ruin.    
MENENIUS:  Noble lady!    
Come, go with us; speak fair; you may salve so [you may calmly explain],    
Not what is dangerous present, but the loss            90
Of what is past.    
VOLUMNIA:  I prithee now, my son,    
Go to them, with this bonnet [hat] in thy hand;    
And thus far having stretch’d it,—here be with them,    
Thy knee bussing the stones [kneeling on the stones],—for in such business            95
Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant    
More learned than the ears,—waving thy head,    
Which often, thus, correcting thy stout heart,    
Now humble [soft; yielding] as the ripest mulberry    
That will not hold [sustain] the handling: or say to them,            100
Thou art their soldier, and being bred in broils    
Hast not the soft way which, thou dost confess, 
[being bred . . . soft way: Being used to the violent and disorderly ways of war, lack a subdued and mild manner]  
Were fit for thee to use as they to claim [to deem reasonable],    
In asking their good loves; but thou wilt frame    
Thyself, forsooth [in truth], hereafter theirs, so far            105
As thou hast power and person.    
MENENIUS:  This but done,    
Even as she speaks, why, their hearts were yours;    
For they have pardons, being ask’d, as free 
[Line 109: For they will pardon you, if asked, as freely] 
As words to little purpose.            110
VOLUMNIA:  Prithee now,    
Go, and be rul’d; although I know thou hadst rather    
Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf [into a fiery chasm; into a fiery whirlpool]  
Than flatter him in a bower. Here is Cominius.    
 
Enter COMINIUS.              115

COMINIUS:  I have been i’ the market-place; and, sir, ’tis fit    
You make strong party [you have supporters to back you up], or defend yourself    
By calmness or by absence: all’s in anger.    
MENENIUS:  Only fair speech.    
COMINIUS:  I think ’twill serve if he            120
Can thereto frame his spirit.    
VOLUMNIA:  He must, and will.    
Prithee now, say you will, and go about it.    
CORIOLANUS:  Must I go show them my unbarbed sconce?
[my unbarbed sconce: Without a helmet to protect my head]   
Must I with my base tongue give to my noble heart            125
A lie that it must bear? Well, I will do ’t:    
Yet, were there but this single plot [body] to lose,    
This mould [shape; form; body] of Marcius, they to dust should grind it,    
And throw ’t against the wind. To the market-place!    
You have put me now to such a part [actor's role] which never            130
I shall discharge to the life [shall act realistically].    
COMINIUS:  Come, come, we’ll prompt you.    
VOLUMNIA:  I prithee now, sweet son, as thou hast said    
My praises made thee first a soldier, so,    
To have my praise for this, perform a part            135
Thou hast not done before.    
CORIOLANUS:  Well, I must do ’t:    
Away, my disposition, and possess me    
Some harlot’s spirit! My throat of war be turn’d,    
Which quired [sang] with my drum, into a pipe [voice]            140
Small as a eunuch [eunuch's], or the virgin voice    
That babies lulls [that lulls babies] asleep! The smiles of knaves    
Tent [camp] in my cheeks, and school-boys’ tears take up    
The glasses of my sight [surface of my eyes]! A beggar’s tongue    
Make motion through my lips, and my arm’d knees,            145
Who [which] bow’d but [only] in my stirrup, bend like his    
That hath receiv’d an alms! I will not do ’t,    
Lest I surcease [cease] to honour mine own truth,    
And by my body’s action teach my mind    
A most inherent baseness.            150
VOLUMNIA:  At thy choice then:    
To beg of thee it is my more dishonour    
Than thou of them. Come all to ruin; let  
[Lines152-153: It is a greater dishonor for me to plead with you than it is for you to plead with the commoners. All will come to ruin.]
Thy mother rather feel [endure] thy pride than fear    
Thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death            155
With as big heart as thou. Do as thou list [wish],    
Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck’dst [sucked] it from me,    
But owe [own] thy pride thyself.    
CORIOLANUS:  Pray, be content:    
Mother, I am going to the market-place;            160
Chide me no more. I’ll mountebank their loves,
[mountebank . . . loves: Solicit their approval with false promises]  
Cog [coax; win] their hearts from them, and come home belov’d    
Of all the trades in Rome. Look, I am going:    
Commend me to my wife. I’ll return consul,    
Or never trust to what my tongue can do            165
I’ the way of flattery further.    
VOLUMNIA:  Do your will.  [Exit.    
COMINIUS:  Away! the tribunes do attend you: arm yourself    
To answer mildly; for they are prepar’d    
With accusations, as I hear, more strong            170
Than are upon you yet.    
MENENIUS:  The word is ‘mildly.’    
CORIOLANUS:  Pray you, let us go:    
Let them accuse me by invention, I    
Will answer in mine honour.            175
[Lines 174-175: If they accuse me with invented lies, I will answer according to my honor.]
MENENIUS:  Ay, but mildly.    
CORIOLANUS:  Well, mildly be it then. Mildly!  [Exeunt.

Act 3, Scene 3

Rome. The Forum.
Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS.

BRUTUS: In this point charge him home, that he affects   
Tyrannical power: if he evade us there, 
[Lines 3-4:  On this point, be strong and unyielding—namely, that he wants to become a dictator, a tyrant.]
Enforce him with his envy to the people,            5
[Line 5: Condemn him by emphasizing how much he hates the people]
And that the spoil got on the Antiates
Was ne’er distributed.—   
[Lines 6-7: And that the spoil (treasure; property) seized from the citizens of Antiates was never distributed.]
 
Enter an Aedile.
   
What, will he come?   
AEDILE:  He’s coming.            10
BRUTUS:  How accompanied?   
AEDILE:  With old Menenius, and those senators   
That always favour’d him.   
SICINIUS:  Have you a catalogue   
Of all the voices [votes] that we have procur’d,            15
Set down by the poll?   
AEDILE:  I have; ’tis ready.   
SICINIUS:  Have you collected them by tribes?   
AEDILE:  I have.   
SICINIUS:  Assemble presently the people hither [here];            20
And when they hear me say, ‘It shall be so,   
I’ the right and strength o’ the commons,’ be it either   
For death, for fine, or banishment, then let them,   
If I say, fine, cry ‘fine,’—if death, cry ‘death,’   
Insisting on the old prerogative [right; entitlement]           25
And power i’ the truth o’ the cause.   
AEDILE:  I shall inform them.   
BRUTUS:  And when such time they have begun to cry,   
Let them not cease, but with a din confus’d   
Enforce the present execution            30
Of what we chance to sentence.   
[Lines 28-31: And when they begin to cry out, let them keep it up. Amid all the noise, see that the sentence we pronounce is carried out.]
AEDILE:  Very well.   
SICINIUS:  Make them be strong and ready for this hint [ready for this cue],   
When we shall hap [seize the occasion] to give ’t [give it to] them.   
BRUTUS:   Go about it.  [Exit Aedile.            35
Put him to choler [make him angry] straight. He hath been us’d   
Ever to conquer, and to have his worth   
Of contradiction: being once chaf’d, he cannot
Be rein’d again to temperance; then he speaks   
[and to have . . . temperance: And to have his fill of being the boss. Being once angered, he cannot calm himself so easily.]  
What’s in his heart; and that is there which looks            40
With us to break his neck.   
SICINIUS:  Well, here he comes.   
 
Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, COMINIUS, Senators, and Patricians.
   
MENENIUS:  Calmly, I do beseech you.   
CORIOLANUS:  Ay, as an ostler, that for the poorest piece            45
Will bear the knave by the volume. The honour’d gods   
[Lines 45-46: Yes, I will be as calm as as a man who tends horses in a stable. For a mere penny, I will endure being called a knave a hundred times. The honored gods]
Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice   
Supplied with worthy men! plant love among us!   
Throng our large temples with the shows [rituals] of peace,   
And not our streets with war!            50
FIRST SENATOR: Amen, amen.   
MENENIUS:  A noble wish.   
 
Re-enter Aedile, with Citizens.
   
SICINIUS:  Draw near, ye people.   
AEDILE:  List to your tribunes; audience; peace! I say.            55
[Line 55: Listen to your tribunes, people. Be calm and attentive.]
CORIOLANUS:  First, hear me speak.   
BOTH TRIBUNES:  Well, say. Peace, ho!   
CORIOLANUS:  Shall I be charg’d no further than this present?   
Must all determine here?  
[Lines 58-59: Will this matter be concluded here at the present time?]
SICINIUS:  I do demand,            60
If you submit you [yourself] to the people’s voices,   
Allow [acknowledge; recognize; respect] their officers, and are content   
To suffer lawful censure [judgment] for such faults   
As shall be prov’d upon you?   
CORIOLANUS:  I am content.            65
MENENIUS:  Lo! citizens, he says he is content:   
The war-like service he has done, consider; think   
Upon the wounds his body bears, which show   
Like graves i’ the holy churchyard.   
CORIOLANUS:  Scratches with briers,            70
Scars to move [cause] laughter only.   
MENENIUS:  Consider further,   
That when he speaks not like a citizen,   
You find him like a soldier: do not take   
His rougher accents for malicious sounds,            75
But, as I say, such as become a soldier,   
Rather than envy you [rather than indicating hatred for you].   
COMINIUS:  Well, well; no more.   
CORIOLANUS:  What is the matter,   
That being pass’d for consul with full voice [approval]           80
I am so dishonour’d that the very hour   
You take it off again [you withdraw it]?   
SICINIUS:  Answer to us.   
CORIOLANUS:  Say, then: ’tis true, I ought so.   
SICINIUS:  We charge you, that you have contriv’d to take            85
From Rome all season’d [established; long-standing] office, and to wind [make]  
Yourself into a power tyrannical;   
For which you are a traitor to the people.   
CORIOLANUS: How! Traitor!   
MENENIUS: Nay, temperately; your promise.            90
[Line 90: Be calm. Remember your promise.]
CORIOLANUS:  The fires i’ the lowest hell fold-in the people! 
[Line 91: May the people burn in the fires of the lowest hell.] 
Call me their traitor! Thou injurious [contemptuous; insulting] tribune!   
Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths,   
In thy hands clutch’d as many millions, in   
Thy lying tongue both numbers, I would say            95
‘Thou liest’ unto thee with a voice as free   
As I do pray the gods.   
[Lines 93-97: Even if your eyes and hands could kill numberless men, I would say that you are a liar. You lie with as free a voice as mine when I pray to the gods.]
SICINIUS: Mark you this, people?   
CITIZENS:  To the rock!—to the rock with him!
[rock: The Tarpeian rock]   
SICINIUS: Peace!            100
We need not put new matter to his charge:   
What you have seen him do, and heard him speak,   
Beating your officers, cursing yourselves,   
Opposing laws with strokes, and here defying   
Those whose great power must try him; even this,            105
So criminal and in such capital [deserving a death penalty] kind ,   
Deserves the extremest death.   
BRUTUS: But since he hath   
Serv’d well for Rome,—   
CORIOLANUS: What do you prate of service?            110
[Line 110: What do you know of service to Rome?]
BRUTUS:  I talk of that, that know it.   
CORIOLANUS: You!   
MENENIUS:  Is this the promise that you made your mother?   
COMINIUS:  Know, I pray you,—   
CORIOLANUS: I’ll know no further:            115
Let them pronounce the steep Tarpeian death,   
Vagabond exile, flaying, pent [caged; closed in] to linger   
But with a grain a day, I would not buy   
Their mercy at the price of one fair word,   
Nor check [hold back; restrain; bridle] my courage [boldness; spirit; freedom] for what they can give,         120
To have ’t with saying ‘Good morrow.’   
SICINIUS: For that he has,—   
As much as in him lies,—from time to time   
Envied against [displayed hatred for] the people, seeking means   
To pluck away their power, as now at last            125
Given hostile strokes, and that not in the presence   
Of dreaded justice, but on the ministers   
That do distribute it; in the name o’ the people,   
And in the power of us the tribunes, we,   
Even from this instant, banish him [from] our city,            130
In peril of precipitation [being thrown]  
From off the rock Tarpeian, never more   
To enter our Rome gates: i’ the people’s name,   
I say, it shall be so.   
CITIZENS:  It shall be so,—It shall be so,—Let him away.—            135
He’s banish’d, and it shall be so.   
COMINIUS:  Hear me, my masters, and my common friends,—   
SICINIUS:  He’s sentenc’d; no more hearing.   
COMINIUS:  Let me speak:   
I have been consul, and can show for Rome            140
Her enemies’ marks upon me. I do love   
My country’s good with a respect more tender,   
More holy, and profound, than mine own life,   
My dear wife’s estimate [reputation; honor], her womb’s increase,   
And treasure of my loins; then if I would            145
[womb's . . . loins: The children I fathered]
Speak that—   
SICINIUS:  We know your drift: speak what?   
BRUTUS:  There’s no more to be said, but he is banish’d,   
As enemy to the people and his country:   
It shall be so.            150
CITIZENS:  It shall be so,—it shall be so.   
CORIOLANUS:  You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate   
As reek [the stink] o’ the rotten fens [marshes; swamps; bogs], whose loves [opinions] I prize   
As the dead carcasses of unburied men   
That do corrupt my air, I banish you;            155
And here remain with your uncertainty!  
[Line 156: May you remain here in confusion]
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!   
Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes [the plumes on their helmets],   
Fan you into despair! Have the power still   
To banish your defenders; till at length            160
Your ignorance,—which finds not, till it feels
Making but reservation of yourselves,—   
Still your own foes,—deliver you as most   
Abated captives to some nation   
That won you without blows! Despising,            165
[Lines 158-165: Merely by waving the plumes on their helmets, your enemies will fan you into despair. But you unwisely banish your defenders. Your stupidity will make you captives of a nation that conquered you without striking a blow.]
For you, the city, thus I turn my back:   
There is a world elsewhere.  [Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, MENENIUS, Senators, and Patricians.   
AEDILE:  The people’s enemy is gone, is gone!   
CITIZENS:  Our enemy is banish’d!—he is gone!—Hoo! hoo!  [They all shout and throw up their caps.   
SICINIUS:  Go, see him out at gates, and follow him,            170
As he hath follow’d you, with all despite;   
Give him deserv’d vexation. Let a guard   
Attend us through the city.   
CITIZENS:  Come, come,—let us see him out at gates! come!   
The gods preserve our noble tribunes! Come!  [Exeunt.            175

Act 4, Scene 1

Rome. Before a gate of the city.
Enter CORIOLANUS, VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, MENENIUS, COMINIUS, and several young Patricians.

CORIOLANUS:  Come, leave your tears: a brief farewell: the beast   
With many heads butts me away. Nay, mother, 
[Lines 3-4: Let's have a brief farewell with no tears. The commoners ("beast with many heads") have rejected me.] 
Where is your ancient [previous; former] courage? you were us’d            5
To say extremity was the trier of spirits;   
[Lines 5-6: Where is that old courage you exhibited when you used to tell me that extreme difficulties or perils were what tested the spirit?]
That common chances common men could bear;   
That when the sea was calm all boats alike   
Show’d mastership in floating; fortune’s blows,   
When most struck home, being gentle wounded, craves            10
A noble cunning: you were us’d to load me   
With precepts that would make invincible 
The heart that conned them.
[fortune's blows . . . conned them: When ill fortune wounds you, your nobility—with all the skills it gives you—should enable you to bear it with gentlemanly calm. That was what you told me. And you used to instill in me wise advice and principles that would make invincible the heart that learned them.]
VIRGILIA:  O heavens! O heavens!   
CORIOLANUS:  Nay, I prithee [pray thee; beg you], woman,—            15
VOLUMNIA:  Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome,   
And occupations perish!   
[Lines 16-17: Now may the plague strike all the tradesmen in Rome. I hope all occupations perish!]
CORIOLANUS:   What, what, what!   
I shall be lov’d when I am lack’d [missing]. Nay, mother,   
Resume that spirit, when you were wont to say,            20
If you had been the wife of Hercules,   
Six of his labours you’d have done, and sav’d   
Your husband so much sweat. Cominius,  
[labours: Hercules was famous for his his completion of twelve seemingly impossible labors, including slaying a lion and killing a nine-headed monster.]
Droop not; adieu [French for good-bye]. Farewell, my wife! my mother!   
I’ll do well yet. Thou old and true Menenius,            25
Thy tears are salter [saltier] than a younger man’s.   
And venomous to thine eyes. My sometime general [Cominius],   
I have seen thee stern, and thou hast oft beheld   
Heart-hardening spectacles; tell these sad women   
’Tis fond [as foolish; as stupid] to wail inevitable strokes            30
As ’tis to laugh at them. My mother, you wot [know] well   
My hazards still [always] have been your solace; and   
Believe ’t [it] not lightly,—though I go alone   
Like to a lonely dragon, that his fen   
Makes fear’d [makes it feared] and talk’d of more than seen,—your son            35
Will or [either] exceed the common or be caught   
With cautelous [cunning; tricky] baits and practice. 
VOLUMNIA:  My first son,   
Whither wilt thou go? Take good Cominius   
With thee awhile: determine on some course,            40
More than a wild exposture [exposure] to each chance   
That starts i’ the way before thee.   
CORIOLANUS:   O the gods!   
COMINIUS:  I’ll follow thee a month, devise with thee   
Where thou shalt rest, that thou mayst hear of us,            45
And we of thee: so, if the time thrust forth   
A cause for thy repeal, we shall not send   
[A cause . . . repeal: A reason to end your banishment]
O’er the vast world to seek a single man,   
And lose advantage, which doth ever cool   
In the absence of the needer.            50
CORIOLANUS:  Fare ye well:   
Thou hast years upon thee; and thou art too full   
Of the wars’ surfeits, to go rove with one  
[Lines 52-53: You're getting up in years and are too tired of the hardships of war to go off with me]
That’s yet unbruis’d: bring me but out at [of the] gate.   
Come, my sweet wife, my dearest mother, and            55
My friends of noble touch, when I am forth,   
Bid me farewell, and smile. I pray you, come.   
While I remain above the ground [while I remain alive]  you shall   
Hear from me still; and never of me aught [anything]   
But what is like me formerly.            60
MENENIUS:   That’s worthily   
As any ear can hear. Come, let’s not weep.   
If I could shake off but one seven years   
From these old arms and legs, by the good gods,   
I’d [go] with thee every foot.            65
CORIOLANUS:  Give me thy hand:   
Come.  [Exeunt.   

Act 4, Scene 2

Rome. A street near the gate.
Enter SICINIUS, BRUTUS, and an Aedile.

SICINIUS:  Bid them all home; he’s gone, and we’ll [go] no further.   
The nobility are vex’d, whom we see have sided   
In his behalf.            5
BRUTUS:  Now we have shown our power,   
Let us seem humbler after it is done   
Than when it was a-doing.   
SICINIUS:  Bid them home;   
Say their great enemy is gone, and they            10
Stand in their ancient strength.   
BRUTUS:  Dismiss them home.  [Exit Aedile.   
 
Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, and MENENIUS.

Here comes his mother.   
SICINIUS:  Let’s not meet her.            15
BRUTUS:  Why?   
SICINIUS:  They say she’s mad.   
BRUTUS:  They have ta’en note of us: keep on your way.   
VOLUMNIA:  O! you’re well met. The hoarded plague o’ the gods   
Requite your love!            20
[Lines 19-20: O! I'm glad we ran into you villainous tribunes. I hope the gods repay you for your treatment of my son with all the evil plagues they keep to punish people like you.]
MENENIUS:  Peace, peace! be not so loud.   
VOLUMNIA:  If that I could for weeping, you should hear,—   
Nay, and you shall hear some.  [To BRUTUS.]  Will you be gone?   
VIRGILIA:  [To SICINIUS.]  You shall stay too. I would I had the power   
To say so to my husband.            25
SICINIUS: [To VOLUMNIA]  Are you mankind?
[mankind: Sicinius is asking Volumnia sarcastically whether she is a man. Her boldness and outspokenness cause him to make the comment.] 
VOLUMNIA:  Ay, fool; is that a shame? Note but this fool.   
Was not a man my father? Hadst thou foxship [slyness; cunning]  
To banish him that struck more blows for Rome   
Than thou hast spoken words?            30
SICINIUS:  O blessed heavens!   
VOLUMNIA:  More noble blows than ever thou wise words;   
And for Rome’s good. I’ll tell thee what [what's what; a thing or two]; yet go:   
Nay, but thou shalt stay too: I would my son   
Were in Arabia, and thy tribe before him,            35
His good sword in his hand. 
[I would my . . . his hand: I wish my son were in a barren desert, sword in hand, with you and your supporters.] 
SICINIUS:  What then?   
VIRGILIA:  What then!   
He’d make an end of thy posterity.
[Line 39: He'd kill you, preventing you from fathering offspring.]  
VOLUMNIA:  Bastards and all.            40
Good man, the wounds that he does bear for Rome!   
MENENIUS:  Come, come: peace!   
SICINIUS:  I would he had continu’d to his country   
As he began, and not unknit himself   
The noble knot he made.            45
[Lines 43-45: I wish he had remained a noble man instead of becoming a rebellious troublemaker.]
BRUTUS:  I would he had.   
VOLUMNIA:  ‘I would he had!’ ’Twas you incens’d the rabble:   
Cats, that can judge as fitly of his worth   
As I can of those mysteries which heaven   
Will not have earth to know.            50
['Twas you . . . earth to know: It was you who incited the rabble against him. These commoners have no more ability to judge his worth than I do in trying to solve the mysteries of heaven.]
BRUTUS:  Pray, let us go.   
VOLUMNIA:  Now, pray, sir, get you gone:   
You have done a brave deed. Ere [before] you go, hear this:   
As far as doth the Capitol exceed   
The meanest [humblest; lowliest] house in Rome, so far my son,—            55
This lady’s husband here, this, do you see,—   
Whom you have banish’d, does exceed you all.   
BRUTUS:  Well, well, we’ll leave you.   
SICINIUS:  Why stay we to be baited   
With one that wants her wits?            60
VOLUMNIA:  Take my prayers with you.  [Exeunt Tribunes.   
I would the gods had nothing else to do   
But to confirm my curses! Could I meet ’em   
But once a day, it would unclog my heart   
Of what lies heavy to ’t.            65
MENENIUS:  You have told them home [told them off; scolded them],   
And, by my troth [by heavens], you have cause. You’ll sup with me?   
VOLUMNIA:  Anger’s my meat; I sup upon myself,   
And so shall starve with feeding. Come, let’s go.   
Leave this faint puling [whining; complaining] and lament as I do,            70
In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.  
[Juno: In ancient mythology, the Roman name for the queen of the gods. Her Greek name was Hera.]
MENENIUS:  Fie, fie, fie!  [Exeunt.   

Act 4, Scene 3

A highway between Rome and Antium [present-day Anzio, Italy].
Enter a Roman and a Volsce [Volscian], meeting.

ROMAN:  I know you well, sir, and you know me: your name I think is Adrian.   
VOLSCIAN:  It is so, sir: truly, I have forgot you.   
ROMAN:  I am a Roman; and my services are, as you are, against ’em: know you me yet?            5
VOLSCIAN:  Nicanor? No.   
ROMAN:  The same, sir.   
VOLSCIAN:  You had more beard, when I last saw you; but your favour [appearance] is well approved by your tongue. What’s the news in Rome? I have a note [I have orders] from the Volscian state to find you out there: you have well saved me a day’s journey.   
ROMAN:  There hath been in Rome strange insurrections: the people against the senators, patricians, and nobles.   
VOLSCIAN:  Hath been! Is it ended then? Our state thinks not so; they are in a most war-like preparation, and hope to come upon them in the heat of their division.            10
ROMAN:  The main blaze of it is past, but a small thing would make it flame again. For the nobles receive so to heart the banishment of that worthy Coriolanus, that they are in a ripe aptness to take all power from the people and to pluck from them their tribunes for ever. This lies glowing [like a smoldering fire], I can tell you, and is almost mature for the violent breaking out.   
VOLSCIAN:  Coriolanus banished!   
ROMAN:  Banished, sir.   
VOLSCIAN:  You will be welcome with this intelligence, Nicanor.   
ROMAN:  The day [this moment; this interval] serves well for them [Volscian soldiers] now. I have heard it said, the fittest time to corrupt a man’s wife is when she’s fallen out with her husband. Your noble Tullus Aufidius will appear well in these wars, his great opposer, Coriolanus, being now in no request of [being rejected by] his country.            15
VOLSCIAN:  He cannot choose. I am most fortunate, thus accidentally to encounter you: you have ended my business, and I will merrily accompany you home.   
ROMAN:  I shall, between this and supper, tell you most strange things from Rome; all tending to the good of their adversaries. Have you an army ready, say you?   
VOLSCIAN:  A most royal one: the centurions and their charges [troops] distinctly [individually] billeted [camped; lodged], already in the entertainment [already standing ready to fight], and to be on foot at an hour’s warning.   
ROMAN:  I am joyful to hear of their readiness, and am the man, I think, that shall set them in present action. So, sir, heartily well met, and most glad of your company.   
VOLSCIAN:  You take my part from me, sir; I have the most cause to be glad of yours.            20
ROMAN:  Well, let us go together.  [Exeunt.   

Act 4, Scene 4

Antium. Before AUFIDIUS' house.
Enter CORIOLANUS, in mean apparel, disguised and muffled.

CORIOLANUS:  A goodly city is this Antium. City,   
’Tis I that made thy widows: many an heir   
Of these fair edifices ’fore my wars [before my deadly blows on the battlefield]           5
Have I heard groan and drop: then, know me not,   
Lest that thy wives with spits and boys with stones   
[spits: Metal rods on which meat was roasted. The wives could use them as weapons.]
In puny battle slay me.   
 
Enter a Citizen.

Save you, sir.            10
[Line 10: May God save you, sir (a greeting).]
CITIZEN:  And you.   
CORIOLANUS:  Direct me, if it be your will,   
Where great Aufidius lies. Is he in Antium?   
CITIZEN:  He is, and feasts the nobles of the state   
At his house this night.            15
CORIOLANUS:  Which is his house, beseech you?   
CITIZEN:  This, here before you.   
CORIOLANUS:   Thank you, sir. Farewell.  [Exit Citizen.   
O world! thy slippery turns. Friends now fast sworn,   
Whose double bosoms seem to wear one heart,            20
Whose hours, whose bed, whose meal, and exercise,   
Are still together, who twin, as ’twere, in love   
Unseparable, shall within this hour,   
On a dissension of a doit, break out   
To bitterest enmity: so, fellest [deadliest] foes,            25
Whose passions and whose plots have broke their sleep   
To take the one the other, by some chance,   
Some trick not worth an egg, shall grow dear friends   
And interjoin their issues. So with me:   
My birth-place hate I, and my love’s upon            30
This enemy town. I’ll enter: if he slay me,   
He does fair justice; if he give me way,   
I’ll do his country service.  [Exit.   
[Lines 19-33: Coriolanus delivers a short monologue on how the closest of friends can become bitter enemies over a trivial issue and how changing circumstances can make bitter enemies close friends. Coriolanus hopes to make friends with Aufidius, the leader of the Volscian enemies of Rome.]

Act 4, Scene 5

Antium. A hall in AUFIDIUS' house.
Music within.  Enter a Servingman.

FIRST SERVANT:  Wine, wine, wine! What service is here! I think our fellows are asleep.  [Exit.    
 
Enter a Second Servingman.

SECOND SERVANT:  Where’s Cotus? my master calls for him. Cotus!  [Exit.            5
 
Enter CORIOLANUS.

CORIOLANUS:  A goodly house: the feast smells well; but I    
Appear not like a guest.    
 
Re-enter the First Servingman.

FIRST SERVANT:  What would you have, friend? Whence are you? Here’s no place for you: pray, go to the door.  [Exit.            10
CORIOLANUS:  I have deserv’d no better entertainment,    
In being Coriolanus.    
 
Re-enter Second Servingman.

SECOND SERVANT:  Whence are you, sir? Has the porter his eyes in his head, that he gives entrance to such companions? Pray, get you out.    
CORIOLANUS:  Away!            15
SECOND SERVANT:  ‘Away!’ Get you away.    
CORIOLANUS:  Now, thou art troublesome.    
SECOND SERVANT:  Are you so brave? I’ll have you talked with anon [soon].    
 
Enter a Third Servingman.  Re-enter the First.

THIRD SERVANT:  What fellow’s this?            20
FIRST SERVANT:  A strange one as ever I looked on: I cannot get him out o’ the house: prithee [please], call my master to him.    
THIRD SERVANT:  What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you, avoid [leave] the house.    
CORIOLANUS:  Let me but stand; I will not hurt your hearth.    
THIRD SERVANT:  What are you?    
CORIOLANUS:  A gentleman.            25
THIRD SERVANT:  A marvellous poor one.    
CORIOLANUS:  True, so I am.    
THIRD SERVANT:  Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other station; here’s no place for you; pray you, avoid: come.    
CORIOLANUS:  Follow your function [go back to your work]; go, and batten on cold bits [go, and fatten yourself on food scraps].  [Pushes him away.    
THIRD SERVANT:  What, you will not? Prithee, tell my master what a strange guest he has here.            30
SECOND SERVANT:  And I shall.  [Exit.    
THIRD SERVANT:  Where dwell’st thou?    
CORIOLANUS:  Under the canopy.    
THIRD SERVANT:  ‘Under the canopy [sky; heavens]!   
CORIOLANUS:  Ay.            35
THIRD SERVANT:  Where’s that?    
CORIOLANUS:  I’ the city of kites and crows.    
THIRD SERVANT:  ‘I’ the city of kites [birds of prey] and crows!’ What an ass it is! Then thou dwell’st with daws [jackdaws, which are similar to crows] too?    
CORIOLANUS:  No; I serve not thy master.    
THIRD SERVANT:  How sir! Do you meddle with my master?            40
CORIOLANUS:  Ay; ’tis an honester service than to meddle with thy mistress.    
Thou prat’st, and prat’st [pratest, or prate: talk idly]: serve with thy trencher [wooden platter of food]. Hence [go].  [Beats him away.    
 
Enter AUFIDIUS and First Servingman.

AUFIDIUS:  Where is this fellow?    
SECOND SERVANT:  Here, sir: I’d have beaten him like a dog, but for disturbing the lords within.            45
AUFIDIUS:  Whence com’st thou [Where do you come from]? what wouldst thou [what do you want]? Thy name?    
Why speak’st not? Speak, man: what’s thy name?    
CORIOLANUS:  [Unmuffling.]  If, Tullus,    
Not yet thou know’st me, and, seeing me, dost not    
Think me for the man I am, necessity            50
Commands me name myself.    
AUFIDIUS:  What is thy name?  [Servants retire.    
CORIOLANUS:  A name unmusical to the Volscians’ ears,    
And harsh in sound to thine.    
AUFIDIUS:  Say, what’s thy name?            55
Thou hast a grim appearance, and thy face    
Bears a command in ’t; though thy tackle’s torn,    
Thou show’st a noble vessel [appearance]. What’s thy name?    
CORIOLANUS:  Prepare thy brow to frown. Know’st thou me yet?    
AUFIDIUS:  I know thee not. Thy name?            60
CORIOLANUS:  My name is Caius Marcius, who hath done    
To thee particularly, and to all the Volsces,    
Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness may    
My surname, Coriolanus: the painful service,    
The extreme dangers, and the drops of blood            65
Shed for my thankless country, are requited [paid back]   
But [only] with that surname; a good memory,    
And witness of the malice and displeasure    
Which thou shouldst bear me: only that name remains;    
The cruelty and envy of the people,            70
Permitted by our dastard [cowardly; contemptible] nobles, who   
Have all forsook me, hath devour’d the rest;    
And suffer’d me by the voice of slaves to be    
Whoop’d out of Rome. Now this extremity    
Hath brought me to thy hearth; not out of hope,            75
Mistake me not, to save my life; for if    
I had fear’d death, of all the men i’ the world    
I would have avoided thee; but in mere spite,    
To be full quit of those my banishers,    
Stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast            80
A heart of wreak [vengeance] in thee, that will revenge    
Thine own particular wrongs and stop those maims    
Of shame seen through thy country, speed thee straight,    
And make my misery serve thy turn: so use it,    
That my revengeful services may prove            85
As benefits to thee, for I will fight    
Against my canker’d [rotten with injustice and ingratitude] country with the spleen [spirit; vigor; wrath] 
Of all the underfiends [demons in hell]. But if so be    
Thou dar’st [dare] not this, and that to prove more fortunes    
Thou art tir’d, then, in a word, I also am            90
Longer to live most weary, and present    
My throat to thee and to thy ancient malice;    
Which not to cut would show thee but a fool,    
Since I have ever follow’d thee with hate,    
Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country’s breast,            95
[tun: Cask that can hold 252 gallons of wine]
And cannot live but to thy shame, unless    
It be to do thee service.
[Lines 96-97: And while I live, I remind you of the shame you endured when I defeated you]  
AUFIDIUS: O Marcius, Marcius!    
Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded [pulled] from my heart    
A root of ancient envy [hatred]. If Jupiter            100
Should from yond [yonder] cloud speak divine things,    
And say, ‘’Tis true,’ I’d not believe them [the divine things, line 101] more    
Than thee, all noble Marcius. Let me twine    
Mine arms about that body, where against    
My grained ash a hundred times hath broke,            105
[ash: Strong but flexible wood. Ash here refers to the shaft of Aufidius's spear.]
And scarr’d the moon with splinters: here I clip    
The anvil of my sword, and do contest
[here I . . . sword: Here I embrace you Marcius. Clip means embrace; anvil is a metaphor for Martius, since he was the unyielding iron that Aufidius struck with his sword.]  
As hotly and as nobly with thy love    
As ever in ambitious strength I did    
Contend against thy valour. Know thou first,            110
I lov’d the maid I married; never man    
Sigh’d truer breath; but that I see thee here,    
Thou noble thing! more dances my rapt heart    
Than when I first my wedded mistress saw    
Bestride my threshold. Why, thou Mars! I tell thee,            115
We have a power on foot [an army on foot]; and I had purpose    
Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn, 
[hew . . . brawn: Strike your shield from your brawny arm] 
Or lose mine arm for ’t. Thou hast beat me out    
Twelve several [separate] times, and I have nightly since    
Dreamt of encounters ’twixt [between] thyself and me;            120
We have been down together in my sleep,    
Unbuckling helms [helmets], fisting each other’s throat,    
And wak’d half dead with nothing. Worthy Marcius,    
Had we no quarrel else to Rome, but that    
Thou art thence [from that place] banish’d, we would muster all            125
From twelve to seventy, and, pouring war    
Into the bowels of ungrateful Rome,    
Like a bold flood o’er-bear. O! come; go in,    
And take our friendly senators by the hands,    
Who now are here, taking their leaves of me,            130
Who am prepar’d against your territories,    
Though not for Rome itself.    
CORIOLANUS:  You bless me, gods!    
AUFIDIUS:  Therefore, most absolute [flawless; excellent] sir, if thou wilt have    
The leading of thine own revenges, take            135
The one half of my commission [army; force], and set down [and decide],    
As best thou art experienc’d, since thou know’st    
Thy country’s strength and weakness, thine own ways;    
Whether to knock against the gates of Rome,    
Or rudely visit [harass] them in parts remote,            140
To fright them, ere [before] destroy [destroying them]. But come in:    
Let me commend thee first to those that shall    
Say yea to thy desires. A thousand welcomes!    
And more a friend than e’er an enemy;    
Yet, Marcius, that was much. Your hand: most welcome!  [Exeunt CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS.            145
FIRST SERVANT:  [Advancing.]  Here’s a strange alteration!    
SECOND SERVANT:  By my hand, I had thought to have strucken [struck] him with a cudgel; and yet my mind gave me his clothes made a false report of him.
[my mind . . . him: My mind told me that his clothing did not reflect his nobility.]  
FIRST SERVANT:  What an arm he has! He turned me about with his finger and his thumb, as one would set up a top.    
SECOND SERVANT:  Nay, I knew by his face that there was something in him: he had, sir, a kind of face, methought,—I cannot tell how to term it.    
FIRST SERVANT:  He had so; looking as it were,—would I were hanged but I thought there was more in him than I could think.            150
SECOND SERVANT:  So did I, I’ll be sworn: he is simply the rarest man i’ the world.    
FIRST SERVANT:  I think he is; but a greater soldier than he you wot on [greater soldier than anyone you know of].    
SECOND SERVANT:  Who? my master?    
FIRST SERVANT:  Nay, it’s no matter for that.    
SECOND SERVANT:  Worth six on him.            155
FIRST SERVANT:  Nay, not so neither; but I take him to be the greater soldier.    
SECOND SERVANT:  Faith, look you, one cannot tell how to say that [how to compare them]: for the defence of a town our general is excellent.    
FIRST SERVANT:  Ay, and for an assault too.    
 
Re-enter Third Servingman.

THIRD SERVANT:  O slaves! I can tell you news; news, you rascals.            160
FIRST AND SECOND SERVANTS:  What, what, what? let’s partake.    
THIRD SERVANT:  I would not be a Roman, of all nations; I had as lief [readily] be a condemned man.    
FIRST AND SECOND SERVANTS:  Wherefore [why]? wherefore?    
THIRD SERVANT:  Why, here’s he that was wont to thwack [beat; thrash] our general, Caius Marcius.    
FIRST SERVANT:  Why do you say ‘thwack our general?’            165
THIRD SERVANT:  I do not say, ‘thwack our general;’ but he was always good enough for him.    
SECOND SERVANT:  Come, we are fellows and friends: he was ever too hard for him; I have heard him say so himself.    
FIRST SERVANT:  He was too hard for him,—directly to say the truth on ’t: before Corioli he scotched [cut] him and notched him like a carbonado [like a piece of meat ready to be roasted].    
SECOND SERVANT:  An [if] he had been cannibally given, he might have broiled and eaten him too.    
FIRST SERVANT:  But, more of thy news.            170
THIRD SERVANT:  Why, he is so made on here within, as if he were son and heir to Mars; set [placed] at upper end o’ the table; no question asked him by any of the senators, but they stand bald [hats removed out of respect] before him. Our general himself makes a mistress of him [treats him with deference]; sanctifies himself with’s hand [makes himself holy by touching his hand], and turns up the white o’ the eye to his discourse. But the bottom [essence; pith] of the news is, our general is cut i’ the middle, and but one half of what he was yesterday, for the other [Coriolanus] has half, by the entreaty and grant of the whole table. He’ll go, he says, and sowle [drag out; pull out] the porter of Rome gates by the ears: he will mow down all before him, and leave his passage polled [leave the way open, like a path cleared through a jungle].   
SECOND SERVANT:  And he’s as like to do ’t as any man I can imagine.    
THIRD SERVANT:  Do ’t! he will do ’t; for—look you, sir—he has as many friends as enemies; which friends, sir—as it were—durst [dare] not—look you, sir—show themselves—as we term it—his friends, whilst he’s in directitude.
[whilst . . . directitude: While he's directing his attention to the humiliation Rome imposed on him]
FIRST SERVANT:  Directitude! what’s that?    
SECOND SERVANT:  But when they shall see, sir, his crest up again, and the man in blood [at full strength], they will out of their burrows, like conies [rabbits] after rain, and revel all with him.            175
FIRST SERVANT:  But when goes this forward?    
THIRD SERVANT:  To-morrow; to-day; presently. You shall have the drum struck up this afternoon; ’tis, as it were, a parcel [part] of their feast, and to be executed ere [before] they wipe their lips.    
SECOND SERVANT:  Why, then we shall have a stirring world again. This peace is nothing but to rust iron, increase tailors, and breed ballad-makers.
[ballad-makers: Composers of ballads thrive in peacetime.]  
FIRST SERVANT:  Let me have war, say I; it exceeds peace as far as day does night; it’s spritely, waking, audible, and full of vent. Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy [dull and sluggish]; mulled [meditated on], deaf, sleepy, insensible; a getter of more bastard children than war’s a destroyer of men.    
SECOND SERVANT:  ’Tis so: and as war, in some sort, may be said to be a ravisher, so it cannot be denied but peace is a great maker of cuckolds [husbands whose wives cheat on them].            180
FIRST SERVANT:  Ay, and it makes men hate one another.    
THIRD SERVANT:  Reason: because they then less need one another. The wars for my money. I hope to see Romans as cheap as Volscians. They are rising [from the dinner table], they are rising.    
ALL: In, in, in, in!  [Exeunt.  

Act 4, Scene 6

Rome. A public place.
Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS.

SICINIUS:  We hear not of him, neither need we fear him;   
His remedies are tame i’ the present peace  
[Line 3-4: Not only have we heard nothing of him, but we also need not worry about any edicts he would have issued had he been elected a consul]. 
And quietness o’ the people, which before            5
Were in wild hurry [frenzy; uproar]. Here do we make his friends   
Blush that the world goes well, who rather had,   
Though they themselves did suffer by ’t, behold   
Dissentious numbers pestering streets, than see   
Our tradesmen singing in their shops and going            10
About their functions friendly.   
 
Enter MENENIUS.

BRUTUS:  We stood to ’t [we stood our ground] in good time. Is this Menenius?   
SICINIUS:  ’Tis he, ’tis he. O! he is grown most kind   
Of late. Hail, sir!            15
MENENIUS:  Hail to you both!   
SICINIUS:  Your Coriolanus is not much miss’d   
But with [except by] his friends: the commonwealth doth stand,   
And so would do, were he more angry at it.   
MENENIUS:  All’s well; and might have been much better, if            20
He could have temporiz’d [accommodated the people; compromised].   
SICINIUS:  Where is he, hear you?   
MENENIUS:  Nay, I hear nothing: his mother and his wife   
Hear nothing from him.   
 
Enter three or four Citizens.        25

CITIZENS:  The gods preserve you both!   
SICINIUS:  Good den [good day], our neighbours.   
BRUTUS:  Good den to you all, good den to you all.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees,   
Are bound to pray for you both.            30
SICINIUS:  Live, and thrive!   
BRUTUS:  Farewell, kind neighbours: we wish’d Coriolanus   
Had lov’d you as we did.   
CITIZENS:  Now the gods keep you!   
SICINIUS and BRUTUS: Farewell, farewell.  [Exeunt Citizens.            35
SICINIUS:  This is a happier and more comely time   
Than when these fellows ran about the streets   
Crying confusion.   
BRUTUS:  Caius Marcius was   
A worthy officer i’ the war; but insolent,            40
O’ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,   
Self-loving,—   
SICINIUS:  And affecting one sole throne,   
Without assistance.
[Lines 43-44: [And desiring to occupy a throne as king of Rome]  
MENENIUS:  I think not so.            45
SICINIUS:  We should by this, to all our lamentation,   
If he had gone forth consul, found it so.   
[Lines 46-47: On the contrary, we would have discovered to our great dismay that if he had become a consul, he would have seized all power.]
BRUTUS:  The gods have well prevented it, and Rome   
Sits safe and still without him.   
 
Enter an Aedile.          50

AEDILE:  Worthy tribunes,   
There is a slave, whom we have put in prison,   
Reports, the Volsces with two several powers   
Are enter’d in the Roman territories,   
And with the deepest malice of the war            55
Destroy what lies before them.   
MENENIUS:   ’Tis Aufidius,   
Who, hearing of our Marcius’ banishment,   
Thrusts forth his horns again into the world;   
Which were inshell’d when Marcius stood for Rome,            60
And durst not once peep out.   
SICINIUS:  Come, what talk you of Marcius?   
BRUTUS:  Go see this rumourer whipp’d. It cannot be   
The Volsces dare break [dare break the peace treaty] with us.   
MENENIUS:  Cannot be!            65
We have record that very well it can,   
And three examples of the like have been   
Within my age. But reason with the fellow,   
Before you punish him, where he heard this,   
Lest you shall chance to whip your information,            70
And beat the messenger who bids beware   
Of what is to be dreaded.   
SICINIUS:  Tell not me:   
I know this cannot be.   
BRUTUS:   Not possible.            75
 
Enter a Messenger.

MESSENGER:  The nobles in great earnestness are going   
All to the senate-house: some news is come,   
That turns their countenances [that attracts their attention].   
SICINIUS:  ’Tis this slave.—            80
Go whip him ’fore the people’s eyes: his raising;   
Nothing but his report.   
[Lines 81-82; Go whip him before the people, for he is trying to unnerve us with a false report.]
MESSENGER:  Yes, worthy sir,   
The slave’s report is seconded [endorsed; believed]; and more,   
More fearful, is deliver’d [spread throughout Rome].            85
SICINIUS:   What more fearful?   
MESSENGER:  It is spoke freely out of many mouths—   
How probable I do not know—that Marcius,   
Join’d with Aufidius, leads a power [army] ’gainst Rome,   
And vows revenge as spacious as between            90
The young’st and oldest thing.   
SICINIUS:  This is most likely.
[Line 92: Spoken sneeringly, with sarcasm.]  
BRUTUS:  Rais’d only, that the weaker sort may wish   
Good Marcius home again.   
[Lines 93-94: Marcius is spreading this rumor so that the Romans afraid of him will approve his return to Rome.]
SICINIUS:  The very trick on ’t.            95
[Line 95: Yes, it's a trick.]
MENENIUS:  This is unlikely:   
He and Aufidius can no more atone [reconcile],   
Than violentest contrariety [than the most violent enemies].  
 
Enter another Messenger.

SECOND MESSENGER:  You are sent for to the senate:            100
A fearful army, led by Caius Marcius,   
Associated with Aufidius, rages   
Upon our territories; and have already   
O’erborne [overrun everything in] their way, consum’d with fire, and took   
What lay before them.            105
 
Enter COMINIUS.

COMINIUS:  O! you have made good work! [Spoken sarcastically]  
MENENIUS:  What news? what news?   
COMINIUS:  You have holp to ravish your own daughters, and   
To melt the city leads upon your pates.            110
Lines 109-110: By incurring the wrath of Marcius, you have helped (holp) to ravish your own daughters. Meanwhile, the fires he sets while on the march will melt the metal roofs. Hot lead will spill onto your heads.]
To see your wives dishonour’d to your noses,—   
MENENIUS:  What’s the news? what’s the news?   
COMINIUS:  Your temples burned in their cement, and   
Your franchises [rights and privileges], whereon you stood, confin’d   
Into an auger’s bore [into a small hole].            115
MENENIUS:  Pray now, your news?—   
You have made fair work, I fear me. Pray, your news?   
If Marcius should be join’d with Volscians,—   
COMINIUS:  If!   
He is their god: he leads them like a thing            120
Made by some other deity than Nature,   
That shapes man better; and they follow him,   
Against us brats, with no less confidence   
Than boys pursuing summer butterflies,   
Or butchers killing flies.            125
MENENIUS:  You have made good work [spoken sarcastically],   
You, and your apron-men [craftsmen]; you that stood so much   
Upon the voice of occupation [commoners with jobs] and   
The breath of garlic-eaters!   
COMINIUS:  He will shake            130
Your Rome about your ears.   
MENENIUS:  As Hercules   
Did shake down mellow fruit. You have made fair work!   
[Lines 132-133: In ancient mythology, Hercules retrieved golden apples in a dangerous adventure as one of his fabled Twelve Labors.]
BRUTUS:  But is this true, sir?   
COMINIUS:  Ay; and you’ll look pale            135
Before you find it other. All the regions   
Do smilingly revolt; and who resist   
Are mock’d for valiant ignorance,   
And perish constant fools. Who is ’t can blame him?   
Your enemies, and his, find something in him.            140
MENENIUS:  We are all undone unless   
The noble man have mercy.   
COMINIUS:  Who shall ask it?   
The tribunes cannot do ’t for shame; the people   
Deserve such pity of him as the wolf            145
Does of the shepherds: for his best friends, if they   
Should say, ‘Be good to Rome,’ they charg’d [impugned; accused] him even   
As those should do that had deserv’d his hate,   
And therein show’d like enemies.   
MENENIUS:   ’Tis true:            150
If he were putting to my house the brand [torch; firebrand]   
That should consume it, I have not the face   
To say, ‘Beseech you, cease.’—You have made fair hands,   
You and your crafts! you have crafted fair!   
COMINIUS:  You have brought            155
A trembling upon Rome, such as was never   
So incapable of help.   
SICINIUS and BRUTUS:  Say not we brought it.   
MENENIUS:  How! Was it we? We lov’d him; but, like beasts   
And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters [mobs of commoners],            160
Who did hoot him out o’ the city.   
COMINIUS:  But I fear   
They’ll roar him in again. Tullus Aufidius,   
The second name of men [most feared warrior after Coriolanus], obeys his points [obeys Coriolanus's orders]  
As if he were his officer: desperation            165
Is all the policy, strength, and defence,   
That Rome can make against them.   
 
Enter a troop of Citizens.

MENENIUS:  Here come the clusters.   
And is Aufidius with him? You are they            170
That made the air unwholesome, when you cast   
Your stinking greasy caps in hooting at   
Coriolanus’ exile. Now he’s coming;   
And not a hair upon a soldier’s head   
Which will not prove a whip: as many coxcombs [jesters' hats]           175
As you threw caps up will he tumble down,   
And pay you for your voices. ’Tis no matter;   
If he could burn us all into one coal,   
We have deserv’d it.   
CITIZENS:  Faith, we hear fearful news.            180
FIRST CITIZEN:  For mine own part,   
When I said banish him, I said ’twas pity.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  And so did I.   
THIRD CITIZEN:  And so did I; and, to say the truth, so did very many of us. That we did we did for the best; and though we willingly consented to his banishment, yet it was against our will.   
COMINIUS:  You’re goodly things, you voices!            185
MENENIUS:   You have made   
Good work, you and your cry! Shall’s [shall we go] to the Capitol?   
COMINIUS:  O! ay; what else?  [Exeunt COMINIUS and MENENIUS.   
SICINIUS:  Go, masters, get you home; be not dismay’d:   
These are a side that would be glad to have            190
This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,   
And show no sign of fear.   
FIRST CITIZEN:  The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let’s home. I ever said we were i’ the wrong when we banished him.   
SECOND CITIZEN:  So did we all. But come, let’s home.  [Exeunt Citizens.   
BRUTUS:  I do not like this news.            195
SICINIUS:  Nor I.   
BRUTUS:  Let’s to the Capitol. Would half my wealth   
Would buy this for a lie!   
[Would . . . lie: I would give half my wealth if I could make this disturbing report turn out to be false.]
SICINIUS:  Pray let us go.  [Exeunt.   

Act 4, Scene 7

A camp at a small distance from Rome.
Enter AUFIDIUS and his lieutenant.

AUFIDIUS:  Do they [my soldiers] still fly to the Roman [Coriolanus]?   
LIEUTENANT:  I do not know what witchcraft’s in him, but   
Your soldiers use him as the grace ’fore meat,            5
Their talk at table, and their thanks at end;   
And you are darken’d [lessened in esteem] in this action, sir,   
Even by your own [your own soldiers].   
AUFIDIUS:  I cannot help it now,   
Unless, by using means, I lame the foot            10
Of our design. He bears himself more proudlier,   
Even to my person, than I thought he would   
When first I did embrace him; yet his nature   
In that’s no changeling, and I must excuse   
What cannot be amended.            15
[Lines 9-15: I cannot do anything about that unless I undermine our war plans. He bears himself more proudly, even to me, than I thought he would when I first greeted him as a friend. But that's his nature. That's the way he always acts. So the plan must go forward.]
LIEUTENANT:  Yet, I wish, sir,—   
I mean for your particular [for your particular honor and reputation],—you had not   
Join’d in commission [joined in partnership] with him; but either   
Had borne the action of yourself, or else   
To him had left it solely.            20
AUFIDIUS:  I understand thee well; and be thou sure,   
When he shall come to his account, he knows not   
[When . . . account: When the time comes for him to settle accounts with me and our state]
What I can urge against him. Although it seems,   
And so he thinks, and is no less apparent   
To the vulgar eye, that he bears all things fairly,            25
And shows good husbandry [leadership; management] for the Volscian state,   
Fights dragon-like, and does achieve as soon   
As draw his sword; yet he hath left undone   
That which shall break his neck or hazard mine,   
Whene’er we come to our account.            30
LIEUTENANT:  Sir, I beseech you, think you he’ll carry Rome?   
AUFIDIUS:  All places yield to him ere [before] he sits down;   
And the nobility of Rome are his:   
The senators and patricians love him too:   
The tribunes are no soldiers; and their people            35
Will be as rash in the repeal as hasty   
To expel him thence. I think he’ll be to Rome 
[and their . . . thence: And their people will be as rash in calling him back from exile as they were hasty to expel him from Rome.] 
As is the osprey [bird of prey] to the fish, who takes it   
By sovereignty of nature [by the power nature gave him]. First he was 
A noble servant to them, but he could not            40
Carry his honours even [with a consistent temperament]; whether ’twas pride,   
Which out of daily fortune [success] ever taints   
The happy man; whether defect of judgment,   
To fail in the disposing of those chances   
Which he was lord of; or whether nature,            45
Not to be other than one thing, not moving   
From the casque [helmet of war] to the cushion [seat in government in peacetime], but commanding peace   
Even with the same austerity and garb   
As he controll’d the war; but one of these,   
As he hath spices of them all [as he has a mixture of all these defects], not all,            50
For I dare so far free him, made him fear’d,   
So hated, and so banish’d: but he has a merit   
To choke it in the utterance. So our virtues  
Lie in the interpretation of the time;   
[but he has . . . of the time: But he has such great merit that he should not have been banished. However, the Romans ignored his merits in favor of dwelling on his flaws.]
And power, unto itself most commendable,            55
Hath not a tomb so evident as a chair   
To extol what it hath done.  
[Lines 55-57: A man's power may be commendable. But when the man sits down on a chair and praises himself for his use of power, his chair becomes his ruin.]
One fire drives out one fire; one nail, one nail;   
Rights by rights falter, strengths by strengths do fail.   
Come, let’s away. When, Caius, Rome is thine,            60
Thou art poor’st of all; then shortly art thou mine.  [Exeunt.   

Act 5, Scene 1

Rome. A public place.
Enter MENENIUS, COMINIUS, SICINIUS, BRUTUS, and Others.
   
MENENIUS:  No, I’ll not go: you hear what he hath said   
Which was sometime [a time ago] his general [Cominius]; who lov’d him   
In a most dear particular. He call’d me father:            5
[Lines 3-5: No, I won't go. You heard what he said, you who were his general sometime ago and loved him dearly.
But what o’ that? [To the tribunes] Go, you that banish’d him;   
A mile before his tent fall down, and knee   
The way into his mercy. Nay, if he coy’d
To hear Cominius speak, I’ll keep at home.   
[Lines 7-9: A mile before you reach his tent, proceed to it on your knees in order to win his mercy (an obvious hyperbole). And if it's true that he pretended not to hear Cominius speak, I'll stay home.]
COMINIUS:  He would not seem to know me [he acted as if he did not know me].            10
MENENIUS:  Do you hear?   
COMINIUS:  Yet one time he did call me by my name.   
I urg’d our old acquaintance, and the drops   
That we have bled together. Coriolanus   
He would not answer to; forbade all names;            15
He was a kind of nothing, titleless,   
Till he had forg’d himself a name o’ the fire   
Of burning Rome.   
MENENIUS:  Why, so: you have made good work!   
A pair of tribunes that have rack’d [wracked: labored hard] for Rome,            20
To make coals cheap: a noble memory!   
COMINIUS:  I minded him how royal ’twas to pardon   
When it was less expected: he replied,   
It was a bare petition [insulting request; worthless request] of a state   
To one [Coriolanus] whom they had punish’d.            25
MENENIUS:  Very well.   
Could he say less?   
COMINIUS:  I offer’d to awaken his regard   
For’s [for his] private friends: his answer to me was,   
He could not stay to pick them in [from] a pile            30
Of noisome [stinking] musty chaff: he said ’twas folly,   
For one poor grain or two, to leave unburnt,   
And still to nose [smell] the offence.   
MENENIUS:  For one poor grain or two!   
I am one of those; his mother, wife, his child,            35
And this brave fellow too, we are the grains:   
You are the musty chaff, and you are smelt   
Above the moon. We must be burnt for you.   
SICINIUS:  Nay, pray, be patient: if you refuse your aid   
In this so-never-needed help [in our time of need], yet do not            40
Upbraid’s [criticize us; scold us] with our distress. But, sure, if you   
Would be your country’s pleader, your good tongue,   
More than the instant army we can make,   
Might stop our countryman.   
MENENIUS:  No; I’ll not meddle.            45
SICINIUS:  Pray you, go to him.   
MENENIUS:  What should I do?   
BRUTUS:  Only make trial what your love can do   
For Rome, towards Marcius.   
MENENIUS:  Well; and say [suppose] that Marcius            50
Return me, as Cominius is return’d,   
Unheard; what then?   
But as a discontented friend, grief-shot [full of grief]   
With his unkindness? say ’t be so?   
SICINIUS:  Yet your good will            55
Must have that thanks from Rome, after the measure   
As you intended well.   
MENENIUS:  I’ll undertake it:   
I think he’ll hear me. Yet, to bite his lip [to contain his anger],   
And hum at good Cominius, much unhearts [dismays; disheartens] me.            60
He was not taken well [not approached at the right time]; he had not dined:   
The veins unfill’d, our blood is cold, and then   
We pout upon the morning, are unapt   
To give or to forgive; but when we have stuff’d   
These pipes and these conveyances of our blood            65
[but when . . . blood: But when we have eaten well and thus fortified our blood]
With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls   
Than in our priest-like fasts: therefore, I’ll watch him   
Till he be dieted [fed] to my request,   
And then I’ll set upon him.   
BRUTUS:  You know the very road into his kindness,            70
And cannot lose your way.   
MENENIUS:  Good faith, I’ll prove [test] him,   
Speed how it will [no matter how things turn out]. I shall ere [before] long have knowledge   
Of my success [knowledge of whether I succeeded].  [Exit.   
COMINIUS:   He’ll never hear him.            75
SICINIUS:   Not?   
COMINIUS:  I tell you he does sit in gold [like a king on a golden throne], his eye   
Red as ’twould burn Rome, and his injury   
The gaoler to his pity. I kneel’d before him;   
[Lines 77-79: I tell you he sits like a king on a golden throne, his eye red as if he means to burn Rome. His hurt feelings are like a jailer that imprisons his pity. I knelt before him;]
’Twas very faintly he said ‘Rise;’ dismiss’d me            80
Thus, with his speechless hand: what he would do   
He sent in writing after me; what he would not [not do, he],   
Bound with an oath to yield to his conditions:   
So that all hope is vain   
Unless his noble mother and his wife,            85
Who, as I hear, mean to solicit him   
For mercy to his country. Therefore let’s hence [let's go],   
And with our fair entreaties haste [hasten] them on.  [Exeunt.   

Act 5, Scene 2

The Volscian camp before Rome. The Guards at their stations.
Enter to them, MENENIUS.

FIRST GUARD:  Stay! whence are you? [Stay! Where are you from?]  
SECOND GUARD:   Stand! and go back.   
MENENIUS:  You guard like men; ’tis well; but, by your leave,            5
I am an officer of state, and come   
To speak with Coriolanus.   
FIRST GUARD:  From whence?   
MENENIUS:   From Rome.   
FIRST GUARD:  You may not pass; you must return: our general            10
Will no more hear from thence [will not listen to anyone from that place].   
SECOND GUARD:  You’ll see your Rome embrac’d with fire before   
You’ll speak with Coriolanus.   
MENENIUS:   Good my friends [my good friends],   
If you have heard your general talk of Rome,            15
And of his friends there, it is lots [winning lottery tickets] to blanks [losing tickets]
My name hath touch’d your ears: it is Menenius.   
FIRST GUARD:  Be it so; go back: the virtue of your name   
Is not here passable [is not enough to allow you to enter].   
MENENIUS:  I tell thee, fellow,            20
Thy general is my lover [friend]: I have been   
The book [observer and recorder] of his good acts, whence [from where] men have read   
His fame unparallel’d, haply amplified [probably overstated];   
For I have ever glorified my friends—   
Of whom he’s chief—with all the size that verity [truth]            25
Would without lapsing suffer: nay, sometimes,   
Like to a bowl upon a subtle [uneven] ground,   
I have tumbled past the throw, and in his praise   
Have almost stamp’d the leasing [have almost turned an exaggeration or a lie into the truth]. Therefore, fellow,  I must have leave to pass.            30
FIRST GUARD:  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 [please], fellow, remember my name is Menenius, always factionary on [siding with; supporting] the party of your general.   
SECOND GUARD:  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 GUARD:  You are a Roman, are you?            35
MENENIUS:  I am as thy general is.   
FIRST GUARD:  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? [You should hate Rome, as Coriolanus does. You and the ignorant Roman commoners have banished him, an action which sent him to us, the Volscians. Do you now think you can stop his vengeance with the easy groans of old women, the virginal palms of young women, or the palsied intercession of such an old fool as you?] Can you think to 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 [has sworn you are not to receive] reprieve and pardon.   
MENENIUS:  Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he would use me with estimation [treat me respectfully].   
SECOND GUARD:  Come, my captain knows you not.   
MENENIUS:  I mean, thy general.            40
FIRST GUARD:  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 and AUFIDIUS.

CORIOLANUS:  What’s the matter?   
MENENIUS:  Now, you companion [scoundrel; villain], I’ll say an errand [message; story] for you: you shall know now that I am in estimation [esteem]; you shall perceive that a Jack guardant [lowly guard like you] cannot office [separate] me from my son Coriolanus: guess, but by my entertainment with him, if thou standest not i’ the state of hanging, or of some death more long in spectatorship, and crueller in suffering; behold now presently, and swound [faint; swoon] for what’s to come upon thee.  [To CORIOLANUS.]  The glorious gods sit in hourly synod [assembly] 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 [hardly persuaded] 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 [ease; lessen] thy wrath, and turn the dregs of it upon this varlet here; this, who, like a block, hath denied my access to thee.            45
CORIOLANUS:  Away!   
MENENIUS:  How! away!   
CORIOLANUS:  Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs   
Are servanted [dedicated] to others: though I owe [own]   
My revenge properly [as my right], my remission [forgiveness] lies            50
In Volscian breasts. That we have been familiar [friendly; acquainted],   
Ingrate forgetfulness shall poison, rather   
Than pity note how much. Therefore, be gone:   
Mine ears against your suits [pleas] are stronger than   
Your gates against my force. Yet, for I lov’d thee,            55
Take this along; I writ it for thy sake,  [Gives a paper.   
And would have sent it. Another word, Menenius,   
I will not hear thee speak. This man [Menenius], Aufidius,   
Was my belov’d in Rome: yet thou behold’st!   
AUFIDIUS:  You keep a constant temper.  [Exeunt CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS.            60
FIRST GUARD:  Now, sir, is your name Menenius?   
SECOND GUARD:  ’Tis a spell, you see, of much power. You know the way home again.   
FIRST GUARD:  Do you hear how we are shent [shamed; chided] for keeping your greatness back?   
SECOND GUARD:  What cause, do you think, I have to swound [faint; swoon]?   
MENENIUS:  I neither care for the world, nor your general: for such things as you, I can scarce think there’s any, ye’re [ye are; you are] so slight [unimpressive; insignificant]. 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!  [Exit.            65
FIRST GUARD:  A noble fellow, I warrant him.   
SECOND GUARD:  The worthy fellow is our general: he is the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken.  [Exeunt.   

Act 5, Scene 3

The tent of Coriolanus.
Enter CORIOLANUS, AUFIDIUS, and Others.

CORIOLANUS:  We will before the walls of Rome to-morrow   
Set down our host [encamp our troops]. My partner in this action,   
You must report to the Volscian lords, how plainly            5
I have borne this business.   
AUFIDIUS:  Only their ends   
You have respected; stopp’d your ears against [refused to hear]   
The general suit [pleas] of Rome; never admitted   
A private whisper; no, not with such friends            10
That thought them sure of you.   
CORIOLANUS:  This last old man [Menenius],   
Whom with a crack’d heart I have sent to Rome,   
Lov’d me above the measure of a father;   
Nay, godded [deified; worshiped] me indeed. Their latest refuge [plan; tactic]           15
Was to send him; for whose old love I have,   
Though I show’d sourly to him, once more offer’d   
The first conditions, which they did refuse,   
And cannot now accept, to grace him only   
That thought he could do more. A very little            20
I have yielded to; fresh embassies and suits,   
Nor from the state, nor private friends, hereafter   
Will I lend ear to.  [Shout within.]  Ha! what shout is this?   
[fresh . . . ear to: If there are any more messengers with pleas, I will not listen to them whether they are personal friends or government officials.]
Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow   
In the same time ’tis made? I will not.            25
 
Enter, in mourning habits, VIRGILIA, VOLUMNIA, leading young MARCIUS, VALERIA, and Attendants.

My wife comes foremost; then the honour’d mould [then my mother]   
Wherein this trunk [my body] was fram’d, and in her hand   
The grandchild to her blood. But out, affection!   
All bond and privilege of nature, break!            30
Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.   
What is that curtsy worth? or those doves’ eyes,   
Which can make gods forsworn? I melt, and am not   
Of stronger earth than others. My mother bows,   
As if Olympus to a molehill should            35
[Olympus: The highest mountain in Greece, on which the gods of mythology were said to reside.]
In supplication [humility] nod; and my young boy   
Hath an aspect of intercession, which   
Great nature cries, ‘Deny not.’ Let the Volsces   
Plough Rome, and harrow Italy; I’ll never   
Be such a gosling [naive or inexperienced man] to obey instinct, but stand            40
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.   
VIRGILIA:  The sorrow that delivers us thus chang’d            45
Makes you think so.   
CORIOLANUS:  Like a dull actor now,   
I have forgot my part, and I am out,   
Even to a full disgrace. Best of my flesh,   
Forgive my tyranny; but do not say            50
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   
[queen of heaven: In ancient mythology, the queen who ruled the heavens. Her Greek name was Hera; her Roman name was Juno.]
I carried from thee, dear, and my true lip   
Hath virgin’d it [maintained its holiness] e’er since. You gods! I prate [talk too much],            55
And the most noble mother of the world   
Leave unsaluted. Sink, my knee, i’ the earth;  [Kneels.   
Of thy deep duty more impression show   
Than that of common sons.   
VOLUMNIA:  O! stand up bless’d;            60
Whilst, with no softer cushion than the flint,   
I kneel before thee, and unproperly   
Show duty, as mistaken all this while   
Between the child and parent.  [Kneels.   
CORIOLANUS:  What is this?            65
Your knees to me! to your corrected son!   
Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach   
Fillip [strike; tap] the stars; then let the mutinous winds   
Strike the proud cedars ’gainst the fiery sun,   
Murd’ring impossibility, to make            70
What cannot be, slight work.   
[Lines 67-71: Coriolanus describes impossible events to compare them with another seemingly impossible event: his own mother kneeling to him.]
VOLUMNIA:  Thou art my warrior;   
I holp [helped] to frame thee. Do you know this lady?   
CORIOLANUS:  The noble sister of Publicola
[Publicola: Aristocrat who helped lead the overthrow of the Roman monarchy in 509 BC, resulting in the establishment of the Roman Republic. Publicola served as a consul.]   
The moon of Rome; chaste as the icicle            75
That’s curdied [curdled; frozen] by the frost from purest snow,   
And hangs on Dian’s temple: dear Valeria! 
[Dian: Diana, the Roman name for the goddess of the moon—who was chaste, like the icicle in line 75. Her Greek name was Artemis.] 
VOLUMNIA:  This is a poor epitome [copy; likeness;] of yours,  [Pointing to the Child.   
Which by the interpretation of full time   
May show like all yourself.            80
CORIOLANUS:   The god of soldiers,   
With the consent of supreme Jove, inform   
Thy thoughts with nobleness; that thou mayst prove   
To shame unvulnerable [invulnerable], and stick i’ the wars   
Like a great sea-mark [landmark observed from a ship], standing every flaw [withstanding every wind and storm],            85
And saving those that eye thee!   
VOLUMNIA:  Your knee, sirrah.   
CORIOLANUS:  That’s my brave boy!   
VOLUMNIA:  Even he [the child of Coriolanus], your wife, this lady [Valeria], and myself,   
Are suitors to you [are here to plead with you].            90
CORIOLANUS:  I beseech you, peace:   
Or, if you’d ask, remember this before:   
The things I have forsworn to grant may never   
Be held by you denials. Do not bid me   
Dismiss my soldiers, or capitulate [surrender]            95
Again with Rome’s mechanics: tell me not   
Wherein I seem unnatural: desire not   
To allay my rages and revenges with   
Your colder reasons.   
VOLUMNIA:   O! no more, no more;            100
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   
May hang upon your hardness. Therefore, hear us.            105
CORIOLANUS:  Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark; for we’ll   
Hear nought [nothing] from Rome in private. Your request?   
VOLUMNIA:  Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment [clothes]   
And state of bodies would bewray [reveal; betray] what life   
We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself            110
How more unfortunate than all living women   
Are we come hither [here]: 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            115
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 
[And to poor . . . capital: We poor relatives of yours are the target of your deadliest hatred. 
Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort   
That all but we enjoy; for how can we,            120
Alas! how can we for our country pray,   
Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,   
Whereto we are bound? Alack [alas]! or we must lose   
The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,   
Our comfort in the country. We must find            125
An evident [eventual; certain] calamity, though we had   
Our wish, which side should win; for either thou   
Must, as a foreign recreant [traitor], be led   
With manacles through our streets, or else   
Triumphantly tread on thy country’s ruin,            130
And bear the palm [of triumph] for having bravely shed   
Thy wife and children’s blood. For myself, son,   
I purpose [plan] not to wait on Fortune till   
These wars determine [end; are settled]: if I cannot persuade thee   
Rather to show a noble grace to both parts            135
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,   
That brought thee to this world.   
VIRGILIA:  Ay, and mine,            140
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,            145
Requires nor child nor woman’s face to see.   
[Lines 145-146: I am not required to look at a child or woman if I lack a woman's tenderness.]
I have sat too long.  [Rising.   
VOLUMNIA: Nay, go not from us thus.   
If it were so, that our request did tend   
To save the Romans, thereby to destroy            150
The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn us,   
As poisonous of your honour: no; our suit   
Is, that you reconcile them: while the Volsces   
May say, ‘This mercy we have show’d;’ the Romans,   
‘This we receiv’d;’ and each in either side            155
Give the all-hail to thee, and cry, ‘Be bless’d   
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            160
Whose repetition will be dogg’d with curses;   
Whose chronicle thus writ: ‘The man was noble,   
But with his last attempt he wip’d it out,   
Destroy’d his country, and his name remains   
To the ensuing age abhorr’d.’ Speak to me, son!            165
Thou hast affected [taken on; used] the fine strains [properties] of honour,   
To imitate the graces of the gods;   
To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o’ the air,   
And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt   
That should but rive [split] an oak. Why dost not speak?            170
[Lines 168-170: However, though you would tear the air with thunder, you would load your cannon with a missile that would only split an oak tree. Why don't you speak?]
Think’st thou it honourable for a noble man   
Still to remember wrongs? Daughter, speak you:   
He cares not for your weeping. Speak thou, boy:   
Perhaps thy childishness will move him more   
Than can our reasons. There is no man in the world            175
More bound to ’s mother; yet here he lets me prate [talk on]  
Like one i’ the stocks. Thou hast never in thy life   
Show’d thy dear mother any courtesy;   
When she—poor hen! fond of no second brood—   
Has cluck’d thee to the wars, and safely home,            180
Loaden with honour. Say my request’s unjust,   
And spurn me back; but if it be not so,   
Thou art not honest, and the gods will plague thee,   
That thou restrain’st from me the duty which   
To a mother’s part belongs. He turns away:            185
Down, ladies; let us shame him with our knees.   
To his surname Coriolanus ’longs [belongs] more pride   
Than pity to our prayers. Down: an end;   
This is the last: so we will home to Rome,   
And die among our neighbours. Nay, behold us.            190
This boy, that cannot tell what he would have,   
But kneels and holds up hands for fellowship,   
Does reason our petition with more strength   
Than thou hast to deny ’t. Come, let us go:   
This fellow had a Volscian to his mother;            195
His wife is in Corioli, and his child   
Like him by chance. Yet give us our dispatch:   
I am hush’d until our city be a-fire,   
And then I’ll speak a little.   
CORIOLANUS:  [Holding VOLUMNIA by the hand, silent.]  O, mother, mother!            200
What have you done? Behold! the heavens do ope,   
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,            205
Most dangerously you have with him prevail’d,   
If not most mortal to him. But let it come.   
Aufidius though I cannot make true wars,   
I’ll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius,   
Were you in my stead, would you have heard            210
A mother less, or granted less, Aufidius?   
AUFIDIUS:  I was mov’d 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,            215
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!   
AUFIDIUS:  [Aside.]  I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and thy honour   
At difference in thee: out of that I’ll work            220
Myself a former fortune.  [The ladies make signs to CORIOLANUS.   
CORIOLANUS:  Ay, by and by;   
But we will drink together; and you shall bear   
A better witness back than words, which we,   
On like conditions, would have counter-seal’d [would have written down and sealed].            225
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.   

Act 5, Scene 4

Rome. A public place.
Enter MENENIUS and SICINIUS.

MENENIUS:  See you yond coign [yonder corner] o’ the Capitol, yond corner-stone?   
SICINIUS:  Why, what of that?   
MENENIUS:  If it be possible for you to displace it with your little finger, there is some hope the ladies of Rome, especially his mother, may prevail with him. But I say, there is no hope in ’t. Our throats are sentenced and stay upon execution.            5
SICINIUS:  Is ’t possible that so short a time can alter the condition of a man?   
MENENIUS:  There is differency between a grub and a butterfly; yet your butterfly was a grub. This Marcius is grown from man to dragon: he has wings; he’s more than a creeping thing.   
SICINIUS:  He loved his mother dearly.   
MENENIUS:  So did he me; and he no more remembers his mother now than an eight-year-old horse. The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes: when he walks, he moves like an engine [weapon of war, such as a catapult or a battering ram], and the ground shrinks before his treading: he is able to pierce a corslet [chest armor] with his eye; talks like a knell, and his hum is a battery. He sits in his state, as a thing made for Alexander [as a sculpture depicting Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)]. What he bids be done is finished with his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but eternity and a heaven to throne in.   
SICINIUS:  Yes, mercy, if you report him truly.            10
MENENIUS:  I paint him in the character. [I paint him as he truly is.] Mark what mercy his mother shall bring from him: there is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger; that shall our poor city find: and all this is ’long of you [came along because of you].   
SICINIUS:  The gods be good unto us!   
MENENIUS:  No, in such a case the gods will not be good unto us. When we banished him, we respected not them; and, he returning to break our necks, they respect not us.   
 
Enter a Messenger.

MESSENGER:  Sir, if you’d save your life, fly to your house:            15
The plebeians have got your fellow-tribune,   
And hale him up and down; all swearing, if   
The Roman ladies bring not comfort home,   
They’ll give him death by inches.   
 
Enter a second Messenger.        20

SICINIUS:  What’s the news?   
SECOND MESSENGER:  Good news, good news! the ladies have prevail’d,   
The Volscians are dislodg’d, and Marcius gone.   
A merrier day did never yet greet Rome,   
No, not the expulsion of the Tarquins.            25
[Tarquins: Tarquin the Proud was the last king of Rome. Tarquin and his son, as well as the rest of his family, were banished from Rome in 509 BC for their tyranny and moral turpitude.]
SICINIUS:  Friend,   
Art thou certain this is true? is it most certain?   
SECOND MESSENGER:  As certain as I know the sun is fire:   
Where have you lurk’d [been keeping yourself; been hiding] that you make doubt of it?   
Ne’er through an arch so hurried the blown tide,            30
As the recomforted [relieved populace] through the gates. Why, hark you!  [Trumpets and hautboys (oboes) sounded, and drums beaten, all together.  Shouting also within.   
The trumpets, sackbuts [instruments resembling trombones], psalteries [stringed instruments in the harp family], and fifes [small flutes],   
Tabors [small drums], and cymbals, and the shouting Romans,   
Make the sun dance. Hark you!  [A shout within.   
MENENIUS:  This is good news:            35
I will go meet the ladies. This Volumnia   
Is worth of [is worth as much as] consuls, senators, patricians,   
A city full; of tribunes, such as you,   
A sea and land full. You have pray’d well to-day:   
This morning for ten thousand of your throats            40
I’d not have given a doit. Hark, how they joy!  [Music still and shouts.   
SICINIUS:  First, the gods bless you for your tidings; next,   
Accept my thankfulness.   
SECOND MESSENGER:  Sir, we have all   
Great cause to give great thanks.            45
SICINIUS:  They are near the city?   
SECOND MESSENGER:  Almost at point to enter.   
SICINIUS:  We will meet them,   
And help the joy.  [Going.   

Enter the Ladies, accompanied by Senators, Patricians, and People.  They pass over the stage.        50

FIRST SENATOR:  Behold our patroness [Volumnia], the life of Rome!   
Call all your tribes together, praise the gods,   
And make triumphant fires; strew flowers before them:   
Unshout the noise that banish’d Marcius;   
Repeal him [forgive him; end his banishment] with the welcome of his mother;            55
Cry, ‘Welcome, ladies, welcome!’   
ALL:  Welcome, ladies,   
Welcome!  [A flourish with drums and trumpets.  Exeunt.   
 
[Note: Some editions of Shakespeare regard lines 50-58 as a separate scene of Act 5. If the edition you are using does so, then the following and final scene of the play would be the sixth scene of Act 5.]

Act 5, Scene 5

Corioli. A public place.
Enter TULLIUS AUFIDIUS, with Attendants.

AUFIDIUS:  Go tell the lords o’ the city I am here:   
Deliver them this paper: having read it,   
Bid them repair [go] to the market-place; where I,            5
Even in theirs and in the commons’ ears,   
Will vouch the truth of it. Him I accuse   
The city ports [gates] by this hath enter’d, and   
Intends to appear before the people, hoping   
To purge [excuse; pardon; exculpate] himself with words: dispatch.  [Exeunt Attendants.            10
 
Enter three or four Conspirators of AUFIDIUS’ faction.

Most welcome!
FIRST CONSPIRATOR:  How is it with our general?   
AUFIDIUS:  Even so   
As with a man by his own alms empoison’d,            15
And with his charity slain.   
SECOND CONSPIRATOR:  Most noble sir,   
If you do hold the same intent wherein   
You wish’d us parties, we’ll deliver you   
Of your great danger.            20
AUFIDIUS:  Sir, I cannot tell:   
We must proceed as we do find the people.   
THIRD CONSPIRATOR:  The people will remain uncertain whilst   
’Twixt you [between you and Coriolanus] there’s difference; but the fall of either   
Makes the survivor heir of all.            25
AUFIDIUS:  I know it;   
And my pretext to strike at him admits   
A good construction. I rais’d [glorified] him, and I pawn’d   
Mine honour for his truth: who being so heighten’d,   
He water’d his new plants with dews of flattery,            30
Seducing so my friends; and, to this end,   
He bow’d [proclaimed; forced] his nature, never known before   
But to be rough, unswayable, and free.   
THIRD CONSPIRATOR:  Sir, his stoutness   
When he did stand for consul, which he lost            35
By lack of stooping,—   
AUFIDIUS:  That I would have spoke of:   
Being banish’d for ’t, he came unto my hearth;   
Presented to my knife his throat: I took him;   
Made him joint-servant with me; gave him way            40
In all his own desires; nay, let him choose   
Out of my files [my troops], his projects to accomplish,   
My best and freshest men; serv’d his designments [designs]  
In mine own person; holp to reap the fame   
Which he did end all his; and took some pride            45
[holp . . . all his: Helped to win fame just for himself]
To do myself this wrong: till, at the last,   
I seem’d his follower, not partner; and   
He wag’d me with his countenance, as if   
I had been mercenary.
[Lines 48-49: He looked at me as if I had been his subordinate.]  
FIRST CONSPIRATOR:  So he did, my lord:            50
The army marvell’d at it; and, in the last,   
When we had carried Rome, and that we look’d   
For no less spoil than glory,—   
AUFIDIUS:  There was it;   
For which my sinews [literally, tendons; figuratively, strength or strong arms] shall be stretch’d upon him.            55
At a few drops of women’s rheum [literally, mucous; figuratively, tears], which are   
As cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labour   
Of our great action: therefore shall he die,   
And I’ll renew me in his fall. But, hark!  [Drums and trumpets sound, with great shouts of the People.   
FIRST CONSPIRATOR:  Your native town you enter’d like a post [lowly messenger],            60
And had no welcomes home; but he [Coriolanus] returns,   
Splitting the air with noise.   
SECOND CONSPIRATOR:  And patient fools,   
Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear   
With giving him glory.            65
THIRD CONSPIRATOR:  Therefore, at your vantage [opportunity],   
Ere [before] he express himself, or move the people   
With what he would say, let him feel your sword,   
Which we will second. When he lies along [lies dead on the ground],   
After your way his tale pronounc’d shall bury            70
His reasons with his body.   
AUFIDIUS:  Say no more:   
Here come the lords.   
 
Enter the Lords of the city.

LORDS:  You are most welcome home.            75
AUFIDIUS:   I have not deserv’d it.   
But, worthy lords, have you with heed perus’d   
What I have written to you?   
LORDS:  We have.   
FIRST LORD:  And grieve to hear ’t.            80
What faults he made before the last, I think   
Might have found easy fines [sanctions; penalties]; but there to end   
Where he was to begin, and give away   
The benefit of our levies [plunder; spoils of war], answering us   
With our own charge [forcing us to pay for the costs of war], making a treaty where            85
There was a yielding, this admits no excuse.   
AUFIDIUS:  He approaches: you shall hear him.   
 
Enter CORIOLANUS, with drums and colours [flag]; a crowd of Citizens with him.

CORIOLANUS:  Hail, lords! I am return’d your soldier;   
No more infected with my country’s love            90
Than when I parted hence, but still subsisting [remaining; continuing]  
Under your great command. You are to know,   
That prosperously I have attempted and   
With bloody passage led your wars even to   
The gates of Rome. Our spoils we have brought home            95
Do more than counterpoise [offset] a full third part   
The charges [cost] of the action. We have made peace   
With no less honour to the Antiates   
Than shame to the Romans; and we here deliver,   
Subscrib’d [signed; endorsed] by the consuls and patricians,            100
Together with the seal o’ the senate, what   
We have compounded [agreed] on.   
AUFIDIUS:  Read it not, noble lords;   
But tell the traitor in the highest degree   
He hath abus’d your powers.            105
CORIOLANUS:  Traitor! How now?   
AUFIDIUS:  Ay, traitor, Marcius.   
CORIOLANUS:  Marcius!   
AUFIDIUS:  Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius. Dost thou think   
I’ll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol’n name            110
Coriolanus in Corioli?  
You lords and heads of the state, perfidiously   
He has betray’d your business, and given up,   
For certain drops of salt [tears of his mother and wife], your city Rome,   
I say ‘your city,’ to his wife and mother;            115
Breaking his oath and resolution like   
A twist of rotten silk, never admitting   
Counsel o’ the war, but at his nurse’s tears 
[never . . . the war: Never consulting with his fellow military officers] 
He whin’d and roar’d away your victory,   
That pages [young attendants of officers] blush’d at him, and men of heart            120
Look’d wondering each at other.   
CORIOLANUS:   Hear’st thou, Mars?   
[Mars: In ancient mythology, the Roman name for the Greek god of war, Ares]
AUFIDIUS:  Name not the god, thou boy of tears [whining child].   
CORIOLANUS:  Ha!   
AUFIDIUS:  No more.            125
CORIOLANUS:  Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart   
Too great for what contains it. Boy! O slave!   
Pardon me, lords, ’tis the first time that ever   
I was forc’d to scold. Your judgments, my grave lords,   
Must give this cur the lie [must brand him a liar]: and his own notion—            130
Who wears my stripes [scars of wounds inflicted by Coriolanus] impress’d upon him, that   
Must bear my beating to his grave—shall join   
To thrust the lie unto him.   
First Lord.  Peace, both, and hear me speak.   
CORIOLANUS:  Cut me to pieces, Volsces; men and lads,            135
Stain all your edges [swords and knives] on me. Boy! False hound!   
If you have writ your annals [history] true, ’tis there,   
That, like an eagle in a dove-cote [shelter for doves and pigeons], I   
Flutter’d [routed] your Volscians in Corioli:   
Alone I did it. Boy!            140
[Line 140: I did it alone. How dare you call me Boy!]
AUFIDIUS:  Why, noble lords,   
Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune [lucky or accidental success],   
Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,   
’Fore [before] your own eyes and ears?   
CONSPIRATORS:  Let him die for ’t.            145
ALL THE PEOPLE:  Tear him to pieces.—Do it presently.—He killed my son.—My daughter.—He killed my cousin Marcus.—He killed my father.   
SECOND LORD:  Peace, ho! no outrage: peace!   
The man is noble and his fame folds [is everywhere known] in
This orb o’ the earth. His last offences to us   
Shall have judicious hearing [a court hearing]. Stand, Aufidius,            150
And trouble not the peace.   
CORIOLANUS:  O! that I had him,   
With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe,   
To use my lawful sword!   
AUFIDIUS:  Insolent villain!            155
CONSPIRATORS:  Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!  [AUFIDIUS and the Conspirators draw, and kill CORIOLANUS, who falls: AUFIDIUS stands on his body.   
LORDS:  Hold, hold, hold, hold!   
AUFIDIUS:  My noble masters, hear me speak.   
FIRST LORD:  O Tullus!   
SECOND LORD:  Thou hast done a deed whereat valour will weep.            160
THIRD LORD:  Tread not upon him. Masters all, be quiet.   
Put up your swords.   
AUFIDIUS:  My lords, when you shall know,—as in this rage,   
Provok’d by him, you cannot,—the great danger   
Which this man’s life did owe you [did place you in], you’ll rejoice            165
That he is thus cut off. Please it your honours   
To call me to your senate, I’ll deliver   
Myself your loyal servant, or endure   
Your heaviest censure.   
First Lord.  Bear from hence [here] his body;            170
And mourn you for him! Let him be regarded   
As the most noble corse [corpse] that ever herald   
Did follow to his urn [container for the ashes of a cremated body].   
SECOND LORD:  His own impatience   
Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.            175
Let’s make the best of it.   
AUFIDIUS:  My rage is gone,   
And I am struck with sorrow. Take him up:   
Help, three o’ the chiefest soldiers; I’ll be one.   
Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully;            180
Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he   
Hath widow’d and unchilded many a one,   
Which to this hour bewail the injury,   
Yet he shall have a noble memory.   
Assist.  [Exeunt, bearing the body of CORIOLANUS.  A dead [funeral] march sounded.            185
 

Aside: Words whispered or spoken softly so that only the character (or characters) near the speaker can hear them. The audience hears everything, however.
Exeunt: The specified characters—or all the characters—leave the stage.
Flourish: Playing of trumpets; fanfare.
Within: Offstage; at a distance.


The Trojan War

In the works of Shakespeare and other writers, many direct and indirect references to classical mythology derive from accounts of (1) events leading up to the Trojan War, (2) the war itself, and (3) the aftermath of the war. Gods, goddesses, monsters, and humans all appear in these accounts. The war pitted the Bronze Age city of Troy, a walled community in present-day Turkey, against Greece.

Following is a brief summary of key events before, during, and after the war as presented in oral and written stories from ancient Greece and Rome. The most important of these stories are The Iliad and The Odyssey, by Homer, and The Aeneid, by Vergil. The Iliad centers on the Greek hero Achilles, the greatest soldier in classical mythology, during the last year of the war. The Odyssey centers on Odysseus (Roman name: Ulysses) and his perilous voyage home after the war. The Aeneid focuses on the Trojan hero Aeneas on his perilous voyage to Italy after the war.

The Cause of the War

In the ancient Mediterranean world, feminine beauty reaches its zenith in Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Greece. Her wondrous face and body are without flaw. Even the goddess of love, Aphrodite, admires her. When Aphrodite competes with other goddesses in a beauty contest—in which a golden apple is to be awarded as the prize—she bribes the judge, a young Trojan named Paris, promising him the most ravishing woman in the world, Helen, if he will select her, Aphrodite, as the most beautiful goddess. Paris, of course, chooses Aphrodite. After receiving the coveted golden apple, she tells Paris about Helen; he goes to Greece and abducts her, taking her  to Troy.

The abduction is an affront to all the Greeks. How dare an upstart Trojan invade their land! How dare he steal the wife of one of their kings! Which Greek family will be next to fall victim to a Trojan machination? Infuriated, King Menelaus and his brother, Agamemnon, assemble a mighty army with the finest warriors in the land, including Achilles, the greatest warrior in the world, and the giant Ajax, second only to Achilles in battlefield prowess. Agamemnon acts as commanding general. The Greeks then cross the sea in one thousand ships to make war against Troy and win back their pride—and Helen. The king of Troy is named Priam; his wife and queen is Hecuba. Priam's son Hector is the leader of the Trojan army.

The War

The war drags on for ten years—the Trojans gaining an advantage one day, the Greeks gaining the advantage the next.

One day, the Greek warrior Odysseus (Roman name Ulysses), king of Ithaca, proposes to his fellow Greeks that they build a gigantic wooden horse. Inside its hollow belly will be fully armed soldiers. The Greeks will then make the Trojans believe that they have left the battlefield and returned home, leaving behind the horse as a gift. The Greeks accept his plan, build the horse, and leave the wooden horse at the gate of Troy with one of their men, Sinon, while the rest of the Greek army hides outside Troy. Sinon persuades the Trojans that the Greek army has departed but left the horse as a gift in honor of the goddess Athena, who will protect their city. The Trojans believe Sinon, open their main gate, and pull the horse into the city. At nightfall, the Greek soldiers descend from the belly of the horse, open the gate, and surprise the sleeping Trojans. The Greeks outside the city swarm in and conquer and burn Troy. Priam is killed by the son of Achilles, Pyrrhus, also known as Neoptolemus.

The Aftermath

When Odysseus and his men return home on several ships, they encounter many perils at sea and on land—including a one-eyed giant (a Cyclops), who eats some of his men; a sorceress named Circe, who turns several of his men into pigs; the six-headed monster Scylla, who devours more of the crewmen; and other perils. Eventually, he makes it home to Ithaca, where he confronts and disposes of squatters on his land seeking to marry his wife, Penelope.

Aeneas, a Trojan who escaped his burning city with a cohort of soldiers, also goes on a journey fraught with perils. He eventually lands in Italy and establishes the foundation of the Roman civilization that later rises to greatness.