THE TRAGEDY OF CORIOLANUS
by William Shakespeare
SCENE V. Antium. A hall in Aufidius’s house
Music plays. Enter a Servingman.
Wine, wine, wine! What service is here? I think our fellows are asleep.
Enter another Servingman.
Where’s Cotus? My master calls for him. Cotus!
A goodly house. The feast smells well, but I
Appear not like a guest.
Enter the First Servingman.
What would you have, friend? Whence are you? Here’s no place for you. Pray go to the door.
I have deserved no better entertainment
In being Coriolanus.
Enter Second Servingman.
Whence are you, sir?—Has the porter his eyes in his head, that he gives entrance to such companions?—Pray, get you out.
Away? Get you away.
Now th’ art troublesome.
Are you so brave? I’ll have you talked with anon.
Enter Third Servingman; the First, entering, meets him.
What fellow’s this?
A strange one as ever I looked on. I cannot get him out o’ th’ house. Prithee call my master to him.
What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you, avoid the house.
Let me but stand. I will not hurt your hearth.
What are you?
A marv’llous poor one.
True, so I am.
Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other station. Here’s no place for you. Pray you, avoid. Come.
Follow your function, go, and batten on cold bits.
[Pushes him away from him.]
What, you will not?—Prithee, tell my master what a strange guest he has here.
And I shall.
Where dwell’st thou?
Under the canopy.
Under the canopy?
I’ th’ city of kites and crows.
I’ th’ city of kites and crows? What an ass it is! Then thou dwell’st with daws too?
No, I serve not thy master.
How, sir? Do you meddle with my master?
Ay, ’tis an honester service than to meddle with thy mistress. Thou prat’st and prat’st. Serve with thy trencher, hence!
[Beats him away.]
[Exit Third Servingman.]
Enter Aufidius with the Second Servingman.
Where is this fellow?
Here, sir. I’d have beaten him like a dog, but for disturbing the lords within.
Whence com’st thou? What wouldst thou?
Thy name? Why speak’st not? Speak, man. What’s thy name?
[Removing his muffler.] If, Tullus,
Not yet thou know’st me, and, seeing me, dost not
Think me for the man I am, necessity
Commands me name myself.
What is thy name?
A name unmusical to the Volscians’ ears
And harsh in sound to thine.
Say, what’s thy name?
Thou has a grim appearance, and thy face
Bears a command in’t. Though thy tackle’s torn,
Thou show’st a noble vessel. What’s thy name?
Prepare thy brow to frown. Know’st thou me yet?
I know thee not. Thy name?
My name is Caius Martius, 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
Shed for my thankless country are requited
But 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,
Permitted by our dastard nobles, who
Have all forsook me, hath devoured the rest,
And suffered me by th’ voice of slaves to be
Whooped out of Rome. Now this extremity
Hath brought me to thy hearth, not out of hope—
Mistake me not—to save my life; for if
I had feared death, of all the men i’ th’ world
I would have ’voided thee, but in mere spite,
To be full quit of those my banishers,
Stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast
A heart of wreak in thee, that wilt 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
As benefits to thee, for I will fight
Against my cankered country with the spleen
Of all the under fiends. But if so be
Thou dar’st not this, and that to prove more fortunes
Thou ’rt tired, then, in a word, I also am
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 followed thee with hate,
Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country’s breast,
And cannot live but to thy shame, unless
It be to do thee service.
O Martius, Martius,
Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart
A root of ancient envy. If Jupiter
Should from yond cloud speak divine things
And say ’tis true, I’d not believe them more
Than thee, all-noble Martius. Let me twine
Mine arms about that body, whereagainst
My grained ash an hundred times hath broke
And scarred the moon with splinters. Here I clip
The anvil of my sword and do contest
As hotly and as nobly with thy love
As ever in ambitious strength I did
Contend against thy valour. Know thou first,
I loved the maid I married; never man
Sighed 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
We have a power on foot, and I had purpose
Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn
Or lose mine arm for’t. Thou hast beat me out
Twelve several times, and I have nightly since
Dreamt of encounters ’twixt thyself and me;
We have been down together in my sleep,
Unbuckling helms, fisting each other’s throat,
And waked half dead with nothing. Worthy Martius,
Had we no other quarrel else to Rome but that
Thou art thence banished, we would muster all
From twelve to seventy and, pouring war
Into the bowels of ungrateful Rome,
Like a bold flood o’erbear ’t. O, come, go in,
And take our friendly senators by th’ hands,
Who now are here, taking their leaves of me,
Who am prepared against your territories,
Though not for Rome itself.
You bless me, gods!
Therefore, most absolute sir, if thou wilt have
The leading of thine own revenges, take
Th’ one half of my commission and set down—
As best thou art experienced, since thou know’st
Thy country’s strength and weakness—thine own ways,
Whether to knock against the gates of Rome,
Or rudely visit them in parts remote
To fright them ere destroy. 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, Martius, that was much. Your hand. Most welcome!
[Exeunt Coriolanus and Aufidius.]
Two of the Servingmen come forward.
Here’s a strange alteration!
By my hand, I had thought to have strucken him with a cudgel, and yet my mind gave me his clothes made a false report of him.
What an arm he has! He turned me about with his finger and his thumb as one would set up a top.
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.
He had so, looking as it were—Would I were hanged, but I thought there was more in him than I could think.
So did I, I’ll be sworn. He is simply the rarest man i’ th’ world.
I think he is. But a greater soldier than he you wot one.
Who, my master?
Nay, it’s no matter for that.
Worth six on him.
Nay, not so neither. But I take him to be the greater soldier.
Faith, look you, one cannot tell how to say that. For the defence of a town our general is excellent.
Ay, and for an assault too.
Enter the Third Servingman.
O slaves, I can tell you news, news, you rascals!
FIRST and SECOND SERVINGMAN.
What, what, what? Let’s partake.
I would not be a Roman, of all nations; I had as lief be a condemned man.
FIRST and SECOND SERVINGMAN.
Why, here’s he that was wont to thwack our general, Caius Martius.
Why do you say, “thwack our general”?
I do not say “thwack our general,” but he was always good enough for him.
Come, we are fellows and friends. He was ever too hard for him; I have heard him say so himself.
He was too hard for him directly, to say the troth on’t, before Corioles; he scotched him and notched him like a carbonado.
An he had been cannibally given, he might have boiled and eaten him too.
But, more of thy news?
Why, he is so made on here within as if he were son and heir to Mars; set at upper end o’ th’ table; no question asked him by any of the senators but they stand bald before him. Our general himself makes a mistress of him, sanctifies himself with’s hand, and turns up the white o’ th’ eye to his discourse. But the bottom of the news is, our general is cut i’ th’ middle and but one half of what he was yesterday, for the other has half, by the entreaty and grant of the whole table. He’ll go, he says, and sowl the porter of Rome gates by th’ ears. He will mow all down before him and leave his passage polled.
And he’s as like to do’t as any man I can imagine.
Do’t? He will do’t! For look you, sir, he has as many friends as enemies, which friends, sir, as it were, durst not, look you, sir, show themselves, as we term it, his friends whilest he’s in directitude.
Directitude? What’s that?
But when they shall see, sir, his crest up again, and the man in blood, they will out of their burrows like coneys after rain, and revel all with him.
But when goes this forward?
Tomorrow, today, presently. You shall have the drum struck up this afternoon. ’Tis as it were parcel of their feast, and to be executed ere they wipe their lips.
Why then, we shall have a stirring world again. This peace is nothing but to rust iron, increase tailors, and breed ballad-makers.
Let me have war, say I. It exceeds peace as far as day does night. It’s sprightly walking, audible, and full of vent. Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy; mulled, deaf, sleepy, insensible; a getter of more bastard children than war’s a destroyer of men.
’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.
Ay, and it makes men hate one another.
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; they are rising.
In, in, in, in!
THE TRAGEDY OF CORIOLANUS by William Shakespeare
Author: William Shakespeare
Native Language: English