THE TRAGEDY OF CORIOLANUS
by William Shakespeare
SCENE VI. Rome. A public place
Enter the two Tribunes. Sicinius and Brutus.
We hear not of him, neither need we fear him.
His remedies are tame—the present peace,
And quietness of the people, which before
Were in wild hurry. 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 pest’ring streets than see
Our tradesmen singing in their shops and going
About their functions friendly.
We stood to’t in good time.
Is this Menenius?
’Tis he, ’tis he. O, he is grown most kind
Of late.—Hail, sir!
Hail to you both.
Your Coriolanus is not much missed
But with his friends. The commonwealth doth stand,
And so would do were he more angry at it.
All’s well, and might have been much better if
He could have temporized.
Where is he, hear you?
Nay, I hear nothing;
His mother and his wife hear nothing from him.
Enter three or four Citizens.
The gods preserve you both!
Good e’en, our neighbours.
Good e’en to you all, good e’en to you all.
Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees
Are bound to pray for you both.
Live and thrive!
Farewell, kind neighbours. We wished Coriolanus
Had loved you as we did.
Now the gods keep you!
This is a happier and more comely time
Than when these fellows ran about the streets
Caius Martius was
A worthy officer i’ th’ war, but insolent,
O’ercome with pride, ambitious, past all thinking
And affecting one sole throne, without assistance.
I think not so.
We should by this, to all our lamentation,
If he had gone forth consul, found it so.
The gods have well prevented it, and Rome
Sits safe and still without him.
Enter an Aedile.
There is a slave, whom we have put in prison,
Reports the Volsces with two several powers
Are entered in the Roman territories,
And with the deepest malice of the war
Destroy what lies before ’em.
Who, hearing of our Martius’ banishment,
Thrusts forth his horns again into the world,
Which were inshelled when Martius stood for Rome,
And durst not once peep out.
Come, what talk you of Martius?
Go see this rumourer whipped. It cannot be
The Volsces dare break with us.
We have record that very well it can,
And three examples of the like hath 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
And beat the messenger who bids beware
Of what is to be dreaded.
Tell not me.
I know this cannot be.
Enter a Messenger.
The nobles in great earnestness are going
All to the Senate House. Some news is coming
That turns their countenances.
’Tis this slave—
Go whip him ’fore the people’s eyes—his raising,
Nothing but his report.
Yes, worthy sir,
The slave’s report is seconded, and more,
More fearful, is delivered.
What more fearful?
It is spoke freely out of many mouths—
How probable I do not know—that Martius,
Joined with Aufidius, leads a power ’gainst Rome
And vows revenge as spacious as between
The young’st and oldest thing.
This is most likely!
Raised only that the weaker sort may wish
Good Martius home again.
The very trick on ’t.
This is unlikely;
He and Aufidius can no more atone
Than violent’st contrariety.
Enter a Second Messenger.
You are sent for to the Senate.
A fearful army, led by Caius Martius
Associated with Aufidius, rages
Upon our territories, and have already
O’erborne their way, consumed with fire and took
What lay before them.
O, you have made good work!
What news? What news?
You have holp to ravish your own daughters and
To melt the city leads upon your pates,
To see your wives dishonoured to your noses—
What’s the news? What’s the news?
Your temples burned in their cement, and
Your franchises, whereon you stood, confined
Into an auger’s bore.
Pray now, your news?—
You have made fair work, I fear me.—Pray, your news?
If Martius should be joined with Volscians—
He is their god; he leads them like a thing
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.
You have made good work,
You and your apron-men, you that stood so much
Upon the voice of occupation and
The breath of garlic eaters!
He’ll shake your Rome about your ears.
As Hercules did shake down mellow fruit.
You have made fair work.
But is this true, sir?
Ay, and you’ll look pale
Before you find it other. All the regions
Do smilingly revolt, and who resists
Are mocked for valiant ignorance
And perish constant fools. Who is’t can blame him?
Your enemies and his find something in him.
We are all undone unless
The noble man have mercy.
Who shall ask it?
The Tribunes cannot do’t for shame; the people
Deserve such pity of him as the wolf
Does of the shepherds. For his best friends, if they
Should say “Be good to Rome,” they charged him even
As those should do that had deserved his hate
And therein showed like enemies.
If he were putting to my house the brand
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!
You have brought
A trembling upon Rome such as was never
S’ incapable of help.
Say not we brought it.
How? Was it we? We loved him, but like beasts
And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,
Who did hoot him out o’ th’ city.
But I fear
They’ll roar him in again. Tullus Aufidius,
The second name of men, obeys his points
As if he were his officer. Desperation
Is all the policy, strength, and defence
That Rome can make against them.
Enter a troop of Citizens.
Here comes the clusters.—
And is Aufidius with him? You are they
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
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 deserved it.
Faith, we hear fearful news.
For mine own part,
When I said banish him, I said ’twas pity.
And so did I.
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.
You are goodly things, you voices!
You have made good work, you and your cry!—
Shall’s to the Capitol?
O, ay, what else?
[Exeunt Cominius and Menenius.]
Go, masters, get you home. Be not dismayed.
These are a side that would be glad to have
This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,
And show no sign of fear.
The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let’s home. I ever said we were i’ th’ wrong when we banished him.
So did we all. But, come, let’s home.
I do not like this news.
Let’s to the Capitol. Would half my wealth
Would buy this for a lie!
Pray let’s go.
THE TRAGEDY OF CORIOLANUS by William Shakespeare
Author: William Shakespeare
Native Language: English