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Coriolanus - Act 1, scene 3
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workCoriolanus - Act 1, scene 3
Act 1, scene 3
Volumnia, Martius’s mother, and Virgilia, his wife, are visited by Valeria, who brings news of Martius at Corioles.Enter Volumnia and Virgilia, mother and wife
to Martius. They set them down on two low stools
VOLUMNIA 0370 I pray you, daughter, sing, or express yourself
0371 in a more comfortable sort. If my son were my
0372 husband, I should freelier rejoice in that absence
0373 wherein he won honor than in the embracements
0374 5 of his bed where he would show most love. When
0375 yet he was but tender-bodied and the only son of
0376 my womb, when youth with comeliness plucked
0377 all gaze his way, when for a day of kings’ entreaties
0378 a mother should not sell him an hour from her beholding,
0379 10 I, considering how honor would become
0380 such a person—that it was no better than picture-like
0381 to hang by th’ wall, if renown made it not
0382 stir—was pleased to let him seek danger where he
0383 was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him,
0384 15 from whence he returned, his brows bound with
0385 oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not more in joy
0386 at first hearing he was a man-child than now in
0387 first seeing he had proved himself a man.
p. 33VIRGILIA 0388 But had he died in the business, madam, how
0389 20 then?
VOLUMNIA 0390 Then his good report should have been my
0391 son; I therein would have found issue. Hear me
0392 profess sincerely: had I a dozen sons, each in my
0393 love alike and none less dear than thine and my
0394 25 good Martius, I had rather had eleven die nobly
0395 for their country than one voluptuously surfeit out
0396 of action.
Enter a Gentlewoman.
GENTLEWOMAN 0397 Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to
0398 visit you.
0399 30 Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.
VOLUMNIA 0400 Indeed you shall not.
0401 Methinks I hear hither your husband’s drum,
0402 See him pluck Aufidius down by th’ hair;
0403 As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him.
0404 35 Methinks I see him stamp thus and call thus:
0405 “Come on, you cowards! You were got in fear,
0406 Though you were born in Rome.” His bloody brow
0407 With his mailed hand then wiping, forth he goes
0408 Like to a harvestman ⌜that’s⌝ tasked to mow
0409 40 Or all or lose his hire.
0410 His bloody brow? O Jupiter, no blood!
0411 Away, you fool! It more becomes a man
0412 Than gilt his trophy. The breasts of Hecuba,
0413 When she did suckle Hector, looked not lovelier
0414 45 Than Hector’s forehead when it spit forth blood
0415 At Grecian sword, contemning.—Tell Valeria
0416 We are fit to bid her welcome.Gentlewoman exits.
0417 Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!
0418 He’ll beat Aufidius’ head below his knee
0419 50 And tread upon his neck.
Enter Valeria with an Usher and a Gentlewoman.
VALERIA 0420 My ladies both, good day to you.
VOLUMNIA 0421 Sweet madam.
VIRGILIA 0422 I am glad to see your Ladyship.
VALERIA 0423 How do you both? You are manifest housekeepers.
0424 55 What are you sewing here? A fine spot, in
0425 good faith. How does your little son?
VIRGILIA 0426 I thank your Ladyship; well, good madam.
VOLUMNIA 0427 He had rather see the swords and hear a
0428 drum than look upon his schoolmaster.
VALERIA 0429 60O’ my word, the father’s son! I’ll swear ’tis a
0430 very pretty boy. O’ my troth, I looked upon him o’
0431 Wednesday half an hour together. H’as such a confirmed
0432 countenance. I saw him run after a gilded
0433 butterfly, and when he caught it, he let it go again,
0434 65 and after it again, and over and over he comes,
0435 and up again, catched it again. Or whether his fall
0436 enraged him or how ’twas, he did so set his teeth
0437 and tear it. O, I warrant how he mammocked it!
VOLUMNIA 0438 One on ’s father’s moods.
VALERIA 0439 70Indeed, la, ’tis a noble child.
VIRGILIA 0440 A crack, madam.
VALERIA 0441 Come, lay aside your stitchery. I must have
0442 you play the idle huswife with me this afternoon.
VIRGILIA 0443 No, good madam, I will not out of doors.
VALERIA 0444 75Not out of doors?
VOLUMNIA 0445 She shall, she shall.
VIRGILIA 0446 Indeed, no, by your patience. I’ll not over the
0447 threshold till my lord return from the wars.
p. 37VALERIA 0448 Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably.
0449 80 Come, you must go visit the good lady that lies in.
VIRGILIA 0450 I will wish her speedy strength and visit her
0451 with my prayers, but I cannot go thither.
VOLUMNIA 0452 Why, I pray you?
⌜VIRGILIA⌝ 0453 ’Tis not to save labor, nor that I want love.
VALERIA 0454 85You would be another Penelope. Yet they say
0455 all the yarn she spun in Ulysses’ absence did but fill
0456 Ithaca full of moths. Come, I would your cambric
0457 were sensible as your finger, that you might leave
0458 pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.
VIRGILIA 0459 90No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I will
0460 not forth.
VALERIA 0461 In truth, la, go with me, and I’ll tell you excellent
0462 news of your husband.
VIRGILIA 0463 O, good madam, there can be none yet.
VALERIA 0464 95Verily, I do not jest with you. There came
0465 news from him last night.
VIRGILIA 0466 Indeed, madam!
VALERIA 0467 In earnest, it’s true. I heard a senator speak it.
0468 Thus it is: the Volsces have an army forth, against
0469 100 whom Cominius the General is gone with one
0470 part of our Roman power. Your lord and Titus Lartius
0471 are set down before their city Corioles. They
0472 nothing doubt prevailing, and to make it brief
0473 wars. This is true, on mine honor, and so, I pray, go
0474 105 with us.
VIRGILIA 0475 Give me excuse, good madam. I will obey you
0476 in everything hereafter.
VOLUMNIA 0477 Let her alone, lady. As she is now, she will
0478 but disease our better mirth.
VALERIA 0479 110In troth, I think she would.—Fare you well,
0480 then.—Come, good sweet lady.—Prithee, Virgilia,
0481 turn thy solemness out o’ door, and go along with
p. 39VIRGILIA 0483 No, at a word, madam. Indeed, I must not. I
0484 115 wish you much mirth.
VALERIA 0485 Well, then, farewell.