Coriolanus - Act 2, scene 1
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Act 2, scene 1
Coriolanus is welcomed back to Rome by his family and Menenius, and is expected to be elected consul. (Coriolanus’s entry into Rome has often been staged as a great spectacle; see John Ripley, “Coriolanus’s Stage Imagery,” in Further Reading.)Enter Menenius with the two Tribunes of the people,
Sicinius and Brutus.
MENENIUS 0880 The augurer tells me we shall have news
BRUTUS 0882 Good or bad?
MENENIUS 0883 Not according to the prayer of the people,
0884 5 for they love not Martius.
SICINIUS 0885 Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.
MENENIUS 0886 Pray you, who does the wolf love?
SICINIUS 0887 The lamb.
MENENIUS 0888 Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians
0889 10 would the noble Martius.
BRUTUS 0890 He’s a lamb indeed, that baas like a bear.
MENENIUS 0891 He’s a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb.
0892 You two are old men; tell me one thing that I shall
0893 ask you.
BOTH 0894 15Well, sir.
MENENIUS 0895 In what enormity is Martius poor in, that
0896 you two have not in abundance?
BRUTUS 0897 He’s poor in no one fault, but stored with all.
SICINIUS 0898 Especially in pride.
BRUTUS 0899 20And topping all others in boasting.
MENENIUS 0900 This is strange now. Do you two know how
0901 you are censured here in the city, I mean of us o’
0902 th’ right-hand file, do you?
MENENIUS 0904 25Because you talk of pride now, will you not
0905 be angry?
BOTH 0906 Well, well, sir, well?
MENENIUS 0907 Why, ’tis no great matter; for a very little
0908 thief of occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience.
0909 30 Give your dispositions the reins, and be
0910 angry at your pleasures, at the least, if you take it
0911 as a pleasure to you in being so. You blame Martius
0912 for being proud.
BRUTUS 0913 We do it not alone, sir.
MENENIUS 0914 35I know you can do very little alone, for
0915 your helps are many, or else your actions would
0916 grow wondrous single. Your abilities are too infantlike
0917 for doing much alone. You talk of pride. O,
0918 that you could turn your eyes toward the napes
0919 40 of your necks and make but an interior survey of
0920 your good selves! O, that you could!
BOTH 0921 What then, sir?
MENENIUS 0922 Why, then you should discover a brace of
0923 unmeriting, proud, violent, testy magistrates, alias
0924 45 fools, as any in Rome.
SICINIUS 0925 Menenius, you are known well enough, too.
MENENIUS 0926 I am known to be a humorous patrician and
0927 one that loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of
0928 allaying Tiber in ’t; said to be something imperfect
0929 50 in favoring the first complaint, hasty and tinder-like
0930 upon too trivial motion; one that converses
0931 more with the buttock of the night than with the
0932 forehead of the morning. What I think I utter,
0933 and spend my malice in my breath. Meeting two
0934 55 such wealsmen as you are—I cannot call you
0935 Lycurguses—if the drink you give me touch my
0936 palate adversely, I make a crooked face at it. I ⌜cannot⌝
0937 say your Worships have delivered the matter
0938 well when I find the ass in compound with the
0940 be content to bear with those that say you are reverend
0941 grave men, yet they lie deadly that tell you
0942 have good faces. If you see this in the map of my
0943 microcosm, follows it that I am known well enough
0944 65 too? What harm can your bisson conspectuities
0945 glean out of this character, if I be known well
0946 enough, too?
BRUTUS 0947 Come, sir, come; we know you well enough.
MENENIUS 0948 You know neither me, yourselves, nor anything.
0949 70 You are ambitious for poor knaves’ caps
0950 and legs. You wear out a good wholesome forenoon
0951 in hearing a cause between an orange-wife
0952 and a faucet-seller, and then rejourn the controversy
0953 of threepence to a second day of audience.
0954 75 When you are hearing a matter between party and
0955 party, if you chance to be pinched with the colic,
0956 you make faces like mummers, set up the bloody
0957 flag against all patience, and, in roaring for a
0958 chamber pot, dismiss the controversy bleeding,
0959 80 the more entangled by your hearing. All the peace
0960 you make in their cause is calling both the parties
0961 knaves. You are a pair of strange ones.
BRUTUS 0962 Come, come. You are well understood to be a
0963 perfecter giber for the table than a necessary
0964 85 bencher in the Capitol.
MENENIUS 0965 Our very priests must become mockers if
0966 they shall encounter such ridiculous subjects as
0967 you are. When you speak best unto the purpose, it
0968 is not worth the wagging of your beards, and your
0969 90 beards deserve not so honorable a grave as to
0970 stuff a botcher’s cushion or to be entombed in an
0971 ass’s packsaddle. Yet you must be saying Martius is
0972 proud, who, in a cheap estimation, is worth all
0973 your predecessors since Deucalion, though peradventure
0974 95 some of the best of ’em were hereditary
0976 your conversation would infect my brain, being
0977 the herdsmen of the beastly plebeians. I will be
0978 bold to take my leave of you.
⌜He begins to exit.⌝ Brutus and Sicinius ⌜stand⌝ aside.
Enter Volumnia, Virgilia, and Valeria.
0979 100 How now, my as fair as noble ladies—and the
0980 moon, were she earthly, no nobler—whither do
0981 you follow your eyes so fast?
VOLUMNIA 0982 Honorable Menenius, my boy Martius approaches.
0983 For the love of Juno, let’s go!
MENENIUS 0984 105Ha? Martius coming home?
VOLUMNIA 0985 Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous
MENENIUS 0987 Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee! ⌜(He
throws his cap in the air.)⌝ 0988 Hoo! Martius coming
0989 110 home?
⌜VALERIA, VIRGILIA⌝ 0990 Nay, ’tis true.
VOLUMNIA 0991 Look, here’s a letter from him. ⌜She produces
a paper.⌝ 0992 The state hath another, his wife another,
0993 and I think there’s one at home for you.
MENENIUS 0994 115I will make my very house reel tonight. A
0995 letter for me?
VIRGILIA 0996 Yes, certain, there’s a letter for you; I saw ’t.
MENENIUS 0997 A letter for me? It gives me an estate of
0998 seven years’ health, in which time I will make a lip
0999 120 at the physician. The most sovereign prescription
1000 in Galen is but empiricutic and, to this preservative,
1001 of no better report than a horse drench. Is he not
1002 wounded? He was wont to come home wounded.
VIRGILIA 1003 O no, no, no!
VOLUMNIA 1004 125O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for ’t.
MENENIUS 1005 So do I too, if it be not too much. Brings he
1006 victory in his pocket, the wounds become him.
1008 time home with the oaken garland.
MENENIUS 1009 130Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?
VOLUMNIA 1010 Titus Lartius writes they fought together,
1011 but Aufidius got off.
MENENIUS 1012 And ’twas time for him too, I’ll warrant him
1013 that. An he had stayed by him, I would not have
1014 135 been so ’fidiused for all the chests in Corioles and
1015 the gold that’s in them. Is the Senate possessed of
VOLUMNIA 1017 Good ladies, let’s go.—Yes, yes, yes. The
1018 Senate has letters from the General, wherein he
1019 140 gives my son the whole name of the war. He hath
1020 in this action outdone his former deeds doubly.
VALERIA 1021 In troth, there’s wondrous things spoke of
MENENIUS 1023 Wondrous? Ay, I warrant you, and not without
1024 145 his true purchasing.
VIRGILIA 1025 The gods grant them true.
VOLUMNIA 1026 True? Pow waw!
MENENIUS 1027 True? I’ll be sworn they are true. Where is
1028 he wounded? ⌜(To the Tribunes.)⌝ God save your
1029 150 good Worships! Martius is coming home; he has
1030 more cause to be proud.—Where is he wounded?
VOLUMNIA 1031 I’ th’ shoulder and i’ th’ left arm. There will
1032 be large cicatrices to show the people when he
1033 shall stand for his place. He received in the repulse
1034 155 of Tarquin seven hurts i’ th’ body.
MENENIUS 1035 One i’ th’ neck and two i’ th’ thigh—there’s
1036 nine that I know.
VOLUMNIA 1037 He had, before this last expedition, twenty-five
1038 wounds upon him.
MENENIUS 1039 160Now it’s twenty-seven. Every gash was an
1040 enemy’s grave. (A shout and flourish.) Hark, the
1043 he carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears.
1044 165 Death, that dark spirit, in ’s nervy arm doth lie,
1045 Which, being advanced, declines, and then men die.
Enter Cominius the General and Titus Lartius, between
them Coriolanus crowned with an oaken garland, with
Captains and Soldiers and a Herald. Trumpets sound.
1046 Know, Rome, that all alone Martius did fight
1047 Within Corioles’ gates, where he hath won,
1048 With fame, a name to Martius Caius; these
1049 170 In honor follows “Coriolanus.”
1050 Welcome to Rome, renownèd Coriolanus.
1051 Welcome to Rome, renownèd Coriolanus!
1052 No more of this. It does offend my heart.
1053 Pray now, no more.
COMINIUS 1054 175 Look, sir, your mother.
CORIOLANUS 1055 O,
1056 You have, I know, petitioned all the gods
1057 For my prosperity.Kneels.
VOLUMNIA 1058 Nay, my good soldier, up.
1059 180 My gentle Martius, worthy Caius, and
1060 By deed-achieving honor newly named—
1061 What is it? Coriolanus must I call thee?
1062 But, O, thy wife—
CORIOLANUS 1063 My gracious silence, hail.
1064 185 Wouldst thou have laughed had I come coffined
1066 That weep’st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,
1068 And mothers that lack sons.
MENENIUS 1069 190 Now the gods crown
1071 And live you yet? ⌜(To Valeria.)⌝ O, my sweet lady,
1073 I know not where to turn. O, welcome home!—
1074 195 And, welcome, general.—And you’re welcome all.
1075 A hundred thousand welcomes! I could weep,
1076 And I could laugh; I am light and heavy. Welcome.
1077 A curse begin at very root on ’s heart
1078 That is not glad to see thee! ⌜You⌝ are three
1079 200 That Rome should dote on; yet, by the faith of men,
1080 We have some old crab trees here at home that will
1082 Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors!
1083 We call a nettle but a nettle, and
1084 205 The faults of fools but folly.
COMINIUS 1085 Ever right.
CORIOLANUS 1086 Menenius ever, ever.
1087 Give way there, and go on!
CORIOLANUS, ⌜to Volumnia and Virgilia⌝ 1088 Your hand
1089 210 and yours.
1090 Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
1091 The good patricians must be visited,
1092 From whom I have received not only greetings,
1093 But with them change of honors.
VOLUMNIA 1094 215 I have lived
1095 To see inherited my very wishes
1096 And the buildings of my fancy. Only
1097 There’s one thing wanting, which I doubt not but
1098 Our Rome will cast upon thee.
1100 I had rather be their servant in my way
1101 Than sway with them in theirs.
COMINIUS 1102 On, to the Capitol.
Flourish ⌜of⌝ cornets. They exit in state, as before.
Brutus and Sicinius ⌜come forward.⌝
1103 All tongues speak of him, and the blearèd sights
1104 225 Are spectacled to see him. Your prattling nurse
1105 Into a rapture lets her baby cry
1106 While she chats him. The kitchen malkin pins
1107 Her richest lockram ’bout her reechy neck,
1108 Clamb’ring the walls to eye him. Stalls, bulks,
1109 230 windows
1110 Are smothered up, leads filled, and ridges horsed
1111 With variable complexions, all agreeing
1112 In earnestness to see him. Seld-shown flamens
1113 Do press among the popular throngs and puff
1114 235 To win a vulgar station. Our veiled dames
1115 Commit the war of white and damask in
1116 Their nicely-gauded cheeks to th’ wanton spoil
1117 Of Phoebus’ burning kisses. Such a pother,
1118 As if that whatsoever god who leads him
1119 240 Were slyly crept into his human powers
1120 And gave him graceful posture.
SICINIUS 1121 On the sudden
1122 I warrant him consul.
BRUTUS 1123 Then our office may,
1124 245 During his power, go sleep.
1125 He cannot temp’rately transport his honors
1126 From where he should begin and end, but will
1127 Lose those he hath won.
BRUTUS 1128 In that there’s comfort.
1131 The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
1132 Upon their ancient malice will forget
1133 With the least cause these his new honors—which
1134 255 That he will give them make I as little question
1135 As he is proud to do ’t.
BRUTUS 1136 I heard him swear,
1137 Were he to stand for consul, never would he
1138 Appear i’ th’ marketplace nor on him put
1139 260 The napless vesture of humility,
1140 Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds
1141 To th’ people, beg their stinking breaths.
SICINIUS 1142 ’Tis right.
1143 It was his word. O, he would miss it rather
1144 265 Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him
1145 And the desire of the nobles.
SICINIUS 1146 I wish no better
1147 Than have him hold that purpose and to put it
1148 In execution.
BRUTUS 1149 270 ’Tis most like he will.
1150 It shall be to him then as our good wills,
1151 A sure destruction.
BRUTUS 1152 So it must fall out
1153 To him, or our authority’s for an end.
1154 275 We must suggest the people in what hatred
1155 He still hath held them; that to ’s power he would
1156 Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders, and
1157 Dispropertied their freedoms; holding them
1158 In human action and capacity
1159 280 Of no more soul nor fitness for the world
1160 Than camels in their war, who have their provand
1161 Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows
1162 For sinking under them.
1164 285 At some time when his soaring insolence
1165 Shall ⌜touch⌝ the people—which time shall not want
1166 If he be put upon ’t, and that’s as easy
1167 As to set dogs on sheep—will be his fire
1168 To kindle their dry stubble, and their blaze
1169 290 Shall darken him forever.
Enter a Messenger.
BRUTUS 1170 What’s the matter?
1171 You are sent for to the Capitol. ’Tis thought
1172 That Martius shall be consul. I have seen
1173 The dumb men throng to see him, and the blind
1174 295 To hear him speak; matrons flung gloves,
1175 Ladies and maids their scarves and handkerchiefs,
1176 Upon him as he passed; the nobles bended
1177 As to Jove’s statue, and the Commons made
1178 A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts.
1179 300 I never saw the like.
BRUTUS 1180 Let’s to the Capitol,
1181 And carry with us ears and eyes for th’ time,
1182 But hearts for the event.
SICINIUS 1183 Have with you.