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Coriolanus - Act 2, scene 3
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Navigate this workCoriolanus - Act 2, scene 3
Act 2, scene 3
According to custom, Coriolanus asks a number of individual plebeians for their votes. Although he mocks them, they consent to his election. Later meeting with the tribunes, the plebeians reflect on Coriolanus’s mockery and decide, with the tribunes’ encouragement, to revoke their votes for him.Enter seven or eight Citizens.
FIRST CITIZEN 1374 Once, if he do require our voices, we
1375 ought not to deny him.
p. 103SECOND CITIZEN 1376 We may, sir, if we will.
THIRD CITIZEN 1377 We have power in ourselves to do it, but
1378 5 it is a power that we have no power to do; for, if
1379 he show us his wounds and tell us his deeds, we
1380 are to put our tongues into those wounds and
1381 speak for them. So, if he tell us his noble deeds, we
1382 must also tell him our noble acceptance of them.
1383 10 Ingratitude is monstrous, and for the multitude to
1384 be ingrateful were to make a monster of the multitude,
1385 of the which, we being members, should
1386 bring ourselves to be monstrous members.
FIRST CITIZEN 1387 And to make us no better thought of, a
1388 15 little help will serve; for once we stood up about
1389 the corn, he himself stuck not to call us the many-headed
THIRD CITIZEN 1391 We have been called so of many; not that
1392 our heads are some brown, some black, some
1393 20 abram, some bald, but that our wits are so diversely
1394 colored; and truly I think if all our wits were to
1395 issue out of one skull, they would fly east, west,
1396 north, south, and their consent of one direct way
1397 should be at once to all the points o’ th’ compass.
SECOND CITIZEN 1398 25Think you so? Which way do you
1399 judge my wit would fly?
THIRD CITIZEN 1400 Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another
1401 man’s will; ’tis strongly wedged up in a blockhead.
1402 But if it were at liberty, ’twould sure
1403 30 southward.
SECOND CITIZEN 1404 Why that way?
THIRD CITIZEN 1405 To lose itself in a fog, where, being three
1406 parts melted away with rotten dews, the fourth
1407 would return for conscience’ sake, to help to get
1408 35 thee a wife.
SECOND CITIZEN 1409 You are never without your tricks. You
1410 may, you may.
p. 105THIRD CITIZEN 1411 Are you all resolved to give your voices?
1412 But that’s no matter; the greater part carries it. I
1413 40 say, if he would incline to the people, there was
1414 never a worthier man.
Enter Coriolanus in a gown of humility, with Menenius.
1415 Here he comes, and in the gown of humility. Mark
1416 his behavior. We are not to stay all together, but to
1417 come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos,
1418 45 and by threes. He’s to make his requests by particulars,
1419 wherein every one of us has a single honor
1420 in giving him our own voices with our own tongues.
1421 Therefore follow me, and I’ll direct you how you
1422 shall go by him.
ALL 1423 50Content, content.⌜Citizens exit.⌝
1424 O sir, you are not right. Have you not known
1425 The worthiest men have done ’t?
CORIOLANUS 1426 What must I say?
1427 “I pray, sir?”—plague upon ’t! I cannot bring
1428 55 My tongue to such a pace. “Look, sir, my wounds!
1429 I got them in my country’s service when
1430 Some certain of your brethren roared and ran
1431 From th’ noise of our own drums.”
MENENIUS 1432 O me, the gods!
1433 60 You must not speak of that. You must desire them
1434 To think upon you.
CORIOLANUS 1435 Think upon me? Hang ’em!
1436 I would they would forget me, like the virtues
1437 Which our divines lose by ’em.
MENENIUS 1438 65 You’ll mar all.
1439 I’ll leave you. Pray you, speak to ’em, I pray you,
1440 In wholesome manner.He exits.
CORIOLANUS 1441 Bid them wash their faces
1442 And keep their teeth clean.
p. 107Enter three of the Citizens.
1443 70 So, here comes a brace.—
1444 You know the cause, sir, of my standing here.
1445 We do, sir. Tell us what hath brought you to ’t.
CORIOLANUS 1446 Mine own desert.
SECOND CITIZEN 1447 Your own desert?
CORIOLANUS 1448 75Ay, but ⌜not⌝ mine own desire.
THIRD CITIZEN 1449 How, not your own desire?
CORIOLANUS 1450 No, sir, ’twas never my desire yet to trouble
1451 the poor with begging.
THIRD CITIZEN 1452 You must think if we give you anything,
1453 80 we hope to gain by you.
CORIOLANUS 1454 Well then, I pray, your price o’ th’
FIRST CITIZEN 1456 The price is to ask it kindly.
CORIOLANUS 1457 Kindly, sir, I pray, let me ha ’t. I have
1458 85 wounds to show you, which shall be yours in
1459 private.—Your good voice, sir. What say you?
SECOND CITIZEN 1460 You shall ha ’t, worthy sir.
CORIOLANUS 1461 A match, sir. There’s in all two worthy
1462 voices begged. I have your alms. Adieu.
THIRD CITIZEN, ⌜to the other Citizens⌝ 1463 90But this is something
SECOND CITIZEN 1465 An ’twere to give again—but ’tis no
1466 matter.⌜These citizens⌝ exit.
Enter two other Citizens.
CORIOLANUS 1467 Pray you now, if it may stand with the
1468 95 tune of your voices that I may be consul, I have
1469 here the customary gown.
⌜FOURTH CITIZEN⌝ 1470 You have deserved nobly of your
1471 country, and you have not deserved nobly.
CORIOLANUS 1472 Your enigma?
p. 109⌜FOURTH CITIZEN⌝ 1473 100You have been a scourge to her enemies;
1474 you have been a rod to her friends. You have
1475 not indeed loved the common people.
CORIOLANUS 1476 You should account me the more virtuous
1477 that I have not been common in my love. I will, sir,
1478 105 flatter my sworn brother, the people, to earn a
1479 dearer estimation of them; ’tis a condition they account
1480 gentle. And since the wisdom of their choice
1481 is rather to have my hat than my heart, I will practice
1482 the insinuating nod and be off to them most
1483 110 counterfeitly. That is, sir, I will counterfeit the bewitchment
1484 of some popular man and give it bountiful
1485 to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you, I may
1486 be consul.
⌜FIFTH CITIZEN⌝ 1487 We hope to find you our friend, and
1488 115 therefore give you our voices heartily.
⌜FOURTH CITIZEN⌝ 1489 You have received many wounds for
1490 your country.
CORIOLANUS 1491 I will not seal your knowledge with showing
1492 them. I will make much of your voices and so
1493 120 trouble you no farther.
BOTH 1494 The gods give you joy, sir, heartily.
CORIOLANUS 1495 Most sweet voices!
1496 Better it is to die, better to starve,
1497 Than crave the ⌜hire⌝ which first we do deserve.
1498 125 Why in this woolvish ⌜toge⌝ should I stand here
1499 To beg of Hob and Dick that does appear
1500 Their needless vouches? Custom calls me to ’t.
1501 What custom wills, in all things should we do ’t?
1502 The dust on antique time would lie unswept
1503 130 And mountainous error be too highly heaped
1504 For truth to o’erpeer. Rather than fool it so,
1505 Let the high office and the honor go
1506 To one that would do thus. I am half through;
1507 The one part suffered, the other will I do.
p. 111Enter three Citizens more.
1508 135 Here come more voices.—
1509 Your voices! For your voices I have fought;
1510 Watched for your voices; for your voices bear
1511 Of wounds two dozen odd. Battles thrice six
1512 I have seen and heard of; for your voices have
1513 140 Done many things, some less, some more. Your
1515 Indeed, I would be consul.
⌜SIXTH⌝ CITIZEN 1516 He has done nobly, and cannot go
1517 without any honest man’s voice.
⌜SEVENTH⌝ CITIZEN 1518 145Therefore let him be consul. The
1519 gods give him joy, and make him good friend to
1520 the people!
ALL 1521 Amen, amen. God save thee, noble consul.
CORIOLANUS 1522 Worthy voices!
Enter Menenius, with Brutus and Sicinius.
1523 150 You have stood your limitation, and the Tribunes
1524 Endue you with the people’s voice. Remains
1525 That in th’ official marks invested, you
1526 Anon do meet the Senate.
CORIOLANUS 1527 Is this done?
1528 155 The custom of request you have discharged.
1529 The people do admit you, and are summoned
1530 To meet anon upon your approbation.
1531 Where? At the Senate House?
SICINIUS 1532 There, Coriolanus.
1533 160 May I change these garments?
SICINIUS 1534 You may, sir.
1535 That I’ll straight do and, knowing myself again,
1536 Repair to th’ Senate House.
1537 I’ll keep you company.—Will you along?
1538 165 We stay here for the people.
SICINIUS 1539 Fare you well.
Coriolanus and Menenius exit.
1540 He has it now; and by his looks, methinks,
1541 ’Tis warm at ’s heart.
BRUTUS 1542 With a proud heart he wore
1543 170 His humble weeds. Will you dismiss the people?
Enter the Plebeians.
1544 How now, my masters, have you chose this man?
FIRST CITIZEN 1545 He has our voices, sir.
1546 We pray the gods he may deserve your loves.
1547 Amen, sir. To my poor unworthy notice,
1548 175 He mocked us when he begged our voices.
1549 Certainly, he flouted us downright.
1550 No, ’tis his kind of speech. He did not mock us.
1551 Not one amongst us, save yourself, but says
1552 He used us scornfully. He should have showed us
1553 180 His marks of merit, wounds received for ’s country.
SICINIUS 1554 Why, so he did, I am sure.
ALL 1555 No, no. No man saw ’em.
1556 He said he had wounds, which he could show in
p. 1151558 185 And with his hat, thus waving it in scorn,
1559 “I would be consul,” says he. “Agèd custom,
1560 But by your voices, will not so permit me;
1561 Your voices therefore.” When we granted that,
1562 Here was “I thank you for your voices. Thank you.
1563 190 Your most sweet voices! Now you have left your
1565 I have no further with you.” Was not this mockery?
1566 Why either were you ignorant to see ’t
1567 Or, seeing it, of such childish friendliness
1568 195 To yield your voices?
BRUTUS 1569 Could you not have told him
1570 As you were lessoned? When he had no power,
1571 But was a petty servant to the state,
1572 He was your enemy, ever spake against
1573 200 Your liberties and the charters that you bear
1574 I’ th’ body of the weal; and, now arriving
1575 A place of potency and sway o’ th’ state,
1576 If he should still malignantly remain
1577 Fast foe to th’ plebeii, your voices might
1578 205 Be curses to yourselves. You should have said
1579 That as his worthy deeds did claim no less
1580 Than what he stood for, so his gracious nature
1581 Would think upon you for your voices, and
1582 Translate his malice towards you into love,
1583 210 Standing your friendly lord.
SICINIUS 1584 Thus to have said,
1585 As you were fore-advised, had touched his spirit
1586 And tried his inclination; from him plucked
1587 Either his gracious promise, which you might,
1588 215 As cause had called you up, have held him to;
1589 Or else it would have galled his surly nature,
1590 Which easily endures not article
1591 Tying him to aught. So putting him to rage,
p. 1171592 You should have ta’en th’ advantage of his choler
1593 220 And passed him unelected.
BRUTUS 1594 Did you perceive
1595 He did solicit you in free contempt
1596 When he did need your loves, and do you think
1597 That his contempt shall not be bruising to you
1598 225 When he hath power to crush? Why, had your
1600 No heart among you? Or had you tongues to cry
1601 Against the rectorship of judgment?
1602 Have you ere now denied the asker? And now
1603 230 Again, of him that did not ask but mock,
1604 Bestow your sued-for tongues?
THIRD CITIZEN 1605 He’s not confirmed.
1606 We may deny him yet.
SECOND CITIZEN 1607 And will deny him.
1608 235 I’ll have five hundred voices of that sound.
1609 I twice five hundred, and their friends to piece ’em.
1610 Get you hence instantly, and tell those friends
1611 They have chose a consul that will from them take
1612 Their liberties, make them of no more voice
1613 240 Than dogs that are as often beat for barking
1614 As therefor kept to do so.
SICINIUS 1615 Let them assemble
1616 And, on a safer judgment, all revoke
1617 Your ignorant election. Enforce his pride
1618 245 And his old hate unto you. Besides, forget not
1619 With what contempt he wore the humble weed,
1620 How in his suit he scorned you; but your loves,
1621 Thinking upon his services, took from you
1622 Th’ apprehension of his present portance,
1623 250 Which most gibingly, ungravely, he did fashion
1624 After the inveterate hate he bears you.
p. 119BRUTUS 1625 Lay
1626 A fault on us, your tribunes, that we labored,
1627 No impediment between, but that you must
1628 255 Cast your election on him.
SICINIUS 1629 Say you chose him
1630 More after our commandment than as guided
1631 By your own true affections, and that your minds,
1632 Preoccupied with what you rather must do
1633 260 Than what you should, made you against the grain
1634 To voice him consul. Lay the fault on us.
1635 Ay, spare us not. Say we read lectures to you,
1636 How youngly he began to serve his country,
1637 How long continued, and what stock he springs of,
1638 265 The noble house o’ th’ Martians, from whence came
1639 That Ancus Martius, Numa’s daughter’s son,
1640 Who after great Hostilius here was king,
1641 Of the same house Publius and Quintus were,
1642 That our best water brought by conduits hither;
1643 270 ⌜And Censorinus, that was so surnamed,⌝
1644 And nobly namèd so, twice being censor,
1645 Was his great ancestor.
SICINIUS 1646 One thus descended,
1647 That hath besides well in his person wrought
1648 275 To be set high in place, we did commend
1649 To your remembrances; but you have found,
1650 Scaling his present bearing with his past,
1651 That he’s your fixèd enemy, and revoke
1652 Your sudden approbation.
BRUTUS 1653 280 Say you ne’er had done ’t—
1654 Harp on that still—but by our putting on.
1655 And presently, when you have drawn your number,
1656 Repair to th’ Capitol.
ALL 1657 We will so. Almost all
1658 285 Repent in their election.Plebeians exit.
BRUTUS 1659 Let them go on.
p. 1211660 This mutiny were better put in hazard
1661 Than stay, past doubt, for greater.
1662 If, as his nature is, he fall in rage
1663 290 With their refusal, both observe and answer
1664 The vantage of his anger.
SICINIUS 1665 To th’ Capitol, come.
1666 We will be there before the stream o’ th’ people,
1667 And this shall seem, as partly ’tis, their own,
1668 295 Which we have goaded onward.