Coriolanus - Act 3, scene 1
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Act 3, scene 1
Learning that the plebeians have revoked their votes, Coriolanus publicly attacks the decision that had given the people tribunes. Accusing him of treason, the tribunes attempt to have him arrested and executed, but he is rescued by his fellow patricians, who, to avoid civil war with the plebeians, agree to bring him to the marketplace to face the tribunes.Cornets. Enter Coriolanus, Menenius, all the Gentry,
Cominius, Titus Lartius, and other Senators.
1669 Tullus Aufidius then had made new head?
1670 He had, my lord, and that it was which caused
1671 Our swifter composition.
1672 So then the Volsces stand but as at first,
1673 5 Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road
1674 Upon ’s again.
COMINIUS 1675 They are worn, lord consul, so,
1676 That we shall hardly in our ages see
1677 Their banners wave again.
CORIOLANUS 1678 10 Saw you Aufidius?
1679 On safeguard he came to me, and did curse
1680 Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely
1681 Yielded the town. He is retired to Antium.
1682 Spoke he of me?
LARTIUS 1683 15 He did, my lord.
CORIOLANUS 1684 How? What?
1685 How often he had met you sword to sword;
1687 Your person most; that he would pawn his fortunes
1688 20 To hopeless restitution, so he might
1689 Be called your vanquisher.
CORIOLANUS 1690 At Antium lives he?
LARTIUS 1691 At Antium.
1692 I wish I had a cause to seek him there,
1693 25 To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.
Enter Sicinius and Brutus.
1694 Behold, these are the tribunes of the people,
1695 The tongues o’ th’ common mouth. I do despise
1697 For they do prank them in authority
1698 30 Against all noble sufferance.
SICINIUS 1699 Pass no further.
CORIOLANUS 1700 Ha? What is that?
1701 It will be dangerous to go on. No further.
CORIOLANUS 1702 What makes this change?
MENENIUS 1703 35The matter?
1704 Hath he not passed the noble and the common?
1705 Cominius, no.
CORIOLANUS 1706 Have I had children’s voices?
1707 Tribunes, give way. He shall to th’ marketplace.
1708 40 The people are incensed against him.
SICINIUS 1709 Stop,
1710 Or all will fall in broil.
CORIOLANUS 1711 Are these your herd?
1712 Must these have voices, that can yield them now
1715 You being their mouths, why rule you not their
1717 Have you not set them on?
MENENIUS 1718 50 Be calm, be calm.
1719 It is a purposed thing, and grows by plot,
1720 To curb the will of the nobility.
1721 Suffer ’t, and live with such as cannot rule
1722 Nor ever will be ruled.
BRUTUS 1723 55 Call ’t not a plot.
1724 The people cry you mocked them; and, of late,
1725 When corn was given them gratis, you repined,
1726 Scandaled the suppliants for the people, called them
1727 Timepleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.
1728 60 Why, this was known before.
BRUTUS 1729 Not to them all.
1730 Have you informed them sithence?
BRUTUS 1731 How? I inform
COMINIUS 1733 65You are like to do such business.
1734 Not unlike, each way, to better yours.
1735 Why then should I be consul? By yond clouds,
1736 Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
1737 Your fellow tribune.
SICINIUS 1738 70 You show too much of that
1739 For which the people stir. If you will pass
1740 To where you are bound, you must inquire your
1743 75 Or never be so noble as a consul,
1744 Nor yoke with him for tribune.
MENENIUS 1745 Let’s be calm.
1746 The people are abused, set on. This palt’ring
1747 Becomes not Rome, nor has Coriolanus
1748 80 Deserved this so dishonored rub, laid falsely
1749 I’ th’ plain way of his merit.
CORIOLANUS 1750 Tell me of corn?
1751 This was my speech, and I will speak ’t again.
1752 Not now, not now.
⌜FIRST⌝ SENATOR 1753 85 Not in this heat, sir, now.
CORIOLANUS 1754 Now, as I live, I will.
1755 My nobler friends, I crave their pardons. For
1756 The mutable, rank-scented meiny, let them
1757 Regard me, as I do not flatter, and
1758 90 Therein behold themselves. I say again,
1759 In soothing them, we nourish ’gainst our senate
1760 The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
1761 Which we ourselves have plowed for, sowed, and
1763 95 By mingling them with us, the honored number,
1764 Who lack not virtue, no, nor power, but that
1765 Which they have given to beggars.
MENENIUS 1766 Well, no more.
1767 No more words, we beseech you.
CORIOLANUS 1768 100 How? No more?
1769 As for my country I have shed my blood,
1770 Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs
1771 Coin words till their decay against those measles
1772 Which we disdain should tetter us, yet sought
1773 105 The very way to catch them.
1775 As if you were a god to punish, not
1776 A man of their infirmity.
SICINIUS 1777 ’Twere well
1778 110 We let the people know ’t.
MENENIUS 1779 What, what? His choler?
CORIOLANUS 1780 Choler?
1781 Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,
1782 By Jove, ’twould be my mind.
SICINIUS 1783 115 It is a mind
1784 That shall remain a poison where it is,
1785 Not poison any further.
CORIOLANUS 1786 “Shall remain”?
1787 Hear you this Triton of the minnows? Mark you
1788 120 His absolute “shall”?
COMINIUS 1789 ’Twas from the canon.
CORIOLANUS 1790 “Shall”?
1791 O ⌜good⌝ but most unwise patricians, why,
1792 You grave but reckless senators, have you thus
1793 125 Given Hydra here to choose an officer,
1794 That with his peremptory “shall,” being but
1795 The horn and noise o’ th’ monster’s, wants not spirit
1796 To say he’ll turn your current in a ditch
1797 And make your channel his? If he have power,
1798 130 Then vail your ignorance; if none, awake
1799 Your dangerous lenity. If you are learned,
1800 Be not as common fools; if you are not,
1801 Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians,
1802 If they be senators; and they are no less
1803 135 When, both your voices blended, the great’st taste
1804 Most palates theirs. They choose their magistrate,
1805 And such a one as he, who puts his “shall,”
1806 His popular “shall,” against a graver bench
1807 Than ever frowned in Greece. By Jove himself,
1808 140 It makes the consuls base! And my soul aches
1809 To know, when two authorities are up,
1811 May enter ’twixt the gap of both and take
1812 The one by th’ other.
COMINIUS 1813 145 Well, on to th’ marketplace.
1814 Whoever gave that counsel to give forth
1815 The corn o’ th’ storehouse gratis, as ’twas used
1816 Sometime in Greece—
MENENIUS 1817 Well, well, no more of that.
1818 150 Though there the people had more absolute power,
1819 I say they nourished disobedience, fed
1820 The ruin of the state.
BRUTUS 1821 Why shall the people give
1822 One that speaks thus their voice?
CORIOLANUS 1823 155 I’ll give my reasons,
1824 More worthier than their voices. They know the
1826 Was not our recompense, resting well assured
1827 They ne’er did service for ’t. Being pressed to th’ war,
1828 160 Even when the navel of the state was touched,
1829 They would not thread the gates. This kind of
1831 Did not deserve corn gratis. Being i’ th’ war,
1832 Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they showed
1833 165 Most valor, spoke not for them. Th’ accusation
1834 Which they have often made against the Senate,
1835 All cause unborn, could never be the native
1836 Of our so frank donation. Well, what then?
1837 How shall this bosom multiplied digest
1838 170 The Senate’s courtesy? Let deeds express
1839 What’s like to be their words: “We did request it;
1840 We are the greater poll, and in true fear
1841 They gave us our demands.” Thus we debase
1842 The nature of our seats and make the rabble
1843 175 Call our cares fears, which will in time
1845 The crows to peck the eagles.
MENENIUS 1846 Come, enough.
1847 Enough, with over-measure.
CORIOLANUS 1848 180 No, take more!
1849 What may be sworn by, both divine and human,
1850 Seal what I end withal! This double worship—
1851 ⌜Where one⌝ part does disdain with cause, the other
1852 Insult without all reason, where gentry, title,
1853 185 wisdom
1854 Cannot conclude but by the yea and no
1855 Of general ignorance—it must omit
1856 Real necessities and give way the while
1857 To unstable slightness. Purpose so barred, it follows
1858 190 Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore, beseech
1860 You that will be less fearful than discreet,
1861 That love the fundamental part of state
1862 More than you doubt the change on ’t, that prefer
1863 195 A noble life before a long, and wish
1864 To jump a body with a dangerous physic
1865 That’s sure of death without it—at once pluck out
1866 The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick
1867 The sweet which is their poison. Your dishonor
1868 200 Mangles true judgment and bereaves the state
1869 Of that integrity which should become ’t,
1870 Not having the power to do the good it would
1871 For th’ ill which doth control ’t.
BRUTUS 1872 ’Has said enough.
1873 205 ’Has spoken like a traitor and shall answer
1874 As traitors do.
CORIOLANUS 1875 Thou wretch, despite o’erwhelm thee!
1876 What should the people do with these bald tribunes,
1877 On whom depending, their obedience fails
1879 When what’s not meet but what must be was law,
1880 Then were they chosen. In a better hour,
1881 Let what is meet be said it must be meet,
1882 And throw their power i’ th’ dust.
BRUTUS 1883 215Manifest treason.
SICINIUS 1884 This a consul? No.
BRUTUS 1885 The aediles, ho! Let him be apprehended.
Enter an Aedile.
1886 Go, call the people; ⌜Aedile exits.⌝ in whose name
1888 220 Attach thee as a traitorous innovator,
1889 A foe to th’ public weal. Obey, I charge thee,
1890 And follow to thine answer.
CORIOLANUS 1891 Hence, old goat.
1892 We’ll surety him.
COMINIUS, ⌜to Sicinius⌝ 1893 225 Agèd sir, hands off.
CORIOLANUS, ⌜to Sicinius⌝
1894 Hence, rotten thing, or I shall shake thy bones
1895 Out of thy garments.
SICINIUS 1896 Help, you citizens!
Enter a rabble of Plebeians with the Aediles.
MENENIUS 1897 On both sides more respect!
1898 230 Here’s he that would take from you all your power.
BRUTUS 1899 Seize him, aediles.
ALL ⌜PLEBEIANS⌝ 1900 Down with him, down with him!
SECOND SENATOR 1901 Weapons, weapons, weapons!
They all bustle about Coriolanus.
1902 Tribunes, patricians, citizens, what ho!
1903 235 Sicinius, Brutus, Coriolanus, citizens!
1905 What is about to be? I am out of breath.
1906 Confusion’s near. I cannot speak. You, tribunes
1907 To th’ people!—Coriolanus, patience!—
1908 240 Speak, good Sicinius.
SICINIUS 1909 Hear me, people! Peace!
1910 Let’s hear our tribune. Peace! Speak, speak, speak.
1911 You are at point to lose your liberties.
1912 Martius would have all from you, Martius,
1913 245 Whom late you have named for consul.
MENENIUS 1914 Fie, fie, fie!
1915 This is the way to kindle, not to quench.
1916 To unbuild the city and to lay all flat.
1917 What is the city but the people?
ALL ⌜PLEBEIANS⌝ 1918 250 True,
1919 The people are the city.
1920 By the consent of all, we were established
1921 The people’s magistrates.
ALL ⌜PLEBEIANS⌝ 1922 You so remain.
MENENIUS 1923 255And so are like to do.
1924 That is the way to lay the city flat,
1925 To bring the roof to the foundation
1926 And bury all which yet distinctly ranges
1927 In heaps and piles of ruin.
SICINIUS 1928 260 This deserves death.
1929 Or let us stand to our authority
1930 Or let us lose it. We do here pronounce,
1931 Upon the part o’ th’ people, in whose power
1933 265 Of present death.
SICINIUS 1934 Therefore lay hold of him,
1935 Bear him to th’ rock Tarpeian, and from thence
1936 Into destruction cast him.
BRUTUS 1937 Aediles, seize him!
1938 270 Yield, Martius, yield!
MENENIUS 1939 Hear me one word.
1940 Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.
AEDILES 1941 Peace, peace!
1942 Be that you seem, truly your country’s friend,
1943 275 And temp’rately proceed to what you would
1944 Thus violently redress.
BRUTUS 1945 Sir, those cold ways,
1946 That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous
1947 Where the disease is violent.—Lay hands upon him,
1948 280 And bear him to the rock.
Coriolanus draws his sword.
CORIOLANUS 1949 No, I’ll die here.
1950 There’s some among you have beheld me fighting.
1951 Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.
1952 Down with that sword!—Tribunes, withdraw awhile.
1953 285 Lay hands upon him!
MENENIUS 1954 Help Martius, help!
1955 You that be noble, help him, young and old!
ALL ⌜PLEBEIANS⌝ 1956 Down with him, down with him!
In this mutiny, the Tribunes, the Aediles, and the People
are beat in.
MENENIUS, ⌜to Coriolanus⌝
1957 Go, get you to ⌜your⌝ house. Begone, away.
1958 290 All will be naught else.
⌜CORIOLANUS⌝ 1960 Stand fast!
1961 We have as many friends as enemies.
1962 Shall it be put to that?
⌜FIRST⌝ SENATOR 1963 295 The gods forbid!—
1964 I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;
1965 Leave us to cure this cause.
MENENIUS 1966 For ’tis a sore upon us
1967 You cannot tent yourself. Begone, beseech you.
⌜COMINIUS⌝ 1968 300Come, sir, along with us.
1969 I would they were barbarians, as they are,
1970 Though in Rome littered; not Romans, as they are
1972 Though calved i’ th’ porch o’ th’ Capitol.
MENENIUS 1973 305 Begone!
1974 Put not your worthy rage into your tongue.
1975 One time will owe another.
CORIOLANUS 1976 On fair ground
1977 I could beat forty of them.
MENENIUS 1978 310 I could myself
1979 Take up a brace o’ th’ best of them, yea, the two
1981 But now ’tis odds beyond arithmetic,
1982 And manhood is called foolery when it stands
1983 315 Against a falling fabric. ⌜To Coriolanus.⌝ Will you
1985 Before the tag return, whose rage doth rend
1986 Like interrupted waters and o’erbear
1987 What they are used to bear?
MENENIUS, ⌜to Coriolanus⌝ 1988 320 Pray you, begone.
1989 I’ll try whether my old wit be in request
1990 With those that have but little. This must be patched
1991 With cloth of any color.
Coriolanus and Cominius exit.
PATRICIAN 1993 325This man has marred his fortune.
1994 His nature is too noble for the world.
1995 He would not flatter Neptune for his trident
1996 Or Jove for ’s power to thunder. His heart’s his
1998 330 What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent,
1999 And, being angry, does forget that ever
2000 He heard the name of death.A noise within.
2001 Here’s goodly work.
PATRICIAN 2002 I would they were abed!
2003 335 I would they were in Tiber. What the vengeance,
2004 Could he not speak ’em fair?
Enter Brutus and Sicinius with the rabble again.
SICINIUS 2005 Where is this viper
2006 That would depopulate the city and
2007 Be every man himself?
MENENIUS 2008 340 You worthy tribunes—
2009 He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock
2010 With rigorous hands. He hath resisted law,
2011 And therefore law shall scorn him further trial
2012 Than the severity of the public power
2013 345 Which he so sets at naught.
FIRST CITIZEN 2014 He shall well know
2015 The noble tribunes are the people’s mouths
2016 And we their hands.
ALL ⌜PLEBEIANS⌝ 2017 He shall, sure on ’t.
MENENIUS 2018 350Sir, sir—
SICINIUS 2019 Peace!
2020 Do not cry havoc where you should but hunt
2021 With modest warrant.
SICINIUS 2022 Sir, how comes ’t that you
2023 355 Have holp to make this rescue?
MENENIUS 2024 Hear me speak.
2025 As I do know the Consul’s worthiness,
2026 So can I name his faults.
SICINIUS 2027 Consul? What consul?
MENENIUS 2028 360The consul Coriolanus.
BRUTUS 2029 He consul?
ALL ⌜PLEBEIANS⌝ 2030 No, no, no, no, no!
2031 If, by the Tribunes’ leave, and yours, good people,
2032 I may be heard, I would crave a word or two,
2033 365 The which shall turn you to no further harm
2034 Than so much loss of time.
SICINIUS 2035 Speak briefly then,
2036 For we are peremptory to dispatch
2037 This viperous traitor. To eject him hence
2038 370 Were but one danger, and to keep him here
2039 Our certain death. Therefore it is decreed
2040 He dies tonight.
MENENIUS 2041 Now the good gods forbid
2042 That our renownèd Rome, whose gratitude
2043 375 Towards her deservèd children is enrolled
2044 In Jove’s own book, like an unnatural dam
2045 Should now eat up her own.
2046 He’s a disease that must be cut away.
2047 O, he’s a limb that has but a disease—
2048 380 Mortal to cut it off; to cure it easy.
2049 What has he done to Rome that’s worthy death?
2050 Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost—
2051 Which I dare vouch is more than that he hath
2053 385 And what is left, to lose it by his country
2054 Were to us all that do ’t and suffer it
2055 A brand to th’ end o’ th’ world.
SICINIUS 2056 This is clean cam.
2057 Merely awry. When he did love his country,
2058 390 It honored him.
⌜SICINIUS⌝ 2059 The service of the foot,
2060 Being once gangrened, is not then respected
2061 For what before it was.
BRUTUS 2062 We’ll hear no more.
2063 395 Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence,
2064 Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
2065 Spread further.
MENENIUS 2066 One word more, one word!
2067 This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find
2068 400 The harm of unscanned swiftness, will too late
2069 Tie leaden pounds to ’s heels. Proceed by process,
2070 Lest parties—as he is beloved—break out
2071 And sack great Rome with Romans.
BRUTUS 2072 If it were so—
SICINIUS 2073 405What do you talk?
2074 Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
2075 Our aediles smote! Ourselves resisted! Come.
2076 Consider this: he has been bred i’ th’ wars
2077 Since he could draw a sword, and is ill schooled
2078 410 In bolted language; meal and bran together
2079 He throws without distinction. Give me leave,
2080 I’ll go to him and undertake to bring him
2081 Where he shall answer by a lawful form,
2082 In peace, to his utmost peril.
FIRST SENATOR 2083 415 Noble tribunes,
2084 It is the humane way: the other course
2086 Unknown to the beginning.
SICINIUS 2087 Noble Menenius,
2088 420 Be you then as the people’s officer.—
2089 Masters, lay down your weapons.
BRUTUS 2090 Go not home.
2091 Meet on the marketplace. ⌜To Menenius.⌝ We’ll
2092 attend you there,
2093 425 Where if you bring not Martius, we’ll proceed
2094 In our first way.
MENENIUS 2095 I’ll bring him to you.
2096 ⌜To Senators.⌝ Let me desire your company. He must
2098 430 Or what is worst will follow.
⌜FIRST⌝ SENATOR 2099 Pray you, let’s to him.