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Coriolanus - Act 5, scene 2
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Act 5, scene 2
Menenius fails to shake Coriolanus’s determination to destroy Rome.Enter Menenius to the Watch, or Guard.
FIRST WATCH 3284 Stay! Whence are you?
SECOND WATCH 3285 Stand, and go back.
3286 You guard like men; ’tis well. But by your leave,
3287 I am an officer of state and come
3288 5 To speak with Coriolanus.
FIRST WATCH 3289 From whence?
MENENIUS 3290 From Rome.
3291 You may not pass; you must return. Our general
3292 Will no more hear from thence.
3293 10 You’ll see your Rome embraced with fire before
3294 You’ll speak with Coriolanus.
MENENIUS 3295 Good my friends,
3296 If you have heard your general talk of Rome
3297 And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks
3298 15 My name hath touched your ears. It is Menenius.
3299 Be it so; go back. The virtue of your name
3300 Is not here passable.
MENENIUS 3301 I tell thee, fellow,
3302 Thy general is my lover. I have been
3303 20 The book of his good acts, whence men have read
3304 His fame unparalleled happily amplified;
3305 For I have ever verified my friends—
3306 Of whom he’s chief—with all the size that verity
3307 Would without lapsing suffer. Nay, sometimes,
p. 2433308 25 Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground,
3309 I have tumbled past the throw, and in his praise
3310 Have almost stamped the leasing. Therefore, fellow,
3311 I must have leave to pass.
FIRST WATCH 3312 Faith, sir, if you had told as many lies in
3313 30 his behalf as you have uttered words in your own,
3314 you should not pass here, no, though it were as virtuous
3315 to lie as to live chastely. Therefore, go back.
MENENIUS 3316 Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius,
3317 always factionary on the party of your
3318 35 general.
SECOND WATCH 3319 Howsoever you have been his liar, as
3320 you say you have, I am one that, telling true under
3321 him, must say you cannot pass. Therefore, go back.
MENENIUS 3322 Has he dined, can’st thou tell? For I would
3323 40 not speak with him till after dinner.
FIRST WATCH 3324 You are a Roman, are you?
MENENIUS 3325 I am, as thy general is.
FIRST WATCH 3326 Then you should hate Rome as he does.
3327 Can you, when you have pushed out your gates the
3328 45 very defender of them, and, in a violent popular
3329 ignorance given your enemy your shield, think to
3330 front his revenges with the easy groans of old
3331 women, the virginal palms of your daughters, or
3332 with the palsied intercession of such a decayed
3333 50 dotant as you seem to be? Can you think to blow
3334 out the intended fire your city is ready to flame in
3335 with such weak breath as this? No, you are deceived.
3336 Therefore, back to Rome and prepare for
3337 your execution. You are condemned. Our general
3338 55 has sworn you out of reprieve and pardon.
MENENIUS 3339 Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he
3340 would use me with estimation.
FIRST WATCH 3341 Come, my captain knows you not.
MENENIUS 3342 I mean thy general.
p. 245FIRST WATCH 3343 60My general cares not for you. Back, I say,
3344 go, lest I let forth your half pint of blood. Back!
3345 That’s the utmost of your having. Back!
MENENIUS 3346 Nay, but fellow, fellow—
Enter Coriolanus with Aufidius.
CORIOLANUS 3347 What’s the matter?
MENENIUS ⌜to First Watch⌝ 3348 65Now, you companion, I’ll
3349 say an errand for you. You shall know now that I
3350 am in estimation; you shall perceive that a Jack
3351 guardant cannot office me from my son Coriolanus.
3352 Guess but ⌜by⌝ my entertainment with him
3353 70 if thou stand’st not i’ th’ state of hanging or of some
3354 death more long in spectatorship and crueler in
3355 suffering; behold now presently, and swoon for
3356 what’s to come upon thee. ⌜(To Coriolanus.)⌝ The
3357 glorious gods sit in hourly synod about thy particular
3358 75 prosperity and love thee no worse than thy old
3359 father Menenius does! O my son, my son! ⌜(He
weeps.)⌝ 3360 Thou art preparing fire for us; look thee,
3361 here’s water to quench it. I was hardly moved to
3362 come to thee; but being assured none but myself
3363 80 could move thee, I have been blown out of your
3364 gates with sighs, and conjure thee to pardon Rome
3365 and thy petitionary countrymen. The good gods
3366 assuage thy wrath and turn the dregs of it upon
3367 this varlet here, this, who, like a block, hath denied
3368 85 my access to thee.
CORIOLANUS 3369 Away!
MENENIUS 3370 How? Away?
3371 Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs
3372 Are servanted to others. Though I owe
3373 90 My revenge properly, my remission lies
3374 In Volscian breasts. That we have been familiar,
3375 Ingrate forgetfulness shall poison rather
p. 2473376 Than pity note how much. Therefore, begone.
3377 Mine ears against your suits are stronger than
3378 95 Your gates against my force. Yet, for I loved thee,
3379 Take this along; I writ it for thy sake,
⌜He gives Menenius a paper.⌝
3380 And would have sent it. Another word, Menenius,
3381 I will not hear thee speak.—This man, Aufidius,
3382 Was my beloved in Rome; yet thou behold’st.
AUFIDIUS 3383 100You keep a constant temper.They exit.
The Guard and Menenius remain.
FIRST WATCH 3384 Now, sir, is your name Menenius?
SECOND WATCH 3385 ’Tis a spell, you see, of much power. You
3386 know the way home again.
FIRST WATCH 3387 Do you hear how we are shent for keeping
3388 105 your Greatness back?
SECOND WATCH 3389 What cause do you think I have to
MENENIUS 3391 I neither care for th’ world nor your general.
3392 For such things as you, I can scarce think
3393 110 there’s any, you’re so slight. He that hath a will to
3394 die by himself fears it not from another. Let your
3395 general do his worst. For you, be that you are,
3396 long; and your misery increase with your age! I say
3397 to you, as I was said to, away!He exits.
FIRST WATCH 3398 115A noble fellow, I warrant him.
SECOND WATCH 3399 The worthy fellow is our general. He’s
3400 the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken.