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Coriolanus - Act 5, scene 3
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workCoriolanus - Act 5, scene 3
Act 5, scene 3
Volumnia, accompanied by Virgilia, Valeria, and young Martius, persuades Coriolanus to spare Rome.Enter Coriolanus and Aufidius.
3401 We will before the walls of Rome tomorrow
3402 Set down our host. My partner in this action,
p. 2493403 You must report to th’ Volscian lords how plainly
3404 I have borne this business.
AUFIDIUS 3405 5 Only their ends
3406 You have respected, stopped your ears against
3407 The general suit of Rome, never admitted
3408 A private whisper, no, not with such friends
3409 That thought them sure of you.
CORIOLANUS 3410 10 This last old man,
3411 Whom with a cracked heart I have sent to Rome,
3412 Loved me above the measure of a father,
3413 Nay, godded me indeed. Their latest refuge
3414 Was to send him, for whose old love I have—
3415 15 Though I showed sourly to him—once more offered
3416 The first conditions, which they did refuse
3417 And cannot now accept, to grace him only
3418 That thought he could do more. A very little
3419 I have yielded to. Fresh embassies and suits,
3420 20 Nor from the state nor private friends, hereafter
3421 Will I lend ear to.Shout within.
3422 Ha? What shout is this?
3423 Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow
3424 In the same time ’tis made? I will not.
Enter Virgilia, Volumnia, Valeria, young Martius,
3425 25 My wife comes foremost, then the honored mold
3426 Wherein this trunk was framed, and in her hand
3427 The grandchild to her blood. But out, affection!
3428 All bond and privilege of nature, break!
3429 Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.⌜Virgilia curtsies.⌝
3430 30 What is that curtsy worth? Or those doves’ eyes,
3431 Which can make gods forsworn? I melt and am not
3432 Of stronger earth than others.⌜Volumnia bows.⌝
3433 My mother bows,
3434 As if Olympus to a molehill should
3435 35 In supplication nod; and my young boy
p. 2513436 Hath an aspect of intercession which
3437 Great Nature cries “Deny not!” Let the Volsces
3438 Plow Rome and harrow Italy, I’ll never
3439 Be such a gosling to obey instinct, but stand
3440 40 As if a man were author of himself,
3441 And knew no other kin.
VIRGILIA 3442 My lord and husband.
3443 These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.
3444 The sorrow that delivers us thus changed
3445 45 Makes you think so.
CORIOLANUS 3446 Like a dull actor now,
3447 I have forgot my part, and I am out,
3448 Even to a full disgrace. Best of my flesh,
3449 Forgive my tyranny, but do not say
3450 50 For that “Forgive our Romans.”⌜They kiss.⌝
3451 O, a kiss
3452 Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!
3453 Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss
3454 I carried from thee, dear, and my true lip
3455 55 Hath virgined it e’er since. You gods! I ⌜prate⌝
3456 And the most noble mother of the world
3457 Leave unsaluted. Sink, my knee, i’ th’ earth;Kneels.
3458 Of thy deep duty more impression show
3459 Than that of common sons.
VOLUMNIA 3460 60 O, stand up blest,
3461 Whilst with no softer cushion than the flint
3462 I kneel before thee and unproperly
3463 Show duty, as mistaken all this while
3464 Between the child and parent.⌜She kneels.⌝
CORIOLANUS 3465 65 What’s this?
3466 Your knees to me? To your corrected son?
⌜He raises her up.⌝
3467 Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach
p. 2533468 Fillip the stars! Then let the mutinous winds
3469 Strike the proud cedars ’gainst the fiery sun,
3470 70 Murdering impossibility to make
3471 What cannot be slight work.
VOLUMNIA 3472 Thou art my warrior;
3473 I ⌜holp⌝ to frame thee. Do you know this lady?
3474 The noble sister of Publicola,
3475 75 The moon of Rome, chaste as the icicle
3476 That’s curdied by the frost from purest snow
3477 And hangs on Dian’s temple!—Dear Valeria.
VOLUMNIA, ⌜presenting young Martius⌝
3478 This is a poor epitome of yours,
3479 Which by th’ interpretation of full time
3480 80 May show like all yourself.
CORIOLANUS, ⌜to young Martius⌝ 3481 The god of soldiers,
3482 With the consent of supreme Jove, inform
3483 Thy thoughts with nobleness, that thou mayst prove
3484 To shame unvulnerable, and stick i’ th’ wars
3485 85 Like a great seamark standing every flaw
3486 And saving those that eye thee.
VOLUMNIA, ⌜to young Martius⌝ 3487 Your knee, sirrah.
CORIOLANUS 3488 That’s my brave boy!
3489 Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself
3490 90 Are suitors to you.⌜Young Martius rises.⌝
CORIOLANUS 3491 I beseech you, peace;
3492 Or if you’d ask, remember this before:
3493 The thing I have forsworn to grant may never
3494 Be held by you denials. Do not bid me
3495 95 Dismiss my soldiers or capitulate
3496 Again with Rome’s mechanics. Tell me not
3497 Wherein I seem unnatural; desire not
3498 T’ allay my rages and revenges with
3499 Your colder reasons.
p. 255VOLUMNIA 3500 100 O, no more, no more!
3501 You have said you will not grant us anything;
3502 For we have nothing else to ask but that
3503 Which you deny already. Yet we will ask,
3504 That if you fail in our request, the blame
3505 105 May hang upon your hardness. Therefore hear us.
3506 Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark, for we’ll
3507 Hear naught from Rome in private. ⌜He sits.⌝ Your
3509 Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment
3510 110 And state of bodies would bewray what life
3511 We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself
3512 How more unfortunate than all living women
3513 Are we come hither; since that thy sight, which
3515 115 Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance with
3517 Constrains them weep and shake with fear and
3519 Making the mother, wife, and child to see
3520 120 The son, the husband, and the father tearing
3521 His country’s bowels out. And to poor we
3522 Thine enmity’s most capital. Thou barr’st us
3523 Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort
3524 That all but we enjoy. For how can we—
3525 125 Alas, how can we—for our country pray,
3526 Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,
3527 Whereto we are bound? Alack, or we must lose
3528 The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,
3529 Our comfort in the country. We must find
3530 130 An evident calamity, though we had
3531 Our wish, which side should win, for either thou
3532 Must as a foreign recreant be led
3533 With manacles through our streets, or else
p. 2573534 Triumphantly tread on thy country’s ruin
3535 135 And bear the palm for having bravely shed
3536 Thy wife and children’s blood. For myself, son,
3537 I purpose not to wait on fortune till
3538 These wars determine. If I cannot persuade thee
3539 Rather to show a noble grace to both parts
3540 140 Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner
3541 March to assault thy country than to tread—
3542 Trust to ’t, thou shalt not—on thy mother’s womb
3543 That brought thee to this world.
VIRGILIA 3544 Ay, and mine,
3545 145 That brought you forth this boy to keep your name
3546 Living to time.
YOUNG MARTIUS 3547 He shall not tread on me.
3548 I’ll run away till I am bigger, but then I’ll fight.
3549 Not of a woman’s tenderness to be
3550 150 Requires nor child nor woman’s face to see.—
3551 I have sat too long.⌜He rises.⌝
VOLUMNIA 3552 Nay, go not from us thus.
3553 If it were so, that our request did tend
3554 To save the Romans, thereby to destroy
3555 155 The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn
3557 As poisonous of your honor. No, our suit
3558 Is that you reconcile them, while the Volsces
3559 May say “This mercy we have showed,” the Romans
3560 160 “This we received,” and each in either side
3561 Give the all-hail to thee and cry “Be blest
3562 For making up this peace!” Thou know’st, great son,
3563 The end of war’s uncertain, but this certain,
3564 That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit
3565 165 Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name
3566 Whose repetition will be dogged with curses,
3567 Whose chronicle thus writ: “The man was noble,
3568 But with his last attempt he wiped it out,
p. 2593569 Destroyed his country, and his name remains
3570 170 To th’ ensuing age abhorred.” Speak to me, son.
3571 Thou hast affected the ⌜fine⌝ strains of honor
3572 To imitate the graces of the gods,
3573 To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o’ th’ air
3574 And yet to ⌜charge⌝ thy sulfur with a bolt
3575 175 That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak?
3576 Think’st thou it honorable for a noble man
3577 Still to remember wrongs?—Daughter, speak you.
3578 He cares not for your weeping.—Speak thou, boy.
3579 Perhaps thy childishness will move him more
3580 180 Than can our reasons.—There’s no man in the world
3581 More bound to ’s mother, yet here he lets me prate
3582 Like one i’ th’ stocks. Thou hast never in thy life
3583 Showed thy dear mother any courtesy
3584 When she, poor hen, fond of no second brood,
3585 185 Has ⌜clucked⌝ thee to the wars and safely home,
3586 Loaden with honor. Say my request’s unjust
3587 And spurn me back; but if it be not so,
3588 Thou art not honest, and the gods will plague thee
3589 That thou restrain’st from me the duty which
3590 190 To a mother’s part belongs.—He turns away.—
3591 Down, ladies! Let us shame him with our knees.
3592 To his surname Coriolanus ’longs more pride
3593 Than pity to our prayers. Down! An end.
3594 This is the last. So, we will home to Rome
3595 195 And die among our neighbors.—Nay, behold ’s.
3596 This boy that cannot tell what he would have,
3597 But kneels and holds up hands for fellowship,
3598 Does reason our petition with more strength
3599 Than thou hast to deny ’t.—Come, let us go.
3600 200 This fellow had a Volscian to his mother,
3601 His wife is in Corioles, and his child
p. 2613602 Like him by chance.—Yet give us our dispatch.
3603 I am hushed until our city be afire,
3604 And then I’ll speak a little.
⌜He⌝ holds her by the hand, silent.
CORIOLANUS 3605 205 O mother, mother!
3606 What have you done? Behold, the heavens do ope,
3607 The gods look down, and this unnatural scene
3608 They laugh at. O, my mother, mother, O!
3609 You have won a happy victory to Rome,
3610 210 But, for your son—believe it, O, believe it!—
3611 Most dangerously you have with him prevailed,
3612 If not most mortal to him. But let it come.—
3613 Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,
3614 I’ll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius,
3615 215 Were you in my stead, would you have heard
3616 A mother less? Or granted less, Aufidius?
3617 I was moved withal.
CORIOLANUS 3618 I dare be sworn you were.
3619 And, sir, it is no little thing to make
3620 220 Mine eyes to sweat compassion. But, good sir,
3621 What peace you’ll make advise me. For my part,
3622 I’ll not to Rome. I’ll back with you; and pray you,
3623 Stand to me in this cause.—O mother!—Wife!
⌜He speaks with them aside.⌝
3624 I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and thy honor
3625 225 At difference in thee. Out of that I’ll work
3626 Myself a former fortune.
CORIOLANUS, ⌜to the Women⌝ 3627 Ay, by and by;
3628 But we will drink together, and you shall bear
3629 A better witness back than words, which we,
3630 230 On like conditions, will have countersealed.
3631 Come, enter with us. Ladies, you deserve
3632 To have a temple built you. All the swords
p. 2633633 In Italy, and her confederate arms,
3634 Could not have made this peace.