Coriolanus


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter Menenius, with the two Tribunes of the People,

Sicinius and Brutus


MENENIUS

The augurer tells me we shall have news
augurer (n.) Roman religious official who intepreted and foretold events See Topics: Roman history

tonight.


BRUTUS

Good or bad?


MENENIUS

Not according to the prayer of the people, for

they love not Martius.


SICINIUS

Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.


MENENIUS

Pray you, who does the wolf love?


SICINIUS

The lamb.


MENENIUS

Ay, to devour him, as the hungry plebeians

would the noble Martius.


BRUTUS

He's a lamb indeed, that baas like a bear.


MENENIUS

He's a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You

two are old men; tell me one thing that I shall ask you.


BOTH

Well, sir?


MENENIUS

In what enormity is Martius poor in that you
enormity (n.) vice, wickedness, transgression

two have not in abundance?


BRUTUS

He's poor in no one fault, but stored with all.
stored (adj.) well supplied, rich, plentifully provided


SICINIUS

Especially in pride.


BRUTUS

And topping all others in boasting.
top (v.) 1 surpass, exceed, outstrip


MENENIUS

This is strange now. Do you two know how

you are censured here in the city – I mean of us o'th'
censure (v.) 1 judge, think of, give an opinion of [not involving blame]

right-hand file? Do you?
file (n.) 1 rank of soldiers, formation


BOTH

Why, how are we censured?


MENENIUS

Because you talk of pride now – will you not

be angry?


BOTH

Well, well, sir, well?


MENENIUS

Why, 'tis no great matter, for a very little

thief of occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience.
occasion (n.) 1 circumstance, opportunity

Give your dispositions the reins and be angry at your
disposition (n.) 3 inclination, mood, frame of mind

pleasures – at the least, if you take it as a pleasure to you

in being so. You blame Martius for being proud?


BRUTUS

We do it not alone, sir.


MENENIUS

I know you can do very little alone, for your

helps are many, or else your actions would grow wondrous
wondrous (adv.) wonderfully, extraordinarily, marvellously

single. Your abilities are too infant-like for doing
single (adj.) 3 poor, feeble, slight, trivial

much alone. You talk of pride. O that you could turn

your eyes toward the napes of your necks, and make but

an interior survey of your good selves! O that you could!


BRUTUS

What then, sir?


MENENIUS

Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,
discover (v.) 2 recognize, distinguish, discern

proud, violent, testy magistrates – alias fools –

as any in Rome.


SICINIUS

Menenius, you are known well enough too.


MENENIUS

I am known to be a humorous patrician, and
humorous (adj.) 1 capricious, moody, temperamental

one that loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying
allaying (adj.) diluting, watering down

Tiber in't; said to be something imperfect in favouring
imperfect (adj.) 2 faulty, lacking in character

the first complaint, hasty and tinder-like upon too
something (adv.) 1 somewhat, rather See Topics: Frequency count
tinder-like (adj.) quick-tempered, inflammable, volatile

trivial motion; one that converses more with the buttock
converse (v.) associate, keep company
motion (n.) 4 cause, prompting, provocation

of the night than with the forehead of the morning.

What I think I utter, and spend my malice in my breath.
spend (v.) 2 expend, express, give vent to

Meeting two such wealsmen as you are – I cannot call
wealsman (n.) public servant, one devoted to the well-being of the state

you Lycurguses – if the drink you give me touch my

palate adversely, I make a crooked face at it. I cannot
crooked (adj.) 3 curling, twisting

say your worships have delivered the matter well, when
deliver (v.) 1 report [to], communicate [to], tell, describe

I find the ass in compound with the major part of your
compound (n.) 1 union, combination, association

syllables. And though I must be content to bear with

those that say you are reverend grave men, yet they lie
content (adj.) 2 contented, patient, accepting, undisturbed
grave (adj.) 2 important, dignified, serious

deadly that tell you have good faces. If you see this in the
deadly (adv.) 1 extremely, implacably, to the death
good (adj.) 5 honest, virtuous, honourable
tell (v.) 5 say, assert, put it about

map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known well
microcosm (n.) little world

enough too? What harm can your bisson conspectuities
bisson (adj.) 1 blear-eyed, half-blind
conspectuity (n.) faculty of sight, insight, vision

glean out of this character, if I be known well enough too?
character (n.) 2 personality sketch, personal description


BRUTUS

Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.


MENENIUS

You know neither me, yourselves, nor any

thing. You are ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs.
cap (n.) 1 removal of a cap, respectful salutation
knave (n.) 3 boy, lad, fellow
leg (n.) 1 bending of a knee, genuflection, obeisance

You wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a
forenoon (n.) part of the day before noon
wholesome (adj.) 4 profitable, valuable, promoting well-being

cause between an orange-wife and a faucet-seller, and
cause (n.) 5 court case, legal action, matter before the court
faucet-seller (n.) seller of taps for wine-barrels
orange-wife (n.) woman who sells oranges

then rejourn the controversy of threepence to a second
rejourn (v.) put off, postpone, adjourn

day of audience. When you are hearing a matter between
audience (n.) 1 hearing, attention, reception See Topics: Attention signals

party and party, if you chance to be pinched with the
party (n.) 2 litigant, disputant, side

colic, you make faces like mummers, set up the bloody
bloody (adj.) 4 portending bloodshed; or: blood-red, scarlet
mummer (n.) actor in a dumb-show

flag against all patience, and, in roaring for a chamber-pot,
flag, set up the bloody declare war, engage in battle

dismiss the controversy bleeding, the more entangled
bleeding (adj.) 2 unhealed, uncured, undecided

by your hearing. All the peace you make in their

cause is calling both the parties knaves. You are a pair of
cause (n.) 5 court case, legal action, matter before the court
knave (n.) 1 scoundrel, rascal, rogue See Topics: Frequency count

strange ones.


BRUTUS

Come, come, you are well understood to be a perfecter

giber for the table than a necessary bencher in the
bencher (n.) jurist, magistrate, statesman
giber (n.) joker, wit, comedian
necessary (adj.) 2 providing a useful service, indispensable
table (n.) 4 dinner table, dinner party

Capitol.


MENENIUS

Our very priests must become mockers, if they

shall encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are.
subject (n.) 3 object, thing, creature

When you speak best unto the purpose, it is not worth
purpose (n.) 2 point at issue, matter in hand

the wagging of your beards; and your beards deserve not

so honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's cushion or to
botcher (n.) mender of old clothes, tailor who does repairs, patcher-up

be entombed in an ass's pack-saddle. Yet you must be

saying Martius is proud; who, in a cheap estimation, is

worth all your predecessors since Deucalion, though

peradventure some of the best of 'em were hereditary
peradventure (adv.) perhaps, maybe, very likely See Topics: Frequency count

hangmen. Good-e'en to your worships. More of your

conversation would infect my brain, being the herdsmen
conversation (n.) 2 social interaction, society, dealings

of the beastly plebeians. I will be bold to take my leave

of you.

Brutus and Sicinius stand aside

Enter Volumnia, Virgilia, and Valeria

How now, my as fair as noble ladies – and the moon,

were she earthly, no nobler – whither do you follow your

eyes so fast?


VOLUMNIA

Honourable Menenius, my boy Martius

approaches. For the love of Juno, let's go.


MENENIUS

Ha? Martius coming home?


VOLUMNIA

Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous
prosperous (adj.) 2 favourable, happy, showing success

approbation.
approbation (n.) 1 expression of approval, pleasurable confirmation, ready sanctioning


MENENIUS

Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!

Martius coming home?


VIRGILIA and VALERIA

Nay,'tis true.


VOLUMNIA

Look, here's a letter from him. The state hath

another, his wife another, and I think there's one at home

for you.


MENENIUS

I will make my very house reel tonight. A

letter for me?


VIRGILIA

Yes, certain, there's a letter for you, I saw't.


MENENIUS

A letter for me! It gives me an estate of seven
estate (n.) 6 endowment, bestowal

years' health, in which time I will make a lip at the physician.
lip, make a curl a lip, mock, sneer

The most sovereign prescription in Galen is but
sovereign (adj.) 1 excellent, excelling, superlative

empiricutic and, to this preservative, of no better report
empiricutic (n./adj.) quackery, imposture; quackish, fraudulent

than a horse-drench. Is he not wounded? He was wont
horse-drench (n.) dose of horse medicine

to come home wounded.


VIRGILIA

O, no, no, no.


VOLUMNIA

O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for't.


MENENIUS

So do I too – if it be not too much. Brings 'a

victory in his pocket, the wounds become him.
become (v.) 1 be fitting, befit, be appropriate to See Topics: Frequency count


VOLUMNIA

On's brows, Menenius. He comes the third
brow (n.) 4 forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]

time home with the oaken garland.


MENENIUS

Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?
discipline (v.) 1 thrash, trounce, beat


VOLUMNIA

Titus Lartius writes they fought together,

but Aufidius got off.


MENENIUS

And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him

that. An he had stayed by him, I would not have been so

fidiused for all the chests in Corioles and the gold that's
fidiuse (v.) [jocular form of ‘Aufidius’] treated as Aufidius was treated

in them. Is the Senate possessed of this?
possess (v.) 1 notify, inform, acquaint


VOLUMNIA

Good ladies, let's go. Yes, yes, yes! The

Senate has letters from the general, wherein he gives

my son the whole name of the war. He hath in this
name (n.) 2 honour, credit, glory

action outdone his former deeds doubly.


VALERIA

In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.


MENENIUS

Wondrous? Ay, I warrant you, and not without

his true purchasing.
purchase (v.) 1 acquire, obtain, win


VIRGILIA

The gods grant them true.


VOLUMNIA

True? Pow waw!


MENENIUS

True? I'll be sworn they are true. Where is

he wounded? (To the Tribunes) God save your good

worships! Martius is coming home. He has more cause

to be proud. – Where is he wounded?


VOLUMNIA

I'th' shoulder and i'th' left arm. There will be

large cicatrices to show the people, when he shall stand
cicatrice (n.) scar, scar-like mark

for his place. He received in the repulse of Tarquin
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count

seven hurts i'th' body.


MENENIUS

One i'th' neck, and two i'th' thigh – there's nine

that I know.


VOLUMNIA

He had before this last expedition twenty-five

wounds upon him.


MENENIUS

Now it's twenty-seven. Every gash was an

enemy's grave. (A shout and flourish) Hark, the trumpets.


VOLUMNIA

These are the ushers of Martius. Before him

he carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears.

Death, that dark spirit, in's nervy arm doth lie,
nervy (adj.) muscular, sinewy, vigorous

Which, being advanced, declines, and then men die.
advance (v.) 1 raise, lift up, upraise
decline (v.) 2 fall, descend, come down

A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter Cominius the

General, and Titus Lartius; between them, Coriolanus,

crowned with an oaken garland; with Captains and

Soldiers and a Herald


HERALD

Know, Rome, that all alone Martius did fight

Within Corioles gates, where he hath won,

With fame, a name to Caius Martius; these

In honour follows ‘ Coriolanus.’

Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!

(Sound flourish)


ALL

Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!


CORIOLANUS

No more of this; it does offend my heart.

Pray now, no more.


COMINIUS

                         Look, sir, your mother!


CORIOLANUS

                                                         O,

You have, I know, petitioned all the gods

For my prosperity!
prosperity (n.) success, good fortune

He kneels


VOLUMNIA

                         Nay, my good soldier, up,

My gentle Martius, worthy Caius, and
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count

By deed-achieving honour newly named –
deed-achieving (adj.) achieved by deeds, won by actions

What is it? – Coriolanus must I call thee? –

But, O, thy wife!
gracious (adj.) 9 delightful, lovely, charming


CORIOLANUS

                         My gracious silence, hail!

Wouldst thou have laughed had I come coffined home,

That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,
triumph (v.) exult, gloat, glory

Such eyes the widows in Corioles wear,

And mothers that lack sons.


MENENIUS

                         Now the gods crown thee!


CORIOLANUS

And live you yet? (To Valeria) O my sweet lady, pardon.


VOLUMNIA

I know not where to turn. O, welcome home.

And welcome, general, and y'are welcome all.


MENENIUS

A hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep

And I could laugh, I am light and heavy. Welcome.
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy See Topics: Frequency count
light (adj.) 2 joyful, merry, light-hearted

A curse begnaw at very root on's heart
begnaw (v.) gnaw away, eat away, chew
root (n.) 1 bottom [of one's heart]

That is not glad to see thee. You are three

That Rome should dote on. Yet, by the faith of men,

We have some old crab-trees here at home that will not
crab-tree (n./adj.) crab-apple tree

Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors.
relish (n.) 2 liking, taste, inclination

We call a nettle but a nettle and

The faults of fools but folly.


COMINIUS

                         Ever right.


CORIOLANUS

Menenius ever, ever.


HERALD

Give way there, and go on.


CORIOLANUS

(to Volumnia and Virgilia)

                         Your hand, and yours:

Ere in our own house I do shade my head,

The good patricians must be visited,

From whom I have received not only greetings,

But with them change of honours.
honour (n.) 3 noble rank, position of dignity, title of renown


VOLUMNIA

                         I have lived

To see inherited my very wishes
inherit (v.) 3 realize, come to fruition

And the buildings of my fancy. Only
building (n.) 3 edifice, construction
fancy (n.) 5 imagining, flight of fancy, fanciful thought

There's one thing wanting, which I doubt not but

Our Rome will cast upon thee.


CORIOLANUS

                         Know, good mother,

I had rather be their servant in my way

Than sway with them in theirs.


COMINIUS

                         On, to the Capitol.

Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before.
sway (v.) 1 control, rule, direct, govern

Brutus and Sicinius come forward
bleared (adj.) blear-eyed, tear-dimmed


BRUTUS

All tongues speak of him and the bleared sights

Are spectacled to see him. Your prattling nurse
spectacle (v.) fit with spectacles, give glasses

Into a rapture lets her baby cry
rapture (n.) 2 fit, seizure, convulsion

While she chats him. The kitchen malkin pins
chat (v.) go on about, gossip about, talk of
malkin (n.) wench, drab, slut

Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck,
lockram (n.) type of Breton linen fabric
reechy (adj.) 1 dirty, filthy, squalid

Clambering the walls to eye him. Stalls, bulks, windows
bulk (n.) 3 projecting part of a building, structure for displaying goods at the front of a shop
stall (n.) stand in front of a shop displaying goods for sale

Are smothered up, leads filled, and ridges horsed
horse (v.) 1 sit astride [as on a horse], straddle
lead (n.) 3 (plural) lead-covered flat roofs
ridge (n.) roof ridge, rooftop
smother up (v.) conceal, hide, cover up

With variable complexions, all agreeing
complexion (n.) 2 constitution, physical make-up, outward appearance
variable (adj.) varied, diverse, different

In earnestness to see him. Seld-shown flamens
flamen (n.) priest serving a particular deity See Topics: Roman history
seld-shown (adj.) seldom-seen, rarely in the public eye

Do press among the popular throngs and puff

To win a vulgar station. Our veiled dames
station (n.) 2 place to stand in, spot to see from
vulgar (adj.) 1 public, general, common

Commit the war of white and damask in
damask (adj./n.) light-red, pink [colour of the damask rose]

Their nicely gawded cheeks to th' wanton spoil
gawded (adj.) made-up, prepared with cosmetics, adorned
nicely (adv.) 3 carefully, skilfully, ingeniously
spoil (n.) 1 plundering, pillaging, despoiling
wanton (adj.) 3 unrestrained, undisciplined, boisterous, uncontrolled

Of Phoebus' burning kisses. Such a pother
pother (n.) fuss, uproar, commotion

As if that whatsoever god who leads him

Were slily crept into his human powers
power (n.) 6 (plural) physical faculties, bodily strength

And gave him graceful posture.
posture (n.) 1 bearing, demeanour, presence
sudden, of / on / upon a / the 2 soon, at an early date


SICINIUS

                         On the sudden

I warrant him consul.
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function


BRUTUS

                         Then our office may

During his power go sleep.
power (n.) 3 authority, government


SICINIUS

He cannot temperately transport his honours
temperately (adv.) steadily, calmly, moderately
transport (v.) 1 carry off, move along

From where he should begin and end, but will

Lose those he hath won.


BRUTUS

                         In that there's comfort.


SICINIUS

                                                         Doubt not

The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
stand for (v.) 2 represent, serve, uphold

Upon their ancient malice will forget
ancient, aunchient (adj.) 1 long-established, long-standing
malice (n.) hostility, hatred, ill-will, enmity
upon (prep.) 5 owing to

With the least cause these his new honours, which

That he will give them make I as little question

As he is proud to do't.


BRUTUS

                         I heard him swear,

Were he to stand for consul, never would he

Appear i'th' market-place nor on him put

The napless vesture of humility,
napless (adj.) threadbare, worn, frayed
vesture (n.) garment, clothing, garb, costume

Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds

To th' people, beg their stinking breaths.


SICINIUS

                         'Tis right.


BRUTUS

It was his word. O, he would miss it rather
miss (v.) 1 forgo, do without, go without

Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him
carry (v.) 1 secure, obtain, gain
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

And the desire of the nobles.


SICINIUS

                         I wish no better

Than have him hold that purpose and to put it
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

In execution.
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count


BRUTUS

                         'Tis most like he will.


SICINIUS

It shall be to him then as our good wills,
good (n.) 3 interest, advantage, benefit
will (v.), past form would 3 require, demand, need

A sure destruction.


BRUTUS

                         So it must fall out

To him, or our authority's for an end.

We must suggest the people in what hatred
suggest (v.) 3 [of an idea] insinuate [to], make hints [to]

He still hath held them; that to's power he would
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders and
power (n.) 3 authority, government

Dispropertied their freedoms, holding them
disproperty (v.) dispossess, deprive, strip [someone of]

In human action and capacity

Of no more soul nor fitness for the world

Than camels in the war, who have their provand
provand (n.) provender, provisions, food

Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows

For sinking under them.
suggest (v.) 3 [of an idea] insinuate [to], make hints [to]


SICINIUS

                         This, as you say, suggested

At some time when his soaring insolence

Shall touch the people – which time shall not want,
teach (v.) 1 give direction to, lecture
touch (v.) 3 affect, move, stir

If he be put upon't, and that's as easy
put on (v.) 1 instigate, provoke, incite
put upon (v.) provoke into doing, encourage into

As to set dogs on sheep – will be his fire

To kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze

Shall darken him for ever.

Enter a Messenger
darken (v.) obscure, eclipse, deprive of fame


BRUTUS

                         What's the matter?


MESSENGER

You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought

That Martius shall be consul.

I have seen the dumb men throng to see him and

The blind to hear him speak. Matrons flung gloves,
matron (n.) married woman

Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers,
handkercher (n.) handkerchief

Upon him as he passed. The nobles bended

As to Jove's statue, and the commons made

A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts.

I never saw the like.


BRUTUS

                         Let's to the Capitol,

And carry with us ears and eyes for th' time,

But hearts for the event.


SICINIUS

                         Have with you.

Exeunt
event (n.) outcome, issue, consequence

 
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