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    Act 3. Scene I

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    Chapter 14
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    SCENE I. Rome. A street.

    Cornets. Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, all the Gentry, COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other Senators
    CORIOLANUS
    Tullus Aufidius then had made new head?

    LARTIUS
    He had, my lord; and that it was which caused
    Our swifter composition.

    CORIOLANUS
    So then the Volsces stand but as at first,
    Ready, when time shall prompt them, to make road.
    Upon's again.

    COMINIUS
    They are worn, lord consul, so,
    That we shall hardly in our ages see
    Their banners wave again.

    CORIOLANUS
    Saw you Aufidius?

    LARTIUS
    On safe-guard he came to me; and did curse
    Against the Volsces, for they had so vilely
    Yielded the town: he is retired to Antium.

    CORIOLANUS
    Spoke he of me?

    LARTIUS
    He did, my lord.

    CORIOLANUS
    How? what?

    LARTIUS
    How often he had met you, sword to sword;
    That of all things upon the earth he hated
    Your person most, that he would pawn his fortunes
    To hopeless restitution, so he might
    Be call'd your vanquisher.

    CORIOLANUS
    At Antium lives he?

    LARTIUS
    At Antium.

    CORIOLANUS
    I wish I had a cause to seek him there,
    To oppose his hatred fully. Welcome home.

    Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS

    Behold, these are the tribunes of the people,
    The tongues o' the common mouth: I do despise them;
    For they do prank them in authority,
    Against all noble sufferance.

    SICINIUS
    Pass no further.

    CORIOLANUS
    Ha! what is that?

    BRUTUS
    It will be dangerous to go on: no further.

    CORIOLANUS
    What makes this change?

    MENENIUS
    The matter?

    COMINIUS
    Hath he not pass'd the noble and the common?

    BRUTUS
    Cominius, no.

    CORIOLANUS
    Have I had children's voices?

    First Senator
    Tribunes, give way; he shall to the market-place.

    BRUTUS
    The people are incensed against him.

    SICINIUS
    Stop,
    Or all will fall in broil.

    CORIOLANUS
    Are these your herd?
    Must these have voices, that can yield them now
    And straight disclaim their tongues? What are
    your offices?
    You being their mouths, why rule you not their teeth?
    Have you not set them on?

    MENENIUS
    Be calm, be calm.

    CORIOLANUS
    It is a purposed thing, and grows by plot,
    To curb the will of the nobility:
    Suffer't, and live with such as cannot rule
    Nor ever will be ruled.

    BRUTUS
    Call't not a plot:
    The people cry you mock'd them, and of late,
    When corn was given them gratis, you repined;
    Scandal'd the suppliants for the people, call'd them
    Time-pleasers, flatterers, foes to nobleness.

    CORIOLANUS
    Why, this was known before.

    BRUTUS
    Not to them all.

    CORIOLANUS
    Have you inform'd them sithence?

    BRUTUS
    How! I inform them!

    CORIOLANUS
    You are like to do such business.

    BRUTUS
    Not unlike,
    Each way, to better yours.

    CORIOLANUS
    Why then should I be consul? By yond clouds,
    Let me deserve so ill as you, and make me
    Your fellow tribune.

    SICINIUS
    You show too much of that
    For which the people stir: if you will pass
    To where you are bound, you must inquire your way,
    Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit,
    Or never be so noble as a consul,
    Nor yoke with him for tribune.

    MENENIUS
    Let's be calm.

    COMINIUS
    The people are abused; set on. This paltering
    Becomes not Rome, nor has Coriolanus
    Deserved this so dishonour'd rub, laid falsely
    I' the plain way of his merit.

    CORIOLANUS
    Tell me of corn!
    This was my speech, and I will speak't again--

    MENENIUS
    Not now, not now.

    First Senator
    Not in this heat, sir, now.

    CORIOLANUS
    Now, as I live, I will. My nobler friends,
    I crave their pardons:
    For the mutable, rank-scented many, let them
    Regard me as I do not flatter, and
    Therein behold themselves: I say again,
    In soothing them, we nourish 'gainst our senate
    The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
    Which we ourselves have plough'd for, sow'd,
    and scatter'd,
    By mingling them with us, the honour'd number,
    Who lack not virtue, no, nor power, but that
    Which they have given to beggars.

    MENENIUS
    Well, no more.

    First Senator
    No more words, we beseech you.

    CORIOLANUS
    How! no more!
    As for my country I have shed my blood,
    Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs
    Coin words till their decay against those measles,
    Which we disdain should tatter us, yet sought
    The very way to catch them.

    BRUTUS
    You speak o' the people,
    As if you were a god to punish, not
    A man of their infirmity.

    SICINIUS
    'Twere well
    We let the people know't.

    MENENIUS
    What, what? his choler?

    CORIOLANUS
    Choler!
    Were I as patient as the midnight sleep,
    By Jove, 'twould be my mind!

    SICINIUS
    It is a mind
    That shall remain a poison where it is,
    Not poison any further.

    CORIOLANUS
    Shall remain!
    Hear you this Triton of the minnows? mark you
    His absolute 'shall'?

    COMINIUS
    'Twas from the canon.

    CORIOLANUS
    'Shall'!
    O good but most unwise patricians! why,
    You grave but reckless senators, have you thus
    Given Hydra here to choose an officer,
    That with his peremptory 'shall,' being but
    The horn and noise o' the monster's, wants not spirit
    To say he'll turn your current in a ditch,
    And make your channel his? If he have power
    Then vail your ignorance; if none, awake
    Your dangerous lenity. If you are learn'd,
    Be not as common fools; if you are not,
    Let them have cushions by you. You are plebeians,
    If they be senators: and they are no less,
    When, both your voices blended, the great'st taste
    Most palates theirs. They choose their magistrate,
    And such a one as he, who puts his 'shall,'
    His popular 'shall' against a graver bench
    Than ever frown in Greece. By Jove himself!
    It makes the consuls base: and my soul aches
    To know, when two authorities are up,
    Neither supreme, how soon confusion
    May enter 'twixt the gap of both and take
    The one by the other.

    COMINIUS
    Well, on to the market-place.

    CORIOLANUS
    Whoever gave that counsel, to give forth
    The corn o' the storehouse gratis, as 'twas used
    Sometime in Greece,--

    MENENIUS
    Well, well, no more of that.

    CORIOLANUS
    Though there the people had more absolute power,
    I say, they nourish'd disobedience, fed
    The ruin of the state.

    BRUTUS
    Why, shall the people give
    One that speaks thus their voice?

    CORIOLANUS
    I'll give my reasons,
    More worthier than their voices. They know the corn
    Was not our recompense, resting well assured
    That ne'er did service for't: being press'd to the war,
    Even when the navel of the state was touch'd,
    They would not thread the gates. This kind of service
    Did not deserve corn gratis. Being i' the war
    Their mutinies and revolts, wherein they show'd
    Most valour, spoke not for them: the accusation
    Which they have often made against the senate,
    All cause unborn, could never be the motive
    Of our so frank donation. Well, what then?
    How shall this bisson multitude digest
    The senate's courtesy? Let deeds express
    What's like to be their words: 'we did request it;
    We are the greater poll, and in true fear
    They gave us our demands.' Thus we debase
    The nature of our seats and make the rabble
    Call our cares fears; which will in time
    Break ope the locks o' the senate and bring in
    The crows to peck the eagles.

    MENENIUS
    Come, enough.

    BRUTUS
    Enough, with over-measure.

    CORIOLANUS
    No, take more:
    What may be sworn by, both divine and human,
    Seal what I end withal! This double worship,
    Where one part does disdain with cause, the other
    Insult without all reason, where gentry, title, wisdom,
    Cannot conclude but by the yea and no
    Of general ignorance,--it must omit
    Real necessities, and give way the while
    To unstable slightness: purpose so barr'd,
    it follows,
    Nothing is done to purpose. Therefore, beseech you,--
    You that will be less fearful than discreet,
    That love the fundamental part of state
    More than you doubt the change on't, that prefer
    A noble life before a long, and wish
    To jump a body with a dangerous physic
    That's sure of death without it, at once pluck out
    The multitudinous tongue; let them not lick
    The sweet which is their poison: your dishonour
    Mangles true judgment and bereaves the state
    Of that integrity which should become't,
    Not having the power to do the good it would,
    For the in which doth control't.

    BRUTUS
    Has said enough.

    SICINIUS
    Has spoken like a traitor, and shall answer
    As traitors do.

    CORIOLANUS
    Thou wretch, despite o'erwhelm thee!
    What should the people do with these bald tribunes?
    On whom depending, their obedience fails
    To the greater bench: in a rebellion,
    When what's not meet, but what must be, was law,
    Then were they chosen: in a better hour,
    Let what is meet be said it must be meet,
    And throw their power i' the dust.

    BRUTUS
    Manifest treason!

    SICINIUS
    This a consul? no.

    BRUTUS
    The aediles, ho!

    Enter an AEdile

    Let him be apprehended.

    SICINIUS
    Go, call the people:

    Exit AEdile

    in whose name myself
    Attach thee as a traitorous innovator,
    A foe to the public weal: obey, I charge thee,
    And follow to thine answer.

    CORIOLANUS
    Hence, old goat!
    Senators, & C We'll surety him.

    COMINIUS
    Aged sir, hands off.

    CORIOLANUS
    Hence, rotten thing! or I shall shake thy bones
    Out of thy garments.

    SICINIUS
    Help, ye citizens!

    Enter a rabble of Citizens (Plebeians), with the AEdiles

    MENENIUS
    On both sides more respect.

    SICINIUS
    Here's he that would take from you all your power.

    BRUTUS
    Seize him, AEdiles!

    Citizens
    Down with him! down with him!
    Senators, & C Weapons, weapons, weapons!

    They all bustle about CORIOLANUS, crying

    'Tribunes!' 'Patricians!' 'Citizens!' 'What, ho!'
    'Sicinius!' 'Brutus!' 'Coriolanus!' 'Citizens!'
    'Peace, peace, peace!' 'Stay, hold, peace!'

    MENENIUS
    What is about to be? I am out of breath;
    Confusion's near; I cannot speak. You, tribunes
    To the people! Coriolanus, patience!
    Speak, good Sicinius.

    SICINIUS
    Hear me, people; peace!

    Citizens
    Let's hear our tribune: peace Speak, speak, speak.

    SICINIUS
    You are at point to lose your liberties:
    Marcius would have all from you; Marcius,
    Whom late you have named for consul.

    MENENIUS
    Fie, fie, fie!
    This is the way to kindle, not to quench.

    First Senator
    To unbuild the city and to lay all flat.

    SICINIUS
    What is the city but the people?

    Citizens
    True,
    The people are the city.

    BRUTUS
    By the consent of all, we were establish'd
    The people's magistrates.

    Citizens
    You so remain.

    MENENIUS
    And so are like to do.

    COMINIUS
    That is the way to lay the city flat;
    To bring the roof to the foundation,
    And bury all, which yet distinctly ranges,
    In heaps and piles of ruin.

    SICINIUS
    This deserves death.

    BRUTUS
    Or let us stand to our authority,
    Or let us lose it. We do here pronounce,
    Upon the part o' the people, in whose power
    We were elected theirs, Marcius is worthy
    Of present death.

    SICINIUS
    Therefore lay hold of him;
    Bear him to the rock Tarpeian, and from thence
    Into destruction cast him.

    BRUTUS
    AEdiles, seize him!

    Citizens
    Yield, Marcius, yield!

    MENENIUS
    Hear me one word;
    Beseech you, tribunes, hear me but a word.

    AEdile
    Peace, peace!

    MENENIUS
    [To BRUTUS] Be that you seem, truly your
    country's friend,
    And temperately proceed to what you would
    Thus violently redress.

    BRUTUS
    Sir, those cold ways,
    That seem like prudent helps, are very poisonous
    Where the disease is violent. Lay hands upon him,
    And bear him to the rock.

    CORIOLANUS
    No, I'll die here.

    Drawing his sword

    There's some among you have beheld me fighting:
    Come, try upon yourselves what you have seen me.

    MENENIUS
    Down with that sword! Tribunes, withdraw awhile.

    BRUTUS
    Lay hands upon him.

    COMINIUS
    Help Marcius, help,
    You that be noble; help him, young and old!

    Citizens
    Down with him, down with him!

    In this mutiny, the Tribunes, the AEdiles, and the People, are beat in

    MENENIUS
    Go, get you to your house; be gone, away!
    All will be naught else.

    Second Senator
    Get you gone.

    COMINIUS
    Stand fast;
    We have as many friends as enemies.

    MENENIUS
    Sham it be put to that?

    First Senator
    The gods forbid!
    I prithee, noble friend, home to thy house;
    Leave us to cure this cause.

    MENENIUS
    For 'tis a sore upon us,
    You cannot tent yourself: be gone, beseech you.

    COMINIUS
    Come, sir, along with us.

    CORIOLANUS
    I would they were barbarians--as they are,
    Though in Rome litter'd--not Romans--as they are not,
    Though calved i' the porch o' the Capitol--

    MENENIUS
    Be gone;
    Put not your worthy rage into your tongue;
    One time will owe another.

    CORIOLANUS
    On fair ground
    I could beat forty of them.

    COMINIUS
    I could myself
    Take up a brace o' the best of them; yea, the
    two tribunes:
    But now 'tis odds beyond arithmetic;
    And manhood is call'd foolery, when it stands
    Against a falling fabric. Will you hence,
    Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend
    Like interrupted waters and o'erbear
    What they are used to bear.

    MENENIUS
    Pray you, be gone:
    I'll try whether my old wit be in request
    With those that have but little: this must be patch'd
    With cloth of any colour.

    COMINIUS
    Nay, come away.

    Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, and others

    A Patrician
    This man has marr'd his fortune.

    MENENIUS
    His nature is too noble for the world:
    He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
    Or Jove for's power to thunder. His heart's his mouth:
    What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent;
    And, being angry, does forget that ever
    He heard the name of death.

    A noise within

    Here's goodly work!

    Second Patrician
    I would they were abed!

    MENENIUS
    I would they were in Tiber! What the vengeance!
    Could he not speak 'em fair?

    Re-enter BRUTUS and SICINIUS, with the rabble

    SICINIUS
    Where is this viper
    That would depopulate the city and
    Be every man himself?

    MENENIUS
    You worthy tribunes,--

    SICINIUS
    He shall be thrown down the Tarpeian rock
    With rigorous hands: he hath resisted law,
    And therefore law shall scorn him further trial
    Than the severity of the public power
    Which he so sets at nought.

    First Citizen
    He shall well know
    The noble tribunes are the people's mouths,
    And we their hands.

    Citizens
    He shall, sure on't.

    MENENIUS
    Sir, sir,--

    SICINIUS
    Peace!

    MENENIUS
    Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt
    With modest warrant.

    SICINIUS
    Sir, how comes't that you
    Have holp to make this rescue?

    MENENIUS
    Hear me speak:
    As I do know the consul's worthiness,
    So can I name his faults,--

    SICINIUS
    Consul! what consul?

    MENENIUS
    The consul Coriolanus.

    BRUTUS
    He consul!

    Citizens
    No, no, no, no, no.

    MENENIUS
    If, by the tribunes' leave, and yours, good people,
    I may be heard, I would crave a word or two;
    The which shall turn you to no further harm
    Than so much loss of time.

    SICINIUS
    Speak briefly then;
    For we are peremptory to dispatch
    This viperous traitor: to eject him hence
    Were but one danger, and to keep him here
    Our certain death: therefore it is decreed
    He dies to-night.

    MENENIUS
    Now the good gods forbid
    That our renowned Rome, whose gratitude
    Towards her deserved children is enroll'd
    In Jove's own book, like an unnatural dam
    Should now eat up her own!

    SICINIUS
    He's a disease that must be cut away.

    MENENIUS
    O, he's a limb that has but a disease;
    Mortal, to cut it off; to cure it, easy.
    What has he done to Rome that's worthy death?
    Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost--
    Which, I dare vouch, is more than that he hath,
    By many an ounce--he dropp'd it for his country;
    And what is left, to lose it by his country,
    Were to us all, that do't and suffer it,
    A brand to the end o' the world.

    SICINIUS
    This is clean kam.

    BRUTUS
    Merely awry: when he did love his country,
    It honour'd him.

    MENENIUS
    The service of the foot
    Being once gangrened, is not then respected
    For what before it was.

    BRUTUS
    We'll hear no more.
    Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence:
    Lest his infection, being of catching nature,
    Spread further.

    MENENIUS
    One word more, one word.
    This tiger-footed rage, when it shall find
    The harm of unscann'd swiftness, will too late
    Tie leaden pounds to's heels. Proceed by process;
    Lest parties, as he is beloved, break out,
    And sack great Rome with Romans.

    BRUTUS
    If it were so,--

    SICINIUS
    What do ye talk?
    Have we not had a taste of his obedience?
    Our aediles smote? ourselves resisted? Come.

    MENENIUS
    Consider this: he has been bred i' the wars
    Since he could draw a sword, and is ill school'd
    In bolted language; meal and bran together
    He throws without distinction. Give me leave,
    I'll go to him, and undertake to bring him
    Where he shall answer, by a lawful form,
    In peace, to his utmost peril.

    First Senator
    Noble tribunes,
    It is the humane way: the other course
    Will prove too bloody, and the end of it
    Unknown to the beginning.

    SICINIUS
    Noble Menenius,
    Be you then as the people's officer.
    Masters, lay down your weapons.

    BRUTUS
    Go not home.

    SICINIUS
    Meet on the market-place. We'll attend you there:
    Where, if you bring not Marcius, we'll proceed
    In our first way.

    MENENIUS
    I'll bring him to you.

    To the Senators

    Let me desire your company: he must come,
    Or what is worst will follow.

    First Senator
    Pray you, let's to him.

    Exeunt
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