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    Act 5. Scene III

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    Chapter 26
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    SCENE III. The tent of Coriolanus.

    Enter CORIOLANUS, AUFIDIUS, and others
    CORIOLANUS
    We will before the walls of Rome tomorrow
    Set down our host. My partner in this action,
    You must report to the Volscian lords, how plainly
    I have borne this business.

    AUFIDIUS
    Only their ends
    You have respected; stopp'd your ears against
    The general suit of Rome; never admitted
    A private whisper, no, not with such friends
    That thought them sure of you.

    CORIOLANUS
    This last old man,
    Whom with a crack'd heart I have sent to Rome,
    Loved me above the measure of a father;
    Nay, godded me, indeed. Their latest refuge
    Was to send him; for whose old love I have,
    Though I show'd sourly to him, once more offer'd
    The first conditions, which they did refuse
    And cannot now accept; to grace him only
    That thought he could do more, a very little
    I have yielded to: fresh embassies and suits,
    Nor from the state nor private friends, hereafter
    Will I lend ear to. Ha! what shout is this?

    Shout within

    Shall I be tempted to infringe my vow
    In the same time 'tis made? I will not.

    Enter in mourning habits, VIRGILIA, VOLUMNIA, leading young MARCIUS, VALERIA, and Attendants

    My wife comes foremost; then the honour'd mould
    Wherein this trunk was framed, and in her hand
    The grandchild to her blood. But, out, affection!
    All bond and privilege of nature, break!
    Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.
    What is that curt'sy worth? or those doves' eyes,
    Which can make gods forsworn? I melt, and am not
    Of stronger earth than others. My mother bows;
    As if Olympus to a molehill should
    In supplication nod: and my young boy
    Hath an aspect of intercession, which
    Great nature cries 'Deny not.' let the Volsces
    Plough Rome and harrow Italy: I'll never
    Be such a gosling to obey instinct, but stand,
    As if a man were author of himself
    And knew no other kin.

    VIRGILIA
    My lord and husband!

    CORIOLANUS
    These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome.

    VIRGILIA
    The sorrow that delivers us thus changed
    Makes you think so.

    CORIOLANUS
    Like a dull actor now,
    I have forgot my part, and I am out,
    Even to a full disgrace. Best of my flesh,
    Forgive my tyranny; but do not say
    For that 'Forgive our Romans.' O, a kiss
    Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!
    Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss
    I carried from thee, dear; and my true lip
    Hath virgin'd it e'er since. You gods! I prate,
    And the most noble mother of the world
    Leave unsaluted: sink, my knee, i' the earth;

    Kneels

    Of thy deep duty more impression show
    Than that of common sons.

    VOLUMNIA
    O, stand up blest!
    Whilst, with no softer cushion than the flint,
    I kneel before thee; and unproperly
    Show duty, as mistaken all this while
    Between the child and parent.

    Kneels

    CORIOLANUS
    What is this?
    Your knees to me? to your corrected son?
    Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach
    Fillip the stars; then let the mutinous winds
    Strike the proud cedars 'gainst the fiery sun;
    Murdering impossibility, to make
    What cannot be, slight work.

    VOLUMNIA
    Thou art my warrior;
    I holp to frame thee. Do you know this lady?

    CORIOLANUS
    The noble sister of Publicola,
    The moon of Rome, chaste as the icicle
    That's curdied by the frost from purest snow
    And hangs on Dian's temple: dear Valeria!

    VOLUMNIA
    This is a poor epitome of yours,
    Which by the interpretation of full time
    May show like all yourself.

    CORIOLANUS
    The god of soldiers,
    With the consent of supreme Jove, inform
    Thy thoughts with nobleness; that thou mayst prove
    To shame unvulnerable, and stick i' the wars
    Like a great sea-mark, standing every flaw,
    And saving those that eye thee!

    VOLUMNIA
    Your knee, sirrah.

    CORIOLANUS
    That's my brave boy!

    VOLUMNIA
    Even he, your wife, this lady, and myself,
    Are suitors to you.

    CORIOLANUS
    I beseech you, peace:
    Or, if you'ld ask, remember this before:
    The thing I have forsworn to grant may never
    Be held by you denials. Do not bid me
    Dismiss my soldiers, or capitulate
    Again with Rome's mechanics: tell me not
    Wherein I seem unnatural: desire not
    To ally my rages and revenges with
    Your colder reasons.

    VOLUMNIA
    O, no more, no more!
    You have said you will not grant us any thing;
    For we have nothing else to ask, but that
    Which you deny already: yet we will ask;
    That, if you fail in our request, the blame
    May hang upon your hardness: therefore hear us.

    CORIOLANUS
    Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark; for we'll
    Hear nought from Rome in private. Your request?

    VOLUMNIA
    Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment
    And state of bodies would bewray what life
    We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself
    How more unfortunate than all living women
    Are we come hither: since that thy sight,
    which should
    Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance
    with comforts,
    Constrains them weep and shake with fear and sorrow;
    Making the mother, wife and child to see
    The son, the husband and the father tearing
    His country's bowels out. And to poor we
    Thine enmity's most capital: thou barr'st us
    Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort
    That all but we enjoy; for how can we,
    Alas, how can we for our country pray.
    Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,
    Whereto we are bound? alack, or we must lose
    The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,
    Our comfort in the country. We must find
    An evident calamity, though we had
    Our wish, which side should win: for either thou
    Must, as a foreign recreant, be led
    With manacles thorough our streets, or else
    triumphantly tread on thy country's ruin,
    And bear the palm for having bravely shed
    Thy wife and children's blood. For myself, son,
    I purpose not to wait on fortune till
    These wars determine: if I cannot persuade thee
    Rather to show a noble grace to both parts
    Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner
    March to assault thy country than to tread--
    Trust to't, thou shalt not--on thy mother's womb,
    That brought thee to this world.

    VIRGILIA
    Ay, and mine,
    That brought you forth this boy, to keep your name
    Living to time.

    Young MARCIUS
    A' shall not tread on me;
    I'll run away till I am bigger, but then I'll fight.

    CORIOLANUS
    Not of a woman's tenderness to be,
    Requires nor child nor woman's face to see.
    I have sat too long.

    Rising

    VOLUMNIA
    Nay, go not from us thus.
    If it were so that our request did tend
    To save the Romans, thereby to destroy
    The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn us,
    As poisonous of your honour: no; our suit
    Is that you reconcile them: while the Volsces
    May say 'This mercy we have show'd;' the Romans,
    'This we received;' and each in either side
    Give the all-hail to thee and cry 'Be blest
    For making up this peace!' Thou know'st, great son,
    The end of war's uncertain, but this certain,
    That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit
    Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name,
    Whose repetition will be dogg'd with curses;
    Whose chronicle thus writ: 'The man was noble,
    But with his last attempt he wiped it out;
    Destroy'd his country, and his name remains
    To the ensuing age abhorr'd.' Speak to me, son:
    Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour,
    To imitate the graces of the gods;
    To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o' the air,
    And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt
    That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak?
    Think'st thou it honourable for a noble man
    Still to remember wrongs? Daughter, speak you:
    He cares not for your weeping. Speak thou, boy:
    Perhaps thy childishness will move him more
    Than can our reasons. There's no man in the world
    More bound to 's mother; yet here he lets me prate
    Like one i' the stocks. Thou hast never in thy life
    Show'd thy dear mother any courtesy,
    When she, poor hen, fond of no second brood,
    Has cluck'd thee to the wars and safely home,
    Loaden with honour. Say my request's unjust,
    And spurn me back: but if it be not so,
    Thou art not honest; and the gods will plague thee,
    That thou restrain'st from me the duty which
    To a mother's part belongs. He turns away:
    Down, ladies; let us shame him with our knees.
    To his surname Coriolanus 'longs more pride
    Than pity to our prayers. Down: an end;
    This is the last: so we will home to Rome,
    And die among our neighbours. Nay, behold 's:
    This boy, that cannot tell what he would have
    But kneels and holds up bands for fellowship,
    Does reason our petition with more strength
    Than thou hast to deny 't. Come, let us go:
    This fellow had a Volscian to his mother;
    His wife is in Corioli and his child
    Like him by chance. Yet give us our dispatch:
    I am hush'd until our city be a-fire,
    And then I'll speak a little.

    He holds her by the hand, silent

    CORIOLANUS
    O mother, mother!
    What have you done? Behold, the heavens do ope,
    The gods look down, and this unnatural scene
    They laugh at. O my mother, mother! O!
    You have won a happy victory to Rome;
    But, for your son,--believe it, O, believe it,
    Most dangerously you have with him prevail'd,
    If not most mortal to him. But, let it come.
    Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,
    I'll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius,
    Were you in my stead, would you have heard
    A mother less? or granted less, Aufidius?

    AUFIDIUS
    I was moved withal.

    CORIOLANUS
    I dare be sworn you were:
    And, sir, it is no little thing to make
    Mine eyes to sweat compassion. But, good sir,
    What peace you'll make, advise me: for my part,
    I'll not to Rome, I'll back with you; and pray you,
    Stand to me in this cause. O mother! wife!

    AUFIDIUS
    [Aside] I am glad thou hast set thy mercy and
    thy honour
    At difference in thee: out of that I'll work
    Myself a former fortune.

    The Ladies make signs to CORIOLANUS

    CORIOLANUS
    Ay, by and by;

    To VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, & c

    But we will drink together; and you shall bear
    A better witness back than words, which we,
    On like conditions, will have counter-seal'd.
    Come, enter with us. Ladies, you deserve
    To have a temple built you: all the swords
    In Italy, and her confederate arms,
    Could not have made this peace.

    Exeunt
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