Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Coriolanus
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
Coriolanus
 
Act III. Scene III.
 
The Same.  The Forum.
 
Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS.
  Bru.  In this point charge him home, that he affects
Tyrannical power: if he evade us there,
Enforce him with his envy to the people,        5
And that the spoil got on the Antiates
Was ne’er distributed.—
 
Enter an Ædile.
What, will he come?
  Æd.        He’s coming.        10
  Bru.                How accompanied?
  Æd.  With old Menenius, and those senators
That always favour’d him.
  Sic.        Have you a catalogue
Of all the voices that we have procur’d,        15
Set down by the poll?
  Æd.  I have; ’tis ready.
  Sic.  Have you collected them by tribes?
  Æd.        I have.
  Sic.  Assemble presently the people hither;        20
And when they hear me say, ‘It shall be so,
I’ the right and strength o’ the commons,’ be it either
For death, for fine, or banishment, then let them,
If I say, fine, cry ‘fine,’—if death, cry ‘death,’
Insisting on the old prerogative        25
And power i’ the truth o’ the cause.
  Æd.        I shall inform them.
  Bru.  And when such time they have begun to cry,
Let them not cease, but with a din confus’d
Enforce the present execution        30
Of what we chance to sentence.
  Æd.        Very well.
  Sic.  Make them be strong and ready for this hint,
When we shall hap to give ’t them.
  Bru.        Go about it.  [Exit Ædile.        35
Put him to choler straight. He hath been us’d
Ever to conquer, and to have his worth
Of contradiction: being once chaf’d, he cannot
Be rein’d again to temperance; then he speaks
What’s in his heart; and that is there which looks        40
With us to break his neck.
  Sic.        Well, here he comes.
 
Enter CORIOLANUS, MENENIUS, COMINIUS, Senators, and Patricians.
  Men.  Calmly, I do beseech you.
  Cor.  Ay, as an ostler, that for the poorest piece        45
Will bear the knave by the volume. The honour’d gods
Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice
Supplied with worthy men! plant love among us!
Throng our large temples with the shows of peace,
And not our streets with war!        50
  First Sen.        Amen, amen.
  Men.  A noble wish.
 
Re-enter Ædile, with Citizens.
  Sic.        Draw near, ye people.
  Æd.  List to your tribunes; audience; peace! I say.        55
  Cor.  First, hear me speak.
  Both Tri.        Well, say. Peace, ho!
  Cor.  Shall I be charg’d no further than this present?
Must all determine here?
  Sic.        I do demand,        60
If you submit you to the people’s voices,
Allow their officers, and are content
To suffer lawful censure for such faults
As shall be prov’d upon you?
  Cor.        I am content.        65
  Men.  Lo! citizens, he says he is content:
The war-like service he has done, consider; think
Upon the wounds his body bears, which show
Like graves i’ the holy churchyard.
  Cor.        Scratches with briers,        70
Scars to move laughter only.
  Men.        Consider further,
That when he speaks not like a citizen,
You find him like a soldier: do not take
His rougher accents for malicious sounds,        75
But, as I say, such as become a soldier,
Rather than envy you.
  Com.        Well, well; no more.
  Cor.  What is the matter,
That being pass’d for consul with full voice        80
I am so dishonour’d that the very hour
You take it off again?
  Sic.        Answer to us.
  Cor.  Say, then: ’tis true, I ought so.
  Sic.  We charge you, that you have contriv’d to take        85
From Rome all season’d office, and to wind
Yourself into a power tyrannical;
For which you are a traitor to the people.
  Cor.  How! Traitor!
  Men.        Nay, temperately; your promise.        90
  Cor.  The fires i’ the lowest hell fold-in the people!
Call me their traitor! Thou injurious tribune!
Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths,
In thy hands clutch’d as many millions, in
Thy lying tongue both numbers, I would say        95
‘Thou liest’ unto thee with a voice as free
As I do pray the gods.
  Sic.        Mark you this, people?
  Citizens.  To the rock!—to the rock with him!
  Sic.        Peace!        100
We need not put new matter to his charge:
What you have seen him do, and heard him speak,
Beating your officers, cursing yourselves,
Opposing laws with strokes, and here defying
Those whose great power must try him; even this,        105
So criminal and in such capital kind,
Deserves the extremest death.
  Bru.        But since he hath
Serv’d well for Rome,—
  Cor.        What do you prate of service?        110
  Bru.  I talk of that, that know it.
  Cor.        You!
  Men.  Is this the promise that you made your mother?
  Com.  Know, I pray you,—
  Cor.        I’ll know no further:        115
Let them pronounce the steep Tarpeian death,
Vagabond exile, flaying, pent to linger
But with a grain a day, I would not buy
Their mercy at the price of one fair word,
Nor check my courage for what they can give,        120
To have ’t with saying ‘Good morrow.’
  Sic.        For that he has,—
As much as in him lies,—from time to time
Envied against the people, seeking means
To pluck away their power, as now at last        125
Given hostile strokes, and that not in the presence
Of dreaded justice, but on the ministers
That do distribute it; in the name o’ the people,
And in the power of us the tribunes, we,
Even from this instant, banish him our city,        130
In peril of precipitation
From off the rock Tarpeian, never more
To enter our Rome gates: i’ the people’s name,
I say, it shall be so.
  Citizens.  It shall be so,—It shall be so,—Let him away.—        135
He’s banish’d, and it shall be so.
  Com.  Hear me, my masters, and my common friends,—
  Sic.  He’s sentenc’d; no more hearing.
  Com.        Let me speak:
I have been consul, and can show for Rome        140
Her enemies’ marks upon me. I do love
My country’s good with a respect more tender,
More holy, and profound, than mine own life,
My dear wife’s estimate, her womb’s increase,
And treasure of my loins; then if I would        145
Speak that—
  Sic.        We know your drift: speak what?
  Bru.  There’s no more to be said, but he is banish’d,
As enemy to the people and his country:
It shall be so.        150
  Citizens.        It shall be so,—it shall be so.
  Cor.  You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o’ the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcases of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, I banish you;        155
And here remain with your uncertainty!
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
Fan you into despair! Have the power still
To banish your defenders; till at length        160
Your ignorance,—which finds not, till it feels,—
Making but reservation of yourselves,—
Still your own foes,—deliver you as most
Abated captives to some nation
That won you without blows! Despising,        165
For you, the city, thus I turn my back:
There is a world elsewhere.  [Exeunt CORIOLANUS, COMINIUS, MENENIUS, Senators, and Patricians.
  Æd.  The people’s enemy is gone, is gone!
  Citizens.  Our enemy is banish’d!—he is gone!—Hoo! hoo!  [They all shout and throw up their caps.
  Sic.  Go, see him out at gates, and follow him,        170
As he hath follow’d you, with all despite;
Give him deserv’d vexation. Let a guard
Attend us through the city.
  Citizens.  Come, come,—let us see him out at gates! come!
The gods preserve our noble tribunes! Come!  [Exeunt.        175
 
 
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