Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Coriolanus
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
Coriolanus
 
Act IV. Scene VI.
 
Rome.  A Public Place.
 
Enter SICINIUS and BRUTUS.
  Sic.  We hear not of him, neither need we fear him;
His remedies are tame i’ the present peace
And quietness o’ the people, which before        5
Were in wild hurry. Here do we make his friends
Blush that the world goes well, who rather had,
Though they themselves did suffer by ’t, behold
Dissentious numbers pestering streets, than see
Our tradesmen singing in their shops and going        10
About their functions friendly.
 
Enter MENENIUS.
  Bru.  We stood to ’t in good time. Is this Menenius?
  Sic.  ’Tis he, ’tis he. O! he is grown most kind
Of late. Hail, sir!        15
  Men.        Hail to you both!
  Sic.  Your Coriolanus is not much miss’d
But with his friends: the commonwealth doth stand,
And so would do, were he more angry at it.
  Men.  All’s well; and might have been much better, if        20
He could have temporiz’d.
  Sic.        Where is he, hear you?
  Men.  Nay, I hear nothing: his mother and his wife
Hear nothing from him.
 
Enter three or four Citizens.
        25
  Citizens.  The gods preserve you both!
  Sic.        Good den, our neighbours.
  Bru.  Good den to you all, good den to you all.
  First Cit.  Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees,
Are bound to pray for you both.        30
  Sic.        Live, and thrive!
  Bru.  Farewell, kind neighbours: we wish’d Coriolanus
Had lov’d you as we did.
  Citizens.        Now the gods keep you!
  Sic. & Bru.  Farewell, farewell.  [Exeunt Citizens.        35
  Sic.  This is a happier and more comely time
Than when these fellows ran about the streets
Crying confusion.
  Bru.        Caius Marcius was
A worthy officer i’ the war; but insolent,        40
O’ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,
Self-loving,—
  Sic.        And affecting one sole throne,
Without assistance.
  Men.        I think not so.        45
  Sic.  We should by this, to all our lamentation,
If he had gone forth consul, found it so.
  Bru.  The gods have well prevented it, and Rome
Sits safe and still without him.
 
Enter an Ædile.
        50
  Æd.        Worthy tribunes,
There is a slave, whom we have put in prison,
Reports, the Volsces with two several powers
Are enter’d in the Roman territories,
And with the deepest malice of the war        55
Destroy what lies before them.
  Men.        ’Tis Aufidius,
Who, hearing of our Marcius’ banishment,
Thrusts forth his horns again into the world;
Which were inshell’d when Marcius stood for Rome,        60
And durst not once peep out.
  Sic.  Come, what talk you of Marcius?
  Bru.  Go see this rumourer whipp’d. It cannot be
The Volsces dare break with us.
  Men.        Cannot be!        65
We have record that very well it can,
And three examples of the like have been
Within my age. But reason with the fellow,
Before you punish him, where he heard this,
Lest you shall chance to whip your information,        70
And beat the messenger who bids beware
Of what is to be dreaded.
  Sic.        Tell not me:
I know this cannot be.
  Bru.        Not possible.        75
 
Enter a Messenger.
  Mess.  The nobles in great earnestness are going
All to the senate-house: some news is come,
That turns their countenances.
  Sic.        ’Tis this slave.—        80
Go whip him ’fore the people’s eyes: his raising;
Nothing but his report.
  Mess.        Yes, worthy sir,
The slave’s report is seconded; and more,
More fearful, is deliver’d.        85
  Sic.        What more fearful?
  Mess.  It is spoke freely out of many mouths—
How probable I do not know—that Marcius,
Join’d with Aufidius, leads a power ’gainst Rome,
And vows revenge as spacious as between        90
The young’st and oldest thing.
  Sic.        This is most likely.
  Bru.  Rais’d only, that the weaker sort may wish
Good Marcius home again.
  Sic.        The very trick on ’t.        95
  Men.  This is unlikely:
He and Aufidius can no more atone,
Than violentest contrariety.
 
Enter another Messenger.
  Sec. Mess.  You are sent for to the senate:        100
A fearful army, led by Caius Marcius,
Associated with Aufidius, rages
Upon our territories; and have already
O’erborne their way, consum’d with fire, and took
What lay before them.        105
 
Enter COMINIUS.
  Com.  O! you have made good work!
  Men.        What news? what news?
  Com.  You have holp to ravish your own daughters, and
To melt the city leads upon your pates.        110
To see your wives dishonour’d to your noses,—
  Men.  What’s the news? what’s the news?
  Com.  Your temples burned in their cement, and
Your franchises, whereon you stood, confin’d
Into an auger’s bore.        115
  Men.        Pray now, your news?—
You have made fair work, I fear me. Pray, your news?
If Marcius should be join’d with Volscians,—
  Com.        If!
He is their god: he leads them like a thing        120
Made by some other deity than Nature,
That shapes man better; and they follow him,
Against us brats, with no less confidence
Than boys pursuing summer butterflies,
Or butchers killing flies.        125
  Men.        You have made good work,
You, and your apron-men; you that stood so much
Upon the voice of occupation and
The breath of garlic-eaters!
  Com.        He will shake        130
Your Rome about your ears.
  Men.        As Hercules
Did shake down mellow fruit. You have made fair work!
  Bru.  But is this true, sir?
  Com.        Ay; and you’ll look pale        135
Before you find it other. All the regions
Do smilingly revolt; and who resist
Are mock’d for valiant ignorance,
And perish constant fools. Who is ’t can blame him?
Your enemies, and his, find something in him.        140
  Men.  We are all undone unless
The noble man have mercy.
  Com.        Who shall ask it?
The tribunes cannot do ’t for shame; the people
Deserve such pity of him as the wolf        145
Does of the shepherds: for his best friends, if they
Should say, ‘Be good to Rome,’ they charg’d him even
As those should do that had deserv’d his hate,
And therein show’d like enemies.
  Men.        ’Tis true:        150
If he were putting to my house the brand
That should consume it, I have not the face
To say, ‘Beseech you, cease.’—You have made fair hands,
You and your crafts! you have crafted fair!
  Com.        You have brought        155
A trembling upon Rome, such as was never
So incapable of help.
  Sic. & Bru.        Say not we brought it.
  Men.  How! Was it we? We lov’d him; but, like beasts
And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,        160
Who did hoot him out o’ the city.
  Com.        But I fear
They’ll roar him in again. Tullus Aufidius,
The second name of men, obeys his points
As if he were his officer: desperation        165
Is all the policy, strength, and defence,
That Rome can make against them.
 
Enter a troop of Citizens.
  Men.        Here come the clusters.
And is Aufidius with him? You are they        170
That made the air unwholesome, when you cast
Your stinking greasy caps in hooting at
Coriolanus’ exile. Now he’s coming;
And not a hair upon a soldier’s head
Which will not prove a whip: as many cox-combs        175
As you threw caps up will he tumble down,
And pay you for your voices. ’Tis no matter;
If he could burn us all into one coal,
We have deserv’d it.
  Citizens.  Faith, we hear fearful news.        180
  First Cit.        For mine own part,
When I said banish him, I said ’twas pity.
  Sec. Cit.  And so did I.
  Third Cit.  And so did I; and, to say the truth, so did very many of us. That we did we did for the best; and though we willingly consented to his banishment, yet it was against our will.
  Com.  You’re goodly things, you voices!        185
  Men.        You have made
Good work, you and your cry! Shall’s to the Capitol?
  Com.  O! ay; what else?  [Exeunt COMINIUS and MENENIUS.
  Sic.  Go, masters, get you home; be not dismay’d:
These are a side that would be glad to have        190
This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,
And show no sign of fear.
  First Cit.  The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let’s home. I ever said we were i’ the wrong when we banished him.
  Sec. Cit.  So did we all. But come, let’s home.  [Exeunt Citizens.
  Bru.  I do not like this news.        195
  Sic.  Nor I.
  Bru.  Let’s to the Capitol. Would half my wealth
Would buy this for a lie!
  Sic.        Pray let us go.  [Exeunt.
 
 
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