ACT II
Scene 1
 

Rome. A public place

[Enter MENENIUS, SICINIUS, and BRUTUS.]

MENENIUS
The augurer tells me we shall have news tonight.

BRUTUS
Good or bad?

MENENIUS
Not according to the prayer of the people, for they love not
Marcius.

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
Marcius.

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 TRIBUNES
Well, sir.

MENENIUS
In what enormity is Marcius poor in, that you two have not
in abundance?

BRUTUS
He's poor in no one fault, but stored with all.

SICINIUS
Especially in pride.

BRUTUS
And topping all others in boasting.

MENENIUS
This is strange now: do you two know how you are censured here in
the city, I mean of us o' the right-hand file? Do you?

BOTH TRIBUNES
Why, how are we censured?

MENENIUS
Because you talk of pride now,--will you not be angry?

BOTH TRIBUNES
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: give your dispositions
the reins, and be angry at your pleasures; at the least, if you
take it as a pleasure to you in being so. You blame Marcius 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 single: your abilities are
too infant-like for doing 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!

BOTH TRIBUNES
What then, sir?

MENENIUS
Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting, 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 one that loves a cup
of hot wine with not a drop of allaying Tiber in't; said to
be something imperfect in favouring the first complaint, hasty
and tinder-like upon too trivial motion; one that converses more
with the buttock of the night than with the forehead of the
morning. What I think I utter, and spend my malice in my breath.
Meeting two such wealsmen as you are,--I cannot call you
Lycurguses,--if the drink you give me touch my palate adversely,
I make a crooked face at it. I cannot say your worships have
delivered the matter well when I find the ass in compound with
the major part of your syllables; and though I must be content to
bear with those that say you are reverend grave men, yet they lie
deadly that tell you have good faces. If you see this in the map
of my microcosm, follows it that I am known well enough too? What
harm can your bisson conspectuities glean out of this character,
if I be known well enough too?

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

MENENIUS
You know neither me, yourselves, nor anything. You are ambitious
for poor knaves' caps and legs; you wear out a good wholesome
forenoon in hearing a cause between an orange-wife and a
fosset-seller, and then rejourn the controversy of threepence
to a second day of audience.--When you are hearing a matter
between party and party, if you chance to be pinched with the
colic, you make faces like mummers, set up the bloody flag
against all patience, and, in roaring for a chamber-pot, dismiss
the controversy bleeding, the more entangled by your hearing: all
the peace you make in their cause is calling both the parties
knaves. You are a pair of strange ones.

BRUTUS
Come, come, you are well understood to be a perfecter giber
for the table than a necessary bencher in the Capitol.

MENENIUS
Our very priests must become mockers if they shall encounter such
ridiculous subjects as you are. When you speak best unto the
purpose, it is not worth the wagging of your beards; and your
beards deserve not so honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's
cushion or to be entombed in an ass's pack-saddle. Yet you must
be saying, Marcius is proud; who, in a cheap estimation, is worth
all your predecessors since Deucalion; though peradventure some
of the best of 'em were hereditary hangmen. God-den to your
worships: more of your conversation would infect my brain, being
the herdsmen of the beastly plebeians: I will be bold to take my
leave of you.

[BRUTUS and SICINIUS retire.]

[Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, VALERIA, &c.]

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 Marcius approaches; for the love of
Juno, let's go.

MENENIUS
Ha! Marcius coming home!

VOLUMNIA
Ay, worthy Menenius, and with most prosperous approbation.

MENENIUS
Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee.--Hoo! Marcius coming
home!

VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA.
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 to-night.--A letter for me?

VIRGILIA
Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw it.

MENENIUS
A letter for me! It gives me an estate of seven years'
health; in which time I will make a lip at the physician: the
most sovereign prescription in Galen is but empiricutic, and, to
this preservative, of no better report than a horse-drench. Is he
not wounded? he was wont 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.

VOLUMNIA
On's brows: Menenius, he comes the third time home with the oaken
garland.

MENENIUS
Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?

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 Corioli and the gold that's in them. Is the Senate
possessed of this?

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 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.

VIRGILIA
The gods grant them true!

VOLUMNIA
True! pow, wow.

MENENIUS
True! I'll be sworn they are true. Where is he wounded?--[To the
TRIBUNES, who come forward.]
God save your good worships! Marcius
is coming home; he has more cause to be proud.--Where is he
wounded?

VOLUMNIA
I' the shoulder and i' the left arm; there will be large
cicatrices to show the people when he shall stand for his place.
He received in the repulse of Tarquin seven hurts i' the body.

MENENIUS
One i' the neck and two i' the 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 Marcius: before him
He carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears;
Death, that dark spirit, in's nervy arm doth lie;
Which, being advanc'd, declines, and then men die.

[A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter COMINIUS and TITUS LARTIUS; between them, CORIOLANUS, crowned with an oaken garland; with CAPTAINS and Soldiers and a HERALD.]

HERALD
Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight
Within Corioli gates: where he hath won,
With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these
In honour follows Coriolanus:--
Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!

[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, petition'd all the gods
For my prosperity!

[Kneels.]

VOLUMNIA
Nay, my good soldier, up;
My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and
By deed-achieving honour newly nam'd,--
What is it?--Coriolanus must I call thee?
But, O, thy wife!

CORIOLANUS
My gracious silence, hail!
Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home,
That weep'st to see me triumph? Ah, my dear,
Such eyes the widows in Corioli 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 you are welcome all.

MENENIUS
A hundred thousand welcomes.--I could weep
And I could laugh; I am light and heavy.--Welcome:
A curse begin at very root on'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
Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors.
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 his wife and mother.] Your hand, and yours:
Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
The good patricians must be visited;
From whom I have receiv'd not only greetings,
But with them change of honours.

VOLUMNIA
I have lived
To see inherited my very wishes,
And the buildings of my fancy; only
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. The tribunes remain.]

BRUTUS
All tongues speak of him and the bleared sights
Are spectacled to see him: your prattling nurse
Into a rapture lets her baby cry
While she chats him: the kitchen malkin pins
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck,
Clamb'ring the walls to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows,
Are smother'd up, leads fill'd and ridges hors'd
With variable complexions; all agreeing
In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens
Do press among the popular throngs, and puff
To win a vulgar station: our veil'd dames
Commit the war of white and damask, in
Their nicely gawded cheeks, to the wanton spoil
Of Phoebus' burning kisses; such a pother,
As if that whatsoever god who leads him
Were slily crept into his human powers,
And gave him graceful posture.

SICINIUS
On the sudden
I warrant him consul.

BRUTUS
Then our office may
During his power go sleep.

SICINIUS
He cannot temp'rately transport his honours
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, upon their ancient malice will forget,
With the least cause these his new honours; which
That he will give them make 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' the market-place, nor on him put
The napless vesture of humility;
Nor, showing, as the manner is, his wounds
To the people, beg their stinking breaths.

SICINIUS
'Tis right.

BRUTUS
It was his word: O, he would miss it rather
Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him,
And the desire of the nobles.

SICINIUS
I wish no better
Than have him hold that purpose, and to put it
In execution.

BRUTUS
'Tis most like he will.

SICINIUS
It shall be to him then, as our good wills,
A sure destruction.

BRUTUS
So it must fall out
To him or our authorities. For an end,
We must suggest the people in what hatred
He still hath held them; that to's power he would
Have made them mules, silenc'd their pleaders, and
Dispropertied their freedoms; holding them,
In human action and capacity,
Of no more soul nor fitness for the world
Than camels in their war; who have their provand
Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows
For sinking under them.

SICINIUS
This, as you say, suggested
At some time when his soaring insolence
Shall touch the people,--which time shall not want,
If it be put upon't; and that's as easy
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.]

BRUTUS
What's the matter?

MESSENGER
You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought
That Marcius shall be consul:
I have seen the dumb men throng to see him, and
The blind to hear him speak: matrons flung gloves,
Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers,
Upon him as he pass'd; 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 the time,
But hearts for the event.

SICINIUS
Have with you.

[Exeunt.]