ACT V
Scene 6
 

Antium. A public place.

[Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, with attendants.]

AUFIDIUS
Go tell the lords o' the city I am here:
Deliver them this paper; having read it,
Bid them repair to the market-place: where I,
Even in theirs and in the commons' ears,
Will vouch the truth of it. Him I accuse
The city ports by this hath enter'd and
Intends t' appear before the people, hoping
To purge himself with words: despatch.

[Exeunt attendants.]

[Enter three or four CONSPIRATORS of AUFIDIUS' faction.]

Most welcome!

FIRST CONSPIRATOR
How is it with our general?

AUFIDIUS
Even so
As with a man by his own alms empoison'd,
And with his charity slain.

SECOND CONSPIRATOR
Most noble sir,
If you do hold the same intent wherein
You wish'd us parties, we'll deliver you
Of your great danger.

AUFIDIUS
Sir, I cannot tell:
We must proceed as we do find the people.

THIRD CONSPIRATOR
The people will remain uncertain whilst
'Twixt you there's difference: but the fall of either
Makes the survivor heir of all.

AUFIDIUS
I know it;
And my pretext to strike at him admits
A good construction. I rais'd him, and I pawn'd
Mine honour for his truth: who being so heighten'd,
He water'd his new plants with dews of flattery,
Seducing so my friends; and to this end
He bow'd his nature, never known before
But to be rough, unswayable, and free.

THIRD CONSPIRATOR
Sir, his stoutness
When he did stand for consul, which he lost
By lack of stooping,--

AUFIDIUS
That I would have spoken of:
Being banish'd for't, he came unto my hearth;
Presented to my knife his throat: I took him;
Made him joint-servant with me; gave him way
In all his own desires; nay, let him choose
Out of my files, his projects to accomplish,
My best and freshest men; serv'd his designments
In mine own person; holp to reap the fame
Which he made all his; and took some pride
To do myself this wrong: till, at the last,
I seem'd his follower, not partner; and
He wag'd me with his countenance as if
I had been mercenary.

FIRST CONSPIRATOR
So he did, my lord:
The army marvell'd at it; and, in the last,
When he had carried Rome, and that we look'd
For no less spoil than glory,--

AUFIDIUS
There was it;--
For which my sinews shall be stretch'd upon him.
At a few drops of women's rheum, which are
As cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labour
Of our great action: therefore shall he die,
And I'll renew me in his fall. But, hark!

[Drums and trumpets sound, with great shouts of the people.]

FIRST CONSPIRATOR
Your native town you enter'd like a post,
And had no welcomes home; but he returns
Splitting the air with noise.

SECOND CONSPIRATOR
And patient fools,
Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear
With giving him glory.

THIRD CONSPIRATOR
Therefore, at your vantage,
Ere he express himself or move the people
With what he would say, let him feel your sword,
Which we will second. When he lies along,
After your way his tale pronounc'd shall bury
His reasons with his body.

AUFIDIUS
Say no more:
Here come the lords.

[Enter the LORDS of the city.]

LORDS
You are most welcome home.

AUFIDIUS
I have not deserv'd it.
But, worthy lords, have you with heed perus'd
What I have written to you?

LORDS
We have.

FIRST LORD
And grieve to hear't.
What faults he made before the last, I think
Might have found easy fines: but there to end
Where he was to begin, and give away
The benefit of our levies, answering us
With our own charge: making a treaty where
There was a yielding.--This admits no excuse.

AUFIDIUS
He approaches: you shall hear him.

[Enter CORIOLANUS, with drum and colours; a crowd of Citizens with him.]

CORIOLANUS
Hail, lords! I am return'd your soldier;
No more infected with my country's love
Than when I parted hence, but still subsisting
Under your great command. You are to know
That prosperously I have attempted, and
With bloody passage led your wars even to
The gates of Rome. Our spoils we have brought home
Do more than counterpoise a full third part
The charges of the action. We have made peace
With no less honour to the Antiates
Than shame to the Romans: and we here deliver,
Subscribed by the consuls and patricians,
Together with the seal o' the senate, what
We have compounded on.

AUFIDIUS
Read it not, noble lords;
But tell the traitor, in the highest degree
He hath abus'd your powers.

CORIOLANUS
Traitor!--How now?

AUFIDIUS
Ay, traitor, Marcius.

CORIOLANUS
Marcius!

AUFIDIUS
Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius! Dost thou think
I'll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol'n name
Coriolanus, in Corioli?--
You lords and heads o' the state, perfidiously
He has betray'd your business, and given up,
For certain drops of salt, your city Rome,--
I say your city,--to his wife and mother;
Breaking his oath and resolution, like
A twist of rotten silk; never admitting
Counsel o' the war; but at his nurse's tears
He whin'd and roar'd away your victory;
That pages blush'd at him, and men of heart
Look'd wondering each at others.

CORIOLANUS
Hear'st thou, Mars?

AUFIDIUS
Name not the god, thou boy of tears,--

CORIOLANUS
Ha!

AUFIDIUS
No more.

CORIOLANUS
Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
Too great for what contains it. Boy! O slave!--
Pardon me, lords, 'tis the first time that ever
I was forc'd to scold. Your judgments, my grave lords,
Must give this cur the lie: and his own notion,--
Who wears my stripes impress'd upon him; that must bear
My beating to his grave,--shall join to thrust
The lie unto him.

FIRST LORD
Peace, both, and hear me speak.

CORIOLANUS
Cut me to pieces, Volsces; men and lads,
Stain all your edges on me.--Boy! False hound!
If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there,
That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I
Flutter'd your Volscians in Corioli:
Alone I did it.--Boy!

AUFIDIUS
Why, noble lords,
Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune,
Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,
'Fore your own eyes and ears?

CONSPIRATORS
Let him die for't.

CITIZENS
Tear him to pieces, do it presently:--he killed my son; my
daughter; he killed my cousin Marcus; he killed my father,--

SECOND LORD
Peace, ho!--no outrage;--peace!
The man is noble, and his fame folds in
This orb o' the earth. His last offences to us
Shall have judicious hearing.--Stand, Aufidius,
And trouble not the peace.

CORIOLANUS
O that I had him,
With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe,
To use my lawful sword!

AUFIDIUS
Insolent villain!

CONSPIRATORS
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!

[AUFIDIUS and the CONSPIRATORS draw, and kill CORIOLANUS, who falls. AUFIDIUS stands on him.]

LORDS
Hold, hold, hold, hold!

AUFIDIUS
My noble masters, hear me speak.

FIRST LORD
O Tullus,--

SECOND LORD
Thou hast done a deed whereat valour will weep.

THIRD LORD
Tread not upon him.--Masters all, be quiet;
Put up your swords.

AUFIDIUS
My lords, when you shall know,--as in this rage,
Provok'd by him, you cannot,--the great danger
Which this man's life did owe you, you'll rejoice
That he is thus cut off. Please it your honours
To call me to your senate, I'll deliver
Myself your loyal servant, or endure
Your heaviest censure.

FIRST LORD
Bear from hence his body,
And mourn you for him. Let him be regarded
As the most noble corse that ever herald
Did follow to his um.

SECOND LORD
His own impatience
Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.
Let's make the best of it.

AUFIDIUS
My rage is gone;
And I am struck with sorrow.--Take him up:--
Help, three o' the chiefest soldiers; I'll be one.--
Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully;
Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he
Hath widow'd and unchilded many a one,
Which to this hour bewail the injury,
Yet he shall have a noble memory.--
Assist.

[Exeunt, bearing the body of CORIOLANUS. A dead march sounded.]