Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
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Coriolanus (Folio 1, 1623)

Actus Primus. Scœna Prima.
Enter a Company of Mutinous Citizens, with Staues,
Clubs, and other weapons.
1. Citizen.
5BEfore we proceed any further, heare me speake.
All. Speake, speake.
1. Cit. You are all resolu'd rather to dy then
to famish?
All. Resolu'd, resolu'd.
101. Cit. First you know, Caius Martius is chiefe enemy
to the people.
All. We know't, we know't.
1. Cit. Let vs kill him, and wee'l haue Corne at our own
price. Is't a Verdict?
15All. No more talking on't; Let it be done, away, away
2. Cit. One word, good Citizens.
1. Cit. We are accounted poore Citizens, the Patri-
cians good: what Authority surfets one, would releeue
vs. If they would yeelde vs but the superfluitie while it
20were wholsome, wee might guesse they releeued vs hu-
manely: But they thinke we are too deere, the leannesse
that afflicts vs, the obiect of our misery, is as an inuento-
ry to particularize their abundance, our sufferance is a
gaine to them. Let vs reuenge this with our Pikes, ere
25we become Rakes. For the Gods know, I speake this in
hunger for Bread, not in thirst for Reuenge.
2. Cit. Would you proceede especially against Caius
All. Against him first: He's a very dog to the Com-
2. Cit. Consider you what Seruices he ha's done for his
1. Cit. Very well, and could bee content to giue him
good report for't, but that hee payes himselfe with bee-
35ing proud.
All. Nay, but speak not maliciously.
1. Cit. I say vnto you, what he hath done Famouslie,
he did it to that end: though soft conscienc'd men can be
content to say it was for his Countrey, he did it to please
40his Mother, and to be partly proud, which he is, euen to
the altitude of his vertue.
2. Cit. What he cannot helpe in his Nature, you ac-
count a Vice in him: You must in no way say he is co-
451. Cit. If I must not, I neede not be barren of Accusa-
tions he hath faults (with surplus) to tyre in repetition.
Showts within.
What showts are these? The other side a'th City is risen:
why stay we prating heere? To th' Capitoll.
50All. Come, come.
1 Cit. Soft, who comes heere?
Enter Menenius Agrippa.
2 Cit. Worthy Menenius Agrippa, one that hath al-
wayes lou'd the people.
551 Cit. He's one honest enough, wold al the rest wer so.
Men. What work's my Countrimen in hand?
Where go you with Bats and Clubs? The matter
Speake I pray you.
2 Cit. Our busines is not vnknowne to th' Senat, they
60haue had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do, wt
now wee'l shew em in deeds: they say poore Suters haue
strong breaths, they shal know we haue strong arms too.
Menen. Why Masters, my good Friends, mine honest
Neighbours, will you vndo your selues?
652 Cit. We cannot Sir, we are vndone already.
Men. I tell you Friends, most charitable care
Haue the Patricians of you for your wants.
Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
Strike at the Heauen with your staues, as lift them
70Against the Roman State, whose course will on
The way it takes: cracking ten thousand Curbes
Of more strong linke assunder, then can euer
Appeare in your impediment. For the Dearth,
The Gods, not the Patricians make it, and
75Your knees to them (not armes) must helpe. Alacke,
You are transported by Calamity
Thether, where more attends you, and you slander
The Helmes o'th State; who care for you like Fathers,
When you curse them, as Enemies.
802 Cit. Care for vs? True indeed, they nere car'd for vs
yet. Suffer vs to famish, and their Store-houses cramm'd
with Graine: Make Edicts for Vsurie, to support Vsu-
rers; repeale daily any wholsome Act established against
the rich, and prouide more piercing Statutes daily, to
85chaine vp and restraine the poore. If the Warres eate vs
not vppe, they will; and there's all the loue they beare
Menen. Either you must
Confesse your selues wondrous Malicious,
90Or be accus'd of Folly. I shall tell you
A pretty Tale, it may be you haue heard it,
But since it serues my purpose, I will venture
To scale't a little more.
2 Citizen. Well,
95Ile heare it Sir: yet you must not thinke
To fobbe off our disgrace with a tale:
But and't please you deliuer.
Men. There was a time, when all the bodies members
Rebell'd against the Belly; thus accus'd it:
100That onely like a Gulfe it did remaine
I'th midd'st a th' body, idle and vnactiue,
Still cubbording the Viand, neuer bearing
Like labour with the rest, where th' other Instruments
Did see, and heare, deuise, instruct, walke, feele,
105And mutually participate, did minister
Vnto the appetite; and affection common
Of the whole body, the Belly answer'd.
2. Cit. Well sir, what answer made the Belly.
Men. Sir, I shall tell you with a kinde of Smile,
110Which ne're came from the Lungs, but euen thus:
For looke you I may make the belly Smile,
As well as speake, it taintingly replyed
To'th' discontented Members, the mutinous parts
That enuied his receite: euen so most fitly,
115As you maligne our Senators, for that
They are not such as you.
2. Cit. Your Bellies answer: What
The Kingly crown'd head, the vigilant eye,
The Counsailor Heart, the Arme our Souldier,
120Our Steed the Legge, the Tongue our Trumpeter,
With other Muniments and petty helpes
In this our Fabricke, if that they---
Men. What then? Fore me, this Fellow speakes.
What then? What then?
1252. Cit. Should by the Cormorant belly be restrain'd,
Who is the sinke a th' body.
Men. Well, what then?
2. Cit. The former Agents, if they did complaine,
What could the Belly answer?
130Men. I will tell you,
If you'l bestow a small (of what you haue little)
Patience awhile; you'st heare the Bellies answer.
2. Cit. Y'are long about it.
Men. Note me this good Friend;
135Your most graue Belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his Accusers, and thus answered.
True is it my Incorporate Friends (quoth he)
That I receiue the generall Food at first
Which you do liue vpon: and fit it is,
140Because I am the Store-house, and the Shop
Of the whole Body. But, if you do remember,
I send it through the Riuers of your blood
Euen to the Court, the Heart, to th' seate o'th' Braine,
And through the Crankes and Offices of man,
145The strongest Nerues, and small inferiour Veines
From me receiue that naturall competencie
Whereby they liue. And though that all at once
(You my good Friends, this sayes the Belly) marke me.
2. Cit. I sir, well, well.
150Men. Though all at once, cannot
See what I do deliuer out to each,
Yet I can make my Awdit vp, that all
From me do backe receiue the Flowre of all,
And leaue me but the Bran. What say you too't?
1552. Cit. It was an answer, how apply you this?
Men. The Senators of Rome, are this good Belly,
And you the mutinous Members: For examine
Their Counsailes, and their Cares; disgest things rightly,
Touching the Weale a'th Common, you shall finde
160No publique benefit which you receiue
But it proceeds, or comes from them to you,
And no way from your selues. What do you thinke?
You, the great Toe of this Assembly?
2. Cit. I the great Toe? Why the great Toe?
165Men. For that being one o'th lowest, basest, poorest
Of this most wise Rebellion, thou goest formost:
Thou Rascall, that art worst in blood to run,
Lead'st first to win some vantage.
But make you ready your stiffe bats and clubs,
170Rome, and her Rats, are at the point of battell,
The one side must haue baile.
Enter Caius Martius.
Hayle, Noble Martius.
Mar. Thanks. What's the matter you dissentious rogues
175That rubbing the poore Itch of your Opinion,
Make your selues Scabs.
2. Cit. We haue euer your good word.
Mar. He that will giue good words to thee, wil flatter
Beneath abhorring. What would you haue, you Curres,
180That like nor Peace, nor Warre? The one affrights you,
The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
Where he should finde you Lyons, findes you Hares:
Where Foxes, Geese you are: No surer, no,
Then is the coale of fire vpon the Ice,
185Or Hailstone in the Sun. Your Vertue is,
To make him worthy, whose offence subdues him,
And curse that Iustice did it. Who deserues Greatnes,
Deserues your Hate: and your Affections are
A sickmans Appetite; who desires most that
190Which would encrease his euill. He that depends
Vpon your fauours, swimmes with finnes of Leade,
And hewes downe Oakes, with rushes. Hang ye: trust ye?
With euery Minute you do change a Minde,
And call him Noble, that was now your Hate:
195Him vilde, that was your Garland. What's the matter,
That in these seuerall places of the Citie,
You cry against the Noble Senate, who
(Vnder the Gods) keepe you in awe, which else
Would feede on one another? What's their seeking?
200Men. For Corne at their owne rates, wherof they say
The Citie is well stor'd.
Mar. Hang 'em: They say?
They'l sit by th' fire, and presume to know
What's done i'th Capitoll: Who's like to rise,
205Who thriues, & who declines: Side factions, & giue out
Coniecturall Marriages, making parties strong,
And feebling such as stand not in their liking,
Below their cobled Shooes. They say ther's grain enough?
Would the Nobility lay aside their ruth,
210And let me vse my Sword, I'de make a Quarrie
With thousands of these quarter'd slaues, as high
As I could picke my Lance.
Menen. Nay these are almost thoroughly perswaded:
For though abundantly they lacke discretion
215Yet are they passing Cowardly. But I beseech you,
What sayes the other Troope?
Mar. They are dissolu'd: Hang em;
They said they were an hungry, sigh'd forth Prouerbes
That Hunger-broke stone wals: that dogges must eate
220That meate was made for mouths. That the gods sent not
Corne for the Richmen onely: With these shreds
They vented their Complainings, which being answer'd
And a petition granted them, a strange one,
To breake the heart of generosity,
225And make bold power looke pale, they threw their caps
As they would hang them on the hornes a'th Moone,
Shooting their Emulation.
Menen. What is graunted them?
Mar. Fiue Tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms
230Of their owne choice. One's Iunius Brutus,
Sicinius Velutus, and I know not. Sdeath,
The rabble should haue first vnroo'st the City
Ere so preuayl'd with me; it will in time
Win vpon power, and throw forth greater Theames
235For Insurrections arguing.
Menen. This is strange.
Mar. Go get you home you Fragments.
Enter a Messenger hastily.
Mess. Where's Caius Martius?
240Mar. Heere: what's the matter?
Mes. The newes is sir, the Volcies are in Armes.
Mar. I am glad on't, then we shall ha meanes to vent
Our mustie superfluity. See our best Elders.
Enter Sicinius Velutus, Annius Brutus Cominius, Titus
245Lartius, with other Senatours.
1. Sen. Martius 'tis true, that you haue lately told vs,
The Volces are in Armes.
Mar. They haue a Leader,
Tullus Auffidius that will put you too't:
250I sinne in enuying his Nobility:
And were I any thing but what I am,
I would wish me onely he.
Com. You haue fought together?
Mar. Were halfe to halfe the world by th' eares, & he
255vpon my partie, I'de reuolt to make
Onely my warres with him. He is a Lion
That I am proud to hunt.
1. Sen. Then worthy Martius,
Attend vpon Cominius to these Warres.
260Com. It is your former promise.
Mar. Sir it is,
And I am constant: Titus Lucius, thou
Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus face.
What art thou stiffe? Stand'st out?
265Tit. No Caius Martius,
Ile leane vpon one Crutch, and fight with tother,
Ere stay behinde this Businesse.
Men. Oh true-bred.
Sen. Your Company to'th' Capitoll, where I know
270Our greatest Friends attend vs.
Tit. Lead you on: Follow Cominius, we must followe
you, right worthy you Priority.
Com. Noble Martius.
Sen. Hence to your homes, be gone.
275Mar. Nay let them follow,
The Volces haue much Corne: take these Rats thither,
To gnaw their Garners. Worshipfull Mutiners,
Your valour puts well forth: Pray follow.
Citizens steale away. Manet Sicin. & Brutus.
280Sicin. Was euer man so proud as is this Martius?
Bru. He has no equall.
Sicin. When we were chosen Tribunes for the people.
Bru. Mark'd you his lip and eyes.
Sicin. Nay, but his taunts.
285Bru. Being mou'd, he will not spare to gird the Gods.
Sicin. Bemocke the modest Moone.
Bru. The present VVarres deuoure him, he is growne
Too proud to be so valiant.
Sicin. Such a Nature, tickled with good successe, dis-
290daines the shadow which he treads on at noone, but I do
wonder, his insolence can brooke to be commanded vn-
der Cominius?
Bru. Fame, at the which he aymes,
In whom already he's well grac'd, cannot
295Better be held, nor more attain'd then by
A place below the first: for what miscarries
Shall be the Generals fault, though he performe
To th' vtmost of a man, and giddy censure
Will then cry out of Martius: Oh, if he
300Had borne the businesse.
Sicin. Besides, if things go well,
Opinion that so stickes on Martius, shall
Of his demerits rob Cominius.
Bru. Come: halfe all Cominius Honors are to Martius
305Though Martius earn'd them not: and all his faults
To Martius shall be Honors, though indeed
In ought he merit not.
Sicin. Let's hence, and heare
How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion
310More then his singularity, he goes
Vpon this present Action.
Bru. Let's along.