Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Not Peer Reviewed

Coriolanus (Folio 1, 1623)

Enter Menenius to the Watch or Guard.
1. Wat. Stay: whence are you.
2. Wat. Stand, and go backe.
Me. You guard like men, 'tis well. But by your leaue,
I am an Officer of State, & come to speak with Coriolanus
32401 From whence? Mene. From Rome.
1 You may not passe, you must returne: our Generall
will no more heare from thence.
2 You'l see your Rome embrac'd with fire, before
You'l speake with Coriolanus.
3245Mene. Good my Friends,
If you haue heard your Generall talke of Rome,
And of his Friends there, it is Lots to Blankes,
My name hath touch't your eares: it is Menenius.
1 Be it so, go back: the vertue of your name,
3250Is not heere passable.
Mene. I tell thee Fellow,
Thy Generall is my Louer: I haue beene
The booke of his good Acts, whence men haue read
His Fame vnparalell'd, happely amplified:
3255For I haue euer verified my Friends,
(Of whom hee's cheefe) with all the size that verity
Would without lapsing suffer: Nay, sometimes,
Like to a Bowle vpon a subtle ground
I haue tumbled past the throw: and in his praise
3260Haue (almost) stampt the Leasing. Therefore Fellow,
I must haue leaue to passe.
1 Faith Sir, if you had told as many lies in his behalfe,
as you haue vttered words in your owne, you should not
passe heere: no, though it were as vertuous to lye, as to
3265liue chastly. Therefore go backe.
Men. Prythee fellow, remember my name is Menenius,
alwayes factionary on the party of your Generall.
2 Howsoeuer you haue bin his Lier, as you say you
haue, I am one that telling true vnder him, must say you
3270cannot passe. Therefore go backe.
Mene. Ha's he din'd can'st thou tell? For I would not
speake with him, till after dinner.
1 You are a Roman, are you?
Mene. I am as thy Generall is.
32751 Then you should hate Rome, as he do's. Can you,
when you haue pusht out your gates, the very Defender
of them, and in a violent popular ignorance, giuen your
enemy your shield, thinke to front his reuenges with the
easie groanes of old women, the Virginall Palms of your
3280daughters, or with the palsied intercession of such a de-
cay'd Dotant as you seeme to be? Can you think to blow
out the intended fire, your City is ready to flame in, with
such weake breath as this? No, you are deceiu'd, therfore
backe to Rome, and prepare for your execution: you are
3285condemn'd, our Generall has sworne you out of repreeue
and pardon.
Mene. Sirra, if thy Captaine knew I were heere,
He would vse me with estimation.
1 Come, my Captaine knowes you not.
3290Mene. I meane thy Generall.
1 My Generall cares not for you. Back I say, go: least
I let forth your halfe pinte of blood. Backe, that's the vt-
most of your hauing, backe.
Mene. Nay but Fellow, Fellow.
Enter Coriolanus with Auffidius.
Corio. What's the matter?
Mene. Now you Companion: Ile say an arrant for you:
you shall know now that I am in estimation: you shall
perceiue, that a Iacke gardant cannot office me from my
3300Son Coriolanus, guesse but my entertainment with him: if
thou stand'st not i'th state of hanging, or of some death
more long in Spectatorship, and crueller in suffering, be-
hold now presently, and swoond for what's to come vpon
thee. The glorious Gods sit in hourely Synod about thy
3305particular prosperity, and loue thee no worse then thy old
Father Menenius do's. O my Son, my Son! thou art pre-
paring fire for vs: looke thee, heere's water to quench it.
I was hardly moued to come to thee: but beeing assured
none but my selfe could moue thee, I haue bene blowne
3310out of your Gates with sighes: and coniure thee to par-
don Rome, and thy petitionary Countrimen. The good
Gods asswage thy wrath, and turne the dregs of it, vpon
this Varlet heere: This, who like a blocke hath denyed
my accesse to thee.
3315Corio. Away.
Mene. How? Away?
Corio. Wife, Mother, Child, I know not. My affaires
Are Seruanted to others: Though I owe
My Reuenge properly, my remission lies
3320In Volcean brests. That we haue beene familiar,
Ingrate forgetfulnesse shall poison rather
Then pitty: Note how much, therefore be gone.
Mine eares against your suites, are stronger then
Your gates against my force. Yet for I loued thee,
3325Take this along, I writ it for thy sake,
And would haue sent it. Another word Menenius,
I will not heare thee speake. This man Auffidius
Was my belou'd in Rome: yet thou behold'st.
Auffid. You keepe a constant temper.
Manet the Guard and Menenius.
1 Now sir, is your name Menenius?
2 'Tis a spell you see of much power:
You know the way home againe.
1 Do you heare how wee are shent for keeping your
3335greatnesse backe?
2 What cause do you thinke I haue to swoond?
Menen. I neither care for th' world, nor your General:
for such things as you. I can scarse thinke ther's any, y'are
so slight. He that hath a will to die by himselfe, feares it
3340not from another: Let your Generall do his worst. For
you, bee that you are, long; and your misery encrease
with your age. I say to you, as I was said to, Away.
1 A Noble Fellow I warrant him.
2 The worthy Fellow is our General. He's the Rock,
3345The Oake not to be winde-shaken.
Exit Watch.