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Coriolanus: Act I, Scene 1

Coriolanus
Act I, Scene 1

Scene 1

Rome. A street.

  1. Enter a company of mutinous Roman Citizens with staves,
  2. clubs, and other weapons.

First Roman Citizen

1
  1. Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.

All Roman Citizens

2
  1. Speak, speak.

First Roman Citizen

3
  1. You are all resolv’d rather to die than to famish?

All Roman Citizens

4
  1. Resolv’d, resolv’d.

First Roman Citizen

5
  1. First, you know Caius Martius is chief enemy to the people.

All Roman Citizens

6
  1. We know’t, we know’t.

First Roman Citizen

7 - 8
  1. Let us kill him, and we’ll have corn at our own price. Is’t
  2. a verdict?

All Roman Citizens

9
  1. No more talking on’t; let it be done. Away, away!

Second Roman Citizen

10
  1. One word, good citizens.

First Roman Citizen

11 - 19
  1. We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good. What
  2. authority surfeits on would relieve us. If they would yield
  3. us but the superfluity while it were wholesome, we might
  4. guess they reliev’d us humanely; but they think we are too
  5. dear. The leanness that afflicts us, the object of our
  6. misery, is as an inventory to particularize their abundance;
  7. our sufferance is a gain to them. Let us revenge this with
  8. our pikes, ere we become rakes; for the gods know I speak
  9. this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

Second Roman Citizen

20
  1. Would you proceed especially against Caius Martius?

First Roman Citizen

21
  1. Against him first; he’s a very dog to the commonalty.

Second Roman Citizen

22
  1. Consider you what services he has done for his country?

First Roman Citizen

23 - 24
  1. Very well, and could be content to give him good report
  2. for’t, but that he pays himself with being proud.

Second Roman Citizen

25
  1. Nay, but speak not maliciously.

First Roman Citizen

26 - 30
  1. I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did it to
  2. that end. Though soft-conscienc’d men can be content to say
  3. it was for his country, he did it to please his mother, and
  4. to be partly proud, which he is, even to the altitude of his
  5. virtue.

Second Roman Citizen

31 - 32
  1. What he cannot help in his nature, you account a vice in
  2. him. You must in no way say he is covetous.

First Roman Citizen

33 - 36
  1. If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations; he hath
  2. faults (with surplus) to tire in repetition.
  3. Shouts within.
  4. What shouts are these? The other side a’ th’ city is risen;
  5. why stay we prating here? To th’ Capitol!

All Roman Citizens

37
  1. Come, come.

First Roman Citizen

38
  1. Soft, who comes here?
  1. Enter Menenius Agrippa.

Second Roman Citizen

39 - 40
  1. Worthy Menenius Agrippa, one that hath always lov’d the
  2. people.

First Roman Citizen

41
  1. He’s one honest enough; would all the rest were so!

Menenius

42 - 43
  1. What work’s, my countrymen, in hand? Where go you
  2. With bats and clubs? The matter? Speak, I pray you.

First Roman Citizen

44 - 47
  1. Our business is not unknown to th’ Senate; they have had
  2. inkling this fortnight what we intend to do, which now we’ll
  3. show ’em in deeds. They say poor suitors have strong
  4. breaths; they shall know we have strong arms too.

Menenius

48 - 49
  1. Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbors,
  2. Will you undo yourselves?

First Roman Citizen

50
  1. We cannot, sir, we are undone already.

Menenius

51 - 64
  1. I tell you, friends, most charitable care
  2. Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
  3. Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
  4. Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
  5. Against the Roman state, whose course will on
  6. The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
  7. Of more strong link asunder than can ever
  8. Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,
  9. The gods, not the patricians, make it, and
  10. Your knees to them (not arms) must help. Alack,
  11. You are transported by calamity
  12. Thither where more attends you, and you slander
  13. The helms o’ th’ state, who care for you like fathers,
  14. When you curse them as enemies.

First Roman Citizen

65 - 71
  1. Care for us? True indeed! They ne’er car’d for us yet.
  2. Suffer us to famish, and their store-houses cramm’d with
  3. grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers; repeal
  4. daily any wholesome act establish’d against the rich, and
  5. provide more piercing statutes daily to chain up and
  6. restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and
  7. there’s all the love they bear us.

Menenius

72 - 77
  1. Either you must
  2. Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
  3. Or be accus’d of folly. I shall tell you
  4. A pretty tale. It may be you have heard it,
  5. But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
  6. To stale ’t a little more.

First Roman Citizen

78 - 79
  1. Well, I’ll hear it, sir; yet you must not think to fob off
  2. our disgrace with a tale. But and’t please you, deliver.

Menenius

80 - 89
  1. There was a time when all the body’s members
  2. Rebell’d against the belly; thus accus’d it:
  3. That only like a gulf it did remain
  4. I’ th’ midst a’ th’ body, idle and unactive,
  5. Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
  6. Like labor with the rest, where th’ other instruments
  7. Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
  8. And, mutually participate, did minister
  9. Unto the appetite and affection common
  10. Of the whole body. The belly answer’d

First Roman Citizen

90
  1. Well, sir, what answer made the belly?

Menenius

91 - 98
  1. Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile,
  2. Which ne’er came from the lungs, but even thus
  3. For, look you, I may make the belly smile
  4. As well as speakit tauntingly replied
  5. To th’ discontented members, the mutinous parts
  6. That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
  7. As you malign our senators for that
  8. They are not such as you.

First Roman Citizen

99 - 104
  1.                           Your belly’s answerwhat?
  2. The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
  3. The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
  4. Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,
  5. With other muniments and petty helps
  6. In this our fabric, if that they

Menenius

105 - 106
  1.                                   What then?
  2. ’Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? What then?

First Roman Citizen

107 - 108
  1. Should by the cormorant belly be restrain’d,
  2. Who is the sink a’ th’ body

Menenius

109
  1.                              Well, what then?

First Roman Citizen

110 - 111
  1. The former agents, if they did complain,
  2. What could the belly answer?

Menenius

112 - 114
  1.                              I will tell you;
  2. If you’ll bestow a small (of what you have little)
  3. Patience awhile, you’st hear the belly’s answer.

First Roman Citizen

115
  1. Y’ are long about it.

Menenius

116 - 130
  1.                       Note me this, good friend:
  2. Your most grave belly was deliberate,
  3. Not rash like his accusers, and thus answered:
  4. True is it, my incorporate friends,” quoth he,
  5. That I receive the general food at first
  6. Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
  7. Because I am the store-house and the shop
  8. Of the whole body. But, if you do remember,
  9. I send it through the rivers of your blood,
  10. Even to the court, the heart, to th’ seat o’ th’ brain,
  11. And, through the cranks and offices of man,
  12. The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
  13. From me receive that natural competency
  14. Whereby they live. And though that all at once”—
  15. You, my good friends, this says the belly, mark me.

First Roman Citizen

131
  1. Ay, sir, well, well.

Menenius

132 - 136
  1.                      Though all at once cannot
  2. See what I do deliver out to each,
  3. Yet I can make my audit up, that all
  4. From me do back receive the flour of all,
  5. And leave me but the bran.” What say you to’t?

First Roman Citizen

137
  1. It was an answer. How apply you this?

Menenius

138 - 145
  1. The senators of Rome are this good belly,
  2. And you the mutinous members: for examine
  3. Their counsels and their cares; digest things rightly
  4. Touching the weal a’ th’ common, you shall find
  5. No public benefit which you receive
  6. But it proceeds or comes from them to you,
  7. And no way from yourselves. What do you think,
  8. You, the great toe of this assembly?

First Roman Citizen

146
  1. I the great toe? Why the great toe?

Menenius

147 - 154
  1. For that, being one o’ th’ lowest, basest, poorest
  2. Of this most wise rebellion, thou goest foremost;
  3. Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
  4. Lead’st first to win some vantage.
  5. But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs,
  6. Rome and her rats are at the point of battle,
  7. The one side must have bale.
  8. Enter Caius Martius.
  9.                              Hail, noble Martius!

Caius Martius

155 - 157
  1. Thanks. What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues,
  2. That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion
  3. Make yourselves scabs?

First Roman Citizen

158
  1. We have ever your good word.

Caius Martius

159 - 180
  1. He that will give good words to thee will flatter
  2. Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,
  3. That like nor peace nor war? The one affrights you,
  4. The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
  5. Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;
  6. Where foxes, geese. You are no surer, no,
  7. Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,
  8. Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is
  9. To make him worthy whose offense subdues him,
  10. And curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness
  11. Deserves your hate; and your affections are
  12. A sick man’s appetite, who desires most that
  13. Which would increase his evil. He that depends
  14. Upon your favors swims with fins of lead,
  15. And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye?
  16. With every minute you do change a mind,
  17. And call him noble, that was now your hate;
  18. Him vile, that was your garland. What’s the matter,
  19. That in these several places of the city
  20. You cry against the noble Senate, who
  21. (Under the gods) keep you in awe, which else
  22. Would feed on one another? What’s their seeking?

Menenius

181 - 182
  1. For corn at their own rates, whereof they say
  2. The city is well stor’d.

Caius Martius

183 - 193
  1.                          Hang ’em! They say?
  2. They’ll sit by th’ fire, and presume to know
  3. What’s done i’ th’ Capitol; who’s like to rise,
  4. Who thrives, and who declines; side factions, and give out
  5. Conjectural marriages, making parties strong,
  6. And feebling such as stand not in their liking
  7. Below their cobbled shoes. They say there’s grain enough?
  8. Would the nobility lay aside their ruth
  9. And let me use my sword, I’d make a quarry
  10. With thousands of these quarter’d slaves, as high
  11. As I could pick my lance.

Menenius

194 - 197
  1. Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
  2. For though abundantly they lack discretion,
  3. Yet are they passing cowardly. But I beseech you,
  4. What says the other troop?

Caius Martius

198 - 208
  1.                            They are dissolv’d. Hang ’em!
  2. They said they were an-hungry; sigh’d forth proverbs
  3. That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
  4. That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not
  5. Corn for the rich men only. With these shreds
  6. They vented their complainings, which being answer’d,
  7. And a petition granted thema strange one,
  8. To break the heart of generosity
  9. And make bold power look palethey threw their caps
  10. As they would hang them on the horns a’ th’ moon,
  11. Shouting their emulation.

Menenius

209
  1.                           What is granted them?

Caius Martius

210 - 216
  1. Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
  2. Of their own choice. One’s Junius Brutus,
  3. Sicinius Velutus, and I know not’sdeath,
  4. The rabble should have first unroof’d the city
  5. Ere so prevail’d with me; it will in time
  6. Win upon power, and throw forth greater themes
  7. For insurrection’s arguing.

Menenius

217
  1.                             This is strange.

Caius Martius

218
  1. Go get you home, you fragments!
  1. Enter First Messenger hastily.

First Messenger

219
  1. Where’s Caius Martius?

Caius Martius

220
  1.                        Here. What’s the matter?

First Messenger

221
  1. The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.

Caius Martius

222 - 223
  1. I am glad on’t, then we shall ha’ means to vent
  2. Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.
  1. Enter Sicinius Velutus, Junius Brutus, Cominius, Titus
  2. Lartius, with other Senators.

First Roman Senator

224 - 225
  1. Martius, ’tis true that you have lately told us,
  2. The Volsces are in arms.

Caius Martius

226 - 230
  1.                          They have a leader,
  2. Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to’t.
  3. I sin in envying his nobility;
  4. And were I any thing but what I am,
  5. I would wish me only he.

Cominius

231
  1.                          You have fought together?

Caius Martius

232 - 235
  1. Were half to half the world by th’ ears, and he
  2. Upon my party, I’d revolt, to make
  3. Only my wars with him. He is a lion
  4. That I am proud to hunt.

First Roman Senator

236 - 237
  1.                          Then, worthy Martius,
  2. Attend upon Cominius to these wars.

Cominius

238
  1. It is your former promise.

Caius Martius

239 - 242
  1.                            Sir, it is,
  2. And I am constant. Titus Lartius, thou
  3. Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus’ face.
  4. What, art thou stiff? Stand’st out?

Lartius

243 - 245
  1.                                     No, Caius Martius,
  2. I’ll lean upon one crutch, and fight with t’ other,
  3. Ere stay behind this business.

Menenius

246
  1.                                O, true-bred!

First Roman Senator

247 - 248
  1. Your company to th’ Capitol, where I know
  2. Our greatest friends attend us.

Lartius

249 - 251
  1. To Cominius.
  2.                                 Lead you on.
  3. To Martius.
  4. Follow Cominius; we must follow you,
  5. Right worthy you priority.

Cominius

252
  1.                            Noble Martius!

First Roman Senator

253
  1. To the Citizens.
  2. Hence to your homes, be gone!

Caius Martius

254 - 257
  1.                               Nay, let them follow.
  2. The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither
  3. To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,
  4. Your valor puts well forth; pray follow.
  1. Exeunt. Roman Citizens steal away. Manent Sicinius and
  2. Brutus.

Sicinius Velutus

258
  1. Was ever man so proud as is this Martius?

Brutus

259
  1. He has no equal.

Sicinius Velutus

260
  1. When we were chosen tribunes for the people

Brutus

261
  1. Mark’d you his lip and eyes?

Sicinius Velutus

262
  1.                              Nay, but his taunts.

Brutus

263
  1. Being mov’d, he will not spare to gird the gods.

Sicinius Velutus

264
  1. Bemock the modest moon.

Brutus

265 - 266
  1. The present wars devour him! He is grown
  2. Too proud to be so valiant.

Sicinius Velutus

267 - 271
  1.                             Such a nature,
  2. Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
  3. Which he treads on at noon. But I do wonder
  4. His insolence can brook to be commanded
  5. Under Cominius.

Brutus

272 - 279
  1.                 Fame, at the which he aims,
  2. In whom already he’s well grac’d, cannot
  3. Better be held nor more attain’d than by
  4. A place below the first; for what miscarries
  5. Shall be the general’s fault, though he perform
  6. To th’ utmost of a man, and giddy censure
  7. Will then cry out of Martius, O, if he
  8. Had borne the business!”

Sicinius Velutus

280 - 282
  1.                          Besides, if things go well,
  2. Opinion that so sticks on Martius shall
  3. Of his demerits rob Cominius.

Brutus

283 - 287
  1.                               Come.
  2. Half all Cominius’ honors are to Martius,
  3. Though Martius earn’d them not; and all his faults
  4. To Martius shall be honors, though indeed
  5. In aught he merit not.

Sicinius Velutus

288 - 291
  1.                        Let’s hence, and hear
  2. How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,
  3. More than his singularity, he goes
  4. Upon this present action.

Brutus

292
  1.                           Let’s along.
  1. Exeunt.
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