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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act IV. Scene V.


The Same.A Hall in AUFIDIUS’ House.

Music within.Enter a Servingman.

First Serv.Wine, wine, wine! What service is here! I think our fellows are asleep.[Exit.

Enter a Second Servingman.

Sec. Serv.Where’s Cotus? my master calls for him. Cotus![Exit.


Cor.A goodly house: the feast smells well; but I

Appear not like a guest.

Re-enter the First Servingman.

First Serv.What would you have, friend? Whence are you? Here’s no place for you: pray, go to the door.[Exit.

Cor.I have deserv’d no better entertainment,

In being Coriolanus.

Re-enter Second Servingman.

Sec. Serv.Whence are you, sir? Has the porter his eyes in his head, that he gives entrance to such companions? Pray, get you out.


Sec. Serv.‘Away!’ Get you away.

Cor.Now, thou art troublesome.

Sec. Serv.Are you so brave? I’ll have you talked with anon.

Enter a Third Servingman.Re-enter the First.

Third Serv.What fellow’s this?

First Serv.A strange one as ever I looked on: I cannot get him out o’ the house: prithee, call my master to him.

Third Serv.What have you to do here, fellow? Pray you, avoid the house.

Cor.Let me but stand; I will not hurt your hearth.

Third Serv.What are you?

Cor.A gentleman.

Third Serv.A marvellous poor one.

Cor.True, so I am.

Third Serv.Pray you, poor gentleman, take up some other station; here’s no place for you; pray you, avoid: come.

Cor.Follow your function; go, and batten on cold bits.[Pushes him away.

Third Serv.What, you will not? Prithee, tell my master what a strange guest he has here.

Sec. Serv.And I shall.[Exit.

Third Serv.Where dwell’st thou?

Cor.Under the canopy.

Third Serv.‘Under the canopy!’


Third Serv.Where’s that?

Cor.I’ the city of kites and crows.

Third Serv.‘I’ the city of kites and crows!’ What an ass it is! Then thou dwell’st with daws too?

Cor.No; I serve not thy master.

Third Serv.How sir! Do you meddle with my master?

Cor.Ay; ’tis an honester service than to meddle with thy mistress.

Thou prat’st, and prat’st: serve with thy trencher. Hence.[Beats him away.

Enter AUFIDIUS and First Servingman.

Auf.Where is this fellow?

Sec. Serv.Here, sir: I’d have beaten him like a dog, but for disturbing the lords within.

Auf.Whence com’st thou? what wouldst thou? Thy name?

Why speak’st not? Speak, man: what’s thy name?

Cor.[Unmuffling.]If, Tullus,

Not yet thou know’st me, and, seeing me, dost not

Think me for the man I am, necessity

Commands me name myself.

Auf.What is thy name?[Servants retire.

Cor.A name unmusical to the Volscians’ ears,

And harsh in sound to thine.

Auf.Say, what’s thy name?

Thou hast a grim appearance, and thy face

Bears a command in ’t; though thy tackle’s torn,

Thou show’st a noble vessel. What’s thy name?

Cor.Prepare thy brow to frown. Know’st thou me yet?

Auf.I know thee not. Thy name?

Cor.My name is Caius Marcius, who hath done

To thee particularly, and to all the Volsces,

Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness may

My surname, Coriolanus: the painful service,

The extreme dangers, and the drops of blood

Shed for my thankless country, are requited

But with that surname; a good memory,

And witness of the malice and displeasure

Which thou shouldst bear me: only that name remains;

The cruelty and envy of the people,

Permitted by our dastard nobles, who

Have all forsook me, hath devour’d the rest;

And suffer’d me by the voice of slaves to be

Whoop’d out of Rome. Now this extremity

Hath brought me to thy hearth; not out of hope,

Mistake me not, to save my life; for if

I had fear’d death, of all the men i’ the world

I would have ’voided thee; but in mere spite,

To be full quit of those my banishers,

Stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast

A heart of wreak in thee, that will revenge

Thine own particular wrongs and stop those maims

Of shame seen through thy country, speed thee straight,

And make my misery serve thy turn: so use it,

That my revengeful services may prove

As benefits to thee, for I will fight

Against my canker’d country with the spleen

Of all the under fiends. But if so be

Thou dar’st not this, and that to prove more fortunes

Thou art tir’d, then, in a word, I also am

Longer to live most weary, and present

My throat to thee and to thy ancient malice;

Which not to cut would show thee but a fool,

Since I have ever follow’d thee with hate,

Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country’s breast,

And cannot live but to thy shame, unless

It be to do thee service.

Auf.O Marcius, Marcius!

Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart

A root of ancient envy. If Jupiter

Should from yond cloud speak divine things,

And say, ‘’Tis true,’ I’d not believe them more

Than thee, all noble Marcius. Let me twine

Mine arms about that body, where against

My grained ash a hundred times hath broke,

And scarr’d the moon with splinters: here I clip

The anvil of my sword, and do contest

As hotly and as nobly with thy love

As ever in ambitious strength I did

Contend against thy valour. Know thou first,

I lov’d the maid I married; never man

Sigh’d truer breath; but that I see thee here,

Thou noble thing! more dances my rapt heart

Than when I first my wedded mistress saw

Bestride my threshold. Why, thou Mars! I tell thee,

We have a power on foot; and I had purpose

Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn,

Or lose mine arm for ’t. Thou hast beat me out

Twelve several times, and I have nightly since

Dreamt of encounters ’twixt thyself and me;

We have been down together in my sleep,

Unbuckling helms, fisting each other’s throat,

And wak’d half dead with nothing. Worthy Marcius,

Had we no quarrel else to Rome, but that

Thou art thence banish’d, we would muster all

From twelve to seventy, and, pouring war

Into the bowels of ungrateful Rome,

Like a bold flood o’er-bear. O! come; go in,

And take our friendly senators by the hands,

Who now are here, taking their leaves of me,

Who am prepar’d against your territories,

Though not for Rome itself.

Cor.You bless me, gods!

Auf.Therefore, most absolute sir, if thou wilt have

The leading of thine own revenges, take

The one half of my commission, and set down,

As best thou art experienc’d, since thou know’st

Thy country’s strength and weakness, thine own ways;

Whether to knock against the gates of Rome,

Or rudely visit them in parts remote,

To fright them, ere destroy. But come in:

Let me commend thee first to those that shall

Say yea to thy desires. A thousand welcomes!

And more a friend than e’er an enemy;

Yet, Marcius, that was much. Your hand: most welcome![Exeunt CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS.

First Serv.[Advancing.]Here’s a strange alteration!

Sec. Serv.By my hand, I had thought to have strucken him with a cudgel; and yet my mind gave me his clothes made a false report of him.

First Serv.What an arm he has! He turned me about with his finger and his thumb, as one would set up a top.

Sec. Serv.Nay, I knew by his face that there was something in him: he had, sir, a kind of face, methought,—I cannot tell how to term it.

First Serv.He had so; looking as it were,—would I were hanged but I thought there was more in him than I could think.

Sec. Serv.So did I, I’ll be sworn: he is simply the rarest man i’ the world.

First Serv.I think he is; but a greater soldier than he you wot on.

Sec. Serv.Who? my master?

First Serv.Nay, it’s no matter for that.

Sec. Serv.Worth six on him.

First Serv.Nay, not so neither; but I take him to be the greater soldier.

Sec. Serv.Faith, look you, one cannot tell how to say that: for the defence of a town our general is excellent.

First Serv.Ay, and for an assault too.

Re-enter Third Servingman.

Third Serv.O slaves! I can tell you news; news, you rascals.

First & Sec. Serv.What, what, what? let’s partake.

Third Serv.I would not be a Roman, of all nations; I had as lief be a condemned man.

First & Sec. Serv.Wherefore? wherefore?

Third Serv.Why, here’s he that was wont to thwack our general, Caius Marcius.

First Serv.Why do you say ‘thwack our general?’

Third Serv.I do not say, ‘thwack our general;’ but he was always good enough for him.

Sec. Serv.Come, we are fellows and friends: he was ever too hard for him; I have heard him say so himself.

First Serv.He was too hard for him,—directly to say the truth on ’t: before Corioli he scotched him and notched him like a carbonado.

Sec. Serv.An he had been cannibally given, he might have broiled and eaten him too.

First Serv.But, more of thy news.

Third Serv.Why, he is so made on here within, as if he were son and heir to Mars; set at upper end o’ the table; no question asked him by any of the senators, but they stand bald before him. Our general himself makes a mistress of him; sanctifies himself with’s hand, and turns up the white o’ the eye to his discourse. But the bottom of the news is, our general is cut i’ the middle, and but one half of what he was yesterday, for the other has half, by the entreaty and grant of the whole table. He’ll go, he says, and sowle the porter of Rome gates by the ears: he will mow down all before him, and leave his passage polled.

Sec. Serv.And he’s as like to do ’t as any man I can imagine.

Third Serv.Do ’t! he will do ’t; for—look you, sir—he has as many friends as enemies; which friends, sir—as it were—durst not—look you, sir—show themselves—as we term it—his friends, whilst he’s in directitude.

First Serv.Directitude! what’s that?

Sec. Serv.But when they shall see, sir, his crest up again, and the man in blood, they will out of their burrows, like conies after rain, and revel all with him.

First Serv.But when goes this forward?

Third Serv.To-morrow; to-day; presently. You shall have the drum struck up this afternoon; ’tis, as it were, a parcel of their feast, and to be executed ere they wipe their lips.

Sec. Serv.Why, then we shall have a stirring world again. This peace is nothing but to rust iron, increase tailors, and breed ballad-makers.

First Serv.Let me have war, say I; it exceeds peace as far as day does night; it’s spritely, waking, audible, and full of vent. Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy; mulled, deaf, sleepy, insensible; a getter of more bastard children than war’s a destroyer of men.

Sec. Serv.’Tis so: and as war, in some sort, may be said to be a ravisher, so it cannot be denied but peace is a great maker of cuckolds.

First Serv.Ay, and it makes men hate one another.

Third Serv.Reason: because they then less need one another. The wars for my money. I hope to see Romans as cheap as Volscians. They are rising, they are rising.

All.In, in, in, in![Exeunt.