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

Act IV. Scene VI.


Rome.A Public Place.


Sic.We hear not of him, neither need we fear him;

His remedies are tame i’ the present peace

And quietness o’ the people, which before

Were in wild hurry. Here do we make his friends

Blush that the world goes well, who rather had,

Though they themselves did suffer by ’t, behold

Dissentious numbers pestering streets, than see

Our tradesmen singing in their shops and going

About their functions friendly.


Bru.We stood to ’t in good time. Is this Menenius?

Sic.’Tis he, ’tis he. O! he is grown most kind

Of late. Hail, sir!

Men.Hail to you both!

Sic.Your Coriolanus is not much miss’d

But with his friends: the commonwealth doth stand,

And so would do, were he more angry at it.

Men.All’s well; and might have been much better, if

He could have temporiz’d.

Sic.Where is he, hear you?

Men.Nay, I hear nothing: his mother and his wife

Hear nothing from him.

Enter three or four Citizens.

Citizens.The gods preserve you both!

Sic.Good den, our neighbours.

Bru.Good den to you all, good den to you all.

First Cit.Ourselves, our wives, and children, on our knees,

Are bound to pray for you both.

Sic.Live, and thrive!

Bru.Farewell, kind neighbours: we wish’d Coriolanus

Had lov’d you as we did.

Citizens.Now the gods keep you!

Sic. & Bru.Farewell, farewell.[Exeunt Citizens.

Sic.This is a happier and more comely time

Than when these fellows ran about the streets

Crying confusion.

Bru.Caius Marcius was

A worthy officer i’ the war; but insolent,

O’ercome with pride, ambitious past all thinking,


Sic.And affecting one sole throne,

Without assistance.

Men.I think not so.

Sic.We should by this, to all our lamentation,

If he had gone forth consul, found it so.

Bru.The gods have well prevented it, and Rome

Sits safe and still without him.

Enter an Ædile.

Æd.Worthy tribunes,

There is a slave, whom we have put in prison,

Reports, the Volsces with two several powers

Are enter’d in the Roman territories,

And with the deepest malice of the war

Destroy what lies before them.

Men.’Tis Aufidius,

Who, hearing of our Marcius’ banishment,

Thrusts forth his horns again into the world;

Which were inshell’d when Marcius stood for Rome,

And durst not once peep out.

Sic.Come, what talk you of Marcius?

Bru.Go see this rumourer whipp’d. It cannot be

The Volsces dare break with us.

Men.Cannot be!

We have record that very well it can,

And three examples of the like have been

Within my age. But reason with the fellow,

Before you punish him, where he heard this,

Lest you shall chance to whip your information,

And beat the messenger who bids beware

Of what is to be dreaded.

Sic.Tell not me:

I know this cannot be.

Bru.Not possible.

Enter a Messenger.

Mess.The nobles in great earnestness are going

All to the senate-house: some news is come,

That turns their countenances.

Sic.’Tis this slave.—

Go whip him ’fore the people’s eyes: his raising;

Nothing but his report.

Mess.Yes, worthy sir,

The slave’s report is seconded; and more,

More fearful, is deliver’d.

Sic.What more fearful?

Mess.It is spoke freely out of many mouths—

How probable I do not know—that Marcius,

Join’d with Aufidius, leads a power ’gainst Rome,

And vows revenge as spacious as between

The young’st and oldest thing.

Sic.This is most likely.

Bru.Rais’d only, that the weaker sort may wish

Good Marcius home again.

Sic.The very trick on ’t.

Men.This is unlikely:

He and Aufidius can no more atone,

Than violentest contrariety.

Enter another Messenger.

Sec. Mess.You are sent for to the senate:

A fearful army, led by Caius Marcius,

Associated with Aufidius, rages

Upon our territories; and have already

O’erborne their way, consum’d with fire, and took

What lay before them.


Com.O! you have made good work!

Men.What news? what news?

Com.You have holp to ravish your own daughters, and

To melt the city leads upon your pates.

To see your wives dishonour’d to your noses,—

Men.What’s the news? what’s the news?

Com.Your temples burned in their cement, and

Your franchises, whereon you stood, confin’d

Into an auger’s bore.

Men.Pray now, your news?—

You have made fair work, I fear me. Pray, your news?

If Marcius should be join’d with Volscians,—


He is their god: he leads them like a thing

Made by some other deity than Nature,

That shapes man better; and they follow him,

Against us brats, with no less confidence

Than boys pursuing summer butterflies,

Or butchers killing flies.

Men.You have made good work,

You, and your apron-men; you that stood so much

Upon the voice of occupation and

The breath of garlic-eaters!

Com.He will shake

Your Rome about your ears.

Men.As Hercules

Did shake down mellow fruit. You have made fair work!

Bru.But is this true, sir?

Com.Ay; and you’ll look pale

Before you find it other. All the regions

Do smilingly revolt; and who resist

Are mock’d for valiant ignorance,

And perish constant fools. Who is ’t can blame him?

Your enemies, and his, find something in him.

Men.We are all undone unless

The noble man have mercy.

Com.Who shall ask it?

The tribunes cannot do ’t for shame; the people

Deserve such pity of him as the wolf

Does of the shepherds: for his best friends, if they

Should say, ‘Be good to Rome,’ they charg’d him even

As those should do that had deserv’d his hate,

And therein show’d like enemies.

Men.’Tis true:

If he were putting to my house the brand

That should consume it, I have not the face

To say, ‘Beseech you, cease.’—You have made fair hands,

You and your crafts! you have crafted fair!

Com.You have brought

A trembling upon Rome, such as was never

So incapable of help.

Sic. & Bru.Say not we brought it.

Men.How! Was it we? We lov’d him; but, like beasts

And cowardly nobles, gave way unto your clusters,

Who did hoot him out o’ the city.

Com.But I fear

They’ll roar him in again. Tullus Aufidius,

The second name of men, obeys his points

As if he were his officer: desperation

Is all the policy, strength, and defence,

That Rome can make against them.

Enter a troop of Citizens.

Men.Here come the clusters.

And is Aufidius with him? You are they

That made the air unwholesome, when you cast

Your stinking greasy caps in hooting at

Coriolanus’ exile. Now he’s coming;

And not a hair upon a soldier’s head

Which will not prove a whip: as many cox-combs

As you threw caps up will he tumble down,

And pay you for your voices. ’Tis no matter;

If he could burn us all into one coal,

We have deserv’d it.

Citizens.Faith, we hear fearful news.

First Cit.For mine own part,

When I said banish him, I said ’twas pity.

Sec. Cit.And so did I.

Third Cit.And so did I; and, to say the truth, so did very many of us. That we did we did for the best; and though we willingly consented to his banishment, yet it was against our will.

Com.You’re goodly things, you voices!

Men.You have made

Good work, you and your cry! Shall’s to the Capitol?

Com.O! ay; what else?[Exeunt COMINIUS and MENENIUS.

Sic.Go, masters, get you home; be not dismay’d:

These are a side that would be glad to have

This true which they so seem to fear. Go home,

And show no sign of fear.

First Cit.The gods be good to us! Come, masters, let’s home. I ever said we were i’ the wrong when we banished him.

Sec. Cit.So did we all. But come, let’s home.[Exeunt Citizens.

Bru.I do not like this news.

Sic.Nor I.

Bru.Let’s to the Capitol. Would half my wealth

Would buy this for a lie!

Sic.Pray let us go.[Exeunt.