home contact


Please see the bottom of the page for related resources.

ACT II SCENE I. Rome. A public place.
[ Enter MENENIUS with the two Tribunes of the people, SICINIUS and BRUTUS. ]
MENENIUSThe augurer tells me we shall have news to-night.
BRUTUSGood or bad?
MENENIUSNot according to the prayer of the people, for they
love not Marcius.
SICINIUSNature teaches beasts to know their friends.5
MENENIUSPray you, who does the wolf love?
MENENIUSAy, to devour him; as the hungry plebeians would the
noble Marcius.
BRUTUSHe's a lamb indeed, that baes like a bear.10
MENENIUSHe's a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You two
are old men: tell me one thing that I shall ask you.
BothWell, sir.
MENENIUSIn what enormity is Marcius poor in, that you two
have not in abundance?15
BRUTUSHe's poor in no one fault, but stored with all.
SICINIUSEspecially in pride.
BRUTUSAnd topping all others in boasting.
MENENIUSThis is strange now: do you two know how you are
censured here in the city, I mean of us o' the20
right-hand file? do you?
BothWhy, how are we censured?
MENENIUSBecause you talk of pride now,--will you not be angry?
BothWell, well, sir, well.
MENENIUSWhy, 'tis no great matter; for a very little thief of25
occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience:
give your dispositions the reins, and be angry at
your pleasures; at the least if you take it as a
pleasure to you in being so. You blame Marcius for
being proud?30
BRUTUSWe do it not alone, sir.
MENENIUSI know you can do very little alone; for your helps
are many, or else your actions would grow wondrous
single: your abilities are too infant-like for
doing much alone. You talk of pride: O that you35
could turn your eyes toward the napes of your necks,
and make but an interior survey of your good selves!
O that you could!
BRUTUSWhat then, sir?
MENENIUSWhy, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,40
proud, violent, testy magistrates, alias fools, as
any in Rome.
SICINIUSMenenius, you are known well enough too.
MENENIUSI am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that
loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying45
Tiber in't; said to be something imperfect in
favouring the first complaint; hasty and tinder-like
upon too trivial motion; one that converses more
with the buttock of the night than with the forehead
of the morning: what I think I utter, and spend my50
malice in my breath. Meeting two such wealsmen as
you are--I cannot call you Lycurguses--if the drink
you give me touch my palate adversely, I make a
crooked face at it. I can't say your worships have
delivered the matter well, when I find the ass in55
compound with the major part of your syllables: and
though I must be content to bear with those that say
you are reverend grave men, yet they lie deadly that
tell you you have good faces. If you see this in
the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known60
well enough too? what barm can your bisson
conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be
known well enough too?
BRUTUSCome, sir, come, we know you well enough.
MENENIUSYou know neither me, yourselves nor any thing. You65
are ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs: you
wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a
cause between an orange wife and a fosset-seller;
and then rejourn the controversy of three pence to a
second day of audience. When you are hearing a70
matter between party and party, if you chance to be
pinched with the colic, you make faces like
mummers; set up the bloody flag against all
patience; and, in roaring for a chamber-pot,
dismiss the controversy bleeding the more entangled75
by your hearing: all the peace you make in their
cause is, calling both the parties knaves. You are
a pair of strange ones.
BRUTUSCome, come, you are well understood to be a
perfecter giber for the table than a necessary80
bencher in the Capitol.
MENENIUSOur very priests must become mockers, if they shall
encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When
you speak best unto the purpose, it is not worth the
wagging of your beards; and your beards deserve not85
so honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's
cushion, or to be entombed in an ass's pack-
saddle. Yet you must be saying, Marcius is proud;
who in a cheap estimation, is worth predecessors
since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the90
best of 'em were hereditary hangmen. God-den to
your worships: more of your conversation would
infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly
plebeians: I will be bold to take my leave of you.
[BRUTUS and SICINIUS go aside]
How now, my as fair as noble ladies,--and the moon,95
were she earthly, no nobler,--whither do you follow
your eyes so fast?
VOLUMNIAHonourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; for
the love of Juno, let's go.
MENENIUSHa! Marcius coming home!100
VOLUMNIAAy, worthy Menenius; and with most prosperous
MENENIUSTake my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!
Marcius coming home!
VIRGILIANay,'tis true.105
VOLUMNIALook, here's a letter from him: the state hath
another, his wife another; and, I think, there's one
at home for you.
MENENIUSI will make my very house reel tonight: a letter for
VIRGILIAYes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw't.
MENENIUSA letter for me! it gives me an estate of seven
years' health; in which time I will make a lip at
the physician: the most sovereign prescription in
Galen is but empiricutic, and, to this preservative,115
of no better report than a horse-drench. Is he
not wounded? he was wont to come home wounded.
VIRGILIAO, no, no, no.
VOLUMNIAO, he is wounded; I thank the gods for't.
MENENIUSSo do I too, if it be not too much: brings a'120
victory in his pocket? the wounds become him.
VOLUMNIAOn's brows: Menenius, he comes the third time home
with the oaken garland.
MENENIUSHas he disciplined Aufidius soundly?
VOLUMNIATitus Lartius writes, they fought together, but125
Aufidius got off.
MENENIUSAnd 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him that:
an he had stayed by him, I would not have been so
fidiused for all the chests in Corioli, and the gold
that's in them. Is the senate possessed of this?130
VOLUMNIAGood ladies, let's go. Yes, yes, yes; the senate
has letters from the general, wherein he gives my
son the whole name of the war: he hath in this
action outdone his former deeds doubly
VALERIAIn troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.135
MENENIUSWondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not without his
true purchasing.
VIRGILIAThe gods grant them true!
VOLUMNIATrue! pow, wow.
MENENIUSTrue! I'll be sworn they are true.140
Where is he wounded?
[To the Tribunes]
God save your good worships! Marcius is coming
home: he has more cause to be proud. Where is he wounded?
VOLUMNIAI' the shoulder and i' the left arm there will be
large cicatrices to show the people, when he shall145
stand for his place. He received in the repulse of
Tarquin seven hurts i' the body.
MENENIUSOne i' the neck, and two i' the thigh,--there's
nine that I know.
VOLUMNIAHe had, before this last expedition, twenty-five150
wounds upon him.
MENENIUSNow it's twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy's grave.
[A shout and flourish]
Hark! the trumpets.
VOLUMNIAThese are the ushers of Marcius: before him he
carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears:155
Death, that dark spirit, in 's nervy arm doth lie;
Which, being advanced, declines, and then men die.
[ A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter COMINIUS the general, and TITUS LARTIUS; between them, CORIOLANUS, crowned with an oaken garland; with Captains and Soldiers, and a Herald ]
HeraldKnow, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight
Within Corioli gates: where he hath won,
With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these160
In honour follows Coriolanus.
Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
AllWelcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
CORIOLANUSNo more of this; it does offend my heart:
Pray now, no more.165
COMINIUSLook, sir, your mother!
You have, I know, petition'd all the gods
For my prosperity!
VOLUMNIANay, my good soldier, up;170
My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and
By deed-achieving honour newly named,--
What is it?--Coriolanus must I call thee?--
But O, thy wife!
CORIOLANUSMy gracious silence, hail!175
Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home,
That weep'st to see me triumph? Ay, my dear,
Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
And mothers that lack sons.
MENENIUSNow, the gods crown thee!180
CORIOLANUSAnd live you yet?
O my sweet lady, pardon.
VOLUMNIAI know not where to turn: O, welcome home:
And welcome, general: and ye're welcome all.
MENENIUSA hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep185
And I could laugh, I am light and heavy. Welcome.
A curse begin at very root on's heart,
That is not glad to see thee! You are three
That Rome should dote on: yet, by the faith of men,
We have some old crab-trees here190
at home that will not
Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors:
We call a nettle but a nettle and
The faults of fools but folly.
COMINIUSEver right.195
CORIOLANUSMenenius ever, ever.
HeraldGive way there, and go on!
CORIOLANUS[To VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA] Your hand, and yours:
Ere in our own house I do shade my head,
The good patricians must be visited;200
From whom I have received not only greetings,
But with them change of honours.
VOLUMNIAI have lived
To see inherited my very wishes
And the buildings of my fancy: only205
There's one thing wanting, which I doubt not but
Our Rome will cast upon thee.
CORIOLANUSKnow, good mother,
I had rather be their servant in my way,
Than sway with them in theirs.210
COMINIUSOn, to the Capitol!
[ Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before. BRUTUS and SICINIUS come forward ]
BRUTUSAll tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights
Are spectacled to see him: your prattling nurse
Into a rapture lets her baby cry
While she chats him: the kitchen malkin pins215
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck,
Clambering the walls to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows,
Are smother'd up, leads fill'd, and ridges horsed
With variable complexions, all agreeing
In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens220
Do press among the popular throngs and puff
To win a vulgar station: or veil'd dames
Commit the war of white and damask in
Their nicely-gawded cheeks to the wanton spoil
Of Phoebus' burning kisses: such a pother225
As if that whatsoever god who leads him
Were slily crept into his human powers
And gave him graceful posture.
SICINIUSOn the sudden,
I warrant him consul.230
BRUTUSThen our office may,
During his power, go sleep.
SICINIUSHe cannot temperately transport his honours
From where he should begin and end, but will
Lose those he hath won.235
BRUTUSIn that there's comfort.
The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
Upon their ancient malice will forget
With the least cause these his new honours, which240
That he will give them make I as little question
As he is proud to do't.
BRUTUSI heard him swear,
Were he to stand for consul, never would he
Appear i' the market-place nor on him put245
The napless vesture of humility;
Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds
To the people, beg their stinking breaths.
SICINIUS'Tis right.
BRUTUSIt was his word: O, he would miss it rather250
Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him,
And the desire of the nobles.
SICINIUSI wish no better
Than have him hold that purpose and to put it
In execution.255
BRUTUS'Tis most like he will.
SICINIUSIt shall be to him then as our good wills,
A sure destruction.
BRUTUSSo it must fall out
To him or our authorities. For an end,260
We must suggest the people in what hatred
He still hath held them; that to's power he would
Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders and
Dispropertied their freedoms, holding them,
In human action and capacity,265
Of no more soul nor fitness for the world
Than camels in the war, who have their provand
Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows
For sinking under them.
SICINIUSThis, as you say, suggested270
At some time when his soaring insolence
Shall touch the people--which time shall not want,
If he be put upon 't; and that's as easy
As to set dogs on sheep--will be his fire
To kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze275
Shall darken him for ever.
[Enter a Messenger]
BRUTUSWhat's the matter?
MessengerYou are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought
That Marcius shall be consul:
I have seen the dumb men throng to see him and280
The blind to bear him speak: matrons flung gloves,
Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers,
Upon him as he pass'd: the nobles bended,
As to Jove's statue, and the commons made
A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts:285
I never saw the like.
BRUTUSLet's to the Capitol;
And carry with us ears and eyes for the time,
But hearts for the event.
SICINIUSHave with you.290

Next: Coriolanus, Act 2, Scene 2


Related Articles

 Shakespeare's Sources for Coriolanus
 Coriolanus: Plot Summary
 Top 10 Shakespeare Plays
 Shakespeare's Metaphors and Similes
 Characteristics of Shakespeare's Plays
 Seneca's Tragedies and Elizabethan Drama
 Shakespeare's Blank Verse