Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Coriolanus
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
Act II. Scene II.
The Same.  The Capitol.
Enter two Officers to lay cushions.
  First Off.  Come, come, they are almost here. How many stand for consulships?
  Sec. Off.  Three, they say; but ’tis thought of every one Coriolanus will carry it.
  First Off.  That’s a brave fellow; but he’s vengeance proud, and loves not the common people.        5
  Sec. Off.  Faith, there have been many great men that have flattered the people, who ne’er loved them; and there be many that they have loved, they know not wherefore: so that if they love they know not why, they hate upon no better a ground. Therefore, for Coriolanus neither to care whether they love or hate him manifests the true knowledge he has in their disposition; and out of his noble carelessness lets them plainly see ’t.
  First Off.  If he did not care whether he had their love or no, he waved indifferently ’twixt doing them neither good nor harm; but he seeks their hate with greater devotion than they can render it him; and leaves nothing undone that may fully discover him their opposite. Now, to seem to affect the malice and displeasure of the people is as bad as that which he dislikes, to flatter them for their love.
  Sec. Off.  He hath deserved worthily of his country; and his ascent is not by such easy degrees as those who, having been supple and courteous to the people, bonneted, without any further deed to have them at all into their estimation and report; but he hath so planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions in their hearts, that for their tongues to be silent, and not confess so much, were a kind of ingrateful injury; to report otherwise, were a malice, that, giving itself the lie, would pluck reproof and rebuke from every ear that heard it.
  First Off.  No more of him; he is a worthy man: make way, they are coming.
A Sennet.  Enter, with Lictors before them, COMINIUS the Consul, MENENIUS, CORIOLANUS, many other Senators, SICINIUS and BRUTUS.  The Senators take their places; the Tribunes take theirs also by themselves.
  Men.  Having determin’d of the Volsces, and
To send for Titus Lartius, it remains,
As the main point of this our after-meeting,
To gratify his noble service that
Hath thus stood for his country: therefore, please you,        15
Most reverend and grave elders, to desire
The present consul, and last general
In our well-found successes, to report
A little of that worthy work perform’d
By Caius Marcius Coriolanus, whom        20
We meet here both to thank and to remember
With honours like himself.
  First Sen.        Speak, good Cominius:
Leave nothing out for length, and make us think
Rather our state’s defective for requital,        25
Than we to stretch it out.  [To the Tribunes.]
Masters o’ the people,
We do request your kindest ears, and, after,
Your loving motion toward the common body,
To yield what passes here.        30
  Sic.        We are convented
Upon a pleasing treaty, and have hearts
Inclinable to honour and advance
The theme of our assembly.
  Bru.        Which the rather        35
We shall be bless’d to do, if he remember
A kinder value of the people than
He hath hereto priz’d them at.
  Men.        That’s off, that’s off;
I would you rather had been silent. Please you        40
To hear Cominius speak?
  Bru.        Most willingly;
But yet my caution was more pertinent
Than the rebuke you give it.
  Men.        He loves your people;        45
But tie him not to be their bedfellow.
Worthy Cominius, speak.  [CORIOLANUS rises, and offers to go away.
        Nay, keep your place.
  First Sen.  Sit, Coriolanus; never shame to hear
What you have nobly done.        50
  Cor.        Your honours’ pardon:
I had rather have my wounds to heal again
Than hear say how I got them.
  Bru.        Sir, I hope
My words disbench’d you not.        55
  Cor.        No, sir: yet oft,
When blows have made me stay, I fled from words.
You sooth’d not, therefore hurt not. But your people,
I love them as they weigh.
  Men.        Pray now, sit down.        60
  Cor.  I had rather have one scratch my head i’ the sun
When the alarum were struck than idly sit
To hear my nothings monster’d.  [Exit.
  Men.        Masters of the people,
Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter,—        65
That’s thousand to one good one,—when you now see
He had rather venture all his limbs for honour
Than one on ’s ears to hear it. Proceed, Cominius.
  Com.  I shall lack voice: the deeds of Coriolanus
Should not be utter’d feebly. It is held        70
That valour is the chiefest virtue, and
Most dignifies the haver: if it be,
The man I speak of cannot in the world
Be singly counterpois’d. At sixteen years,
When Tarquin made a head for Rome, he fought        75
Beyond the mark of others; our then dictator,
Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight,
When with his Amazonian chin he drove
The bristled lips before him. He bestrid
An o’er-press’d Roman, and i’ the consul’s view        80
Slew three opposers: Tarquin’s self he met,
And struck him on his knee: in that day’s feats,
When he might act the woman in the scene,
He prov’d best man i’ the field, and for his meed
Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age        85
Man-enter’d thus, he waxed like a sea,
And in the brunt of seventeen battles since
He lurch’d all swords of the garland. For this last,
Before and in Corioli, let me say,
I cannot speak him home: he stopp’d the fliers,        90
And by his rare example made the coward
Turn terror into sport: as weeds before
A vessel under sail, so men obey’d,
And fell below his stem: his sword, death’s stamp,
Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot        95
He was a thing of blood, whose every motion
Was tim’d with dying cries: alone he enter’d
The mortal gate of the city, which he painted
With shunless destiny; aidless came off,
And with a sudden re-enforcement struck        100
Corioli like a planet. Now all’s his:
When by and by the din of war ’gan pierce
His ready sense; then straight his doubled spirit
Re-quicken’d what in flesh was fatigate,
And to the battle came he; where he did        105
Run reeking o’er the lives of men, as if
’Twere a perpetual spoil; and till we call’d
Both field and city ours, he never stood
To ease his breast with panting.
  Men.        Worthy man!        110
  First Sen.  He cannot but with measure fit the honours
Which we devise him.
  Com.        Our spoils he kick’d at,
And look’d upon things precious as they were
The common muck o’ the world: he covets less        115
Than misery itself would give; rewards
His deeds with doing them, and is content
To spend the time to end it.
  Men.        He’s right noble:
Let him be call’d for.        120
  First Sen.        Call Coriolanus.
  Off.  He doth appear.
  Men.  The senate, Coriolanus, are well pleas’d
To make thee consul.        125
  Cor.        I do owe them still
My life and services.
  Men.        It then remains
That you do speak to the people.
  Cor.        I do beseech you,        130
Let me o’erleap that custom, for I cannot
Put on the gown, stand naked, and entreat them,
For my wounds’ sake, to give their suffrage: please you,
That I may pass this doing.
  Sic.        Sir, the people        135
Must have their voices; neither will they bate
One jot of ceremony.
  Men.        Put them not to ’t:
Pray you, go fit you to the custom, and
Take to you, as your predecessors have,        140
Your honour with your form.
  Cor.        It is a part
That I shall blush in acting, and might well
Be taken from the people.
  Bru.  [Aside to SICINIUS.]  Mark you that?        145
  Cor.  To brag unto them, thus I did, and thus;
Show them the unaching scars which I should hide,
As if I had receiv’d them for the hire
Of their breath only!
  Men.        Do not stand upon ’t.        150
We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,
Our purpose to them; and to our noble consul
Wish we all joy and honour.
  Sen.  To Coriolanus come all joy and honour!  [Flourish.  Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS.
  Bru.  You see how he intends to use the people.        155
  Sic.  May they perceive ’s intent! He will require them,
As if he did contemn what he requested
Should be in them to give.
  Bru.        Come; we’ll inform them
Of our proceedings here: on the market-place        160
I know they do attend us.  [Exeunt.

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