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Why, noble lords,
2 LORD. Peace, ho !—no outrage :-peace ! Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune, The man is noble, and his fame folds in Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,
This orb o' the earth. His last offence to us 'Fore your own eyes and ears?
Shall have judicious hearing.–Stand, Aufidius, CONSPIRATORS.
Let him die for't! And trouble not the peace. CITIZENS. [Speaking promiscuously.] Tear him CoR.
O, that I had him, to pieces !Do it presently !He killed my son ! With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe, -my daughter !– He killed my cousin Marcus ! | To use my lawful sword ! -He killed father !
Insolent villain !
Con. Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him !
Bear from hence his body, [AUFIDIUS and the Conspirators draw, and And mourn you for bim : let him be regarded
kill CORIOLANUS, who falls, and As the most poble corse that ever herald
Did follow to his urn.
His own impatience AUF. My noble masters, hear me speak. Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame. 1 LORD. O Tullus !
Let's make the best of it. 2 LORD. Thou hast done a deed whereat
My rage is gone, Valour will weep.
And I am struck with sorrow.—Take him up :3 LORD. Tread not upon him.—Masters all, be Help, three o' the chiefest soldiers ; I'll be
quiet; Put up your swords.
Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully: AUF. My lords, when you shall know (as in Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he
Hath widowed and unchilded many a one,
Yet he shall have a noble memory:-
[Exeunt, bearing the body of CORIOLANUS. Myself your loyal servant, or endure
A dead march sounded. Your heaviest censure.
(1) SCENE I. -Suffer us to famish, and their store-houses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers.] The circumstances which led to the insurrection of the people in Rome at this period, and awakened their animosity in a peculiar degree against Caius Marcius, are thus related in North's translation of Plutarch, the work to which Shakespeare was indebted for all the conduct of his tragedy, and for no inconsiderable portion of its language :
"Now he being grown to great credit and authority in ROME for his valiantnesse, it fortuned there grew sedition in the citie, bicause the Senate dyd favour the rich against the people, who did complaine of the sore oppression of userers, of whom they borrowed mony. For those that had litle, were yet spoiled of that litle they had by their creditours, for lack of ability to pay the usery : who offered their goods to be sold to them that would give most. And such as had nothing left, their bodies were layed hold on, and they were made their bondmen, notwithstanding all the wounds and cuts they shewed, which they had received in many battels, fighting for defence of their countrey and common wealth : of the which, the last warre they made was against the SABYNES, wherein they fought upon the promise the rich men had made them, that from thenceforth they would intreate them more gently, and also upon the word of Marcus Valerius chiefe of the Senate, who by authority of the Counsell, and in the behalfe of the rich, sayed they should performe that they had promised. But after that they had faithfully served in this last battel of al, where they overcame their enemies, seeing they were never a whit the better, nor more gently intreated, and that the Senate would give no eare to them, but made as though they had forgotten the former promise, and suffered them to be made slaves and bondmen to their creditours, and besides, to be turned out of all that ever they had : they fel then even to flat rebellion and mutinie, and to sturre up dangerous tumults within the city. The ROMAINES enemies hearing of this rebellion, did straight enter the teritories of ROME with a marvelous great power, spoiling and burning all as they came. Whereupon the Senate immediatly made open proclamation by sound of trumpet, that all those which were of lawfull age to cary weapon, should come and enter their names into the muster-masters book, to goe to the wars : but no man obeyed their commaundement Wherupon their chiefe magistrates, and many of the Senate, began to be of divers opinions among themselves, For some thought it was reason, they shold somewhat yeeld to the poore peoples request, and that they should a litle qualifie the severity of the law. Other held hard against that opinion, and that was Martius for one. For he alledged, that the creditours losing their money they had lent, was not the worst thing that was thereby : but that the lenity that was favoured, was a beginning of disobedience, and that the proud attempt of the communalty, was to abolish law, and to bring all to confusion. Therefore he sayed, if the Senate were wise, they should betimes prevent and quench this ill favoured and worse meant beginning."
(2) SCENE I. -And leave me but the bran.] The reader desirous of investigating the origin of the famous apologue of the belly and its members will do well to consult an
article on the subject by Douce, in his “Illustrations of Shakespeare.". The poet derived it apparently from Plutarch, through North's translation, and the marvellous skill with which he has varied and amplified the story will be seen from the version of it which that historian presents:
“ The Senate being afeard of their departure, dyd send unto them certaine of the pleasauntest olde men, and the most acceptable to the people among them. Of those, Menenius Agrippa was he, who was sent for chief man of the message from the Senate. He, after many good persuasions and gentle requests made to the people, on the behalfe of the Senate, knit up his oration in the ende, with a notable tale, in this manner. That on a time all the members of mans bodie, dyd rebell against the bellie, complaining of it, that it only remained in the middest of the bodie, without doing any thing, neither dyd beare any labour to the maintenaunce of the rest : whereas all other partes and members dyd labour paynefully, and was very carefull to satisfie the appetites and desiers of the bodie. And so the bellie, all this notwithstanding, laughed at their follie, and sayed, It is true, I first receyve all meates that norishe mans bodie: but afterwardes I send it againe to the norishment of other partes of the same. Even so (q. he) 6 you, my masters, and cittizens of ROME: the reason is a like betweene the Senate and you. For matters being well digested, and their counsells throughly examined, touching the benefit of the common wealth : the Senatours are cause of the common commoditie that commeth unto every one of you."
(3) SCENE III-His brows-bound with oak.] The oaken garland, accounted the most honourable crown among the Romans, was bestowed on him that had saved the life of a citizen :
“But Martius being more inclined to the warres, then any other gentleman of his time, beganne from his childhood to give himselfe to handle weapons, and daily did exercise himselfe therein : and outward he esteemed armour to no purpose, unlesse one were naturally armed within. Moreover he did so exercise his body to hardnesse and all kinde of activitie, that he was very swift in ronning, strong in wrestling, and mightie in griping, so that no man could ever cast him. Insomuch as those that would try masteries with him for strength and nimblenesse, would say when they were overcom : that all was by reason of his naturall strength, and hardnesse of ward, that never yeelded to any paine or toyle he tooke upon him. The first time he went to the wars, being but a stripling, was when Tarquine surnamed the proud (that had bene king of ROME, and was driven out for his pride, after many attemps made by sundry battels to come in againe, wherein he was ever overcome) did come to ROME with all the aide of the LATINES, and many other people of ITALY : even as it were to set up his whole rest upon a battel by them, who with a great and mighty army had undertaken to put him into his kingdome againe, not so much to pleasure him, as to overthrow the power of the ROMAINES, whose greatnesse they both feared and envied. In this battell, wherein are many hote and sharpe encounters of either party, Martius valiantly fought in the
sight of the Dictator: and a ROMAINE souldier being throwen to the ground even hard by him, Martius straight bestrid him, and slue the enemie with his owne hands that had before overthrowen the ROMAINE. Hereupon after the battell was won, the Dictator did not forget so noble an act, and therefore first of all he crowned Martius with a garland of oken boughes, For whosoever saveth the life of a ROMAINE, it is a manner among them, to honour him with such a garland."
(4) SCENE IV.
'T is for the followers Fortune widens them,
Not for the fliers.) So in the corresponding scene in the old translation of Plutarch :
“Wherfore all the other VOLSCES fearing least that city should be taken by assault, they came from all parts of the countrey to save it, entending to give the ROMAINES battel before the city, and to give an onset on them in two several places." The Consul Cominius understanding this, devided his army also into two parts, and taking the one part with himself, he marched towards them that were drawing to the city out of the countrey: and the other part of his army he left in the campe with Titus Lartius (one of the valiantest men the ROMAINES had at that time) to resist those that would make any sally out of the city upon them. So the CORIOLANS making smal account of them that lay in campe before the city, made a sally out upon them, in the which at the first the CORIOLANS had the better, and drave the ROMAINES back againe into the trenches of their campe. But Martius being there at that time, ronning out of the campe with a few men with him, he slue the first enemies he met withall, and made the rest of them stay upon a sodain, crying out to the ROMAINES that had turned their backes, and calling them again to fight with a lowde voice. For he was even such another, as Cato would have a souldier and a captaine to be, not only terrible and fierce to lay about him, but to make the enemy afeard with the sound of his voice, and grimnesse of his countenaunce. Then there flocked about him immediatly, a great number of ROMAINES ; whereat the enemies were so afeard, that they gave back presently.
“But Martius not staying so, did chase and follow them to their own gates, that fled for life. And there perceiving that the ROMAINES retired back, for the great number of darts and arrowes which flew about their eares from the wals of the city, and that there was not one man amongst them that durst venter himself to follow the flying enemies into their city, for that it was full of men of warre, very wel armed and appointed, he did incourage his fellowes with words and deeds, crying out to them, that fortune had opened the gates of the city, more for the followers then the fliers. But all this notwithstanding, fow had the hearts to follow him. Howbeit Martius being in the throng among the enemies, thrust himself into the gates of the city, and entred the same among them that fed, without that any one of them durst at the first turne their face upon him, or offer to stay him. But he looking about him, and seeing he was entred the city with very few men to helpe him, and perceiving he was environed by his enemies that gathered round about to set upon him, did things then as it is written, wonderfull and incredible, as well for the force of his hand, as also for the agility of his body, and with a wonderfull courage and valiantnesse he made a lane through the middest of them, and overthrow also those he layed at : that some he made ronne to the furthest part of the city, and other for feare he made yeeld themselves, and to let fall their weapons before him." (5) SCENE VI.
As I guess, Marcius,
Their very heart of hope.]
“ Martius asked him howe the order of their enomies battell was, and on which side they had placed their best fighting men. The Consul made him aunswer, that he thought the bandes which were in the voward of their battell, were those of the ANTIATES, whom they esteemed to be the warlikest men, and which for valiant courage would give no place to any of the hoast of their enemies. Then prayed Martius, to be set directly against them. The Consul granted him, greatly praising his courage. Then Martius, when both armies came almost to joyne, advanced himselfe a good space before his company, and went so fiercely to give charge on the voward that came right against him, that they could stand no longer in his hands : he made such a lane through them, and opened a passage into the battell of the enemies. But the two wings of either side turned one to the other, to compasse him in betweene them : which the Consul Cominius perceiving, he sent thither straight of the best souldiers he had about him. So the battell was marvelous blodie about Martius, and in a very short space many were slaine in the place. But in the end the ROMAINES were so strong, that they distressed the enemies, and brake their arraye : and scattering them, made them flye. Then they prayed Martius that he would retire to the campe, bicause they saw he was able to do no more, he was already so wearied with the great paine he had taken, and so faint with the great woundes he had upon him. But Martius aunswered them, that it was not for conquerours to yeeld, nor to be faint-hearted : and thereupon began afresh to chase those that fledde, untill such time as the armie of the enemies was utterly overthrowen, and numbers of them slaine and taken prisoners.
The next orning betimes, Martius went to the Consul, and the other ROMAINES with him. There the Consul Cominius going up to his chayer of state, in the presence of the whole armie, gave thanks to the gods for so great, glorious, and prosperous a victorie : then he spake to Martius, whose valiantnesse he commended beyond the Moone, both for that he him selfe saw him do with his eyes, as also for that Martius had reported unto him. So in the ende ho willed Martius, he should choose out of all the horses they had taken of their enemies, and of all the goodes they had wonne (whereof there was great store) tenne of every sorte which he liked best, before any distribution should be made to other. Besides this great honorable offer he had made him, he gave him in testimonie that he had wonne that day the prise of prowesse above all other, a goodly horse with a capparison, and all furniture to him : which the whole army beholding, did marvellously praise and commend, But Martius stepping forth, told the Consul, he most thankfully accepted the gift of his horse, and was a glad man besides, that his service had deserved his general's commendation : and as for his other offer, which was rather a mercenarie reward, then an honourable recompence, he would have none of it, but was contented to have his equall part with other souldiers. Onely, this grace (sayed he) I crave and beseech you to grant me : Among the VOLSCEs there is an old friend and hoast of mine, an honest wealthy man, and now a prisoner, who living before in great wealth in his owne countrie, liveth now a poore prisoner, in the hands of his enemies : and yet notwithstanding all this his misery and misfortune, it would do mo great pleasure if I could save him from this one danger, to keepe him from being sold as a slave. The souldiers hearing Martius words, made a marvelous great shout among them, and there were more that wondred at his great contentation and abstinence, when they saw so litle covetousnesse in him, then they were that highly praised and extolled his valiantnesse.
After this shout and noise of the assembly was somewhat appeased, the Consul Cominius began to speake in this sort: We cannot compell Martius to take these gifts we offer him if he will not receive them, but we will give him such a reward for the noble service he hath done, as he cannot refuse. Therefore we do order and decree, that henceforth he be called Coriolanus, unlesse his valiant acts have wonno him that name before our nomination. And so ever since, he still bare the third name of Coriolanus."
(1) SCENE III. And Censorinus, darling of the people.] This line in brackets was supplied by Pope ; the original, which mentioned Censorinus, having been accidentally left out, as will at once be seen from the parallel passage in Shakespeare's authority :-“The house of the Martians at Rome was of the number of the Patricians, out of the which hath sprong many noble personages :
(1) SCENE I.
which will in time break ope The locks o' the senate, and bring in the crows
To peck the eagles.] Compare Plutarch :-"But Martius standing up on his feete, dyd somewhat sharpely take up those, who went about to gratifie the people therin: and called them people pleasers, and traitours to the nobilitie. Moreover he sayed they nourished against themselves the naughtie seede and cockle of insolencie and sedition, which had bene sowed and scattered abroade emongest the people, whom they should have cut off, if they had been wise, and have prevented their greatnes: and not (to their owne destruction) to have suffered the people to stablish a magistrate for themselves, of so great power and authority as that man had, to whom they had graunted it. Who was also to be feared, bicause he obtained what he would, and did nothing but what he listed, neither passed for any obedience to the Consuls, but lived in all liberty, acknowledging no superiour to command him, saving the only heads and authours of their faction, whom he called his magistrats. Therefore sayed he, they that gave counsell, and perswaded that the corne should be geven out to the common people gratis, as they used to doe in the cities of
(1) SCENE V.
I'd not believe them more Than thee, all-noble Marcius.] Here, as in many other scenes in the play, the poet has followed the historian almost literally :
“It was even twylight when he entred the cittie of AnTIUM, and many people met him in the streetes, but no man knewe him. So he went directly to Tullus Aufidius house, and when he came thither, he got him up straight to the chimney harthe, and sat him downe, and spake not a worde to any man, his face all muffled over. They of the house spying him, wondered what he should be, and yet they durst not byd him rise. For ill favouredly mufied and disguised as he was, yet there appeared a certaine maiestie in his countenance, and in his silence : whereupon they went to Tullus who was at supper, to tell him of the straunge disguising of this man. Tullus rose presently from the borde, and comming towards him, asked him what he was, and wherfore he came. Then Martius unmuffled himselfe, and after he had paused a while, making no aunswer, he sayed unto him: If thou knowest me not yet, Tullus, and seeing me, dost not perhappés beleeve me
whereof Ancus Martius was one, King Numaes daughters sonne, who was King of Rome after Tullus Hostilius. Of the same house were Publius, and Quintus, who brought to Rome their best water they had by conducts. Cen. sorinus also came of that familie, that was so surnamed bicause the people had chosen him Censor twise."-NORTH'S Plutarch, p. 237.
GRÆCE, where the people had more absolute power, dyd but only nourishe their disobedience, which would breake out in the ende to the utter ruine and overthrowe of the whole state. For they will not thineke it is done in recompence of their service past, sithence they know well enough they have so oft refused to goe to the warres, when they were commaunded : neither for their mutinies when they went with us, whereby they have rebelled and forsaken their countrie : neither for their accusations which their flatterers have preferred unto them, and they have received, and made good against the Senate: but they will rather judge, we give and grant them this, as abasing our selves, and standing in feare of them, and glad to flatter them every way. By this means their disobedience will still grow worse and worse : and they will never leave to practise new sedition and uprores. Therfore it were a great folly for us, me thinks to do it: yea, shall I say more? we should if we were wise, take from them the Tribuneship, which most manifestly is the embasing of the Consulship, and the cause of the division of their city. The state whereof as it standeth, is not now as it was wont to be, but becometh dismembred in two factions, which maintaines alwaies civill dissention and discord between us, and will never suffer us againe to be united into one body.”
to be the man I am indede, I must of necessitie bewraye my selfe to be that I am. I am Caius Martius, who hath done to thy self particularly, and to all the VOLSCEs generally, great hurto and mischief, which I cannot denie for my surname of Coriolanus that I beare. For I never had other benefit nor recompence, of all the true and paynefull service I have done, and the extreme daungers I have bene in, but this only surname : a good memorie and witnes of the malice and displeasure thou showldest beare me. In deede the name only remaineth with me : for the rest, the envio and crueltie of the people of ROME have taken from me, by the sufferance of the darstardly nobilitie and magistrates, who have forsaken me, and let me be banished by the people. This extremitie hath now driven me to come as a poore suter, to take thy chimney harthe, not of any hope I have to save my life thereby. For if I had feared death, I would not have come hither to have put my life in hazard ; but prickt forward with spite and desire I have to be revenged of them that thus have banished me, whom now I beginne to be avenged on, putting my persone into the hands of their enemies. Wherfore, if thou hast any heart to be wrecked of the iniuries thy enemies have done thee, speed thee now, and let my