as it were Malone: This ‘as it were’ was inserted because, there being no scenes in the theatres in our author's time, no exhibition of the inside of the Capitol could be given. See The Account of our old Theatres, vol. iii. [To this last Steevens subjoins, ‘In the same place the reader will find this position controverted.’ The controversy occupies pages 81 to 106 in vol. iii. of the Prolegomena to the Variorum of 1821. The question is, however, one that concerns the history of the stage rather than the present play.—Ed.]—R. C. Rhodes (Stagery of Sh., p. 88) compares, for this form of stage-direction, ‘Martius . . . as before the City Corialus, . . . ’ I, iv, 1-3, and Richard II: ‘Enter as to the Parliament, Bullingbroke,’ etc., remarking: ‘Here the directions are clearly opposed to the use of “perspective.” The place was merely “supposed” without any pictorial device. Actually they prescribe manner as much as place, or rather the manner imposed by the place, like the “as to her triall” in Winter's Tale.’ [In a letter to the Editor of The Times Literary Supplement, August 31, 1922, Rhodes, on this same point, says: ‘As an example of Elizabethan stagery Coriolanus bears a close affinity to 1 Henry VI. in its continuous exploitation of the permanent and peculiar architectural features of an Elizabethan playhouse. I retain the word “stagery,” which Milton used in a cognate but slightly different sense, because I mean much less than “stage-craft”—indeed, only that part of stage-craft which concerns the problems of the producer or stage manager, who has to move his actors and appointments about the stage like pieces on a chess-board. For that reason I should like to make what may seem the trivial suggestion that a comma in the First Folio should be deleted from the direction in Coriolanus: “Enter officers, to lay cushions, as it were, in the Capitol,” reading instead, “as it were in the Capitol.” The present reading seems to me likely to convey “pretending to place imaginary cushions”—“to lay cushions as it were.” Cushions seem to have been used instead of stools when a number of players had to be seated between their fellows and the audience, as again in the duel in Hamlet, according to the direction in the Second Quarto. The reason was, of course, for convenience of sight.’]
1. Off. Come, come, etc. Delius (Jahrbuch, v, 269): The judgment of the two Officers on Coriolanus and his attitude towards the people is, in relation to the vicious party-standpoints of the Patrician as well as the Plebeians, the expression of a temperate, impartial discretion, and is therefore set forth in simple prose. —E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): The officers are in sympathy by birth with the plebeians, and by office with the patricians. They are not, therefore, extreme on either side, and their judgment of Coriolanus has the more weight.
vengeance Deighton: Terribly proud; so we still use such expressions colloquially, as ‘true with a vengeance,’ using a preposition to give the adverbial force which here is elliptical.—Case (Arden Sh.): This adverbial sense occurs only here in Shakespeare, but compare Thersites (Haz. Dods., i, 405), ‘for they are vengeance heavy.’ Vengeable (see Eng. Dial. Dict.) is similarly used in some dialects. The word also occurs as an adjective; see Damon and Pithias (Haz. Dods., iv, 64), ‘a vengeance knave and rough.’ [See Craigie (N. E. D., s. v. Vengeance 5.) for other examples wherein this word is used as an intensive adverb. The present line is there quoted. The earliest example given by Craigie is 1548; that quoted by Case, above, antedates this, as Thersites was written as early as 1537, see Haslewood's Preface, Hazlitt's Dodsley, i, 392.—Ed.]
hee waued Johnson: That is, ‘he would wave indifferently.’ [Thus Johnson's paraphrase appears in his own and subsequent editions until that of Steevens, 1793, where it is given, ‘he would have waved indifferently,’ and is so repeated in the following Variorum editions. This is, perhaps, due to confusion with Monck Mason's paraphrase which is given in his Comments, published in 1785, and from which Steevens frequently quotes.—Ed.]—Abbott (§ 361): The subjunctive (a consequence of the old inflectional form) was frequently used, not as now with would, should, etc., but in a form identical with the indicative, where nothing but the context (in the case of past tenses) shows that it is the subjunctive, as, ‘But if my father had not scanted me . . . Yourself, renowned prince, then stood as fair.’ [The present passage, also IV, vi, 141, 142, quoted in illustration.—Ed.] indifferently . . . harme W. A. Wright: A confusion of two constructions, ‘he waved indifferently ’twixt good and harm’ and ‘doing them neither good nor harm.’
opposite That is, opponent, adversary. Schmidt (Lex., s. v. 1.) furnishes many examples of the word used in this sense.
to seeme to affect . . . their loue That is, to appear to desire or aim at their malice is as bad as to flatter them for their love.—MacCallum (p. 604) quotes from Plutarch's Comparison of Alcibiades with Martius Coriolanus, ‘he is lesse to be blamed, that seeketh to please and gratifie his common people: then he that despiseth and disdaineth them, and therefore offereth them wrong and injurie, bicause he would not seeme to flatter them, to winne the more authoritie. For it is an evill thing to flatter the common people to winne credit; even so it is besides dishonesty, and injustice also, to atteine to credit and authoritie, for one to make him selfe terrible to the people, by offering them wrong and violence.’—‘This passage,’ says MacCallum, ‘has inspired the criticism of the Officer of the Capitol, who, however, impartially holds the scales. With this temper it is natural that the arrogance of success, lack of nous, and want of adaptability—which is often merely another form of self-will—should bring about Coriolanus's ruin; and it is these characteristics, or a modicum of them, to which Aufidius, in point of fact, attributes his banishment (IV, vii, 39-47).’—[Sherman (Tudor Sh.) also calls attention to this passage from North's Comparison in connection with the present passage.—Ed.]—Case (Arden Sh.): Perhaps it is unnecessary to look beyond the ordinary meaning of ‘seem to’ here, although, from what we have just been told, there is no doubt about the fact that Coriolanus affects the malice of the people. It is, however, right to note the peculiar use of seem in Shakespeare's time. The N. E. D. cites numerous examples of seem = think, deem, and gives a second meaning, ‘think fit,’ which would suit the passage under consideration, quoting Jonson's Alchemist (1610), I, iii, ‘The rest they'll seem to follow.’ [Case gives other examples wherein ‘seem to’ may bear this meaning. His first thought is, I think, the better, that we need not seek a meaning here other than the ordinary one; particularly as MacCallum's felicitous quotation from North seems to be the source of Shakespeare's very phrase here.—Ed.]
as those Malone: That is, the ascent of those. [For other examples of this ellipsis after ‘as,’ see Abbott § 384.]
supple and courteous . . . Bonnetted Johnson: The sense, I think, requires that we should read unbonnetted. Who have risen only by pulling off their hats to the people. ‘Bonnetted’ may relate to people, but not without harshness.—Capell (vol. i, pt i, p. 87): The Oxford editor's removing the comma from ‘people’ gives a meaning that could not be intended; namely—standing cover'd, videlicet when address'd by the candidates for their favour: the proper sense of it seems to be,—bonnetted by them, meaning—those candidates; who were ‘supple and courteous to the people’ and did them the honours of the cap ‘without any further deed.’—M. Mason: Bonneter, Fr., is to pull off one's cap. See Cotgrave. So, in the academic style, to cap a fellow is to take off the cap to him.—Malone: I have adhered to the original copy in printing this very obscure passage, because it appears to me at least as intelligible as what has been substituted in its room. [See Text. Notes, ll. 27, 28.] ‘Bonnetted’ is, I apprehend, a verb, not a participle, here. They humbly took off their bonnets, without any further deed whatsoever done in order to have them, that is, to insinuate themselves into the good opinion of the people. To have them, for to have themselves or to wind themselves into, is certainly very harsh; but to heave themselves, &c., is not much less so.—Steevens: I continue to read—heave. ‘Have’ in Henry VIII: II, ii, 83, was likewise printed instead of heave in the First Folio, though corrected in the Second. The phrase in question occurs in Hayward, ‘The Scots heaved up into high hope of victory,’ &c. Many instances of Shakespeare's attachment to the word heave might be added on this occasion.—Knight: The context appears to us to give exactly the contrary meaning [to that given by Malone]. That is: ‘His ascent is not by such easy degrees as those who, having been supple and courteous to the people,’ put on their bonnets ‘without any further deed.’—Delius: ‘To bonnet,’ a verb not previously appearing, which evidently could mean to take off the cap, must here mean to obtain something by offcapping, as in V, i, ‘knee the way into his mercy.’—‘Bonnetted’ would then be connected with ‘into their estimation and report,’ and thus explains the parentheses ‘without any further deed to have them’ (i. e., their estimation and report). Those who complimented themselves into the estimation and report of the people, without any further act, to win the same. [This somewhat novel interpretation is dependent upon the punctuation which Delius has adopted, for which see Text. Notes. Schmidt, both in text and interpretation, follows Delius without referring, however, to his predecessor.—Ed.]—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): We believe that ‘bonnetted’ here means saluted with the cap, made a gesture of salutation with the cap. ‘Have’ seems here to be used idiomatically, as we use it in such phrases as, ‘I'll have them into the basket in no time’; ‘He'll have them into the post before five,’ where ‘have’ has the force of get, put, or place. It has the effect of a rapid action, which is precisely the effect here required.— Staunton: ‘Bonnetted’ is accepted as meaning took off the cap, but it may signify invested with the badge of consular office.—W. A. Wright: If the reading of the whole passage be right, the meaning must be that given by Malone. But I cannot help suspecting that something is lost. [Referring to Staunton's suggestion Wright says: ‘A cap or bonnet was not among the insignia of a consul, nor is there any evidence that Shakespeare thought it was.’—Ed.]—Hudson (ed. ii, p. 338) transposes the order of these lines thus: ‘bonnetted into their estimation and report, without any further deed to have them at all’; and thus comments: ‘The right construction is, I think, clearly that given in this text; but it is, to say the least, not easy to get the sense of that construction from the old order of the words. Nor is the transposition which I have made a whit more free or bold than a great many others that are commonly thought needful, as indeed most of them are.’—J. D. (Notes & Queries, 7 May, 1881, p. 362): The phrase [to have thern] was commonly used in the west fifty years ago, and is probably used still. It meant to be in, or more fully to come into, a certain state. If some persons who had become embarrassed had recovered their position, it would be said of them, ‘They hau (have) themsels neaw aw reet,’ and sometimes, though more rarely, ‘They hau them aw reet.’ . . . It is a genuine Teutonic idiom. The German ironical pbrase, ‘Es hat sich wohl,’ answers to our vulgar English ‘That is a good one.’ The meaning, I think, is that Coriolanus was not like those ‘supple and courteous’ men, who took off their bonnets to the people in order to come into their estimation, and (good) report, but by his deeds had deserved worthily of his country.—Kinnear (p. 311): ‘Having been thus supple,’ having given their hats, having been off to the people, these popular men, ‘without any further deed,’ ‘bonnetted,’ i. e., resumed the hats they had given, and went their way. Compare Marcius's speech on this point, II, iii, 97-102; and also Volumnia's instructions to her son, III, ii, 92, 93: ‘I prithee now my son Go to them with this bonnet in thy hand.’—Beeching (Falcon Sh.): To ‘bonnet’ has been taken to mean put on the hat, as though this were the insignia of a consul; but the use of ‘unbonneted’ in Othello I, ii, 22, where it plainly means without taking off the bonnet, is against this interpretation. ‘Heave,’ Pope's reading, gives the right sense, but compare Tam. of Shrew, Ind., ii, 39, ‘Or wilt thou sleep? We'll have thee to a couch.’ The preposition ‘into’ seems to be constructed with both verbs, ‘bonneted’ and ‘have them.’ ‘They bowed themselves into estimation with the people, doing nothing else that could lift them into their good report.’—Verity (Student's Sh.): That is, merely took off their bonnets, their caps, by way of compliment to the people, and did nothing that might deservedly get them the people's good will. He means a cheap and easy popularity, won by flattering the mob, not by rendering the State solid services like those of Coriolanus. There is no need to change ‘have’ to heave.—Case (Arden Sh.): That is, merely took off their caps and nothing more. [Among the many interpretations of this much-discussed passage that given by J. D., in N. & Q., and also by Verity is, to me at least, the most satisfactory, since it takes fully into account what precedes and follows. The deeds of Coriolanus deserve recognition by the people much more than the empty compliments of those who merely flattered the people for their own ends.—Ed.]
of the Volces That is, concerning; compare, for this use of of, the titles of Bacon's Essays.
gratifie That is, requite; compare ‘And she did gratify his amorous works With that recognizance,’ Othello, V, ii, 213. his Noble seruice, that Abbott (§ 218): ‘His,’ her, etc., being the genitives of he, she, etc., may stand as the antecedent of a relative. Thus, ‘In his way that comes in triumph over Pompey's blood,’ Jul. Cæs., I, i, 55.
In our well-found Successes W. A. Wright: That is, in the successes we have fortunately met with. In the other passages in which ‘well-found’ occurs it is derived from the other sense of ‘find,’ to provide, and is synonymous with well-seen, that is, well-furnished or well-equipped, and so, skilled. See All's Well, II, i, 105: ‘Gerard de Narbon was my father; In what he did profess, well found.’
whom We met . . . to thanke Malone: The construction, I think, is whom to thank, &c. (or, for the purpose of thanking whom), we met or assembled here.—W. A. Wright: According to modern usage we should say ‘We are met,’ but the past tense is not infrequently found in such cases. See I, ix, 14. Compare also Every Man in his Humour, III, i: ‘Mat. Yes, faith, sir, we were at your lodging to seek you too. Wel. Oh, I came not there tonight.’
make vs thinke . . . to stretch it out Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 87): ‘Defective for requital’ is—defective in the means of it; which, says the speaker, I would rather have thought of the state, than that we are defective in willingness (for that must be understood) to stretch what means she has to the uttermost.—Malone: I once thought the meaning was: ‘And make us imagine that the state rather wants inclination or ability to requite services, than that we are blameable for expanding and expatiating upon them.’ A more simple explication is, perhaps, the true one. And make us think that the republic is rather too niggard than too liberal in rewarding his services.—Steevens: The plain sense, I believe, is: Rather say that our means are too defective to afford an adequate reward for his services, than suppose our wishes to stretch out those means are defective.—W. A. Wright: I take ‘it,’ l. 57, to refer to ‘state’ and not to ‘requital.’ There is a similar change of construction above, ll. 42, 43, ‘Having determin'd of . . . and to send,’ &c. So here ‘defective for requital Than we (defective) to stretch,’ &c. [Wright's paraphrase of the first part of this sentence is substantially the same as Capell's.—Ed.]—Beeching (Henry Irving Sh.) adopts Capell's explanation; later in the Falcon Sh. he interprets thus: ‘Make us think that the state is unable to requite his deserts, rather than (think yourself that) we are unwilling to put it to the utmost strain to do so.’
Your . . . Body Johnson: Your kind interposition with the common people.
To yeeld what passes here W. A. Wright: To grant whatever is resolved on by the Senate. Or ‘to yield’ may mean to report, as in Ant. & Cleo., II, v, 28, ‘But well and free if thou so yield him, there is gold.’—Beeching (Falcon Sh.): That is, ‘to deliver,’ ‘to report,’ in explanation of ‘motion.’ ‘We deserve your interest with the Commons to report favorably what passes here.’ Compare All's Well, III, i, 10, ‘The reasons of our state I cannot yield.’ Others explain ‘yield’ by grant. But compare ll. 153-165 below. Shakespeare's Senate certainly regards itself as the electing body.
Treatie Collier (Notes & Emendations, &c., p. 353): The Corrector of the Folio, 1632, directs us to substitute treatise for ‘treatie,’ a change supported by ‘theme,’ which immediately follows.—Singer (Sh. Vindicated, &c., p. 215): That the old copy is right in reading ‘treatie,’ and that the Corrector's treatise is wrong, will appear from the poet's own use of the latter word twice only, and then in the sense of a dissertation, which is not the meaning here required. Treaty, according to Huloet, is, ‘Traictement de quelque matiere,’ which is exactly what is wanted. The same authority has, ‘To treate and debate some matter, Traicter quelque matiere et la debattre.’ There can be no doubt, therefore, that the old reading is what the poet intended, and that the corrector's substitution would be mischievous. The Senators were assembled to discuss the meritorious actions of Coriolanus, and what honour should be conferred upon him; he was the theme of the assembly.—Singer (ed. ii.) calls attention to the spelling of this word in The Folio as Treatic. It is plainly ‘Treatie’ in the Verner and Hood reprint of 1807, in the Staunton lithograph, and in the Booth reprint of 1864, and also in my own copy of the Folio, but in the Lee Facsimile of the Devonshire Folio it is quite as plainly Treatic as Singer gives it. This, I think, points to the copy which Singer had before him, and is but another example of variations in different copies of the First Folio.—Ed.
our Assembly Warburton: Here is a fault in the expression. And had it affected our Author's knowledge of nature, I should have adjudged it to his transcribers or editors; but as it affects only his knowledge in history, I suppose it to be his own. He should have said ‘your Assembly.’ For till the Lex Attinnia (the author of which is supposed by Sigonius to have been contemporary with Quintus Metellus Macedonicus) the Tribunes had not the privilege of entering the Senate, but had seats placed for them near the door on the outside of the house.— Steevens (Var. 1773): Had Shakespeare been as learned as his commentator, he could not have conducted this scene otherwise than as it stands at present. The presence of Brutus and Sicinius was necessary, and how was our author to have exhibited the outside and inside of the Senate-house at one and the same instant?—Ibid. (Johns. & Steev., 1793): Though I was formerly of a different opinion, I am now convinced that Shakespeare, had he been aware of the circumstance pointed out by Dr Warburton, might have conducted this scene without violence to Roman usage. The presence of Brutus and Sicinius being necessary, it would not have been difficult to exhibit the outside and inside of the Senate-house in a manner sufficiently consonant to theatrical probability.—Malone, in reply to the query by Steevens in his first note as to how Shakespeare could show both inside and outside at the same time, remarks: ‘He certainly could not. Yet he has attempted something of the same kind in Henry VIII.’—[This refers to V, ii, where Cranmer is shown waiting outside the Council chamber and then approaches the table where the Council are seen seated; they have several speeches assigned them before Cranmer speaks.—Ed.]—Boswell refers to the stage-direction in the Folio at the beginning of this present scene, and the notes thereon.
blest to doe Collier (Notes & Emend., &c., p. 353): The scribe clearly misheard the word, and wrote ‘blest’ for prest, i. e., ready—of perpetual occurrence in all writers of the time. Even the grudging Tribunes might declare themselves ready ‘to honour and advance the theme of their assembly,’ but there seems no reason why they should state that they should be ‘blest’ in doing so.—Singer (Sh. Vindicated, p. 215): The substitution of prest for ‘blest’ is a good and legitimate emendation, which I also find confirmed in my corrected copy of the second folio.— Anon. (Blackwood's Maga., Sep., 1853, p. 322): We cannot approve of the change prest for ‘blest.’ . . . Sicinius has just remarked that the Senate has assembled to do honour to Coriolanus, on which Brutus says: ‘Which the rather We shall be blest to do if he remember,’ etc. Does not this mean—Which honour we shall be most happy to do to Coriolanus, if, etc.? Why then change ‘blest’ into prest? a very unnatural mode of speech.—Mommsen (Der Perkins-Sh., p. 96): ‘Blest’ is too dainty a word in the mouth of the sobre demagogue; prest is altogether right.—Dyce (ed. i.): That prest (i. e., ready) suits the present speech very well there is no denying, but ‘bless'd’ (i. e., most happy) is supported by a passage in King John, III, i, 251, ‘And then we shall be blest To do your pleasure and continue friends.’—Keightly (Expositor, p. 363) refers to the MS. correction, but considers that ‘no change is needed’; in support of the Folio he quotes the line from King John as given above by Dyce, remarking that ‘blest’ is ‘the same as happy of the present day.’
That's off Johnson: That is, that is nothing to the purpose.—J. D. (Notes & Queries, May 7, 1881, p. 362): This explanation is not in accordance with the meaning of the phrase as it was and is still used in the west of England. It refers to something that has passed away, and ought not to be referred to now. If a man were reproached for some past fault that had been condoned or put away he would say: ‘That's off, that's off; yo munna bring that agen me.’ It will be seen that Shakespeare uses the phrase in this sense. Brutus has alluded to the contempt that Coriolanus had formerly shown for the people, and intimates that he would be more readily honoured ‘If he remember A kinder value of the people than He hath hereto prized them at.’ Menenius does not deny the fault, but pleads that it belongs to the past and ought not now to be recalled. He gives a rebuke, as Brutus calls it, to a charge that seemed to him ill-timed.
weigh Anon. (Times Literary Supplement, July 27, 1922, p. 482): For some inscrutable reason the dash of the Folio has been replaced by a full stop [see Text. Notes]. Dashes to mark interruption are not so plentiful in the Folio that we can afford to throw them away. Menenius, as ever, tries to stop Coriolanus from his furious outburst. We could supply Coriolanus's unspoken words from this very play. Probably they were, ‘That's lesser than a little!’
scratch my Head i'th'Sun Steevens refers to 2 Henry IV: II, iv, 281 (misprinted Henry VI. in Var. '21), where Doll is described as performing this office for Falstaff. Steevens has a note thereon in his ed. 1793 that this was a practise imported, among others, from France. [Both Whitelaw and Schmidt also cite this incident, but without reference to Steevens. Schmidt adds that to sit or lie in the sun was characteristic of the slothful and idle man. This last is undoubtedly true, and is, I think, all that is here implied; that Shakespeare had any such stuff in his thoughts as ascribed to him by these commentators seems quite inconsistent with his conception of Coriolanus's character.—Ed.]—Rev. John Hunter: Receive a scratch on the head from an enemy's weapon. Coriolanus here implies that the praises bestowed on him are like stroking or patting his head, as if he were a child.
Alarum Walker (Vers., p. 65) and Abbott (§ 463) quote this line as an example where, metri gratia, ‘alarum,’ is to be pronounced as a dissyllable. 94. Com. I shall lacke, etc.] E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): In this speech Coriolanus' greatness is brought prominently to the front for the last time. It comes with some irony just before his fall.
At sixteene yeeres Malone: We learn from one of Cicero's letters that the consular age in his time was forty-three. If Coriolanus was but sixteen when Tarquin endeavored to recover Rome, he could not now, A. U. C. 263, have been more than twenty-one years of age, and should, therefore, seem to be incapable of standing for the consulship. But perhaps the rule mentioned by Cicero, as subsisting in his time, was not established at this early period of the republic.
When . . . for Rome Johnson: When Tarquin, who had been expelled, raised a power to recover Rome.
Amazonian Shinne Steevens: That is, his chin on which there was no beard. [R. G. White queries as to whether the spelling of the Folio here represents the pronunciation in Shakespeare's time? or was the word thus spelled to avoid confusion with the hard sound of ch as in chronicle? Ellis (Early Eng. Pronunciation, ch. vi, s. v. CH.) says: ‘Not used in Anglo-Saxon period, but in 13th cent. found in the signification of (tsh), the sound into which (k) had fallen, and as such it has remained. In words from the Greek, as architect, it is (k) in 19th cent. and probably was so in 14th cent. in words from the modern French, as chaise it is (sh) in 19th cent., but for French words introduced before 18th cent. as chain, the sound (tsh） seems to have prevailed.’—Ellis's exhaustive study was not published until a few years after White's edition.—Ed.]
he bestrid An o're-prest Roman Malone: This was an act of similar friendship in our old English armies, but there is no proof that any such practice prevailed among the legionary soldiers of Rome, nor did our author give himself any trouble on that subject. He was led into the error by North's translation of Plutarch, where he found these words: ‘The Roman souldier being thrown unto the ground even hard by him, Martius straight bestrid him, and slew the enemy.’ The translation ought to have been: ‘Martius hastened to his asisstance, and standing before him, slew his assailant.’ See note l. 108 where there is a similar inaccuracy.—Steevens: Shakespeare may on this occasion be vindicated by higher authority than that of books. Is it probable that any Roman soldier was so far divested of humanity as not to protect his friend who had fallen in battle? Our author (if unacquainted with the Grecian Hyperaspists) was too well read in the volume of nature to need any apology for the introduction of the present incident, which must have been as familiar to Roman as to British warfare.
Tarquins selfe For examples of this use of ‘self’ as a noun see Abbott, § 20, p. 30.
strucke him on his Knee Steevens: This does not mean that he gave Tarquin a blow on the knee, but gave him such a blow as occasioned him to fall on his knee: ‘—ad terram duplicato poplite Turnus,’ [Virgil, Æneid, xii, 927.—Ed.].
might act . . . in the Scene Steevens: The parts of women were, in Shakespeare's time, represented by the most smooth-faced young men to be found among the players.—Malone: Here is a great anachronism. There were no theatres at Rome for the exhibition of plays for about two hundred and fifty years after the death of Coriolanus.—C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): Neither Steevens nor Malone seem to perceive that here the poet uses an expression implying ‘when his youth might have warranted his behaving with no more martial prowess than a woman.’—Abbott (§ 312): That is, ‘when he was young enough to be able to play the part of a woman.’ ‘Might,’ the past tense of may, was originally used in the sense of ‘was able’ or ‘could.’
His Pupill age Man-entred thus Delius: He was therefore regarded as a grown man in his pupilage.—Whitelaw: Having entered as a man the age of boyhood. [To both of these interpretations Schmidt (Coriolanus) dissents; his own explanation is: ‘After his minority treated as in the class of grown men, he was dedicated to manhood.’ And for this use of ‘entered’ in the sense initiated he compares I, ii, 2. W. A. Wright's paraphrase is simply, ‘being thus initiated into manhood.’—Case (Arden Sh.) in reference to this interpretation remarks: ‘But as Coriolanus was now, however remarkably, beginning his apprenticeship to war it is simpler to understand: Having thus begun his pupil age in a way worthy of a full grown man.’—Ed.]
seuenteene Battailes Theobald (ed. i.): I cannot help making a remark upon this circumstance of our Author's conduct, whether casual or designedly. It is said, and the fact is true, that he has followed Plutarch very closely in this story, but he deviates from him in one point, by which he seems to decline a strange absurdity in the calculation of time. Shakespeare tells us that at sixteen years old, Coriolanus began his soldiership, when Tarquin made head to regain his kingdom; and that in seventeen battles he distinguished himself with exemplary bravery and success. Plutarch likewise says that our Hero set out in arms a youth, that his first expedition was when Tarquin made this push, and that he signalized himself in war for seventeen years successively. Now it happens a little unluckily for Plutarch's account that this attempt of Tarquin was made A. U. C. 258, and Coriolanus was banished, nay, and killed within the period of eight years after his first Campaign, A. U. C. 266. There is something again lies cross on the other side, that if Coriolanus was so young when he commenced soldier, and if the interval was so short between that and his banishment, he was too young to have been admitted a candidate for the Consulship. The compli ment of that office so early to any man was a prostitution of dignity that, I think, was never made till the times of the Emperors, when servitude had debased the very spirits of the Romans. 'Tis certain there is some mistake in the computation of this great man's years. I should conjecture (were there any proofs to second it) that he started into notice as a soldier when Tarquin was expelled Rome, A. U. C. 245; and allowing him to be only eighteen years of age then, at the time of his own banishment (A. U. C. 264) we shall find him 37 years old, a period of life at which the City could scarcely have refused one of his extraordinary merit the Consulship. But this is no more than an attempt to reconcile improbabilities by guess. [Malone likewise calls attention to this inconsistency between the figure seventeen and the number of years covering the career of Coriolanus; he also exonerates Shakespeare since he was evidently misled by Plutarch both in the translation and the original. On this latter point MacCallum (p. 490) says: ‘In Plutarch the number of years is prescribed by his mythical chronology, for he dates the beginning of Marcius's career from the wars with the Tarquins, which were supposed to have broken out in 245 A. U. C., while Corioli was taken in 262; but when transferred to the battles it becomes a mere survival which serves at most to give apparent definiteness.’—Ed.]
He lurcht . . . the Garland Steevens: Ben Jonson has the same expression in The Silent Woman: ‘—you have lurch'd your friends of the better half of the garland,’ [V, i.; ed. Gifford, p. 495]. Malone: To ‘lurch’ is properly to purloin; hence Shakespeare uses it in the sense of to deprive. So, in Christ's Teares over Jerusalem, Thomas Nashe, 1594, ‘I see others of them sharing halfe with the bawdes, their hostesses, and laughing at the punies they have lurched,’ [ed. McKerrow, p. 150, l. 36]. I suspect, however, I have not rightly traced the origin of this phrase. To ‘lurch,’ in Shakespeare's time, signified to win a maiden set at cards, &c. See Florio's Italian Dict., 1598: ‘Gioco Marzo. A maiden set, or lurch, at any game.’ See also Cole's Latin Dict., 1679: ‘A lurch, Duplex palma, facilis victoria.’ ‘To lurch all swords of the garland,’ therefore, was to gain from all other warriors the wreath of victory with ease and incontestable superiority.— Pye (p. 248): Did Mr Malone never play, or sit by when others have played, at whist, picquet, or cribbage? He must then have known what a ‘lurch’ is, and also that what he calls ‘a maiden game,’ though it is a ‘lurch,’ is distinguished from a common lurch by the appellation of a love game. I wish the critics would think that a little acquaintance with the common language and habits of life is almost as necessary as black letter reading to a commentator on Shakespeare. Having said this, I must add that the drift of the whole sentence cannot be better explained than it is in the conclusion of Malone's note.—W. S. Baynes (Shakespearian Glossaries, Edinburgh Review, July, 1869; reprinted in Sh. Studies, p. 251): Although the noun, ‘lurch,’ is found in this technical sense [‘to win a maiden set at cards’] in most European languages, there is no proof that the word existed in English, nor, if it did, would it suit the context. Shakespeare evidently uses the English verb ‘lurch’ literally, to devour eagerly, ‘ravin up,’ gulp down, and in the secondary sense to seize violently upon, rob, engross, absorb. Both noun and verb were in use among the Elizabethan writers in the sense of seizure, rob bery, and it is the more important to illustrate this meaning, as the noun is wholly unknown to our lexicographers. An instance of its use occurs, however, in the poems prefixed to Coryat's Crudities, where one of the author's friends commemorates his achievements abroad, and amongst others the robbery of a waxen image from the Virgin's shrine in a church at Brixia: ‘Briefly for trial of a religious lurch Thou nimbd'st an image out of Brixia's church,’ [lines by Richard Badley]. Again the verb is used more than once, in precisely the same sense, by Warner, and an example or two will sufficiently bring out its special meaning. In reference to the rage of the vulgar wealthy for titles and territorial distinction he says: ‘Hence country louts land-lurch their lords, and courtiers prize the same,’ [Albion's England, Bk ix, ch. 46, ed. 1602, p. 217.—Ed.]. And again, referring to the grasping ambition of Spain as the nominal champion of the Romish Church, ‘For these elsewhere, and ever Spayne when Spayne would sceptres lurch,’ [Albion's England, Bk x, ch. lx, ll. 15, 16]. In the sense of engrossing, of seizing and carrying off with a high hand, ‘lurch’ is also used amongst others by Bacon and Milton. To ‘lurch all swords of the garland’ means, therefore, not only to rob all swords of the garland, but to carry it away from them with an easy and victorious swoop. [The foregoing in regard to this word ‘lurch’ was seriously questioned, among other statements in Baynes's Review, by Bolton Corney in Notes & Queries, Nov. 27, 1869, and in particular the concluding interpretation of the present passage, which, it will be noticed, is substantially the same as that offered by Malone. Corney ends his review thus: ‘I request particular attention to this matchless instance of parallelism! It appears that the solution of a Shakespearean problem published by an author of note in 1790 [Malone] may be unfairly stated, denounced as a misinter pretation, and re-produced by the same critic as a discovery, and as a special illustration, in 1869.’—Ed.]—W. A. Wright: If we may regard the passage in Ben Jonson's Silent Woman, V, i, as a reminiscence of the expression in Coriolanus, Shakespeare's play must have been written before 1609, the year in which The Silent Woman appeared. Malone first called attention to the resemblance between the two passages, thinking that Jonson intended a sneer at Shakespeare, but he afterwards abandoned this view on finding a similar expression in a pamphlet by Nashe, and he supposed it to be a common phrase of the time. [See Gifford's Jonson, vol. iii, p. 495, note.—Ed.] But in Nashe there is only the word ‘lurch,’ which is of frequent occurrence, and the combination of this with ‘the garland’ by Ben Jonson seems to me to indicate that he had Shakespeare's phrase in mind, whether he intended to sneer at it or not, and I am inclined to attach to the coincidence more weight than Malone felt himself justified in doing. [Wright in his note on this line quotes the two examples of ‘lurch’ as given by Steevens and Malone above, and adds: ‘Cotgrave has, “Bredouille: f. A lurch at cards, at tables.” Again, showing whence the word came to us, “Lourche: f. The game called Lurche; or, a Lurch in game. Il demeura lourche. He was left in the lurch.” Further: “Ourche. The game at Tables called Lurch. Among sites to be avoided in building Bacon (Essay xlv, ed. Wright, p. 681) enumerates: “Too farre off from great Cities, which may hinder Businesse; Or too neare them, which Lurcheth all Provisions, and maketh every Thing deare.” Here “lurch” is used in the sense of absorb, swallow up, like the Latin lurcare, from which it is probably derived.’— Beeching (Henry Irving Sh.): There are at least two words, lurch (1) a verb, a form of lurk, as in Merry Wives, II, ii, 26, ‘I . . . am fain to shuffle, to hedge, and to lurch,’ from which sense arose that of stealing; and (2) a game at cards, from the French lourche. . . . In the present passage there seems to be a suggestion of these various meanings: Coriolanus stole the honors from his companions, yet at a fair game leaving them in the lurch.—Skeat (Dict. s. v.) differentiates three significations of ‘lurch’: (1) To lurk, dodge, steal, pilfer (Scand.). In illustration of these meanings he gives the passage from Merry Wives quoted above by Beeching and the present passage. (2) The name of a game. Skeat quotes the references to Cotgrave as given by Wright; and since Cotgrave gives Ourche as the name, suggests that ‘lourche stands for l'ourche, the initial l being merely the definite article.’ (3) To devour. Under this head, in illustration, Skeat quotes the passage from Bacon already given by Wright, deriving it, as does Wright, from Late Latin lurcare, to devour greedily. ‘Perhaps,’ adds Skeat, ‘lurch (3) is really lurch (1), to filch, the Latin verb being falsely mixed up with it.’ [The N. E. D. likewise gives these same three significations besides other technical meanings. Under vb. 1, 2. To defraud, rob, steal, the present line is quoted.—Ed.]
I cannot speake him home For other examples of ‘home’ thus used in the sense completely see Abbott, § 45.
as Weeds . . . his Stem Malone: The editor of the second Folio for ‘weeds’ substituted waves, and this capricious alteration has been adopted in all the subsequent editions. In the same page of that copy, which has been the source of at least one-half of the corruptions that have been introduced in our author's works, we find defamy for ‘destiny,’ sir Coriolanus, for ‘sit Coriolanus,’ trim'd for <*>tim'd,’ and painting for ‘panting’; but luckily none of the latter sophistications have found admission into any of the modern editions except Mr Rowe's. Rushes falling below a vessel passing over them is an image as expressive of the prowess of Coriolanus as well can be conceived. A kindred image is found in Tro. & Cress., ‘—there the strawy Greeks, ripe for his edge, Fall down before him, like the mowers swath,’ [V, v, 24].—Steevens: Waves, the reading of the second Folio, I regard as no trivial evidence in favour of the copy from which it was printed. ‘Weeds’ instead of falling below a vessel under sail cling fast about the stem of it. The justice of my remark every sailor and waterman will confirm. But were not this the truth, by conflict with a mean adversary, valour would be depreciated. The submersion of weeds resembles a Frenchman's triumph over a soupe aux herbes; but to rise above the threatening billow, or force a way through the watery bulwark, is a conquest worthy of a ship, and furnishes a comparison suitable to the exploits of Coriolanus. Thus in Tro. & Cress., ‘The strong-ribb'd bark through liquid mountains cuts, Bounding between the two moist elements, Like Perseus' horse,’ [I, iii, 41]. If Shakespeare originally wrote weeds, on finding such an image less apposite and dignified than that of waves, he might have introduced the correction which Mr Malone has excluded from his text. The stem is that end of the ship which leads. From ‘stem to stern’ is an expression used by Dryden in his translation of Virgil, ‘Orontes’ bark . . . From stem to stern by waves was overborne,’ [Bk i, ll. 162-164].—Boswell: ‘Weeds’ is used to signify the comparative feebleness of Coriolanus's adversaries.—Knight: Of the correctness of the original [‘weeds’] we think there can be no doubt. Waves falling before the stem of a vessel under sail is an image which conveys no adequate notion of a triumph over petty obstacles; a ship cuts the waves as a bird the air; there is opposition to the progress, but each moves in its element. But take the image of weeds encumbering the progress of a vessel under sail, but with a favoring wind dashing them aside, and we have a distinct and beautiful illustration of the prowess of Coriolanus. Steevens says: ‘Weeds, instead of falling below a vessel under sail, cling fast about the stem of it.’ But Shakespeare was not thinking of the weed floating on the billow; the Avon or the Thames supplied him with the image of weeds rooted at the bottom.—Verplanck: The weeds of the flats of the Hudson and the inlets of Long Island Sound have so often furnished the American editor with a practical illustration of this image, that he has no hesitation in adopting this as the true reading.—Delius: The reading of the Folio is here undoubtedly correct. As the weeds bend before the stem of the advancing ship, so do the enemies fall together before Coriolanus. The word ‘stem,’ particularly applicable to a vessel, is here not so particularly applied to Coriolanus or his sword.— Singer (ed. ii.): I think, with Steevens, that a vessel stemming the waves is an image much more suitable to the prowess of Coriolanus than the displacing of weeds.— C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): We think that the original word gives the effect of contemptible impediments overcome better than the substituted word, which presents the idea not of opposers or opposition, but of due medium, waves being the natural upbearers of a ship, and forming its path or course.— Lettsom (ap. Dyce ii.): Read waves with the Second Folio. The sense requires a circumstance that happens usually, not exceptionally, to ships under sail.— Whitelaw: The reading of the 1st Folio is more appropriate, expressing in the helplessness of the Volscians before Coriolanus his heroic and superhuman prowess, whereas the image of a ship stemming the waves would rather suggest that his courage triumphed over superior strength. Again, ‘waves’ could hardly be said to fall under the vessel's stem.
marke, it tooke . . . foot: Anon. (Times Literary Supplement, July 27, 1922, p. 482): All editors have followed Tyrwhitt [see Text. Notes]. It may seem that a change in punctuation is trivial. But here the whole meaning of the passage is changed by it, and changed for the worse. The crucial passage to elucidate this elaborate metaphor is Hamlet, I, i, 162: ‘The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike, No fairy takes.’ ‘Takes’ is in its good Elizabethan sense of infect. ‘Struck Corioles like a planet’ shows that the metaphor is continued to the end. Coriolanus's sword infects ‘from face to foot.’ He is ‘a thing of blood,’ not in the sense that he was covered with blood, but like the Avenging Angel. The ‘shunless destiny’ with which he paints ‘the mortal gate of the city’ is a reminiscence of the plague-mark on the door of an infected house [W. A. Wright]. And finally he ‘struck Corioles like a planet,’ because ‘planet-stricken’ was the name for sudden death for which the doctors could assign no cause. The metaphor is splendidly sustained, and it is simply because Tyrwhitt did not recognise that ‘takes’ bore the still familiar sense of vaccination, ‘taking,’ that he altered the punctuation of the passage, and made it difficult for us to understand it. [Sherman (Tudor Sh.) anticipated this interpretation of ‘took’ in the sense of ‘a fatal disease marked by a plague-spot, or like the influence of a malign spirit,’ quoting in illustration also the line from Hamlet, I, i, 163. His notes on this play were published ten years before the foregoing article in the Times Literary Supplement; but as the anonymous writer dealt with other parts of this sentence preceding the word ‘took,’ I have here placed his remarks ahead of Sherman's. Fiat justitia, etc.—Ed.]
tim'd with dying Cryes Johnson: The cries of the slaughter'd regularly followed his motion, as music and a dancer accompany each other. alone . . . The mortall Gate Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 87): ‘Mortal’ is us'd often for deadly; in which sense it is no unfit epithet for the gate of this city; he who enter'd that gate fitted it for a name beyond deadly; painting it with death unavoidable, ‘shunless destiny.’ This is the true idea of the passage before us, which is mangl'd in very strange sort in the Oxford edition, [Hanmer's, see Text. Notes.—Ed.].
The mortall Gate Johnson: The gate that was made the scene of death.— Case: Probably ‘mortal’ is here used in the sense of deadly, fatal, and not as Johnson explains it. Compare the sense of ‘mortal’ in III, i, 360 post (‘Mortal, to cut it off’). Shakespeare has ‘mortal engines’ (Othello, III, iii, 355); ‘mortal drugs’ (Rom. & Jul., V, i, 66). which he painted Keightley (Expositor, p. 363): I do not see the meaning of ‘painted’ here. Perhaps the right word is parted, i. e., burst open, as it had been closed on him. In Rom. & Jul., II, v, , we have the same change of ar to ain. [This last is Keightley's own reading of the line, which is obelised in the Globe Sh., ‘But old folks many faine as they were dead,’ Keightley reading fare; he has thus far had but one follower, viz., R. G. White.—Ed.]—Whitelaw: The inevitable doom of the city was as it were portrayed on the gates in the blood that splashed them. Shakespeare often speaks of the stains of blood as painting: as above, I, vi, 85, ‘this painting Wherein you see me smeared,’ and 3 Henry VI: I, iv, 12, ‘with purple falchion, painted to the hilt in blood,’ but here the word expresses representation as well as colour. So perhaps Tro. & Cress., I, i, 93, ‘Helen must needs be fair When with your blood you daily paint her thus.’— Schmidt (Coriolanus): ‘Which’ is here commonly related to gate, but perhaps it is to be related to ‘city,’ and ‘painted’ a word falsely read by the compositor, conformably haunted. Shakespeare is fond of using to haunt as applied to a ceaselessly hostile follower.—W. A. Wright: The figure of his sword being death's stamp and marking his victims is here carried on. Coriolanus set his bloody mark upon the gate, or upon the city, indicating that it was his by an inevitable fate, as plague-stricken houses were painted with a red cross.—Case (Arden Sh.): ‘Shunless destiny’ may be simply blood destined to flow, the blood of men for whom there was no escape at his hands.—Sherman (Tudor Sh.) refers to Wright's remark on the sign placed on a plague-stricken house, and adds: ‘Possibly there is a reminiscence also of the blood-painted doors by which the Israelites avoided the “shunless destiny” of the first-born of the Egyptians.’ [Shakespeare was, I think, too well versed in Old Testament History to have been unmindful of the fact that the blood was struck upon the lintels and was to be a sign of immunity to the dwellers, not a mark of doom.—Ed.]—Orger (Sh's Histories and Tragedies, p. 62): As the author calls Coriolanus's sword ‘Death's stamp,’ I can hardly conceive he would so soon change his metaphor and speak of his ‘painting’ the gate with death; but he may more consistently be said to have printed it with ruin, as he left on it the mark of inevitable fate. We may compare Tit. And., III, i, 170, ‘Writing destruction on the enemies castle.’
strucke . . . like a Planet Steevens: So in Timon, ‘Be as a planetary plague, when Jove Will o'er some high-vic'd city hang his poison In the sick air,’ [IV, iii, 108].—W. A. Wright: Shakespeare frequently alludes to the supposed malignant influence of the planets, which was a subject of popular belief in his time. Compare I, i, 162. See also Othello, II, iii, 182, ‘As if some planet had outwitted men.’ The word ‘moonstruck’ for lunatic still remains in the language as an evidence of this belief.—E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): The idea of ‘destiny’ is continued. But I am not sure that Shakespeare has not before him the visual image of a building physically struck not by a planet, but by a thunderbolt.— Case (Arden Sh.): Compare Jonson, Every Man in his Humour, IV, v. (ed. GiffordCunningham, i, 47a): ‘Bobadil . . . by Heaven! sure I was struck with a planet thence, for I had no power to touch my weapon. E. Knowell. Ay, like enough; I have heard of many that have been beaten under a planet.’ Gifford refers to the use of planet-stricken ‘for any sudden attack for which the physician could not readily find a proper name,’ and quotes Observations on the Bills of Mortality, by Captain John Grant (‘printed before the middle of the seventeenth century’), p. 26: ‘. . . Again, if one died suddenly the matter is not great, whether it be reported in the bills, suddenly, apoplexy, or planet-strucken, and a few pages further on, in An Account of the Diseases and Casualties of this Year, being 1632, ‘apoplex and meagrim, seventeen; Planet-struck, thirteen; suddenly, sixty-two.’
now all's his Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 87): A reading of the First Folio, whose copyer, the Second, by changing ‘his’ into this, drew the moderns into three other changes in this and the subsequent lines, which are no ways defensible. [See Text. Notes.] The implication of the words that are quoted is, Now he thought all was his own, and his task done; ‘When by and by,’ etc.
by and by Beeching (Henry Irving Sh.): It is interesting to note as a point of morals that not only ‘by and by’ but also presently and anon, all of which formerly meant at once, have come to mean after an interval.
fatigate W. A. Wright: That is, wearied, fatigued. In Sherwood's EnglishFrench Dictionary, printed as a supplement to Cotgrave (ed. 1632), we find ‘to fatigate,’ ‘fatigated,’ and ‘a fatigating.’ Minsheu (Guide into Tongues, 1617) gives: ‘To fatigate or make wearie,’ and this was the earlier form of the word, ‘fatigue’ being subsequently introduced. For the participial termination compare ‘articulate,’ 1 Henry IV: V, i, 72; ‘suffocate,’ Tro. & Cress. I, iii, 125, and many others.
Runne reeking o're . . . spoyle W. A. Wright: Coriolanus is compared to a stream of reeking blood, which marked the course of his slaughtering sword. ‘Spoil’ appears here to be a term of the chase as it is in Jul. Cæs., III, i, 200, ‘Here thy hunters stand Sign'd in thy spoil,’ etc.—Bayfield (p. 195): Editors correct by beginning the second line with ‘'Twere,’ but ‘if’ and ‘'twere’ get intolerable emphasis and the rhythm is ruined. Clearly the second line must begin with ‘It were,’ so that the words may run, ‘as | if it | were a per | petual | spoil.’
He cannot . . . Honors Johnson: That is, no honor will be too great for him; he will show a mind equal to any elevation.—Gordon, in reference to Johnson's paraphrase, says: ‘This is what the speaker meant, but the irony of “measure” is unmistakable. To observe “measure” in his course of honour was precisely what Coriolanus could never do.’
which we . . . kickt at For those whose hypersensitive metrical ears are offended by the lack of a syllable in this compound line, Hanmer's addition will doubtless afford relief; Abbott's cure is less drastic: ‘our’ is here a dissylable as in many other cases. It is, however, to be noticed that l. 137 is printed as prose in the Folio, and l. 138 is a short isolated line. Rowe is responsible for the verse, and it is his, not perhaps Shakespeare's, verse that is at fault.—Ed.
And look'd vpon . . . to end it Carter (p. 458) compares: ‘But the things that were vantage to me, the same I counted losse . . . and do judge them to be dongue, . . .’ Philippians, iii, 7, [Genevan Vers.]. ‘Brethren, I count not myselfe that I have attained to it, but one thing I doe; I forget that which is behinde, and endeavour myselfe unto that which is before. And folow hard toward the marke for the prize of the high calling.’—Ibid., verse 13.
Muck of the World Bayley (p. 92) compares: ‘I am a gentleman . . . though I have not the mucke of the world,’ Heywood, If You know not Me (1606), [pt 2, ed. Pearson, p. 329]. He quotes besides this twelve other passages from various writers of the period wherein wealth is thus referred to as ‘muck,’ in regard to which Bayley adds: ‘I have quoted more of these “muck” passages than I should otherwise have thought necessary because the idea is so peculiarly unpoetic and because many of them considered by themselves would be very obscure.’
Miserie Warburton: ‘Misery’ for avarice, because a miser signifies avaricious.—W. A. Wright: [Warburton's signification] is doubtful, as Shakespeare elsewhere always uses the word in the ordinary sense of wretchedness.
is content . . . to end it Johnson: I know not whether my conceit will be approved, but I cannot forbear to think that our author wrote thus: ‘—he rewards
His deeds with doing them, and is content
To spend his time, to spend it.’
Malone: I think the words afford this meaning [Johnson's] without any alteration.—Warburton: The last words of Cominius's speech are altogether unintelligible. Shakespeare, I suppose, wrote the passage thus: ‘—and is content
To spend his time—
Men. To end it. He's right noble.’
Cominius in his last words was entering on a new topic in praise of Coriolanus; when his warm friend, Menenius, impatient to come to the subject of the honors designed him, interrupts Cominius and takes him short with—to end it, i. e., to end this long discourse in one word, he's right noble. Let him be called for. This is exactly in character, and restores the passage to sense. [Warburton so prints it in his ed., but thus far has not had any followers.—Ed.]—Leo (Coriolanus): To end —what? The time—of his life. He is content to have no other occupation but to sacrifice himself for his country.—P. A. Daniel (Notes, etc., p. 61): End Cominius' speech at ‘content,’ and give the rest to Menenius, thus: ‘Com. . . . rewards his deeds
With doing them, and is content.
Menen. We spend the time. To end it,
He's right noble,’ &c.
Whitelaw: That the time should pass, and the end come, bring no reward— no more to be said of it than that, the time having passed, the end has come— to this he is contented to look forward.—Schmidt (Coriolanus) dissents to Whitelaw's interpretation. ‘It is much better,’ he says, ‘to take only the first infinitive, “to spend the time,” as directly dependent on “content”; he is satisfied to bring the time to an end, to have a pastime; “to end it,” while he is bringing the time, or also his “doing his deeds, to an end”; compare II, iii, 201, 202, and such a passage as, “I fly not death, to fly this deadly doom,”’ Two Gentlemen (III, i, 185), while I fly, etc.—W. A. Wright: To spend the time for the mere purpose of bringing it to an end, and without any object of an ulterior reward. All his achievements are a pastime, a means of killing time.—Gordon: In all that Coriolanus does he has no ulterior motives. Great action, to him, is its own reward, an end in itself. He does great deeds (as Johnson puts it) for the sake of doing them, and spends his time for the sake of spending it, content that it should end there, and lead to nothing.—Verity (Student's Sh.): To do great deeds is, for Coriolanus, its own reward, and he is content so to spend his time as merely to pass it. Cominius seems to mean by his last words that Coriolanus has no ulterior objects, cherishes no ambitious designs, in what he does (whereas the Tribunes accuse him of aiming at ‘tyrannical power,’ III, iii, 1, 2, 83-86); enough for him if his time be spent in doing, and end there, i. e., lead to nothing. The use of a literary artifice, here assonance (spend . . . end), often, I think, gives point to the style at the expense of clearness.—Craig (Arden Sh.): And whatever expenditure of time it takes to complete his work, he ungrudgingly gives it.—Case (Ibid.): This interpretation, however, would make ‘it’ refer to ‘deeds,’ whereas with ‘it’ referred to ‘time,’ as strict grammar requires, the passage is understood that, provided his time is used up, Coriolanus is content to spend it without reward for himself.
It then . . . to the People Warburton: Coriolanus was banished U. C. 262. But till the time of Manlius Torquatus, U. C. 393, the Senate chose both Consuls. And then the people, assisted by the seditious temper of the Tribunes, got the choice of one. But if Shakespeare makes Rome a democracy, which at this time was a perfect aristocracy, he sets the balance even in his Timon, and turns Athens, which was a perfect democracy, into an aristocracy. But it would be unjust to attribute this entirely to his ignorance; it sometimes proceeded from the too powerful blaze of his imagination, which, when once lighted up, made all acquired knowledge fade and disappear before it. For sometimes again we find him, when occasion serves, not only writing up to the truth of history, but fitting his sentiments to the nicest manners of his peculiar subject, as well to the dignity of his characters or the dictates of nature in general.—Malone: The inaccuracy is to be attributed not to our author, but to Plutarch, who expressly says, in his Life of Coriolanus, that ‘it was the custom of Rome at that time, that suche as dyd sue for any office, should for certen dayes before be in the market-place, only with a poor gowne on their backes, and without any coate underneath, to praye the people to remember them at the daye of election.’—W. A. Wright: It is not difficult to trace the origin of the mistake. Plutarch in his Life of Coriolanus (c. 14) merely says that it was usual for candidates for an office to stand in the Forum dressed in a toga (ἱμὰτιον) only, without the tunica (χιτών) or close-fitting garment underneath. In the Quæstiones Romanæ, 49, he makes the same statement on the authority of Cato. Now Amyot in his French translation, which is the original of North, renders the expression correctly enough, ‘une robbe simple, sans saye dessoubs,’ and the whole appears in North as [given above by Malone].
stand naked Case (Arden Sh.): ‘Naked’ is often equivalent to unarmed, but here, no doubt, the display of wounds and the single garment suggests the word, as it does in the passage from Roman Questions, [cited by Wright]: ‘To the end, therefore, that such scarres might be better exposed to their sight whom they met or talked withall, they went in this maner downe to the place of election, without inward coats in their plaine gownes. Or haply, because they would seem by this nuditie and nakednesse of theirs, in humilitie to debase themselves, the sooner thereby to curry favor, and win the good grace of the commons,’ etc. [Case quotes but a part of the foregoing extract as in Bibl. de Carabas, pp. 78, 79; the passage as here given is from Holland's translation of The Philosophie or Morals of Plutarch, ed. 1603, p. 867.—Ed.]
your forme M. Mason: I believe we should read, ‘Your honour with the form.’ That is, the usual form. [Mason was apparently unaware that herein he was anticipated, see Text. Notes.—Ed.]—Steevens: ‘Your form’ may mean the form which custom prescribes to you.
Marke you that. Rowe is responsible for the interrogation point here, and though he has been uniformly followed by all succeeding editors in this, I am inclined to think that the admonitory form, as in the Folio, is the more expressive; it is, of course, an aside to Sicinius. The interrogation merely calls his attention to the words of Coriolanus; the other is equivalent to ‘Remember that well!’—Ed.
Doe not stand vpon't W. A. Wright: That is, do not insist upon it.
We recommend . . . and Honor Malone: We entreat you, Tribunes of the people, to recommend and enforce to the plebeians what we propose to them for their approbation, namely, the appointment of Coriolanus to the consulship.—M. Mason (Comments, etc., p. 250): This passage is rendered almost unintellible by the false punctuation. It should evidently be pointed thus, and then the sense will be clear: ‘We recommend to you, tribunes of the people,
Our purpose;—to them, and to our noble consul
Wish we all joy and honor.’
‘To them’ means to the people, whom Menenius artfully joins to the consul, in the good wishes of the Senate.—Dyce: Mason's pointing is proved wrong by the very next line.—Hudson in his first ed. adopted Mason's pointing without comment; in his second, evidently influenced by Dyce, he follows the Folio and thus notes: ‘Such is probably the right division of the line; though some have printed it with the (;) after purpose, thus connecting to them with what follows. But the last to is probably used for towards or in reference to—“our purpose towards them.”’— W. A. Wright: That is, We trust you with the announcement of our intention to the people. 175. Senat. To Coriolanus, etc.] Theobald (Letter to Warburton, Feb. 12, 1729; Nichols, vol. ii, p. 483): Blind and blundering Editors, to put this wish into one of the Tribunes' mouths, when both the old folios place it to that of the Senate upon their breaking up! [See Text. Notes.]
May they perceiue's Schmidt (Coriolanus): Not to be understood emphatically in the optative, as modern editors take it, since they place an exclamation point after ‘intent,’ but rather corresponding to the German mögen sie seine absicht merken. he wil require them W. A. Wright: That is, he will ask them. Generally ‘require’ is used with the accusative of the thing asked, and now has the sense of asking with authority, like demand; but formerly both ‘require’ and demand were equivalent to the simple ask. Compare Henry VIII: II, iv, 144, ‘In humblest manner I require your highness.’
Of . . . heere on th'Market place Theobald: But the Tribunes were not now on the ‘Market place,’ but in the Capitol. The pointing only wants to be rectified, and we shall know what this Magistrate would say, viz., Come, I know the people attend us in the Forum; we'll go and inform them what proceedings have been here in the Senate. [See Text. Notes.] 2. 1 Cit. Once if he do require, etc.] Delius (Sh's Use of Prose, Jahrbuch, v, p. 269): The several citizens to whom Coriolanus must sue for their votes for the consulship speak in Plebeian prose. Coriolanus, who on his entrance in converse with Menenius had still spoken in blank verse, likewise becomes one of the people, since he addresses the Citizens in their own manner when he sets out to get their voices. He is not able to play this irksome part long. After he has happily answered the first voices he again resumes his blank-verse for the suing of the later voices. Blank-verse is likewise used by the Tribunes in announcing to the three Citizens the craftily determined plot to render null the choice of Coriolanus in the end. The political interests which there come into play justify the use of fluent verse by the higher-standing Tribunes, as well as the three Citizens.