Scene III. E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): This is perhaps the finest scene in the play. It is also one of the most important. Two mighty kindred spirits clash together, and in the clash Coriolanus' second failure is determined. The powerful individuality of Volumnia, kept in the background hitherto and only suggested, now dominates the action, and, by contact with her, Coriolanus too rises to a pitch of higher dignity than he has yet reached.—Stopford Brooke (p. 241): We find Coriolanus worshipped as a leader, not as a man, by the Volscian soldiery; apparently on the peak of fortune. But he is really more lost, more alone than ever. No one loves him. He can have no communion with his comrades. It is almost pitiable to hear his appeals to Aufidius, who hates him, to tell him what to do. Then, in his solitude, his affections, the best part of him, which his pride had smothered, awake again. Though he repulses Menenius, who comes to implore grace for Rome, we feel that he loves him. He longs to see his mother, his wife, and son, but his position is such that he dare not satisfy his longing. It is a piteous case, for if we add to his vast loneliness this intense and silent emotion of natural affection, whose indulgence is forbidden, he becomes (as Shakespeare's sympathy with sorrow meant him to become) an object of noble pity to the audience—and, perhaps, to the gods.
how plainly . . . this Businesse Johnson: That is, how openly, how remotely from artifice or concealment.
Businesse Walker (Versification, p. 171) and Abbott (§ 479) note that this word is pronounced as a trisyllable here and in other places; but is not its dissyllabic pronunciation comparatively modern?—Ed.
such frends That thought Compare, for this construction, III, ii, 71, ‘such words That are but roated in your tongue.’ See Abbott (§ 279) for other examples.
godded W. A. Wright: That is, made a god of me, worshipped, idolized me. —Bradley (N. E. D., s. v. God, 1. a. trans.): The present line quoted; also: 1668. Glanvill Plus Ultra (1688), 93: ‘In those days . . . men Godded their Benefactors.’
whose old Loue Steevens: We have a corresponding expression in King Lear, ‘—to whose young love The vines of France,’ etc., [I, i, 85].
The first Conditions . . . yeelded too Heath (p. 433): If Coriolanus had barely offered the first conditions again, and nothing more, with what propriety could he add that he had yielded to a very little? I apprehend the passage should be thus pointed: ‘The first conditions, which they did refuse,
And cannot now accept: To grace him only,
(That thought he could do more) a very little
I've yielded to.’
And cannot now accept Case (Arden Sh.): Apparently this means that pride or shame will prevent acceptance. It cannot refer to the thirty days' respite which accompanied the first conditions because these conditions are now once more offered.
I haue yeelded too Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 99): ‘Too’ is not an unimportant amendment taken from the First Folio, for it shows us more plainly than the common word to that the favour he had shown to Menenius was double: one, a permission to make a fresh tender of the first-offer'd articles; the other, a slight mitigation of some of the heavy ones. Fresh Embasses Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): Shakespeare skips one embassy described in Plutarch, an embassy of the Roman Priests and Soothsayers. Plutarch says nothing either of Menenius or Cominius by name as ambassadors. Shakespeare chose to invent their personal missions on the strength of Plutarch's statement that ‘The ambassadours that were sent were Martius' familiar friends and acquaintances, who looked at the least for a courteous welcome of him as their familiar friend and kinsman.’
what shout is this Capell (vol. I, pt i, p. 99): The Oxford editor [Hanmer] has not shown his judgment in changing ‘shout’ in this place into sight. Should a procession, like that which comes presently, make its entry without any announcement? or could the Volcians, though enemies, see the mother and wife of their general, together with a large train of ladies, approach the door of his tent without notice or some mark of respect to them? and what properer in camps than a ‘shout’?
In the same time For examples wherein ‘in’ is thus used, meaning at or during, as applied to a period of time, and for the etiology of such phrases, see Abbott, § 161. 24, 25. Enter Virgilia, Volumnia, Valeria, etc.] Beeching (Falcon Sh.): No explanation is offered in the play of how the ladies were more successful than Menenius in passing the outposts. It is doubtless to be found in these words of Plutarch: ‘They went in troupe together unto the Volsces camp, whom, when they saw, they of themselves did both pity and reverence her, and there was not a man among them that once durst say a word unto her.’ But in Plutarch Coriolanus receives every one who comes from Rome. 28. But out affection, etc.] A. C. Bradley (Coriolanus, p. 13): To me this scene is one in which the tragic feelings of fear and pity have little place. Such anxiety as I feel is not for the fate of the hero or of any one else; it is, to use religious language, for the safety of his soul. And when he yields, though I know, as he divines, that his life is lost, the emotion I feel is not pity; he is above pity and above life. And the anxiety itself is but slight; it bears no resemblance to the hopes and fears that agitate us as we approach the end in Othello or King Lear. The whole scene affects me, to exaggerate a little, more as a majestic picture of stationary figures than as the fateful climax of an action speeding to its close. And the structure of the drama seems to confirm this view. Almost throughout the first three acts—that is, up to the banishment—we have incessant motion, excited and resounding speech, a violent oscillation of fortunes. But after this the dramatic tension is suddenly relaxed, and though it increases again, it is never allowed to approach its previous height. If Shakespeare had wished to do so in this scene he had only to make us wait in dread of some interposition from Aufidius, at which the hero's passion might have burst into a fury fatal even to the influence of Volumnia. But our minds are crossed by no shadow of such dread. From the moment when he catches sight of the advancing figures, and the voice of nature—what he himself calls ‘great nature’—begins to speak in his heart long before it speaks aloud to his ear, we know the end. And all this is in harmony with that characteristic of the drama which we noticed at first—we feel but faintly, if at all, the presence of any mysterious or fateful agency. We are witnessing only the conquest of passion by simple human feelings, and Coriolanus is as much a drama of reconciliation as a tragedy. That is no defect in it, but it is a reason why it cannot leave the same impression as the supreme tragedies, and should be judged by its own standard.
All bond . . . of Nature breake Beeching (Falcon Sh.): It is worth while at this point to recollect to what it was that Coriolanus proposed to sacrifice all natural ties, because there might be conditions under which such a course would be justifiable.
those Doues eyes Steevens: So in the Canticles, v. 12, ‘—his eyes are as the eyes of doves.’ [Also Ibid., i, 15, and iiii, i.—Ed.] Again, in the Interpretacion of the Names of Goddes and Goddesses, &c., Printed by Wynkyn de Worde: He speaks of Venus, ‘Cryspe was her skyn, her eyen columbyne.’
I melt, and am not Of stronger earth Stopford Brooke (p. 242): This is Coriolanus at his best, thrilled by those natural affections which last longest, and which in their natural working are the best medicine for the selfish heart. Coriolanus fights against them; his promise to Aufidius, his vow of revenge beat back his yielding and forgiveness. But when his mother finally turns from mere arguing the question to her ancient way with him, and claims his reverence for his motherhood; and then, when he is still silent, breaks into scorn of him, and bids him, repudiating him, seek his family among the Volscians—why then Coriolanus can bear no more. His lonely pride is shattered by the dominance of what is tender, good, and natural in him. For the first time in his life he is truly unselfish. He gives up his most passionate desire—revenge. He puts away pride and anger, the tyrannic qualities of his nature; and he does this knowing, at least suspecting, that this means his death—and it does mean it. The man is redeemed. The repentence is not too late for honour, not too late for moral greatness; for thus conquered, he is at last great, having won by renouncing all that he once thought were the sources of his fame, immortal fame. But he is not freed from the results of his long wrong-doing. Repentence is too late to save his life, and that he knows he is doomed makes his act the nobler. Thus Shakespeare veils the perishing man with tenderness, pity, and admiration. We forgive what we hated in him in the past. His wife and mother, knowing he is lost, yet went home with peace in their heart, and Rome remembered only his fame as a warrior. Over his dead body the patricians and the tribunes came to respect each other more. The dead Coriolanus was greater than the living.
Olympus to a Mole-hill Steevens: This idea might have been caught from a line in the first book of Sidney's Arcadia, ‘What judge you doth a hillocke shew, by the lofty Olympus?’ [Poems, ed. Grosart, ii, p. 21, l. 75].—Case (Arden Sh.): See also Massinger, Virgin Martyr, I, i, ‘An humble modesty that would not match A molehill with Olympus,’ [ed. Gifford, p. 20]; The Roman Actor, III, i, 1-4: ‘if you but compare What I have suffered with your injuries (Though great ones, I confess) they will appear Like molehills to Olympus.’
and my yong Boy . . . no other kin Krueger (Jahrbuch, xxxviii, p. 237) suggests as a more consistent and natural arrangement of these lines the following: ‘and my young boy
Hath an aspect of intercession which
Great nature cries, Deny not. [But] I'll never
Be such a gosling to obey instinct, but stand
As if a man were author of himself
And knew no other kin. Let the Volsces
Plough Rome and harrow Italy!’
Thus Coriolanus is made to struggle against the melting mood and ends his speech with the resolve to let things take their course instead of interjecting this as a parenthesis in the middle of his attempt to stifle the yielding to the cry of great nature.—[But few, I think, will commend this attempt to improve on Shakespeare.—Ed.]
Aspect . . . instinct With the accent on the last syllable as always in Shakespeare. See, if needful, Abbott, § 490.
Ile neuer . . . no other kin Mrs Griffith (p. 444): Coriolanus has here carried his sternness and the strained principles of stoical pride, whose throne is only in the mind, as far as they could go; and now great nature, whose more sovereign seat of empire is in the heart, takes her turn to triumph; for, upon the joint prayers, tears, and intreaties of his family, he becomes a man at last, crying out: ‘Not of a woman's tenderness to be,
Requires nor child, nor woman's face to see.’
The sorrow . . . Makes you thinke so Johnson: Virgilia makes a voluntary misinterpretation of her husband's words. He says, ‘These eyes are not the same,’ meaning that he saw things with other eyes or other dispositions. She lays hold on the word ‘eyes’ to turn his attention on their present appearance.— W. A. Wright: Virgilia interprets her husband's speech literally, as if it referred to the altered appearance of the suppliants, which was caused by their sorrow. Coriolanus merely says that in his banishment he saw everything in a different light.—Tucker Brooke (Yale Sh.): Virgilia purposely misconstrues her husband's words. The great alteration, she says, which sorrow has caused in our appearance makes you think you can't believe your eyes.
Like a dull Actor . . . I am out Malone: So in our author's Sonnet xxiii, ‘As an imperfect actor on the stage Who with his fear is put beside his part,’ [ll. 1, 2]. ‘Of his [Shakespeare's] profound knowledge of the actor's art there can be no question. No other dramatist of that age has written such keen and subtle criticism of it, or alluded to it in his plays more frequently. It is often a source of vivid illustration,’ Percy Simpson, Actors and Acting; Shakespeare's England, vol. ii, p. 248.
by the iealous Queene of Heauen Johnson: That is, by Juno, the guardian of marriage, and consequently the avenger of connubial perfidy. that kisse . . . Virgin'd it ere since Three dramatists subsequent to Shakespeare's Coriolanus have substantially this same phraseology in regard to a kiss, whether taken from this source, or independently invented, it is needless to enquire. These are thus given in Some 300 Fresh Allusions to Shakespeare, ed. Furnivall. Fletcher, Queen of Corinth, ‘Beliza. . . . by my life, The parting kiss you took before your travel Is yet a virgin on my lips preserv'd,’ I, 11; Works, v, 403. Massinger, The Bondman, ‘Cleora. I restore This kiss, so help me goodness! which I borrow'd When I last saw you,’ IV, iii; Works, ii, 86. Shirley, The Coronation, Arcadius, ‘Thou art jealous now; Come, let me take the kiss I gave thee last; I am so confident of thee, no lip Has rauish'd it from thine,’ II, i, ed. Gifford and Dyce, iii, 474.—Ed.
You Gods, I pray Theobald (Sh. Restored, p. 181): I dare say an old corruption has possess'd this passage for two reasons. In the first place, whoever consults this speech will find that he is talking to his wife, and not praying to the Gods at all. Secondly, if he were employ'd in his devotions, no apology would be wanting for leaving his mother unsaluted. The Poet's intention was certainly this: Coriolanus, having been lavish in his tendernesses and Raptures to his wife, bethinks himself on the sudden, that his fondness to her had made him guilty of ill manners in the neglect of his mother. Restore, as it certainly ought to be, ‘You Gods! I prate, And the most noble mother of the world Leave unsaluted.’— Mr Dennis (than whom, in my opinion, no man in England better understands Shakespeare) in his alteration of this play [The Invader of His Country], whether he made the same correction I now do, certainly understood the passage exactly with me. An undeniable proof of this is an appeal to the change in expression which he has put upon it: ‘But Oh! ye Gods, while fondly thus I talk, see, the most noble mother of the world Stands unsaluted.’ I question not, but his reason for varying the expression was because prate is a term ill-sounding in itself, and mean in its acceptation. Our language was not so refin'd, tho' more masculine, in Shakespeare's days; and therefore (notwithstanding the cacophony) when he is most serious he frequently makes use of the word. In this very play we again meet with it, ‘yet here he lets me prate Like one i' th' stocks,’ [l. 170 below. Theobald gvies five other passages wherein the words prate and prattling occur; but the word prate is used more often than that by Shakespeare. Bartlett gives fifteen examples. This play alone furnishes three others besides that quoted by Theobald. See I, i, 45; III, iii, 106; and IV, v, 47. For prattling see II, i, 221. This note, omitting all reference to Dennis, Theobald adopted in his own edition. The Text. Notes show with what unanimity it has been accepted.—Ed.]—Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): Shakespeare changes the order of his salutations from that given by Plutarch and makes him show his love for his wife first and irresistibly; but he causes him to make amends for this by excusing himself for keeping his mother unsaluted while thus he prays Virgilia to forgive him, begs her not to urge him to forgive the Romans, and then, pleading for a kiss, prays the goddess of marriage to bear witness to its purity. All this justifies the word ‘pray’ in the text, which Pope has changed to prate. Surely Coriolanus does not call this true emotion ‘prating.’ Although he must be meant to ask pardon of his mother for leaving her unsaluted during all this, he cannot be meant to excuse himself by a word uncomplimentary to his wife. Shakespeare has very delicately done the right thing, and the fact of his altering Plutarch shows it to be peculiarly his touch. Pope has spoiled it. [I know not why Miss Porter assigns this reading to Pope. The Cambridge Text. Notes plainly show by the parenthesis containing Theobald's name, following the reading of Pope's ed. ii, that prate is Theobald's suggestion adopted by Pope.—Ed.]
deepe duty, more impression shew Cholmeley: There is a play upon ‘deep’ and ‘impression,’ and a confusion between showing a duty deeper than that of common sons, and showing duty by a deeper impression than common. 57-62. Volum. Oh stand vp blest, etc. In Some 300 Fresh Allusions to Shakespeare, p. 61, the Editor quotes the following passage from Beaumont and Fletcher, A King and no King, 1611: ‘Arane [the penitent Queen-mother of King Arbaces kneels to him].
As low as this I bow to you; and would
As low as to my grave, to shew a mind
Thankful for all your mercies.
Arbaces. Oh, stand up
And let me kneel! the light will be asham'd
To see observance done to me by you.
Arane. You are my king.
Arbaces. You are my mother, rise,’ III, i, ed. Dyce, ii, 275.
The note on this passage, by Theobald, calls attention to the similarity of situations.—Ed.
vnproperly Abbott (§ 442): ‘Un-’ seems to have been preferred by Shakespeare before p and r, which do not allow in- to precede except in the form un-.
Corrected Sonne Whitelaw: That is, rebuked by the sight. [Delius takes this in the more literal sense, thy son subject to thy control, but, as Schmidt remarks, Whitelaw's is the more rational explanation here.—Ed.]
hungry beach Malone: The beach hungry, or eager, for shipwrecks. Such, I think, is the meaning. So in Twelfth Night, ‘mine is all as hungry as the sea,’ [II, iv, 103]. I once idly conjectured that our author wrote, the angry beach.—Steevens: The ‘hungry beach’ is the sterile, unprolific beach. Every writer on husbandry speaks of hungry soil and hungry gravel; and what is more barren than the sands on the sea shore? If it be necessary to seek for a more recondite meaning, the shore on which vessels are stranded is as hungry for shipwrecks, as the waves that cast them on the shore. Litus avarum [Æneid, iii, 45]. Shakespeare, on this occasion, meant to represent the beach as a mean, and not as a magnificent object.—R. G. White: I must avow that I see no fitness (especially none of the Shakespearian kind) in the epithet as explained [by Steevens]. The context, ‘your corrected son’ and ‘the mutinous winds,’ seems to me to give almost sufficient support to [Malone's ‘idle conjecture’] to warrant its reception into the text. Were I to print a Shakespeare for myself I should print ‘angry beach’—the beach angered by the lashing of the waves.—Hudson, ed. i, accepts Steevens's note and explanation, even going so far as to copy Steevens's misprint littus, but in his ed. ii. he adopts Malone's idle conjecture, with the following note: ‘As an epithet of beach, taken by itself, hungry may well pass, but that sense has no coherence with the context here.’—W. A. Wright: That is, sterile, unproductive; not, greedy for shipwrecks.—Murray (N. E. D., s. v. 6.): Lacking elements which are needful or desirable, and therefore capable of absorbing these to a great extent; ‘more disposed to draw from other substances than to impart them’ (Johnson); especially of land, etc. Not rich or fertile, poor. 1577. B. Googe, Heresbach's Husbandry, I. (1586), 24: ‘The land . . . which is nought and yeeldes not his fruite, is called leane, barren, hungry.’
Strike the proud Cedars Rolfe: It is singular that the critics who think it necessary to tone down the hyperbole in IV. v. 112 have not ‘emended’ this line. Is scarring the moon a more preposterous rhetorical achievement than striking against the sun?
Murd'ring Impossibility W. A. Wright: After this violation of the order of nature, nothing can be unnatural or impossible.
I hope to frame thee Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): Here possibly Pope's change to holp is right. It is appropriate. Yet it should be noticed that it is generally and not particularly appropriate. It suits what has been said by Coriolanus (ll. 26, 27), but gives us no new word. And since Coriolanus has just shown a son's acknowledgment to the full of even a mother's desire, it seems now particularly appropriate to suppose that Volumnia's acceptance of this now would be marked by more than a reassertion of the fact that she is his mother. Does she not exclaim joyfully and triumphantly accepting his filial homage, ‘Thou art my Warrior’?—and then, because of that recognition, does she not express more than the same thing again in another form—this further, ‘I hope to frame thee’? That is, mould thee to the end for which I came.
The Noble Sister of Publicola Johnson: Valeria, methinks, should not have been brought only to fill up the procession without speaking.—Steevens: It is not improbable but that the poet designed the following words of Volumnia, [ll. 75-77], for Valeria. Names are not unfrequently confounded by the playereditors; and the lines that compose this speech might be given to the sister without impropriety. It may be added that though the scheme to solicit Coriolanus was originally proposed by Valeria, yet Plutarch has allotted her no address when she appears with his wife and mother on this occasion. [On Steevens's conjecture regarding the assignment of ll. 75-77 to Valeria Wright pertinently remarks: ‘But it is Volumnia who first presents Valeria and then young Marcius whom she holds by the hand.’ Rann is Steevens's sole follower in this assignment.—Ed.]
The Moone of Rome Boswell: Menenius uses the same complimentary language to the ladies, II, i, 91, ‘How now, my fair as noble, ladies, and the moon, were she earthly, no nobler.’ Chaste as the Isicle Steevens: I cannot forebear to cite the following beautiful passage from Shirley's Gentleman of Venice, in which the praise of a lady's chastity is likewise attempted: ‘—thou art chaste
As the white down of heaven whose feathers play
Upon the wings of a cold winter's gale
Trembling with fear to touch th' impurer earth,’ [IV, i; ed. Dyce, p. 56.—Ed.].
Some Roman lady of the name of Valeria was one of the great examples of chastity held out by writers of the Middle Ages. So in The Dialoges of Creatures Moralysed, bl. l., no date, ‘The secounde was called Valeria: and when inquysicion was made of her for what Cawse she toke notte the secounde husbonde, she sayde,’ &c. Hence perhaps Shakespeare's extravagant praise of her namesake's chastity.—Dowden (Sh.: His Mind and Art, p. 331, foot-note): Observe the extraordinary vital beauty and illuminating quality of Shakespeare's metaphors and similes. A common-place poet would have written ‘as chaste as snow’; but Shakespeare's imagination discovers degrees of chastity in ice and snow, and chooses the chastest of all frozen things. On this subject see an excellent study by Rev. H. N. Hudson, Shakespeare: His Life, Art, and Characters, vol. i, pp. 217-237.
curdied Malone: [This] was the phraseology of Shakespeare's time. So in All's Well, ‘I am now, sir, muddied in fortune's mood,’ [V, ii, 4]. We should now write mudded, to express begrimed, polluted with mud. Again in Cymbeline, ‘That drug-damn'd Italy hath outcraftied him,’ [III, iv, 15].—Steevens: I believe both ‘curdied,’ muddied, &c., are mere false spellings of curded, mudded, &c. Mudded is spelt as at present in The Tempest, First Fol., p. 13, col. 2, three lines from the bottom; and so is ‘crafted’ in this play, First Fol., p. 24, col. 2, [see IV, vi, 147.—Ed.].—Murray (N. E. D., s. v. Curdy, vb. Obs. rare): To make curdlike, to congeal. [The present line quoted as only example, with note (perhaps curdied is a misprint for curdled).]
of yours Johnson: I read ‘epitome of you.’ An epitome of you which, enlarged by the commentaries of time, may equal you in magnitude.—Malone: Though Dr Johnson's reading is more elegant, I have not the least suspicion here of any corruption.
The God of Souldiers: Percy Simpson (Sh. Punctuation, p. 68) quotes this as an example where the colon is used to mark an emphatic pause.
With the consent of supreame Ioue Warburton: This is inserted with great decorum. Jupiter was the tutelary God of Rome.—Monck Mason (Comments, etc., p. 262): I cannot think that Coriolanus either intended to pay, or could pay with decorum, any particular compliment to the tutelar Deities of Rome at the very time that he was determined to destroy it. supreame W. A. Wright: With the accent on the first syllable as in Lucrece, 780, ‘The life of purity, the supreme fair.’ And Cymbeline, I, vi, 4, ‘My supreme crown of grief!’ The accent is on the last syllable only once in Shakespeare. See III, i, 133 ante. informe W. A. Wright: That is, fashion, mould, and so almost equivalent to inspire, animate. In this sense it is used by Milton, Paradise Lost, iii, 597: ‘Not all parts like, but all alike inform'd
With radiant light, as glowing iron with fire.’
And by Cowley, On the Death of Mr. W. Harvey, 74: ‘Large as his soul; as large a soul as e'er
Submitted to inform a body here.’
vnvulnerable For a discussion on the modern change of the negative suffix un- to in- see Abbott, § 442; also ‘unproperly,’ l. 59 ante.—Ed.
Sea-marke standing euery flaw Johnson: That is, every gust, every storm.—Malone: So in our author's Sonnet cxi, ‘O no! it is an ever fixed mark That looks on tempests, and is never shaken.’—W. H. Smyth (s. v. Sea-Mark): A point or object distinguishable at sea, as promontories, steeples, rivers, trees, &c., forming important beacons, and noted on charts. By keeping two in a line, channels can be entered with safety, and thus the errors of steerage, effect of tide, &c., obviated. These erections are a branch of the royal prerogative, and by Statute 8, Elizabeth, Cap. 13, the corporation of the Trinity House are empowered to set up any beacons or sea-marks wherever they shall think them necessary; and if any person shall destroy them, he shall forfeit £100, or, in case of inability to pay, he shall be, ipso facto, outlawed.—Whall (p. 73) compares Othello, V, ii, 268, ‘And very sea mark of my utmost sail.’
Your knee, Sirrah Cambridge Edd. ii. (Note XIII.): Dr Nicholson writes to us: ‘The stage action here to which Coriolanus replies is this: the boy refuses to kneel, but interposes between the kneeling ladies and Coriolanus. See his after speech, “A shall not tread on me,” &c. This, if not introduced as a stagedirection, ought to be explained in a note.’ To us Coriolanus seems rather to commend the boy for doing as he was bid. To refuse to kneel would suit ill with his ‘aspect of nitercession.’ Besides, he kneels, without being specially told to do so, afterwards (l. 186).
Euen he Schmidt (Coriolanus): ‘Even’ is here used to emphasize more strongly the whole of the following sentence, and belongs to the predicate ‘are suitors all’ more than to the single subject ‘he.’
forsworne to graunt W. A. Wright: That is, sworn not to grant. Compare Rom. & Jul., I, i, 229: ‘She hath forsworn to love.’ And Twelfth Night, III, iv, 276, ‘forswear to wear iron about you.’
capitulate W. A. Wright: That is, make conditions or agreement; here used of the conqueror. In modern language the conquered capitulates or surrenders on conditions. See French's Select Glossary, and compare 1 Henry IV: III, ii, 120, ‘The Archbishop's grace of York, Douglas, Mortimer, Capitulate against us and are up.’
if you faile in our request Malone: That is, if you fail to grant us our request; if you are found failing or deficient in love to your country, and affection to your friends, when our request shall have been made to you, the blame, &c. [Malone assigns the change ‘we fail’ to Pope; see Text. Notes. Hudson in his ed. ii. is strangely confused; he tells us that the original reads, ‘we fail in your request,’ even accounting for this new reading by the presence of ‘your’ in the line below, and credits Rowe with the reading ‘our request.’—Ed.]—Schmidt (Coriolanus): In modern usage ‘fail’ is the opposite of succeed, but here it is used in a wider sense: not to come up to expectation, not to do the correct thing.—Deighton (reading with Rowe): Yet we will continue to make supplication, so that if we fail to obtain what we ask, the blame may rest upon you for your stubbornness, not on us for our want of persistency. The reading of the Folio may perhaps be explained, ‘fail in the matter of our request.’ 104-135. Should we be silent, etc.] Farmer, in his second edition of his Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare, p. 13, transcribes these thirty-two lines, together with the corresponding passage from North's Plutarch, in order to confute a remark made by Pope in his Preface: ‘The speeches copied from Plutarch in Coriolanus may be as well made an instance of the learning of Shakespeare as those copied from Cicero, in Catiline, of Ben Jonson's.’ Farmer's intent is to demonstrate that Shakespeare's knowledge was gained solely by the translation and not by recourse to the original. Pope has, however, not made any such claim; he clearly says, preceding the above-quoted sentence, ‘There is certainly a vast difference between Learning and Languages. How far he was ignorant of the latter I cannot determine; but 'tis plain he had much reading at least, if they will not call it Learning. Nor is it any great matter, if a man has knowledge, whether he has it from one language or from another.’ Farmer, in thus quoting but the concluding part of Pope's remark, gives to the reader a quite erroneous impression of Pope's contention. He certainly did not mean that these parallel passages proved that Shakespeare read them in the original Greek. The passage in North's Plutarch, which Shakespeare here follows with but a few verbal changes, in order to make it into verse, will be found in the Appendix: Source of the Plot, ad loc.—Ed.
our Raiment And state of Bodies For other examples of transpositions in noun-clauses containing two nouns connected by ‘of’ see Abbott, § 423.
bewray W. A. Wright: That is, discover, reveal. The word, which Shakespeare has taken from North's Plutarch, is derived from the Anglo-Saxon wrégan, or wreian, Gothic wrohjan, to accuse, and although used almost interchangeably with betray, differs from it in not necessarily involving the idea of treachery. See King Lear, II, i, 109, ‘He did bewray his practice’; that is, disclosed his plot or design.
Exile Here accented on the last syllable; see Abbott, § 490.
How more vnfortunate See Appendix: Date of Composition, note by Halliwell, p. 600.
Constraines them weepe, and shake Johnson: That is, constrains the eye to weep, and the heart to shake. [See Abbott, § 349.]
and to poore we Thine enmities Collier (ed. ii.): We may be confident that Shakespeare did not so write what has been imputed to him; and two very small emendations, which we meet with in the corr. fo., 1632, may be accepted as rendering the extract grammatical and perspicuous: altering ‘to’ to so, and ‘enmities’ to enemies, nothing more can be desired, for it makes Volumnia say, in effect, ‘and so poor we are thy most capital enemies.’ [This reading Collier adopts in his ed. ii; in his 3d ed. he returns, however, to the Folio text without comment.—Ed.]—Anon. (Blackwood's Maga., Sep., 1853, p. 324): If [the old corrector's] is the true reading, it must be completed by changing ‘we’ to us. The meaning will then be—making thy mother, wife, etc.; and so (making) poor us (that is, those whom you are bound to love and protect before all others) thy chief enemies. to poore we W. A. Wright: ‘We’ is used for us, as in Hamlet, I, iv, 54, ‘—and we fools of nature So horridly to shake our disposition.’ And Jul. Cæs., III, i, 95, ‘and let no man abide this deed, But we the doers.’
prayers Abbott (§ 479): Even where ‘prayer’ presents the appearance of a monosyllable the second syllable was probably slightly sounded, ‘Hath turn'd my feignèd práyer on my head,’ Richard III: V, i, 21.
how can we ... are bound Deighton: Compare King John, III, 327-336, where Blanche is in the same predicament, and Ant. & Cleo., III, iv, 12-19.
We must finde W. A. Wright: That is, experience, feel. Compare Meas. for Meas., III, i, 80, ‘And the poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great As when a giant dies.’
I purpose not to waite on Fortune Verplanck: Instead of the truly Roman coolness with which the resolved matron communicates her intention, Thomson, in his tragedy, has substituted the very commonplace and melodramatic incident of making his heroine ‘draw a dagger from under her robe’ and attempt to stab herself before her son and the Romans and Volscians; and the dialogue runs thus: ‘Vol. So thy first return—
Cor. Ha! (seizing her hand.）
What dost thou mean?
Vol. To die while Rome is free,’ etc.
All this is interpolated into Shakespeare's tragedy in the acted drama of Coriolanus [as arranged by J. P. Kemble].
determine That is, end, terminate. Compare III, iii, 58.
Rather ... to both parts Abbott: The extra syllable is very rarely a monosyllable, still more rarely an emphatic monosyllable. The reason is obvious. Since in English we have no enclitics, the least emphatic monosyllables will generally be prepositions and conjunctions. These carry the attention forward instead of backward, and are, therefore, inconsistent with a pause, and besides, to some extent, emphatic. Here ‘parts’ is emphatic and ‘both’ is strongly emphasized.
treade ... on thy Mothers wombe Snider (ii, 238): Here we have the strongest and most terrific image of filial violation. Strange to say, the wife, Virgilia, now utters the same sentiment; her mild nature has been absorbed in the colossal will of the mother. That is, his family, in all its relations, will be swept away in the destruction of the State. The only exception is his boy, another genuine Coriolanus, who will not submit to be trampled upon by an enemy. Still her appeals are not answered; she begins to despair of success. Then with lofty contempt she turns away, disowning her motherhood: ‘This fellow had a Volscian to his mother.’ And all his other domestic relations are denied to him. This is too much for Coriolanus. His strongest tie he can allow to be severed; he might even contemplate his mother dead; still he would be her son. But disowned— denied to be her offspring—that cuts deeper than her death. He yields, Rome is saved, but he declares to his mother he will probably have to die for his act. To which declaration she gives no answer; country is, with her, above son; its salvation being accomplished, she and the rest of her relatives return to receive its gratitude. Family has thus mediated the conflict of the State.
I, and mine With Pope's rearrangement of the lines here these words are used to supply the two final feet missing in l. 135. Even thus Capell's fine ear detected a missing syllable, and he added ‘on.’ Steevens, while adopting this last reading, remarks that the word ‘was supplied by some former editor to complete the measure.’ For reasons best known to himself Steevens customarily either ignores Capell or adopts his metrical changes without acknowledgment. To this Boswell, the editor of the Variorum of 1821, rejoins that this last is perhaps unnecessary ‘if “world,” according to Tyrwhitt's canon, is used as a dissyllable.’ Finally Abbott (§ 482) quotes this arrangement of ll. 135, 136 as an example wherein a monosyllabic exclamation (‘Ay’) is frequently used as a complete foot. In all such discussions is it not well to follow the golden rule, ‘verify your references,’ before imputing to Shakespeare a fault in prosody?—Ed.—Dyce (ed. ii.): What reader, if he has common sense, can doubt that Shakespeare, having written just before ‘on thy mother's womb,’ wrote here ‘Ay, and on mine’?
A shall not ... Ile fight C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): The spice of proud resistance, with consciousness of present inability and resolution for future self-defence, finely condensed into this characteristic speech, are most natural in the son of Coriolanus, and most calculated to precisely touch the father's heart.—Kellett (p. 88): There is but one boy in all Shakespeare who even appears to promise some genuine variation from the perverse type [of precocious pertness as exhibited in Mamillius and young Macduff]. Young Coriolanus in the line and a half allotted to him, ‘A shall not tread on me, I'll run away till I'm bigger, but then I'll fight,’ utters the solitary truly boy-like sentiment in the whole of Shakespeare's plays. Alas! like Marcellus, he is but shown and then withdrawn; he is only once put in person before us, and he seems to be an allegorical shadow of his father rather than an independent living being. We pass over here the boy in Henry V. and the fool in King Lear, both of whom, though seemingly very young, are beyond the age of childhood. Even in them, however, there are traces, visible in those who care to look, that their infancy, so recently left behind, was of a thoroughly Shakespearian character. We could wish that Shakespeare had not made it seem as if this character was typical and representative of the genus boy; and we may be sure that he would have given us many very different child-types if he had felt something of that interest in children which Dickens, for example, possessed. But to expect this from an Elizabethan is to expect the impossible; even Shakespeare could not rise altogether above his age.—Case: This is the only speech given to young Marcius, but it plainly shows him to have been ‘his father's own son.’
Corio. Not of . . . face to see Beeching (Falcon Sh.): Coriolanus is trying to disregard natural bonds. This ‘touch of nature’ reasons against him more strongly than set speeches. Menenius had the cleverness to understand the force of humour, but he failed in naturalness. Further, this bit of natural comedy relieves the tragic strain.—Gordon: Nothing could show more delicately the softening of Coriolanus than that he, of all men, should melt into rhyme.—Case (Arden Sh.): The rhyme and rhythm of these lines seem to aid the words in revealing the softening of Coriolanus. The use of a couplet here is not like the usual use at the close of a scene, save that there too the couplet often voices some truth or reflection. [Compare III, iii, 113-124, where Coriolanus voices in rhymed couplets his determination to submit to what he considers degradation in soliciting the votes of the people. Possibly the rhyme is there also meant to indicate a softening or yielding.—Ed.]
I haue sate too long Schmidt (Coriolanus): Here modern editors introduce the stage-direction ‘Rising.’ Yet perhaps ‘sat’ is here, as elsewhere in Shakespeare, equivalent to tarry; the colloquy takes place outside the tent (see l. 221) and is not suited to the mouth of one comfortably seated.
The end of Warres vncertaine Anders (p. 47): Halliwell-Phillipps, in his Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare, p. 53, writes, ‘The Sententiæ Pueriles was, in all probability, the little manual by the aid of which he first learned to construe Latin; for in one place at least he all but literally translates a brief passage, and there are in his plays several adaptations of its sentiments.’ I cannot say exactly what the ‘brief passage’ is which Halliwell-Phillipps refers to. The following are some sentences which have a resemblance to passages in Shakespeare, but they are so general in character that we can scarcely infer anything definite from them. Belli exitus incertus: ‘The end of war's uncertain.’ [With the other passages we need not here concern ourselves; as to the present passage there would, I think, be more force in the comparison were it not that the words in North's Plutarch are here, ‘though the ende of war be uncertaine.’ In regard to the Sententiæ Pueriles Anders says that is ‘a little manual consisting of brief Latin sentences collected from divers authors by Leonard Culmann of Krailsheim and completed probably not long before 1544.’ It was entered on the Stationers' Registers in 1569. In 1612 the book was translated into English by John Brinsley. It is possible that Culmann's Latin sentence is an adaptation from the Greek of Plutarch.—Ed.]
such . . . Whose Abbott (§ 278): ‘Such’ was by derivation the natural antecedent to which—‘such’ meaning so-like, so-in-kind; which meaning what like, whai-in-kind?
the fiue straines Johnson: The niceties, the refinements. [To Johnson has been given the credit for the correction of this obvious misprint of ‘fiue’ for fine, but it appears also in Capell's text, and Capell says in a foot-note on p. 18 of his Introduction that he has throughout made no reference to an edition which came out a twelvemonth before, i. e., Johnson's. Furthermore, many of his volumes went to the press in 1760, and the volume containing this present play in 1765, the year of Johnson's publication. Neither Johnson nor Capell record this reading as original; a point whereon Capell is most meticulous. In my copy of the Folio the word is plainly ‘fiue,’ as also in Verner and Hood's, in Staunton's photo-lithograph, and in Booth's facsimile. In the Lee facsimile taken from the Devonshire Folio this whole column is very badly printed; the type seems to have taken the ink imperfectly, and in this word the letter u or n appears but as two strokes; anyone in reading this hastily would naturally, I think, read it as fine, not expecting the more unusual word fiue. Possibly the Folios which Johnson and Capell examined had this same imperfection, but, at all events, Capell is entitled to the priority.—Ed.]—Capell. (vol. I, pt i, p. 99): The sentiment that follows is attired in such high-flown expressions that we almost lose sight of it. The divine graces that Coriolanus ‘affected to imitate’ are terror and mercy, both attributes of their gods; to express this he is said to thunder as they do, but so to temper his terrors that mankind is as little hurt by them as they commonly are by thunder, which mostly spends its fury on oaks.—Leo (Coriolanus): Volumnia means, ‘Speak to me! Confess that thou hast injured thine honour (in being the enemy of thy country) only for the purpose to be as merciful as the gods.’ [‘Affected’ in the sense injured is not admissible here, since it clearly means to aim at, as Schmidt (Lex., s. v. vb. 3) classifies it, and as this word is used in three other passages in this play: II, ii, 22; III, iii, 1; IV, vi, 41.—Ed.]—W. A. Wright: ‘Strains of honour,’ that is, the emotions or impulses of honour. ‘Strain,’ which is etymologically connected with the Anglo-Saxon strýnan, to beget, is used for a stock or race, as in Jul. Cæs., V, i, 59, ‘O, if thou wert the noblest of thy strain.’ Hence it takes the secondary sense of ‘natural disposition,’ as in Lear, V, iii, 40, ‘Sir, you have shown to-day your valiant strain,’ that is, the valiant disposition of your race which you have inherited. Finally, it denotes feeling, or impulse generally. See 2 Henry IV: IV, v, 171, ‘But if it did infect my blood with joy, Or swell my thoughts to any strain of pride.’
the wide Cheekes a'th'Ayre W. A. Wright: Compare Tempest, I, ii, 4, ‘The welkin's cheek,’ and Richard II: III, iii, 57, ‘The cloudy cheeks of heaven.’ [Verity also compares these two passages with the present one, and adds: ‘The occurrence of a notable piece of imagery in an early and then again in a late play is always interesting; one feels that it thoroughly approved itself to Shakespeare's taste.’—Ed.]—Tucker Brooke (Yale Sh.): The allusion is doubtless to the common indication of the winds (north, south, etc.) in old maps as issuing from cherubs' swollen cheeks.
And yet to change Theobald is, I think, fully entitled to the credit for the reading charge instead of ‘change.’ Warburton calmly appropriated it without any acknowledgment to his friend. This doubtless misled Malone, who assigns this reading to Warburton; but in the many letters that passed between them there is not any reference to this passage. Theobald in his note says: ‘I have certainly restor'd the true word,’ and refers to his note on II, i, 216, q. v. I feel quite sure he would not have said this had there been any question of a suggestion from Warburton. How universal has been the concurrence in opinion with Theobald the Text. Notes will show.—Ed.—Warburton: The meaning of the passage is, To threaten much, and yet be merciful.—Malone: In The Taming of the Shrew, III, i, , ‘charge’ is printed instead of change, [p. 218, col. b Folio. Corrected in F2.—Ed.—Schmidt: The reading of the Folio may perhaps be allowed to stand; the lightning glowing with sulphur is to be exchanged for a wedge, which only splits an oak, but does not set it on fire. Ordinary Shakespearian usage affords examples to justify ‘with a bolt’ instead of ‘for a bolt.’—W. A. Wright, in answer to the foregoing note, says: ‘But the reading “charge” suits better with the figure employed in the present passage, which is that of a piece of artillery loaded with a bolt which after being discharged with a great noise only rives an oak.’ Wright also compares Ant. & Cleo., I, ii, 5, where the Folios have: ‘O that I knew this husband, which, you say, must change his horns with garlands,’ where modern editors read charge.—Hudson (ed. ii.): The same misprint [‘change’ for charge] has occurred before in this play. See II, i, 216. [It is well to note that this latter reading, also due to Theobald, has had, however, but comparatively few adherents.—Ed.]—Gordon: That is, And yet to temper your thundering with moderation and mercy. If the gods are his models, he should imitate their mercy as well as their might.
Think'st thou it Honourable Beeching (Henry Irving Sh.): Volumnia says: ‘You have always affected the honour and graces of the gods whose power is nicely directed, not brute violence; but is your present conduct like theirs, is it honourable or courteous?’
Daughter, speake you C. & M. Cowden Clarke (Shakespeare): With what exquisitely artistic touches Shakespeare finishes his character-portraits! Here in two half lines he paints Virgilia's habitual silence, and Volumnia's as habitual torrent of words. She bids her daughter-in-law plead, yet waits not for her to speak. (See IV, ii, 67 and note.) And then how consistently has he depicted Volumnia's mode of appeal to her son throughout, in III, ii. and here; beginning with remonstrance and ending with reproach; her fiery nature so like his own and so thoroughly accounting for his inherited disposition.
Speake thou Boy J. C. Collins (p. 77) calls attention to this as a touch not in Plutarch, but which ‘may have been suggested by the pathetic scene in the Iphigenia in Aulis (ll. 1241-5), where the little Orestes is employed by Iphigenia for the same reason and for the same purpose.’ Inasmuch as there was not any translation in English of Euripides until long after Shakespeare's time—except the Jocasta, by Gascoigne and Kinwellmarsh, in 1566—the Iphigenia is a very doubtful source of his inspiration. There is a similarity in situation between this whole scene and that in Act I, sc. ii. of the Jocasta, as in the foregoing translation (ed. Cunliffe, pp. 274-277), but nothing can be argued from that, as Shakespeare is here following Plutarch, and it may be that Euripides was the inspiration for Plutarch's fictitious account of Volumnia's intercession.—Ed.
Like one i'th'Stockes Johnson: Keep me in a state of ignominy, talking to no purpose.—W. A. Wright: Rather, you treat me as a worthless vagabond to whose complaints under punishment no one pays heed.—E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): Volumnia plays her part with no less tact than dignity. She appeals to patriotism and reason, and falls back on a woman's last resource, the pathetic. Perhaps a tear comes, which Coriolanus has never seen on her cheek before.
fond of Case (Arden Sh.): That is, wishing for, desirous of. Compare Cymb., I, i, 37, ‘Two other sons . . . Died . . . for which their father, Then old and fond of issue, took such sorrow,’ etc.
clock'd W. A. Wright: So Cotgrave: ‘Glosser. To cluck or clocke, as a Hen,’—Case (Arden Sh.) also compares Nashe, Christ's Teares over Jerusalem, 1593, ed. McKerrow, ii, 42-43, ‘The Henne clocketh her Chickens; I would have clocked and called them by my preaching.’
longs Bradley (N. E. D., s. v. vb2, arch): To be appropriate to (occas. for); to pertain to (rarely with simple dative); to refer or relate to, etc. Tam. of Shr., IV, iv, 6, ‘With such austerity as longeth to a father.’ [Although in all modern texts, following F4, this word is printed as though a contraction of belong, it is, as will be seen, a separate verb.—Ed.] more pride Then pitty . . . husht vntill our City be afire Miss C. Porter (First Folio Sh.): More powerful than her petition is her acceptance of his refusal. Of this forceful climax there is no syllable in Plutarch. And the Folio stage-direction following l. 194 is consummate. As it stands it is a dramatist's wording and form. Unfortunately, almost no editor has refrained from touching it up.
home to Rome Walker (Crit., ii, 114) observes that here, as in other places, ‘Rome’ is pronounced Room, which, therefore, removes the jingle in this line.
Doe's reason our Petition Johnson: That is, does argue for us and our petition. [Thus, also, W. A. Wright.—Schmidt, both in his Lexicon and in his notes to this play, interprets ‘reason’ here as simply the verb to speak; possibly this is better than the more extended meaning, argue. The childish inability to express, except by appealing action, speaks with more strength than Coriolanus will have power to urge against granting their petition.—E. K. Chambers on this says: ‘It is not argument, but the power of one soul over another that is to move Coriolanus.’—Ed.]
His Wife . . . his Childe . . . by chance Theobald: Tho' his wife were in Corioli, might not his child, nevertheless, be like him? The minute alteration I have made, I am persuaded, restores the true reading [see Text. Notes]. Volumnia would hint that Coriolanus by his stern behaviour had lost all familyregards, and did not remember that he had any child. I am not his mother (says she), his wife is in Corioli, and this child whom we bring with us (young Marcius) is not his child, but only bears his resemblance by chance.—Walker (Crit., ii, ch. xiv, pp. 219 et seq.): In the Folio and likewise in the original editions of Shakespeare's poems (the latter statement is grounded altogether on internal evidence) this and his have in many instances supplanted one another. [Walker quotes the present line among his other examples.—Ed.]—Rolfe: Theobald's change is quite unnecessary, in our opinion. Volumnia does not think of the apparent inconsistency; or we might say that ‘his child’ is equivalent to this child that passes for his, or that we call his.—Beeching (Henry Irving Sh.): Theobald's suggestions deserve all respect, but the text as it stands is not indefensible. Volumnia has said ‘his mother was a Volscian, his wife is in Corioli,’ and then continues, ‘his child’—but looking at him is struck by the likeness—and ends the sentence differently and, I venture to think, most effectively.
I am husht Case (Arden Sh.): This is really an adjective meaning silent, and not a past participle identical with hushed or hush'd, which is usually substituted for it in the text. See the N. E. D. on its priority in time and, indeed, origination of the verb. Compare Tempest, IV, i, 207, ‘All's husht as midnight yet’; Venus & Adonis, l. 458, ‘Even as the wind is husht before it raineth.’ The N. E. D. quotes after earlier examples Dryden's Virgil, Pastorals, ix, 80, ‘Husht Winds the topmost branches scarcely bend.’ then Ile speak a litle Leo: The last word she will speak before her death shall be a curse on her son!
Holds her by the hand silent Collier (Notes and Emendations, etc., p. 363): The following descriptive addition [to this stage-direction] is made in manuscript, long, and self-struggling. After this protracted strife, which shook the whole fabric of the hero, he yields, with the exclamation, ‘O mother, mother! What have you done?’ &c.—Beeching (Falcon Sh.): It is impossible to believe that Coriolanus's long hesitation has been from fears of his own safety, but it is characteristic of him to state the problem as an equipoise between the certain destruction of a whole city and his own probable fate.
Corio. O Mother, Mother! What haue you done? Horn (iv, 25): I have no desire to bestow upon this much-admired scene the ordinarily expressed praises, but for all that extol it highly, since it does not in any way tend towards a soft and gentle quietude, which here would be quite out of place. As soon as this mother, by her own person, has shown to him his mother Rome, and he feels himself vanquished, what words has our poet given him? Is the bow of peace again set forth in the heavens? and dare the hero recognise himself as the saviour of his country? Nay! his dreadful mistake is but brought more clearly to him, he feels it, and would willingly retract it and make good, but complete atonement is impossible, since a revolt from one's country is not to be expiated by such easy means, and he is henceforth for all time at variance with his native land and with himself.—Rötscher (p. 25): The tragic power of this scene lies in this, that Coriolanus, with the consciousness that this victory of filial duty will bear for him deadly fruit, yet bows before the might of filial duty. Therein is its wizardry, its most hidden skill revealed. The actor has here the task of presenting to us the hero overwhelmed by the power of filial love and his pride and obstinacy melting during the exhortation of Volumnia.
this vnnaturall Scene E. K. Chambers (Warwick Sh.): The whole situation is unnatural—a Roman making war on Rome; a mother pleading with her son for mercy; a conqueror melted by a woman.
Oh my Mother, Mother: Oh! This is, to me, painfully reminiscent of that line in Thomson's Sophonisba, Act III, sc. ii, ‘O Sophonisba! Sophonisba O!’ which evoked any amount of ridicule on the first performance of the tragedy. After the 2nd edition it was altered to ‘O Sophonisba, I am wholly thine.’ It will be remembered that Thomson also wrote a tragedy on the subject of Coriolanus, for an account of which see Appendix to this volume, but the slight comfort we might derive from the thought that the line in Sophonisba was inspired by a study of this scene in Shakespeare's play is denied us, since Sophonisba antedates by several years Thomson's Coriolanus.—Ed.
a happy Victory to Rome Abbott (§ 419a) quotes this line, among others, as an example of the transposition of the adjective, as in ‘Bring me a constant woman to her husband,’ Henry VIII: III, i, 134. This is not, however, strictly speaking, a Shakespearian example, as it is taken directly from North, whose words are, ‘oh mother, sayed he, you have a wonne a happy victory for your countrie.’ For the construction ‘to Rome’ compare ‘to his Mother,’ l. 190, above.—Ed.
Most dangerously you haue with him preuail'd MacCallum (p. 621): This collapse of Coriolanus' purpose means nothing more than the victory of his strongest impulse. There is no acknowledgment of offence, there is no renovation of character, there is not even submission to the highest force within his experience. Our admiration of his surrender is not unmixed. It is a moving spectacle to see a man, despite all the solicitations of wrath and revenge, of interest and fear, obedient to what is, on the whole, so salutary an influence as domestic affection. But loyalty to this will not of itself avail to safeguard anyone from criminal entanglements, or to equip him for beneficial public action, or to change the current of his life. It may mean the triumph of a natural tendency that happens to be good over other natural tendencies that happen to be bad, but it does not mean acceptance of duty as duty, or anxiety to satisfy the claims that different duties impose. Hence Coriolanus, to the very end, leaves unredeemed his inherited obligations to Rome, while he leaves unfulfilled his voluntary pledges to his allies. Even in Plutarch's narrative Shakespeare's insight is not required to detect this underlying thought, but in the Comparison, which there is proof that Shakespeare had studied, it is set forth so clearly that he who runs may read. That Shakespeare, with his patriotism and equity, perceived the double flaw in Coriolanus' act of grace can hardly be doubted. He was the last man to put the household above the national gods, or to glorify breach of contract if only it were sanctioned by domestic tenderness. In point of fact, he does not acquit his hero on either count.
mortall W. A. Wright: That is, mortally; the adverbial termination being carried on from ‘dangerously.’ Compare Richard II: I, iii, 3, ‘The duke of Norfolk sprightfully and bold.’ And Othello, III, iv, 79, ‘Why do you speak so startingly and rash?’
Now good Auffidius . . . lesse Auffidius Badham (Text of Sh., Cambridge Essays, p. 280): The second ‘Aufidius’ [l. 206] is evidently redundant, and is owing to the name of the character to which the next speech is given. I have little doubt but that the whole passage should be read and the verses distributed as follows: Cor. Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars,
I'll frame convenient peace. Tell me now good
Aufidius, were you in my stead, would you
Have heard a mother less, or granted less?
Auf. I was mov'd withal.’
would you haue heard Malone: ‘Heard’ is here used as a dissyllable. The modern editors read, say, would you have heard.—Steevens: As my ears are wholly unreconciled to the dissyllabifications e-arl, he-ard, &c., I continue to read with the modern editors. Say, in other passages of our author, is prefatory to a question. So in Macbeth, ‘Say, if thou hadst rather hear it from our mouths,’ &c., [IV, i, 62].—Abbott (§ 483) by emphasizing strongly the monosyllable ‘you’ following ‘Were,’ makes it practically a dissyllable, and thus pieces out the metrical deficiency. Such ‘dissyllabifications’ are to my ears more disagreeable than Malone's suggested he-ard.—Ed.
I was Walker (Crit., ii, 203): Thou wert (sometimes written in the old poets Th'wert), you were, I was, &c., occur frequently, both in Shakespeare and contemporary dramatists, in places where it is clear they must have been pronounced as one syllable, in whatever manner the construction was affected. Here I believe we ought so to pronounce ‘I was.’
Stand to me W. A. Wright: That is, stand by me, support me. See III, i, 250.
a former Fortune Johnson: I will take advantage of this concession to restore myself to my former credit and power.—Delius: Since ‘former’ in the older tongue was used not only as simply referring to time but also to class and position, it is, therefore, more likely here used in the sense of an advanced fortune, a fortune that stands more in the very first rank. Thus it appears in Jul. Cæs., V, i, 80, ‘our former ensign.’—Collier (Notes & Emendations, ed. ii, p. 368): We do not insist upon the change, but we are told, in this speech of Aufidius, to substitute ‘a firmer fortune’ for ‘a former fortune.’ We think the emendation extremely admissible.—Tycho Mommsen (Der Perkins Folio, p. 224): How unnatural is the indefinite article with ‘former’ instead of, possibly, ‘my former’; how striking and clear firmer, since Aufidius already sees in spirit the fortune of Coriolanus declining, from whose downfall he will construct for himself a more stable fortune, firmer than his own was before, and rehabilitate himself from that of Coriolanus. The words ‘former’ and firmer are so nearly alike that the error was an easy one.—R. G. White: ‘Former,’ the Folio reading, is clearly a trifling misprint, as Aufidius does not say ‘my former fortune’; which, even if such were the text, would be a less appropriate reading [than Collier's MS. correction].—H. Wellesley (p. 29): ‘Former’ with the indefinite article reads harshly. The antecedents of Aufidius make it more consistent with his part to read, ‘a firmer fortune.’—Schmidt (Coriolanus): That is, such fortune as I possessed formerly. So in Ant. & Cleo., ‘You have seen and proved a fairer former fortune Than that which is to approach,’ [I, ii, 33, 34. Johnson's explanation of the phrase ‘former fortune’ has been adopted by most modern editors. To the parallel passage from Ant. & Cleo., given by Schmidt, Case adds: ‘but please your thoughts In feeding them with those my former fortunes,’ Ibid., IV, xv, 52-54. That the phrase thus occurs in two other passages besides the present shows, I think, that it was one that commended itself to Shakespeare; this would be sufficient to cause a rejection of the reading of Collier's MS. Corrector, firmer. The interpretation by Delius and his comparison of the phrase ‘our former ensign’ are not to the point. Former, in this latter passage, is the regular use of the word, signifying that which is in the forward part, as in ‘the former part of the head.’—Ed.]
I by and by Schmidt (Coriolanus): The stage-direction inserted by Johnson before these words, and adopted by modern editors, is quite unnecessary. While Aufidius is speaking aside, Coriolanus is engaged in conversation with the ladies, and this colloquy, seen but not heard by the audience, he closes with the words, ‘Ay, by and by.’ In North's Plutarch, ch. 19, there is this: ‘There words being spoken openly, he spake a little apart with his mother and wife, and then let them return again to Rome, for so they did request him.’ [Wright, while retaining Johnson's stage-direction in the Globe, Cambridge and Clarendon editions, admits that perhaps Schmidt's objection to its insertion is just.—Ed.] we will drinke together Farmer: Perhaps we should read think.— Steevens: Our author, in 2 Henry IV, having introduced drinking as a mark of confederation, ‘Let's drink together friendly and embrace,’ [IV, ii, 64], the text may be allowed to stand, though at the expense of female delicacy, which, in the present instance, has not been sufficiently consulted.—R. G. White: Though I cannot accept Farmer's proposition to read ‘think together,’ and have no better word to propose, I cannot but believe that ‘drink,’ addressed to Volumnia and Virgilia, is a corruption.—Herwegh (ap. Ulrici: Sh., p. 171): This invitation to drink extended to Volumnia and Virgilia has given offence to certain English commentators. It is quite true that North's Plutarch says nothing on this point. If drinking is not Roman, yet, on the other hand, it is characteristically English, and, therefore, Shakespeare has here assuredly written ‘drink,’ just as in I, ix, 110 he has made the exhausted Coriolanus cry out, ‘Have we no wine here?’— Schmidt (Coriolanus): Every doubt as to the correctness of the reading ‘drink together’ may be dismissed. Such was the sign of peace and friendship, just as in 2 Henry IV. [quoted above by Steevens] and also in other passages. [Notably in Jul. Cæs., on the conclusion of the quarrel between Brutus and Cassius. Brutus there says, ‘Give me a bowl of wine. In this I bury all unkindness, Cassius,’ IV, iii, 158, 159.—Hudson in his ed. i. accepts the Folio reading without comment, apparently unconscious of the slur thus cast upon the fair fame of Volumnia and Virgilia, but White, in his note, with its excusatory hint as to a corruption in the text here, doubtless opened the eyes of Hudson to this grievous fault, so in his ed. ii, in order to preserve the ‘female delicacy,’ he made the slight change in the text, ‘We will but drink together’; and we have at once the picture of Coriolanus and Aufidius retiring to the back of the tent for a surreptitious drink while the ladies patiently await them. The words ‘Come enter with us,’ l. 221, militate somewhat against this.—Ed.] 221. Ladies you deserue, etc.] Warburton: This speech, beginning at ‘Ladies you deserve,’ which is absurdly given to Coriolanus, belongs to Aufidius. For it cannot be supposed that the other, amidst all the disorder of violent and contrary passions, could be calm and disengaged enough to make so gallant a compliment to the ladies. Let us further observe from this speech, where he says, ‘all the swords In Italy, and her confed'rate arms,’ and from that a little before, ‘Let the Volscians Plough Rome, and harrow Italy,’ that the poet's head was running on the later grandeur of Rome, when, as at this time, her dominion extended only a few miles round the city.—Johnson: The speech suits Aufidius justly enough if it had been written for him; but it may, without impropriety, be spoken by Coriolanus; and, since the copies give it to him, why should we dispossess him?—Capell gives substantially Warburton's note, and on it thus comments: ‘But that other is in no such tempest of passions at this time; but calm enough to detain his mother and the rest, who would have taken their leave of him, and invite them into his tent; which he would enter with very good grace if his speech were to end as they make it. And as for giving that part to Aufidius, the absurdity of such a step is, indeed, very strong; for he certainly has his engagements, and is not ‘calm within’; or, if he were, there is no part of his character that gives a handle to suspect him of gallantry, and to ladies, his enemies, who came upon such an errand.
To haue a Temple built you Steevens: Plutarch informs us that a temple dedicated to the Fortune of the Ladies was built on this occasion by the order of the senate.—W. A. Wright: ‘The Temple of Fortuna Muliebris, dedicated in the year 286, A. U. C., on the spot at which Coriolanus is said to have met his mother, stood at the fourth milestone’ on the Via Latina—Burn, Rome and the Campagna, p. 437.