SCENE IIEntrance of the Volscian camp before Rome. Two Sentinels on guard.
Enter to them, MENENIUS.
Stay: whence are you?
Stand, and go back.
You guard like men; 'tis well: but, by your leave,
I am an officer of state, and come
To speak with Coriolanus.
You may not pass, you must return: our general
Will no more hear from thence.
You'll see your Rome embraced with fire before
You'll speak with Coriolanus.
Good my friends,
If you have heard your general talk of Rome,
And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks,
My name hath touch'd your ears: it is Menenius.
Be it so; go back: the virtue of your name
Is not here passable.
I tell thee, fellow,
Thy general is my lover: I have been
The book of his good acts, whence men have read
His fame unparallel'd, haply amplified;
For I have ever verified my friends,
Of whom he's chief, with all the size that verity
Would without lapsing suffer: nay, sometimes, (20)
Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground,
I have tumbled past the throw; and in his praise
Have almost stamp'd the leasing: therefore, fellow,
I must have leave to pass.
Faith, sir, if you had told as
many lies in his behalf as you have uttered
words in your own, you should not pass here;
no, though it were as virtuous to lie as to live
chastely. Therefore, go back.
Prithee, fellow, remember my name
is Menenius, always factionary on the party of
your general. (32)
Howsoever you have been his liar,
as you say you have, I am one that, telling
true under him, must say, you cannot pass.
Therefore, go back.
Hath he dined, canst thou tell? for
I would not speak with him till after dinner.
You are a Roman, are you? (39)
I am, as thy general is.
Then you should hate Rome, as
he does. Can you, when you have pushed out
your gates the very defender of them, and,
in a violent popular ignorance, given your
enemy your shield, think to front his revenges
with the easy groans of old women, the virginal
palms of your daughters, or with the
palsied intercession of such a decayed dotant
as you seem to be? Can you think to blow
out the intended fire your city is ready to
flame in, with such weak breath as this? No,
you are deceived; therefore, back to Rome,
and prepare for your execution: you are condemned,
our general has sworn you out of reprieve
Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were
here, he would use me with estimation.
Come, my captain knows you not.
I mean, thy general.
My general cares not for you.
Back, I say, go; lest I let forth your half-pint
of blood; back,—that's the utmost of your
Nay, but, fellow, fellow— Enter CORIOLANUS and AUFIDIUS.
What's the matter?
Now, you companion, I'll say an
errand for you: you shall know now that I am
in estimation; you shall perceive that a Jack
guardant cannot office me from my son Coriolanus:
guess, but by my entertainment with
him, if thou standest not i' the state of hanging,
or of some death more long in spectatorship,
and crueller in suffering; behold now presently,
and swoon for what's to come upon
thee. [To Cor.] The glorious gods sit in
hourly synod about thy particular prosperity,
and love thee no worse than thy old father
Menenius does! O my son, my son! thou art
preparing fire for us; look thee, here's water
to quench it. I was hardly moved to come to
thee; but being assured none but myself could
move thee, I have been blown out of your
gates with sighs; and conjure thee to pardon
Rome, and thy petitionary countrymen. The
good gods assuage thy wrath, and turn the
dregs of it upon this varlet here,—this, who,
like a block, hath denied my access to thee.
Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs
Are servanted to others: though I owe (90)
My revenge properly, my remission lies
In Volscian breasts. That we have been familiar,
Ingrate forgetfulness shall poison, rather
Than pity note how much. Therefore, be gone.
Mine ears against your suits are stronger than
Your gates against my force. Yet, for I loved thee,
Take this along; I writ it for thy sake, Gives a letter.
And would have sent it. Another word, Menenius,
I will not hear thee speak. This man, Aufidius,
Was my beloved in Rome: yet thou behold'st! (100)
You keep a constant temper. Exeunt Coriolanus and Aufidius.
Now, sir, is your name Menenius ?
'Tis a spell, you see, of much
power: you know the way home again.
Do you hear how we are shent
for keeping your greatness back?
What cause, do you think, I have
I neither care for the world nor your
general: for such things as you, I can scarce
think there's any, ye're so slight. He that hath
a will to die by himself fears it not from another:
let your general do his worst. For you,
be that you are, long; and your misery increase
with your age! I say to you, as I was
said to, Away! Exit.
A noble fellow, I warrant him.
The worthy fellow is our gen eral:
he's a rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken. Exeunt.