Antium. A public place.
Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, with Attendants.

Go tell the lords o' the city I am here:

Deliver them this paper: having read it,

Bid them repair to the market-place; where I,

Even in theirs and in the commons' ears,

Will vouch the truth of it. Him I accuse

The city ports by this hath enter'd and

Intends to appear before the people, hoping

To purge himself with words: dispatch. Exeunt Attendants.
Enter three or four Conspirators of AUFIDIUS' faction.

Most welcome!

First Con.
How is it with our general? (10)

Even so

As with a man by his own alms empoison'd,

And with his charity slain.

Sec. Con.
Most noble sir,

If you do hold the same intent wherein

You wish'd us parties, we'll deliver you

Of your great danger.

Sir, I cannot tell:

We must proceed as we do find the people.

Third Con.
The people will remain uncertain whilst

'Twixt you there's difference; but the fall of either

Makes the survivor heir of all.

I know it; (20)

And my pretext to strike at him admits

A good construction. I raised him, and I pawn'd

Mine honour for his truth: who being so heighten'd,

He water'd his new plants with dews of flattery,

Seducing so my friends; and, to this end,

He bow'd his nature, never known before

But to be rough, unswayable and free.

Third Con.
Sir, his stoutness

When he did stand for consul, which he lost

By lack of stooping,—

That I would have spoke of;

Being banish'd for 't, he came unto my hearth;

Presented to my knife his throat: I took him;

Made him joint-servant with me; gave him way

In all his own desires; nay, let him choose

Out of my files, his projects to accomplish,

My best and freshest men; served his designments

In mine own person; holp to reap the fame

Which he did end all his; and took some pride

To do myself this wrong: till, at the last,

I seem'd his follower, not partner, and (40)

He waged me with his countenance, as if

I had been mercenary.

First Con.
So he did, my lord:

The army marvell'd at it, and, in the last,

When he had carried Rome and that we look'd

For no less spoil than glory,—

There was it:

For which my sinews shall be stretch'd upon him.

At a few drops of women's rheum, which are

As cheap as lies, he sold the blood and labour

Of our great action: therefore shall he die,

And I'll renew me in his fall. But, hark! Drums and trumpets sound, with great shouts of the People.

First Con.
Your native town you enter'd like a post,

And had no welcomes home; but he returns,

Splitting the air with noise.

Sec. Con.
And patient fools,

Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear

With giving him glory.

Third Con.
Therefore, at your vantage,

Ere he express himself, or move the people

With what he would say, let him feel your sword,

Which we will second. When he lies along,

After your way his tale pronounced shall bury

His reasons with his body.

Say no more: (60)

Here come the lords. Enter the Lords of the city.

All the Lords.
You are most welcome home.

I have not deserved it.

But, worthy lords, have you with heed perused

What I have written to you?

We have.

First Lord.
And grieve to hear 't.

What faults he made before the last, I think

Might have found easy fines: but there to end

Where he was to begin and give away

The benefit of our levies, answering us

With our own charge, making a treaty where

There was a yielding,—this admits no excuse.

He approaches: you shall hear him. Enter CORIOLANUS, marching with drum and colours; Commoners being with him.

Hail, lords! I am return'd your soldier,

No more infected with my country's love

Than when I parted hence, but still subsisting

Under your great command. You are to know

That prosperously I have attempted and

With bloody passage led your wars even to

The gates of Rome. Our spoils we have brought home

Do more than counterpoise a full third part

The charges of the action. We have made peace (80)

With no less honour to the Antiates

Than shame to the Romans: and we here deliver,

Subscribed by the consuls and patricians,

Together with the seal o' the senate, what

We have compounded on.

Read it not, noble lords;

But tell the traitor, in the high'st degree

He hath abused your powers.

Traitor! how now!

Ay, traitor, Marcius!


Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius: dost thou think

I'll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol'n name (90)

Coriolanus in Corioli?

You lords and heads o' the state, perfidiously

He has betray'd your business, and given up,

For certain drops of salt, your city Rome,

I say 'your city,' to his wife and mother;

Breaking his oath and resolution like

A twist of rotten silk, never admitting

Counsel o' the war, but at his nurse's tears

He whined and roar'd away your victory,

That pages blush'd at him and men of heart

Look'd wondering each at other. (100)

Hear'st thou, Mars?

Name not the god, thou boy of tears!


No more.

Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart

Too great for what contains it. Boy! O slave!

Pardon me, lords, 'tis the first time that ever

I was forced to scold. Your judgements, my grave lords,

Must give this cur the lie: and his own notion—

Who wears my stripes impress'd upon him; that

Must bear my beating to his grave—shall join (110)

To thrust the lie unto him.

First Lord.
Peace, both, and hear me speak.

Cut me to pieces, Volsces; men and lads,

Stain all your edges on me. Boy! false hound!

If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there,

That, like an eagle in a dove-cote, I

Flutter'd your Volscians in Corioli:

Alone I did it. Boy!

Why, noble lords,

Will you be put in mind of his blind fortune,

Which was your shame, by this unholy braggart,

'Fore your own eyes and ears? (120)

All Consp.
Let him die for't.

All the people

'Tear him to pieces.' 'Do
it presently.' 'He killed my son.' 'My daughter.'
'He killed my cousin Marcus. 'He killed
my father.'

Sec. Lord.
Peace, ho! no outrage: peace!

The man is noble and his fame folds-in

This orb o' the earth. His last offences to us

Shall have judicious hearing. Stand, Aufidius,

And trouble not the peace.

O that I had him, (130)

With six Aufidiuses, or more, his tribe,

To use my lawful sword!

Insolent villain!

All Consp.
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him! The Conspirators draw, and kill Coriolanus: Aufidius stands on his body.

Hold, hold, hold, hold!

My noble masters, hear me speak.

First Lord.
O Tullus,—

Sec. Lord.
Thou hast done a deed whereat valour will weep.

Third Lord.
Tread not upon him. Masters all, be quiet;

Put up your swords.

My lords, when you shall know—as in this rage,

Provoked by him, you cannot—the great danger

Which this man's life did owe you, you'll rejoice

That he is thus cut off. Please it your honours (141)

To call me to your senate, I'll deliver

Myself your loyal servant, or endure

Your heaviest censure.

First Lord.
Bear from hence his body;

And mourn you for him: let him be regarded

As the most noble corse that ever herald

Did follow to his urn.

Sec. Lord.
His own impatience

Takes from Aufidius a great part of blame.

Let's make the best of it.

My rage is gone;

And I am struck with sorrow. Take him up.

Help, three o' the chiefest soldiers; I'll be one.

Beat thou the drum, that it speak mournfully:

Trail your steel pikes. Though in this city he

Hath widow'd and unchilded many a one,

Which to this hour bewail the injury,

Yet he shall have a noble memory.

Assist. Exeunt, bearing the body of Coriolanus. A dead march sounded.

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load focus Notes (Horace Howard Furness, Jr., A. B.; Litt. D.)
load focus Notes (Horace Howard Furness, Jr., A. B.; Litt. D.)
load focus English (Horace Howard Furness, Jr., A. B.; Litt. D.)
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