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ACT V. SCENE II. 


The Volscian camp before Rome

Enter MENENIUS to the WATCH on guard

 FIRST WATCH.

Stay. Whence are you?

 SECOND WATCH.

Stand, and go back.

 MENENIUS.

You guard like men, 'tis well; but, by your leave,
I am an officer of state and come
To speak with Coriolanus.

 FIRST WATCH.

From whence?

 MENENIUS.

From Rome.

 FIRST WATCH.

YOU may not pass; you must return. Our general
Will no more hear from thence.

 SECOND WATCH.

You'll see your Rome embrac'd with fire before
You'll speak with Coriolanus.

 MENENIUS.

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.

 FIRST WATCH.

Be it so; go back. The virtue of your name
Is not here passable.

 MENENIUS.

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,
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.

 FIRST WATCH.

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.

 MENENIUS.

Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius, always
factionary on the party of your general.

 SECOND WATCH.

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.

 MENENIUS.

Has he din'd, canst thou tell? For I would not speak with
him till after dinner.

 FIRST WATCH.

You are a Roman, are you?

 MENENIUS.

I am as thy general is.

 FIRST WATCH.

Then you should hate Rome, as he does. Can you, when
you have push'd 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 decay'd 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 deceiv'd; therefore
back to Rome and prepare for your execution. You are condemn'd;
our general has sworn you out of reprieve and pardon.

 MENENIUS.

Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here, he would use me
with estimation.

 FIRST WATCH.

Come, my captain knows you not.

 MENENIUS.

I mean thy general.

 FIRST WATCH.

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 having. Back.

 MENENIUS.

Nay, but fellow, fellow-

Enter CORIOLANUS with AUFIDIUS

 CORIOLANUS.

What's the matter?

 MENENIUS.

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 stand'st not i' th' 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. 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.

 CORIOLANUS.

Away!

 MENENIUS.

How! away!

 CORIOLANUS.

Wife, mother, child, I know not. My affairs
Are servanted to others. Though I owe
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 lov'd 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 belov'd in Rome; yet thou behold'st.

 AUFIDIUS.

You keep a constant temper.

Exeunt CORIOLANUS and Aufidius

 FIRST WATCH.

Now, sir, is your name Menenius?

 SECOND WATCH.

'Tis a spell, you see, of much power! You know the
way home again.

 FIRST WATCH.

Do you hear how we are shent for keeping your
greatness back?

 SECOND WATCH.

What cause, do you think, I have to swoon?

 MENENIUS.

I neither care for th' world nor your general; for such
things as you, I can scarce think there's any, y'are 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

 FIRST WATCH.

A noble fellow, I warrant him.

 SECOND WATCH.

The worthy fellow is our general; he's the rock, the
oak not to be wind-shaken

Exeunt

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