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Scene II

Entrance of the Volscian camp before Rome. Two Sentinels on guard

Enter to them, Menenius

First Senator

Stay: whence are you?

Second Senator

Stand, and go back.

Menenius

You guard like men; 'tis well: but, by your leave,
include("$IP_TMPL_DIR/pretitle.php");?>William Shakespeare: Coriolanus, Act V, Scene II | Infoplease.com


































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Scene II

Entrance of the Volscian camp before Rome. Two Sentinels on guard

Enter to them, Menenius

First Senator

Stay: whence are you?

Second Senator

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 Senator

From whence?

Menenius

From Rome.

First Senator

You may not pass, you must return: our general
Will no more hear from thence.

Second Senator

You'll see your Rome embraced 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 Senator

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

Menenius

I tell thee, fellow,
The general is my lover: I have been
The book of his good acts, whence men have read
His name 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 Senator

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 Senator

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 dined, canst thou tell? for I would not speak with him till after dinner.

First Senator

You are a Roman, are you?

Menenius

I am, as thy general is.

First Senator

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 and pardon.

Menenius

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

Second Senator

Come, my captain knows you not.

Menenius

I mean, thy general.

First Senator

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 and 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 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 Coriolanus

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 loved thee,
Take this along; I writ it for thy sake

Gives a letter

And would have rent it. Another word, Menenius,
I will not hear thee speak. This man, Aufidius,
Was my beloved in Rome: yet thou behold'st!

Aufidius

You keep a constant temper.

Exeunt Coriolanus and Aufidius

First Senator

Now, sir, is your name Menenius?

Second Senator

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

First Senator

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

Second Senator

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

Menenius

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

First Senator

A noble fellow, I warrant him.

Second Senator

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

Exeunt

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