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 herself with words: dispatch. [Exeunt Attendants]
Enter three or four Conspirators of Aufidius' faction
Most noble sir, If you do hold the same intent wherein You wish'd us parties, we'll deliver you Of your great danger.
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; 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.
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 He waged me with his countenance, as if I had been mercenary.
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
Your native town you enter'd like a post, And had no welcomes home: but he returns, Splitting the air with noise.
And patient fools, Whose children he hath slain, their base throats tear With giving him glory.
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.
Enter the Lords of the city
I have not deserved it. But, worthy lords, have you with heed perused What I have written to you?
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.
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 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.
Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius: dost thou think I'll grace thee with that robbery, thy stol'n name 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.
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 judgments, 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 To thrust the lie unto him.
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?
'Tear him to pieces.' 'Do it presently.' 'He kill'd my son.' 'My daughter.' 'He killed my cousin Marcus.' 'He killed my father.'
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.
The Conspirators draw, and kill Coriolanus: Aufidius stands on his body
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 To call me to your senate, I'll deliver Myself your loyal servant, or endure Your heaviest censure.
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.
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