William Shakespeare: Coriolanus, Act IV

Act IV

Scene I

Rome. Before a gate of the city

Enter Coriolanus, Volumnia, Virgilia, Menenius, Cominius, with the young Nobility of Rome

Coriolanus

Come, leave your tears: a brief farewell: the beast With many heads butts me away. Nay, mother, Where is your ancient courage? you were used To say extremity was the trier of spirits; That common chances common men could bear; That when the sea was calm all boats alike Show'd mastership in floating; fortune's blows, When most struck home, being gentle wounded, craves A noble cunning: you were used to load me With precepts that would make invincible The heart that conn'd them.

Virgilia

O heavens! O heavens!

Coriolanus

Nay! prithee, woman,—

Volumnia

Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome, And occupations perish!

Coriolanus

What, what, what! I shall be loved when I am lack'd. Nay, mother. Resume that spirit, when you were wont to say, If you had been the wife of Hercules, Six of his labours you'ld have done, and saved Your husband so much sweat. Cominius, Droop not; adieu. Farewell, my wife, my mother: I'll do well yet. Thou old and true Menenius, Thy tears are salter than a younger man's, And venomous to thine eyes. My sometime general, I have seen thee stem, and thou hast oft beheld Heart-hardening spectacles; tell these sad women 'Tis fond to wail inevitable strokes, As 'tis to laugh at 'em. My mother, you wot well My hazards still have been your solace: and Believe't not lightly—though I go alone, Like to a lonely dragon, that his fen Makes fear'd and talk'd of more than seen—your son Will or exceed the common or be caught With cautelous baits and practise.

Volumnia

My first son. Whither wilt thou go? Take good Cominius With thee awhile: determine on some course, More than a wild exposture to each chance That starts i' the way before thee.

Coriolanus

O the gods!

Cominius

I'll follow thee a month, devise with thee Where thou shalt rest, that thou mayst hear of us And we of thee: so if the time thrust forth A cause for thy repeal, we shall not send O'er the vast world to seek a single man, And lose advantage, which doth ever cool I' the absence of the needer.

Coriolanus

Fare ye well: Thou hast years upon thee; and thou art too full Of the wars' surfeits, to go rove with one That's yet unbruised: bring me but out at gate. Come, my sweet wife, my dearest mother, and My friends of noble touch, when I am forth, Bid me farewell, and smile. I pray you, come. While I remain above the ground, you shall Hear from me still, and never of me aught But what is like me formerly.

Menenius

That's worthily As any ear can hear. Come, let's not weep. If I could shake off but one seven years From these old arms and legs, by the good gods, I'ld with thee every foot.

Coriolanus

Give me thy hand: Come.

Exeunt