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Coriolanus

Coriolanus Translation Act 1, Scene 1

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Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons

FIRST CITIZEN

Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.

FIRST CITIZEN

Before we go on, hear me out.

ALL

Speak, speak.

ALL

Go ahead. Talk.

FIRST CITIZEN

You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?

FIRST CITIZEN

You are all committed to fight to the death rather than die by starvation?

ALL

Resolved. resolved.

ALL

Yes, we're committed. 

FIRST CITIZEN

First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.

FIRST CITIZEN

First, you know Caius Marcius is the people's greatest enemy.

ALL

We know't, we know't.

ALL

We know it!

FIRST CITIZEN

Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price.Is't a verdict?

FIRST CITIZEN

Let's kill him and sell corn at a price we can decide. Do we have an agreement?

ALL

No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!

ALL

Enough talk; let it be done: let's go!

SECOND CITIZEN

One word, good citizens.

SECOND CITIZEN

Hold on: listen, good citizens.

FIRST CITIZEN

We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good. What authority surfeits on would relieve us: if they would yield us but the superfluity, while it were wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely; but they think we are too dear: the leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an inventory to particularise their abundance; our sufferance is a gain to them. Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

FIRST CITIZEN

We are thought of as poor and worthless, while the senators are thought of as noble. Their leftovers would be enough for us. If they would only give us the scraps from their table, as long as it isn't spoiled, we'd think of it as generous; but they think that even this is  asking too much. Our starvation, which makes us miserable, is the yardstick by which they measure their successes—they celebrate our suffering! Let us take revenge with our pikes, before we become as thin as they are: the gods know I say so out of hunger, not out of thirst for revenge.

SECOND CITIZEN

Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?

SECOND CITIZEN

Should we focus our revenge on Caius Marcius?

ALL

Against him first: he's a very dog to the commonalty.

ALL

Yes, him first: he's terrible to the common people. 

SECOND CITIZEN

Consider you what services he has done for his country?

SECOND CITIZEN

What about all he's done for this country?

FIRST CITIZEN

Very well; and could be content to give him goodreport fort, but that he pays himself with being proud.

FIRST CITIZEN

It's all well and good, and he ought to be satisfied with our admiration, but instead he rubs it in our faces.

SECOND CITIZEN

Nay, but speak not maliciously.

SECOND CITIZEN

Come on, don't speak rudely of him.

FIRST CITIZEN

I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be content to say it was for his country he did it to please his mother and to be partly proud; which he is, even till the altitude of his virtue.

FIRST CITIZEN

Listen: the things he's done for us, he's done only for the fame. Forgiving men might say he did it for his country, but really he did it only to please his mother and partly to be proud. However brave he is, it's only equal to his arrogance.

SECOND CITIZEN

What he cannot help in his nature, you account avice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.

SECOND CITIZEN

You're condemning him for being who he is. You can't say he's greedy, after all.

FIRST CITIZEN

If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations;he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition.

FIRST CITIZEN

If he's not greedy, he's horrible in a hundred other ways; we'd grow exhausted listing all his faults. 

Shouts within

FIRST CITIZEN

What shouts are these? The other side o' the cityis risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!

FIRST CITIZEN

Where is that shouting from? Other parts of the city are in revolt already. Why are we standing here chattering? To the Capitol!

ALL

Come, come.

ALL

Come, come!

FIRST CITIZEN

Soft! who comes here?

FIRST CITIZEN

Wait! Who is that?

Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA

SECOND CITIZEN

Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always lovedthe people.

SECOND CITIZEN

Honorable Menenius Agrippa; a man who has always had the common people's interests in mind.

FIRST CITIZEN

He's one honest enough: would all the rest were so!

FIRST CITIZEN

He's an honest politician: if only the others were!

MENENIUS

What work's, my countrymen, in hand? where go youWith bats and clubs? The matter? speak, I pray you.

MENENIUS

What are you about to do, fellow citizens? Where are you going with these bats and clubs? What's going on? Please, tell me.

FIRST CITIZEN

Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do, which now we'll show 'em in deeds. They say poor suitors have strong breaths: they shall know we have strong arms too.

FIRST CITIZEN

The senate is well aware of our business; they've known for a month what we intend to do, and we'll show them now we meant it. They say the poor people coming to ask for help have only a strong odor to them, but we'll show them we have strong arms too. 

MENENIUS

Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,Will you undo yourselves?

MENENIUS

Sirs, good friends, honest neighbors, why? Are you trying to get yourselves killed?

FIRST CITIZEN

We cannot, sir, we are undone already.

FIRST CITIZEN

That would be pointless, sir, we're already dying.

MENENIUS

I tell you, friends, most charitable care Have the patricians of you. For your wants, Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them Against the Roman state, whose course will on The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs Of more strong link asunder than can ever Appear in your impediment. For the dearth, The gods, not the patricians, make it, and Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack, You are transported by calamity Thither where more attends you, and you slander The helms o' the state, who care for you like fathers, When you curse them as enemies.

MENENIUS

I tell you, friends, the senators care deeply about all of you. You may as well attack heaven with your sticks as try to fight Rome; it won't do anything to stop your starvation. Rome will go on as it always does, easily crushing ten thousand times what you can throw against it. As for the lack of food, it's not the senators' fault. Begging them for help will do more good than attacking them. Alas, this tragedy has driven you mad if  you think that cursing the senators, who care for you like your own parents, will make them more willing to help you.

FIRST CITIZEN

Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and there's all the love they bear us.

FIRST CITIZEN

Care for us! Yeah, right! They've never cared for us: they will let us starve while their warehouses are full of food. They've supported laws which cheat us financially; every day they do more to protect the rich and hurt the poor. If the wars don't kill us, they will. That's how they show they love us. 

MENENIUS

Either you must Confess yourselves wondrous malicious, Or be accused of folly. I shall tell you A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it; But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture To stale 't a little more.

MENENIUS

Either you have to admit you're awfully cruel, or I must simply say you're wrong. Let me tell you a story. Maybe you've heard it before, but since it applies to this situation so well, allow me to tell it again.

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, I'll hear it, sir: yet you must not think tofob off our disgrace with a tale: but, an 't pleaseyou, deliver.

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, I'll listen, sir: but you can't think to do away with our suffering with a story. Still, if you want, go ahead. 

MENENIUS

There was a time when all the body's members Rebell'd against the belly, thus accused it: That only like a gulf it did remain I' the midst o' the body, idle and unactive, Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel, And, mutually participate, did minister Unto the appetite and affection common Of the whole body. The belly answer'd—

MENENIUS

Once upon a time, all the body's other parts rebelled against the belly and accused it of being just a bottomless pit in the middle of the body that hoards all the food. It does nothing, while all the other parts of the body have a role: they see and hear, think, speak, walk, touch, and by working together, these parts contribute to the greater good of the whole body. The belly answered—

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, sir, what answer made the belly?

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, sir? What did the belly answer?

MENENIUS

Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile, Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus— For, look you, I may make the belly smile As well as speak—it tauntingly replied To the discontented members, the mutinous parts That envied his receipt; even so most fitly As you malign our senators for that They are not such as you.

MENENIUS

Sir, I shall tell you. With a belly laugh—the kind of laugh which never came from the lungs, but like this, see? [He laughs deeply] For look, I can make the belly laugh as well as rumble—it replied sarcastically to the other parts of the body, the parts which envied the belly's food—just the way you are criticizing our senators for being different from you. 

FIRST CITIZEN

Your belly's answer? What! The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye, The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier, Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter. With other muniments and petty helps In this our fabric, if that they—

FIRST CITIZEN

Well? What did your belly answer? The majestic head, the careful eye, the wise heart, the strong arm, the swift leg, the tongue which speaks. With other bits and minor assistants in this our skin, if they—

MENENIUS

What then?'Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? what then?

MENENIUS

What, then? You want to interrupt me and tell your own story? What then? What then?

FIRST CITIZEN

Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,Who is the sink o' the body,—

FIRST CITIZEN

If all those hard-working body parts are dragged down by the greedy belly, that garbage-pit of the body—

MENENIUS

Well, what then?

MENENIUS

Well, what then?

FIRST CITIZEN

The former agents, if they did complain,What could the belly answer?

FIRST CITIZEN

If those other parts did complain, what could the belly possibly say in its defense?

MENENIUS

I will tell youIf you'll bestow a small—of what you have little—Patience awhile, you'll hear the belly's answer.

MENENIUS

I'll tell you, if you can give me just a little bit of patience—and I know you don't have much—you'll hear the belly's answer.

FIRST CITIZEN

Ye're long about it.

FIRST CITIZEN

You're taking long enough.

MENENIUS

Note me this, good friend; Your most grave belly was deliberate, Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer'd: 'True is it, my incorporate friends,' quoth he, 'That I receive the general food at first, Which you do live upon; and fit it is, Because I am the store-house and the shop Of the whole body: but, if you do remember, I send it through the rivers of your blood, Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o' the brain; And, through the cranks and offices of man, The strongest nerves and small inferior veins From me receive that natural competency Whereby they live: and though that all at once, You, my good friends,'—this says the belly, mark me,—

MENENIUS

Listen to me, my friend. The belly was was quite serious, and careful in his answer—unlike his rowdy accusers—and answered like this: "It's true, friends of my body," he said, "That I receive the food we all depend on first, but of course I do: I'm the body's storage and its grocery store. But don't forget that I distribute nutrients into the rivers of your blood, and to the heart, and to the brain; it is I who send that energy everywhere, into all the working parts of a man. Both the strongest nerves and the tiniest little veins get their livelihood from me. And despite all of that, you really want to say to me"—the belly says this, just to be clear—

FIRST CITIZEN

Ay, sir; well, well.

FIRST CITIZEN

Sure, sir; go on.

MENENIUS

'Though all at once cannot See what I do deliver out to each, Yet I can make my audit up, that all From me do back receive the flour of all, And leave me but the bran.' What say you to't?

MENENIUS

"Though you can't all see that I am giving out to you, I can tally it up and show you that you are getting the best, while I'm keeping just the leftovers for myself." What do you say to all that?

FIRST CITIZEN

It was an answer: how apply you this?

FIRST CITIZEN

It was an answer, I guess, but what are you trying to say?

MENENIUS

The senators of Rome are this good belly, And you the mutinous members; for examine Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly Touching the weal o' the common, you shall find No public benefit which you receive But it proceeds or comes from them to you And no way from yourselves. What do you think, You, the great toe of this assembly?

MENENIUS

The senators of Rome are this good belly, and you are the rioting body parts. Just think about what the senators really do—think also about what the common people do—and you'll find that there's no good thing you receive that doesn't come from them. What do you think of that, you, big toe of this group?

FIRST CITIZEN

I the great toe! why the great toe?

FIRST CITIZEN

Why am I the big toe?

MENENIUS

For that, being one o' the lowest, basest, poorest, Of this most wise rebellion, thou go'st foremost: Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run, Lead'st first to win some vantage. But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs: Rome and her rats are at the point of battle; The one side must have bale.

MENENIUS

Well, because as one of the lowest and poorest of this most wise rebellion, you go first. You, wretched man, who are the lowest-born of this whole group, are trying to gain something by leading them. Well, you'd better get your bats and clubs ready: if you rats are really going to fight Rome, one side is going to wind up hurt.

Enter CAIUS MARCIUS

MENENIUS

Hail, noble Marcius!

MENENIUS

Welcome, honorable Marcius!

MARCIUS

Thanks. What's the matter, you dissentious rogues, That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, Make yourselves scabs?

MARCIUS

Thanks. What's the matter, you rebellious good-for-nothings, that, on the whim of your opinions, become troublemakers like this?

FIRST CITIZEN

We have ever your good word.

FIRST CITIZEN

You always have the nicest things to say about us.

MARCIUS

He that will give good words to thee will flatter Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs, That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you, The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you, Where he should find you lions, finds you hares; Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no, Than is the coal of fire upon the ice, Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is To make him worthy whose offence subdues him And curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness Deserves your hate; and your affections are A sick man's appetite, who desires most that Which would increase his evil. He that depends Upon your favours swims with fins of lead And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust Ye? With every minute you do change a mind, And call him noble that was now your hate, Him vile that was your garland. What's the matter, That in these several places of the city You cry against the noble senate, who, Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else Would feed on one another? What's their seeking?

MARCIUS

Anyone who would compliment you would flatter you terribly. What do you want, you dogs, that like neither peace nor war? War scares you, peace makes you too confident in yourselves. Anyone that trusts you finds cowards where they might hope for brave men. They find idiots where they might hope for scholars. You're about as reliable as a snowball on the sun, or a coal of fire on ice. The only thing you're good at is celebrating criminals and then cursing justice. You hate great men because they're great, and you indulge only in vices. Anyone relying on you is trying to swim with lead weights or cut down trees with grass; they only slow themselves down. Go hang yourselves! Trust you? With every minute you change your mind: you suddenly hate someone you loved, or want to honor someone you hated just moments ago. What's your problem now, that you're up in arms against the senate around the city—the very senate whose leadership, with the blessing of the god,s keeps you from killing each other?

  [To MENENIUS] What do they want?

MENENIUS

For corn at their own rates; whereof, they say,The city is well stored.

MENENIUS

They're asking to buy corn at a price they would determine. They say the city has plenty of it. 

MARCIUS

Hang 'em! They say! They'll sit by the fire, and presume to know What's done i' the Capitol; who's like to rise, Who thrives and who declines; side factions and give out Conjectural marriages; making parties strong And feebling such as stand not in their liking Below their cobbled shoes. They say there's grain enough! Would the nobility lay aside their ruth, And let me use my sword, I'll make a quarry With thousands of these quarter'd slaves, as high As I could pick my lance.

MARCIUS

Oh, let them go hang themselves! They say? They'll sit by the fire in their homes, and presume to know what's going on in the Capitol. They think they know who's on the way up, who's succeeding and who's failing; they take sides and announce alliances, making political parties strong and weak at a whim. They say there's grain enough! I wish the senate would stop being so compassionate and let me use my sword to resolve this; I'd kill these idiots and make a pile of them as high as my sword.

MENENIUS

Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded; For though abundantly they lack discretion, Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you, What says the other troop?

MENENIUS

No, these men are almost completely persuaded to stand down. Although they are terribly rowdy and rude, they're also terribly cowardly. But what about the other rebellious groups?

MARCIUS

They are dissolved: hang 'em! They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs, That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat, That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds They vented their complainings; which being answer'd, And a petition granted them, a strange one— To break the heart of generosity, And make bold power look pale— they threw their caps As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon, Shouting their emulation.

MARCIUS

They've all dispersed: hang 'em! They said they were very hungry, begged using frilly, proverbial language—that hunger broke stone walls, that even dogs must eat, that meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent corn for poor as well as rich—they complained with trash like this. When they were given an option—a strange option, and far too generous—they threw their hats in the air as though they meant to hang them on the horns of the moon, shouting in celebration.

MENENIUS

What is granted them?

MENENIUS

What option were they given?

MARCIUS

Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms, Of their own choice: one's Junius Brutus, Sicinius Velutus, and I know not— 'Sdeath! The rabble should have first unroof'd the city, Ere so prevail'd with me: it will in time Win upon power and throw forth greater themes For insurrection's arguing.

MARCIUS

Five representatives of their own choice to defend their idiotic ideas. One is Junius Brutus, Sicinius Velutus, and I don't know the rest. Forget it! The mob should've destroyed the city before they ever got so much from me. It will be a disaster, and only make more conflict in the senate.

MENENIUS

This is strange.

MENENIUS

This is strange.

MARCIUS

Go, get you home, you fragments!

MARCIUS

Go, get out of here, you rabble-rousers!

Enter a Messenger, hastily

MESSENGER

Where's Caius Marcius?

MESSENGER

Where's Caius Marcius?

MARCIUS

Here: what's the matter?

MARCIUS

I'm here, what's the matter?

MESSENGER

The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.

MESSENGER

The news is, sir, that the Volsces  are preparing to attack us. 

MARCIUS

I am glad on 't: then we shall ha' means to ventOur musty superfluity. See, our best elders.

MARCIUS

Good! It will give us a way to get rid of this moldy excess. Here come our best senators. 

Enter COMINIUS, TITUS LARTIUS, and other Senators; JUNIUS BRUTUS and SICINIUS VELUTUS

FIRST SENATOR

Marcius, 'tis true that you have lately told us;The Volsces are in arms.

FIRST SENATOR

Marcius, what you warned us about recently has come true: it looks like the Volsces are getting ready to attack. 

MARCIUS

They have a leader, Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to 't. I sin in envying his nobility, And were I any thing but what I am, I would wish me only he.

MARCIUS

They have a leader, Tullus Aufidius, that will really give you a hard time. I know I shouldn't, but I admire his strength; if I had to be anyone but myself, I would wish to be him

COMINIUS

You have fought together.

COMINIUS

So you've fought him before?

MARCIUS

Were half to half the world by the ears and he. Upon my party, I'd revolt to make Only my wars with him: he is a lion That I am proud to hunt.

MARCIUS

If the whole world were at war, and he were on my side, I would change sides just to fight with him. He is the only man worth fighting with.

FIRST SENATOR

Then, worthy Marcius,Attend upon Cominius to these wars.

FIRST SENATOR

Then, worthy Marcius, go with Cominius to war.

COMINIUS

It is your former promise.

COMINIUS

It is what you promised before.

MARCIUS

Sir, it is; And I am constant. Titus Lartius, thou Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face. What, art thou stiff? stand'st out?

MARCIUS

Sir, it is; and I will not break my promise. Titus Lartius, you'll see me fight with Tullus once again. What's wrong, are you dead? Are you upset?

TITUS

No, Caius Marcius;I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with t'other,Ere stay behind this business.

TITUS

No, Caius Marcius; I'll lean upon one crutch and fight with the other, rather than stay behind while you are fighting. 

MENENIUS

O, true-bred!

MENENIUS

Oh, you pure-bred Roman!

FIRST SENATOR

Your company to the Capitol; where, I know,Our greatest friends attend us.

FIRST SENATOR

Come with me to the Capitol, where, I know, our best friends are waiting for us.

TITUS

[To COMINIUS] Lead you on. [To MARCIUS] Follow Cominius; We must follow you; Right worthy you priority.

TITUS

[To COMINIUS] Take us there. 

[To MARCIUS] Follow Cominius, and we must follow you, who most deserve to lead us.

COMINIUS

Noble Marcius!

COMINIUS

Noble Marcius!

FIRST SENATOR

[To the Citizens] Hence to your homes; be gone!

FIRST SENATOR

[To the citizens] Get to your homes; be gone!

MARCIUS

Nay, let them follow:The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thitherTo gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,Your valour puts well forth: pray, follow.

MARCIUS

No, let them come along! The Volsces have plenty of corn; take these rats there to gnaw at it. Show us your bravery, you great rebels: pray, follow. 

Citizens steal away. Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS

SICINIUS

Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?

SICINIUS

Has there ever been anyone as arrogant as Marcius?

BRUTUS

He has no equal.

BRUTUS

No, he has no equal.

SICINIUS

When we were chosen tribunes for the people,—

SICINIUS

When we were chosen as representatives for the people—

BRUTUS

Mark'd you his lip and eyes?

BRUTUS

Did you see his expressions?

SICINIUS

Nay. but his taunts.

SICINIUS

No, but I heard him taunt us.

BRUTUS

Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods.

BRUTUS

When he's angry, he would taunt the gods themselves.

SICINIUS

Be-mock the modest moon.

SICINIUS

He'd mock the moon.

BRUTUS

The present wars devour him: he is grownToo proud to be so valiant.

BRUTUS

The wars have completely ruined him: he's become too proud to be so brave.

SICINIUS

Such a nature, Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow Which he treads on at noon: but I do wonder His insolence can brook to be commanded Under Cominius.

SICINIUS

That kind of man, who has been flattered with success, looks down on everything, even his own shadow. I wonder if he can deal with being under Cominius's command.

BRUTUS

Fame, at the which he aims, In whom already he's well graced, can not Better be held nor more attain'd than by A place below the first: for what miscarries Shall be the general's fault, though he perform To the utmost of a man, and giddy censure Will then cry out of Marcius 'O if he Had borne the business!'

BRUTUS

Actually, he's in the best position for acquiring fame—which is all he wants, and all he's ever wanted—because fame is most easily gotten as the second in command. The leader always has to take responsibility for what goes wrong, even if he does his best, and then Maricus will cry out, "If only I had been in charge!"

SICINIUS

Besides, if things go well,Opinion that so sticks on Marcius shallOf his demerits rob Cominius.

SICINIUS

Right—and then if things go well, Marcius will get all the credit Cominius deserves.

BRUTUS

Come: Half all Cominius' honours are to Marcius. Though Marcius earned them not, and all his faults To Marcius shall be honours, though indeed In aught he merit not.

BRUTUS

Indeed: half of what Cominius does right will be attributed to Marcius even if he doesn't deserve it, and everything Cominus does wrong will be somehow made Marcius's honors, just the same.

SICINIUS

Let's hence, and hear How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion, More than his singularity, he goes Upon this present action.

SICINIUS

Lets go and hear how things are announced, and how—beyond just his strangeness—he takes action.

BRUTUS

Lets along.

BRUTUS

Let's go.

Exeunt

Coriolanus
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