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Coriolanus

Coriolanus Translation Act 1, Scene 3

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Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA. They set them down on two low stools, and sew

VOLUMNIA

I pray you, daughter, sing; or express yourself in a more comfortable sort: if my son were my husband, I should freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he won honour than in the embracements of his bed where he would show most love. When yet he was but tender-bodied and the only son of my womb, when youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way, when for a day of kings' entreaties a mother should not sell him an hour from her beholding, I, considering how honour would become such a person—that it was no better than picture-like to hang by the wall—if renown made it not stir, was pleased to let him seek danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child than now in first seeing he had proved himself a man.

VOLUMNIA

Why don't you sing, daughter, or at least speak cheerfully? If my son Caius Marcius were my husband, as he is yours, I would rejoice more when he is gone to win honor in battle than I would in his embrace when he would most show love. When he was just a baby, my first son, so young and beautiful that he won everyone's attention and was impossible to give up even for a moment—even then, thinking of his incredible potential, I sent him willingly to a cruel war. When he returned, he had gained resolve, and had already saved the life of another man. I tell you, my daughter, I was not more happy to know that I had born a son than I was in seeing that he had proven himself a man.

VIRGILIA

But had he died in the business, madam; how then?

VIRGILIA

But what if he had died in that war; how would you have felt then?

VOLUMNIA

Then his good report should have been my son; I therein would have found issue. Hear me profess sincerely: had I a dozen sons, each in my love alike and none less dear than thine and my good Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.

VOLUMNIA

Then the news of his bravery would have taken his place. Listen; I'm being serious: if I had a dozen sons, each of them loved as much as I love our Marcius, I would rather have eleven die nobly for their country than one to die lazy and indulgent, doing nothing for the good of anyone.

Enter a Gentlewoman

GENTLEWOMAN

Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.

GENTLEWOMAN

Madam, the Lady Valeria has arrived to visit you. 

VIRGILIA

Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.

VIRGILIA

Please excuse me; let me go and rest in my room.

VOLUMNIA

Indeed, you shall not. Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum, See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair, As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him: Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus: 'Come on, you cowards! you were got in fear, Though you were born in Rome:' his bloody brow With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes, Like to a harvest-man that's task'd to mow Or all or lose his hire.

VOLUMNIA

No, you may not. I can practically hear your husband's drum; I can imagine him pulling Aufidius down by his hair as a bear would kill children, the Volsces running in fear. I can see him striding forward and calling out: "Come on, you cowards! You were conceived by weaklings, though you were born in Rome!" He wipes his bloody brow with an armored hand, and there he goes, like a farmer at harvest driven to cut all the grain or lose his job. 

VIRGILIA

His bloody brow! O Jupiter, no blood!

VIRGILIA

His bloody brow! By the gods, no blood!

VOLUMNIA

Away, you fool! it more becomes a man Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba, When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood At Grecian sword, contemning. Tell Valeria, We are fit to bid her welcome.

VOLUMNIA

Get away, you fool! Blood is more appropriate to a brave man than gold in his trophy. The breasts of Hecuba, mother of Hector, were not more beautiful than Hector's forehead when it bled from the blow of a Greek sword.

 [To the GENTLEWOMAN] Tell Valeria we're ready to greet her.

Exit Gentlewoman

VIRGILIA

Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!

VIRGILIA

Heaven protect my husband from the deadly Aufidius!

VOLUMNIA

He'll beat Aufidius 'head below his kneeAnd tread upon his neck.

VOLUMNIA

He'll crush Aufidius's head beneath his knee and stomp on his neck.

Enter VALERIA, with an Usher and Gentlewoman

VALERIA

My ladies both, good day to you.

VALERIA

My ladies, hello to you both.

VOLUMNIA

Sweet madam.

VOLUMNIA

Sweet lady. 

VIRGILIA

I am glad to see your ladyship.

VIRGILIA

I am glad to see you, ma'am.

VALERIA

How do you both? you are manifest house-keepers.What are you sewing here? A fine spot, in goodfaith. How does your little son?

VALERIA

How are you? You are such perfect house-wives. What are you sewing? That's a great pattern, seriously. How is your little boy?

VIRGILIA

I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.

VIRGILIA

Thank you, ma'am. He's doing well.

VOLUMNIA

He had rather see the swords, and hear a drum, thanlook upon his school-master.

VOLUMNIA

He would rather play with swords and hear a war drum than study.

VALERIA

O' my word, the father's son: I'll swear,'tis a very pretty boy. O' my troth, I looked upon him o' Wednesday half an hour together: has such a confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded butterfly: and when he caught it, he let it go again; and after it again; and over and over he comes, and again; catched it again; or whether his fall enraged him, or how 'twas, he did so set his teeth and tear it; O, I warrant it, how he mammocked it!

VALERIA

Oh, my word, just like his father! I say, he's a very handsome boy. To be honest, I was watching him Wednesday for at least half an hour: he has such a bold look about him. I saw him run after a golden butterfly, and when he caught it, he let it go again, and then chased it again; over and over he comes, and again, caught it again, and then suddenly, maybe his stumble enraged him, or maybe—I don't know why—he chomped down on the butterfly with his teeth and tore it up; Oh, I do say, how he chewed upon it!

VOLUMNIA

One on 's father's moods.

VOLUMNIA

He is moody and abrupt, just like his father.

VALERIA

Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.

VALERIA

Indeed, it's true: he's a magnificent child.

VIRGILIA

A crack, madam.

VIRGILIA

A good egg, ma'am.

VALERIA

Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you playthe idle husewife with me this afternoon.

VALERIA

Come on, enough sewing; why don't you spend the afternoon with me?

VIRGILIA

No, good madam; I will not out of doors.

VIRGILIA

No, ma'am; I can't go out.

VALERIA

Not out of doors!

VALERIA

You can't go out?

VOLUMNIA

She shall, she shall.

VOLUMNIA

Oh, she'll go, she'll go.

VIRGILIA

Indeed, no, by your patience; I'll not over thethreshold till my lord return from the wars.

VIRGILIA

 No, if you don't mind. I can't bear to leave the house until my husband gets back from the war.

VALERIA

Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably: come,you must go visit the good lady that lies in.

VALERIA

Ugh, you're holding yourself down for no good reason: come on, go spend the afternoon with our pregnant friend. 

VIRGILIA

I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her withmy prayers; but I cannot go thither.

VIRGILIA

I wish her the best, and please send her my prayers, but I simply can't go.

VOLUMNIA

Why, I pray you?

VOLUMNIA

Why not? Explain yourself.

VIRGILIA

'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.

VIRGILIA

It's not that I'm lazy, nor that I don't love her. 

VALERIA

You would be another Penelope: yet, they say, all the yarn she spun in Ulysses' absence did but fill Ithaca full of moths. Come; I would your cambric were sensible as your finger, that you might leave pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.

VALERIA

You want to be like Penelope? Think of the good waiting did her; they say all the yarn she spun while Ulysses was away just filled the island of Ithaca with moths. Come on, I wish your sewing linen could feel the pain of your needle, so that you'd leave it alone out of pity and come with us. Come on!

VIRGILIA

No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I will not forth.

VIRGILIA

No, ma'am, pardon me; I truly will not go.

VALERIA

In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell youexcellent news of your husband.

VALERIA

Honestly! Come with me, and I'll give you good news of your husband.

VIRGILIA

O, good madam, there can be none yet.

VIRGILIA

O, ma'am, there can't possibly be news yet.

VALERIA

Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news fromhim last night.

VALERIA

Seriously, I'm not kidding; news from him came in just last night.

VIRGILIA

Indeed, madam?

VIRGILIA

Really?

VALERIA

In earnest, it's true; I heard a senator speak it. Thus it is: the Volsces have an army forth; against whom Cominius the general is gone, with one part of our Roman power: your lord and Titus Lartius are set down before their city Corioli; they nothing doubt prevailing and to make it brief wars. This is true, on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.

VALERIA

Yes, it's really true; I heard a senator share the news. It's this: the Volsces have sent out their army, and Cominius has gone to fight them with a part of our force. Your husband and Titus Lartius are encamped in front of Corioli. They are sure to win and end this quickly. This is all true, on my honor. So, please, don't worry and come along with us!

VIRGILIA

Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in everything hereafter.

VIRGILIA

Forgive me, ma'am. In anything other than this, I would follow your lead, but for now I just can't.

VOLUMNIA

Let her alone, lady: as she is now, she will butdisease our better mirth.

VOLUMNIA

Oh, leave her alone. In this mood, she'd just drag down our high spirits. 

VALERIA

In troth, I think she would. Fare you well, then.Come, good sweet lady. Prithee, Virgilia, turn thysolemness out o' door. and go along with us.

VALERIA

Yes, I think she really would. Farewell, then. Come, my good friend. Oh, once more, Virgilia, get your sad self out of the house and come along with us.

VIRGILIA

No, at a word, madam; indeed, I must not. I wishyou much mirth.

VIRGILIA

In a word, no. I just can't. I hope you have a good time, though.

VALERIA

Well, then, farewell.

VALERIA

Well, then, farewell. 

Exeunt

Coriolanus
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