A line-by-line translation

Coriolanus

Coriolanus Translation Act 2, Scene 1

Line Map Clear Line Map Add

Enter MENENIUS with the two Tribunes of the people, SICINIUS and BRUTUS.

MENENIUS

The augurer tells me we shall have news to-night.

MENENIUS

The prophet tells me we will get news tonight.

BRUTUS

Good or bad?

BRUTUS

Good or bad?

MENENIUS

Not according to the prayer of the people, for theylove not Marcius.

MENENIUS

Well, not the good news the people are praying for, since they don't like Marcius.

SICINIUS

Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.

SICINIUS

Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.

MENENIUS

Pray you, who does the wolf love?

MENENIUS

Tell me then, who does the wolf love?

SICINIUS

The lamb.

SICINIUS

The lamb.

MENENIUS

Ay, to devour him; as the hungry plebeians would thenoble Marcius.

MENENIUS

Right—to devour him: as the hungry people would like to devour noble Marcius.

BRUTUS

He's a lamb indeed, that baes like a bear.

BRUTUS

If he's a lamb, he's one that baas like a bear.

MENENIUS

He's a bear indeed, that lives like a lamb. You twoare old men: tell me one thing that I shall ask you.

MENENIUS

He's a bear that lives like a lamb. You two are old men; answer me one question.

BOTH

Well, sir.

BOTH

Go ahead, sir.

MENENIUS

In what enormity is Marcius poor in, that you twohave not in abundance?

MENENIUS

What small flaw does Marcius have that you two do not have twice over?

BRUTUS

He's poor in no one fault, but stored with all.

BRUTUS

It's not that he has one fault, but all of them.

SICINIUS

Especially in pride.

SICINIUS

He has pride, especially.

BRUTUS

And topping all others in boasting.

BRUTUS

And his boasting is worse than all his other flaws.

MENENIUS

This is strange now: do you two know how you arecensured here in the city, I mean of us o' theright-hand file? do you?

MENENIUS

Well that's weird: do you two know how you are thought of in the city, I mean by those of us in the higher class? Do you?

BOTH

Why, how are we censured?

BOTH

Why, what do they say about us?

MENENIUS

Because you talk of pride now,—will you not be angry?

MENENIUS

Because you're talking of pride, now—you won't be angry if I tell you, will you?

BOTH

Well, well, sir, well.

BOTH

Come on, sir, come on.

MENENIUS

Why, 'tis no great matter; for a very little thief of occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience: give your dispositions the reins, and be angry at your pleasures; at the least if you take it as a pleasure to you in being so. You blame Marcius for being proud?

MENENIUS

It's no big deal. A small occasion will rob you of a great deal of patience: if you let your emotions lead you, you'll be angry at your pleasures if you take pleasure in being angry. You blame Marcius for being proud?

BRUTUS

We do it not alone, sir.

BRUTUS

We're not the only ones who do, sir.

MENENIUS

I know you can do very little alone; for your helps are many, or else your actions would grow wondrous single: your abilities are too infant-like for doing much alone. You talk of pride: O that you could turn your eyes toward the napes of your necks, and make but an interior survey of your good selves! O that you could!

MENENIUS

I know you can do very little alone, for you need a lot of help, or your actions would be awfully small. Your abilities are too much like an infant's for doing much by yourself. You talk of pride: if only you could turn your eyes inward and see yourselves! If only you could!

BRUTUS

What then, sir?

BRUTUS

What would we see, sir?

MENENIUS

Why, then you should discover a brace of unmeriting,proud, violent, testy magistrates, alias fools, asany in Rome.

MENENIUS

Why, you would find a couple of unworthy, proud, violent, grumpy middle-managers—that is, fools—as bad as anyone in Rome.

SICINIUS

Menenius, you are known well enough too.

SICINIUS

Menenius, there's plenty said about you too.

MENENIUS

I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying Tiber in't; said to be something imperfect in favouring the first complaint; hasty and tinder-like upon too trivial motion; one that converses more with the buttock of the night than with the forehead of the morning: what I think I utter, and spend my malice in my breath. Meeting two such wealsmen as you are—I cannot call you Lycurguses— if the drink you give me touch my palate adversely, I make a crooked face at it. I can't say your worships have delivered the matter well, when I find the ass in compound with the major part of your syllables: and though I must be content to bear with those that say you are reverend grave men, yet they lie deadly that tell you you have good faces. If you see this in the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known well enough too? what barm can your bisson conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be known well enough too?

MENENIUS

I am known to be a light-hearted politician—a man who loves a mulled wine with not a drop of water in it; said to be a bit imperfect in taking the first side I hear presented; I can be hasty over small things; I stay up too late and sleep in too long; I say what I think and hold back no mean words. Meeting two statesmen like you—I cannot call you politicians—if you give me a bad drink, I'll scowl at it. I can't say you two have done well if you are mixing up your head and your ass: and though I have to deal with those who say you are serious, great men, they are lying if they say you are pleasant to look at. If you see this in my face, don't you think I know myself? What can your dim wits see in me, if I am known well enough too?

BRUTUS

Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.

BRUTUS

Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.

MENENIUS

You know neither me, yourselves nor any thing. You are ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs: you wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a cause between an orange wife and a fosset-seller; and then rejourn the controversy of three pence to a second day of audience. When you are hearing a matter between party and party, if you chance to be pinched with the colic, you make faces like mummers; set up the bloody flag against all patience; and, in roaring for a chamber-pot, dismiss the controversy bleeding the more entangled by your hearing: all the peace you make in their cause is, calling both the parties knaves. You are a pair of strange ones.

MENENIUS

You don't know me; you don't know anything! You are in politics simply so men will bow to you; you will waste a whole morning listening to a dispute between a fruit seller and a liquor man, and then call that minor dispute back for another wasted day. When you are listening to an argument between two citizens, if you let loose a fart, you twist your faces ignorantly so everyone knows; you make war on everyone's patience, and in roaring that you need to shit, dismiss disputes unfinished and even worse than when they started. The only thing you accomplish is to call everyone dishonest. You're a pair of strange men.

BRUTUS

Come, come, you are well understood to be aperfecter giber for the table than a necessarybencher in the Capitol.

BRUTUS

Come, come, you are well known as a better comedian than a politician.

MENENIUS

Our very priests must become mockers, if they shall encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When you speak best unto the purpose, it is not worth the wagging of your beards; and your beards deserve not so honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's cushion, or to be entombed in an ass's pack- saddle. Yet you must be saying, Marcius is proud; who in a cheap estimation, is worth predecessors since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the best of 'em were hereditary hangmen. God-den to your worships: more of your conversation would infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly plebeians: I will be bold to take my leave of you.

MENENIUS

Our very priests must start to mock, if they encounter men as ridiculous as you. When you finally do address important matters, that conversation is worse than if you'd kept quiet and simply wagged your beards.  Your beards don't even deserve to stuff a seamstress's needle-cushion, or to stuff a donkey's saddle-pillow. Yet here are you are saying Marcius is proud; a man who is worth all your ancestors since Deucalion, though probably many of them were just lowly executioners. Good evening to you; to continue talking with you would make me dumber, you shepherds of ignorant plebeians. I will be rude enough to leave you.

BRUTUS and SICINIUS go aside

Enter VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, and VALERIA

MENENIUS

How now, my as fair as noble ladies,—and the moon,were she earthly, no nobler,—whither do you followyour eyes so fast?

MENENIUS

How are you, my ladies, as beautiful as you are noble—the moon set down on Earth would be no nobler—what are you looking for so urgently?

VOLUMNIA

Honourable Menenius, my boy Marcius approaches; forthe love of Juno, let's go.

VOLUMNIA

Honorable Menenius, my son Marcius is coming into Rome; for the love of God, let's go meet him!

MENENIUS

Ha! Marcius coming home!

MENENIUS

What? Marcius is coming home?

VOLUMNIA

Ay, worthy Menenius; and with most prosperousapprobation.

VOLUMNIA

Yes, worthy Menenius; and with most incredible praise!

MENENIUS

Take my cap, Jupiter, and I thank thee. Hoo!Marcius coming home!

MENENIUS

[Throws his hat in the air] Take my cap, great gods, and praise be! Hoo! Marcius coming home!

VIRGILIA

Nay,'tis true.

VIRGILIA

It's true.

VOLUMNIA

Look, here's a letter from him: the state hathanother, his wife another; and, I think, there's oneat home for you.

VOLUMNIA

Look, here's a letter from him. Another went to the Senate, and another to his wife, and I bet there's another one at home for you.

MENENIUS

I will make my very house reel tonight: a letter forme!

MENENIUS

I will make such a celebration that my very house will reel tonight: a letter for me!

VIRGILIA

Yes, certain, there's a letter for you; I saw't.

VIRGILIA

Yes, there's certainly a letter for you: I saw it.

MENENIUS

A letter for me! it gives me an estate of seven years' health; in which time I will make a lip at the physician: the most sovereign prescription in Galen is but empiricutic, and, to this preservative, of no better report than a horse-drench. Is he not wounded? he was wont to come home wounded.

MENENIUS

A letter for me! It will give seven years of life, at which point I will stick out my tongue at the physician. The most powerful medicine in Galen is quack medicine, and compared to this, no better than horse pills! Is he not wounded? He always seems to come home wounded.

VIRGILIA

O, no, no, no.

VIRGILIA

[With fear and anxiety] Oh, no, no, no. 

VOLUMNIA

O, he is wounded; I thank the gods for't.

VOLUMNIA

Yes, he is wounded, thank the gods.

MENENIUS

So do I too, if it be not too much: brings a'victory in his pocket? the wounds become him.

MENENIUS

So long as he is not too wounded; he brings a victory with him? If so, the wounds suit him. 

VOLUMNIA

On's brows: Menenius, he comes the third time homewith the oaken garland.

VOLUMNIA

He bears a victory on his brows like a wreath; he comes home with the oaken garland for the third time.

MENENIUS

Has he disciplined Aufidius soundly?

MENENIUS

Has he beaten Aufidius thoroughly?

VOLUMNIA

Titus Lartius writes, they fought together, butAufidius got off.

VOLUMNIA

Titus Lartius writes that they fought together, but Aufidius escaped.

MENENIUS

And 'twas time for him too, I'll warrant him that: an he had stayed by him, I would not have been so fidiused for all the chests in Corioli, and the gold that's in them. Is the senate possessed of this?

MENENIUS

That's just like him, I'll give him that. I'd bet all the treasure in Corioli against Aufidius ever finishing a fight with our man Marcius. Does the senate know yet?

VOLUMNIA

Good ladies, let's go. Yes, yes, yes; the senate has letters from the general, wherein he gives my son the whole name of the war: he hath in this action outdone his former deeds doubly

VOLUMNIA

Good ladies, let's go. Yes, yes, yes, the senate has letters from the general in which he honors my son with the name of the whole war: my son has outdone himself this time.

VALERIA

In troth, there's wondrous things spoke of him.

VALERIA

Honestly; they are saying wonderful things about him that are almost hard to believe. 

MENENIUS

Wondrous! ay, I warrant you, and not without histrue purchasing.

MENENIUS

Hard to believe! Yes, I bet, but not without him really doing these things.

VIRGILIA

The gods grant them true!

VIRGILIA

May the gods make these reports true!

VOLUMNIA

True! pow, wow.

VOLUMNIA

True, pfff.

MENENIUS

True! I'll be sworn they are true.Where is he wounded? [To the Tribunes] God save your good worships! Marcius is coming home: he has more cause to be proud. Where is he wounded?

MENENIUS

True! I'd bet my life they're true. Where is he wounded?

[Yelling across the stage to the two senators] God save both of you! Marcius is coming home with even more reason to be proud!

[To the women]
 Where is he wounded?

VOLUMNIA

I' the shoulder and i' the left arm there will belarge cicatrices to show the people, when he shallstand for his place. He received in the repulse ofTarquin seven hurts i' the body.

VOLUMNIA

In the shoulder and in his left arm there will be large scars to show the people when he stands before them. In addition, he has seven other scars from the siege of Tarquin. 

MENENIUS

One i' the neck, and two i' the thigh,—there'snine that I know.

MENENIUS

Also, he has one in the neck and two in the thigh—there are nine scars I know of. 

VOLUMNIA

He had, before this last expedition, twenty-fivewounds upon him.

VOLUMNIA

He had, before this last battle, twenty-five wounds on him. 

MENENIUS

Now it's twenty-seven: every gash was an enemy's grave.

MENENIUS

Now it's twenty-seven, and every gash was an enemy's grave.

A shout and flourish

MENENIUS

Hark! the trumpets.

MENENIUS

Listen! The trumpets!

VOLUMNIA

These are the ushers of Marcius: before him he carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears: Death, that dark spirit, in 's nervy arm doth lie; Which, being advanced, declines, and then men die.

VOLUMNIA

They must be welcoming Marcius: he carries the sounds of trumpets with him and leaves tears behind him. Death, that dark spirit, lies deep within his arm: it is raised, then falls, and men die.

A sennet. Trumpets sound. Enter COMINIUS the general, and TITUS LARTIUS; between them, CORIOLANUS, crowned with an oaken garland; with Captains and Soldiers, and a Herald

HERALD

Know, Rome, that all alone Marcius did fight Within Corioli gates: where he hath won, With fame, a name to Caius Marcius; these In honour follows Coriolanus. Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!

HERALD

Know, Rome, that Marcius fought alone inside the gates of Corioli. There, he has won a new name to go with his fame: welcome to Rome, famed Coriolanus!

Flourish

ALL

Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!

ALL

Welcome to Rome, famed Coriolanus!

CORIOLANUS

No more of this; it does offend my heart:Pray now, no more.

CORIOLANUS

No more of this; I am embarrassed by all this. Please, no more.

COMINIUS

Look, sir, your mother!

COMINIUS

Look, sir, your mother!

CORIOLANUS

O,You have, I know, petition'd all the godsFor my prosperity!

CORIOLANUS

Oh, you have, I know, prayed to all the gods for my success!

Kneels

VOLUMNIA

Nay, my good soldier, up; My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and By deed-achieving honour newly named,— What is it?— Coriolanus must I call thee?— But O, thy wife!

VOLUMNIA

No, my good soldier, stand up. My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and by your deeds newly named—what is it I am supposed to call you now? Coriolanus? But oh, your wife!

CORIOLANUS

My gracious silence, hail! Wouldst thou have laugh'd had I come coffin'd home, That weep'st to see me triumph? Ay, my dear, Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear, And mothers that lack sons.

CORIOLANUS

My gracious silence, greetings! You are crying over my victory; would you have laughed if I came home in a coffin? Oh, my dear, the widows in Corioli have eyes like yours, eyes like mothers who lack sons.

MENENIUS

Now, the gods crown thee!

MENENIUS

Now, the gods crown you!

CORIOLANUS

And live you yet?

CORIOLANUS

[To MENENIUS] And you're still around?

CORIOLANUS

O my sweet lady, pardon.

CORIOLANUS

[To VALERIA] Oh my sweet lady, forgive me.

VOLUMNIA

I know not where to turn: O, welcome home:And welcome, general: and ye're welcome all.

VOLUMNIA

I don't know where to turn; oh, welcome home, and welcome general, welcome all!

MENENIUS

A hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep And I could laugh, I am light and heavy. Welcome. A curse begin at very root on's heart, That is not glad to see thee! You are three That Rome should dote on: yet, by the faith of men, We have some old crab-trees here at home that will not Be grafted to your relish. Yet welcome, warriors: We call a nettle but a nettle and The faults of fools but folly.

MENENIUS

A hundred thousand welcomes. I could weep and I could laugh, I am light and heavy hearted. Welcome. Curse anyone who is not glad to see you! You are three men that Rome should honor; yet, by the nature of men, we have some old grumps here at home that will not be join in our celebration. Nevertheless welcome, warriors. We call thorns just thorns, and the mistakes of fools just foolishness.

COMINIUS

Ever right.

COMINIUS

As we should. 

CORIOLANUS

Menenius ever, ever.

CORIOLANUS

As we should, Menenius, as we should.

HERALD

Give way there, and go on!

HERALD

[Yelling as though at a gathering crowd] Clear a way for them!

CORIOLANUS

[To VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA] Your hand, and yours: Ere in our own house I do shade my head, The good patricians must be visited; From whom I have received not only greetings, But with them change of honours.

CORIOLANUS

[To VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA] Let me take your hand, and yours. Before I can return to our home, I must visit the good senators from whom I have had not just a letter, but also a new set of honors.

VOLUMNIA

I have lived To see inherited my very wishes And the buildings of my fancy: only There's one thing wanting, which I doubt not but Our Rome will cast upon thee.

VOLUMNIA

I have lived to see my dreams made into reality. There's only one thing missing,  which I have no doubt our Rome will honor you with.

CORIOLANUS

Know, good mother,I had rather be their servant in my way,Than sway with them in theirs.

CORIOLANUS

Know, good mother, I had rather serve Rome my way than rule Rome in theirs.

COMINIUS

On, to the Capitol!

COMINIUS

Let's go, to the Capitol!

Flourish. Cornets. Exeunt in state, as before. BRUTUS and SICINIUS come forward

BRUTUS

All tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights Are spectacled to see him: your prattling nurse Into a rapture lets her baby cry While she chats him: the kitchen malkin pins Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck, Clambering the walls to eye him: stalls, bulks, windows, Are smother'd up, leads fill'd, and ridges horsed With variable complexions, all agreeing In earnestness to see him: seld-shown flamens Do press among the popular throngs and puff To win a vulgar station: or veil'd dames Commit the war of white and damask in Their nicely-gawded cheeks to the wanton spoil Of Phoebus' burning kisses: such a pother As if that whatsoever god who leads him Were slily crept into his human powers And gave him graceful posture.

BRUTUS

Everyone speaks of him, and every eye is turned to see him. The gossiping nurse lets her baby cry itself into a fit while she talks about him; the kitchen wench pins her finest blouse around her filthy neck just to climb a wall and see him from afar. Stalls, walls, and windows are covered in people, and men of all sorts watch from hilltops to see him. Seldom-seen priests press in among the crowds of common people and exhaust themselves just to get a glimpse. Veiled and perfumed ladies war with their own beauty and throw themselves into the burning sun. It's such an insane commotion one might think that Coriolanus had become a kind of god.

SICINIUS

On the sudden,I warrant him consul.

SICINIUS

All of a sudden, I can believe he might become consul.

BRUTUS

Then our office may,During his power, go sleep.

BRUTUS

If he gains power, we may lose all our authority.

SICINIUS

He cannot temperately transport his honoursFrom where he should begin and end, but willLose those he hath won.

SICINIUS

But he cannot possibly maintain his cool throughout the nomination process for consul, and so he will lose whatever praise he's won.

BRUTUS

In that there's comfort.

BRUTUS

In that there's comfort.

SICINIUS

Doubt not The commoners, for whom we stand, but they Upon their ancient malice will forget With the least cause these his new honours, which That he will give them make I as little question As he is proud to do't.

SICINIUS

Don't doubt that the commoners we represent still hate him, and that they'll use any excuse to forget these news honors. There's no question he'll crack, and as little question that he'll be proud to crack when he does.

BRUTUS

I heard him swear, Were he to stand for consul, never would he Appear i' the market-place nor on him put The napless vesture of humility; Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds To the people, beg their stinking breaths.

BRUTUS

I heard him swear that—were he to be nominated as consul—he would never appear in the market, nor ever lower himself to be humble; nor would he show his wounds to the people to beg for their approval.

SICINIUS

'Tis right.

SICINIUS

That's right.

BRUTUS

It was his word: O, he would miss it ratherThan carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him,And the desire of the nobles.

BRUTUS

That's what he said, anyway—that he would rather not be consul if it required him  to do anything but appeal to the gentry and the desires of the nobles.

SICINIUS

I wish no betterThan have him hold that purpose and to put itIn execution.

SICINIUS

I want nothing more than for him to remain committed to that.

BRUTUS

'Tis most like he will.

BRUTUS

It's likely that he will. 

SICINIUS

It shall be to him then as our good wills,A sure destruction.

SICINIUS

That impulse will surely destroy him, as will our good wills.

BRUTUS

So it must fall out To him or our authorities. For an end, We must suggest the people in what hatred He still hath held them; that to's power he would Have made them mules, silenced their pleaders and Dispropertied their freedoms, holding them, In human action and capacity, Of no more soul nor fitness for the world Than camels in the war, who have their provand Only for bearing burdens, and sore blows For sinking under them.

BRUTUS

So he'll be destroyed either by himself or by us. In order to be certain of this, we should tell the people that he still hates them; that if he could've, he'd have made them slaves, silenced their representatives and stolen their freedoms. We will tell them that he holds them, in deed and spirit, to be no better than beasts in war, good only for bearing burdens and being whipped.

SICINIUS

This, as you say, suggested At some time when his soaring insolence Shall touch the people which time shall not want, If he be put upon 't; and that's as easy As to set dogs on sheep— will be his fire To kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze Shall darken him for ever.

SICINIUS

And we'll suggest all this some time when his high-and-mighty attitude will have an impact on the people—there will be many opportunities if we goad him, and that's as easy as making a dog herd sheep. His reaction will set their beards aflame, and their fury will ruin him forever.

Enter a Messenger

BRUTUS

What's the matter?

BRUTUS

What's the matter?

MESSENGER

You are sent for to the Capitol. 'Tis thought That Marcius shall be consul: I have seen the dumb men throng to see him and The blind to bear him speak: matrons flung gloves, Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers, Upon him as he pass'd: the nobles bended, As to Jove's statue, and the commons made A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts: I never saw the like.

MESSENGER

Someone in the Capitol has sent for you. There is word that Marcius will be consul; I have seen speechless men crowd around him and blind men beg to hear him speak. Widows threw gloves, ladies and maids threw scarves and handkerchiefs upon him as he passed. Nobles bowed as though to a god's statue, and the commoners thundered with applause and approval. I've never seen anything like it.

BRUTUS

Let's to the Capitol;And carry with us ears and eyes for the time,But hearts for the event.

BRUTUS

Let's go to the Capitol, and though we might act attentive to what's going on, keep our hearts set on our plan to ruin him. 

SICINIUS

Have with you.

SICINIUS

I'm with you.

Exeunt

Coriolanus
Join LitCharts A+ and get the entire Coriolanus Translation as a printable PDF.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
  • Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
  • Downloads of 1157 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Explanations and citation info for 25,560 quotes covering 1157 books
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms