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Coriolanus

Coriolanus Translation Act 3, Scene 2

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Enter CORIOLANUS with Patricians

CORIOLANUS

Let them puff all about mine ears, present me Death on the wheel or at wild horses' heels, Or pile ten hills on the Tarpeian rock, That the precipitation might down stretch Below the beam of sight, yet will I still Be thus to them.

CORIOLANUS

Let them say what they will. They can threaten me with death on the rack or threaten to drag me behind wild horses, or pile ten hills on top of the Tarpeian cliff so that the rain stretches down out of sight, but still I will resist them.

A PATRICIAN

You do the nobler.

SeNator

In doing so, you are honorable.

CORIOLANUS

I muse my mother Does not approve me further, who was wont To call them woollen vassals, things created To buy and sell with groats, to show bare heads In congregations, to yawn, be still and wonder, When one but of my ordinance stood up To speak of peace or war.

CORIOLANUS

I wonder why my mother isn't even more proud of me. She always called the people dumb servants, machines made to buy and sell, just bodies in the room, which yawn and silently wonder when someone with my strength stood up to speak of peace or war.

Enter VOLUMNIA

CORIOLANUS

I talk of you: Why did you wish me milder? would you have me False to my nature? Rather say I play The man I am.

CORIOLANUS

I'm talking about you: why did you urge me to calm down? Would you have me be someone I'm not? Rather say I play the man I am.

VOLUMNIA

O, sir, sir, sir,I would have had you put your power well on,Before you had worn it out.

VOLUMNIA

Oh, sir, sir, sir, I wish you'd actually gotten power before you'd used it up.

CORIOLANUS

Let go.

CORIOLANUS

Leave off.

VOLUMNIA

You might have been enough the man you are, With striving less to be so; lesser had been The thwartings of your dispositions, if You had not show'd them how ye were disposed Ere they lack'd power to cross you.

VOLUMNIA

You'd be just as much the man you are if you wouldn't try so hard to be that man. People wouldn't work so hard against you if you hadn't shown them how you felt while they still had the power to stop you.

CORIOLANUS

Let them hang.

CORIOLANUS

To hell with them.

A PATRICIAN

Ay, and burn too.

Senator

Yeah, and let them burn, too.

Enter MENENIUS and Senators

MENENIUS

Come, come, you have been too rough, somethingtoo rough;You must return and mend it.

MENENIUS

Come on, you have been too rude to them, far too rude; you have to go back and apologize.

FIRST SENATOR

There's no remedy;Unless, by not so doing, our good cityCleave in the midst, and perish.

FIRST SENATOR

There's no use; except that if he doesn't, our city will divide itself in half and be destroyed.

VOLUMNIA

Pray, be counsell'd: I have a heart as little apt as yours, But yet a brain that leads my use of anger To better vantage.

VOLUMNIA

Please, listen: although my heart is not as strong as yours, I have a brain to guide my fury into better advantages for us.

MENENIUS

Well said, noble woman? Before he should thus stoop to the herd, but that The violent fit o' the time craves it as physic For the whole state, I would put mine armour on, Which I can scarcely bear.

MENENIUS

Well said, noble woman. Before Coriolanus should bow to the crowd—which he should never do unless these violent times absolutely required it—I feel as though I should put my armor on, which pains me.

CORIOLANUS

What must I do?

CORIOLANUS

What must I do?

MENENIUS

Return to the tribunes.

MENENIUS

Return to the tribunes.

CORIOLANUS

Well, what then? what then?

CORIOLANUS

Well, what then? What then?

MENENIUS

Repent what you have spoke.

MENENIUS

Apologize for what you've said.

CORIOLANUS

For them! I cannot do it to the gods;Must I then do't to them?

CORIOLANUS

To them? I cannot apologize to the gods, and you want me to apologize to them?

VOLUMNIA

You are too absolute; Though therein you can never be too noble, But when extremities speak. I have heard you say, Honour and policy, like unsever'd friends, I' the war do grow together: grant that, and tell me, In peace what each of them by the other lose, That they combine not there.

VOLUMNIA

You are too stubborn. In this you are also noble, except in bizarre situations like this. I've heard you say before that honor and judgement become inseparable friends in the course of war. Think of that, and tell me how you have not lost both by failing to combine them here, in peacetime.

CORIOLANUS

Tush, tush!

CORIOLANUS

Nonsense!

MENENIUS

A good demand.

MENENIUS

She makes a good point.

VOLUMNIA

If it be honour in your wars to seem The same you are not, which, for your best ends, You adopt your policy, how is it less or worse, That it shall hold companionship in peace With honour, as in war, since that to both It stands in like request?

VOLUMNIA

If it's honorable at war to adapt yourself to your conditions, how is it worse that you should do the same—be flexible—in a time of peace?

CORIOLANUS

Why force you this?

CORIOLANUS

Why are you forcing this point?

VOLUMNIA

Because that now it lies you on to speak To the people; not by your own instruction, Nor by the matter which your heart prompts you, But with such words that are but rooted in Your tongue, though but bastards and syllables Of no allowance to your bosom's truth. Now, this no more dishonours you at all Than to take in a town with gentle words, Which else would put you to your fortune and The hazard of much blood. I would dissemble with my nature where My fortunes and my friends at stake required I should do so in honour: I am in this, Your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles; And you will rather show our general louts How you can frown than spend a fawn upon 'em, For the inheritance of their loves and safeguard Of what that want might ruin.

VOLUMNIA

Because the pressure is now on you to speak to the people, and to do so not the way you normally might, nor just however your heart tells you to, but to speak useful words, even if you don't truly believe them. This is no more dishonor to you than to use gentle words to capture a town which would otherwise risk the lives of many men to capture. If I had to be someone I wasn't when my friends and fortunes were at stake, it would be honorable for me to do so. In this case, I am your wife, your son, these senators, the nobles; would you rather show the common people that you can frown than just once compliment them for Rome's sake?

MENENIUS

Noble lady! Come, go with us; s peak fair: you may salve so, Not what is dangerous present, but the loss Of what is past.

MENENIUS

Noble lady! Come along with us. Talk to him: if you can calm him so, we might avoid not only the dangerous present but also deal with our past conflict.

VOLUMNIA

I prithee now, my son, Go to them, with this bonnet in thy hand; And thus far having stretch'd it—here be with them— Thy knee bussing the stones— for in such business Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant More learned than the ears— waving thy head, Which often, thus, correcting thy stout heart, Now humble as the ripest mulberry That will not hold the handling: or say to them, Thou art their soldier, and being bred in broils Hast not the soft way which, thou dost confess, Were fit for thee to use as they to claim, In asking their good loves, but thou wilt frame Thyself, forsooth, hereafter theirs, so far As thou hast power and person.

VOLUMNIA

I beg you, my son, [She mimics the action of humbly fidgeting with a peasant's cap] go along with this hat in your hand, and having stretched it—do it like this—with your knees on the ground—for in this kind of thing, your behavior is everything, and idiots care more about what they see than what they hear—shaking your head like this a few times, as humble as the ripest mulberry from a tree ready to be picked. Then say to them that you are a soldier in their service, and that since you grew up in the war, you're not very polite, which you confess is really better for this situation. In asking for their approval, just wilt your body like this—seriously—and say that you'll be their servant forever as long as you live.

MENENIUS

This but done, Even as she speaks, why, their hearts were yours; For they have pardons, being ask'd, as free As words to little purpose.

MENENIUS

If you can do this, as she says, they will accept you. They will freely pardon you, if you ask.

VOLUMNIA

Prithee now, Go, and be ruled: although I know thou hadst rather Follow thine enemy in a fiery gulf Than flatter him in a bower. Here is Cominius.

VOLUMNIA

Please now, go and be humble, although I know you'd rather follow an enemy into hell than flatter him in a garden. Here comes Cominius.

Enter COMINIUS

COMINIUS

I have been i' the market-place; and, sir,'tis fitYou make strong party, or defend yourselfBy calmness or by absence: all's in anger.

COMINIUS

I've been in the market, sir, and you'd better go either with a strong guard or defend yourself by calmness or by not going at all: they're pretty angry.

MENENIUS

Only fair speech.

MENENIUS

Just be polite.

COMINIUS

I think 'twill serve, if heCan thereto frame his spirit.

COMINIUS

I think that would work, if he could actually do it.

VOLUMNIA

He must, and willPrithee now, say you will, and go about it.

VOLUMNIA

He must, and will. Listen: say you'll do it, and do it.

CORIOLANUS

Must I go show them my unbarbed sconce? Must I with base tongue give my noble heart A lie that it must bear? Well, I will do't: Yet, were there but this single plot to lose, This mould of Marcius, they to dust should grind it And throw't against the wind. To the market-place! You have put me now to such a part which never I shall discharge to the life.

CORIOLANUS

I have to go bare my uncovered head to them? I have to put a lie upon my conscience? Well, I'll do it. Yet if this were the only land for which I ever fought, let them take my body, grind it to dust, and throw it to the wind. To the market! You're insisting now I play a part which I don't know how I'll ever make believable. 

COMINIUS

Come, come, we'll prompt you.

COMINIUS

Come, come, we'll help you.

VOLUMNIA

I prithee now, sweet son, as thou hast said My praises made thee first a soldier, so, To have my praise for this, perform a part Thou hast not done before.

VOLUMNIA

Please, sweet son, as you have said my praise was what made you a soldier, have my praise for this too and perform a part you've not played before.

CORIOLANUS

Well, I must do't: Away, my disposition, and possess me Some harlot's spirit! my throat of war be turn'd, Which quired with my drum, into a pipe Small as an eunuch, or the virgin voice That babies lulls asleep! the smiles of knaves Tent in my cheeks, and schoolboys' tears take up The glasses of my sight! a beggar's tongue Make motion through my lips, and my arm'd knees, Who bow'd but in my stirrup, bend like his That hath received an alms! I will not do't, Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth And by my body's action teach my mind A most inherent baseness.

CORIOLANUS

Well, I guess I have to do it. Farewell, my self, and let me take on prostitute-like spirit! I'll turn my voice of war, like a drum, into a tiny pipe like the virgin voice that would lull babies to sleep. I'll smile fake smiles, and I'll cry schoolboy's tears. I'll speak like a beggar, and my knees, which until now have only bent in my stirrups, will bend like a man asking for money in the street! [Having briefly considered this, he wavers] I can't do this, or I'll have to betray my own truth and my body will teach my mind to be evil.

VOLUMNIA

At thy choice, then: To beg of thee, it is my more dishonour Than thou of them. Come all to ruin; let Thy mother rather feel thy pride than fear Thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death With as big heart as thou. Do as thou list Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck'dst it from me, But owe thy pride thyself.

VOLUMNIA

It's up to you, then. It's more dishonorable for me to beg you than for you to beg them. Let the world burn; let your mother be the heart of your pride rather than the victim of your foolish stubbornness, for I am as invincible as you. But do whatever you want. Your bravery was mine—you sucked it from me—but your pride is your own.

CORIOLANUS

Pray, be content: Mother, I am going to the market-place; Chide me no more. I'll mountebank their loves, Cog their hearts from them, and come home beloved Of all the trades in Rome. Look, I am going: Commend me to my wife. I'll return consul; Or never trust to what my tongue can do I' the way of flattery further.

CORIOLANUS

Enough. Mother, I am going to the market, stop scolding me. I'll lie for their love, cheat their hearts from them, and come home loved by people of every profession in Rome. Look, I'm going; give my best to my wife. I'll return consul if my tongue has any power at all to flatter. 

VOLUMNIA

Do your will.

VOLUMNIA

Go ahead.

Exit

COMINIUS

Away! the tribunes do attend you: arm yourself To answer mildly; for they are prepared With accusations, as I hear, more strong Than are upon you yet.

COMINIUS

Go! The tribunes are waiting for you. Prepare to answer gently, for they are ready with accusations, I think, even stronger than you've heard so far. 

CORIOLANUS

The word is 'mildly.' Pray you, let us go:Let them accuse me by invention, IWill answer in mine honour.

CORIOLANUS

Like you said, "gently." Please, lets go. Let them make up whatever they want, I'll answer honorably. 

MENENIUS

Ay, but mildly.

MENENIUS

Sure, but gently. 

CORIOLANUS

Well, mildly be it then. Mildly!

CORIOLANUS

Whatever, gently then. Gently!

Exeunt

Coriolanus
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