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Coriolanus

Coriolanus Translation Act 4, Scene 7

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Enter AUFIDIUS and his Lieutenant

AUFIDIUS

Do they still fly to the Roman?

AUFIDIUS

Are our men still flocking to Coriolanus?

LIEUTENANT

I do not know what witchcraft's in him, but Your soldiers use him as the grace 'fore meat, Their talk at table, and their thanks at end; And you are darken'd in this action, sir, Even by your own.

LIEUTENANT

I don't know what magic he has, but your soldiers treat him like the prayer before a meal, their conversation over dinner, and their thanks at the meal's end. You are made to look weaker by all this sir, even in the eyes of your own men.

AUFIDIUS

I cannot help it now, Unless, by using means, I lame the foot Of our design. He bears himself more proudlier, Even to my person, than I thought he would When first I did embrace him: yet his nature In that's no changeling; and I must excuse What cannot be amended.

AUFIDIUS

I can't help it now without shooting myself in the foot and ruining our plans. He carries himself more proudly, even to me, than I thought he would when I first welcomed him. But, to be fair, it's not as though he's acting any differently now than he did then, and I must excuse what can't be changed.

LIEUTENANT

Yet I wish, sir,— I mean for your particular,— you had not Join'd in commission with him; but either Had borne the action of yourself, or else To him had left it solely.

LIEUTENANT

Yet I wish, sir—I mean, for your sake—that you hadn't given him half your authority, but either kept control to entirely yourself or given it entirely to him.

AUFIDIUS

I understand thee well; and be thou sure, when he shall come to his account, he knows not What I can urge against him. Although it seems, And so he thinks, and is no less apparent To the vulgar eye, that he bears all things fairly. And shows good husbandry for the Volscian state, Fights dragon-like, and does achieve as soon As draw his sword; yet he hath left undone That which shall break his neck or hazard mine, Whene'er we come to our account.

AUFIDIUS

I understand what you mean, and believe me, when push comes to shove, he doesn't know what I can bring to bear against him, even though it seems—and so he and others think—that everything is going well for him. But he is taking good care of the Volscian nation, fights dragon-like, and wins battles just by drawing his sword. He hasn't done anything which would break his neck or cause me to risk mine, whenever we are put to the test.

LIEUTENANT

Sir, I beseech you, think you he'll carry Rome?

LIEUTENANT

Sir, tell me, do you think he'll conquer Rome?

AUFIDIUS

All places yield to him ere he sits down; And the nobility of Rome are his: The senators and patricians love him too: The tribunes are no soldiers; and their people Will be as rash in the repeal, as hasty To expel him thence. I think he'll be to Rome As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it By sovereignty of nature. First he was A noble servant to them; but he could not Carry his honours even: whether 'twas pride, Which out of daily fortune ever taints The happy man; whether defect of judgment, To fail in the disposing of those chances Which he was lord of; or whether nature, Not to be other than one thing, not moving From the casque to the cushion, but commanding peace Even with the same austerity and garb As he controll'd the war; but one of these— As he hath spices of them all, not all, For I dare so far free him— made him fear'd, So hated, and so banish'd: but he has a merit, To choke it in the utterance. So our virtues Lie in the interpretation of the time: And power, unto itself most commendable, Hath not a tomb so evident as a chair To extol what it hath done. One fire drives out one fire; one nail, one nail; Rights by rights falter, strengths by strengths do fail. Come, let's away. When, Caius, Rome is thine, Thou art poor'st of all; then shortly art thou mine.

AUFIDIUS

All places surrender to him before he's done. The nobility of Rome support him; the senators and patricians love him too. The tribunes aren't soldiers, and their people will be as quick in welcoming him back as they were hasty to get rid of him in the first place. I think he'll be to Rome like an osprey to a fish—he'll conquer it by his very nature. First he was a noble servant to them, but even then they wouldn't give him honor. It's hard to say why they rejected him—whether it was his pride, which taints otherwise good men; whether it was his poor judgement in not seizing the opportunities he was given; or whether it was his nature, which is to be one thing only, unable to take of a soldier's helmet and sit on a statesman's cushion, attempting to command a city at peace the way he would have commanded an army at war. Somehow, one of these—and he has bits of all of them, though he doesn't embody any one fully—made him so feared and so hated that they banished him. But he has other merits so great a man will choke attempting to utter them. Our virtues are subject to interpretation, and power, which in itself seems good, is doomed to fall into a tomb as much as to be talked about. [Reciting a common axiom] "One fire drives out one fire; one nail, one nail; rights by rights falter, strengths by strengths do fail." Let's go.

 [As though to Coriolanus,] When Rome falls, Caius, you'll be the poorest of them all. Shortly after, you'll be mine.

Exeunt

Coriolanus
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