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Coriolanus

Coriolanus Translation Act 5, Scene 1

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Enter MENENIUS, COMINIUS, SICINIUS, BRUTUS, and others

MENENIUS

No, I'll not go: you hear what he hath said Which was sometime his general; who loved him In a most dear particular. He call'd me father: But what o' that? Go, you that banish'd him; A mile before his tent fall down, and knee The way into his mercy: nay, if he coy'd To hear Cominius speak, I'll keep at home.

MENENIUS

No, I will not go. You've heard what he said to someone who was once his general, someone who dearly loved him. He called me "father," but so what? You, who banished him, should go; fall to your knees a mile from his tent, and crawl into his mercy. No, if he wouldn't hear Cominius speak, there's no use in me going.

COMINIUS

He would not seem to know me.

COMINIUS

He acted as though he did not know me.

MENENIUS

Do you hear?

MENENIUS

Hear that?

COMINIUS

Yet one time he did call me by my name: I urged our old acquaintance, and the drops That we have bled together. Coriolanus He would not answer to: forbad all names; He was a kind of nothing, titleless, Till he had forged himself a name o' the fire Of burning Rome.

COMINIUS

Just once, he called me by my name. I reminded him of our old friendship, and the blood that we've spilled together. He refused to answer to the name "Coriolanus"—in fact, he wouldn't answer to anything. He was a kind of nothing, as though nameless until he'd make himself a name in the fires of burning Rome.

MENENIUS

Why, so: you have made good work!A pair of tribunes that have rack'd for Rome,To make coals cheap,—a noble memory!

MENENIUS

Why, there it is!

[To the TRIBUNES] You've done it now! A pair of tribunes that have destroyed Rome, and for what?—what a nice memorial you leave behind!

COMINIUS

I minded him how royal 'twas to pardon When it was less expected: he replied, It was a bare petition of a state To one whom they had punish'd.

COMINIUS

I reminded him how it is noble to be merciful when mercy is least expected. He replied that this was a pathetic request from a country to a man it had punished.

MENENIUS

Very well:Could he say less?

MENENIUS

Fair enough; what else could he say?

COMINIUS

I offer'd to awaken his regard For's private friends: his answer to me was, He could not stay to pick them in a pile Of noisome musty chaff: he said 'twas folly, For one poor grain or two, to leave unburnt, And still to nose the offence.

COMINIUS

I tried to remind him of his respect for his personal friends, and his answer to me was that he could not be bothered to pick them out of a pile of stinking, rotting wheat. He said it would be a mistake to leave the grain unburnt for the sake of one poor grain or two, and thus to have to bear the stink of the rest.

MENENIUS

For one poor grain or two! I am one of those; his mother, wife, his child, And this brave fellow too, we are the grains: You are the musty chaff; and you are smelt Above the moon: we must be burnt for you.

MENENIUS

For one poor grain or two! I am one of those; his mother, his wife, his child, and Cominius here too. We are the grains, [To the TRIBUNES] you are the rotting waste, and you stink to high heaven. We will be burned because of you.

SICINIUS

Nay, pray, be patient: if you refuse your aid In this so never-needed help, yet do not Upbraid's with our distress. But, sure, if you Would be your country's pleader, your good tongue, More than the instant army we can make, Might stop our countryman.

SICINIUS

No, please, be calm. If you refuse to help now, when we need help more than ever, you have no right to yell at us. But if you would go plead to Coriolanus on behalf of your country, your good voice will be worth more than whatever army we can call to arms.

MENENIUS

No, I'll not meddle.

MENENIUS

No, I won't interfere.

SICINIUS

Pray you, go to him.

SICINIUS

Please, go to him.

MENENIUS

What should I do?

MENENIUS

And what should I say?

BRUTUS

Only make trial what your love can doFor Rome, towards Marcius.

BRUTUS

Only ask what your love toward Marcius can do for Rome.

MENENIUS

Well, and say that Marcius Return me, as Cominius is return'd, Unheard; what then? But as a discontented friend, grief-shot With his unkindness? say't be so?

MENENIUS

Sure, and what if Marcius sends me back without listening—what then? I'll just be crushed, a friend shot through with grief by his unkindness; is that what you want?

SICINIUS

Yet your good willmust have that thanks from Rome, after the measureAs you intended well.

SICINIUS

But your efforts will win great thanks from Rome, simply because we know you have tried.

MENENIUS

I'll undertake 't: I think he'll hear me. Yet, to bite his lip And hum at good Cominius, much unhearts me. He was not taken well; he had not dined: The veins unfill'd, our blood is cold, and then We pout upon the morning, are unapt To give or to forgive; but when we have stuff'd These and these conveyances of our blood With wine and feeding, we have suppler souls Than in our priest-like fasts: therefore I'll watch him Till he be dieted to my request, And then I'll set upon him.

MENENIUS

I'll do it. I think he'll listen to me. Yet, to bite his lip and hum at good Cominius—this disheartens me. Maybe he was just feeling ill, or he hadn't eaten. When we are ill or unfed, our blood is cold and then we are grumpy—then we are unlikely to be kind and forgive. But perhaps when we are full of food and wine, and our blood runs more easily, we are more easily convinced of mercy than in our priest-like fasts. Therefore, I'll wait until he's eaten to make my request, and then I'll go to ask him.

BRUTUS

You know the very road into his kindness,And cannot lose your way.

BRUTUS

You know the way to his heart, and cannot fail. 

MENENIUS

Good faith, I'll prove him,Speed how it will. I shall ere long have knowledgeOf my success.

MENENIUS

With luck, I'll get him to agree, however it goes. I guess we'll know whether I succeed very soon.

Exit

COMINIUS

He'll never hear him.

COMINIUS

Coriolanus will never listen to him.

SICINIUS

Not?

SICINIUS

No?

COMINIUS

I tell you, he does sit in gold, his eye Red as 'twould burn Rome; and his injury The gaoler to his pity. I kneel'd before him; 'Twas very faintly he said 'Rise;' dismiss'd me Thus, with his speechless hand: what he would do, He sent in writing after me; what he would not, Bound with an oath to yield to his conditions: So that all hope is vain. Unless his noble mother, and his wife; Who, as I hear, mean to solicit him For mercy to his country. Therefore, let's hence, And with our fair entreaties haste them on.

COMINIUS

I'm telling you, he sits like a king, his eye red as though he meant to burn Rome with it, and absolutely without pity. I kneeled before him, and all he said, very faintly, was "Rise." Then he dismissed me with his hand. He sent a letter after me describing his intentions and containing his conditions for surrender. I think all hope is lost, although his noble mother and his wife will go, I hear, to ask for mercy. Therefore, let's go and wish them luck.

Exeunt

Coriolanus
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