by William Shakespeare

SCENE VI. Near the camp of Cominius

Enter Cominius as it were in retire, with Soldiers.

Breathe you, my friends. Well fought! We are come off
Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands
Nor cowardly in retire. Believe me, sirs,
We shall be charged again. Whiles we have struck,
By interims and conveying gusts we have heard
The charges of our friends. The Roman gods
Lead their successes as we wish our own,
That both our powers, with smiling fronts encount’ring,
May give you thankful sacrifice!

Enter a Messenger.

Thy news?

The citizens of Corioles have issued,
And given to Lartius and to Martius battle.
I saw our party to their trenches driven,
And then I came away.

Though thou speakest truth,
Methinks thou speak’st not well. How long is’t since?

Above an hour, my lord.

’Tis not a mile; briefly we heard their drums.
How couldst thou in a mile confound an hour
And bring thy news so late?

Spies of the Volsces
Held me in chase, that I was forced to wheel
Three or four miles about; else had I, sir,
Half an hour since brought my report.

[Exit Messenger.]

Enter Martius, bloody.

Who’s yonder,
That does appear as he were flayed? O gods,
He has the stamp of Martius, and I have
Before-time seen him thus.

Come I too late?

The shepherd knows not thunder from a tabor
More than I know the sound of Martius’ tongue
From every meaner man.

Come I too late?

Ay, if you come not in the blood of others,
But mantled in your own.

O, let me clip you
In arms as sound as when I wooed, in heart
As merry as when our nuptial day was done
And tapers burned to bedward!

Flower of warriors, how is’t with Titus Lartius?

As with a man busied about decrees,
Condemning some to death and some to exile;
Ransoming him or pitying, threat’ning the other;
Holding Corioles in the name of Rome
Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,
To let him slip at will.

Where is that slave
Which told me they had beat you to your trenches?
Where’s he? Call him hither.

Let him alone.
He did inform the truth. But for our gentlemen,
The common file—a plague! Tribunes for them!—
The mouse ne’er shunned the cat as they did budge
From rascals worse than they.

But how prevailed you?

Will the time serve to tell? I do not think.
Where is the enemy? Are you lords o’ th’ field?
If not, why cease you till you are so?

Martius, we have at disadvantage fought,
And did retire to win our purpose.

How lies their battle? Know you on which side
They have placed their men of trust?

As I guess, Martius,
Their bands i’ th’ vaward are the Antiates,
Of their best trust; o’er them Aufidius,
Their very heart of hope.

I do beseech you,
By all the battles wherein we have fought,
By th’ blood we have shed together, by th’ vows we have made
To endure friends, that you directly set me
Against Aufidius and his Antiates,
And that you not delay the present, but,
Filling the air with swords advanced and darts,
We prove this very hour.

Though I could wish
You were conducted to a gentle bath
And balms applied to you, yet dare I never
Deny your asking. Take your choice of those
That best can aid your action.

Those are they
That most are willing. If any such be here—
As it were sin to doubt—that love this painting
Wherein you see me smeared; if any fear
Lesser his person than an ill report;
If any think brave death outweighs bad life,
And that his country’s dearer than himself;
Let him alone, or so many so minded,
Wave thus to express his disposition
And follow Martius.

[He waves his sword.]

[They all shout and wave their swords, take him up in their arms, and cast up their caps.]

O, me alone! Make you a sword of me?
If these shows be not outward, which of you
But is four Volsces? None of you but is
Able to bear against the great Aufidius
A shield as hard as his. A certain number,
Though thanks to all, must I select from all.
The rest shall bear the business in some other fight,
As cause will be obeyed. Please you to march,
And I shall quickly draw out my command,
Which men are best inclined.

March on, my fellows.
Make good this ostentation, and you shall
Divide in all with us.


THE TRAGEDY OF CORIOLANUS by William Shakespeare

Status: Completed

Author: William Shakespeare

Native Language: English

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