Coriolanus

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, sir, what answer made the belly?

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, sir, what did the belly answer?

MENENIUS

95Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile,
Which ne’er came from the lungs, but even thus—
For, look you, I may make the belly smile
As well as speak—it tauntingly replied
To the discontented members, the mutinous parts
100That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
As you malign our senators for that
They are not such as you.

MENENIUS

Sir, I’ll tell you. With a disdainful smile—look, I can make the belly smile as well as speak—the belly tauntingly replied to the aggravated, mutinous parts that envied the food it received—much like you who rightly accuse our senators for not starving as you do.

FIRST CITIZEN

Your belly’s answer? What!
The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
105The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter.
With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabric, if that they—

FIRST CITIZEN

What did the belly say? That the regal head, the watchful eye, the wise heart, the fighting arms, the mobile legs, the expressive tongue, with some small help from the other parts, if they—

MENENIUS

What then?
110’Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? what then?

MENENIUS

What then? My word, you’re quite a speaker! What then? What then?

FIRST CITIZEN

Should by the cormorant belly be restrain’d,
Who is the sink o’ the body,—

FIRST CITIZEN

The greedy belly, the sink of the body, should be restrained—

MENENIUS

Well, what then?

MENENIUS

And then what?

FIRST CITIZEN

The former agents, if they did complain,
115What could the belly answer?

FIRST CITIZEN

If the parts complained, what could the belly answer?

MENENIUS

I will tell you
If you’ll bestow a small—of what you have little—
Patience awhile, you’ll hear the belly’s answer.

MENENIUS

I’ll tell you. If you’ll exercise a little bit of what little patience you have, you’ll hear the belly’s answer.