by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

The same. The Forum.
The Roman marketplace.
Enter seven or eight Citizens
Seven or eight Citizens enter.
Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to deny him.
If and when he asks for our votes, we shouldn’t deny him.
We may, sir, if we will.
We can deny him, sir, if we want to.
We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a
power that we have no power to do; for if he show us
5his wounds and tell us his deeds, we are to put our
tongues into those wounds and speak for them; so, if
he tell us his noble deeds, we must also tell him
our noble acceptance of them. Ingratitude is
monstrous, and for the multitude to be ingrateful,
10were to make a monster of the multitude: of the
which we being members, should bring ourselves to be
monstrous members.
We have the right to deny him, but it wouldn’t be the right thing to do. If he shows us his wounds and tells us of his deeds, we must honor those wounds with our votes. And if he tells us of his noble deeds, we must then tell him of our gratitude. Ingratitude is monstrous, and for the people to be seen as ungrateful would make us into monsters.
And to make us no better thought of, a little help
will serve; for once we stood up about the corn, he
15himself stuck not to call us the many-headed multitude.
And it wouldn’t take much to make us worse thought of. When we complained about the corn, he didn’t hesitate to call us an unstable mass of people.
We have been called so of many; not that our heads
are some brown, some black, some auburn, some bald,
but that our wits are so diversely coloured: and
truly I think if all our wits were to issue out of
20one skull, they would fly east, west, north, south,
and their consent of one direct way should be at
once to all the points o’ the compass.
Many people have called us that. Not because some of us have brown hair, some black, some blond and some bald, but because our opinions are so diverse. I truly think that if all our opinions were to come from one mind, they would go east, west, north, and south. All they could agree on would be to go in different directions.