by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Antium. Before Aufidius’s house.
In front of Aufidius’s house in Antium.
Enter CORIOLANUS in mean apparel, disguised and muffled
CORIOLANUS enters in plain clothes, disguised and speaking softly.
A goodly city is this Antium. City,
’Tis I that made thy widows: many an heir
Of these fair edifices ’fore my wars
Have I heard groan and drop: then know me not,
5Lest that thy wives with spits and boys with stones
In puny battle slay me.
Antium is a good city. I made its women into widows. Its sons have died at my hands in battle. May I go unrecognized, so that the women won’t spit at me and the men won’t throw stones.
Enter a Citizen
A Citizen enters.
Save you, sir.
May the gods protect you, sir.
And you.
And you.
Direct me, if it be your will,
10Where great Aufidius lies: is he in Antium?
Could you please tell me where to find the great Aufidius? Is he in Antium?
He is, and feasts the nobles of the state
At his house this night.
He is. The nobles of the state are having a feast at his house tonight.
Which is his house, beseech you?
Where is his house, do you mind telling me?
This, here before you.
This one, right here.
15Thank you, sir: farewell.
Thank you, sir. Farewell.
Exit Citizen
The Citizen exits.
O world, thy slippery turns! Friends now fast sworn,
Whose double bosoms seem to wear one heart,
Whose house, whose bed, whose meal, and exercise,
Are still together, who twin, as ’twere, in love
20Unseparable, shall within this hour,
On a dissension of a doit, break out
To bitterest enmity: so, fellest foes,
Whose passions and whose plots have broke their sleep,
To take the one the other, by some chance,
25Some trick not worth an egg, shall grow dear friends
And interjoin their issues. So with me:
My birth-place hate I, and my love’s upon
This enemy town. I’ll enter: if he slay me,
He does fair justice; if he give me way,
30I’ll do his country service.
The world has many twists and turns! Friends who at this moment are loyal to each other, who seem to share one heart, live in the same house, sleep in the same bed, eat the same food, and work together—who love each other like inseparable twins—will, within an hour, become bitter enemies because of a minor disagreement. And mortal enemies, who spend sleepless nights furiously plotting to capture each other’s keep, will by some random chance become dear friends and join their interests together. This is how it is with me: I hate the place I come from and I love my enemy’s town. It would be fair for him to kill me, but if he lets me live, I’ll fight for his country.