Coriolanus

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

FIRST SENTINEL

Faith, sir, if you had told as many lies in his
30behalf as you have uttered words in your own, you
should not pass here; no, though it were as virtuous
to lie as to live chastely. Therefore, go back.

FIRST GUARD

Sir, if you’ve told as many lies on his behalf as you’ve spoken words that benefit yourself, you should not pass here. You act as if it were as virtuous to lie as it is to live honestly. Go back.

MENENIUS

Prithee, fellow, remember my name is Menenius,
always factionary on the party of your general.

MENENIUS

Please, fellow, remember my name is Menenius, and I’ve always been on your general’s side.

SECOND SENTINEL

35Howsoever you have been his liar, as you say you
have, I am one that, telling true under him, must
say, you cannot pass. Therefore, go back.

SECOND GUARD

Even if you’ve lied for him, as you say you have, I must follow his orders truthfully and say that you cannot pass. So go back.

MENENIUS

Has he dined, canst thou tell? for I would not
speak with him till after dinner.

MENENIUS

Has he eaten yet, could you tell me? Because I wouldn’t want to speak with him until after dinner.

FIRST SENTINEL

40You are a Roman, are you?

FIRST GUARD

You’re a Roman, are you?

MENENIUS

I am, as thy general is.

MENENIUS

I am, just as your general is.

FIRST SENTINEL

Then you should hate Rome, as he does. Can you,
when you have pushed out your gates the very
defender of them, and, in a violent popular
45ignorance, given your enemy your shield, think to
front his revenges with the easy groans of old
women, the virginal palms of your daughters, or with
the palsied intercession of such a decayed dotant as
you seem to be? Can you think to blow out the
50intended fire your city is ready to flame in, with
such weak breath as this? No, you are deceived;
therefore, back to Rome, and prepare for your
execution: you are condemned, our general has sworn
you out of reprieve and pardon.

FIRST GUARD

Then you should hate Rome the way he does. You’ve banished your greatest hero from your gates and, in a violent popular ignorance, given your best defender to your enemy. So how can you think to counteract his plan for revenge with the meaningless groans of old women, the prayers of your virgin daughters, or the crippled pleas of a decayed, senile old man such as yourself? You think you can blow out the fire that is about to engulf your city in flames with such weak breath as this? If so, you’re mistaken. Go back to Rome and prepare for your execution. You’re condemned, and our general has sworn to grant you no reprieve or pardon.