Coriolanus

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

A long flourish. They all cry ‘Martius! Martius!’ cast up their caps and lances: COMINIUS and LARTIUS stand bare
A long trumpet blast is heard. They all cry “Martius! Martius!” and throw their caps and lances into the air. COMINIUS and LARTIUS stand respectfully without their hats.

MARTIUS

May these same instruments, which you profane,
Never sound more! when drums and trumpets shall
I’ the field prove flatterers, let courts and cities be
50Made all of false-faced soothing!
When steel grows soft as the parasite’s silk,
Let him be made a coverture for the wars!
No more, I say! For that I have not wash’d
My nose that bled, or foil’d some debile wretch.—
55Which, without note, here’s many else have done,—
You shout me forth
In acclamations hyperbolical;
As if I loved my little should be dieted
In praises sauced with lies.

MARTIUS

May these instruments, which you play in the wrong moment, never make a sound again! If drums and trumpets could flatter the enemy into submission in battle, then we should build our courts and cities on their false praise! When steel grows soft as the diplomat’s silk, let us make an army of diplomats! Stop all this flattery! Because I haven’t washed my bloody nose or because I triumphed over some weakling—which, you fail to note, many others have done, too—you praise me in overstated terms, as if I enjoyed having my small achievements puffed up with exaggerations.

COMINIUS

60Too modest are you;
More cruel to your good report than grateful
To us that give you truly: by your patience,
If ’gainst yourself you be incensed, we’ll put you,
Like one that means his proper harm, in manacles,
65Then reason safely with you. Therefore, be it known,
As to us, to all the world, that Caius Martius
Wears this war’s garland: in token of the which,
My noble steed, known to the camp, I give him,
With all his trim belonging; and from this time,
70For what he did before Corioli, call him,
With all the applause and clamour of the host,
CAIUS MARTIUS CORIOLANUS! Bear
The addition nobly ever!

COMINIUS

You’re too modest. You express more resentment about the praise we offer than you express gratitude for our true account of your service. Allow me to suggest that if you’re going to get upset, we’ll tie you up as we would someone suicidal and then reason with you. It must be known, not only to us but to all the world, that Caius Martius is the hero of this war. So I give you my magnificent horse, whose value is known to our men, and all his equipment. And from this time on, in honor of what you did in Corioles, you will be called, with all the applause and clamor you deserve, Caius Martius Coriolanus! Use this additional title nobly, always!