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Rome. A street.
A street in Rome.
Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons
A mob of angry Citizens enters. They are carrying staffs, clubs, and other weapons.

FIRST CITIZEN

Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.

FIRST CITIZEN

Before we go any further, listen to me.

ALL

Speak, speak.

ALL

Speak, speak.

FIRST CITIZEN

You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?

FIRST CITIZEN

Are you all certain that you’d rather die fighting than starve to death?

ALL

Resolved. resolved.

ALL

Yes, we’re certain.

FIRST CITIZEN

5 First, you know Caius Martius is chief enemy to the people.

FIRST CITIZEN

As you know, Caius Martius is our chief enemy.

ALL

We know’t, we know’t.

ALL

Yes, we know.

FIRST CITIZEN

Let us kill him, and we’ll have corn at our own price.
Is’t a verdict?

FIRST CITIZEN

Let’s kill him, so we can sell our corn at the price we choose. Are we agreed?

ALL

No more talking on’t; let it be done: away, away!

ALL

No need to talk about this anymore—let’s do it. Let’s go.

FIRST CITIZEN

10 One word, good citizens.

FIRST CITIZEN

May I speak, good citizens?

FIRST CITIZEN

We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good.
What authority surfeits on would relieve us: if they
would yield us but the superfluity, while it were
wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely;
15 but they think we are too dear: the leanness that
afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an
inventory to particularise their abundance; our
sufferance is a gain to them. Let us revenge this with
our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know I
20 speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

FIRST CITIZEN

We’re poor. The nobles are rich. The nobles have so much to eat that they overindulge and get sick, but if they’d only give us their excess food, we wouldn’t be starving any longer. We’d think they were compassionate if they helped us, but they think we’re too expensive to feed and don’t deserve to eat. They look at our thin, starving bodies and see them as a measure of their own abundance. Our suffering shows them how much they have. Let’s seek revenge with our pitchforks before we become as thin as rakes. The gods know I only say this because I’m hungry for bread, not thirsty for revenge.

FIRST CITIZEN

Would you proceed especially against Caius Martius?

FIRST CITIZEN

Would you attack Caius Martius in particular?

ALL

Against him first: he’s a very dog to the commonalty.

ALL

We should attack him first. He’s like a cruel dog to the people.

FIRST CITIZEN

Consider you what services he has done for his country?

FIRST CITIZEN

Have you considered the ways he has served our country?

FIRST CITIZEN

Very well; and could be content to give him good
25 report fort, but that he pays himself with being proud.

FIRST CITIZEN

I’ve considered them very well, and I’d be happy to honor him for his service, except he already honors himself by being proud.

FIRST CITIZEN

Nay, but speak not maliciously.

FIRST CITIZEN

Don’t speak so harshly.

FIRST CITIZEN

I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did
it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be
content to say it was for his country he did it to
30 please his mother and to be partly proud; which he
is, even till the altitude of his virtue.

FIRST CITIZEN

Listen, all that he’s famous for doing, he did simply to become famous. Slow-witted men can be content to say he acted on behalf of his country, but the truth is that he fought to please his mother and also, in part, out of pride. He has just as much pride as courage.

FIRST CITIZEN

What he cannot help in his nature, you account a
vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.

FIRST CITIZEN

You call it a vice, but being proud is his nature. And you can’t accuse him of being interested in the spoils of war.

FIRST CITIZEN

If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations;
35 he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition.

FIRST CITIZEN

Even if I stop accusing him of pride, I’ll still have plenty of other complaints against him. He has so many faults, I grow tired of repeating them to you.
Shouts within
Shouts come from offstage.
What shouts are these? The other side o’ the city
is risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!
Who’s shouting? The other side of the city is taking action. Why are we standing around talking? Let’s go to the capitol!

ALL

Come, come.

ALL

Let’s go.

FIRST CITIZEN

Soft! who comes here?

FIRST CITIZEN

Wait, who’s coming?
Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA
MENENIUS AGRIPPA enters.

FIRST CITIZEN

40 Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved
the people.

FIRST CITIZEN

It’s worthy Menenius Agrippa, one who has always loved the people.

FIRST CITIZEN

He’s one honest enough: would all the rest were so!

FIRST CITIZEN

He’s decent enough. I wish that all the other nobles were!

MENENIUS

What work’s, my countrymen, in hand? where go you
With bats and clubs? The matter? speak, I pray you.

MENENIUS

What are you working on, my countrymen? Where are you going with bats and clubs? What’s the matter? Please tell me.

FIRST CITIZEN

45 Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have
had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do,
which now we’ll show ’em in deeds. They say poor
suitors have strong breaths: they shall know we
have strong arms too.

FIRST CITIZEN

The Senate knows what we’re upset about. They’ve known for two weeks what we intend to do, and now we’re going to show them. They say poor workers have bad breath. They’re about to find out that we have strong arms too.

MENENIUS

50 Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,
Will you undo yourselves?

MENENIUS

Masters, my good friends, my honest neighbors, why will you harm yourselves?

FIRST CITIZEN

We cannot, sir, we are undone already.

FIRST CITIZEN

We’re already hurt.

MENENIUS

I tell you, friends, most charitable care
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
55 Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
Against the Roman state, whose course will on
The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
Of more strong link asunder than can ever
60 Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,
The gods, not the patricians, make it, and
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
You are transported by calamity
Thither where more attends you, and you slander
65 The helms o’ the state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies.

MENENIUS

I tell you, friends, the nobles take very good care of you. For the relief you want from your suffering, you’d do just as well to rise up against the heavens as against the Roman state. The Senate isn’t going to change its course. However strong a chain you form, the Senate will break you because it’s ten thousand times stronger. The gods, not the nobles, are responsible for whatever you lack, therefore you should fall to your knees and pray, not raise your arms and fight. You’re getting carried away by your calamity, and you’re only inviting more trouble. You’re slandering the senators, cursing them as your enemies, without realizing that they care for you like fathers care for their children.

FIRST CITIZEN

Care for us! True, indeed! They ne’er cared for us
yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses
crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to
70 support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act
established against the rich, and provide more
piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain
the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and
there’s all the love they bear us.

FIRST CITIZEN

Care for us? As if! They’ve never cared for us. They force us to starve while their storehouses are full of grain. They make laws about loaning money that protect the loan sharks. Every day they repeal the laws that interfere with the interests of the wealthy and instead make strict laws to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars we fight in don’t kill us, these laws will. That’s how well they care for us.

MENENIUS

75 Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accused of folly. I shall tell you
A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
80 To stale ’t a little more.

MENENIUS

You must either admit that you’re being extremely malicious or you’ll be accused of foolishness. I’ll tell you a relevant story. You may have heard it, but since it illustrates my point, I’ll venture to tell it again.

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, I’ll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to
fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, an ’t please
you, deliver.

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, I’ll listen sir, but don’t think you can trick us out of our suffering with a story. But if it pleases you, tell it.

MENENIUS

There was a time when all the body’s members
85 Rebell’d against the belly, thus accused it:
That only like a gulf it did remain
I’ the midst o’ the body, idle and unactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments
90 Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
And, mutually participate, did minister
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answer’d—

MENENIUS

There was a time when all the body’s parts rebelled against the belly. They accused the belly of being an idle, inactive pool in the middle the body, always hoarding the food, never working as much as the rest of the parts. The other body parts did see and hear, think, instruct, walk, feel, and together worked for the needs and desires of the whole body. The belly answered—

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, sir, what answer made the belly?

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, sir, what did the belly answer?

MENENIUS

95 Sir, 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
100 That 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,
105 The 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,
115 What 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.

FIRST CITIZEN

Ye’re long about it.

FIRST CITIZEN

You’re taking a long time to tell it.

MENENIUS

120 Note me this, good friend;
Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer’d:
‘True is it, my incorporate friends,’ quoth he,
‘That I receive the general food at first,
125 Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
Because I am the store-house and the shop
Of the whole body: but, if you do remember,
I send it through the rivers of your blood,
Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o’ the brain;
130 And, through the cranks and offices of man,
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live: and though that all at once,
You, my good friends,’—this says the belly, mark me,—

MENENIUS

Pay attention, good friend. The belly was serious and deliberate, not rash like his accusers, and so he answered, “It’s true, my fellow parts,” he said, “That I am first to receive the food supply that you live on. This is as it should be, because I am the storehouse and the shop of the whole body. But if you’ll remember, I send it through the rivers of your blood, even to the court of the heart, to the throne of the brain, and through the ducts and chambers of the body, the strongest nerves and small inferior veins receive from me all that they need to survive. And despite all that, you, my good friends,” says the belly—

FIRST CITIZEN

135 Ay, sir; well, well.

FIRST CITIZEN

Yes, sir, go on.

MENENIUS

‘Though all at once cannot
See what I do deliver out to each,
Yet I can make my audit up, that all
From me do back receive the flour of all,
140 And leave me but the bran.’ What say you to’t?

MENENIUS

“Even though all the parts can’t see at once what I deliver out to each, I can account that all parts receive from me all the flour I get, and that all I’m left with is the bran.” What do you say that?

FIRST CITIZEN

It was an answer: how apply you this?

FIRST CITIZEN

It’s an answer. How does it apply to us?

MENENIUS

The senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members; for examine
Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly
145 Touching the weal o’ the common, you shall find
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you
And no way from yourselves. What do you think,
You, the great toe of this assembly?

MENENIUS

The senators of Rome are this good belly, and you are the unhappy parts. Examine their decisions and their responsibilities, see how they relate to the common good, and you’ll find that there is no public benefit that you receive that doesn’t come from them to you. Nothing is being taken from you. What do you think, you, the great toe of this assembly?

FIRST CITIZEN

150 I the great toe! why the great toe?

FIRST CITIZEN

I am the great toe? Why the great toe?

MENENIUS

For that, being one o’ the lowest, basest, poorest,
Of this most wise rebellion, thou go’st foremost:
Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
Lead’st first to win some vantage.
155 But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs:
Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;
The one side must have bale.

MENENIUS

For the fact that you’re the leader of these ignorant rebels who are the lowest, basest, poorest of men. You’re like a stray dog that runs after whatever it can catch first. But prepare your sturdy bats and clubs: Rome and you, her rats, are at the point of battle. One side is going to lose.
Enter CAIUS MARTIUS
CAIUS MARTIUS enters.
Hail, noble Martius!
Hail, noble Martius!

MARTIUS

Thanks. What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues,
160 That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?

MARTIUS

Thanks. What’s the matter, you dissenting rebels? Are you make yourselves miserable by rubbing the minor itch of your opinion?

FIRST CITIZEN

We have ever your good word.

FIRST CITIZEN

You always speak kindly to us.

MARTIUS

He that will give good words to thee will flatter
Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,
165 That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you,
The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;
Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no,
Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,
170 Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is
To make him worthy whose offence subdues him
And curse that justice did it.
Who deserves greatness
Deserves your hate; and your affections are
175 A sick man’s appetite, who desires most that
Which would increase his evil. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead
And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust Ye?
With every minute you do change a mind,
180 And call him noble that was now your hate,
Him vile that was your garland. What’s the matter,
That in these several places of the city
You cry against the noble senate, who,
Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else
185 Would feed on one another? What’s their seeking?

MARTIUS

Whoever speaks kindly to you flatters you undeservingly. What do you want, you dogs, who are satisfied by neither peace nor war? The one frightens you, and the other makes you self-righteous. Whoever trusts you sees you as lions, though he should see you as hares, and sees you as foxes, though he should see you as geese. You’re as unstable as a burning coal on ice or a hailstone in the sun. Your nature is to honor those who should be punished for their crimes and then to curse the justice that punishes him. He who deserves greatness deserves your scorn. Your instincts are perverted: you most desire the things that will make you sicker. He who depends on your approval swims with fins of lead and cuts down oaks with blades of grass. You should be hanged! Trust you? You change your mind every minute. You call the man you hated a moment ago “noble,” and you call the one you used to praise “vile.” Why do you cry against the noble Senate all around the city? Second only to the gods, they take care of you, you who would otherwise eat each other. What do the people want?

MENENIUS

For corn at their own rates; whereof, they say,
The city is well stored.

MENENIUS

They want to sell corn at their own rates. They say the city has plenty.

MARTIUS

Hang ’em! They say!
They’ll sit by the fire, and presume to know
190 What’s done i’ the Capitol; who’s like to rise,
Who thrives and who declines; side factions
and give out
Conjectural marriages; making parties strong
And feebling such as stand not in their liking
195 Below their cobbled shoes. They say there’s
grain enough!
Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,
And let me use my sword, I’ll make a quarry
With thousands of these quarter’d slaves, as high
200 As I could pick my lance.

MARTIUS

Hang them if that’s what they say! They’ll sit by the fire and presume to know what goes on in the capitol: who’s likely to rise, who thrives, and who declines. They’ll take sides with factions and make hasty alliances, making some groups strong and squashing those that they don’t like beneath their cheap shoes. They say there’s enough grain? If the nobility would stop taking pity on the poor and let me use my sword, I’d slaughter these thousands of slaves into a pile of pieces as high as I could throw my lance.

MENENIUS

Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
For though abundantly they lack discretion,
Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
What says the other troop?

MENENIUS

No, they’ve almost all calmed down. Even though they make a scene, they’re actually very cowardly. But tell me, what happened with the other group of rebels?

MARTIUS

205 They are dissolved: hang ’em!
They said they were an-hungry; sigh’d forth proverbs,
That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not
Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds
210 They vented their complainings; which being answer’d,
And a petition granted them, a strange one—
To break the heart of generosity,
And make bold power look pale—they threw their caps
As they would hang them on the horns o’ the moon,
215 Shouting their emulation.

MARTIUS

They’ve disbanded. Hang them! They said they were hungry, they quoted proverbs: That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat, that meat was made for mouths, that the gods didn’t send corn only for the rich. With these small statements they vented their complaints, and when the nobles answered by granting them a petition—which is unusual because it breaks the solidarity of the nobles and makes them look weak—they threw their caps into the air with joy, shouting their delight.

MENENIUS

What is granted them?

MENENIUS

What was granted to them?

MARTIUS

Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
Of their own choice: one’s Junius Brutus,
Sicinius Velutus, and I know not—’Sdeath!
220 The rabble should have first unroof’d the city,
Ere so prevail’d with me: it will in time
Win upon power and throw forth greater themes
For insurrection’s arguing.

MARTIUS

Five representatives of their own choosing to defend their ignorant views. Junius Brutus, Sicinius Velutus, and I don’t know who else. God’s death! The rebels would have to tear the roofs off the city before they could ever prevail upon me to grant them that. They’ll soon become more powerful and make more arguments for insurrection.

MENENIUS

This is strange.

MENENIUS

This is strange.

MARTIUS

225 (to the rebels) Go, get you home, you fragments!

MARTIUS

(to the rebels) Go home, you crumbs!
Enter a Messenger, hastily
A Messenger enters quickly.

MESSENGER

Where’s Caius Martius?

MESSENGER

Where’s Caius Martius?

MARTIUS

Here: what’s the matter?

MARTIUS

I’m here. What’s going on?

MESSENGER

The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.

MESSENGER

Sir, the news is that the Volsces are prepared to fight.

MARTIUS

I am glad on ‘t: then we shall ha’ means to vent
230 Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.

MARTIUS

I’m glad about this. This means we’ll have a way to get rid of our excess population. Look, here come our best elders.
Enter COMINIUS , TITUS LARTIUS , and other Senators; JUNIUS BRUTUS and SICINIUS VELUTUS
COMINIUS , TITUS LARTIUS , other Senators, JUNIUS BRUTUS , and SICINIUS VELUTUS enter.

FIRST SENATOR

Martius, ’tis true that you have lately told us;
The Volsces are in arms.

FIRST SENATOR

Martius, it’s true what you’ve been telling us lately: the Volsces are ready to fight.

MARTIUS

They have a leader,
Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to ’t.
235 I sin in envying his nobility,
And were I any thing but what I am,
I would wish me only he.

MARTIUS

They have a leader, Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to the test. It’s a sin, but I envy his leadership. If I could be anyone other than who I am, I would only wish to be him.

COMINIUS

You have fought together.

COMINIUS

You’ve fought each other?

MARTIUS

Were half to half the world by the ears and he.
240 Upon my party, I’ld revolt to make
Only my wars with him: he is a lion
That I am proud to hunt.

MARTIUS

If a quarter of the world were fighting and he were on my side, I’d revolt to fight only him. He’s a lion that I am proud to hunt.

FIRST SENATOR

Then, worthy Martius,
Attend upon Cominius to these wars.

FIRST SENATOR

Then, worthy Martius, help Cominius with these wars.

COMINIUS

245 It is your former promise.

COMINIUS

As you promised earlier.

MARTIUS

Sir, it is;
And I am constant. Titus Lartius, thou
Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus’ face.
What, art thou stiff? stand’st out?

MARTIUS

Sir, I did, and I’ll keep my word. Titus Lartius, you’ll see me strike at Tullus’s face once more. Are you hesitating? Do you not want to fight?

TITUS

250 No, Caius Martius;
I’ll lean upon one crutch and fight with t’other,
Ere stay behind this business.

LARTIUS

No, Caius Martius, I’ll lean upon one crutch and fight with the other before I stay out of this business.

MENENIUS

O, true-bred!

MENENIUS

Oh, you were raised to fight!

FIRST SENATOR

Your company to the Capitol; where, I know,
255 Our greatest friends attend us.

FIRST SENATOR

Let’s go to the capitol. I know our greatest friends wait for us there.

TITUS

[To COMINIUS] Lead you on.

LARTIUS

(to Cominius) Take the lead.
To MARTIUS
To Martius
Right worthy you priority.
Follow Cominius, and we’ll follow you. You deserve to go before us.

COMINIUS

Noble Martius!

COMINIUS

Noble Martius!

FIRST SENATOR

[To the Citizens] Hence to your homes; be gone!

FIRST SENATOR

(to the citizens) Go now to your homes, be gone.

MARTIUS

260 Nay, let them follow:
The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither
To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,
Your valour puts well forth: pray, follow.

MARTIUS

No, let them follow us. The Volsces have a lot of corn. Take these rats to gnaw at their granaries. Worshipful rebels, your courage is impressive, please follow us.
Citizens steal away. Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS
Citizens sneak away. All but SICINIUS and BRUTUS exit.

SICINIUS

Was ever man so proud as is this Martius?

SICINIUS

Was there ever a man as proud as Martius?

BRUTUS

265 He has no equal.

BRUTUS

He has no equal.

SICINIUS

When we were chosen tribunes for the people,—

SICINIUS

When we were chosen as representatives for the people—

BRUTUS

Mark’d you his lip and eyes?

BRUTUS

Did you notice his lip and eyes?

SICINIUS

Nay. [B]ut his taunts.

SICINIUS

No, only his taunts.

BRUTUS

Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods.

BRUTUS

When he’s angry, he’ll even taunt the gods.

SICINIUS

270 Be-mock the modest moon.

SICINIUS

He’d mock the calmness of the moon.

BRUTUS

The present wars devour him: he is grown
Too proud to be so valiant.

BRUTUS

May this war destroy him! His courage has made him too proud.

SICINIUS

Such a nature,
Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
275 Which he treads on at noon: but I do wonder
His insolence can brook to be commanded
Under Cominius.

SICINIUS

A nature such as his, which has been amplified by all his successes, disdains his own shadow, which he walks on at noon. I wonder if his pride can handle being under Cominius’s command.

BRUTUS

Fame, at the which he aims,
In whom already he’s well graced, can not
280 Better be held nor more attain’d than by
A place below the first: for what miscarries
Shall be the general’s fault, though he perform
To the utmost of a man, and giddy censure
Will then cry out of Martius ‘O if he
285 Had borne the business!’

BRUTUS

The fame he aims for, and with which he has already been graced, can’t be maintained or increased in any position other than the lead. Whatever goes wrong will be seen as the general’s fault, even though he’ll do the best job a man could do, and fickle public opinion will then say of Martius, “Oh, if only he had been in charge!”

SICINIUS

Besides, if things go well,
Opinion that so sticks on Martius shall
Of his demerits rob Cominius.

SICINIUS

Besides, if things go well, public opinion that favors Martius will steal praise away from Cominius.

BRUTUS

Come:
290 Half all Cominius’ honours are to Martius.
Though Martius earned them not, and all his faults
To Martius shall be honours, though indeed
In aught he merit not.

BRUTUS

Indeed, half of all Cominius’s victories have been credited to Martius, though he didn’t win them. And whatever faults Cominius has are seen as Martius’s honors, though Martius really doesn’t have any merit.

SICINIUS

Let’s hence, and hear
295 How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,
More than his singularity, he goes
Upon this present action.

SICINIUS

Let’s go and hear what’s happening. Let’s see how, our feelings about his personality aside, he prepares for this battle.

BRUTUS

Lets along.

BRUTUS

Let’s go.
Exeunt
They exit.

Original Text

Modern Text

Rome. A street.
A street in Rome.
Enter a company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons
A mob of angry Citizens enters. They are carrying staffs, clubs, and other weapons.

FIRST CITIZEN

Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.

FIRST CITIZEN

Before we go any further, listen to me.

ALL

Speak, speak.

ALL

Speak, speak.

FIRST CITIZEN

You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?

FIRST CITIZEN

Are you all certain that you’d rather die fighting than starve to death?

ALL

Resolved. resolved.

ALL

Yes, we’re certain.

FIRST CITIZEN

5 First, you know Caius Martius is chief enemy to the people.

FIRST CITIZEN

As you know, Caius Martius is our chief enemy.

ALL

We know’t, we know’t.

ALL

Yes, we know.

FIRST CITIZEN

Let us kill him, and we’ll have corn at our own price.
Is’t a verdict?

FIRST CITIZEN

Let’s kill him, so we can sell our corn at the price we choose. Are we agreed?

ALL

No more talking on’t; let it be done: away, away!

ALL

No need to talk about this anymore—let’s do it. Let’s go.

FIRST CITIZEN

10 One word, good citizens.

FIRST CITIZEN

May I speak, good citizens?

FIRST CITIZEN

We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians good.
What authority surfeits on would relieve us: if they
would yield us but the superfluity, while it were
wholesome, we might guess they relieved us humanely;
15 but they think we are too dear: the leanness that
afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an
inventory to particularise their abundance; our
sufferance is a gain to them. Let us revenge this with
our pikes, ere we become rakes: for the gods know I
20 speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

FIRST CITIZEN

We’re poor. The nobles are rich. The nobles have so much to eat that they overindulge and get sick, but if they’d only give us their excess food, we wouldn’t be starving any longer. We’d think they were compassionate if they helped us, but they think we’re too expensive to feed and don’t deserve to eat. They look at our thin, starving bodies and see them as a measure of their own abundance. Our suffering shows them how much they have. Let’s seek revenge with our pitchforks before we become as thin as rakes. The gods know I only say this because I’m hungry for bread, not thirsty for revenge.

FIRST CITIZEN

Would you proceed especially against Caius Martius?

FIRST CITIZEN

Would you attack Caius Martius in particular?

ALL

Against him first: he’s a very dog to the commonalty.

ALL

We should attack him first. He’s like a cruel dog to the people.

FIRST CITIZEN

Consider you what services he has done for his country?

FIRST CITIZEN

Have you considered the ways he has served our country?

FIRST CITIZEN

Very well; and could be content to give him good
25 report fort, but that he pays himself with being proud.

FIRST CITIZEN

I’ve considered them very well, and I’d be happy to honor him for his service, except he already honors himself by being proud.

FIRST CITIZEN

Nay, but speak not maliciously.

FIRST CITIZEN

Don’t speak so harshly.

FIRST CITIZEN

I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did
it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be
content to say it was for his country he did it to
30 please his mother and to be partly proud; which he
is, even till the altitude of his virtue.

FIRST CITIZEN

Listen, all that he’s famous for doing, he did simply to become famous. Slow-witted men can be content to say he acted on behalf of his country, but the truth is that he fought to please his mother and also, in part, out of pride. He has just as much pride as courage.

FIRST CITIZEN

What he cannot help in his nature, you account a
vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.

FIRST CITIZEN

You call it a vice, but being proud is his nature. And you can’t accuse him of being interested in the spoils of war.

FIRST CITIZEN

If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations;
35 he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition.

FIRST CITIZEN

Even if I stop accusing him of pride, I’ll still have plenty of other complaints against him. He has so many faults, I grow tired of repeating them to you.
Shouts within
Shouts come from offstage.
What shouts are these? The other side o’ the city
is risen: why stay we prating here? to the Capitol!
Who’s shouting? The other side of the city is taking action. Why are we standing around talking? Let’s go to the capitol!

ALL

Come, come.

ALL

Let’s go.

FIRST CITIZEN

Soft! who comes here?

FIRST CITIZEN

Wait, who’s coming?
Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA
MENENIUS AGRIPPA enters.

FIRST CITIZEN

40 Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved
the people.

FIRST CITIZEN

It’s worthy Menenius Agrippa, one who has always loved the people.

FIRST CITIZEN

He’s one honest enough: would all the rest were so!

FIRST CITIZEN

He’s decent enough. I wish that all the other nobles were!

MENENIUS

What work’s, my countrymen, in hand? where go you
With bats and clubs? The matter? speak, I pray you.

MENENIUS

What are you working on, my countrymen? Where are you going with bats and clubs? What’s the matter? Please tell me.

FIRST CITIZEN

45 Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have
had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do,
which now we’ll show ’em in deeds. They say poor
suitors have strong breaths: they shall know we
have strong arms too.

FIRST CITIZEN

The Senate knows what we’re upset about. They’ve known for two weeks what we intend to do, and now we’re going to show them. They say poor workers have bad breath. They’re about to find out that we have strong arms too.

MENENIUS

50 Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,
Will you undo yourselves?

MENENIUS

Masters, my good friends, my honest neighbors, why will you harm yourselves?

FIRST CITIZEN

We cannot, sir, we are undone already.

FIRST CITIZEN

We’re already hurt.

MENENIUS

I tell you, friends, most charitable care
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
55 Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
Against the Roman state, whose course will on
The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
Of more strong link asunder than can ever
60 Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,
The gods, not the patricians, make it, and
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
You are transported by calamity
Thither where more attends you, and you slander
65 The helms o’ the state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies.

MENENIUS

I tell you, friends, the nobles take very good care of you. For the relief you want from your suffering, you’d do just as well to rise up against the heavens as against the Roman state. The Senate isn’t going to change its course. However strong a chain you form, the Senate will break you because it’s ten thousand times stronger. The gods, not the nobles, are responsible for whatever you lack, therefore you should fall to your knees and pray, not raise your arms and fight. You’re getting carried away by your calamity, and you’re only inviting more trouble. You’re slandering the senators, cursing them as your enemies, without realizing that they care for you like fathers care for their children.

FIRST CITIZEN

Care for us! True, indeed! They ne’er cared for us
yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses
crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to
70 support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act
established against the rich, and provide more
piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain
the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and
there’s all the love they bear us.

FIRST CITIZEN

Care for us? As if! They’ve never cared for us. They force us to starve while their storehouses are full of grain. They make laws about loaning money that protect the loan sharks. Every day they repeal the laws that interfere with the interests of the wealthy and instead make strict laws to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars we fight in don’t kill us, these laws will. That’s how well they care for us.

MENENIUS

75 Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accused of folly. I shall tell you
A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
80 To stale ’t a little more.

MENENIUS

You must either admit that you’re being extremely malicious or you’ll be accused of foolishness. I’ll tell you a relevant story. You may have heard it, but since it illustrates my point, I’ll venture to tell it again.

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, I’ll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to
fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, an ’t please
you, deliver.

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, I’ll listen sir, but don’t think you can trick us out of our suffering with a story. But if it pleases you, tell it.

MENENIUS

There was a time when all the body’s members
85 Rebell’d against the belly, thus accused it:
That only like a gulf it did remain
I’ the midst o’ the body, idle and unactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments
90 Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
And, mutually participate, did minister
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answer’d—

MENENIUS

There was a time when all the body’s parts rebelled against the belly. They accused the belly of being an idle, inactive pool in the middle the body, always hoarding the food, never working as much as the rest of the parts. The other body parts did see and hear, think, instruct, walk, feel, and together worked for the needs and desires of the whole body. The belly answered—

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, sir, what answer made the belly?

FIRST CITIZEN

Well, sir, what did the belly answer?

MENENIUS

95 Sir, 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
100 That 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,
105 The 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,
115 What 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.

FIRST CITIZEN

Ye’re long about it.

FIRST CITIZEN

You’re taking a long time to tell it.

MENENIUS

120 Note me this, good friend;
Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answer’d:
‘True is it, my incorporate friends,’ quoth he,
‘That I receive the general food at first,
125 Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
Because I am the store-house and the shop
Of the whole body: but, if you do remember,
I send it through the rivers of your blood,
Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o’ the brain;
130 And, through the cranks and offices of man,
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live: and though that all at once,
You, my good friends,’—this says the belly, mark me,—

MENENIUS

Pay attention, good friend. The belly was serious and deliberate, not rash like his accusers, and so he answered, “It’s true, my fellow parts,” he said, “That I am first to receive the food supply that you live on. This is as it should be, because I am the storehouse and the shop of the whole body. But if you’ll remember, I send it through the rivers of your blood, even to the court of the heart, to the throne of the brain, and through the ducts and chambers of the body, the strongest nerves and small inferior veins receive from me all that they need to survive. And despite all that, you, my good friends,” says the belly—

FIRST CITIZEN

135 Ay, sir; well, well.

FIRST CITIZEN

Yes, sir, go on.

MENENIUS

‘Though all at once cannot
See what I do deliver out to each,
Yet I can make my audit up, that all
From me do back receive the flour of all,
140 And leave me but the bran.’ What say you to’t?

MENENIUS

“Even though all the parts can’t see at once what I deliver out to each, I can account that all parts receive from me all the flour I get, and that all I’m left with is the bran.” What do you say that?

FIRST CITIZEN

It was an answer: how apply you this?

FIRST CITIZEN

It’s an answer. How does it apply to us?

MENENIUS

The senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members; for examine
Their counsels and their cares, digest things rightly
145 Touching the weal o’ the common, you shall find
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you
And no way from yourselves. What do you think,
You, the great toe of this assembly?

MENENIUS

The senators of Rome are this good belly, and you are the unhappy parts. Examine their decisions and their responsibilities, see how they relate to the common good, and you’ll find that there is no public benefit that you receive that doesn’t come from them to you. Nothing is being taken from you. What do you think, you, the great toe of this assembly?

FIRST CITIZEN

150 I the great toe! why the great toe?

FIRST CITIZEN

I am the great toe? Why the great toe?

MENENIUS

For that, being one o’ the lowest, basest, poorest,
Of this most wise rebellion, thou go’st foremost:
Thou rascal, that art worst in blood to run,
Lead’st first to win some vantage.
155 But make you ready your stiff bats and clubs:
Rome and her rats are at the point of battle;
The one side must have bale.

MENENIUS

For the fact that you’re the leader of these ignorant rebels who are the lowest, basest, poorest of men. You’re like a stray dog that runs after whatever it can catch first. But prepare your sturdy bats and clubs: Rome and you, her rats, are at the point of battle. One side is going to lose.
Enter CAIUS MARTIUS
CAIUS MARTIUS enters.
Hail, noble Martius!
Hail, noble Martius!

MARTIUS

Thanks. What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues,
160 That, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion,
Make yourselves scabs?

MARTIUS

Thanks. What’s the matter, you dissenting rebels? Are you make yourselves miserable by rubbing the minor itch of your opinion?

FIRST CITIZEN

We have ever your good word.

FIRST CITIZEN

You always speak kindly to us.

MARTIUS

He that will give good words to thee will flatter
Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs,
165 That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you,
The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you,
Where he should find you lions, finds you hares;
Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no,
Than is the coal of fire upon the ice,
170 Or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is
To make him worthy whose offence subdues him
And curse that justice did it.
Who deserves greatness
Deserves your hate; and your affections are
175 A sick man’s appetite, who desires most that
Which would increase his evil. He that depends
Upon your favours swims with fins of lead
And hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust Ye?
With every minute you do change a mind,
180 And call him noble that was now your hate,
Him vile that was your garland. What’s the matter,
That in these several places of the city
You cry against the noble senate, who,
Under the gods, keep you in awe, which else
185 Would feed on one another? What’s their seeking?

MARTIUS

Whoever speaks kindly to you flatters you undeservingly. What do you want, you dogs, who are satisfied by neither peace nor war? The one frightens you, and the other makes you self-righteous. Whoever trusts you sees you as lions, though he should see you as hares, and sees you as foxes, though he should see you as geese. You’re as unstable as a burning coal on ice or a hailstone in the sun. Your nature is to honor those who should be punished for their crimes and then to curse the justice that punishes him. He who deserves greatness deserves your scorn. Your instincts are perverted: you most desire the things that will make you sicker. He who depends on your approval swims with fins of lead and cuts down oaks with blades of grass. You should be hanged! Trust you? You change your mind every minute. You call the man you hated a moment ago “noble,” and you call the one you used to praise “vile.” Why do you cry against the noble Senate all around the city? Second only to the gods, they take care of you, you who would otherwise eat each other. What do the people want?

MENENIUS

For corn at their own rates; whereof, they say,
The city is well stored.

MENENIUS

They want to sell corn at their own rates. They say the city has plenty.

MARTIUS

Hang ’em! They say!
They’ll sit by the fire, and presume to know
190 What’s done i’ the Capitol; who’s like to rise,
Who thrives and who declines; side factions
and give out
Conjectural marriages; making parties strong
And feebling such as stand not in their liking
195 Below their cobbled shoes. They say there’s
grain enough!
Would the nobility lay aside their ruth,
And let me use my sword, I’ll make a quarry
With thousands of these quarter’d slaves, as high
200 As I could pick my lance.

MARTIUS

Hang them if that’s what they say! They’ll sit by the fire and presume to know what goes on in the capitol: who’s likely to rise, who thrives, and who declines. They’ll take sides with factions and make hasty alliances, making some groups strong and squashing those that they don’t like beneath their cheap shoes. They say there’s enough grain? If the nobility would stop taking pity on the poor and let me use my sword, I’d slaughter these thousands of slaves into a pile of pieces as high as I could throw my lance.

MENENIUS

Nay, these are almost thoroughly persuaded;
For though abundantly they lack discretion,
Yet are they passing cowardly. But, I beseech you,
What says the other troop?

MENENIUS

No, they’ve almost all calmed down. Even though they make a scene, they’re actually very cowardly. But tell me, what happened with the other group of rebels?

MARTIUS

205 They are dissolved: hang ’em!
They said they were an-hungry; sigh’d forth proverbs,
That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat,
That meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent not
Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds
210 They vented their complainings; which being answer’d,
And a petition granted them, a strange one—
To break the heart of generosity,
And make bold power look pale—they threw their caps
As they would hang them on the horns o’ the moon,
215 Shouting their emulation.

MARTIUS

They’ve disbanded. Hang them! They said they were hungry, they quoted proverbs: That hunger broke stone walls, that dogs must eat, that meat was made for mouths, that the gods didn’t send corn only for the rich. With these small statements they vented their complaints, and when the nobles answered by granting them a petition—which is unusual because it breaks the solidarity of the nobles and makes them look weak—they threw their caps into the air with joy, shouting their delight.

MENENIUS

What is granted them?

MENENIUS

What was granted to them?

MARTIUS

Five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms,
Of their own choice: one’s Junius Brutus,
Sicinius Velutus, and I know not—’Sdeath!
220 The rabble should have first unroof’d the city,
Ere so prevail’d with me: it will in time
Win upon power and throw forth greater themes
For insurrection’s arguing.

MARTIUS

Five representatives of their own choosing to defend their ignorant views. Junius Brutus, Sicinius Velutus, and I don’t know who else. God’s death! The rebels would have to tear the roofs off the city before they could ever prevail upon me to grant them that. They’ll soon become more powerful and make more arguments for insurrection.

MENENIUS

This is strange.

MENENIUS

This is strange.

MARTIUS

225 (to the rebels) Go, get you home, you fragments!

MARTIUS

(to the rebels) Go home, you crumbs!
Enter a Messenger, hastily
A Messenger enters quickly.

MESSENGER

Where’s Caius Martius?

MESSENGER

Where’s Caius Martius?

MARTIUS

Here: what’s the matter?

MARTIUS

I’m here. What’s going on?

MESSENGER

The news is, sir, the Volsces are in arms.

MESSENGER

Sir, the news is that the Volsces are prepared to fight.

MARTIUS

I am glad on ‘t: then we shall ha’ means to vent
230 Our musty superfluity. See, our best elders.

MARTIUS

I’m glad about this. This means we’ll have a way to get rid of our excess population. Look, here come our best elders.
Enter COMINIUS , TITUS LARTIUS , and other Senators; JUNIUS BRUTUS and SICINIUS VELUTUS
COMINIUS , TITUS LARTIUS , other Senators, JUNIUS BRUTUS , and SICINIUS VELUTUS enter.

FIRST SENATOR

Martius, ’tis true that you have lately told us;
The Volsces are in arms.

FIRST SENATOR

Martius, it’s true what you’ve been telling us lately: the Volsces are ready to fight.

MARTIUS

They have a leader,
Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to ’t.
235 I sin in envying his nobility,
And were I any thing but what I am,
I would wish me only he.

MARTIUS

They have a leader, Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to the test. It’s a sin, but I envy his leadership. If I could be anyone other than who I am, I would only wish to be him.

COMINIUS

You have fought together.

COMINIUS

You’ve fought each other?

MARTIUS

Were half to half the world by the ears and he.
240 Upon my party, I’ld revolt to make
Only my wars with him: he is a lion
That I am proud to hunt.

MARTIUS

If a quarter of the world were fighting and he were on my side, I’d revolt to fight only him. He’s a lion that I am proud to hunt.

FIRST SENATOR

Then, worthy Martius,
Attend upon Cominius to these wars.

FIRST SENATOR

Then, worthy Martius, help Cominius with these wars.

COMINIUS

245 It is your former promise.

COMINIUS

As you promised earlier.

MARTIUS

Sir, it is;
And I am constant. Titus Lartius, thou
Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus’ face.
What, art thou stiff? stand’st out?

MARTIUS

Sir, I did, and I’ll keep my word. Titus Lartius, you’ll see me strike at Tullus’s face once more. Are you hesitating? Do you not want to fight?

TITUS

250 No, Caius Martius;
I’ll lean upon one crutch and fight with t’other,
Ere stay behind this business.

LARTIUS

No, Caius Martius, I’ll lean upon one crutch and fight with the other before I stay out of this business.

MENENIUS

O, true-bred!

MENENIUS

Oh, you were raised to fight!

FIRST SENATOR

Your company to the Capitol; where, I know,
255 Our greatest friends attend us.

FIRST SENATOR

Let’s go to the capitol. I know our greatest friends wait for us there.

TITUS

[To COMINIUS] Lead you on.

LARTIUS

(to Cominius) Take the lead.
To MARTIUS
To Martius
Right worthy you priority.
Follow Cominius, and we’ll follow you. You deserve to go before us.

COMINIUS

Noble Martius!

COMINIUS

Noble Martius!

FIRST SENATOR

[To the Citizens] Hence to your homes; be gone!

FIRST SENATOR

(to the citizens) Go now to your homes, be gone.

MARTIUS

260 Nay, let them follow:
The Volsces have much corn; take these rats thither
To gnaw their garners. Worshipful mutiners,
Your valour puts well forth: pray, follow.

MARTIUS

No, let them follow us. The Volsces have a lot of corn. Take these rats to gnaw at their granaries. Worshipful rebels, your courage is impressive, please follow us.
Citizens steal away. Exeunt all but SICINIUS and BRUTUS
Citizens sneak away. All but SICINIUS and BRUTUS exit.

SICINIUS

Was ever man so proud as is this Martius?

SICINIUS

Was there ever a man as proud as Martius?

BRUTUS

265 He has no equal.

BRUTUS

He has no equal.

SICINIUS

When we were chosen tribunes for the people,—

SICINIUS

When we were chosen as representatives for the people—

BRUTUS

Mark’d you his lip and eyes?

BRUTUS

Did you notice his lip and eyes?

SICINIUS

Nay. [B]ut his taunts.

SICINIUS

No, only his taunts.

BRUTUS

Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods.

BRUTUS

When he’s angry, he’ll even taunt the gods.

SICINIUS

270 Be-mock the modest moon.

SICINIUS

He’d mock the calmness of the moon.

BRUTUS

The present wars devour him: he is grown
Too proud to be so valiant.

BRUTUS

May this war destroy him! His courage has made him too proud.

SICINIUS

Such a nature,
Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
275 Which he treads on at noon: but I do wonder
His insolence can brook to be commanded
Under Cominius.

SICINIUS

A nature such as his, which has been amplified by all his successes, disdains his own shadow, which he walks on at noon. I wonder if his pride can handle being under Cominius’s command.

BRUTUS

Fame, at the which he aims,
In whom already he’s well graced, can not
280 Better be held nor more attain’d than by
A place below the first: for what miscarries
Shall be the general’s fault, though he perform
To the utmost of a man, and giddy censure
Will then cry out of Martius ‘O if he
285 Had borne the business!’

BRUTUS

The fame he aims for, and with which he has already been graced, can’t be maintained or increased in any position other than the lead. Whatever goes wrong will be seen as the general’s fault, even though he’ll do the best job a man could do, and fickle public opinion will then say of Martius, “Oh, if only he had been in charge!”

SICINIUS

Besides, if things go well,
Opinion that so sticks on Martius shall
Of his demerits rob Cominius.

SICINIUS

Besides, if things go well, public opinion that favors Martius will steal praise away from Cominius.

BRUTUS

Come:
290 Half all Cominius’ honours are to Martius.
Though Martius earned them not, and all his faults
To Martius shall be honours, though indeed
In aught he merit not.

BRUTUS

Indeed, half of all Cominius’s victories have been credited to Martius, though he didn’t win them. And whatever faults Cominius has are seen as Martius’s honors, though Martius really doesn’t have any merit.

SICINIUS

Let’s hence, and hear
295 How the dispatch is made, and in what fashion,
More than his singularity, he goes
Upon this present action.

SICINIUS

Let’s go and hear what’s happening. Let’s see how, our feelings about his personality aside, he prepares for this battle.

BRUTUS

Lets along.

BRUTUS

Let’s go.
Exeunt
They exit.