Coriolanus

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 3

page Act 2 Scene 3 Page 6

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CORIOLANUS

110I will not seal your knowledge with showing them. I
will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no further.

CORIOLANUS

I won’t confirm what you already know by showing my wounds to you. I’ll just take your votes and not trouble you further.

BOTH CITIZENS

The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!

BOTH CITIZENS

May the gods give you much joy, sir!
Exeunt
The Citizens exit.

CORIOLANUS

Most sweet voices!
Better it is to die, better to starve,
115Than crave the hire which first we do deserve.
Why in this woolvish toge should I stand here,
To beg of Hob and Dick, that do appear,
Their needless vouches? Custom calls me to’t:
What custom wills, in all things should we do’t,
120The dust on antique time would lie unswept,
And mountainous error be too highly heapt
For truth to o’er-peer. Rather than fool it so,
Let the high office and the honour go
To one that would do thus. I am half through;
125The one part suffer’d, the other will I do.

CORIOLANUS

Most sweet voters! It’s better to die, better to starve, than to beg to be chosen for a position you already deserve. Why must I stand here in this hypocritical toga and beg the commoners for their meaningless approval, which I shouldn’t need? Custom forces me to do it, and what custom requires, we must do. It’s an ancient tradition that has gone on for so long that no one can see that it’s a huge mistake. I wish I didn’t have to play the fool, but the honor of the consulship goes to he who will. I’m halfway done. I’ll do the other half.
Enter three Citizens more
Three more Citizens enter.
Here come more voices.
Your voices: for your voices I have fought;
Watch’d for your voices; for your voices bear
Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six
130I have seen and heard of; for your voices have
Done many things, some less, some more your voices:
Indeed I would be consul.
Here come more votes. Your votes: I have fought for your votes and stayed out on watch for your votes. For your votes I have been wounded more than two dozen times and been in thirty-six battles. For your votes, I have seen and heard many things and done some things less and some things more—all for your votes, so I can be in the consul.