Coriolanus

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 1

page Act 1 Scene 1 Page 8

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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
190What’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
195Below 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
200As 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

205They 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
210They 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,
215Shouting 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.