Coriolanus

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 3 Scene 2

page Act 3 Scene 2 Page 6

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CORIOLANUS

Well, I must do’t:
Away, my disposition, and possess me
135Some harlot’s spirit! my throat of war be turn’d,
Which quired with my drum, into a pipe
Small as an eunuch, or the virgin voice
That babies lulls asleep! the smiles of knaves
Tent in my cheeks, and schoolboys’ tears take up
140The glasses of my sight! a beggar’s tongue
Make motion through my lips, and my arm’d knees,
Who bow’d but in my stirrup, bend like his
That hath received an alms! I will not do’t,
Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth
145And by my body’s action teach my mind
A most inherent baseness.

CORIOLANUS

Well, I must do it. I’ll hide my true nature and become like a whore! My voice, which ordinarily calls for war, will harmonize with my drum and become the voice of a eunuch or a virgin that sings babies to sleep! I’ll smile like a servant, cry like a schoolboy, and speak like a beggar! My armored knees, which ordinarily only bend in my saddle, will bend like a man receiving alms! I won’t do it because it will dishonor my true nature, and what I do with my body will degrade my mind.

VOLUMNIA

At thy choice, then:
To beg of thee, it is my more dishonour
Than thou of them. Come all to ruin; let
150Thy mother rather feel thy pride than fear
Thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death
With as big heart as thou. Do as thou list
Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck’dst it from me,
But owe thy pride thyself.

VOLUMNIA

This is your choice then. It is more dishonorable for me to have to beg you than for you to have to beg them. Everything will be ruined. I’d rather endure the consequences of challenging your pride rather than be afraid of it, for I fear death as little as you do. Do as you please. Your courage comes from me—you sucked it from me as a nursing baby—but your pride is all your own.

CORIOLANUS

155Pray, be content:
Mother, I am going to the market-place;
Chide me no more. I’ll mountebank their loves,
Cog their hearts from them, and come home beloved
Of all the trades in Rome. Look, I am going:
160Commend me to my wife. I’ll return consul;
Or never trust to what my tongue can do
I’ the way of flattery further.

CORIOLANUS

That’s enough, mother. I’m going to the marketplace. Don’t scold me any further. I’ll deceive them into liking me, steal their hearts, and come home beloved by all the tradesmen in Rome. Look, I’m going. Give my regards to my wife. I’ll come back as consul. Never again doubt how well my tongue can flatter.