Coriolanus

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 5 Scene 1

page Act 5 Scene 1 Page 2

Original Text

Modern Text

MENENIUS

Very well:
25Could he say less?

MENENIUS

That’s fair for him to say.

COMINIUS

I offer’d to awaken his regard
For’s private friends: his answer to me was,
He could not stay to pick them in a pile
Of noisome musty chaff: he said ’twas folly,
30For one poor grain or two, to leave unburnt,
And still to nose the offence.

COMINIUS

I tried to make him think of his personal friends. His answer to me was that he couldn’t stop to pick them out from a pile of offensive, musty chaff. He said it was foolish to spare one or two poor grains from being burned and still smell the stink.

MENENIUS

For one poor grain or two!
I am one of those; his mother, wife, his child,
And this brave fellow too, we are the grains:
35You are the musty chaff; and you are smelt
Above the moon: we must be burnt for you.

MENENIUS

For one poor grain or two! I am one of those. His mother, his wife, his child, and this brave fellow, too—we are the grains. You are the musty chaff. Your stink can be smelled above the moon, and we must be burnt for you.

SICINIUS

Nay, pray, be patient: if you refuse your aid
In this so never-needed help, yet do not
Upbraid’s with our distress. But, sure, if you
40Would be your country’s pleader, your good tongue,
More than the instant army we can make,
Might stop our countryman.

SICINIUS

No, please, be patient. If you refuse to help when it’s most needed, don’t lecture us while we’re in distress. If you’d plead on your country’s behalf, surely your good words would do more to stop our countryman than any army we could raise.

MENENIUS

No, I’ll not meddle.

MENENIUS

No, I won’t get involved.

SICINIUS

Pray you, go to him.

SICINIUS

Please, go to him.

MENENIUS

45What should I do?

MENENIUS

What would I do?

BRUTUS

Only make trial what your love can do
For Rome, towards Martius.

BRUTUS

See what your kindness toward Martius can do for Rome.