O, no more, no more!
You have said you will not grant us any thing;
For we have nothing else to ask, but that
100Which you deny already: yet we will ask;
That, if you fail in our request, the blame
May hang upon your hardne therefore hear us.
Oh, no more, no more! You’ve said you won’t grant us anything. We have nothing else to ask other than what you’ve already refused. But we’ll ask that if you fail to grant our request, blame will be laid on your stubbornness. Therefore listen to us.
Aufidius, and you Volsces, mark; for we’ll
Hear nought from Rome in private. Your request?
Aufidius, and you Volsces, come here. We won’t listen to anything from Rome in private. What is your request?
105Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment
And state of bodies would bewray what life
We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself
How more unfortunate than all living women
Are we come hither: since that thy sight,
Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance
Constrains them weep and shake with fear and sorrow;
Making the mother, wife and child to see
115The son, the husband and the father tearing
His country’s bowels out. And to poor we
Thine enmity’s most capital: thou barr’st us
Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort
That all but we enjoy; for how can we,
120Alas, how can we for our country pray.
Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,
Whereto we are bound? alack, or we must lose
The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,
Our comfort in the country. We must find
125An evident calamity, though we had
Our wish, which side should win: for either thou
Must, as a foreign recreant, be led
With manacles thorough our streets, or else
triumphantly tread on thy country’s ruin,
130And bear the palm for having bravely shed
Thy wife and children’s blood. For myself, son,
I purpose not to wait on fortune till
These wars determine: if I cannot persuade thee
Rather to show a noble grace to both parts
135Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner
March to assault thy country than to tread—
Trust to’t, thou shalt not—on thy mother’s womb,
That brought thee to this world.
Even if we were silent and didn’t speak, our clothing and the condition of our bodies would betray the lives we’ve led since your exile. Think how we three are worse off than all living women, because seeing you—a sight that should make our eyes flow with tears of joy and our hearts dance with relief—constrains our eyes from weeping and shakes our hearts with fear and sorrow to make the mother, wife, and child see the son, the husband, and the father tearing his country’s bowels out. Your hatred will kill us poor people. You deny our prayers to the gods, which is the only comfort we have, and if we can’t pray—and pray for our country—where will we go if you succeed, where will we go? Alas, either we must lose the country, our dear mother, or else we must lose you, our comfort in the country. We will inevitably face tragedy, but we do have a wish for one side to win. Either you must, as a traitor, be led with handcuffs thorough our streets, or else triumphantly march on your ruined country and wear the medal for having bravely shed your wife and children’s blood. For myself, son, I don’t intend to rely on fortune until these wars end. If I can’t persuade you to reach a noble compromise with both sides rather than seek total destruction, when you march to assault your country you’ll be treading—and believe me about this—on your mother’s womb, which brought you into this world.