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  Act 5 Scene 3

page Act 5 Scene 3 Page 6

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VIRGILIA

Ay, and mine,
140That brought you forth this boy, to keep your name
Living to time.

VIRGILIA

Yes, and mine that gave you this boy, to keep your name alive.

YOUNG MARTIUS

A’ shall not tread on me;
I’ll run away till I am bigger, but then I’ll fight.

YOUNG MARTIUS

You won’t tread on me. I’ll run away until I’m bigger, but then I’ll fight.

CORIOLANUS

Not of a woman’s tenderness to be,
145Requires nor child nor woman’s face to see.
I have sat too long.

CORIOLANUS

I’ll become tender like a woman if I look at your faces. I’ve sat too long.
Rising
He rises.

VOLUMNIA

Nay, go not from us thus.
If it were so that our request did tend
To save the Romans, thereby to destroy
150The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn us,
As poisonous of your honour: no; our suit
Is that you reconcile them: while the Volsces
May say ‘This mercy we have show’d;’ the Romans,
‘This we received;’ and each in either side
155Give the all-hail to thee and cry ‘Be blest
For making up this peace!’ Thou know’st, great son,
The end of war’s uncertain, but this certain,
That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit
Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name,
160Whose repetition will be dogg’d with curses;
Whose chronicle thus writ: ‘The man was noble,
But with his last attempt he wiped it out;
Destroy’d his country, and his name remains
To the ensuing age abhorr’d.’ Speak to me, son:
165Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour,
To imitate the graces of the gods;
To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o’ the air,
And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt
That should but rive an oak. Why dost not speak?
170Think’st thou it honourable for a noble man
Still to remember wrongs? Daughter, speak you:
He cares not for your weeping. Speak thou, boy:
Perhaps thy childishness will move him more
Than can our reasons. There’s no man in the world
175More bound to ’s mother; yet here he lets me prate
Like one i’ the stocks. Thou hast never in thy life
Show’d thy dear mother any courtesy,
When she, poor hen, fond of no second brood,
Has cluck’d thee to the wars and safely home,
180Loaden with honour. Say my request’s unjust,
And spurn me back: but if it be not so,
Thou art not honest; and the gods will plague thee,
That thou restrain’st from me the duty which
To a mother’s part belongs. He turns away:
185Down, ladies; let us shame him with our knees.
To his surname Coriolanus ’longs more pride
Than pity to our prayers. Down: an end;
This is the last: so we will home to Rome,
And die among our neighbours. Nay, behold ’s:
190This boy, that cannot tell what he would have
But kneels and holds up bands for fellowship,
Does reason our petition with more strength
Than thou hast to deny ’t. Come, let us go:
This fellow had a Volscian to his mother;
195His wife is in Corioli and his child
Like him by chance. Yet give us our dispatch:
I am hush’d until our city be a-fire,
And then I’ll speak a little.

VOLUMNIA

No, don’t leave us now. If it were the case that our request was to save the Romans and thereby destroy the Volsces, whom you serve, you might condemn us for poisoning your honor. But no, our appeal is for you to reconcile with them so that the Volsces may say, “We have shown mercy,” and the Romans may say, “We received mercy,” and both sides will salute you and cry, “May you be blessed for making this peace!” You know, great son, that the outcome of war is uncertain. But it’s certain that if you conquer Rome, the benefit you’ll reap in so doing is a name whose repetition will be plagued with curses. You’ll be remembered with these words: “The man was noble, but with his last attack he gave up his nobility, destroyed his country, and his name remains forever hated.” Speak to me, son. You’ve aspired to great honor, to behave like a god, to tear apart the sky with thunder and yet throw your lightning bolt so that it would only split an oak. Why don’t you speak? Do you think it’s honorable for a noble man to always remember how he has been wronged? Daughter, speak—he doesn’t like your weeping. Speak, boy—perhaps your childishness will move him more than our reasons can. There’s no man in the world more tied to his mother, and yet here he lets me prattle on like a common criminal. Never in your life have you done your dear mother any favors, while she, poor woman, who didn’t want to have another child, has cared for you while you were at war and safely home, heaped with honors. If you think my request is unfair, then turn me down. But if it’s not, then you’re a liar and the gods will punish you for failing to give me what you owe me as a son. He turns away. Down, ladies. Let’s shame him by getting on our knees. His surname, Coriolanus, has more pride than pity for our prayers. Down! This is the end. (The women and young Martius kneel) We’ll go home to Rome and die among our neighbors. Wait, look. This boy, who doesn’t know what’s going to happen to him but kneels and holds up his hands for fellowship, lends more strength to our petition than you have strength to deny. Come, let’s go. This fellow has a Volscian mother, his wife is in Corioles, and his child looks just like him by chance. Send us away. I’ll be silent until our city is on fire, and then I’ll speak a little.