Coriolanus

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 3

page Act 1 Scene 3 Page 2

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Enter a Gentlewoman
A Gentlewoman enters.

GENTLEWOMAN

(to Volumnia) Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.

GENTLEWOMAN

(to Volumnia) Madam, the Lady Valeria has come to see you.

VIRGILIA

Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.

VIRGILIA

May I please be excused to have some time alone?

VOLUMNIA

Indeed, you shall not.
Methinks I hear hither your husband’s drum,
30See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair,
As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him:
Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus:
‘Come on, you cowards! you were got in fear,
Though you were born in Rome:’ his bloody brow
35With his mail’d hand then wiping, forth he goes,
Like to a harvest-man that’s task’d to mow
Or all or lose his hire.

VOLUMNIA

No, you may not. I think I hear your husband’s drum coming toward us. He must have plucked out all Aufidius’s hairs so the Volsces will avoid him the way children run from a bear. I think I see him stamping like this, and calling like this: “Come on, you cowards! You were born in fear even though you were born in Rome.” He’s wiping his bloody forehead with his armored hand. He’s unrelenting like a laborer who must harvest a whole field or not be paid at all.

VIRGILIA

His bloody brow! O Jupiter, no blood!

VIRGILIA

His bloody forehead! Oh, Jupiter, king of the gods, not blood!

VOLUMNIA

Away, you fool! it more becomes a man
40Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba,
When she did suckle Hector, look’d not lovelier
Than Hector’s forehead when it spit forth blood
At Grecian sword, contemning. Tell Valeria,
We are fit to bid her welcome.

VOLUMNIA

Don’t be foolish! Blood belongs on a man more than gold belongs on his trophy. When Hecuba suckled Hector, her breasts were no lovelier than Hector’s forehead when a Grecian sword struck it and it gushed furiously with blood. Tell Valeria that we welcome her in.
Exit Gentlewoman
The Gentlewoman exits.

VIRGILIA

45Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!

VIRGILIA

Heavens protect my husband from the deadly Aufidius!

VOLUMNIA

He’ll beat Aufidius’ head below his knee
And tread upon his neck.

VOLUMNIA

He’ll beat Aufidius’s head down below his knees and then stand on his neck.