Coriolanus

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

MENENIUS
What work’s, my countrymen, in hand? where go you
With bats and clubs? The matter? speak, I pray you.
MENENIUS
What are you working on, my countrymen? Where are you going with bats and clubs? What’s the matter? Please tell me.
FIRST CITIZEN
45Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have
had inkling this fortnight what we intend to do,
which now we’ll show ’em in deeds. They say poor
suitors have strong breaths: they shall know we
have strong arms too.
FIRST CITIZEN
The Senate knows what we’re upset about. They’ve known for two weeks what we intend to do, and now we’re going to show them. They say poor workers have bad breath. They’re about to find out that we have strong arms too.
MENENIUS
50Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,
Will you undo yourselves?
MENENIUS
Masters, my good friends, my honest neighbors, why will you harm yourselves?
FIRST CITIZEN
We cannot, sir, we are undone already.
FIRST CITIZEN
We’re already hurt.
MENENIUS
I tell you, friends, most charitable care
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
55Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
Against the Roman state, whose course will on
The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
Of more strong link asunder than can ever
60Appear in your impediment. For the dearth,
The gods, not the patricians, make it, and
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
You are transported by calamity
Thither where more attends you, and you slander
65The helms o’ the state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies.
MENENIUS
I tell you, friends, the nobles take very good care of you. For the relief you want from your suffering, you’d do just as well to rise up against the heavens as against the Roman state. The Senate isn’t going to change its course. However strong a chain you form, the Senate will break you because it’s ten thousand times stronger. The gods, not the nobles, are responsible for whatever you lack, therefore you should fall to your knees and pray, not raise your arms and fight. You’re getting carried away by your calamity, and you’re only inviting more trouble. You’re slandering the senators, cursing them as your enemies, without realizing that they care for you like fathers care for their children.

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