Coriolanus

by: William Shakespeare

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FIRST CITIZEN
Care for us! True, indeed! They ne’er cared for us
yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses
crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to
70support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act
established against the rich, and provide more
piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain
the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and
there’s all the love they bear us.
FIRST CITIZEN
Care for us? As if! They’ve never cared for us. They force us to starve while their storehouses are full of grain. They make laws about loaning money that protect the loan sharks. Every day they repeal the laws that interfere with the interests of the wealthy and instead make strict laws to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars we fight in don’t kill us, these laws will. That’s how well they care for us.
MENENIUS
75Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accused of folly. I shall tell you
A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
80To stale ’t a little more.
MENENIUS
You must either admit that you’re being extremely malicious or you’ll be accused of foolishness. I’ll tell you a relevant story. You may have heard it, but since it illustrates my point, I’ll venture to tell it again.
FIRST CITIZEN
Well, I’ll hear it, sir: yet you must not think to
fob off our disgrace with a tale: but, an ’t please
you, deliver.
FIRST CITIZEN
Well, I’ll listen sir, but don’t think you can trick us out of our suffering with a story. But if it pleases you, tell it.
MENENIUS
There was a time when all the body’s members
85Rebell’d against the belly, thus accused it:
That only like a gulf it did remain
I’ the midst o’ the body, idle and unactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments
90Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
And, mutually participate, did minister
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answer’d—
MENENIUS
There was a time when all the body’s parts rebelled against the belly. They accused the belly of being an idle, inactive pool in the middle the body, always hoarding the food, never working as much as the rest of the parts. The other body parts did see and hear, think, instruct, walk, feel, and together worked for the needs and desires of the whole body. The belly answered—