Blogs

Abridged Coriolanus/#1/Frustration/Act 1, Scene 1.1

In downtown Rome, in about 500 BC, a large group of
plebeians is upset with the Roman Senate, complaining that it is not providing
them with enough corn.  The plebeians are
the common people.  The First Citizen
says “We are accounted poor citizens the patricians good. The patricians
represent the aristocracy, the ruling class.”
He says “The leanness that afflicts is an inventory of abundance for
them; our sufferance is a gain to them. I speak this in hunger for bread, not
in thirst for revenge.”  Another citizen
says “Would you proceed against Caius Martius?”
All in the group say “Against him first.
He’s a very dog to the commonalty.”
The First Citizen says “What he hath done famously, he hath done to
achieve fame.  He hath done it to please
his mother, and to be proud, which he is.”
Martius is a military hero and a senator.  Menenius is a senator and a father-figure to
Martius. Menenius enters.  A Second
Citizen shouts “Worthy Menenius, one that hath always loved the people.”  Menenius says “I tell you friends, for your
wants, you may as well strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
against the Roman state, whose course will go on the way it takes. The helms of
the state care for you like fathers.”
The First Citizen cries “Care for us?
They ne’er cared for us yet; suffer us to famish.”  Menenius goes on, saying “You shall find no
public benefit which you receive but it comes from the Senate to you.”  Caius Martius enters, and abruptly says
“What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues.”

Abridged Coriolanus/#2/Balance/Act 1, Scene 1.2

Speaking down to the plebeians, Martius continues to
berate them.  He turns to Menenius,
saying “What’s their seeking?”  Menenius
tells him they want corn at “their own rates,” and believe that “the city is
well stored.”  Martius comes back with
“Hang ‘um!  They said they were extremely
hungry, that dogs must eat, that meat was made for mouths, that the gods sent
not corn for the rich men only.”  Martius
tells Menenius they seek “to break the heart of generosity, and make old power
look pale.”  To Menenius’ surprise,
Martius notes “that five tribunes to defend their vulgar wisdoms, two being Junius
Brutus and Sicinius Velutus, have been granted them.”  The two tribunes in this story are Brutus and
Sicinius.  A messenger enters telling
Martius that “the Volces are in arms.”
Senators enter, asking Martius if it is true that the Volces are preparing
for war.  Martius replies “They have a
leader, Tullus Aufidius.  If I were
anything but what I am, I would wish me only he.  He is a lion that I am proud to hunt.”  A Senator tells the plebeians “Hence to your
homes.”  Martius replies “Nay, let them follow;
the Volces have much corn.”  All exit but
Sicinius and Brutus.  The two tribunes
talk about Martius.  Brutus says “He is
grown too proud to be so valiant.”
Sicinius says “I do wonder if his insolence can endure to be commanded
under Cominius.”  Cominius is the senior
Roman military officer.

Abridged Coriolanus/#3/Background/Act 1, Scene 2

The scene has shifted to Corioles, the Volscian capital
city.   A Volces senator asks Aufidius
“Is your opinion of Rome that they know how we proceed.”  Aufidius answers “Is it not yours?”  He reads from a letter about current affairs
in Rome.  The letter in part reads “The
people mutinous; Cominius, Martius, who is of Rome worse hated than you, and
Titus Lartius lead on this preparation.”
Another senator says “I think you’ll find they have not prepared for us.”  Aufidius says “O, doubt not that.  But some parcels of their power are forth
already.  If we and Caius Martius chance
to meet, ‘tis sworn between us we shall ever strike till one can do no
more.”

Abridged Coriolanus/#4/Fear/Act 1, Scene 3

Volumnia, Martius’ mother, tells her daughter-in-law,
Virgilia, to “express herself in a more cheerful manner.  I was pleased to let him seek danger where he
was like to find fame.”  Virgilia asks,
“But had he died in the business, how then?”
Martius being her only child, Volumnia responds “I had rather had eleven
die nobly for their country than one who overindulged himself out of
action.”   The Roman troops are heading
for Corioles.  Virgilia cries “Heavens
protect my lord from deadly Aufidius!”
Volumnia responds “He’ll beat Aufidius’ head below his knee and tread
upon his neck.”Valeria, Virgilia’s friend, enters, asking Volumnia “How
does your little son?”  Volumnia says “He
had rather see the swords and hear a drum than look upon his schoolmaster.”  The “little son” is Martius Junior.  Valeria responds “O’ my word, the father’s
son.”  Valeria asks Virgilia to go
outside with her.  Virgilia says “I’ll
not over the threshold till my lord return from the wars.”  Valeria says “You confine yourself most
unreasonably.”  Virgilia holds her ground,
saying “Pardon me, indeed I will not forth.”
Volumnia says “Let her alone, lady.
As she is now, she will but disease our better mirth.”  Valeria begs her “to go along with us.”  Virgilia says “Indeed, I must not.”

Abridged Coriolanus/#5/Boldness/Act 1, Scene 4

Led by Martius and Titus Lartius, the Roman troops arrive
at the gates to the city of Corioles.
Martius says “Make us quick in work.
Come, sound the alarms.”  A
Corioles senator says “Our gates, which yet seem shut, we have not pinned with
rushes; they’ll open of themselves.”
Martius says “They fear us not, but issue forth their city.  Advance, brave Titus.  They do disdain us much beyond our
thoughts.”  The Volscians push the Romans
back to their trenches.  Martius explodes
in anger saying of his men “You shames of Rome.
You souls of geese, that bear the shapes of men, how have you run from
slaves that apes would beat!  Follow me.
Mark me, and do the like.”  The First
Soldier says “Not I.”  Another says “Nor
I.”  The First Soldier, speaking of
Martius says “They have shut him in.”
Lartius says “Thou art lost, Martius.
Thou wast a soldier.”  Martius somehow
escapes, but is bleeding badly.  Lartius
cries “O, ‘tis Martius!  Let’s fetch
him.”  The Romans enter the city.

Abridged Coriolanus/#6/Confidence/Act 1, Scene 5

A triumphant Martius walks through the streets of
Corioles, demeaning the plebeians as he might in Rome, saying “Down with
them.”  He says to Titus Lartius, “Take
convenient numbers to make good the city; whilst I will haste back to Rome to
help Cominius.”  Lartius replies: “Worthy
sir, thou bleed’st.”  The ever confident
Martius says “My work hath yet not warmed me.
To Aufidius thus I will appear and fight.”  Lartius says “Bold gentleman, prosperity be thy
page.”  Martius responds to him, “My
friend, no less.”

Abridged Coriolanus/#7/Determined/Act 1, Scene 6

Back in Rome, Cominius says to his soldiers “Well
fought!  We come off like Romans, neither
foolish in our stands nor cowardly in withdrawal.”  A bloody Martius enters, saying “Come I too
late?”  Cominius says, well, you come too
late “if you come not in the blood of others, but mantled in your own.”  Martius tells him that Lartius is “holding
Corioles in the name of Rome.”  Bold
warrior that he is, Martius says to Cominius “I do beseech you, directly set me
against Aufidius and his Antiates.  The
Antiates are those from Antium.  Antium
is a city-state.  Referring to the
soldiers, Cominius tells him “Take your choice of those that best can aid your
action.”  Martius says “Those are they
that most are willing.”  He continues,
saying “Let him follow Martius who thinks brave death outweighs bad life, and
that his country’s dearer than himself.”
Martius then selects a few men to join him to fight Aufidius.  Cominius says “March on, my fellows.”  Separately, Lartius has a guard unit hold
Corioles.  He sets off to join Martius,
saying “If we lose the field, we cannot keep the town.”

Abridged Coriolanus/#8/Recognition/Act 1, Scene 9

Martius and Aufidius meet near the Roman camp.  Martius says “I’ll fight with none but thee,
for I do hate thee.”  Aufidius responds
“We hate alike.  Fix thy foot.  Thou shouldst not escape me here.”  They fight.
Aufidius retreats, saying “you have shamed me.”  Martius meets up with Cominius who says “I’ll
report it where senators shall mingle tears with smiles.  We thank the gods our Rome hath such a soldier.
Rome must know the value of her own.”
Martius says “I have some wounds upon me, and they smart to hear
themselves remembered.”  Soldiers cry
“Martius!  Martius!”  Lartius has joined them in Rome.  Martius cries “No more, I say!  You shout me forth in acclamations
hyperbolical.”  Cominius says “Too modest
are you.  Be it known that Caius Martius
wears this war’s garland.”  He says to
the soldiers “For what he did before Corioles, call him, with all th’ applause,
Caius Martius Coriolanus.  Bear th’
addition nobly ever!”   Martius says “I
will go wash.  Howbeit, I thank
you.”  Cominius says “You, Titus Lartius,
must to Corioles back.”  Martius is now
known as Coriolanus.  They exit.  Meanwhile, in the camp of the Volces,
Aufidius says “I would I were a Roman; for I cannot, being a Volsce, be that I
am.  Five times, Martius, I have fought
with thee; so often hast thou beat me, and wouldst do so, I think, should we
encounter as often as we eat.  If e’er
again I meet him beard to beard, he’s mine or I am his. Where I find him, would
I wash my fierce hand in his heart.”

Abridged Coriolanus/#9/Hero/Act 2, Scene 1

The Tribunes, Sicinius and Brutus, appointed by the
senate to represent the plebeians, are on stage.  Coriolanus’ friend, Menenius, is with
them.  Menenius says “In what enormity is
Martius poor in.”  Brutus says “He’s poor
in all.”  Sicinius adds “Especially in
pride.”  Brutus says “And topping all
others in boasting.”  Menenius says “You
blame Martius for being proud?”  Brutus
says “We do it not alone, sir.”
Menenius berates them in a number of ways.  He says “You are a pair of strange ones.  Our very priests must become mockers, if they
shall encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are.  You say Martius is proud, but he is worth all
your predecessors.  I take my leave of
you.”  The Tribunes step aside.  Volumnia and Virgilia enter.  Volumnia says “Worthy Menenius, my boy
Martius approaches.  He comes home with
the oaken garland.”  Valeria chimes in
with “There’s wondrous things spoke of him.”
A Herald cries “Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!”  Menenius says “A hundred thousand
welcomes!  I could weep and I could
laugh; I am light and heavy.”  Coriolanus
says to his wife and mother “The good patricians must be visited.”  Volumnia says “I have lived to see inherited
my very wishes.  There’s only one thing
wanting, which I doubt not but our Rome will cast upon thee.”  “On to the Capitol,” Cominius says.  Sicinius says to Brutus, “I warrant him
consul.  He cannot transport his honors,
but will lose those he hath won.”  Brutus
says “I heard him swear he would never appear in the marketplace and put on the
threadbare vesture of humility.  We must
suggest the people in what hatred he still hath held them.”  Sicinius adds “This will be his fire that
will kindle their dry stubble; and their blaze shall darken him forever.”  A messenger tells the tribunes “You are sent
for to th’ Capitol.  ‘Tis thought that
Martius shall be consul.”  Brutus says
“Let’s to the Capitol, and carry with us ears and eyes for th’ time, but hearts
for the event.”

Abridged Coriolanus/#10/Aloofness/Act 2, Scene 2

The scene is the Roman Senate in the Roman Capitol.  Officers are talking among themselves.  The issue is: who is to be named consul.  The Second Officer says “’tis thought of
everyone Coriolanus will carry it.”  The
First Officer counters, saying “He’s vengeance proud, and loves not the common
people.”  The Second Officer says “There
hath been many great men that have flattered the people who ne’er loved
them.”  The First Officer says “He seeks
their hate with greater devotion than they can render it him.”  The Second Officer says “He hath deserved
worthily of his country.”  The First
Officer says “No more of him; he’s a worthy man.”  As Menenius is about to honor Coriolanus;
Coriolanus exits, saying “I had rather have my wounds to heal again than here
say how I got them.”  Menenius goes on to
praise him, recounting his valor at Corioles.
Senators offer their support. Coriolanus re-enters.  Menenius says “The Senate, Coriolanus, are
well pleased to make thee consul.  It
remains you do speak to the people.”
Coriolanus replies “Let me o’erleap that custom.”  Brutus says “You see how he intends to use
the people.  We’ll inform them of our
proceedings here.”