William Shakespeare: The Tragedy of Coriolanus

3. SCENE III. Rome. An apartmnet in MARCIUS' house.

[Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA; they sit down on two low stools and

I pray you, daughter, sing, or express yourself in a more
comfortable sort; if my son were my husband, I should freelier
rejoice in that absence wherein he won honour than in the
embracements of his bed where he would show most love. When yet
he was but tender-bodied, and the only son of my womb; when youth
with comeliness pluck'd all gaze his way; when, for a day of
kings' entreaties, a mother should not sell him an hour from her
beholding; I,--considering how honour would become such a person;
that it was no better than picture-like to hang by th' wall if
renown made it not stir;--was pleased to let him seek danger
where he was to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence
he returned his brows bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I
sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child than
now in first seeing he had proved himself a man.

But had he died in the business, madam? how then?

Then his good report should have been my son; I therein
would have found issue. Hear me profess sincerely,--had I a dozen
sons, each in my love alike, and none less dear than thine and my
good Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country
than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.


Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.

Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.

Indeed you shall not.
Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum;
See 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
With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes,
Like to a harvest-man that's tasked to mow
Or all, or lose his hire.

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