1. SCENE I. Rome. Before a gate of the city.
[Enter CORIOLANUS, VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, MENENIUS, COMINIUS,and
several young Patricians.]
Come, leave your tears; a brief farewell:--he beast
With many heads butts me away.--Nay, mother,
Where is your ancient courage? you were us'd
To say extremities was the trier of spirits;
That common chances common men could bear;
That when the sea was calm all boats alike
Show'd mastership in floating; fortune's blows,
When most struck home, being gentle wounded, craves
A noble cunning; you were us'd to load me
With precepts that would make invincible
The heart that conn'd them.
O heavens! O heavens!
Nay, I pr'ythee, woman,--
Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome,
And occupations perish!
What, what, what!
I shall be lov'd when I am lack'd. Nay, mother,
Resume that spirit when you were wont to say,
If you had been the wife of Hercules,
Six of his labours you'd have done, and sav'd
Your husband so much sweat.--Cominius,
Droop not; adieu.--Farewell, my wife,--my mother:
I'll do well yet.--Thou old and true Menenius,
Thy tears are salter than a younger man's,
And venomous to thine eyes.--My sometime general,
I have seen thee stern, and thou hast oft beheld
Heart-hard'ning spectacles; tell these sad women
'Tis fond to wail inevitable strokes,
As 'tis to laugh at 'em.--My mother, you wot well
My hazards still have been your solace: and
Believe't not lightly,--though I go alone,
Like to a lonely dragon, that his fen
Makes fear'd and talk'd of more than seen,--your son
Will or exceed the common or be caught
With cautelous baits and practice.
My first son,
Whither wilt thou go? Take good Cominius
With thee awhile: determine on some course
More than a wild exposture to each chance
That starts i' the way before thee.
O the gods!