CORIOLANUS, thought by T.S. Eliot to be Shakespeare's greatest tragedy, is the story of an impossible man. Coriolanus is early republican Rome's military hero, driven from the city then begged to spare it; a politician who refuses to indulge in spin and who will not disguise his contempt for the people; the infantilized son of one of Shakespeare's most powerful and appalling women, Volumnia.



I say unto you, what he hath done famously,

he did it to that end: thoughsoft conscienced

men can be content to say it was for his

country, he didit to please his mother.

      ACT I scene i: 1st Citizen

There was a time when all the body's members

Rebelled against the belly; thus accused it,

That only like a gulf did it remain

I'th' midst a'th' body, idle and unactive,

Still cubbording the viand, never bearing

Like labor with the rest, where the other


Did see, and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,

And mutually participate, did minister

Unto the appetite, and affection common

Of the whole body...

     ACT I scene i: Menenius

What would you have, you curs,

That like nor peace, not war? The one affrights


The other makes you proud. He that trusts to


Where he should find lions, finds you hares.

      ACT I scene i: Caius Martius

Were half the world by the ears, and he

Upon my party, I'd revolt to make

Only my wars with him. He is a lion

That I am proud to hunt.

     ACT I scene i:  Caius Martius

If my son were my husband, I should freer

rejoice in that absence wherein he won

honor, than in the embracements of his

bed, where he would show most love.

      ACT I scene iii: Volumnia

I saw him run after a gilded butterfly, and

when he caught it, he let it go again, and

after it again, and over and over he comes,

and up again; or whether his fall enrage him,

or how 'twas, he did so set his teeth, and

tear it. Oh I warrant how he mammocked it.

      ACT I scene iii: Valeria

All the contagion of the south, light on you,

You shames of sould of geese,

That bear the shapes of men, how have you run

From slaves, that apes would beat; Pluto and hell,

All hurt behind, backs red, and faces pale

With flight and agued fear, mend and charge home,

Or by the fires of heaven I'll leave the foe,

And make my wars on you. Look to't. Come on,

If you stand fast, we'll beat them to their wives,

As they us to our trenches follows.

      ACT I scene v: Caius Martius

Oh me alone, make you a sword of me!

      ACT I scene vii: Caius Martius

Caius Martius: I'll fight with none but thee,

for I do hate thee

      Worse than a promise-breaker.

Aufidius:                                    We hate alike:

               Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor

               More than thy fame ad envy. Fix thy foot.

Caius Martius: Let the first budger die the other's


               And the gods doom him after.

      ACT I scene ix

I will go wash.

      ACT I scene x: Caius Martius/ Coriolaus

Nature teaches brutes to know their friends.

     ACT II scene i: Sicinius

I am known to be a humorous Patrician, and

one that loves a cup of hot wine, with not a

drop of allaying Tiber in' that converses

more with the buttock of the night, than with

the forehead of the morning. What I think, I

utter, and spend my malice in my breath.

      ACT II scene i: Menenius

Death, that dark spirit, in's nervy arm doth lie,

Which being advanced, declines, and then men die.

      ACT II scene i: Volumnia

... he seeks their hate with greater devotion,

than they can render it to him, and leaves nothing

undone that may fully discover him their opposite.

Now to seem to affect the malice and displeasure

of the people is as bad as that which he dislikes,

to flatter them for their love.

      ACT II scene ii: 1st Officer

The price is, to ask it kindly.

     ACT II scene iv: 1st Citizen

Better it is to die, beter to starve

Than crave the higher, which first we do deserve.

      ACT II scene iv: Coriolanus

©2004-2010 ShakespeareNYC

O good but most unwise Patricians; why

You grave, but wreakless Senators, have you thus

Given Hydra here to choose an officer

That with his peremptory "Shall", being but

the horn and noise o'th' monsters, wants not spirit

To say, he'll turn your current in a ditch,

And make your channel his?

      ACT III scene i: Coriolanus

His nature is too noble for the world:

He would not flatter Neptune for his trident.

      ACT III scene i: Menenius

You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate,

As reek from rotten fens; whose loves I prize,

As the dead carcasses of unburied men

That do corrupt my air; I banish you,

And here remain with your uncertainty.

let every feeble rumor hake your hearts;

Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,

Fan you into despair. Have the power still

To banish your defenders, till at length

Your ignorance (which finds not tilit feels,

Making but reservation of your selves,

Still your own foes) deliver you

As most abated captives, to some nation

That won you withour blows, despising

For you the city. Thus I turn my back;

There is a world elsewhere.

      ACT III scene iii: Coriolanus

Anger's my meat: I sup upon myself,

And so shall serve with feeding. Come, let's go.

Leave this faint puling, and lament as I do,

In anger, Juno-like. come, come, come.

      ACT IV scene i: Volumnia

My name is Caius martius, who hath done

To thee particualrly, and to all the Volces,

Great hurt and mischief: thereto witness may

My surname Coriolanus. The painful service,

The extreme dangers, and the drops of blod

Shed for my thankless country, are requited

But with that surname, a good memory

And Witness of the malice and displeasure

Which thou should'st bear me; only that name remains.

      ACT IV scene v: Corilonaus

Oh Martius, Martius:

Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart

A root of ancient envy.

      ACT IV scene v: Corilonaus

He is their god, he leads them like a thing

Made by some other diety then nature

That shapes man beter; an dthey follow him

Against us brats, with no less confidence

Than boys pursuing summer butterlies,

Or butchers killing flies.

       ACT IV scene vii: Cominius

When, Caius, Rome is thine,

Thou art poorest of all; then shortly art thou mine.

      ACT IV scene viii: Aufidius

My wife comes foremost, then the honored mould

Wherein this trunk was framed, an in her hand

The grandchild to her blood.-- But out, affection,

All bond and privilege of nature break;

Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.

What is that curtsey worth? Or those doves' eyes,

Which can make the gods foresworn? I melt, and am not

Of stronger earth than others; my mother bows,

As if Olympus to a mole-hill should

In supplication nod; and my young boy

Hath an aspect of interession, which

Great nature cries, "Deny not." Let the Volces

Plough rome, and harro Italy, I'll never

Be such a gosling to obey instinct: but atnd

As if a manwere author of himself,

And knew no other kin.

      ACT V scene iii: Coriolanus

There's no man in the world

More bound to his mother, yet here he lets me prate

Like one in the stocks.-- Thou hast never in thy life

Showed thy dear mother any curtesy...

yet give us our dispatch:

I am hushed until our city be aire,

And then I'll speak a little.

      ACT V scene iii: Volumnia

O mother, mother!

What have you done? Behold, the heavens do ope,

The gods look down, and this unnatural scene

They laugh at. Oh mother, mother: oh!

You have won a happy victory to rome.

But for your son, believe it: oh believe it,

Most dangerously you have with him prevailed,

if not most mortal to him. But let it come.

      ACT V scene iii: Coriolanus

Cut me to pieces, Volces men and lads,

Stain all your edges on me.

      ACT V scene vi: Coriolanus

PHOTO GALLERYCORIOLANUS_Gallery.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0



MAIN PAGEshapeimage_2_link_0