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Corioli. The Senate House.

Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, and certain Senators. 1 Sen. So, your opinion is, Aufidius,

That they of Rome are enter'd in our counsels,
And know how we proceed.

Is it not yours?
What ever hath been thought on in this state,
That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome
Had circumvention? 'Tis not four days gone,"
Since I heard thence; these are the words: I think,
I have the letter here; yes, here it is:

They have press'd a power, but it is not known
Whether for east, or west: The dearth is great;
The people mutinous: and it is rumour'd,
Cominius, Marcius your old enemy,

(Who is of Rome worse hated than of you)
And Titus Lartius, a most valiant Roman,
These three lead on this preparation
Whither 'tis bent: most likely, 'tis for you:
Consider of it.

1 Sen.

Our army 's in the field:
We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready
To answer us.



Nor did you think it folly,

hath been thought on -] Old copy-have. Corrected by the second folio. Steevens.


-'Tis not four days gone,] i. e. four days past. Steevens. 9 They have press'd a power,] Thus the modern editors. The copy reads-They have prest a power; which may signify, have a power ready; from pret. Fr. So, in The Merchant of



"And I am prest unto it."

See note on this passage, Act 1, sc. i. Steevens.

The spelling of the old copy proves nothing, for participles were generally so spelt in Shakspeare's time: so distrest, blest, &c. I believe press'd in its usual sense is right. It appears to have been used in Shakspeare's time in the sense of impress'd. So, in Plutarch's Life of Coriolanus, translated by Sir T. North, 1579: " -the common people-would not appeare when the consuls called their names by a bill, to press them for the warres.' Again, in King Henry VI, P. III:

"From London by the king was I press'd forth."

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To keep your great pretences veil'd, till when

They needs must show themselves; which in the hatching,
It seem'd, appear'd to Rome. By the discovery,
We shall be shorten'd in our aim; which was,

To take in many towns,1 ere, almost, Rome
Should know we were afoot.

2 Sen.
Noble Aufidius,
Take your commission; hie you to your bands;
Let us alone to guard Corioli:

If they sit down before us, for the remove
Bring up your army;2 but, I think, you 'll find
They have not prepar❜d for us.


O, doubt not that;
I speak from certainties. Nay, more.3

Some parcels of their powers are forth already,
And only hitherward. I leave your honours.
If we and Caius Marcius chance to meet,
'Tis sworn between us, we shall ever strike
Till one can do no more.


The gods assist you!

Auf. And keep your honours safe!

1 Sen.

2 Sen.

All. Farewel.




1 To take in many towns,] To take in is here, as in many other places, to subdue. So, in The Execration of Vulcan, by Ben Jonson:

"" The Globe, the glory of the Bank,
"I saw with two poor chambers taken in,
"And raz'd." Malone.

Again, more appositely, in Antony and Cleopatra:

66 cut the Ionian sea,

"And take in Toryne."

2 - for the remove


Bring up your army;] Says the Senator to Aufidius, Go to your troops, we will garrison Corioli. If the Romans besiege us, bring up your army to remove them. If any change should be made, I would read:

- for their remove. Johnson.

The remove and their remove are so near in sound, that the transcriber's ear might easily have deceived him. But it is always dangerous to let conjecture loose where there is no difficulty.


3 I speak from certainties. Nay, more,] Sir Thomas Hanmer completes this line by reading:

I speak from very certainties. &c. Steevens.


Rome. An Apartment in Marcius' House.

Enter VOLUMNIA, and VIRGILIA: They sit down on two low Stools, and sew.

Vol. 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 plucked all gaze his way;4 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 the wall, if renown made it not stir, -was pleased to let him seek danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows bound with oak.3 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.

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

Vol. 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.

Enter a Gentlewoman.

Gent. Madam, the lady Valeria is come to visit you. Vir. 'Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself. Vol. Indeed, you shall not.

4 when youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way;] i. e. attracted the attention of every one towards him. Douce.


-brows bound with oak.] The crown given by the Romans to him that saved the life of a Citizen, which was accounted more honourable than any other. Johnson.

6 — to retire myself.] This verb active (signifying to withdraw) has already occurred in The Tempest:

I will thence

"Retire me to my Milan -."

Again, in Timon of Athens:

Methinks, I hear hither your husband's drum;
See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair;

As children from a bear, the Volces 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 task'd to mow
Or all, or lose his hire.

Vir. His bloody brow! O, Jupiter, no blood!
Vol. Away, you fool! it more becomes a man,
Than gilt his trophy: The breasts of Hecuba,
When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier
Than Hector's forehead, when it spit forth blood
Content Grecian swords" "contending."Tell Valeria,
We are fit to bid her welcome.

[Exit. Gent:
Vir. Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!
Vol. He'll beat Aufidius' head below his knee,
And tread upon his neck.

Re-enter Gentlewoman, with VALERIA and her Usher,
Val. My ladies both, good day to you.

Vol. Sweet madam,

Vir. I am glad to see your ladyship.

Val. How do you both? you are manifest house-keepers. What, are you sewing here? A fine spot,1 in good faith.How does your little son?

Vir. I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.

Vol. He had rather see the swords, and hear a drum, than look upon his school-master.

"I have retir'd me to a wasteful cock, " Steevens. See Vol. VIII, p. 57, n. 4. Malone.

7 With his mail'd_hand then wiping,] i. e. his hand cover'd or arm'd with mail. Douce.

8 Than gilt his trophy:] Gilt means a superficial display of gold, a word now obsolete. So, in King Henry V:

"Our gayness and our gilt, are all besmirch'd." Steevens. At Grecian swords' contending.-Tell Valeria,] The accuracy of the first folio may be ascertained from the manner in which this line is printed:

At Grecian sword. Contending, tell Valeria. Steevens. 1 A fine spot,] This expression (whatever may be the precise meaning of it) is still in use among the vulgar: "You have made a fine spot of work of it," being a common phrase of reproach to those who have brought themselves into a scrape.


Val. O' my word, the father's son: I'll swear, 'tis a veFy pretty boy. O' my troth, I looked upon him o' Wednesday half an hour together: he has such a confirmed countenance. 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; catched it again: or whether his fall enraged him, or how 'twas, he did so set his teeth, and tear it; O, I warrant, howe mammocked it!2

Vol. One of his father's moods.

Val. Indeed la, 'tis a noble child.
Vir. A crack, madam.3*

Val. Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play the idle huswife with me this afternoon.

Vir. No, good madam; I will not out of doors.

Val. Not out of doors!

Vol. She shall, she shall.

Vir. Indeed, no, by your patience: I will not over the threshold, till my lord return from the wars.

Val. Fy, you confine yourself most unreasonably: Come, you must go visit the good lady that lies in.

Vir. I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her with my prayers; but I cannot go thither.

Vol. Why, I pray you?

Vir. 'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.

Val. You would be another Penelope : yet, they say, all the yarn, she spun, in Ulysses' absence, did but fill Ithaca full of moths. Come; I would, your cambrick were sensible as your finger, that you might leave pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.

2 mammocked it!] To mammock is to cut in pieces, or to tear. So, in The Devil's Charter, 1607:


“That he were chopt in mammocks, I could eat him.” Steevens.

3 A crack, madam.] Thus in Cynthia's Revels by Ben Jonson: Since we are turn'd cracks, let's study to be like cracks, act freely, carelessly, and capriciously.”

Again, in The Four Prentices of London, 1615:

"A notable, dissembling led, a crack.” Crack signifies a boy child. See Mr. Tyrwhitt's note on The Second Part of King Henry IV, Vol. IX, p. 94, n. 6. Steevens.

* A crack, madam.] i. e. a wonder, a boast; the word is still in use in the north of England; and in the very quotation introduced by the learned and industrious Mr. Steevens, it bears the meaning which I have here given.

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