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If any think, brave death outweighs bad life,
And that his country's dearer than himself;
Let him, alone, or so many, so minded,

Wave thus, [waving his hand] to express his disposition,
And follow Marcius. [They all shout, and wave their swords;
take him up in their arms, and cast up their Caps.

O me, alone! Make you a sword of me? If these shows be not outward, which of you But is four Volces? None of you, but is Able to bear against the great Aufidius A shield as hard as his. A certain number, Though thanks to all, must I select: the rest Shall bear the business in some other fight, As cause will be obey'd. Please you to march; march before I And four'shall quickly draw out my command, Which men are best inclin'd.2



March on, my fellows:

"If there be one among the fair'st of Greece,
"That holds his honour higher than his ease,

Again, in King Henry VI, P. III:


"But thou prefer'st thy life before thine honour."
In this play we have already had lesser used for less. Malone.
1 Though thanks to all, I must select: the rest

Shall bear &c.] The old copy-I must select from all. I have followed Sir Thomas Hanmer in the omission of words apparently needless and redundant. Steevens.


Please you to march;

And four shall quickly draw out my command,

Which men are best inclin'd.] I cannot but suspect this pas sage of corruption. Why should they march, that four might select those that were best inclin'd? How would their inclinations be known? Who were the four that should select them? Perhaps we may read:

Please you to march:

And fear shall quickly draw out my command,

Which men are least inclin'd.

It is easy to conceive that, by a little negligence, fear might be changed to four, and least to best. Let us march, and that fear which incites desertion will free my army from cowards.

Mr. Heath thinks the poet wrote:


"And so I shall quickly draw out," &c. Some sense, however, may be extorted from the ancient read. ing. Coriolanus may mean, that as all the soldiers have offered to attend him on this expedition, and he wants only a part of them, he will submit the selection to four indifferent persons,

Make good this ostentation, and you shall

Divide in all with us.



The Gates of Corioli.

TITUS LARTIUS, having set a Guard upon Corioli, going with a Drum and Trumpet toward COMINIUS and CAIUS MARCIUS, enters with a lieutenant, a Party of Soldiers, and a Scout.

Lart. So, let the ports3 be guarded: keep your duties, As I have set them down. If I do send, despatch Those centuries4 to our aid; the rest will serve For a short holding: If we lose the field,

We cannot keep the town.


Fear not our care, sir.

Lart. Hence, and shut your gates upon us.— Our guider, come; to the Roman camp conduct us. [Exeunt.


A Field of Battle between the Roman and the Volcian


Alarum. Enter MARCIUS and AUFIDIUS.

Mar. I'll fight with none but thee; for I do hate thee Worse than a promise-breaker.

that he himself may escape the charge of partiality. If this be the drift of Shakspeare, he has expressed it with uncommon obscurity. The old translation of Plutarch only says: "Wherefore, with those that willingly offered themselves to followe him, he went out of the cittie." Steevens.

Coriolanus means only to say, that he would appoint four persons to select for his particular command or party, those who were best inclined; and in order to save time, he proposes to have this choice made, while the army is marching forward. They all march towards the enemy, and on the way he chooses those who are to go on that particular service. M. Mason.


the ports] i. e. the gates. So, in Timon of Athens: "Descend, and open your uncharged ports." Steevens. 4 Those centuries-] i. e. companies consisting each of a hundred men. Our author sometimes uses this word to express simply-a hundred; as in Cymbeline:

"And on it said a century of prayers." Steevens.


We hate alike;


Not Africk owns a serpent, I abhor
More than thy fame"and"envy: Fix thy foot.
Mar. Let the first budger die the other's slave,
And the gods doom him after!


Halloo me like a hare.


If I fly, Marcius,

Within these three hours, Tullus,

Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,7

And made what work I pleas'd: 'Tis not my blood,
Wherein thou seest me mask'd; for thy revenge,
Wrench up thy power to the highest.

Wert thou the Hector,
That was the whip of your bragg'd progeny,

5 thy fame and envy:] Envy here, as in many other places, means, malice. See Vol. XI, p. 240, n. 7. Malone.

The phrase-death and honour, being allowed, in our author's language, to signify no more than-honourable death, so fame and envy, may only mean-detested or odious fame. The verb-to envy, in ancient language, signifies to hate. Or the construction may be-Not Africk owns a serpent I more abhor and envy, than thy fame. Steevens.

6 Let the first budger die the other's slave,

And the gods doom him after!] So, in Macbeth:

"And damn'd be him who first cries, Hold, Enough!"

7 Within these three hours, Tullus,


Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,] If the name of Tullus be omitted, the metre will become regular. Steevens.

8 Wert thou the Hector,

That was the whip of your bragg'd progeny,] The Romans boasted themselves descended from the Trojans; how then was Hector the whip of their progeny? It must mean the whip with which the Trojans scourged the Greeks, which cannot be but by a very unusual construction, or the author must have forgotten the original of the Romans; unless whip has some meaning which includes advantage or superiority, as we say, he has the whip-hand, for he has the advantage. Johnson.

Dr. Johnson considers this as a very unusual construction, but it appears to me only such as every page of these plays furnishes; and the foregoing interpretation is in my opinion undoubtedly the true one. An anonymous correspondent justly observes, that the words mean, "the whip that your bragg'd progeny was possessed of" Malone.

Whip might anciently be used, as crack is now, to denote any thing peculiarly boasted of; as-the crack house in the countythe crack boy of a school, &c. Modern phraseology, perhaps, hap only passed from the whip, to the crack of it. Steevens.

Thou should'st not scape me here.-[They fight, and certain Volces come to the aid of AUFIDIUS.

Officious, and not valiant-you have sham'd me

In your condemned seconds."

[Exeunt fighting, driven in by MARCIUS.


The Roman Camp.

Alarum. A Retreat is sounded. Flourish. Enter at one side, COMINIUS, and Romans; at the other side, MARCIUS, with his arm in a Scarf, and other Romans.

Com. If I should tell thee1 o'er this thy day's work, Thou 'It not believe thy deeds: but I'll report it, Where senators shall mingle tears with smiles; Where great patricians shall attend, and shrug, I' the end, admire; where ladies shall be frighted,

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In your condemned seconds.] For condemned, we may read contemned. You have, to my shame, sent me help which I despise. Johnson.

Why may we not as well be contented with the old reading, and explain it, You have, to my shame, sent me help, which I must condemn as intrusive, instead of applauding it as necessary? Mr. M. Mason proposes to read second instead of seconds; but the latter is right. So, King Lear: "No seconds? all myself?" Steevens. We have had the same phrase in the fourth scene of this play: "Now prove good seconds!" Malone.

If I should tell thee &c.] So, in the old translation of Plutarch: "There the consul Cominius going up to his chayer of state, in the presence of the whole armie, gaue thankes to the goddes for so great, glorious, and prosperous a victorie: then he spake to Martius, whose vailiantnes he commended beyond the moone, both for that he him selfe sawe him doe with his eyes, as also for that Martius had reported vnto him. So in the ende he willed Martius, he should choose out of all the horses they had taken of their enemies, and of all the goodes they had wonne (whereof there was great store) tenne of euery sorte which he likest best, before any distribution should be made to other. Besides this great honorable offer he had made him, he gaue him in testimonie that he had wonne that daye the price of prowes above all other, a goodly horse with a capparison, and all furniture to him: which the whole armie beholding, dyd marvelously praise and commend. But Martius stepping forth, told the consul, he most thanckefully accepted the gifte of his horse, and VOL. XIII.


And, gladly quak'd,2 hear more; where the dull Tribunes,
That, with the fusty plebeians, hate thine honours,
Shall say, against their hearts,We thank the gods,
Our Rome hath such a soldier!—

Yet cam'st thou to a morsel of this feast,

Having fully dined before.

Enter TITUS LARTIUS, with his Power, from the pursuit.


Here is the steed, we the caparison:3

Hadst thou beheld


O general,

Pray now, no more: my mother,

Who has a charter to extol her blood,

When she does praise me, grieves me. I have done, As you have done; that's what I can; induc'd

As you have been; that 's for my country:5

He, that has but effected his good will,

Hath overta’en mine act.


You shall not be

The grave of your deserving; Rome must know

The value of her own: 'twere a concealment

was a glad man besides, that his seruice had deserued his generalls commendation: and as for his other offer, which was rather a mercenary reward, than an honourable recompence, he would none of it; but was contented to haue his equall parte with other souldiers." Steevens.

2 And, gladly quak'd,] i. e. thrown into grateful trepidation. To quake is likewise used as a verb active by T. Heywood, in his Silver Age, 1613:

"We'll quake them at that bar

"Where all souls wait for sentence." Steevens.

3 Here is the steed, we the caparison;] This is an odd encomium. The meaning is, this man performed the action, and we only filled up the show. Johnson.


a charter to extol -] A privilege to praise her own son. Johnson. that's for my country:] The latter word is used here, as in other places, as a trisyllable. See Vol. II, p. 160, n. 3.


6 He, that hath but effected his good will,


Hath overta'en mine act.] That is, has done as much as I have done, inasmuch as my ardour to serve the state is such that I have never been able to effect all that I wish'd.

So, in Macbeth:

"The Highty purpose never is o'ertook,
"Unless the deed goes with it." Malone.

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