Coriolanus

By William Shakespeare, 1608
Coriolanus

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Excerpt

SCENE: Rome and the neighbourhood; Corioli and the neighbourhood; Antium

ACT I. SCENE I. Rome. A street

Enter a company of mutinous citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons

  FIRST CITIZEN. Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.
  ALL. Speak, speak.
  FIRST CITIZEN. You are all resolv'd rather to die than to
famish?
  ALL. Resolv'd, resolv'd.
  FIRST CITIZEN. First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to
the
    people.
  ALL. We know't, we know't.
  FIRST CITIZEN. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own
    price. Is't a verdict?
  ALL. No more talking on't; let it be done. Away, away!
  SECOND CITIZEN. One word, good citizens.
  FIRST CITIZEN. We are accounted poor citizens, the patricians
good.
    What authority surfeits on would relieve us; if they would
yield
    us but the superfluity while it were wholesome, we might
guess
    they relieved us humanely; but they think we are too dear.
The
    leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an

    inventory to particularize their abundance; our sufferance is
a
    gain to them. Let us revenge this with our pikes ere we
become
    rakes; for the gods know I speak this in hunger for bread,
not in
    thirst for revenge.
  SECOND CITIZEN. Would you proceed especially against Caius
Marcius?
  FIRST CITIZEN. Against him first; he's a very dog to the
    commonalty.
  SECOND CITIZEN. Consider you what services he has done for his
    country?
  FIRST CITIZEN. Very well, and could be content to give him good
    report for't but that he pays himself with being proud.
  SECOND CITIZEN. Nay, but speak not maliciously.
  FIRST CITIZEN. I say unto you, what he hath done famously he
did it
    to that end; though soft-conscienc'd men can be content to
say it
    was for his country, he did it to please his mother and to be
    partly proud, which he is, even to the altitude of his
virtue.
  SECOND CITIZEN. What he cannot help in his nature you account a
    vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous.
  FIRST CITIZEN. If I must not, I need not be barren of
accusations;
    he hath faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition. [Shouts

    within] What shouts are these? The other side o' th' city is
    risen. Why stay we prating here? To th' Capitol!
  ALL. Come, come.
  FIRST CITIZEN. Soft! who comes here?

Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA