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Coriolanus. Scratches with briars, scars to move laughter only.


THE tragedy of Coriolanus is one of the most amusing of our author's performances. The old man's merriment in Menenius; the lofty lady's dignity in Volumnia; the bridal modesty in Virgilia; the patrician and military haughtiness in Coriolanus; the plebeian malignity and tribunitian insolence in Brutus and Sicinius, make a very pleasing and interesting variety; and the various revolutions of the hero's fortune fill the mind with anxious curiosity. There is, perhaps, too much bustle in the first act, and too little in the last. JOHNSON.

The whole history is exactly followed, and many of the principal speeches exactly copied from the life of Coriolanus in Plutarch. POPE.

Of this play, there is no edition before that of the players, in folio, in 1623. JOHNSON.

This play I conjecture to have been written in the year 1609. It comprehends a period of about four years, commencing with the secession to the Mons Sacer in the year of Rome 262, and ending with the death of Coriolanus, A. U. C. 266. MALONE.



TITUS LARTIUS, generals against the Volscians.


MENENIUS AGRIPPA, friend to Coriolanus.
SICINIUS VELUTUS, tribunes of the people.


Young MARCIUS, son to Coriolanus.

A Roman herald.

TULLUS AUFIDIUS, general of the Volscians.
Lieutenant to Aufidius.

Conspirators with Aufidius.

A Citizen of Antium.

Two Volscian Guards.

VOLUMNIA, mother to Coriolanus.
VIRGILIA, wife to Coriolanus.

VALERIA, friend to Virgilia.

Gentlewoman, attending Virgilia.

Roman and Volscian Senators, Patricians, Ediles, Lictors, Soldiers, Citizens, Messengers, Servants to Aufidius, and other Attendants.

SCENE, partly in Rome; and partly in the Territories of the Volscians and Antiates.



SCENE I.-Rome. A Street. Enter a Company of mutinous Citizens, with staves, clubs, and other weapons.

1 Citizen.

BEFORE we proceed any further, hear me speak.

Cit. Speak, speak.

[Several speaking at once.

1 Cit. You are all resolved rather to die,than to famish? Cit. Resolved, resolved.

1 Cit. First you know, Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.

Cit. We know 't, we know't.

1 Cit. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is't a verdict?

Cit. No more talking on't; let it be done : away, away. 2 Cit. One word, good citizens.

1 Cit. 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:2 the leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an inventory to particularize their abundance; our sufferance isja gain to them.-Let us revenge this with our pikes, 3 ere we become rakes: for the gods know, I speak this in hunger for bread, not in thirst for revenge.

2 Cit. Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?


[1] Good is here used in the mercantile sense. [2] They think that the charge of maintaining us is more than we are worth. JOHNS.

[3] It is plain that, in our author's time, we had the proverb, as lean as a rake. Of this proverb the original is obscure. Rake now signifies a dissolute man, a man worn out with disease and debauchery. But the signification is, I think, much more modern than the proverb. Rakel, in Islandick, is said to mean a cur-dog, and this was probably the first use among us of the word rake; as lean as a rake is, therefore, as lean as a dog too worthless to be fed. JOHNS-It may be so: and yet I believe the proverb, as lean as a rake, owes its original simply to the thin taper form of the instrument made use of by hay-makers. As thin as a whipping-post, is another proverb of the same kind. STEEV.

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