Rome. Before a gate of the city.
Enter CORIOLANUS, VOLUMNIA, VIRGILIA, MENENIUS, COMINIUS, with the young Nobility of Rome
Come, leave your tears: a brief farewell: the beast
Where is your ancient courage? you were used
To say extremity was the trier of spirits;
That common chances common men could bear;
5That when the sea was calm all boats alike
Show’d mastership in floating; fortune’s blows,
When most struck home, being gentle wounded, craves
A noble cunning: you were used to load me
With precepts that would make invincible
10The heart that conn’d them.
O heavens! O heavens!
Nay! prithee, woman,—
Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome,
And occupations perish!
15What, what, what!
I shall be loved when I am lack’d. Nay, mother.
Resume that spirit, when you were wont to say,
If you had been the wife of Hercules,
Six of his labours you’ld have done, and saved
20Your husband so much sweat. Cominius,
Droop not; adieu. Farewell, my wife, my mother:
I’ll do well yet. Thou old and true Menenius,
Thy tears are salter than a younger man’s,
And venomous to thine eyes. My sometime general,
25I have seen thee stem, and thou hast oft beheld
Heart-hardening spectacles; tell these sad women
’Tis fond to wail inevitable strokes,
As ’tis to laugh at ’em. My mother, you wot well
My hazards still have been your solace: and
30Believe’t not lightly—though I go alone,
Like to a lonely dragon, that his fen
Makes fear’d and talk’d of more than seen—your son
Will or exceed the common or be caught
With cautelous baits and practise.