• Entrance of the Volscian camp before Rome. Two Sentinels on guard.
    Enter to them, MENENIUS

    FIRST SENTINEL

    Stay: whence are you?

    SECOND SENTINEL

    Stand, and go back.

    MENENIUS

    You guard like men; ’tis well: but, by your leave,
    I am an officer of state, and come
    5To speak with Coriolanus.

    FIRST SENTINEL

    From whence?

    MENENIUS

    From Rome.

    FIRST SENTINEL

    You may not pass, you must return: our general
    Will no more hear from thence.

    SECOND SENTINEL

    10You’ll see your Rome embraced with fire before
    You’ll speak with Coriolanus.

    MENENIUS

    Good my friends,
    If you have heard your general talk of Rome,
    And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks,
    15My name hath touch’d your ears. It is Menenius.

    FIRST SENTINEL

    Be it so; go back: the virtue of your name
    Is not here passable.

    MENENIUS

    I tell thee, fellow,
    The general is my lover: I have been
    20The book of his good acts, whence men have read
    His name unparallel’d, haply amplified;
    For I have ever verified my friends,
    Of whom he’s chief, with all the size that verity
    Would without lapsing suffer: nay, sometimes,
    25Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground,
    I have tumbled past the throw; and in his praise
    Have almost stamp’d the leasing: therefore, fellow,
    I must have leave to pass.
  • An advanced post of the Volscian camp, outside Rome. Two guards at their station.
    MENENIUS enters.

    FIRST GUARD

    Stop there. Who are you?

    SECOND GUARD

    Stop and go back.

    MENENIUS

    You’re good guards, but I assure you that I’m an officer of the state, and I’ve come to speak with Coriolanus.

    FIRST GUARD

    Where are you from?

    MENENIUS

    From Rome.

    FIRST GUARD

    You may not pass. You must return. Our general won’t listen to Romans anymore.

    SECOND GUARD

    You’ll see your Rome consumed with fire before you’ll speak with Coriolanus.

    MENENIUS

    Good men, if you’ve heard your general talk of Rome and of his friends there, you’ve undoubtedly heard my name: Menenius.

    FIRST GUARD

    Even if that’s true, go back. You can’t get in here by virtue of your name.

    MENENIUS

    I tell you, fellow, the general is my close friend. I’ve recorded his brave acts and proclaimed, perhaps exaggeratedly, his greatness as unparalleled. I’ve always supported my friends, of whom he’s the closest, with the highest possible praise I could give without slipping into lies. Although it’s true that sometimes, like bowling on an uneven surface, I’ve thrown the ball too far and nearly praised him beyond his actual accomplishments. So you see, fellow, you must let me pass.