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Come I too late?


Com. Ay, if you come not in the blood of others, But mantled in your own.

O! let me clip you

In arms as sound, as when I woo'd; in heart
As merry, as when our nuptial day was done,
And tapers burn'd to bedward.2


How is 't with Titus Lartius?

Flower of warriors,

Mar. As with a man busied about decrees: Condemning some to death, and some to exile; Ransoming him, or pitying, threat'ning the other; Holding Corioli in the name of Rome,

Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash,

To let him slip at will.


Where is that slave,

Which told me they had beat you to your
Where is he? Call him hither.



Let him alone,

He did inform the truth: But for our gentlemen,
The common file, (A plague!-Tribunes for them!)
The mouse ne'er shunn'd the cat, as they did budge
From rascals worse than they.


But how prevail'd you?

Mar. Will the time serve to tell? I do not thinkWhere is the enemy? Are you lords o' the field?

If not, why cease you till you are so?



We have at disadvantage fought, and did
Retire, to win our purpose.

Mar. How lies their battle? Know you on which side They have plac'd their men of trust?

2 to bedward.] So, in Albumazar, 1615:

"Sweats hourly for a dry brown crust to bedward." Steevens.

3 Ransoming him, or pitying,] i. e. remitting his ransom. Johnson


― on which side &c.] So, in the old translation of Plutarch: "Martius asked him howe the order of the enemies battell was, and on which side they had placed their best fighting men. The consul made him aunswer that he thought the bandes which were in the vaward of their battell, were those of the Antiates, whom they esteemed to be the warlikest men, and which for valiant corage would geve no place to any of the hoste of their enemies. Then prayed Martius to be set directly against them. The consul graunted him, greatly praysing his corage" Steevens.


As I guess, Marcius,

Their bands i' the vaward are the Antiates,
Of their best trust: o'er them Aufidius,
Their very heart of hope.


I do beseech you,

By all the battles wherein we have fought,
By the blood we have shed together, by the vows
We have made to endure friends, that
you directly
Set me against Aufidius, and his Antiates:
And that you not delay the present; but,
Filling the air with swords advanc'd,3 and darts,
We prove this very hour.


Though I could wish
You were conducted to a gentle bath,

And balms applied to you, yet dare I never
Deny your asking; take your choice of those
That best can aid your action.


Those are they
That most are willing:-If any such be here,
(As it were sin to doubt) that love this painting
Wherein you see me smear'd; if any fear
Lesser his person than an ill report;9

5 — Antiates,] The old copy reads-Antients, which might mean veterans; but a following line, as well as the previous quotation, seems to prove-Antiates to be the proper reading: "Set me against Aufidius and his Antiates."

Our author employs-Antiates as a trisyllable, as if it had been written-Antiats. Steevens.

Mr. Pope made the correction. Malone.

Their very heart of hope.] The same expression is found in Marlowe's Lust's Dominion:

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"Hath almost thrust quite through the heart of hope.”

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"The very bottom and the soul of hope." Steevens.

7 And that you not delay the present;] Delay, for let slip.



8 · swords advanc'd.] That is, swords lifted high. Johnson.


if any fear

Lesser his person than an ill report;] The old copy has lessen. If the present reading, which was introduced by Mr. Steevens, be right, his person must mean his personal danger.-If any one less fears personal danger, than an ill name, &c. If the fears of any man are less for his person, than they are from an apprehension of being esteemed a coward, &c. We have nearly the same sentiment in Troilus and Cressida:

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;
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 passage of corruption. Why should they march, that four might se lect 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 centuries 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 per sons 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:5 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,8

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 fume. The verb-to eny, 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, has only passed from the whip, to the crack of it. Steevens.

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