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The Tragedy of Coriolanus: Act 1 Scene 3
Scene III Rome. A room in Marcius' house.
- [Enter VOLUMNIA and VIRGILIA they set them down
- on two low stools, and sew]
- I pray you, daughter, sing; or express yourself in a
- more comfortable sort: if my son were my husband, I
- should freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he
- won honour than in the embracements of his bed where
- he would show most love. When yet he was but
- tender-bodied and the only son of my womb, when
- youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way, when
- for a day of kings' entreaties a mother should not
- sell him an hour from her beholding, I, considering
- how honour would become such a person. that it was
- no better than picture-like to hang by the wall, if
- renown made it not stir, was pleased to let him seek
- danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel
- war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows
- bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not
- more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child
- than now in first seeing he had proved himself a
- But had he died in the business, madam; how then?
- Then his good report should have been my son; I
- therein would have found issue. Hear me profess
- sincerely: had I a dozen sons, each in my love
- alike and none less dear than thine and my good
- Marcius, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their
- country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action.
- [Enter a Gentlewoman]
- Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you.
- Beseech you, give me leave to retire myself.
- Indeed, you shall not.
- Methinks I hear hither your husband's drum,
- See him pluck Aufidius down by the hair,
- As children from a bear, the Volsces shunning him:
- Methinks I see him stamp thus, and call thus:
- 'Come on, you cowards! you were got in fear,
- Though you were born in Rome:' his bloody brow
- With his mail'd hand then wiping, forth he goes,
- Like to a harvest-man that's task'd to mow
- Or all or lose his hire.
- His bloody brow! O Jupiter, no blood!
- Away, you fool! it more becomes a man
- Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba,
- When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier
- Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood
- At Grecian sword, contemning. Tell Valeria,
- We are fit to bid her welcome.
- [Exit Gentlewoman]
- Heavens bless my lord from fell Aufidius!
- He'll beat Aufidius 'head below his knee
- And tread upon his neck.
- [Enter VALERIA, with an Usher and Gentlewoman]
- My ladies both, good day to you.
- Sweet madam.
- I am glad to see your ladyship.
- How do you both? you are manifest house-keepers.
- What are you sewing here? A fine spot, in good
- faith. How does your little son?
- I thank your ladyship; well, good madam.
- He had rather see the swords, and hear a drum, than
- look upon his school-master.
- O' my word, the father's son: I'll swear,'tis a
- very pretty boy. O' my troth, I looked upon him o'
- Wednesday half an hour together: has such a
- confirmed countenance. I saw him run after a gilded
- butterfly: and when he caught it, he let it go
- again; and after it again; and over and over he
- comes, and again; catched it again; or whether his
- fall enraged him, or how 'twas, he did so set his
- teeth and tear it; O, I warrant it, how he mammocked
- One on 's father's moods.
- Indeed, la, 'tis a noble child.
- A crack, madam.
- Come, lay aside your stitchery; I must have you play
- the idle husewife with me this afternoon.
- No, good madam; I will not out of doors.
- Not out of doors!
- She shall, she shall.
- Indeed, no, by your patience; I'll not over the
- threshold till my lord return from the wars.
- Fie, you confine yourself most unreasonably: come,
- you must go visit the good lady that lies in.
- I will wish her speedy strength, and visit her with
- my prayers; but I cannot go thither.
- Why, I pray you?
- 'Tis not to save labour, nor that I want love.
- You would be another Penelope: yet, they say, all
- the yarn she spun in Ulysses' absence did but fill
- Ithaca full of moths. Come; I would your cambric
- were sensible as your finger, that you might leave
- pricking it for pity. Come, you shall go with us.
- No, good madam, pardon me; indeed, I will not forth.
- In truth, la, go with me; and I'll tell you
- excellent news of your husband.
- O, good madam, there can be none yet.
- Verily, I do not jest with you; there came news from
- him last night.
- Indeed, madam?
- In earnest, it's true; I heard a senator speak it.
- Thus it is: the Volsces have an army forth; against
- whom Cominius the general is gone, with one part of
- our Roman power: your lord and Titus Lartius are set
- down before their city Corioli; they nothing doubt
- prevailing and to make it brief wars. This is true,
- on mine honour; and so, I pray, go with us.
- Give me excuse, good madam; I will obey you in every
- thing hereafter.
- Let her alone, lady: as she is now, she will but
- disease our better mirth.
- In troth, I think she would. Fare you well, then.
- Come, good sweet lady. Prithee, Virgilia, turn thy
- solemness out o' door. and go along with us.
- No, at a word, madam; indeed, I must not. I wish
- you much mirth.
- Well, then, farewell.