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