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The rabble should have first unroof'd the city,5
Ere so prevail'd with me: it will in time

Win upon power, and throw forth greater themes
For insurrection's arguing. 6


This is strange.

Mar. Go, get you home, you fragments!

Enter a Messenger.

Here: What's the matter?

Mess. Where 's Caius Marcius?


Mess. The news is, sir, the Volces are in arms.

Mar. I am glad on 't; then we shall have means to


Our musty superfluity:-See, our best elders.


1 Sen. Marcius, 'tis true, that you have lately told us; The Volces are in arms.7

They have a leader,
Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to 't.

I sin in envying his nobility:

And were I any thing but what I am,

I would wish me only he.


You have fought together.

Mar. Were half to half the world by the ears, and he Upon my party, I'd revolt, to make

Only my wars with him: he is a lion

That I am proud to hunt.

1 Sen.

Then, worthy Marcius,

Sir, it is;

Attend upon Cominius to these wars.
Com. It is your former promise.


And I am constant.8-Titus Lartius, thou

5 unroof'd the city,] Old copy-unroost. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. Malone.

• For insurrection's arguing.] For insurgents to debate upon.


'Tis true, that you have lately told us;


The Volces are in arms.] Coriolanus had been just told himself that the Volces were in arms. The meaning is, The intelligence which you gave us some little time ago of the designs of the Volces is now verified; they are in arms. Johnson.

8 constant.] i. e. immoveable in my resolution. So, in Julius Cæsar:

"But I am constant as the northern star." Steevens.

Shalt see me once more strike at Tullus' face:
What, art thou stiff? stand'st out?


No, Caius Marcius;

I'll lean upon one crutch, and fight with the other,
Ere stay behind this business.


O, true bred!

1 Sen. Your company to the Capitol; where, I know, Our greatest friends attend us.


Follow, Cominius; we must follow you;

Right worthy you priority.


Lead you on:

Noble Lartius!!

1 Sen. Hence! To your homes, be gone. [To the Citizens. Mar. Nay, let them follow The Volces have much corn; take these rats thither, To gnaw their garners:-Worshipful mutineers, Your valour puts well forth:2 pray, follow.

[Exeunt Senators, Coм. MAR. TIT. and MENEN. Citizens steal away.

Sic. Was ever man so proud as is this Marcius?

Bru. He has no equal.

Sic. When we were chosen tribunes for the peo

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Nay, but his taunts. Bru. Being mov'd, he will not spare to gird3 the gods.


Right worthy you priority.] You being right worthy your pre

cedence. Malone.

Mr. M. Mason would read-your priority. Steevens.

1 Noble Lartius!] Old copy-Martius. Corrected by Mr. Theobald. I am not sure that the emendation is necessary. Perhaps Lartius in the latter part of the preceding speech addresses Marcius. Malone.

2 Your valour puts well forth:] That is, You have in this mutiny shown fair blossoms of valour. Johnson.

So, in King Henry VIII:

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To-day he puts forth

"The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms," &c,


to gird—] To sneer, to gibe. So Falstaff uses the noun, when he says, every man has a gird at me. Johnson. Again, in The Taming of the Shrew:

"I thank thee for that gird, good Tranio." Many instances of the use of this word, might be added.


Sic. Be-mock the modest moon.

Bru. The present wars devour him: he is grown Too proud to be so valiant.4


Such a nature,

Tickled with good success, disdains the shadow
Which he treads on at noon: But I do wonder,

To gird, as an anonymous correspondent observes to me, "in some parts of England means to push vehemently. So, when a ram pushes at any thing with his head, they say he girds at it." To gird likewise signified, to pluck or twinge. Hence probably it was metaphorically used in the sense of to taunt, or annoy by a stroke of sarcasm. Cotgrave makes gird, nip, and twinge, synonymous. Malone.

4 The present wars devour him: he is grown

Too proud to be so valiant.] Mr. Theobald says, This is obscurely expressed, but that the poet's meaning must certainly be, that Marcius is so conscious of, and so elate upon the notion of his own valour, that he is eaten up with pride, &c. According to this critick then, we must conclude, that when Shakspeare had a mind to say, A man was eaten up with pride, he was so great a blunderer in expression, as to say, He was eaten up with war. But our poet wrote at another rate, and the blunder is his critrick's. The present wars devour him, is an imprecation, and should be so pointed. As much as to say, May he fall in those wars! The reason of the curse is subjoined, for (says the speaker) having so much pride with so much valour, his life, with increase of honours, is dangerous to the republic.


I am by no means convinced that Dr. Warburton's punctua tion, or explanation, is right. The sense may be, that the present wars annihilate his gentler qualities. To eat up, and consequently to devour, has this meaning. So, in The Second Part of King Henry IV, Act IV, sc. iv:

"But thou [the crown] most fine, most honour'd, most renown'd,

"Hast eat thy bearer up."

To be eat up with pride, is still a phrase in common and vul

gar use.

He is grown too proud to be so valiant, may signify, his pride is such as not to deserve the accompanyment of so much valour. Steevens.

I concur with Mr. Steevens. "The present wars," Shakspeare uses to express the pride of Coriolanus grounded on his military prowess; which kind of pride Brutus says devours him. So, in Troilus and Cressida, Act II, sc. iii:


He that 's proud, eats up himself." Perhaps the meaning of the latter member of the sentence is, "he is grown too proud of being so valiant, to be endured.”


His insolence can brook to be commanded
Under Cominius.


Fame, at the which he aims,
In whom already he is well grac'd,—cannot
Better be held, nor more attain'd, than by
A place below the first: for what miscarries
Shall be the general's fault, though he perform
To the utmost of a man; and giddy censure
Will then cry out of Marcius, O, if he
Had borne the business!


Besides, if things go well,

Opinion, that so sticks on Marcius, shall
Of his demerits rob Cominius.5



Half all Cominius' honours are to Marcius,

Though Marcius earn'd them not; and all his faults
To Marcius shall be honours, though, indeed,

In aught he merit not.


Let's hence, and hear

How the despatch is made; and in what fashion,
More than his singularity, he goes

Upon this present action.


Let's along.


5 Of his demerits rob Cominius.] Merits and Demerits had anciently the same meaning. So, in Othello:

66 and my demerits

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May speak," &c.

Again, in Stowe's Chronicle, Cardinal Wolsey says to his servants: " – I have not promoted, preferred, and advanced you all according to your demerits." Again, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Epistle to T. Vespasian, 1600: ". - his demerit had been the greater to have continued his story." Steevens.

Again, in Hall's Chronicle, Henry VI, fol. 69: "-this noble prince, for his demerits called the good duke of Gloucester,—" Malone.

6 More than his singularity, &c.] We will learn what he is to do, besides going himself; what are his powers, and what is his appointment. Johnson.

Perhaps the word singularity implies a sarcasm on Coriolanus, and the speaker means to say-after what fashion, beside that in which his own singularity of disposition invests him, he goes into the field. So, in Twelfth Night: "Put thyself into the trick of singularity." Steevens:


Corioli. The Senate House.

Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS, and certain Senators. 1 Sen. So, your opinion is, Aufidius,

That they of Rome are enter'd in our counsels,
And know how we proceed.

Is it not yours?
What ever hath been thought on in this state,
That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome
Had circumvention? 'Tis not four days gone,s
Since I heard thence; these are the words: I think,
I have the letter here; yes, here it is:

They have press'd a power, but it is not known
Whether for east, or west: The dearth is great;
The people mutinous: and it is rumour'd,
Cominius, Marcius your old enemy,

(Who is of Rome worse hated than of you)
And Titus Lartius, a most valiant Roman,
These three lead on this preparation
Whither 'tis bent: most likely, 'tis for you:
Consider of it.

1 Sen.

Our army 's in the field:
We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready
To answer us.



Nor did you think it folly,

hath been thought on — -] Old copy-have. Corrected by

the second folio. Steevens.

8 -'Tis not four days gone,] i. e. four days past. Steevens. ? They have press'd a power,] Thus the modern editors. The old copy reads-They have prest a power; which may signify, have a power ready; from pret. Fr. So, in The Merchant of


"And I am prest unto it."

See note on this passage, Act I, sc. i. Steevens.

The spelling of the old copy proves nothing, for participles were generally so spelt in Shakspeare's time: so distrest, blest, &c. I believe press'd in its usual sense is right. It appears to have been used in Shakspeare's time in the sense of impress'd. So, in Plutarch's Life of Coriolanus, translated by Sir T. North, 1579: "- the common people-would not appeare when the consuls called their names by a bill, to press them for the warres." Again, in King Henry VI, P. III:

"From London by the king was I press'd forth.?"


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