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PinkMonkey.com-MonkeyNotes-Coriolanus, by William Shakespeare


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Coriolanus

By William Shakespeare QUOTATION: He’ll shake
Your Rome about your ears.
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Cominius, in Coriolanus, act 4, sc. 6, l. 98-9.

Said of Coriolanus, when news comes that he has joined with the Volscians against Rome.

QUOTATION: It is held
That valor is the chiefest virtue, and
Most dignifies the haver.
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Cominius, in Coriolanus, act 2, sc. 2, l. 83-5.

Praising Coriolanus for his courage in battle (”haver” means possessor).

QUOTATION: He’s a very dog to the commonalty.
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. 1st Citizen, in Coriolanus, act 1, sc. 1, l. 28-9.

Referring to Caius Marcius, later named Coriolanus, one of the patricians against whom the citizens have begun an uprising; “commonalty” means state or commonwealth.

QUOTATION: Come leave your tears: a brief farewell. The beast
With many heads butts me away.
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Coriolanus, in Coriolanus, act 4, sc. 1, l. 1-2.

Coriolanus bids his wife farewell as he goes from Rome, banished by the people (the “beast with many heads”).

QUOTATION: You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate
As reek a’th’rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air—I banish you!
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Coriolanus, in Coriolanus, act 3, sc. 3, l. 120-3.

Sicinius, a tribune of the people, has just declared that Coriolanus should be banished.

QUOTATION: Despising,
For you, the city, thus I turn my back;
There is a world elsewhere.
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Coriolanus, in Coriolanus, act 3, sc. 3, l. 133-5.

Coriolanus is banished by the people of Rome.

QUOTATION: Would you have me
False to my nature? Rather say, I play
The man I am.
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Coriolanus, in Coriolanus, act 3, sc. 2, l. 14-6.

QUOTATION: I’ll mountebank their loves,
Cog their hearts from them, and come home beloved
Of all the trades in Rome.
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Coriolanus, in Coriolanus, act 3, sc. 2, l. 132-4.

Promising his mother he will dissemble like a quack medicine-man (”mountebank”) and beguile (”Cog”) the citizens into voting for him.

QUOTATION: Like a dull actor now
I have forgot my part, and I am out,
Even to a full disgrace.
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Coriolanus, in Coriolanus, act 5, sc. 3, l. 40-2.

Coriolanus, about to make war on Rome, is ashamed to be at a loss for words (”out”) when confronted by his family, who have come to plead with him.

QUOTATION: Hear you this Triton of the minnows? Mark you
His absolute “shall”?
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Coriolanus, in Coriolanus, act 3, sc. 1, l. 89-90.

Showing his contempt for Sicinius, a tribune of the people; Triton was a minor sea-god in ancient Greece.

QUOTATION: Custom calls me to’t.
What custom wills, in all things should we do’t,
The dust on antique time would lie unswept,
And mountainous error be too highly heaped
For truth to o’erpeer.
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Coriolanus, in Coriolanus, act 2, sc. 3, l. 117-21.

Coriolanus hates following the custom that requires him to solicit votes from the citizens of Rome for election as consul; if we obey custom, he says (”should we do’t”), nothing would ever change.

QUOTATION: O, a kiss
Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Coriolanus, in Coriolanus, act 5, sc. 3, l. 44-5.

Greeting his wife, Virgilia, who comes with his son and mother to plead with him not to make war on Rome.

QUOTATION: [holds her by the hand, silent] O mother, mother!
What have you done? Behold, the heavens do ope,
The gods look down, and this unnatural scene
They laugh at. O my mother, mother! O!
You have won a happy victory to Rome;
But, for your son, believe it—O, believe it—
Most dangerously you have with him prevailed,
If not most mortal to him.
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Coriolanus, in Coriolanus, act 5, sc. 3, l. 182-9.

The turning-point, when he agrees to spare Rome, knowing it may lead to his own ruin.

QUOTATION: For the mutable, rank-scented meiny, let them
Regard me as I do not flatter, and
Therein behold themselves.
ATTRIBUTION: William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Coriolanus, in Coriolanus, act 3, sc. 1, l. 66.

A patrician claims to be telling the truth about the people, but shows his scorn for them at the same time; “meiny” means multitude.

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