« AnteriorContinuar »
but he hath so planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions in their hearts, that for their tongues to be silent, and not confess so much, were a kind of ingrateful injury; to report otherwise, were a malice, that, giving itself the lie, would pluck reproof and rebuke from every ear that heard it.
1 OFF. No more of him; he is a worthy man: Make way, they are coming.
A Sennet. Enter, with Lictors before them, COMI
NIUS the Consul, MENENIUS, CORIOLANUS, many other Senators, SICINIUS and BRUTUS. The Senators take their places; the Tribunes take theirs also by themselves.
Men. Having determin’d of the Volces, and To send for Titus Lartius, it remains, As the main point of this our after-meeting, To gratify his noble service, that Hath thus stood for his country: Therefore, please
you, Most reverend and grave elders, to desire The present consul, and last general In our well-found successes, to report A little of that worthy work perform’d By Caius Marcius Coriolanus; whom We meet here, both to thank, and to remember With honours like himself. 1 SEN.
Speak, good Cominius: Leave nothing out for length, and make us think, Rather our state's defective for requital,
- whom We meet here, both to thank, &c.] The construction, I think, is, whom to thank, &c. (or, for the purpose of thanking whom) we met or assembled here. MALONE.
Than we to stretch it out.5 Masters o'the people,
We are convented
5 and make us think
Rather our state's defective for requital,
Than we to stretch it out.] I once thought the meaning was, And make us imagine that the state rather wants inclination or ability to requite his services, than that we are blameable for expanding and expatiating upon them. A more simple explication, however, is perhaps the true one. And make us think that the republick is rather too niggard than too liberal in rewarding his services. MALONE.
The plain sense, I believe, is :-Rather say that our means are too defective to afford an adequate reward for his services, than suppose our wishes to stretch out those means are defective.
STEEVENS. O Your loving motion toward the common body,] Your kind interposition with the common people. Johnson.
? The theme of our assembly.] Here is a fault in the expression : And had it affected our author's knowledge of nature, I should have adjudged it to his transcribers or editors; but as it affects only his knowledge of history, I suppose it to be his own. He should have said your assembly. For till the Lex Attinia, (the author of which is supposed by Sigonius, [De vetere Italiæ Jure] to have been contemporary with Quintus Metellus Macedonicus,) the tribunes had not the privilege of entering the senate, but had seats placed for them near the door on the outside of the house.
WARBURTON. Though I was formerly of a different opinion, I am now convinced that Shakspeare, had he been aware of the circumstance pointed out by Dr. Warburton, might have conducted this scene without violence to Roman usage. The presence of Brutus and Sicinius being necessary, it would not have been difficult to exhi. bit both the outside and inside of the Senate-house in a manner sufficiently consonant to theatrical probability. STEEVENS.
Which the rather
That's off, that's off;*
He loves your people;
[CORIOLANUS rises, and offers to go away. 1 SEN. Sit, Coriolanus; never shame to hear What you have nobly done. COR.
Your honours' pardon ;
Sir, I hope,
No, sir : yet oft, When blows have made me stay, I fled from words. You sooth'd not, therefore hurt not :' But, your
people, I love them as they weigh. MEN.
Pray now, sit down.
& That's off, that's off;] That is, that is nothing to the purpose. Johnson.
9 You sooth'd not, therefore hurt not :] You did not flatter me, and therefore did not offend me. -Hurt is commonly used by our author for hurted. Mr. Pope, not perceiving this, for sooth'd reads sooth, which was adopted by the subsequent editors. MALONE.
Cor. I had rather have one scratch my head i’
the sun, When the alarum were struck, than idly sit To hear my nothings monster'd.
[Exit CORIOLANUS. MEN.
Masters o'the people, Your multiplying spawn how can he flatter, (That's thousand to one good one,) when you now
see, He had rather venture all his limbs for honour, Than one of his ears to hear it ?-Proceed, Comi
nius. Com. I shall lack voice: the deeds of Coriolanus Should not be utter'd feebly.-It is held, That valour is the chiefest virtue, and Most dignifies the haver: if it be, The man I speak of cannot in the world Be singly counterpois'd. At sixteen years, When Tarquin made a head for Rome, 3 he fought Beyond the mark of others : our then dictator, Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight,
have one scratch my head i' the sun,] See Vol. XII. p. 103, n. 8. STEEVENS.
how can he flatter,] The reasoning of Menenius is this: How can he be expected to practise flattery to others, who abhors it so much, that he cannot hear it even when offered to himself ? JOHNSON.
3 When Tarquin made a head for Rome,] When Tarquin, who had been expelled, raised a power to recover Rome. Johnson.
We learn from one of Cicero's letters, that the consular age in his time was forty three. If Coriolanus was but sixteen when Tarquin endeavoured to recover Rome, he could not now, A.Ư.C. 263, have been much more than twenty one years of age, and should therefore seem to be incapable of standing for the consulship. But perhaps the rule mentioned by Cicero, as subsisting in his time,
was not established at this early period of the republick. MALONE.
When with his Amazonian chin 4 he drove
his Amazonian chin -] 'i. e. his chin on which there was no beard. The players read-shinne. STEEVENS.
he bestrid An o'er-press'd Roman,] This was an act of similar friendship in our old English armies : [See Vol. XI. p. 405, n. 9; and Vol. XIII. p. 395, n. 4.] but there is no proof that any such practice prevailed among the legionary soldiers of Rome, nor did our author give himself any trouble on that subject. He was led into the error by North’s translation of Plutarch, where he found these words: 6. The Roman souldier being thrown unto the ground even hard by him, Martius straight bestrid him, and slew the enemy.” The translation ought to have been: « Martius hastened to his assistance, and standing before him, slew his assailant.” See the next note, where there is a similar inaccuracy. See also, p. 88, n. 7. MALONE.
Shakspeare may, on this occasion, be vindicated by higher authority than that of books. Is it probable that any Roman soldier was so far divested of humanity as not to protect his friend who had fallen in battle? Our author (if unacquainted with the Grecian Hyperaspists,) was too well read in the volume of nature to need any apology for the introduction of the present incident, which must have been as familiar to Roman as to British warfare. STEEVENS.
* And struck him on his knee :) This does not mean that he gave Tarquin a blow on the knee, but gave him such a blow as occasioned him to fall on his knee:
- ad terram duplicato poplite Turnus. STEEVENS. ? When he might act the woman in the scene,] : It has been more than once mentioned, that the parts of women were, in Shakspeare's time, represented by the most smooth-faced young men to be found among the players., STEEVENS.
Here is a great anachronism. There were no theatres at Rome for the exhibition of plays for about two hundred and fifty years after the death of Coriolanus. MALONE.