EXCERPT OF CORIOLANUS IN PLAIN AND SIMPLE ENGLISH
SCENE I. Rome. A street.
[Enter a company of mutinous citizens, with staves, clubs, and
Before anything else happens, listen to me!
Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.
Is everyone here ready to die fighting instead of starving to death?
You are all resolved rather to die than to famish?
First of all, as you all know, Cauius Marcius is Public Enemy #1.
First, you know Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.
You said it!
We know't, we know't.
Let’s kill him, and then we’ll buy grain for however much we want to pay!
Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is't a
Let’s stopping talking about it and do it! C’mon, let’s go!
No more talking on't; let it be done: away, away!
Hold up a minute, folks.
One word, good citizens.
They say we’re poor, and the noblemen are rich.
We are accounted poor citizens; the patricians good.
What the powers that be gorge on would keep us from starving; if they just gave
What authority surfeits on would relieve us; if they would yield
us their extra food, as long it’s not spoiled, we would think
us but the superfluity, while it were wholesome, we might guess
that they were saving us for humanitarian reasons; but they think we’re too expensive:
they relieved us humanely; but they think we are too dear: the
our suffering, our misery
leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is as an
makes them feel richer; our suffering is
inventory to particularize their abundance; our sufferance is a
their gain. Let’s get even by killing them with our pitchforks before we
gain to them.--Let us revenge this with our pikes ere we become
become skinny as a rake: the gods know I’m only saying this stuff because I’m hungry,
rakes: for the gods know I speak this in hunger for bread, not in
not because I’m bloodthirsty.
thirst for revenge.
Would you go after Caius Marcius more than the other noblemen?
Would you proceed especially against Caius Marcius?
Yes, he’d be first: he’s a dog that attacks the common people.
Against him first: he's a very dog to the commonalty.
Have you thought about everything he’s done for this country?
Consider you what services he has done for his country?
Yeah, I thought about, and I would praise him for it,
Very well; and could be content to give him good report for't,
but I don’t need to because he’s proud of himself for doing it.
but that he pays himself with being proud.
Don’t be so nasty.
Nay, but speak not maliciously.
I’m telling you, all that famous stuff he did, he did to stroke his own ego:
I say unto you, what he hath done famously he did it to that end:
maybe men without consciences are happy to say he did it for his
though soft-conscienced men can be content to say it was for his
country, I know he did it to make his mama proud, and in part to make himself proud,
country, he did it to please his mother, and to be partly proud;
which he is, at least as proud as he is good.
which he is, even to the altitude of his virtue.
You blame him for it, but he can’t help it—that’s just his nature. But at least
What he cannot help in his nature you account a vice in him. You
you can’t call him greedy.
must in no way say he is covetous.
Even if I can’t call him greedy, I can call him plenty of other names; he has
If I must not, I need not be barren of accusations; he hath
so many faults that I’d get tired of naming them, and have more to spare. [Shouts inside.]
faults, with surplus, to tire in repetition. [Shouts within.]
Who’s shouting? The other side of the city [Rome] is revolting, why
What shouts are these? The other side o' the city is risen: why
are we standing around talking? To the Capitoline Hill! [Location of the main temple.]
stay we prating here? to the Capitol!
C’mon, let’s go.
Shut up! Who’s that?
Soft! who comes here?
That’s Menenius Agrippa. He’s cool, he’s always been a friend to the working man.
Worthy Menenius Agrippa; one that hath always loved the people.
Yeah, he’s alright; I wish the rest of the ruling class was like him!
He's one honest enough; would all the rest were so!
[Enter MENENIUS AGRIPPA.]
What’s going on here? Where are you going
What work's, my countrymen, in hand? where go you
with those bats and sticks? What’s the matter? Please, tell me.
With bats and clubs? the matter? speak, I pray you.
The Senate knows what we’re doing; they’ve known
Our business is not unknown to the senate; they have had inkling
what we were going to do for two weeks now, and now we’ll do exactly what they
this fortnight what we intend to do, which now we'll show 'em in
expected. They say we poor dudes can’t get a date because we smell bad,
deeds. They say poor suitors have strong breaths; they shall know
but they’re going to find out that we are strong.
we have strong arms too.
Hey, fellas, my friends, my neighbors,
Why, masters, my good friends, mine honest neighbours,
will you give up and go home?
Will you undo yourselves?
No, we can’t take it any more!
We cannot, sir; we are undone already.
I’m telling you, my friends,
I tell you, friends, most charitable care
the noblemen take good care of you. If you want to blame someone
Have the patricians of you. For your wants,
for your problems and your hunger, you’d be better off
Your suffering in this dearth, you may as well
attacking heaven with all your weapons than using them
Strike at the heaven with your staves as lift them
against the Roman government, which is so strong
Against the Roman state; whose course will on
that it would crush you even if you had ten thousand
The way it takes, cracking ten thousand curbs
more ways to block it than you could ever
Of more strong link asunder than can ever
possibly have. This recession
Appear in your impediment: for the dearth,
was caused by the gods, not the rich, and
The gods, not the patricians, make it; and
praying to the gods, not fighting, is the only thing that will help. I’m sorry
Your knees to them, not arms, must help. Alack,
that times are so tough that you people all lost your minds,
You are transported by calamity
and are therefore even worse off, and that you’re all so crazy that you’re attacking
Thither where more attends you; and you slander
the good people who run this country, and who love you like they were your fathers,
The helms o' th' state, who care for you like fathers,
even though you curse at them like enemies.
When you curse them as enemies.
Yeah, right, they care sure care about us! They never care about us yet. They let
Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us yet. Suffer us
us starve, even though they have buildings full of extra food; they made laws
to famish, and their storehouses crammed with grain; make edicts
about loan-sharking, but they benefit the loan-sharks; they undo any good law
for usury, to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act
that was designed to hurt the rich, and make more bad laws
established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes
every day to punish and enslave the poor. If the wars don’t take all our money,
daily to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not
they will; that’s how much they love us.
up, they will; and there's all the love they bear us.
You have to admit
Either you must
that either you’re all just making trouble,
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
or you’re just stupid. Let me tell you
Or be accus'd of folly. I shall tell you
a little story: maybe you’ve heard it before,
A pretty tale: it may be you have heard it;
but since it supports my point, I think I’ll just
But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture
bore you with it one more time.
To stale't a little more.
OK, I’ll listen; but don’t think you can make us forget our
Well, I'll hear it, sir; yet you must not think to fob off our
troubles with a story. But, if you want you, go ahead and say it.
disgrace with a tale: but, an't please you, deliver.
Once upon a time, all the organs in the human body
There was a time when all the body's members
rebelled against the belly, and accused it of
Rebell'd against the belly; thus accus'd it:--
of just sitting like a whirlpool
That only like a gulf it did remain
in the middle of the body, not doing anything
I' the midst o' the body, idle and unactive,
but sucking up food and never doing any real
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
work like the other organs; whereas the other organs
Like labour with the rest; where th' other instruments
did things like seeing, hearing, thinking, teaching, walking, feeling,
Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
and, working together, did the bidding
And, mutually participate, did minister
of the appetites and inclinations
Unto the appetite and affection common
of the body as a whole. The belly answered:
Of the whole body. The belly answered,--
Well, what did the belly answer?
Well, sir, what answer made the belly?
I will tell you. It replied with a smile
Sir, I shall tell you.--With a kind of smile,
that wasn’t an ordinary smile, but was like this--
Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus,--
look, I’m making my belly smile
For, look you, I may make the belly smile
as we speak—a smile that taunted
As well as speak,--it tauntingly replied
the angry organs
To the discontented members, the mutinous parts
that were jealous of what he received; just like
That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
you people trash talk the rich senators because
As you malign our senators for that
they’re not like you.
They are not such as you.