Coriolanus: Once the Glory of His Age


coriolanus

CORIOLANUS:
A TRAGEDY

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PERSONS REPRESENTED.

CAIUS MARCIUS CORIOLANUS.
ATTIUS TULLUS, general of the Volscian army.
GALESUS, one of the deputies of the Volscian states attending the camp.
VOLUSIUS, one of the principal Volscian officers.
TITUS, freed-man of Galesus.

ACT V, SCENE IV.

TUNNUS, VOLUSIUS, and Conspirators. Upon the noise of the tumult, enter hastily to them GALESUS, the other deputies of the Volscian States, officers friends of CORIOLANUS, and TITUS with a large band of soldiers.

Gal. (As he enters.) Are we a nation ruled by laws, or fury?
How? whence this tumult? (Pausing.) Gods! what do I see?
The nobe Marcius slain!

Tul. You see a traitor
Punish’d as he deserved, the Roman yoke
That thrall’d us broken, and the Volsci free!

 

Gal. Hear me, great Jove! Hear, all you injured Powers
Of friendship, hospitality, and faith!
By that heroic blood which from the ground
Reeking to you for vengeance cries, I swear,
This impious breach of your eternal laws,
This daring outrage on the Volscian honour,
Shall find in me a rigorous avenger!
On the same earth, polluted by their crime,
I will not live with these unpunish’d ruffians!

Tul. This deed is mine: I claim it all! These men,
These valiant men, were but my instruments,
To punish him who to our face betray’d us.
We shall not fear to answer to the Volsci,
In a full council of the states at Antium,
The glorious charge of having stabb’d their traitor!

Gal. Titus, till then secure them.

(Tullus and conspirators are led of; Galesus, standing over the body of Coriolanus, after a short pause proceeds.)

Volscian fathers,
And ye, brave soldiers, see an awful scene,
Demanding serious, solemn meditation!

This man was once the glory of his age,
Disinterested, just, with every virtue
Of civil life adorn’d, in arms unequall’d.
His only blot was this; that, much provok’d,
He rais’d his vengeful arm against his country.
And, lo! the righteous gods have now chastis’d him,
Even by the hands of those for whom he fought.

Whatever private views and passions plead,
No cause can justify so black a deed:
These, when the angry tempest clouds the soul,
May darken reason, and her course controul;
But when the prospect clears, her startled eye
Must from the treacherous gulph with horror fly,
On whose wild wave, by stormy passions toss’d,
So many hapless wretches have been lost.
Then be this truth the star by which we steer,
Above ourselves our COUNTRY should be dear.

—JAMES THOMSON.


Courtesy of Democratic Thinker.