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ACT I SCENE II. Corioli. The Senate-house.
[Enter TULLUS AUFIDIUS and certain Senators]
First Senator So, your opinion is, Aufidius,
That they of Rome are entered in our counsels
And know how we proceed.
AUFIDIUS Is it not yours?
What ever have been thought on in this state,
That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome
Had circumvention? ‘Tis not four days gone
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; 10
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.’
First Senator Our army’s in the field
We never yet made doubt but Rome was ready
To answer us.
AUFIDIUS Nor did you think it folly
To keep your great pretences veil’d till when 20
They needs must show themselves; which
in the hatching,
It seem’d, appear’d to Rome. By the discovery.
We shall be shorten’d in our aim, which was
To take in many towns ere almost Rome
Should know we were afoot.
Second Senator Noble Aufidius,
Take your commission; hie you to your bands:
Let us alone to guard Corioli:
If they set down before ‘s, for the remove
Bring your army; but, I think, you’ll find
They’ve not prepared for us.
AUFIDIUS O, doubt not that; 30
I speak from certainties. Nay, more,
Some parcels of their power are forth already,

And only hitherward. I leave your honours.
If we and Caius Marcius chance to meet,
‘Tis sworn between us we shall ever strike
Till one can do no more.
All The gods assist you!
AUFIDIUS And keep your honours safe!
First Senator Farewell.
Second Senator Farewell.
All Farewell.

Next: Coriolanus, Act 1, Scene 3


Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 2
From Coriolanus. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.

2. That they … counsels, that those in Rome have found their way into our plans; are enter’d expresses the present state, have enter’d would express the activity necessary to cause that state; for in, = into, see Abb. § 159.

3. Is it not yours? do you not believe so too?

4-6. What ever … circumvention? What plans have we ever formed and been able to carry out without Rome outwitting us? If have is the genuine reading, What is equivalent to what things: four days gone, four days past, ago; cp. M. M. v. 1. 229, “But Tuesday night last gone.”

7. Since I heard thence, since I had news from Rome,

9. press’d a power, enrolled a force. Wedgwood (Dict.) has shown that press’d, in the sense of ‘compelled to serve,’ has nothing to do with ‘press’ in the sense of ‘crush,’ ‘squeeze,’ but is a corruption of prest, ready,prest-money being ready money advanced when a man was hired for service, the shilling now given to recruits. “At a later period,” he says, “the practice of taking men for the public service by compulsion made the word to be understood as if it signified to force men into the service, and the original reference to earnest money was quite lost sight of”; power, frequent in Shakespeare, both in the singular and the plural, for an army, troops.

10. Whether … west, whether the destination of the troops is to the east or to the west; i.e. whether they are to be sent against us or against some other enemy.

13. of Rome, by the people of Rome; for of, = by, see Abb. § 170.

15. this preparation, this force that has been mustered; the abstract for the concrete. Cp. Cymbl. iv. 3. 29, “Your preparation can affront no less Than what, you hear of”; Oth. i. 3. 1-4, “The Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes.”

16. Whither ’tis hent, to their destination, whatever it may be.

19. To answer us, to meet us in the field; cp. K. J. v. 7. 60, “The Dauphin is preparing hitherward. Where heaven He knows how we shall answer him.”

20. great pretences, important designs; cp. Lear, i. 4. 75, “which I have rather blamed as mine own jealous curiosity than a very pretence and purpose of unkindness”; and for the verb, Macb. ii. 4. 24.

21. needs, of necessity; the old genitive used adverbially; cp. whiles, twice (i.e. twies), etc.: in the hatching, while they were being brought to the birth.

22. appear’d, were revealed: discovery, disclosure.

23. shorten’d in our aim, curbed in our projects.

24. To take in, to capture; as frequently in Shakespeare: ere almost, for the transposition, see Abb. § 29.

25. afoot, literally, on foot, i.e. in motion.

26. your commission, whereby you are invested with the command of the troops: hie, hasten,

27. Let us alone, leave us to guard, etc.

28. 9. If they … army, if they should besiege us, bring up your army to cause them to raise the siege; cp. below, i. 3. 94, “Your lord and Titus Lartius are set down before their city Corioli”; ‘s, for us, is a frequent contraction: for the remove, cp. R. J. v. 3. 237, “to remove that siege of grief from her.”

30. They’ve not … us, that this preparation of theirs is not intended against us.

32. parcels, small portions; Lat. diminutive, particula, a small part: are forth, have already set forth.

33. And only hitherward; and are directed against this city and none other.

35. ever strike, continue to strike.

36. can do no more, has no strength for any other action, is utterly disabled.

37. your honours, your honourable selves; a title of respect.