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Clapp'd-to their gates; he is himself alone,
To answer all the city.
LART. O noble fellow ! Who, sensible, outdares his senseless sword, And, when it bows, stands up! Thou art left, Marcius:
A carbuncle entire, as big as thou art,
Were not so rich a jewel. Thou wast a soldier
8 Who, sensible, outdares-] The old editions read: "Who sensibly out-dares."
Who, sensible, outdoes his senseless sword."
He is followed by the later editors, but I have taken only his correction. JOHNSON.
Sensible is here, having sensation. So before: "I would, your cambrick were sensible as your finger." Though Coriolanus has the feeling of pain like other men, he is more hardy in daring exploits than his senseless sword, for after it is bent, he yet stands firm in the field. MALONE.
The thought seems to have been adopted from Sidney's Arcadia, edit. 1633, p. 293:
"Their very armour by piece-meale fell away from them: and yet their flesh abode the wounds constantly, as though it were lesse sensible of smart than the senselesse armour," &c.
9 A carbuncle entire, &c.] So, in Othello:
"If heaven had made me such another woman,
"I'd not have ta'en it for her." MALONE.
Even to CATO'S WISH: not fierce and terrible
Only in strokes, &c.] In the old editions it was :
Plutarch, in The Life of Coriolanus, relates this as the opinion of Cato the Elder, that a great soldier should carry terrour in his looks and tone of voice; and the poet, hereby following the historian, is fallen into a great chronological impropriety.
The old copy reads-Calues wish. The correction made by Theobald is fully justified by the passage in Plutarch, which Shakspeare had in view: "Martius, being there [before Corioli] at
The thunder-like percussion of thy sounds,
Thou mad'st thine enemies shake, as if the world Were feverous, and did tremble 2.
Re-enter MARCIus, bleeding, assaulted by the
that time, ronning out of the campe with a fewe men after him, he slue the first enemies he met withal, and made the rest of them staye upon a sodaine; crying out to the Romaines that had turned their backes, and calling them againe to fight with a lowde voyce. For he was even such another as Cato would have a souldier and a captaine to be; not only terrible and fierce to lay about him, but to make the enemie afeard with the sounde of his voyce and grimnes of his countenance." North's translation of Plutarch, 1579, p. 240.
Mr. M. Mason supposes that Shakspeare, to avoid the chronological impropriety, put this saying of the elder Cato "into the mouth of a certain Calvus, who might have lived at any time." Had Shakspeare known that Cato was not born till the year of Rome, 519, that is 253 years after the death of Coriolanus, (for there is nothing in the foregoing passage to make him even suspect that was the case,) and in consequence made this alteration, he would have attended in this particular instance to a point, of which almost every page of his works shows that he was totally negligent; a supposition which is so improbable, that I have no doubt the correction that has been adopted by the modern editors, is right. In the first Act of this play, we have Lucius and Marcius printed instead of Lartius, in the original and only authentick ancient copy. The substitution of Calues, instead of Cato's, is easily accounted for. Shakspeare wrote, according to the mode of his time, Catoes wish; (So, in Beaumont's Masque, 1613; "And what will Junoes Iris do for her?") Again, in this play, edit. 1623:
"That Ancus Marcius Numaes daughter's son."
Omitting to draw a line across the t, and writing the o inaccurately, the transcriber or printer gave us Calues. See a subsequent passage in Act II. Sc. ult. in which our author has been led by another passage in Plutarch into a similar anachronism.
2 -as if the world
Were feverous, and did tremble.] So, in Macbeth :
"Was feverous, and did shake." STEEVENS.
Let's fetch him off, or make remain3 alike. [They fight, and all enter the City.
Within the Town. A Street.
Enter certain Romans, with Spoils,
1 Roм. This will I carry to Rome,
2 Roм. And I this.
3 ROм. A murrain on't! I took this for silver. [Alarum continues still afar off.
Enter MARCIUS, and TITUS LARTIUS, with a
MAR. See here these movers, that do prize their hours 4
At a crack'd drachm! Cushions, leaden spoons, Irons of a doit, doublets that hangmen would Bury with those that wore them, these base slaves,
MAKE remain] Is an old manner of speaking, which means no more than remain. HANMER.
4-prize their HOURS] Mr. Pope arbitrarily changed the word hours to honours, and Dr. Johnson, too hastily I think, approves of the alteration. Every page of Mr. Pope's edition abounds with similar innovations. MALone.
A modern editor who had made such an improvement, would have spent half a page in ostentation of his sagacity. JOHNSON. Coriolanus blames the Roman soldiers only for wasting their time in packing up trifles of such small value. So, in Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch: "Martius was marvellous angry with them, and cried out on them, that it was no time now to looke after spoyle, and to ronne straggling here and there to enrich themselves, whilst the other consul and their fellow citizens peradventure were fighting with their enemies." STEEVENS. 5 doublets that hangmen would
Bury with those that wore them,] Instead of taking them as their lawful perquisite. MALONE.
Ere yet the fight be done, pack up :-Down with them.
And hark, what noise the general makes!—To him :
There is the man of my soul's hate, Aufidius,
Sir, praise me not:
Than dangerous to me: To Aufidius thus
I will appear, and fight.
Now the fair goddess, Fortune",
Go, sound thy trumpet in the market-place;
6 Than dangerous TO ME: To Aufidius thus I will appear, and fight.
Lart. Now the fair goddess, Fortune,] The metre being here violated, I think we might safely read with Sir T. Hanmer (omitting the words-to me):
"Than dangerous: To Aufidius thus will I
"Now the fair goddess, Fortune, STEEVENS.
Near the Camp of COMINIUS.
Enter COMINIUs and Forces, retreating.
COM. Breathe you, my friends; well fought: we are come off
Like Romans, neither foolish in our stands,
Enter a Messenger.
May give you thankful sacrifice!-Thy news?
MESS. Above an hour, my lord.
How could'st thou in a mile confound an hour,
briefly we heard their
7 - The Roman gods,
Lead their successes as we wish our own ;] i. e. May the Roman gods, &c. MALONE.
8 CONFOUND an hour,] Confound is here used not in its common acceptation, but in the sense of-to expend. tempus. MALONE.