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Inclinable to honour and advance
Which the rather
That's off, that's off ;
Most willingly :
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; I had rather have my wounds to heal again, Than hear say how I got them.
7 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 exhibit both the outside and inside of the Senate-house in a manner sufficiently consonant to theatrical probability. STEEVENS.
See p. 77. n. 8. BosWELL.
8 That's off, that's off;] That is, that is nothing to the purpose. Johnson.
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. 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. [Erit 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 naver: 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 $, he fought
9 You sooth'd not, therefore hurt not :] You did not flatter me, and therefore did not offend me.--Mr. Pope, for sooth'd reads sooth, which was adopted by the subsequent editors. Malone.
have one scratch my head i'th sun,] See Henry VI. Part II. Act II. Sc. IV. STEEVENS.
how can he fatter,] The reasoning of Menenius is this : How can he be expected to practice 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 VOL. XIV.
Beyond the mark of others : our then dictator
his time was forty three. If Coriolanus was but sixteen when Tarquin endeavoured to recover Rome, he could not now, A. U.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. his Amazonian chin-] i. e. his chin on which there was no beard. The players read-shinne. Steevens.
An o'er-press'd Roman,] This was an act of similar friendship in our old English armies : 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 : “ 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. 80, n. 7. MALONE.
Shakspeare may, on this occasion, be vindicated by higher authority than that of books. Is it probable than 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. 6 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. 7 When he might act the woman in the scene,] It has been more than once mentioned, that the parts of women were,
He prov'd best man i' the field, and for his meed
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.
8 And, in the brunt of SEVENTEEN battles since,] The number seventeen, for which there is no authority, was suggested to Shakspeare by North’s translation of Plutarch : “ Now Martius followed this custome, showed many woundes and cutts upon his bodie, which he had received in seventeene yeeres service at the warres, and in many sundry battels."
So also the original Greek; but it is undoubtedly erroneous; for from Coriolanus's first campaign to his death, was only a period of eight years.
MALONE. 9 He lurch'd all swords o' the garland.] Ben Jonson has the same expression in The Silent Woman :
you have lurch'd your friends of the better half of the garland." Steevens.
To lurch is properly to purloin ; hence Shakspeare uses it in the sense of to deprive. So, in Christ's Tears over Jerusalem, by Thomas Nashe, 1594 : "I see others of them sharing halfe with the bawdes, their hostesses, and laughing at the punies they had lurched.”
I suspect, however, I have not rightly traced the origin of this phrase. To lurch, in Shakspeare's time, signified to win a maiden set at cards, &c. See Florio's Italian Dict, 1598: " Gioco marzo.
A maiden set, or lurch, at any game.” See also Cole's Latin Dict. 1679 : “A lurch, Duplex palma, facilis victoria."
“ To lurch all swords of the garland,” therefore, was, to gain from all other warriors the wreath of victory, with ease, and incontestable superiority. MALONE.
And fell below his stem': his sword (death's stamp) Where it did mark, it took ; from face to foot
1as weeds before
And fell below his stem:] The editor of the second folio, for weeds substituted waves, and this capricious alteration has been adopted in all the subsequent editions. In the same page of that copy, which has been the source of at least one half of the corruptions that have been introduced in our author's works, we find defamy for destiny, sir Coriolanus, for “ sit, Coriolanus,” trim'd for tim'd, and painting for panting : but luckily none of the latter sophistications have found admission into any of the modern editions, except Mr. Rowe's. Rushes falling below a vessel passing over them is an image as expressive of the prowess of Coriolanus as well can be conceived. A kindred image is found in Troilus and Cressida :
there the strawy Greeks, ripe for his edge, “ Fall down before him, like the mower's swath.” MALONE. Waves, the reading of the second folio, I regard as no trivial evidence in favour of the copy from which it was printed. Weeds, instead of falling below a vessel under sail, cling fast about the stem of it. The justice of my remark every sailor or waterman will confirm.
But were not this the truth, by conflict with a mean adversary, valour would be depreciated. The submersion of weeds resembles a Frenchman's triumph over a soup aux herbes ; but to rise above the threatening billow, or force a way through the watry bulwark, is a conquest worthy of a ship, and furnishes a comparison suitable to the exploits of Coriolanus. Thus, in Troilus and Cressida :
“ The strong-ribb'd bark through liquid mountains cuts,
Bounding between the two moist elements,
“ Like Perseus' horse.” If Shakspeare originally wrote weeds, on finding such an image less apposite and dignified than that of waves, he might have introduced the correction which Mr. Malone has excluded from his text.
The stem is that end of the ship which leads. From stem to stern is an expression used by Dryden in his translation of Virgil :
" Orontes' bark-
STEEVENS. Weeds is used to signify the comparative feebleness of Coriolanus's adversaries. BosWELL.