A monologue from the play "Coriolanus" by William Shakespeare

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About this Monologue

  • Character: Menenius
  • Gender: Male
  • Age Range(s): Adult (36-50)
  • Type of monologue / Character is: Angry, Scolding, Descriptive, Mocking
  • Type: Comic
  • Period: Renaissance
  • Genre: Tragedy, Drama
  • Description: Menenius acknowledges his shortcomings
  • Location: ACT II, Scene 1

Summary

The play is set in the city of Rome and is based on the legendary Roman general Gaius Martius Coriolanus. In the first scene of the play Caius Martius and several Roman rulers have to deal with a riot of the common people that are protesting because of a shortage of grain. A war soon breaks out between Rome and a neighboring tribe, the Volscians, led by Tullus Aufidius. After a hard battle, Gaius Martius manages to conquer the Volscian's city or Corioles and, having fought with valor, is given the nickname "Coriolanus" because of that.

In the first scene of ACT II we find two tribunes, Brutus and Sicinius, criticizing ...

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Excerpt

MENENIUS
I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that
loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying
Tiber in't; said to be something imperfect in
favouring the first complaint; hasty and tinder-like
upon too trivial motion; one that converses more
with the buttock of the night than with the forehead
of the morning: what I think I utter, and spend my
malice in my breath. Meeting two such wealsmen as
you are--I cannot call you Lycurguses--if the drink
you give me touch my palate adversely, I make a
crooked face at it. I can't say your worships have
delivered the matter well, when I find the ass in
compound with the major part of your syllables: and
though I must be content to bear with those that say
you are reverend grave men, yet they lie deadly that
tell you you have good faces. If you see this in
the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known
well enough too? what barm can your bisson
conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be
known well enough too?

[BRUTUS
Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.]

MENENIUS
You know neither me, yourselves nor any thing. You
are ambitious for poor knaves' caps and legs: you
wear out a good wholesome forenoon in hearing a
cause between an orange wife and a fosset-seller;
and then rejourn the controversy of three pence to a
second day of audience. When you are hearing a
matter between party and party, if you chance to be
pinched with the colic, you make faces like
mummers; set up the bloody flag against all
patience; and, in roaring for a chamber-pot,
dismiss the controversy bleeding the more entangled
by your hearing: all the peace you make in their
cause is, calling both the parties knaves. You are
a pair of strange ones.

[BRUTUS
Come, come, you are well understood to be a
perfecter giber for the table than a necessary
bencher in the Capitol.]

MENENIUS
Our very priests must become mockers, if they shall
encounter such ridiculous subjects as you are. When
you speak best unto the purpose, it is not worth the
wagging of your beards; and your beards deserve not
so honourable a grave as to stuff a botcher's
cushion, or to be entombed in an ass's pack-
saddle. Yet you must be saying, Marcius is proud;
who in a cheap estimation, is worth predecessors
since Deucalion, though peradventure some of the
best of 'em were hereditary hangmen. God-den to
your worships: more of your conversation would
infect my brain, being the herdsmen of the beastly
plebeians: I will be bold to take my leave of you.



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