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Entrance of the Volscian camp before Rome. Two Sentinels on guard.
An advanced post of the Volscian camp, outside Rome. Two guards at their station.
Enter to them, MENENIUS
MENENIUS enters.

FIRST SENTINEL
Stay: whence are you?
FIRST GUARD
Stop there. Who are you?

SECOND SENTINEL
Stand, and go back.
SECOND GUARD
Stop and go back.



5
MENENIUS
You guard like men; ’tis well: but, by your leave,
I am an officer of state, and come
To speak with Coriolanus.
MENENIUS
You’re good guards, but I assure you that I’m an officer of the state, and I’ve come to speak with Coriolanus.

FIRST SENTINEL
From whence?
FIRST GUARD
Where are you from?

MENENIUS
From Rome.
MENENIUS
From Rome.


FIRST SENTINEL
You may not pass, you must return: our general
Will no more hear from thence.
FIRST GUARD
You may not pass. You must return. Our general won’t listen to Romans anymore.

10
SECOND SENTINEL
You’ll see your Rome embraced with fire before
You’ll speak with Coriolanus.
SECOND GUARD
You’ll see your Rome consumed with fire before you’ll speak with Coriolanus.




15
MENENIUS
Good my friends,
If you have heard your general talk of Rome,
And of his friends there, it is lots to blanks,
My name hath touch’d your ears. It is Menenius.
MENENIUS
Good men, if you’ve heard your general talk of Rome and of his friends there, you’ve undoubtedly heard my name: Menenius.


FIRST SENTINEL
Be it so; go back: the virtue of your name
Is not here passable.
FIRST GUARD
Even if that’s true, go back. You can’t get in here by virtue of your name.



20




25


MENENIUS
I tell thee, fellow,
The general is my lover: I have been
The book of his good acts, whence men have read
His name unparallel’d, haply amplified;
For I have ever verified my friends,
Of whom he’s chief, with all the size that verity
Would without lapsing suffer: nay, sometimes,
Like to a bowl upon a subtle ground,
I have tumbled past the throw; and in his praise
Have almost stamp’d the leasing: therefore, fellow,
I must have leave to pass.
MENENIUS
I tell you, fellow, the general is my close friend. I’ve recorded his brave acts and proclaimed, perhaps exaggeratedly, his greatness as unparalleled. I’ve always supported my friends, of whom he’s the closest, with the highest possible praise I could give without slipping into lies. Although it’s true that sometimes, like bowling on an uneven surface, I’ve thrown the ball too far and nearly praised him beyond his actual accomplishments. So you see, fellow, you must let me pass.