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CORIOLANUS.] This play I conje&ure to have been writteni in the year 1609. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II.
It comprehends a period of about four years, commencing with the secession to the Mons Sacer in the year of Rome 262, and ending with the death of Coriolanus, A. U.C. 266.
MALONE. The whole history is exactly followed, and many of the principal speeches exactly copied, from the Life of Coriolanus in Plutarch. POPE.
Caius Marcius Coriolanus, a noble Roman.
Volumnia, Mother to Coriolanus.
Lictors, Soldiers, Citizens, Messengers, Servants
SCENE, partly in Rome; and partly in the Ter
ritories of the Volscians and Antiates.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Rome. A Street.
Enter a Company of mutinous Citizens, with Staves,
Clubs, and other Weapons.
1 Cır. Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.
CIT. Speak, speak. [Several speaking at once.
i Cit. You are all resolved rather to die, than to famish?
Cit. Resolved, resolved.
i Cit. First you know, Caius Marcius is chief enemy to the people.
Cır. We know't, we know't.
1 Cır. Let us kill him, and we'll have corn at our own price. Is't a verdict ?
Cír. No more talking on't; let it be done : away, away.
2 Cir. One word, good citizens.
patricians, good :- What authority surfeits on, would relieve us ; If they would yield us but the superfluity, while it were wholesome, we might guess, they relieved us humanely; but they think, we are too dear :2 the leanness that afflicts us, the object of our misery, is, as an inventory to particularize their abundance; our sufferance is a gain to them. -Let us revenge this with our pikes,3 ere we be
11. Cit. We are accounted poor citizens; the patricians, good;] Good is here used in the mercantile sense. So, Touchstone in Eastward Hoe:
- known good men, well monied.” Farmer. Again, in The Merchant of Venice :
“ Antonio's a good man.” MALONE.
but they think, we are too dear :] They think that the charge of maintaining us is more than we are worth. JOHNSON,
3 Let us revenge this with our pikes, ere we become rakes : ] It was Shakspeare's design to make this fellow quibble all the way. But time, who has done greater things, has here ftifled a miserable joke; which was then the same as if it had been now wrote, Let us now revenge this with forks, ere we become rakes : for pikes then signified the same as forks do now. So, Jewel in his own translation of his Apology, turns Christianos ad furcas condemnare, to~To condemn christians to the pikes. But the Oxford editor, without knowing any thing of this, has with great fagacity found out the joke, and reads on his own authority, pitch-forks. WARBURTON.
It is plain that, in our author's time, we had the proverb, as lean as 'a rake. Of this proverb the original is obscure. Rake now signifies a dissolute man, a man worn out with disease and del anchery. But the signification is, I think, much more modern than the proverb. Rækel, in Islandick, is said to mean a cui-dog, and this was probably the first usę among us of the werd rake; as lean as a rake is, therefore, as lean as a dog too worthlefs to be fed. JOHNSON.
It may be fo: and yet I believe the proverb, as lean as a rake, owes its origin fimply to the thin taper form of the instrument made use of by hay-makers. Chaucer has this simile in his description of the clerk's horse in the prologue to the Canterbury Та Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 281 :
go mis lene, was his hors as is a rake."