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CORIOL A N U S.
“ Tue Tragedy of Coriolanus " appears to have been first printed in the folio of 1623. In the same year, November 8th, it was entered on the Registers of the Stationers' Company by Blount and Jaggard, the publishers of the folio, as one of the copies “not formerly entered to other men.” Malone ascribes it to the year 1610; but with the exception of some peculiarities in the style, which would lead us to class it among the poet's latest plays, there is not a particle of evidence, internal or extrinsic, to assist in determining within several years the date of its production. That it was written subsequently to the publication of Camden's “ Remains ” in 1605 is probable, from the resemblance between the following version of the famous apologue of the members' rebellion against the belly, as told by that author, and the sanie story in the speech of Menenius, Act I. Sc. 1 ; for, as Malone remarks, although Shakespeare found this fable in North’s Plutarch, there are some expressions, as well as the enumeration of the functions performed by the respective instruments of the body, which he seems to have taken from Camden : *
“All the members of the body conspired against the stomach, as against the swallowing gulfe of all their labours; for whereas the eies beheld, the eares heard, the handes laboured, the feete travelled, the tongue spake, and all partes performed their functions ; onely the stomache lay ydle and consumed all. Hereuppon they joyntly agreed al to forbeare their labours, and to pine away their lazie and publike enemy. One day passed over, the second followed very tedious, but the third day was so greevous to them all, that they called a common counsel. The eyes
waxed dimme, the feete could not support the bodie; the armes waxed lazie, the tongue faltered, and could not lay open the matter. Therefore they all with one accord desired the advice of the heart. There Reason layd open before them,” &c.
So, Shakespeare :
“ There was a time, when all the body's members
Rebell’d against the belly ; thus accus'd it :-
According to Douce, Camden derived what he has related of the fable from John of Salisbury, who wrote in the
reign of Henry the Second, and professes to have received it from Pope Hadrian IV.
Like labour with the rest, where the other instruments
but, if you do remember,
In the several incidents, and in some of the principal speeches of his tragedy, as may be seen from the parallel passages at the end, Shakespeare has faithfully followed “ The Life of Caius Martius Coriolanus,” in Sir Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch ; a translation which was rendered from the French of Amyot, Bishop of Auxerre, and was first published in 1579, with the title,—“. The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes, compared together by that g learned Philosopher and Historiographer Plutarke of Chæronea.”
Roman and Volscian Senators, Patricians, Ædiles, Lictors, Soldiers, Citizens, Messengers, Serrants to
Aufidius, and other Attendants.
SCENE,-- Partly in Rome; and partly in the territories of the Volscians and Antiates.