Antium. A public place.
The mangled body of CORIOLANUS on the ground. Enter to him AUFIDIUS.
When Plato had carved nature at its joints,
His knife split tissue, then dissects to show
The inner scaffold of the purest Forms.
And truth came forth from bloody surgeon’s hand,
His cut that brings in view a maggot light.
To dust returns all things, but corpses fresh
Bring gleaming gifts of Apollonian lore.
The carcass that in Delphi lives has each
Lone organ tagged and named as virtue’s home.
When Galen’s work of vivisection ceased,
The lucky dead were those whose cuts were clean.
But flesh of Dionysus, torn apart
Without a calculating touch, was ripped
By teeth and hands and frenzied claws of beasts
Made dastardly and wild. The feral men,
Not far from dogs, have savaged life to scraps,
Like Pentheus, whose mother took his head
And thought it was a lion. Plebeians,
As citizens, know nothing but the crowd.
Each limb slips out from under mind’s own leash.
They have no bread but yearned to dine on meat
Gone sweet with noble rot. The rich have grapes
And feasts, and they forget themselves with wine.
The well-born fool who decomposes here,
This man feared naught but crows and carrion mobs,
But eagles eat the dead when food is scarce.
All men come to their deaths like pigs to plates.
His vengeance lied to him with honeyed words,
Wine-sweet, and stripping him of all command.
But madness lurks for Maenads gone to dance
With Marcius, Caius Marcius, named by us
For victory in war. This glutton fed
On bread with belly burst from greed. His ear
And pride denied the Roman people’s voice.
The eagle will with living prey make haste
To kill those creatures fat with marbled meat,
Though she has hollow bones and cannot heft.
She has the guts of Rome.
--He was a fool.
His murder saved the state, without a doubt.
The body politic he aimed to head,
Has cleansed itself from parasites once more.
I tell myself this pretty lie to drown
The memory of breath and heat beneath
My wormlike hands. He will be food for worms.
Oh, but the heart of Dionysus was
The only part remaining from his rite
Of ecstasy made matter. Titans ate
All else of num’nous brawn but that sole bite.
Yet heart was the lone token Jove required
To make the god twice-born. I hold his heart
While yet it beats, my palm stained with life’s blood.
I’ll eat it raw so it can nest in me.
I’ll venture paths once trod by Trojan kings,
I’ll steal the strings from singer’s painted lyres,
I’ll pluck a brother’s fiery love from out
Of Castor’s star, though what burns in this breast
Of mine is not so brotherly. I’ll go,
Set forth to dark and bring him back. And then,
Resist the urge to strike him down again.
Exit AUFIDIUS, heart in hand.