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There was a time when all the body’s members

Menenius Agrippa
There was a time when all the body's members
Rebell'd against the belly; thus accus'd it:
That only like a gulf it did remain
I' th' midst a' th' body, idle and unactive,
Still cupboarding the viand, never bearing
Like labor with the rest, where th' other instruments
Did see and hear, devise, instruct, walk, feel,
And, mutually participate, did minister
Unto the appetite and affection common
Of the whole body. The belly answer'd—

The senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members…
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you
And no way from yourselves

First Roman Citizen
Well, sir, what answer made the belly?
Menenius Agrippa
Sir, I shall tell you. With a kind of smile,
Which ne'er came from the lungs, but even thus—
For, look you, I may make the belly smile
As well as speak—it tauntingly replied
To th' discontented members, the mutinous parts
That envied his receipt; even so most fitly
As you malign our senators for that
They are not such as you.
First Roman Citizen
Your belly's answer—what?
The kingly-crowned head, the vigilant eye,
The counsellor heart, the arm our soldier,
Our steed the leg, the tongue our trumpeter,
With other muniments and petty helps
In this our fabric, if that they—
Menenius Agrippa
What then?
‘Fore me, this fellow speaks! What then? What then?
First Roman Citizen
Should by the cormorant belly be restrain'd,
Who is the sink a' th' body—
Menenius Agrippa
Well, what then?
First Roman Citizen
The former agents, if they did complain,
What could the belly answer?
Menenius Agrippa
I will tell you;
If you'll bestow a small (of what you have little)
Patience awhile, you'st hear the belly's answer.
First Roman Citizen
Y' are long about it.
Menenius Agrippa
Note me this, good friend:
Your most grave belly was deliberate,
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answered:
“True is it, my incorporate friends,” quoth he,
“That I receive the general food at first
Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
Because I am the store-house and the shop
Of the whole body. But, if you do remember,
I send it through the rivers of your blood,
Even to the court, the heart, to th' seat o' th' brain,
And, through the cranks and offices of man,
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live. And though that all at once”—
You, my good friends, this says the belly, mark me…
“Though all at once cannot
See what I do deliver out to each,
Yet I can make my audit up, that all
From me do back receive the flour of all,
And leave me but the bran.” What say you to't?
First Roman Citizen
It was an answer. How apply you this?
Menenius Agrippa
The senators of Rome are this good belly,
And you the mutinous members: for examine
Their counsels and their cares; digest things rightly
Touching the weal a' th' common, you shall find
No public benefit which you receive
But it proceeds or comes from them to you,
And no way from yourselves. What do you think,
You, the great toe of this assembly.

Act 1
Scene 1
Line 98

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Connected Notes:
Income Inequality, Politics and the People