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The Tragedy of Coriolanus (a Later Tragedy)
- (Coriolanus sounds like the vowels in the words: core me old lane us)

This play concerns a legendary Roman hero from the 5th century B.C. named Caius Marcius. Marcius is very proud of his deeds and considers himself better than all other men, though he prefers to be fairly anonymous about it. He lead the Roman army to attack the city of Corioli, held by the Volsces, who are led by Lucius Aufidius. Marcius considers Aufidius to be his only worthy opponent. Single-handedly, Marcius defeats the Volscan defenders of the city of Corioli, and nearly beats Aufidius in hand-to-hand combat, though Aufidius flees. For his deeds, Marcius is named Caius Marcius Coriolanus. When Coriolanus returns to Rome, the noble class (the Patricians) wish to make him a tribune (representative) of the common people (the Plebeians). Though Coriolanus' friend Menenius and Coriolanus' fellow army generals Cominius and Titus Larcius support Coriolanus, the evil tribunes Sicinius Velutus and Junius Brutus fear Coriolanus has become too proud and too popular, and may become too powerful. Sicinius and Brutus convince the common people to condemn Coriolanus to death. Coriolanus, outraged, refuses to submit to death (Coriolanus claims he has killed over 20,000 men in his lifetime, and a few Roman citizens would be little match for himself), and instead flees Rome, leaving his wife Virgilia and mother Volumnia in Rome without him.

Out of rage, Coriolanus heads to the city of Antium to find Aufidius to help Aufidius and the Volsces defeat the Roman Empire and seize Rome itself. Led by Coriolanus, the Volsces seize and plunder all of the outlying Roman towns and approach Rome itself. Menenius tries to dissuade Coriolanus from attacking his own people and family in Rome. Though this does not work, Volumnia succeeds in convincing Coriolanus to make peace rather than attack. Volumnia uses Virgilia and Coriolanus' own son to play on Coriolanus' emotions. After making peace, Coriolanus does, however, return to Corioli with Aufidius. Aufidius, furious because Coriolanus did not attack Rome and because Coriolanus has become more powerful than Aufidius himself with Aufidius' own armies and men, murders Coriolanus in a fit of rage in front of the Lords of the city of Corioli. Aufidius, though pleased that Coriolanus is dead, orders that he be given a noble memorial.

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Recent Forum Posts on Coriolanus


Is anyone currently reading Coriolanus? A movie is coming out soon that looks intriguing, but I want to read it first. It would be nice to read with a group.

coriolanus and CAPES d'anglais

hi all, i am currently working on coriolanus for the CAPES d'anglais, is there anyone else in here with wies to be english teachers so far... the play inspires a lot of questions, but not a huge amount of answers? ready to discuss the different themes, and images? :idea:

Coriolanus and Hamlet, in T.S. Eliot's View

I read an essay by T.S. Eliot last Winter about Coriolanus and Hamlet. In it he stated that Coriolanus was Shakespeare's greatest artistic success (may be a direct quote, I'm not sure) and that Hamlet was his biggest artistic failure. Does anyone have any insight on what he might have meant by this? I asked this of one of my professors, and was told that perhaps it had something to do with Eliot's concern for artistic integrity, and that Hamlet was derived from historical material while Coriolanus was actually invented by Shakespeare. Does this sound plausible to anyone? I read the essay several times, and remained unable to extract his meaning (which seems unusual for one of Eliot's essays--he's a very good essayist.) What, in your opinion, beyond what Eliot actually meant, could this mean--that Coriolanus was the biggest artistic success? Is there something inherent in it that you could point out as artistically successful? I ask the same for the statement about Hamlet; you can reiterate it for yourself. This is just a question I've been tossing around in my own head for a year, and I thought I'd be generous and share it with all of you. Thanks for whatever bits of wisdom you might like to contribute. :)

Imagery in Coriolanus and Julius Caesar

I am working on comparing the language and imagery of these two plays


Please note that Coriolanus is not a General, but a soldier.
The Patricians do not request to have him made a Tribune.
He is 'nominated' to be Consul - a term-limited political position that must be ratified by the people.

This is Shakespeare's final tragedy. A complex political statement that remains immediate and relevant.


Caius Martius is never asked to be the people's representative as the above summary suggests. Rather, he is nominated for consul—a position which requires confirmation by the Senate and by the populace. The recently elected tribunes (who are the people's representatives in the Senate) oppose Matrius' appointment as consul because he is opposed to plebeian representation in the Senate.

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