Category Archives: Coriolanus

Coriolanus — act five: backstabbers (and front-stabbers, too)

Previously on Coriolanus: In the first act, the Roman citizenry–starving–blames a soldier and favored son of the patricians named Caius Martius, despite his service for Rome, because he is arrogant and proud. Martius arrives, hurls insults at them, and intimates that if the senate allowed him, he’d mow down these citizens. Meanwhile, we learn he hates/envies a general from the Volscian army, Aufidius. In Corioles, a major town in Volsca, Aufidius learns that Roman battalions are heading to Volsca, led by Martius, whom Aufidius hates. Next, we meet Martius’ proud mother Volumnia and worried wife Virgilia. The first act continues in Corioles where Martius is victorious, taking the town almost single-handedly. Martius meets Aufidius in battle, but before the fight is decided, Aufidius’ army comes in and rescues/takes him away from battle. In celebration of the Roman victory, Martius is given the name Coriolanus; Aufidius in the Volsce camp laments the loss of Corioles, and continues to state his hatred of Martius. The second act takes place in Rome, where not is happy about Coriolanus’ victory: two plebeian tribunes, Brutus and Sicinius, complain about Coriolanus, and they begin to plot his political demise. In the Senate house, Coriolanus thanks the senate upon his return for their agreement for him to become consul, but first comes the “custom” of Coriolanus speaking to the people, showing his wounds, and asking for their vote. He agrees to do it, while the two plebeian tribunes plan on getting the people to go against Coriolanus. In the Forum, the custom goes well enough for the people to say they will vote for him. After he leaves, however, the plotting tribunes turn the crowd’s lukewarm support for Coriolanus to cold disdain, convincing them to vote against Coriolanus. In Act Three, Coriolanus is confronted by the plebeians tribunes, and is told the people are now “incensed” against him. Coriolanus rages until the tribunes finally state that Coriolanus “has spoken like a traitor.” He returns home where his family is able to calm the raging general. He decides to return to the Forum to meet with his accusers. In the Forum, where the plebeian tribunes again accuse Coriolanus of being a traitor to the people, and the plebeians then banish Coriolanus. In the fourth act, Coriolanus says his goodbyes to his family and friends. And after he leaves, the plebeian tribunes, Brutus and Sicinius, gloat over their victory, only to be accosted by Volumnia and Virgilia. Meanwhile, on the road to Antium, a Roman and a Volscian meet, remember a previous meeting, and discuss the banishment of Coriolanus from Rome–news that both the Volscian and the now deserting Roman will deliver to Aufidius. At Aufidius’ house in Antium, Coriolanus presents himself to Aufidius, and states his intention to serve Aufidius. Aufidius accepts Coriolanus, and since Coriolanus knows the Romans so well, he is given half of the army so he can attack Rome. Back in Rome, word arrives that the Volscian are sending two separate armies toward Rome; then comes word of Martius’ joining with Aufidius and that he’s leading one of the Volscian armies heading toward Rome. Word travels fast, and Cominius and Menenius rail against the two tribunes and it only gets worse for them when a band of citizens arrive to complain that it was the tribunes’ idea to banish Coriolanus. In the Volscian camp of Aufidius, near Rome, we hear that more and more of the Volscian army are joining with Coriolanus, and Aufidius’ reputation is suffering. Aufidius seems taken aback, not only by his troops actions, but by Coriolanus’s pride as well. Yet for the moment, Aufidius is willing to use Coriolanus to defeat Rome, but he has an endgame in mind for Coriolanus.

Act Five of Coriolanus begins with tribunes attempting to convince Menenius to go and talk to Coriolanus in an attempt to save Rome from destruction. Continue reading Coriolanus — act five: backstabbers (and front-stabbers, too)

Coriolanus — act four: the world takes a slippery turn

Previously on Coriolanus: In the first act, the Roman citizenry–starving–blames a soldier and favored son of the patricians named Caius Martius, despite his service for Rome, because he is arrogant and proud. Martius arrives, hurls insults at them, and intimates that if the senate allowed him, he’d mow down these citizens. Meanwhile, we learn he hates/envies a general from the Volscian army, Aufidius. In Corioles, a major town in Volsca, Aufidius learns that Roman battalions are heading to Volsca, led by Martius, whom Aufidius hates. Next, we meet Martius’ proud mother Volumnia and worried wife Virgilia. The first act continues in Corioles where Martius is victorious, taking the town almost single-handedly. Martius meets Aufidius in battle, but before the fight is decided, Aufidius’ army comes in and rescues/takes him away from battle. In celebration of the Roman victory, Martius is given the name Coriolanus; Aufidius in the Volsce camp laments the loss of Corioles, and continues to state his hatred of Martius. The second act takes place in Rome, where not everyone is happy about Coriolanus’ victory: two plebeian tribunes, Brutus and Sicinius, complain about Coriolanus, and they begin to plot his political demise. In the Senate house, Coriolanus thanks the senate upon his return for their agreement for him to become consul, but first comes the “custom” of Coriolanus speaking to the people, showing his wounds, and asking for their vote. He agrees to do it, while the two plebeian tribunes plan on getting the people to go against Coriolanus. In the Forum, the custom goes well enough for the people to say they will vote for him. After he leaves, however, the plotting tribunes turn the crowd’s lukewarm support for Coriolanus to cold disdain, convincing them to vote against Coriolanus. In Act Three, Coriolanus is confronted by the plebeians tribunes, and is told the people are now “incensed” against him. Coriolanus rages until the tribunes finally state that Coriolanus “has spoken like a traitor.” He returns home where his family is able to calm the raging general. He decides to return to the Forum to meet with his accusers. In the Forum, the plebeian tribunes again accuse Coriolanus of being a traitor to the people, and the plebeians then banish Coriolanus.

Act Four of Coriolanus begins at the gates of Rome where the newly banished Coriolanus is saying goodbye to his family and friends. Continue reading Coriolanus — act four: the world takes a slippery turn

Coriolanus — act three: this isn’t going to end well

Previously on Coriolanus: The first act begins with the Roman citizenry–starving–up and armed, about to storm the grain warehouse. They blame a soldier and favored son of the patricians named Caius Martius, despite his service for Rome, because he is arrogant and proud. Martius arrives, hurls insults at them, and intimates that if the senate allowed him, he’d mow down these citizens. Meanwhile, we learn he hates/envies a general from the Volscian army, Aufidius; we also learn that the senate has granted the citizens some protection/quasi-representation, in the form of tribunes. In Corioles, a major town in Volsca, we meet Aufidius and learn that three Roman battalions are heading to Volsca, one led by Martius, whom Aufidius hates. Next, we meet Martius’ proud mother Volumnia and worried wife Virgilia. The first act continues back in Corioles where Martius is victorious, taking the town almost single-handedly. Martius meets Aufidius in battle, but before the fight is decided, Aufidius’ army comes in and rescues/takes him away from battle. In celebration of the Roman victory, Martius is given the name Coriolanus. Aufidius in the Volsce camp laments the loss of Corioles, and continues to state his hatred of Martius. The second act takes place in Rome in the fallout of Coriolanus’ victory. Not everyone is happy, however: the two plebeian tribunes, Brutus and Sicinius, complain about Coriolanus. Much of it sounds like envy, but they fear if he becomes consul, they may lose their power; they begin to plot his political demise. In the Senate house, a convincing case is made for Coriolanus to become consul, and this looks to happen. Coriolanus thanks the senate upon his return, but begins an attempt to get out of the “custom” (II.ii.135) of speaking to the people, showing his wounds, and asking for their vote. He finally agrees to do it, and after Coriolanus and the train of senators leave, and again we get the two plebeian tribunes, planning on going to the people and getting them to go against Coriolanus. In the Forum, the “people” seem a pretty fickle yet malleable bunch; Coriolanus certainly won’t win them in a landslide. He arrives, and the citizenry approach him to question him. It doesn’t go great, but it goes well enough for the people to say they will vote for him. After he leaves, however, the plotting tribunes turn the crowd’s lukewarm support for Coriolanus to cold disdain, convincing them Coriolanus is their enemy; they all leave for the vote, which they’ve now decided will be negative.

Act Three of Coriolanus begins on a Roman street. Continue reading Coriolanus — act three: this isn’t going to end well

Coriolanus — act two: in a dis-likability contest, everyone loses

Previously on Coriolanus: The first act begins with the Roman citizenry–starving–up and armed, about to storm the grain warehouse. They blame a soldier and favored son of the patricians named Caius Martius, despite his service for Rome, because he is arrogant and proud. Martius arrives, hurls insults at them, and intimates that if the senate allowed him, he’d mow down these citizens. Meanwhile, we learn he hates/envies a general from the Volscian army, Aufidius; we also learn that the senate has granted the citizens some protection/quasi-representation, in the form of tribunes. We next go to Corioles, a major town in Volsca, where senators there tell Aufidius that three Roman battalions are heading to Volsca, one led by Martius, whom Aufidius states his hope to meet in the field. Next, we meet Martius’ mother Volumnia and wife Virgilia. Volumnia is a proud mama, and a vicious one to boot; Virgilia is worried nonetheless. The first act continues taking us back to Corioles where Martius is forced to retreat, but Martius ends up taking Corioles. When Martius then goes to assist Cominius, he learns that Aufidius is in the field with the army from Actium; Martius goes to meet up with and defeat Aufidius in battle. They do meet, but before the battle is decided, Aufidius’ army comes in and rescues/takes him away from battle. In celebration of the Roman victory, Cominius praises Martius’ exploits in battle, and Martius actually responds modestly, refusing the winning general’s share of one tenth of the spoils. However, for what he did at Corioles, they rename him Coriolanus. As the first act ends, Aufidius in the Volsce camp laments the loss of Corioles, and continues to state his hatred of Martius.

Act Two of Coriolanus takes us back to Rome where Menenius and the two plebeian tribunes, Brutus and Sicinius, discuss the latest news of Coriolanus’ victory, with the patrician praising him and the two tribunes continuing to complain about him. Continue reading Coriolanus — act two: in a dis-likability contest, everyone loses

Coriolanus: authorship

With every play, I like to take a look at the authorship question. And no, I don’t mean who was Shakespeare and if “he” really wrote the plays. No, that question really doesn’t float my boat. No, what I mean is, did the “entity” that we call Shakespeare write this play in its entirety or did he have help? And so, as we’re at the beginning of a new play, I gotsta ask: “Who wrote Coriolanus?”

Continue reading Coriolanus: authorship

Coriolanus — act one (part two): a victory and a name bestowed

Previously on Coriolanus: The Roman citizenry–starving–is up and armed, about to storm the grain warehouse. They blame a soldier and favored son of the patricians named Caius Martius (remember that name for later), despite his service for Rome because he is arrogant and proud. A patrician and friend/mentor to Martius arrives to try to calm the mob, but ends up insulting them instead. Martius arrives, hurls more insults and intimates that if the senate allowed him, he’d mow down these citizens. Meanwhile, we learn he hates/envies a general from the Volscian army, Aufidius (remember that name, too); we also learn that the senate has granted the citizens some protection/quasi-representation, in the form of tribunes. We next go to Corioles, a major town in Volsca, where senators there tell Aufidius (remember him?) that three Roman battalions are heading to Volsca, led by Cominius, Martius, and Titus Lartius. Aufidius states his hope to meet Martius in the field. Next, we meet Martius’ mother Volumnia and wife Virgilia. Volumnia is a proud mama, and a vicious one to boot; Virgilia is worried nonetheless. The next scene takes us back to Corioles where Martius and his army have arrived. Aufidius and his army arrive. Fighting and chaos ensues, advances, retreats (during which Martius berates his own troops), advances again, and we ended in the middle of Act One, with a bleeding and pursued Martius, heading into the gates of the town…

The cliffhanger that ended Act One, Scene Four, was not as suspenseful as one would think. Continue reading Coriolanus — act one (part two): a victory and a name bestowed

Coriolanus — act one (part one): battle lines drawn and crossed

The first act of Coriolanus (and it’s a fairly long one, longer than average, with more scenes–ten–than any other play) begins on a street in Rome with a “company of mutinous Citizens with staves, clubs and other weapons” (I.i.opening stage direction)…and that’s a pretty detailed stage direction for Shakespeare (though these stage directions have become more explicit as we’ve moved through the canon).

Continue reading Coriolanus — act one (part one): battle lines drawn and crossed