Category Archives: Coriolanus

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