So yesterday, I talked a little about Coriolanus and the concept of homosociality, the same-sex loving relationship without a sexual or erotic angle to it.
We saw a bond between Martius and Aufidius, and when that bond broken, one of them kills the other.
But what about homoeroticism? Last week I discussed–what I thought was–the ham-handed attempt at displaying that homoeroticism in the 1983 BBC production.
However… (I was going to say “But” but, well you know…)
You knew there was going to be a “However.” That first speech by Aufidius after Martius asks to join his team, er, army… well, let’s just say, this is probably where the genesis of Moshinsky’s angle comes from:
Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart
A root of ancient envy. If Jupiter
Should from yond cloud speak divine things
And say ’tis true, I’d not believe them more
Than thee, all-noble Martius. Let me twine
Mine arms about that body, whereagainst
My grainèd ash an hundred times hath broke
And scarred the moon with splinters.
Here I clip
The anvil of my sword and do contest
As hotly and as nobly with thy love
As ever in ambitious strength I did
Contend against thy valor. Know thou first,
I loved the maid I married; never man
Sighed truer breath. But that I see thee here,
Thou noble thing, more dances my rapt heart
Than when I first my wedded mistress saw
Bestride my threshold. Why, thou Mars, I tell thee
We have a power on foot, and I had purpose
Once more to hew thy target from thy brawn
Or lose mine arm for ’t. Thou hast beat me out
Twelve several times, and I have nightly since
Dreamt of encounters ’twixt thyself and me;
We have been down together in my sleep,
Unbuckling helms, fisting each other’s throat,
And waked half dead with nothing.
If God from heaven above were to tell me something was true, I’d believe him no more than I’d believe you. Let me wrap my arms around that body that my pronged wooden spear (“grained, adj.3; ash, n.3.” OED Online) has broken against so that it sent splinters to the moon. Here I grab your chest (“the anvil of my sword” which has bent the weapon), and struggle as hotly and nobly with your love, as I ever did with strength struggle against your bravery. Know first though, I loved the woman I married. But when I see you, you noble thing, my heart dances more than when I first saw my wife in my doorway. You god of war, I tell you we have an army in the field, and I had purpose to chop your head off, or lose my arm trying. You have beaten me twelve times in battle, and since then I have dreamt every night of new encounters between you and me: in my sleep, we’ve knocked each other down, unbuckling our helmets, grabbing each other’s throats with our fists, then I’d wake half-dead.
Maybe I gave that BBC production too hard a time… (no pun intended, well, maybe.)