Coriolanus: Bawdy (heh, heh, the title has “anus” in it)


First of all, there’s not a whole lot of bawdy in Coriolanus. Eric Partridge, the author of the great Shakespeare’s Bawdy, sums it up: “possesses a few more particularities than Macbeth, yet, in its general effect, even less ‘objectionable’” (Shakespeare’s Bawdy, Partridge, Eric. New York: Routledge Classics, 2001; page 47), and he called Macbeth the purist of the tragedies. So as a cop on the bawdy beat, I’m almost tempted to wave you off, and say, “Move along, nothing to see here…”

Almost. But that would be shirking my duty… (heh heh, he said, “duty”…)

In Act Four, Scene Two, when Volumnia and Virgilia accost the plebeians’ tribunes, the mother says that she wishes the tribunes were an army before Martius, “his good sword in his hand” (IV.ii.25). Virgilia follows up by saying that Martius would kill them and their children–“mak[ing] an end of [their] posterity” (IV.ii.26), Volumnia following up with “Bastards and all” (IV.ii.27). Here, she implies adulterous sex on the part of the tribunes.

Late, when the Romans learn of Martius’ defection to the Volscians, Cominius warns the tribunes that they “have h[e]lp[ed] to ravish your own daughters and … To see your wives dishonored to your noses” (,85). Here, we get rape imagery.

And that’s pretty much it.

So there’s not much. Unless you use the homoerotic content from yesterday. And I’m guessing that accounts for Partridge’s “peculiarities.”

So yeah. Not much there.

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