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MonkeyNotes-Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
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When Coriolanus finally appears in the Forum, the plebeians accuse him of being tyrannically ambitious. This enrages Coriolanus. Forgetting his promise to speak politely and mildly, he denounces the commoners, as well as the members of the tribune. When he storms off, Sicinius Velutus orders Coriolanus to leave the city at once; the commoners shout their approval of this sentence. Before leaving, Coriolanus condemns the Romans for the last time. He curses them, hoping that they will banish their defenders and quake before their enemies before they have delivered themselves into the power of their foes.

In Act IV, Coriolanus leaves Rome and goes to Antium, leaving his mother behind to weep for him. He disguises himself in beggar’s attire and forcibly enters the house of Tullus Aufidius. After revealing his true identity, Coriolanus puts himself at Aufidius’ mercy, offering to become the victim or the ally of the Volscians. Aufidius is overjoyed at having Coriolanus on his side and welcomes him as a comrade, offering to share his command with him in a new war against Rome. Meanwhile, the tribunes are celebrating their victory over their successful campaign against Coriolanus. Their celebration is, however, disturbed by rumors that Coriolanus has joined Aufidius and is devastating the countryside. Menenius ironically congratulates the tribunes for their excellent work in banishing Coriolanus, and the commoners begin to regret his banishment. One citizen ironically says that “though we willingly consented to his banishment, yet it was against our will.”

Aufidius is plagued by problems of his own. He is extremely displeased by Coriolanus’ pride and his growing popularity among the Volscians. Nevertheless, he is confident that though Coriolanus will regain the favor of the Romans, some flaw in his character will cause him to lose it again.


In Act V, Cominius goes to the Volscian camp to plead for Rome. He returns to tell the Romans that Coriolanus is resolved to destroy the city. At the request of the tribunes, Menenius pays Coriolanus a visit; Coriolanus, however, dismisses the pleas of his old friend and sticks to the same conditions that the Romans had already rejected. Next Volumnia, Virgilia, and Marcius junior intercede on Rome’s behalf. Volumnia kneels before Coriolanus and asks him to have some compassion for her and Virgilia, who are torn by the conflicting claims of their duty and devotion to Rome and their love for him. She adds that she is not asking him to harm the Volscians, but merely to agree to a peace treaty that is honorable to both sides. Coriolanus initially appears to be unmoved by his mother’s pleas; but as the women turn to go, he holds Volumnia by the hand and tells her that although she has succeeded in winning a victory for Rome, it is one that bodes ill for her son. The Romans welcome the return of Volumnia and the ladies with flowers and music.

Aufidius is outraged with Coriolanus, who first usurped his position among the Volscians and now has deserted him on the eve of victory. He bitterly returns to Antium, infuriated over the turn of events.

Coriolanus arrives at Antium to explain his conduct to the Volscians. He reminds them about the victories they had won under his leadership and shows them the peace treaty with Rome. When Aufidius accuses him of betraying the Volscians, Coriolanus taunts him with an insulting reminder of his defeat at Corioli. The Volscians become enraged with Coriolanus, and Aufidius’ henchmen incite them even more by reminding them of their kinsmen who died at Coriolanus’ hands. They fall upon Coriolanus and murder him. When Aufidius’ rage subsides, he declares that Coriolanus should have a noble monument in his memory in Antium.

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