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Act IV, Scene 7
Aufidius is becoming displeased by Coriolanus’ incredible pride and his growing popularity among the Volscians. He confides his envy to his Lieutenant in a camp at a small distance from Rome. The Lieutenant answers that Coriolanus seems almost to have bewitched their soldiers and wishes that Aufidius had never joined forces with the banished Roman warrior. Aufidius remarks that the time will come when he will settle his old scores with Coriolanus. In the meantime Coriolanus fights like a dragon for the Volscians. The Lieutenant asks Aufidius whether Coriolanus will conquer Rome, and Aufidius is certain of it. Aufidius reflects that Coriolanus was first a patriotic soldier for Rome but due to his pride, defective judgment, and inflexibility as a politician he became hated by the commoners and finally banished. He says that Coriolanus spoils his merit by his anger and inflexibility. Aufidius closes by saying that ultimately he himself will triumph. Once Coriolanus conquers Rome, Aufidius will defeat him.
The scene shifts to the Volscian camp where Aufidius voices his grievances against Coriolanus and admits that he plots his demise. Although Coriolanus is absent in this scene, he dominates the discussion. Aufidius reveals that Coriolanus has taken undue advantage of his generosity and has seduced all the best soldiers to fight under his command, undermining Aufidius’ authority. Yet there is nothing Aufidius can do for the time being but grin and bear it, for he knows he cannot conquer Rome without Coriolanus; but with the banished warrior on his side seeking revenge, Aufidius is sure of victory. Once Coriolanus has won Rome for him, he can then defeat his archenemy, foreshadowing the tragic end of the protagonist.
Aufidius proceeds to outline the circumstances which have brought Coriolanus to his present state, trying to understand the reasons for the warrior’s downfall and banishment. He accurately states that Coriolanus has defeated himself with “pride,” “defect of judgment,” and failure to adapt himself to the changing circumstances. Unlike Coriolanus, who can only function effectively as a soldier, Aufidius is fit to function both on the battlefield as well as in the political arena.