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Act V, Scene 3
The scene opens in Coriolanus’ tent outside Rome. Coriolanus, Aufidius, and other Volscian lords are engaged in what appears to be a council of war. Coriolanus says that they will attack Rome the next day and tells Aufidius to report to the Volscian lords how he has conducted the operations of warfare. Aufidius praises him and asserts his satisfaction at Coriolanus’ handling of the pleas from his former friends. Coriolanus then confesses how difficult it had been to remain impervious to the pleas of Menenius, who loved him like a father. Coriolanus vows that hereafter he will not admit any other emissaries. A shout is heard, and Coriolanus reiterates his vow.
Virgilia, Volumnia, Young Marcius, Valeria, and attendants enter wearing mourning dress. Although Coriolanus has just made a vow to Aufidius, he cannot send his own family away. As they approach, Coriolanus at first refuses to acknowledge the ties of affection he has for them. He sways in his resolve, however, when his wife curtsies and looks at him with her “doves’ eyes” and his mother bows in supplication. He then steadies himself again and declares he has no kin, again refusing to show any love or affection for his family. He listens as each of them begs him to call off the invasion of Rome. He ignores their requests although it is emotionally devastating for him. He also explains that he cannot forgive Rome.