Coriolanus

Coriolanus Act 4, Scene 4 Summary & Analysis

Read our modern English translation of this scene.
Summary
Analysis
Outside Aufidius’s house in Antium, Coriolanus is disguised in “mean apparel” with his face covered. He calls Antium a “goodly city,” but says that he is responsible for creating its widows. Therefore he has disguised himself, so that the wives and children of men he’s killed in war do not kill him. A citizen of Antiun enters, and Coriolanus asks if Aufidius is in Antium. The citizen responds that Aufidius is feasting with the Volscian nobles in his house that very night. When Coriolanus asks where Aufidius lives, the citizen points out that they are right outside his house. Coriolanus thanks the citizen, who then departs.
Though Coriolanus was essentially banished for refusing to pretend he is something he isn’t, his banishment now necessitates that he puts on a disguise. His connection to his rival Aufidius is so strong that upon banishment Coriolanus immediately seeks him out.
Themes
War, Violence, and Masculinity Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Humanity Theme Icon
Alone, Coriolanus wonders at the “slippery turns” of the world, which turn the closest of friends, whose two bosoms seem to have one heart, into the bitterest enemies. Likewise, they will turn the greatest foes, whose hatred has kept them up dreaming of murdering each other, into dear friends. He now hates his birthplace and loves his former enemy town. He decides to enter, thinking that if Aufidius kills him it will be justice, and if Aufidius spares him he will fight alongside the Volscians.
Coriolanus is so enraged by his banishment that he now rejects his Roman-ness. By virtue of the classic idea that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Coriolanus hopes to turn his intense military rivalry with Aufidius into a military partnership. Of course, given their rivalry and Coriolanus’ ideals, he would also be happy if his rival decided to kill him instead.
Themes
Politics, Class, and Rome Theme Icon
War, Violence, and Masculinity Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Humanity Theme Icon