Coriolanus

Caius Martius / Coriolanus Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Caius Martius is an aristocratic Roman general with unmatchable military and combat skills. His mother, Volumnia, sent him into battle as a boy, where he gained a reputation for being something like a super soldier. During the course of the play, he singlehandedly captures the Volscian city of Corioles, a deed for which he is given the surname “Coriolanus.” Through his violent deeds and heroism, he becomes described as a “thing” instead of a person, like a killing machine instead of a man. After returning from the battle for Corioles, Coriolanus is set to be named consul, a position for which he is preened by his mother and by his surrogate father figures, Cominius and Menenius. In order to be elected consul, Coriolanus must “politic” for the voices (votes) of the common people. But Coriolanus can’t (or won’t) do this. He refuses to accept praise for his accomplishments, since he cares only about his self-image, not what others think; he refuses to give a political speech, since he believes politics are theatrical and dishonest; he adheres to strict Roman virtues of pride and passion; and he curses out the common people and fails so miserably in his campaign that he ends up banished from Rome. His first instinct is for revenge, and he partners with his longtime rival Tullus Aufidius to lead an army of Volscian troops against Rome. Ultimately, though, he is convinced to abandon this revenge by his wife, Virgilia, his son, Young Martius, and mostly his mother, who humanizes him, thereby leading to his death.

Caius Martius / Coriolanus Quotes in Coriolanus

The Coriolanus quotes below are all either spoken by Caius Martius / Coriolanus or refer to Caius Martius / Coriolanus. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Politics, Class, and Rome Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Coriolanus published in 2009.
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

The breasts of Hecuba,
When she did suckle Hector, looked not lovelier
Than Hector’s forehead when it spit forth blood
At Grecian sword, contemning.

Related Characters: Volumnia (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus, Virgilia
Related Symbols: Body Parts, Wounds and Blood
Page Number: 1.3.43-46
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

MENENIUS: Is he not
wounded? He was wont to come home wounded.
VIRGILIA: O no, no, no!
VOLUMNIA: O, he is wounded, I thank the gods for ’t.
MENENIUS: So do I too, if it be not too much. Brings he
victory in his pocket, the wounds become him.

Related Characters: Volumnia (speaker), Virgilia (speaker), Menenius Agrippa (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus
Related Symbols: Wounds and Blood
Page Number: 2.1.122-127
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

I shall lack voice. The deeds of Coriolanus
Should not be uttered feebly.

At sixteen years,
When Tarquin made a head for Rome, he fought
Beyond the mark of others. Our then dictator,
Whom with all praise I point at, saw him fight
When with his Amazonian chin he drove
The bristled lips before him. He bestrid
An o’erpressed Roman and i’ th’ Consul’s view
Slew three opposers. Tarquin’s self he met
And struck him on his knee. In that day’s feats,
When he might act the woman in the scene,
He proved best man i’ th’ field and for his meed
Was brow-bound with the oak. His pupil age
Man-entered thus, he waxèd like a sea,
And in the brunt of seventeen battles since
He lurched all swords of the garland.

Related Characters: Cominius (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus
Related Symbols: Wounds and Blood, Voices
Page Number: 2.2.98-117
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Before and in Corioles, let me say,
I cannot speak him home. He stopped the flyers
And by his rare example made the coward
Turn terror into sport. As weeds before
A vessel under sail, so men obeyed
And fell below his stem. His sword, Death’s stamp,
Where it did mark, it took; from face to foot
He was a thing of blood, whose every motion
Was timed with dying cries. Alone he entered
The mortal gate o’ th’ city, which he painted
With shunless destiny; aidless came off
And with a sudden reinforcement struck
Corioles like a planet.

Related Characters: Cominius (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus
Related Symbols: Wounds and Blood, Voices
Page Number: 2.2.118-130
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

We have power in ourselves to do it, but
it is a power that we have no power to do; for, if
he show us his wounds and tell us his deeds, we
are to put our tongues into those wounds and
speak for them. So, if he tell us his noble deeds, we
must also tell him our noble acceptance of them.
Ingratitude is monstrous, and for the multitude to
be ingrateful were to make a monster of the multitude,
of the which, we being members, should
bring ourselves to be monstrous members.

Related Characters: Roman Citizens (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus
Related Symbols: Body Parts, Wounds and Blood, Voices
Page Number: 2.3.4-13
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

For
The mutable, rank-scented meiny, let them
Regard me, as I do not flatter, and
Therein behold themselves. I say again,
In soothing them, we nourish ’gainst our senate
The cockle of rebellion, insolence, sedition,
Which we ourselves have plowed for, sowed, and
scattered
By mingling them with us, the honored number,
Who lack not virtue, no, nor power, but that
Which they have given to beggars.

Related Characters: Caius Martius / Coriolanus (speaker), Roman Citizens, Sicinius Velutus, Junius Brutus
Related Symbols: Hunger, Food, and Cannibalism, Voices
Page Number: 3.1.87.97
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

His nature is too noble for the world.
He would not flatter Neptune for his trident
Or Jove for ’s power to thunder. His heart’s his
mouth;
What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent,
And, being angry, does forget that ever
He heard the name of death.

Related Characters: Menenius Agrippa (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus
Related Symbols: Body Parts, Voices
Page Number: 3.1.326-332
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

SICINIUS: He’s a disease that must be cut away.
MENENIUS: O, he’s a limb that has but a disease—
Mortal to cut it off; to cure it easy.
What has he done to Rome that’s worthy death?
Killing our enemies, the blood he hath lost—
Which I dare vouch is more than that he hath
By many an ounce—he dropped it for his country;
And what is left, to lose it by his country
Were to us all that do ’t and suffer it
A brand to th’ end o’ th’ world.

Related Characters: Menenius Agrippa (speaker), Sicinius Velutus (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus
Related Symbols: Body Parts, Wounds and Blood
Page Number: 3.1.378-87
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

MENENIUS: Return to th’ Tribunes.
CORIOLANUS: Well, what then? What then?
MENENIUS: Repent what you have spoke.
CORIOLANUS: For them? I cannot do it to the gods.
Must I then do ’t to them?
VOLUMNIA: You are too absolute,
Though therein you can never be too noble
But when extremities speak.

Related Characters: Caius Martius / Coriolanus (speaker), Volumnia (speaker), Menenius Agrippa (speaker), Sicinius Velutus, Junius Brutus
Related Symbols: Voices
Page Number: 3.2.46-3
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

For in such business
Action is eloquence, and the eyes of th’ ignorant
More learnèd than the ears—waving thy head,
Which often thus correcting thy stout heart,
Now humble as the ripest mulberry
That will not hold the handling. Or say to them
Thou art their soldier and, being bred in broils,
Hast not the soft way, which thou dost confess
Were fit for thee to use as they to claim,
In asking their good loves; but thou wilt frame
Thyself, forsooth, hereafter theirs, so far
As thou hast power and person.

Related Characters: Volumnia (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus, Roman Citizens
Related Symbols: Body Parts, Voices
Page Number: 3.2.94-105
Explanation and Analysis:

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To beg of thee, it is my more dishonor
Than thou of them. Come all to ruin. Let
Thy mother rather feel thy pride than fear
Thy dangerous stoutness, for I mock at death
With as big heart as thou. Do as thou list.
Thy valiantness was mine; thou suck’st it from me,
But owe thy pride thyself.

Related Characters: Volumnia (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus, Roman Citizens
Related Symbols: Body Parts, Voices
Page Number: 3.2.150-158
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 3, Scene 3 Quotes

The fires i’ th’ lowest hell fold in the people!
Call me their traitor? Thou injurious tribune!
Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths,
In thy hands clutched as many millions, in
Thy lying tongue both numbers, I would say
“Thou liest” unto thee with a voice as free
As I do pray the gods.

Related Characters: Caius Martius / Coriolanus (speaker), Roman Citizens, Sicinius Velutus, Junius Brutus
Related Symbols: Body Parts, Voices
Page Number: 3.3.89-95
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

You common cry of curs, whose breath I hate
As reek o’ th’ rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, I banish you!
And here remain with your uncertainty;
Let every feeble rumor shake your hearts;
Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
Fan you into despair! Have the power still
To banish your defenders, till at length
Your ignorance—which finds not till it feels,
Making but reservation of yourselves,
Still your own foes—deliver you
As most abated captives to some nation
That won you without blows! Despising
For you the city, thus I turn my back.
There is a world elsewhere.

Related Characters: Caius Martius / Coriolanus (speaker), Roman Citizens
Related Symbols: Body Parts, Voices
Page Number: 3.3.150-165
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 2 Quotes

Anger’s my meat. I sup upon myself
And so shall starve with feeding.
Come, let’s go.
Leave this faint puling, and lament as I do,
In anger, Juno-like. Come, come, come.

Related Characters: Volumnia (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus, Virgilia, Sicinius Velutus, Junius Brutus
Related Symbols: Hunger, Food, and Cannibalism
Page Number: 4.2.68-72
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 4, Scene 5 Quotes

My name is Caius Martius, who hath done
To thee particularly and to all the Volsces
Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness may
My surname Coriolanus. The painful service,
The extreme dangers, and the drops of blood
Shed for my thankless country are requited
But with that surname, a good memory
And witness of the malice and displeasure
Which thou shouldst bear me. Only that name
remains.

Related Characters: Caius Martius / Coriolanus (speaker), Tullus Aufidius, Roman Citizens
Related Symbols: Wounds and Blood
Page Number: 4.5.73-82
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

O Martius, Martius,
Each word thou hast spoke hath weeded from my heart
A root of ancient envy.

Let me twine
Mine arms about that body, whereagainst
My grainèd ash an hundred times hath broke
And scarred the moon with splinters.

Know thou first,
I loved the maid I married; never man
Sighed truer breath. But that I see thee here,
Thou noble thing, more dances my rapt heart
Than when I first my wedded mistress saw
Bestride my threshold.

Related Characters: Tullus Aufidius (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus
Related Symbols: Body Parts
Page Number: 4.5.111-131
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 6 Quotes

He is their god; he leads them like a thing
Made by some other deity than Nature,
That shapes man better; and they follow him
Against us brats with no less confidence
Than boys pursuing summer butterflies
Or butchers killing flies.

Related Characters: Cominius (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus, Menenius Agrippa , Sicinius Velutus, Junius Brutus
Page Number: 4.6.115-120
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

Yet one time he did call me by my name.
I urged our old acquaintance, and the drops
That we have bled together. “Coriolanus”
He would not answer to, forbade all names.
He was a kind of nothing, titleless,
Till he had forged himself a name o’ th’ fire
Of burning Rome.

Related Characters: Cominius (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus, Menenius Agrippa
Related Symbols: Wounds and Blood
Page Number: 5.1.10-16
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

There’s no man in the world
More bound to ’s mother, yet here he lets me prate
Like one i’ th’ stocks. Thou hast never in thy life
Showed thy dear mother any courtesy
When she, poor hen, fond of no second brood,
Has clucked thee to the wars and safely home,
Loaden with honor. Say my request’s unjust
And spurn me back; but if it be not so,
Thou art not honest, and the gods will plague thee
That thou restrain’st from me the duty which
To a mother’s part belongs.

Related Characters: Volumnia (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus
Related Symbols: Body Parts
Page Number: 5.3.180-190
Explanation and Analysis:

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Volumnia: This fellow had a Volscian to his mother,
His wife is in Corioles, and his child
Like him by chance.—Yet give us our dispatch.
I am hushed until our city be afire,
And then I’ll speak a little.
(He holds her by the hand, silent.)
CORIOLANUS: O mother, mother!
What have you done?

Related Characters: Caius Martius / Coriolanus (speaker), Volumnia (speaker), Virgilia, Young Martius, Valeria
Page Number: 5.3.200-206
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 4 Quotes

There is differency between a grub and a
butterfly, yet your butterfly was a grub. This Martius
is grown from man to dragon. He has wings;
he’s more than a creeping thing.

When he walks, he moves like an engine, and the ground
shrinks before his treading. He is able to pierce a
corslet with his eye, talks like a knell, and his hum
is a battery. He sits in his state as a thing made for
Alexander. What he bids be done is finished with
his bidding. He wants nothing of a god but eternity
and a heaven to throne in.

Related Characters: Menenius Agrippa (speaker), Caius Martius / Coriolanus
Related Symbols: Body Parts
Page Number: 5.4.11-25
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 6 Quotes

Cut me to pieces, Volsces. Men and lads,
Stain all your edges on me. “Boy”? False hound!
If you have writ your annals true, ’tis there
That like an eagle in a dovecote, I
Fluttered your Volscians in Corioles,
Alone I did it. “Boy”!

Related Characters: Caius Martius / Coriolanus (speaker), Tullus Aufidius, Volscian People
Related Symbols: Body Parts, Wounds and Blood
Page Number: 5.6.133-138
Explanation and Analysis:

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Caius Martius / Coriolanus Character Timeline in Coriolanus

The timeline below shows where the character Caius Martius / Coriolanus appears in Coriolanus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Politics, Class, and Rome Theme Icon
...sure that his fellow people are prepared to die instead of go hungry. He names Caius Martius as “chief enemy of the people,” and says that the people should kill him... (full context)
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The second citizen asks if the mob is intent on getting revenge specifically on Caius Martius, even considering the service he has done for Rome. The mob says that they... (full context)
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Caius Martius enters and asks what’s the matter, calling the common people “dissentious rogues” that “rubbing... (full context)
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Menenius tells Caius Martius that the people want “corn at their own rates,” since they believe the city... (full context)
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...status of the other group of citizens on the other side of the city, and Caius Martius reports that the group has dissolved after saying that they were hungry and listing... (full context)
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A messenger enters the street in Rome asking for Caius Martius, whom he informs that the Volsces (Volscians – a neighboring, enemy Italian people) have... (full context)
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Caius Martius reports that the Volscians have a leader, Tullus Aufidius, whom Martius envies for his... (full context)
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Sicinius asks Brutus if there ever lived a man so proud as Caius Martius, and Brutus responds that “he has no equal.” They reflect on how poorly Martius... (full context)
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...someone so insolent can even be commanded on the battle field, but Brutus responds that Caius Martius only fights for fame (which he already has), and that it’s better for his... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Politics, Class, and Rome Theme Icon
War, Violence, and Masculinity Theme Icon
...Rome has gathered an army. The report says that included in that army are Cominius, Caius Martius (who is Aufidius’s old enemy, and is hated by Rome more than Aufidius himself... (full context)
Politics, Class, and Rome Theme Icon
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...that they are well prepared for the war. He tells the senators that he and Caius Martius have sworn to fight to the death if they ever fight again. The senators... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
War, Violence, and Masculinity Theme Icon
Family and Femininity Theme Icon
Heroism vs. Humanity Theme Icon
In Caius Martius’s house, Volumnia, his mother, and Virgilia, his wife, sew. Volumnia tells her daughter to... (full context)
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Virgilia asks Volumnia what would have happened if Martius died as a child in that first war. Volumnia responds that the good reputation Martius... (full context)
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...down an entire field or not get paid for his work. At the mention of Caius Martius being bloody, Virgilia cries out “no blood!” but Volumnia scolds her, saying that blood... (full context)
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Valeria enters, greets Volumnia and Virgilia, and asks how Virgilia’s son Young Martius is doing. He prefers swords and military drums to school, which prompts Valeria to say... (full context)
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...leave her sewing and come with her, but Virgilia doesn’t want to go outside until Caius Martius returns from war. Valeria tries to convince Virgilia to visit a woman who is... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
War, Violence, and Masculinity Theme Icon
Caius Martius, Titus Lartius, along with Roman soldiers, are outside the gates of Corioles; a messenger... (full context)
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Martius invokes Mars, the god of war, and then the trumpets sound, signaling to the Volscians.... (full context)
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As the Volscian army charges, Martius tries to encourage the Roman soldiers. He tells them to be brave and to advance,... (full context)
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...to the gates of Corioles, which open to readmit the Volscian army. Seizing the opportunity, Martius cries out for the Roman soldiers to be good supporters and follow him, as he... (full context)
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Two Roman soldiers remark that they have no desire to follow Martius into the city, considering him foolish and as good as dead. Titus Lartius enters and... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 5
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...soldiers enter a street in Corioles carrying spoils they intend to bring back to Rome. Martius and Lartius then enter, and Martius curses the soldiers for taking spoils even before the... (full context)
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Lartius points out that Martius is bleeding, saying that he has been injured too much in the first violent episode... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 6
Politics, Class, and Rome Theme Icon
War, Violence, and Masculinity Theme Icon
...the troops for their service. A messenger enters reporting that Volscian soldiers drove Lartius and Martius to their trenches over an hour ago. Even though the camp is only a mile... (full context)
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Caius Martius then enters the camp in a bloodied state that Cominius has seen many times... (full context)
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Cominius asks how Titus Lartius is, and Martius reports that he is busy running the city of Corioles, handing out punishments, and securing... (full context)
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Cominius believes the nearing army is made up of soldiers from Antium, including Aufidius. Martius asks his general to ensure that he is the one to face Aufidius, evoking all... (full context)
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Martius tells the Roman camp that if there is anyone there who loves to be painted... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 8
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Caius Martius and Aufidius enter at opposite sides of the battlefield near the Roman camp. Martius... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 9
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Cominius and the Roman soldiers are met by Martius, whose arm is tied in a sling. Cominius says the deeds Martius has done that... (full context)
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Titus Lartius then enters with some more Roman soldiers. He also begins to praise Martius, but Martius cuts him off, saying that he doesn’t even like it when his mother... (full context)
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Cominius insists that Martius not hide his accomplishment and merit, since Rome must know what a valuable soldier it... (full context)
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Cominius then offers Martius his choice of all of the horses they have taken in the war, but Martius... (full context)
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Cominius believes that Martius is being much too modest and cruel to himself. If Caius Martius is intent on... (full context)
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Coriolanus says he’ll go wash off the blood, after which Cominius will be able to tell... (full context)
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Coriolanus, after refusing most gifts from his general, asks Cominius for a favor. Once Coriolanus stayed... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 10
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...agree to any such terms. He laments that he has fought with and lost against Martius five times, and he knows that Martius would beat him every time, even if they... (full context)
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Aufidius swears by the elements that if he and Martius meet again “beard to beard,” one will kill the other. Yet no longer does their... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...the war is on its way. Menenius comments that the common people do not like Martius, saying that they want to “devour him.” The three men discuss whether Martius is more... (full context)
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...even priests would make fun of the tribunes. He finds it ironic that they call Martius proud, since Martius is worth more than them and all of their combined ancestors since... (full context)
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Menenius greets the ladies, and Volumnia reports that Martius is coming home. Menenius celebrates this news, and Volumnia says that there have been many... (full context)
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Menenius wonders if Martius has fought with Aufidius, and Volumnia tells him that Lartius reported they fought indeed, but... (full context)
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Volumnia says that Martius has been wounded in the shoulder and the left arm, noting that he will be... (full context)
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Cominius arrives with Titus Lartius, captains, Roman soldiers, a Roman herald, and Coriolanus, who is crowned with an oaken garland. The herald announces to the city that Martius... (full context)
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Coriolanus greets his mother, who he knows has been praying for his success. He kneels to... (full context)
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...are some “old crab trees’ that might not be excited to see Cominius, Lartius, and Coriolanus, he believes the three men should be doted on by Rome. (full context)
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Coriolanus takes the hands of his wife and mother and says that before he returns to... (full context)
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Brutus laments how everyone is completely obsessed with Coriolanus, clamoring for the chance to even look at him, acting like he has become a... (full context)
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...will be quick to forget these new honors when they remember their longtime hostility towards Coriolanus, something Sicinius can spark by just asking Coriolanus about his pride. Coriolanus has sworn that... (full context)
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...saying that the tribunes are called for at the Capitol. He reports that it’s thought Martius will be consul, and he has seen “the dumb men throng to see him, and... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Politics, Class, and Rome Theme Icon
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...There are three candidates for the consulship, but everyone thinks the position will go to Coriolanus. One officer notes that Coriolanus is brave, but also proud, and he doesn’t love the... (full context)
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The first Roman officer says he would agree if Coriolanus didn’t actively try to get the people to hate him even more than they were... (full context)
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Roman Senators enter along with the tribunes, Cominius, Menenius, and Coriolanus. Coriolanus stands, and Menenius says it’s time to honor the noble service Coriolanus has done... (full context)
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Coriolanus, though, says he would rather have his wounds heal all over again than hear talk... (full context)
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Cominius begins humbly, saying “I shall lack voice,” and he notes that Coriolanus’s deeds should not be spoken of lightly. If it’s true that valor is the most... (full context)
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As for this last battle at Corioles, Cominius claims, he cannot even do Coriolanus justice. Coriolanus stopped soldiers from fleeing, and by his valiant example he inspired cowards to... (full context)
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Menenius cries out that Coriolanus is a “worthy man,” and a Roman senator says that Coriolanus cannot be honored enough... (full context)
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Coriolanus asks if he can skip that custom, since he cannot wear the candidate’s robe and... (full context)
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...and then everyone exits except Sicinius and Brutus. In private, the two tribunes note how Coriolanus seems to dread asking the people for votes, as if he doesn’t believe they should... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
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...enter the Roman Forum, a public marketplace and meeting space. One citizen says that if Coriolanus requires their voices they should not deny him. Another says that the citizens have the... (full context)
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...the first citizen, would make them look bad, for even though they revolted over corn, Coriolanus didn’t call them the “many-headed multitude,” as the citizens have been called by so many... (full context)
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Coriolanus then enters the public Forum in a gown of humility, along with Menenius. One citizen... (full context)
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Menenius, meanwhile, is coaxing and prepping Coriolanus to meet with the citizens. He says that the worthiest men have participated in the... (full context)
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Menenius warns him not to talk about that, since it would insult the citizens; Coriolanus should instead try and make them think well of him. But Coriolanus says he would... (full context)
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Three citizens then enter, and Coriolanus greets them, saying they know why he is there. They say they do, and ask... (full context)
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Two more citizens enter, and Coriolanus asks for their voices. One responds that Coriolanus has been both noble and not noble.... (full context)
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Alone, Coriolanus says it’s better to die or to starve then to desire and beg for the... (full context)
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Three more citizens enter, and Coriolanus asks for their voices. He says he has fought for them, stood watch for them,... (full context)
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The plebeian citizens enter, and Sicinius asks them how they have chosen Coriolanus. While he has won their votes, Brutus prays that Coriolanus deserves their love. The citizens... (full context)
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Brutus and Sicinius question why the people were so childish and granted Coriolanus their voices. Why didn’t they do as they were taught? When Coriolanus had no power,... (full context)
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One citizen notes that Coriolanus has not yet been officially confirmed; they can still deny him. Another citizen chimes in... (full context)
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...they take back their votes. The citizens exit for the capitol, repenting their election of Coriolanus. Brutus believes that causing the citizens to rise up like this is a risk worth... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Coriolanus, Menenius, Cominius, Lartius, Roman Senators, and other patricians enter a street in Rome. Coriolanus asks... (full context)
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Brutus and Sicinius enter, and Coriolanus greets them as “the tongues o’ th’ common mouth.” He despises them since they are... (full context)
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Brutus, though, says that it’s no plot; Coriolanus mocked the people, and when they were given free corn during the famine, he called... (full context)
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Sicinius takes Coriolanus’s rage as an opportunity, saying that he is demonstrating exactly what makes the people not... (full context)
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Menenius and a Roman senator try to silence Coriolanus, saying “no more words,” but Coriolanus continues. He says he has shed blood for his... (full context)
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...that this opinion “shall remain a poison where it is, not a poison any further.” Coriolanus lashes out, furious at the audacity of Sicinius to say “shall remain.” He calls the... (full context)
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Coriolanus continues his rant: if the tribunes really have power, then the senators should be ashamed;... (full context)
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Cominius tries to cut Coriolanus off, saying that they should all go to the marketplace to meet the people, but... (full context)
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Coriolanus claims that the reasons behind his opinions are much more meaningful than the voices of... (full context)
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How did the “bosom multiplied digest” the senate’s kindness, Coriolanus asks? They decided that they got what they want since they asked for it and... (full context)
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Coriolanus swears by divine and human powers in his final speech. He claims that power is... (full context)
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Therefore, Coriolanus continues, anyone who will be wiser than he is afraid, anyone who loves the essence... (full context)
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At the end of this speech, Brutus simply responds that Coriolanus “has said enough.” Sicinius proclaims Coriolanus a traitor who must face punishment. At this accusation,... (full context)
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Brutus and Sicinius cry out, continuing to call Coriolanus a traitor. They call in a Roman Aedile, whom they instruct to gather the people.... (full context)
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Sicinius, though, tells the people that they are about to lose their liberties, since “Martius” wants to remove them. Menenius is furious, recognizing that Sicinius is stoking the flames rather... (full context)
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...agreement, but Menenius speaks out, trying to dissuade the tribunes and the people from killing Coriolanus. Brutus, though, will not acquiesce, and he calls for the mob to take Coriolanus to... (full context)
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Menenius tells Coriolanus to go home, or all will be lost. Coriolanus wants to stay where he is,... (full context)
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Coriolanus says he wishes that the common people were barbarians, not Romans, so he could kill... (full context)
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As soon as Coriolanus walks out, a patrician says that he has ruined his fortune. Menenius explains that Coriolanus’s... (full context)
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Brutus, Sicinius, and the mob reenter, looking for Coriolanus, whom Sicinius calls a “viper that would depopulate the city and be every man himself.”... (full context)
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...worthiness as well as his faults. Sicinius responds in shock that Menenius still thinks that Coriolanus will be made consul, and the people all cry out “no!” Menenius begs for a... (full context)
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...the city to be so ungrateful to one of her deserving citizens. Sicinius responds that Coriolanus is a “disease that must be cut away,” but Menenius runs with this analogy, saying... (full context)
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They continue speaking of Coriolanus metaphorically as a limb, calling him a foot that no longer functions and must be... (full context)
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The tribunes aren’t yet convinced, but Menenius reminds them that Coriolanus was “bred [in the] wars since he could draw a sword,” and he is poorly... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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In his house, Coriolanus speaks with a Roman noble. Coriolanus says that no matter how the tribunes and common... (full context)
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...by hiding his true views about the common people until he was officially named consul. Coriolanus says “let them hang” in reference to the people, and Volumnia agrees, adding “and burn... (full context)
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...also uses her anger to her advantage. Menenius says that Rome requires the medicine of Coriolanus stooping to the “herd.” He must return to the tribunes and repent what he has... (full context)
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Volumnia reminds Coriolanus of his philosophy that honor and strategy grow together in war. Why, then, does he... (full context)
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Coriolanus asks why Volumnia is forcing this point, to which she responds that Coriolanus must now... (full context)
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Menenius continues prompting Coriolanus to “speak fair” to the citizens, which, he believes, might still calm the rabble and... (full context)
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Cominius enters Coriolanus’s house and reports that he has been to the marketplace. He says Coriolanus needs to... (full context)
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Cominius reassures Coriolanus that he will be prompted on what to say. Just like Volumnia first made her... (full context)
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Volumnia responds that it’s Coriolanus’s choice, and that to beg him would be more dishonorable than for him to beg... (full context)
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Coriolanus tells his mother to be content, agreeing to play the part, speak the people into... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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Brutus and Sicinius enter the Roman Forum, planning how they will keep Coriolanus out of power. Their plan is to claim that he wants the power of a... (full context)
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The aedile, as instructed by the tribunes, has catalogued all of the voices against Coriolanus. He’s now instructed to tell the people to yell out in agreement with whatever sentence... (full context)
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Coriolanus, Menenius, Cominius, and other Senators enter. Aside, Menenius reminds Coriolanus to be calm, and Coriolanus... (full context)
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Menenius continues reminding the citizens that Coriolanus speaks like a soldier, not a citizen. Therefore, they should not take his “rougher accents”... (full context)
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...out “to the rock!” Sicinius quiets them, and he says that they’ve seen and heard Coriolanus enough to sentence him to death. Brutus cuts in to say that since Coriolanus has... (full context)
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Sicinius continues his sentencing, saying that since Coriolanus has often hated the people and tried to revoke their power, he will be banished... (full context)
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Coriolanus responds, calling the people a “common cry of curs.” He says he hates their breath... (full context)
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Hating Rome because of the people, Coriolanus turns his back on the city. He says “there is a world elsewhere,” and he... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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Outside a gate of Rome, Coriolanus is saying farewell to Volumnia, Virgilia, Menenius, Cominius, and the young nobles of Rome. He... (full context)
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Coriolanus tells his mother to go back to the spirit she had when she said if... (full context)
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Volumnia tries to convince Coriolanus to take Cominius with him until he gets settled, and Cominius says he’s happy to... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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...street in Rome. Sicinius instructs the aedile to tell the citizens to go home, since Coriolanus is gone, and the nobility who have sided with him are now upset. Since they... (full context)
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...and Sicinius’s family in front of him. Sicinius asks what then, and Virgilia responds that Coriolanus would “make an end of [Sicinius’s] posterity.” (full context)
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...received for Rome. Menenius tries to calm her down, and Sicinius says he wishes that Coriolanus had continued being noble rather than undoing his own career. Brutus echoes this wish, but... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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...it could easily be rekindled, since the nobles are so upset about the banishment of Coriolanus and are therefore likely to try to remove power from the people and the tribunes.... (full context)
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Adrian thanks Niancor for the information (“intelligence”) that Coriolanus has been banished. Niancor believes Aufidius will probably fare well in the coming war now... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
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Outside Aufidius’s house in Antium, Coriolanus is disguised in “mean apparel” with his face covered. He calls Antium a “goodly city,”... (full context)
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Alone, Coriolanus wonders at the “slippery turns” of the world, which turn the closest of friends, whose... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
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...and then exits. Another servant enters, looking for a person named Cotus, and then exits. Coriolanus enters and comments on Aufidius’s “goodly house”, saying that the feast smells good. The first... (full context)
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Another servant asks Coriolanus where he lives, to which Coriolanus responds under the sky, and in the “city of... (full context)
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Aufidius again asks Coriolanus’s name, noting that he has a grim appearance, a face fit for commanding, and a... (full context)
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These extreme circumstances have brought Coriolanus to Aufidius’s home, he says. He hasn’t come to try and save his own life,... (full context)
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Aufidius cries out “O Martius, Martius,” and says that each word that his enemy speaks has removed more and more... (full context)
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Aufidius tells Coriolanus that he has amassed an army, and he originally intended to fight Coriolanus or die... (full context)
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...on what a strange altercation just took place. One says that he intended to beat Coriolanus, but he suspected that Coriolanus’s ragged clothing didn’t accurately indicate his character. The other comments... (full context)
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The third servant enters, bearing news. The servants all discuss Coriolanus’s history with Aufidius, and how Aufidius has been outmatched. Outside of Corioles, Coriolanus bested Aufidius... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 6
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In a public place in Rome, Sicinius and Brutus discuss Coriolanus. Sicinius says that they haven’t heard anything of him, so they need not fear him.... (full context)
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Some citizens enter, and they praise the tribunes, who respond that they wish Coriolanus had loved the people as well as they do. The citizens then leave, and Sicinius... (full context)
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...territory with the intent of starting another war. Menenius guesses that Aufidius has heard of Coriolanus’s banishment and been emboldened to attack by it. The tribunes think the report cannot be... (full context)
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...that the slave’s report has been confirmed, with the addition of even more terrifying information: Coriolanus has joined with Aufidius, and the exiled Roman now leads an army against Rome seeking... (full context)
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...Menenius repeatedly asks for news, but Cominius keeps berating the tribunes. Menenius asks Cominius if Coriolanus is really fighting alongside the Volscians, and Cominius responds that Coriolanus “is their god; he... (full context)
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Menenius thinks they are “all undone,” unless Coriolanus shows mercy. Cominius wonders who will ask for this mercy, since the tribunes and the... (full context)
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The tribunes try to avoid blame, but Menenius says that the nobles loved Coriolanus, but, cowardly, they gave way to the tribunes and the common people, who shouted Coriolanus... (full context)
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The citizens all claim that when they banished Coriolanus, they thought it was a pity, and they only did it because they thought it... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 7
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...near Rome, Aufidius talks with his Volscian Lieutenant, asking whether the soldiers are still liking Coriolanus. The lieutenant doesn’t understand what “witchcraft” is in Coriolanus, but all the Volscian soldiers are... (full context)
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...Volscian Lieutenant thinks it would have been in Aufidius’s better interest not to join with Coriolanus and to attack Rome on his own, or else to leave the battle entirely up... (full context)
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The Volscian Lieutenant asks Aufidius if he thinks Coriolanus will capture Rome, and Aufidius responds that everyone yields to Coriolanus. He has the nobility... (full context)
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Aufidius continues: Coriolanus was a noble servant, but could not hold on to his honors either due to... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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In a public place in Rome, Menenius, Cominius, Sicinius, and Brutus discuss Coriolanus. Menenius refuses to go beg Coriolanus for mercy, even though he was like a father... (full context)
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Menenius doesn’t want to go to Coriolanus, and he is afraid that he might fail, but he thinks that Coriolanus will listen.... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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...doing there, and tell him to leave. He says he has come to speak with Coriolanus from Rome, but they do not let him pass, since Coriolanus does not want to... (full context)
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...keeps pressing, saying the general is his “lover.” He has been like a book of Coriolanus’s good acts, chronicling his deeds and constantly praising him. But the two members of the... (full context)
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Menenius then greets Coriolanus, calling himself his father, Coriolanus his son, and beginning to weep. He says Coriolanus is... (full context)
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In response, Coriolanus only says “away!” and claims that he knows no wife, mother, or child, and he’s... (full context)
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...One watchman says that Menenius is a noble fellow, but the other says that it’s Coriolanus who is noble, calling him “the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken.” (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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Outside of Coriolanus’s tent in the Volscian camp, Coriolanus talks with Aufidius, saying that tomorrow they’ll set their... (full context)
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Some shouting in the distance makes Coriolanus question if he’ll have to break the vow he just made, and Virgilia, Volumnia, Valeria,... (full context)
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Virgilia greets Coriolanus, and he says that her eyes are not the same as he saw in Rome,... (full context)
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Volumnia says, “thou art my warrior; I [helped] to frame thee,” and asks if Coriolanus knows Valeria. Coriolanus does recognize her, and then Volumnia presents young Martius, whom she says... (full context)
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Volumnia knows Coriolanus has already denied what they will ask for, but they will ask anyway, so that... (full context)
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Coriolanus requests their prayers, but Volumnia says they cannot pray. They are bound to their country... (full context)
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...herself will not wait to see how the war turns out. If she cannot persuade Coriolanus from attacking the city, his first steps towards conquering Rome must be to tread on... (full context)
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Continuing her lengthy speech, Volumnia repeatedly asks why Coriolanus will not speak to her, invoking both Virgilia and young Martius to help her convince... (full context)
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Coriolanus turns away, and Volumnia instructs Virgilia and Valeria to kneel with her to shame him.... (full context)
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Silently, Coriolanus holds his mother by the hand, and after the pause, he cries out “O mother,... (full context)
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Coriolanus then rejoices with the women, saying that they’ll drink together and that the women deserve... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
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...be able to save Rome, but he believes it won’t happen. Sicinius doesn’t understand how Coriolanus has changed so quickly, and Menenius compares it to the transformation from a caterpillar to... (full context)
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“When he walks, he moves like an engine,” Menenius says about Coriolanus, and he is like a “thing made for Alexander.” He’s even become like a god,... (full context)
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...plebeians have captured Brutus and swear that if the Roman ladies aren’t successful in convincing Coriolanus to spare the city, they will give Brutus “death by inches.” Another messenger then enters... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
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...people should strew the street with flowers for these women, and undo the banishment of Martius. Everyone cries out, welcoming the ladies back to Rome. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 6
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...speak. The attendants exit, and some Volscian conspirators of Aufidius’s faction enter. One asks about Coriolanus, and Aufidius describes him as a man poisoned and killed by his own charity. They... (full context)
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Aufidius believes he has a good cause to attack Coriolanus. He advocated for Coriolanus, who in turn flattered all the Volscians and Aufidius’s friends, changing... (full context)
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Aufidius says that he then let Coriolanus take on responsibility and gave him whatever he wanted, till ultimately, he treated Aufidius like... (full context)
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Drums and trumpets sound, signaling that Coriolanus has entered the town. A Volscian conspirator notes that when Aufidius entered his home town... (full context)
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Coriolanus enters with the Volscian people behind him. Coriolanus hails the Volscian lords, saying that he... (full context)
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Coriolanus is shocked, saying “Traitor? How now?” and Aufidius says, “Ay, traitor, Martius.” Again, Coriolanus responds... (full context)
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A Volscian lord tries to speak, but Coriolanus cries out “cut me to pieces!” He’s still furious that he was called “boy,” and... (full context)
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The Volscian conspirators yell that Coriolanus should be killed, and the Volscian people begin crying out in agreement, shouting that he... (full context)
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Aufidius stands on Coriolanus’s body and addresses the Volscian people. The Volscian lords, meanwhile, lament the bloody deed, asking... (full context)
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One Volscian lord says that they should mourn for Coriolanus, whom he calls the most noble corpse ever put into an urn. Another lord says... (full context)