A play by Shakespeare first printed in the Folio of 1623. In order of composition, however, it was probably Shakespeare's last tragedy, written about 1608. Its source is North's version of Plutarch's ‘Life of Caius Martius Coriolanus’.
Caius Marcius, a proud Roman general, performs wonders of valour in a war against the Volscians, and captures the town Corioli, receiving in consequence the surname Coriolanus. On his return it is proposed to make him consul, but his arrogant and outspoken contempt of the Roman rabble makes him unpopular with the fickle crowd, and the tribunes of the people have no difficulty in securing his banishment. He goes to the Volscian general, Aufidius, his enemy of long standing, is received with delight, and leads the Volscians against Rome to effect his revenge. He reaches the walls of the city, and the Romans, to save it from destruction, send emissaries, old friends of Coriolanus, to propose terms, but in vain. Finally his mother Volumnia, his meek wife Virgilia, and his son come to beseech him to spare the city and he yields to the eloquence of his mother, suspecting that by so doing he has signed his own death warrant: makes a treaty favourable to the Volscians, and returns with them to Antium, a Volscian town. Here Aufidius turns against him, accusing him of betraying the Volscian interests, and with the assistance of conspirators of his faction, publicly kills Coriolanus.
Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.
Related content in Oxford Index
William Shakespeare (1564—1616) playwright and poet