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30 review for The Tragedy of Coriolanus (eBook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    I not only really like Shakespeare's Coriolanus: I also like the man Coriolanus as he is revealed in the play. Sure, he may be a hothead, an arrogant bully, an immature mama's boy with a proto-fascist personality, but he is also a man of extraordinary physical courage and sincere personal modesty who would like nothing better than to do his warrior's duty and be left alone. Unfortunately, though, his mother--whose values are also those of the Roman republic--sees her son's patrician duty as incl I not only really like Shakespeare's Coriolanus: I also like the man Coriolanus as he is revealed in the play. Sure, he may be a hothead, an arrogant bully, an immature mama's boy with a proto-fascist personality, but he is also a man of extraordinary physical courage and sincere personal modesty who would like nothing better than to do his warrior's duty and be left alone. Unfortunately, though, his mother--whose values are also those of the Roman republic--sees her son's patrician duty as including a consulship, and the populist politicking it requires--which a proud and simple man like Coriolanus can only experience as self-abasement--inevitably leads to his shame and eventually to his destruction. He cannot be true both to his mother and his republic and to himself--and that is his tragedy. The verse of this play is often harsh and crabbed, but it is a monumental crabbedness, an imposing harshness--very much like the personality of its hero.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Justin Tate

    Coriolanus solidified my Shakespeare obsession. I'd become familiar with the canon--Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, R&J, etc--but then I read Coriolanus and couldn't believe it. There was this play, rarely talked about, that's as brilliant--if not more brilliant--than all the others so often listed as required reading. It was like discovering life on Mars. From the first line, I devoured the pages faster than I would a John Grisham novel. Shakespeare's language, sometimes dauntin Coriolanus solidified my Shakespeare obsession. I'd become familiar with the canon--Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, R&J, etc--but then I read Coriolanus and couldn't believe it. There was this play, rarely talked about, that's as brilliant--if not more brilliant--than all the others so often listed as required reading. It was like discovering life on Mars. From the first line, I devoured the pages faster than I would a John Grisham novel. Shakespeare's language, sometimes daunting, didn't stand in my way at all, though I did use the aid of footnotes, audio performance, and the occasional sparknotes summary for clarification. As always, Shakespeare develops characters so richly they appear to be on stage even when they're just on page. And the plot, too, contains shocking relevance to our modern society. Since we borrowed many ideas from their government, I suppose it's not surprising that the Roman plays hit so close to home. Still, it's uncanny. The whole time I kept thinking about how similar the plot was to the Occupy Wallstreet movement and, of course, the 2012 election for president. Now, with all the drama and turmoil in today's politics, it's even more current. Everything about the story is timeless and the execution is truly the experience of a lifetime. Overall, I do see why Coriolanus isn't a forced-upon text in high school. Unlike the linear progression of Macbeth and Hamlet, there's a more scattered approach to character study and movement of plot. That said, as a Shakespeare nerd, I am shocked that I don't hear more about this play among the scholarly crowd. The language is among Shakespeare's best (I added a good 10 or so quotes to my list of favorites during my read) and the characters endlessly intriguing (especially the mother). Although Ralph Fiennes' wonderful movie gave some much-deserved attention, there still needs to be a day where everyone is as familiar with this play as they are with Shakespeare's other masterworks.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    “There hath been many great men that have flattered the people who ne’er loved them.” “Coriolanus” is a Shakespeare that I feel is underappreciated. Like in his “Julius Caesar”, the Bard has captured the momentum and the irony of political life in a manner that is celebratory and derisive at the same time. I gave "Coriolanus” a 4 star rating compared to other Shakespeare, not to literature as a whole. The Bard is in a class of his own. In this edition the Introduction by Jonathan Crewe includes int “There hath been many great men that have flattered the people who ne’er loved them.” “Coriolanus” is a Shakespeare that I feel is underappreciated. Like in his “Julius Caesar”, the Bard has captured the momentum and the irony of political life in a manner that is celebratory and derisive at the same time. I gave "Coriolanus” a 4 star rating compared to other Shakespeare, not to literature as a whole. The Bard is in a class of his own. In this edition the Introduction by Jonathan Crewe includes intriguing ideas about homoerotic hyper masculine warrior culture and also speaks of the play’s significance in a Roman and contemporary (Shakespeare’s contemporary-early 1600s England) context. However, it is a long intro and a little heady at times and not a particularly enjoyable read. But, it was a valuable read. The plot of this text (in short) is that Coriolanus is a warrior hero of Rome and is in line for the Consulship (leader) of Rome, but tradition has it that he must go to the common folk and ask their permission. This is a task he is loath to do, and the Tribunes of the people use this against him in stirring up the rabble. And the story takes off from there. As I read this play I kept vacillating between being irritated and admiring of Coriolanus’s blunt honesty and his ridiculous unwillingness to temper his words and thoughts for those he considers social inferiors. Shakespeare is asking us in this play what we prefer from our leaders. Do we want their flattering, their disdain (if they have the skills to lead), etc. It is a very relevant question, especially today. Look at the American election of 2016, or the critics of Canada’s Prime Minster who find his policy lacking but his personality thriving. There are many examples all around the world today. Coriolanus is uncompromising. Is that a virtue or vice we are left to decide. Shakespeare gives this character no soliloquies, so we never get in his head. This choice blocks the reader from Coriolanus' private thoughts and we have to accept (or reject) him for what he is. The text boasts some interesting characters besides the titular Coriolanus. The two Tribunes of the people are manipulative, but their motives could be pure, the Roman senator Menenius Agrippa is a role a skilled actor could leave a mark on, and Coriolanus’s relationship with his archenemy Aufidius is homoerotic in its language. Then there is Volumnia, the mother of Coriolanus who when she is on stage dominates the play. The recent professional production I saw recognized this fact, and Volumnia was clearly an audience favorite. She is another ambiguous, larger than life character in the Shakespeare canon. The Pelican editions of Shakespeare contain some simple yet informative essays, “Theatrical World” & “The Texts of Shakespeare” that preface every play in this Pelican series. They are worth a read. As for the Pelican Shakespeare series, they are one of my two favorite editions since the scholarly research is usually top notch and the editions themselves look good as an aesthetic unit. It looks and feels like a play and this compliments the text's contents admirably. The Pelican series was recently reedited and has the latest scholarship on Shakespeare and his time period. Well priced and well worth it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.” - William Shakespeare, Coriolanus I'm a sucker for a revenge play, so this one floats easily just on the heat generated by Coriolanus' anger. I remember being exposed to the Coriolanus story last year when I was reading Plutarch's Lives, Vol 1* and again earlier this year when I was reading Livy I: History of Rome, Books 1-2. So, going into the play I was fairly comfortable with the basic story, but completely unprepared for Shakepeare's viscious tongue. Cori “Let it be virtuous to be obstinate.” - William Shakespeare, Coriolanus I'm a sucker for a revenge play, so this one floats easily just on the heat generated by Coriolanus' anger. I remember being exposed to the Coriolanus story last year when I was reading Plutarch's Lives, Vol 1* and again earlier this year when I was reading Livy I: History of Rome, Books 1-2. So, going into the play I was fairly comfortable with the basic story, but completely unprepared for Shakepeare's viscious tongue. Coriolanus, his mother Volumnia, and his friend Menenius all come packed with amazing lines. I don't think I'd go as far as T.S. Eliot and say it is superior to Hamlet: "Coriolanus may be not as “interesting” as Hamlet, but it is, with Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare’s most assured artistic success. And probably more people have thought Hamlet a work of art because they found it interesting, than have found it interesting because it is a work of art. It is the Mona Lisa of literature." Again, I still don't think it is superior to Hamlet, or as my wife would say: "be a wee bit skeptical of the judgement of a man who published Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats". Still, there is something fierce and yet very human about Coriolanus. Having personally been raised among military men, the martial attitude that combines sacrifice with a large, sharp edge of condescension is still something one sees in high ranking soldiers. The play swims in raging waters of hyper-masculenity and militarism. I have yet to see either the Ralph Fienne's adaption or the Tom Hiddleston version. I'm sure I'll be able to talk my wife into watching either with me. Favorite Quotes: "I have some wounds upon me, and they smart To hear themselves remembered." - Act 1, Scene 9 "These are the ushers of Martius, Before him He carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears. Death, that dark spirit, in's nervy arm doth lie; Wich, being advanced, declines, and then men die." - Act 2, Scene 1 “I find the ass in compound with the major part of your syllables.” - Act 2, Scene 1 “They lie deadly that tell you have good faces.” - Act 2, Scene 1 "Faith, there hath been many great men that have flattered the people who ne'er loved them; and there be many that they have loved they know not wherefore; so that, if they love they know not why, they hate upon no better a ground." - Act 2, Scene 2 "He covets less Than misery itself would give; rewards His deeds with doing them; and is content To spend the time to end it." - Act 2, Scene 2 “From face to foot, He was a thing of blood, whose every motion Was timed with dying cries.” - Act 2, Scene 2 "Most sweet voices! Better it is to die, better to starve, Than crave the hire which first we do deserve." - Act 2, Scene 3 “Why did you wish me milder? would you have me False to my nature? Rather say I play The man I am.” - Act 3, Scene 2 “I think he'll be to Rome As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it By sovereignty of nature.” - Act 4, Scene 7 "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." - Act 5, Scene 4 * Plutarch's Lives is fascinating to read before jumping into Shakepeare's Roman plays (Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Titus Andronicus).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    There are many gods, and when we organize and rank them we go too far, we ask too much of them. - "Women and Men", Joseph McElroy I am certain that had this play been written by anyone other than Shakespeare it would be venerated as a major work; performed and discussed perhaps in the way Hamlet, King Lear or Macbeth are. Written late in The Bard's career (it is the last of the Tragedies and the Histories), Coriolanus is his work that might be the most relevant and relatable to our modern world. Ca There are many gods, and when we organize and rank them we go too far, we ask too much of them. - "Women and Men", Joseph McElroy I am certain that had this play been written by anyone other than Shakespeare it would be venerated as a major work; performed and discussed perhaps in the way Hamlet, King Lear or Macbeth are. Written late in The Bard's career (it is the last of the Tragedies and the Histories), Coriolanus is his work that might be the most relevant and relatable to our modern world. Caius Martius is a Roman general long on military brilliance but short on patience, diplomatic ability and charm. He is bestowed the agnomen Coriolanus after his courageous leadership in the siege of the enemy city Corioles. Upon his return to Rome he is raised up to god-like status - all but given the consulship on a silver platter - and viewed by the fickle populate as the savior of the nation. But Martius never sought these accolades, this power. Once Rome placed him on the pedestal it made him the target of power hungry men bent on his destruction. This is the only play penned by Shakespeare completely driven by a single character. When Coriolanus isn't on stage steering the action the other players are discussing him directly - they are in his orbit, whether he wishes it or not. I love that Shakespeare chose to title the play after the agnomen of the lead character - a title Martius never sought and clearly didn't care if he had. But it wasn't his place nor decision to choose; the bestowal of the honor becomes the tragic undoing. If you've never read / seen this work performed, you must. The denouement is fascinating. The UK's National Theater recently staged a performance of this play featuring Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus. Many movie theaters around the country are showing the performance via NT Live - if you are fortunate enough to be in a city hosting it, please don't miss it! (And if you do see it, please let me know - I tried to see it here in San Francisco and every performance was sold out!)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nicole~

    Let the first budger die the other’s slave, And the gods doom him after. - Caius Marcius Coriolanus Shakespeare turns to 5th century BC Roman history for a deeply serious drama depicted in combat scenes between fierce enemies, conflicts between patricians and the plebeians, and contrasting perspectives within family. His treatment of war, statesmen, citizens and family life is surprisingly unusual in that the common denominator in all, the hero, is motivated by a powerful mother-son dynamic. Ca Let the first budger die the other’s slave, And the gods doom him after. - Caius Marcius Coriolanus Shakespeare turns to 5th century BC Roman history for a deeply serious drama depicted in combat scenes between fierce enemies, conflicts between patricians and the plebeians, and contrasting perspectives within family. His treatment of war, statesmen, citizens and family life is surprisingly unusual in that the common denominator in all, the hero, is motivated by a powerful mother-son dynamic. Caius Marcius, a hot-tempered young man of unbridled brute strength, a militant idealist incapable of acting beneath his idea of honor or integrity, who rigidly believes "brave death outweighs bad life, And that his country’s dearer than himself," who has shown no fear but only insensitivity to battle wounds, returns from the Volscian war as the valiant hero in the siege of Corioles, to the only two women of his affection, his mother and his wife. Whereas other men find glory in their unswerving valor, he finds the thrill of glory through his mother's joy, that she should hear him praised and see him crowned: "To a cruel war I sent him, from whence he returned his brows bound with oak." Volumnia, his mother, part of the feminine - though not the sentimental - strand in the play, stands out as a formidable character: a military mother whose patriotism and pride in the bravery of the family's great soldier reign supreme over the shedding of his blood, even if it would have cost his life, for "then his good report should have been my son. I therein would have found issue. Hear me profess sincerely: had I a dozen sons, each in my love alike, and none less dear than thine and my good Martius’, I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action." The honor of this hero reflects greatly on dreams of her own glory. Newly surnamed 'Coriolanus,' superior as a warrior for that is his nature, he is contemptuous of any life other than on the field or of any occupation but that of battle, who neither fully understands himself nor anyone else for that matter, such that leadership of the populace and compromise are beyond his skill, has not the temperament for a consul position, despising and distrusting of the political role his mother entreats him: The smiles of knaves Tent in my cheeks, and schoolboys’ tears take up The glasses of my sight! A beggar’s tongue Make motion through my lips, and my armed knees, Who bowed but in my stirrup, bend like his That hath received an alms! I will not do’t, Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth, And by my body’s action teach my mind A most inherent baseness. Against his own judgment, he acquiesces to her wishes but in so doing, reveals how much he hates these people who revolt against the laws, the 'plebs' from whom he must beg for votes; his arrogant lack of understanding for their plight in turn fuels their contempt of him, resulting in a trial and the call for his exile. In his most venomous rebuke in the play, Coriolanus spews: 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 rumour 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. Coriolanus's downfall is borne by vengeful wrath as he leaves Rome a turncoat to fight for the opposition alongside his Volscian foil, Aufidius. Alas, the once defender of Rome is eventually betrayed very much in Roman style (when one thinks of Julius Caesar); betrayed by many in Shakespeare's version, but most tragically and unwittingly by one in particular, whom he calls 'mother,' for it is in the midst of Aufidius's camp she beseeches her son to spare their city. His response shows a wilting resolve: Aufidius, though I cannot make true wars, I’ll frame convenient peace. Now, good Aufidius, Were you in my stead would you have heard A mother less, or granted less, Aufidius? Shakespeare takes imaginative license in bringing the female influence to the foreground laying blame in part at her feet! Softened by the pleas of the mother he could not deny, blinded so by uncontrolled fury he could not foresee the total effect of his action, Coriolanus is called 'traitor' by Aufidius, is ambushed and stood no chance at all. Thou hast done a deed whereat Valour will weep. A volatile yet sympathetic creature of boyish recklessness lacking perhaps the self-awareness and insight of an adult, falls victim in the end to his tempestuous nature. Coriolanus actually is not a difficult play to read even with the hero's sharply vituperative dialogue. Shakespeare's theatrical plotting around a piece of Roman history was fairly straight forward, lacking the complexity or twisted scenarios in his more notable plays and therein, not too hard to interpret. Oddly, for that very reason it may be one pick in the canon to read for those initially apprehensive of the great bard.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mario

    Going into this drama, I did not think that I would like it, because I was never really that much into dramas. I read The Tempest by Shakespeare last year, and I did not enjoy it. Now, when I finished it, it surprises me to say that I actually loved reading it. The story grabbed me at the beginning, and held me 'till the end. I do think that the drama could have been a couple of dozen pages shorter (that's why the 4 stars), but apart from that, I completely loved it. Hopefully my next drama by S Going into this drama, I did not think that I would like it, because I was never really that much into dramas. I read The Tempest by Shakespeare last year, and I did not enjoy it. Now, when I finished it, it surprises me to say that I actually loved reading it. The story grabbed me at the beginning, and held me 'till the end. I do think that the drama could have been a couple of dozen pages shorter (that's why the 4 stars), but apart from that, I completely loved it. Hopefully my next drama by Shakespeare will be just as enjoyable.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bryn Hammond

    I'm told Coriolanus, the person, is unlikeable, but I happen to like him. I don't even think he's a right-wing bastard, just shy, awkward and misunderstood. It's his severe self-effacement that makes him hate publicity. Who wants to stand in the market and exhibit your wounds in a stupid political stunt? And his thickheadedness, the fact he has no idea when to use that soldierly bluntness and when to keep his trap shut, is a naivety I like against the politics of Rome. He's a soldier, yes, but a I'm told Coriolanus, the person, is unlikeable, but I happen to like him. I don't even think he's a right-wing bastard, just shy, awkward and misunderstood. It's his severe self-effacement that makes him hate publicity. Who wants to stand in the market and exhibit your wounds in a stupid political stunt? And his thickheadedness, the fact he has no idea when to use that soldierly bluntness and when to keep his trap shut, is a naivety I like against the politics of Rome. He's a soldier, yes, but at least he isn't a politician. He always was more at home with his enemy. It's a scream how Coriolanus and Aufidius are so wrapped up in each other: they pant for the next instalment of the insult/flattery exchange, 'So what did Aufidius say about me?' 'And Coriolanus mentioned me?' They belong together. If only he'd stuck to his guns and not called off the march on Rome. The end works as tragedy for me, no question: Coriolanus is destroyed by that which he serves. With a mother like his he never stood a chance. They made him the perfect soldier, and he is, but then they reject him for what he is. There's certainly satire of militarism (the warmonger women of Rome, the infamous butterfly speech), and I think the play says a lot about soldiers and the military, and about civilians' use and abuse of soldiers. I notice that, more than the politics. I'd call it a soldier's tragedy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kirstine

    “From face to foot, He was a thing of blood, whose every motion Was timed with dying cries.” I recently went to see the Donmar Warehouse production of this play, so of course I read it beforehand. The production was excellent and only heightened my appreciation of it. Reading this I started out a little weary. It’s one of the lesser known Shakespeare plays, and I’d never heard of it until I found out about the Donmar Warehouse show, so I had no idea even what it was really about. But as I read I k “From face to foot, He was a thing of blood, whose every motion Was timed with dying cries.” I recently went to see the Donmar Warehouse production of this play, so of course I read it beforehand. The production was excellent and only heightened my appreciation of it. Reading this I started out a little weary. It’s one of the lesser known Shakespeare plays, and I’d never heard of it until I found out about the Donmar Warehouse show, so I had no idea even what it was really about. But as I read I kept getting more and more intrigued. The plot is somewhat straightforward. Despite saving the city from an old enemy, Coriolanus manages to piss of Rome’s political elite as well as the people and is exiled from the city. In his exile he seeks out his former enemy and they plot to bring down the city that so disgraced him. I ended up loving the play, actually, even before I saw it. None of the characters are very likeable, most of them – especially the major parts – are downright detestable. They’re proud, they’re arrogant, they’re greedy, they’re liars. I love that we’re not supposed to root for these characters, we’re not supposed to pray that they all live and find happy endings. Instead Shakespeare forces the audience to constantly shift their loyalties. The only character actually worth our good opinion is Aufidius, Coriolanus sworn enemy. However, I love this play because of its dynamics. It’s running wild with tension, whether it be between Coriolanus and the two senators, Coriolanus and the people, Coriolanus and his own family and friends. Wherever Coriolanus goes tension and drama (and possibly bloodshed) follows. He’s a military prodigy, he’s brutal and fearless in battle, and is hailed as a hero by the aristocracy of Rome on his return from defending the city. He knows he’s good, and it makes him arrogant. He’s dismissive of civilians, thinking his success in battle makes him superior to those who have not taken up the sword. “I talk of you: Why did you wish me milder? would you have me False to my nature? Rather say I play The man I am.” He’s a douchebag. An honest douchebag, but still. The only time we see a touch of a gentler, better man is when he’s faced with his mother, who's the only one capable of reaching beyond his proud exterior. When faced with her he isn't the arrogant soldier, but the son and the husband. Two important roles are the two tribunes – the only ones selected by the people – meant to voice the opinion of the people. Aufidius might be presented as the classic antagonist, but in reality its these two. You’d think democratically chosen politicians would actually work for the people, instead of plotting and scheming to protect their own power, but it's never so. However, the inherent badness of the characters means they can talk about some pretty serious shit and there being no obvious character to agree with, you find yourself considering everyone’s opinion. They’re all right and they’re all wrong at various times. They’re all too much of one thing, and there’s no mediator that can compete with the ego of youth or the allure of power. Tom Hiddleston was brilliant as Coriolanus, coming off as completely oblivious to his own elitism and arrogance, and utterly uncaring in the face of cowardice, showing no understand for any viewpoint that didn't align with his own. To his credit, he does none of it for adoration, he does it for honor, because he truly believes going into battle is the only worthy duty of a man, and Hiddleston conveys this single-mindedness perfectly, this terrible focus on the task at hand and nothing else. His co-stars were equally stunning in their roles and the sparse stage set-up allowed for greater focus on the lines and, most importantly, the character dynamics. On a lighter note, it’s also a surprisingly funny play – especially the production I saw. Filled with snark and sarcasm, delivered with perfect timing. Another, perhaps one of the most, interesting aspects of the play, is the relationship between Coriolanus and Aufidius. Their animosity toward and grudging respect for one another is a fluid line, that at times seems to turn into something else, “Let me twine Mine arms about that body, where against My grained ash an hundred times hath broke And scarr'd the moon with splinters: here I clip The anvil of my sword, and do contest As hotly and as nobly with thy love As ever in ambitious strength I did Contend against thy valour. Know thou first, I loved the maid I married; never man Sigh'd 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.” Aufidius admits his heart beats faster seeing Coriolanus at his door than when he saw his wife on his wedding night. It’s a very interesting dynamic. Coriolanus and Aufidius are singularly obsessed with each other, their regard for one another perhaps even eclipsing the love they have for their own families, showing exactly where their priorities lie, and how their minds unfailingly falls to combat. Only those who best them there are worthy of consideration. It's this constant circling back to the pursuit of honor and power that disrupts any attempt at a peaceful resolution. There is real character development for Coriolanus, but, as with all tragedies, it comes in the end, when it's too late. The Donmar Warehouse production is up for download, so if you have any interest in it I suggest you find it. It’s well worth the watch.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    Not my first time seeing Coriolanus performed, but the performance that I have most enjoyed. This was the Stratford (Ont.) version from 2018. Since I’ll be participating in two elections this year, first provincial, then federal, the nature of leadership and democracy are top of mind right now. The friend who accompanied me to this screening also commented on the timeliness of the theme. I must say that Lucy Peacock, playing Coriolanus’ mother, was amazing! Who knew that Coriolanus had a Tiger Mo Not my first time seeing Coriolanus performed, but the performance that I have most enjoyed. This was the Stratford (Ont.) version from 2018. Since I’ll be participating in two elections this year, first provincial, then federal, the nature of leadership and democracy are top of mind right now. The friend who accompanied me to this screening also commented on the timeliness of the theme. I must say that Lucy Peacock, playing Coriolanus’ mother, was amazing! Who knew that Coriolanus had a Tiger Mother? She played her part in a way that made me laugh as she steered her son exactly where she wanted him to go. Ms. Peacock stole every scene that she was in. The play had a modern setting, something that I don’t always appreciate in Shakespearean drama, but with this play it worked. A feature that my friend and I both particularly appreciated was a portion of the dialog which was done via text message. It received snickers from our theatre audience and was completely appropriate in its context. While remaining true to the play’s dialog, it was a nifty updating. If only we could send all of our politicians to see Coriolanus and hope that they would understand how contempt for the electorate does in a great military man!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette Nikolova

    I don't have much to say about Shakespeare that hasn't already been said, and I don't feel worthy of even trying, but essentially, I think Coriolanus has a lot to offer in therms of psychology, especially psychology of the masses. It is hard trying to analyze something that has already been written about in many textbooks, but for me, at least, Coriolanus's leitmotif is the herd behavior. Of course, there are many other sub ideas, but the most interesting thing to read about was the way society I don't have much to say about Shakespeare that hasn't already been said, and I don't feel worthy of even trying, but essentially, I think Coriolanus has a lot to offer in therms of psychology, especially psychology of the masses. It is hard trying to analyze something that has already been written about in many textbooks, but for me, at least, Coriolanus's leitmotif is the herd behavior. Of course, there are many other sub ideas, but the most interesting thing to read about was the way society accepts and then shuns Coriolanus. The other thing which interested me was his mother and her mania that her son physically bears the mark of war, in order to prove that he is a proper warrior. Also, I would like to give a strong recommendation to you: Donmar's Coriolanus, starring Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss. Great representation of the story, great performances by the entire cast. Coriolanus was probably the only Shakespeare that I hadn't heard of, but the Donmar's play brought it to my attention, for which I am very grateful. I'm pretty sure it can be found online, since I've talked to many people who saw it on the net. If you can get your hands on it, watch it! That's the role that sold Hiddleston to me as an actor, he is absolutely fantastic and he presents to the public an entire palette of colors and emotions.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Wiebke (1book1review)

    This play took me by surprise, I had not heard of it before and only read it because I wanted to watch the adaptation with Tom Hiddleston. And lucky me, this was such an interesting play and this edition was just the right one to give me enough background information and interpretation ways that I could make the most out of the play. Being thus prepared I could appreciate the adaptation a lot better and enjoyed it tremendously. I can only recommend it, if you get the chance to watch it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Generals do not make good politicians 7 November 2013 This is a story about a General who is thrust into the world of politics, namely because he was such a good general. However, while he happpens to be a great general, as a politician he positively sucks. Basically, Gaius Marcius' main flaw (despite the fact that I don't believe in fatal flaws) is that he simply speaks his mind, which is a noble characteristic is most professions, but not in politics. To put it bluntly, Marcius (aka Coriolanus, Generals do not make good politicians 7 November 2013 This is a story about a General who is thrust into the world of politics, namely because he was such a good general. However, while he happpens to be a great general, as a politician he positively sucks. Basically, Gaius Marcius' main flaw (despite the fact that I don't believe in fatal flaws) is that he simply speaks his mind, which is a noble characteristic is most professions, but not in politics. To put it bluntly, Marcius (aka Coriolanus, a name he receives after capturing the city of Coriolai) has absolutely no time for the hoi poloi (namely the great unwashed, the peasantry, the plebeians, or whatever other name you can come up with that describes those of us who are not members of the ruling class) and he does not mince any words regarding this dislike. This is clear right from the beginning for when the people are rioting over the price of grain he basically tells them to bugger off, and no amount of whinging and whining was going to make him release any more grain, because, well, there is not all that much grain to go around, and if they didn't put up and shut up, then he was going to start busting some heads – and this is from the guy that later in the play is being positioned to become consul of Rome, a position equivalent to president. The thing I like about Coriolanus is that it gives us an idea into the way politics worked in Republican Rome. Okay, it is Shakespeare, and if we want a better understanding we need to go to the ancient sources, however Coriolanus still gives us a pretty good idea of what the system was like. Basically, in Republican Rome, (as in other ancient democracies) the military and the government were intertwined, so it was not uncommon for the members of the senate and the rulers to have been soldiers and generals. This was the case with Julius Ceaser. However, to be a great ruler one generally had to be a great general, be loved by the patricians, and also be loved by the plebeians (or at least tolerated). Now for Coriolanus: he met two of the three conditions, namely he was not loved by the people (and there was a similar situation with Ceaser, but it was the opposite in that he was loved by the people but hated by the patricians). These days the idea of a general being a president in an advanced democracy generally does not happen, (though it has happened in the United States with George Washington, Ulysses S Grant, and Eisenhower as examples, but generally the military to not go into politics). However, Rome was quite different, namely because the military was so intertwined with civilian life. Civilians would have participated in the military - especially in times of war. In fact many of the middle class citizens had gained their status after stints in the Roman army (it was common for soldiers who had served in the army to be given plots of land to farm after retiring from the army). As such, one of the rewards for being an outstanding soldier (such as Coriolanus) was a nice plump position in government, and the better the soldier you were, the higher up the chain you could get. However, Coriolanus' problem was that to become Consul, he needed the consent of the people, and while his political allies could sway the people, his political enemies could also sway them the other way, which is what happened. Basically, the tribunes, who represented the people, and could veto rulings on behalf of the people, swayed them away from Coriolanus, and to such an extent that he was forced to go into exile. In doing so, however, he ends up defecting over to his enemy forces, and fuming in anger over being kicked out of his homeland, he leads his new found allies (the Volsces) against Rome and besieges the city. The problem was that Coriolanus' as at heart a Roman, and while he was angery at his treatment, he could not stay angry at his people for too long, which turns out bad for him because when he signs the peace treaty with Rome on behalf of the Volsces, and withdawls his forces, he ends up angering the Volsces, who then proceed to kill him. There was a movie recently released based on this play, starring Ralph Finness. This is actually set in a modern setting, and it is a pretty good movie. For a play that is not performed all that much, if you want to actually see a version of this play, I would highly recommend getting your hands on that movie. I also saw a production of the play by the Donmar Theatre, which I have written up a post on my blog (where I delve into the play in greater depth).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Caius Marcius Coriolanus on the public he would rule: He that will give good words to thee will flatter Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs, That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you, The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you, Where he should find you lions, finds you hares; Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no, Than is the coal of fire upon the ice, Or hailstone in the sun. … The fires i’ th’ lowest hell fold in the people! His opponents the demagogic tribunes, tho Caius Marcius Coriolanus on the public he would rule: He that will give good words to thee will flatter Beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs, That like nor peace nor war? the one affrights you, The other makes you proud. He that trusts to you, Where he should find you lions, finds you hares; Where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no, Than is the coal of fire upon the ice, Or hailstone in the sun. … The fires i’ th’ lowest hell fold in the people! His opponents the demagogic tribunes, though usually scheming privately, can also work up a good harangue: Did you perceive He did solicit you in free contempt When he did need your loves, and do you think That his contempt shall not be bruising to you, When he hath power to crush? Why, had your bodies No heart among you? I sought out Coriolanus because I was in the mood for choler and tirade, for troubles, faction, strife and doom. But as the pages passed I began to regret the scarcity of Shakespeare’s comic prose—his low jokes, his bawdy bonhomie and good-humored stink; “those spicy sentences,” Emerson called them. Coriolanus is harsh and dry, the principals loud and pissed-off (in the 1930s, the play sparked brawls at the Comédie-Française; and for years it was banned in West Germany). The extreme, brazen and thus kindred styles of Coriolanus (ill-educated virtus†) and of his enemies (specious, leveling modestia) dominate both the starveling wit (soon mob fury) of individual plebes Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily, to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and there's all the love they bear us. and the prose repartee (soon partisan cursing) of Menenius, a louche raconteur still essentially guided by republican virtue (the best kind of social critic, really): I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying Tiber in't...one that converses more with the buttock of the night than with the forehead of the morning: what I think I utter, and spend my malice in my breath. Meeting two such wealsmen as you are--I cannot call you Lycurguses--if the drink you give me touch my palate adversely, I make a crooked face at it...and though I must be content to bear with those that say you are reverend grave men, yet they lie deadly that tell you you have good faces. This portioning of voices, I imagine, reflects an observation: the sufferers and the witty spectators are alike whelmed, dwarfed or duped by the passionate intensity of contending powers. Shakespeare’s last tragedy is another of his insuperable meditations on the humanities of statecraft. The other day in a bookstore I was thumbing through a copy of Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy, and found his reflections on the historical Coriolanus thin stuff next to Old Will. † Away, my disposition, and possess me Some harlot's spirit! my throat of war be turn'd, Which quired with my drum, into a pipe Small as an eunuch, or the virgin voice That babies lulls asleep! the smiles of knaves Tent in my cheeks, and schoolboys' tears take up The glasses of my sight! a beggar's tongue Make motion through my lips, and my arm'd knees, Who bow'd but in my stirrup, bend like his That hath received an alms! I will not do't, Lest I surcease to honour mine own truth And by my body's action teach my mind A most inherent baseness. And his mom, Volumnia, wins the Dam of Sparta award for this line: Thy valiantness was mine, thou suck'st it from me...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    This play made me realize how good Shakespeare really is. I had honestly never heard of "Coriolanus", and I picked it up to read because the National Theatre Live is broadcasting it live on January 30, 2014. I have read a few of the basic Shakespeare plays - "Hamlet", "Macbeth", "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Julius Caesar" - the usual suspects. The problem is that I already knew how they would end, more or less. I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't know the plot and ending of "Romeo This play made me realize how good Shakespeare really is. I had honestly never heard of "Coriolanus", and I picked it up to read because the National Theatre Live is broadcasting it live on January 30, 2014. I have read a few of the basic Shakespeare plays - "Hamlet", "Macbeth", "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Julius Caesar" - the usual suspects. The problem is that I already knew how they would end, more or less. I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't know the plot and ending of "Romeo and Juliet". It has always been a part of my knowledge base, for as long as I can remember. Of course, you know that the tragedies will end with chaos and death - that's just how it goes. But I came to this play without knowing anything about the plot or the outcome. It made some very interesting points. There was a plot twist in Act III that I didn't see coming. Even though I knew there would be a sad ending, it managed to be extremely surprising and moving because I didn't already know what would happen. I have never read any critical literature on Shakespeare. If you judge based on popularity, "Coriolanus" is not his best play. It took me a while to get hooked, but, once I hit the half-way point, it was a page turner. The experience of reading this play made me incredibly sad that I will never be introduced to "Romeo and Juliet" or "Hamlet" and be on the edge of my seat wondering how they will end. I suppose that most great stories - the ones that endure - become such a part of our cultural knowledge that we never truly get to experience them.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    The only reason I can get the smallest grasp of appreciation for this play is that my natural interest in politics has been wrung through the wringer of six Shakespearean tragedies previous. This is the incompatibility of war and peace in Titus Adronicus crammed into the crucible of democracy and dictatorship, wherein power to the people will forever be a ruse so long as a single conscience can conceptualize the people as the abject. I won't lie and say I'd like the look of this on stage better The only reason I can get the smallest grasp of appreciation for this play is that my natural interest in politics has been wrung through the wringer of six Shakespearean tragedies previous. This is the incompatibility of war and peace in Titus Adronicus crammed into the crucible of democracy and dictatorship, wherein power to the people will forever be a ruse so long as a single conscience can conceptualize the people as the abject. I won't lie and say I'd like the look of this on stage better than I would Macbeth, but I will say the success with the latter is the result of Shakespeare setting himself a target he knew that he could hit. It makes for a top of the line spectacle and some of the best lines English ever spawned, but for every page of analysis of Macbeth I could do ten for Coriolanus. There are few works that attempt to encompass the heart of mewling puking humanity seeking to lead itself out of the mire without the aid of divine providence, and even fewer plays. Shakespeare's failure stems not from the deeper shame whose source is lack of trying. Let the first budger die the other's slave, And the gods doom him after. Above are the stakes that were very clearly and very simply laid out by Caius Martius before the first act was through, when war was war and peace was the training for war and the enemy was the lust of the kill. First, they came for his name, for only an animal has one and only a pet has two. Next, they came for his war, for the natural consequence of having murdered so much is to be esteemed as valuable material for politicking. Then, they came for his body, they being the mother and the friend and the people, some out of love, some out of incest, some out of the political propaganda that the heterosexual fragility complex is so spooked by when presented in the form of St. Sebastian. Finally, they came for his lie that power would guarantee him imperial dictator. Slowly but surely, Rome moved its way through the stadial theory step by step, person by person, part by part, for one is either inherently a beast or a false player of many parts. God cares for all the birds and beasts, but the nation state needs no god. Coriolanus was called by what he had defeated. When his defeat outpaced it by means of so-called humanity, his carcass became more valuable to civil union than his person. This is the way to kindle, not to quench. To unbuild the city, and to lay all flat. What is the city but the people? True, The people are the city. All the world may be a stage, but if body politic is false equivalence, tragedy is dead. So our virtues Lie in th'interpretation of the time, And power, unto itself most commendable, Hath not a tomb so evidence as a chair T'extol what it hath done.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Boy! Never has Shakespeare entertained me so much. He has confounded me, interrogated me and mirrored me but never has he handed me a summer Hollywood blockbuster - a chilling and thrilling script of violent tragedy stoking societal passions from all sides. Despite the gripping plot, I tried to focus on Caius Marcius' character. As in all of Shakespeare's plays, the characteristics of a hero or villain shape the play and bend our sympathies - not the action or twisting storylines. Through this rea Boy! Never has Shakespeare entertained me so much. He has confounded me, interrogated me and mirrored me but never has he handed me a summer Hollywood blockbuster - a chilling and thrilling script of violent tragedy stoking societal passions from all sides. Despite the gripping plot, I tried to focus on Caius Marcius' character. As in all of Shakespeare's plays, the characteristics of a hero or villain shape the play and bend our sympathies - not the action or twisting storylines. Through this reading I discovered the deep tragedy of Coriolanus' life and, again, found myself sympathizing for a man with whom I shared little in terms of personality, characteristics or moral conviction. Ironically, Coriolanus does not fit anywhere, despite his nurturing which would seek to make him great everywhere. Burdened with his military prowess, all states would willingly use him but then shun him when he exhibits any personal, rather than professional, opinions and choices. Neither Roman nor Volscian societies leave room for the man, only for the great soldier. He must suffer the fate of a product - manufactured and used according to others' needs then discarded when dysfunctional. The tribunes know they share the same function but also know how to remain relevant by manipulating their manufacturer and refraining from exhibiting any personal character. They don't even claim to have their own voice but rather the voice of the people. In contrast, Shakespeare describes a staunch man in Coriolanus, embittered toward the citizens of Rome. He fully embraces the fact that their support shifts like the winds and how they sooner praise a hero as condemn him. He forces many of democracy's faithful to evaluate its practical application - rulers elected to power by the mob while manipulating that same mob in order to maintain that power which does not technically belong to them but rather to the people. Coriolanus sees the farce and scorns how the people willfully embrace this illusion and how the nobility pander to it. Rather than behave as a tamed agent of that system, like the tribunes, he uncontrollably voices his opinions. He cannot shroud his sensibilities though he would want to, and promises to, several times. His mother's guidance sets him on a path to standardize warlike honor and to the pinnacle of a soldier's glory. He respects and listens to his mother above all other people and shifts his thinking at the twisting of her tongue. While witnessing their interactions, one sees a man's nature repressed for the sake of a profitable nurturing - a nurturing which would ultimately spurn him. He bows to her advice and represses his natural inclinations. His mother manipulates him in the same way as the tribunes manipulate the people! He speaks of power when his mother cultivates the root of it. Can one compare Coriolanus to the very people he would see weakened and disavowed of their "power"? the mighty, god-like soldier compared to a group which outnumbers any army or government? the man who sways in his allegiances? someone who willfully succumbs to the illusion of his power when others in government determine his fate? the proudly disrespectful man calmed by the words and manipulations of a loved benefactor? Why would he resent an entity which resembles him so much? Perhaps Coriolanus' and the people share a similar nature, manipulated and contorted by the nurturing of those in real power. During certain episodes, it seems that Coriolanus opposes the people as if, like his mother, he would oppose himself, his natural self - the weak little boy within who pines after his mother's attention in hopes of feeling accepted for his nature, the society that loves its illusions only because they don't want to feel insignificant. Consider, also, Coriolanus' relationship with Aufidius. As bitter enemies, they share many similar characteristics - national pride, violent propensities, a deep investment and love for honor and nobility, etc. Yet, as many have said before, two people so alike rarely get along - like two hurricanes colliding with equal force. We witness the demise of Coriolanus at the hands of his mirror image, a representation of Coriolanus' nurturing demolishing the boy of Coriolanus' nature. But even though their nurturing set them at odds, I wonder if they, too, shared natural characteristics and might have shared a friendly bond in appreciation of the magnetic pull that brings the two hurricanes to collision. Perhaps they could have been one hurricane. Alas, we call this a tragedy because Shakespeare presents Coriolanus as a victim to his inescapable nurturing. Perhaps the boy wanted peace, companionship, acceptance and a family life. But the world denies him as a result of his experience, his nurturing by the will of manipulation. Will the world, then, also deny the people as a result of their experience in the grip of manipulation?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Shakespeare's Coriolanus is both noble and so stiff-necked that he cannot compromise his principles -- and this at a time when tribunes have been chosen to represent the common people that the Roman hero professes to loathe. Despite his heroic victories in the best, the tribunes have him exiled, whereupon he goes straight to Tullus Aufidius of the Volsces, Rome's most bitter enemy. Invading Rome with Aufidius, Coriolanus is stopped dead in his tracks only by his mother Volumnia and his wife and Shakespeare's Coriolanus is both noble and so stiff-necked that he cannot compromise his principles -- and this at a time when tribunes have been chosen to represent the common people that the Roman hero professes to loathe. Despite his heroic victories in the best, the tribunes have him exiled, whereupon he goes straight to Tullus Aufidius of the Volsces, Rome's most bitter enemy. Invading Rome with Aufidius, Coriolanus is stopped dead in his tracks only by his mother Volumnia and his wife and son. As Volumnia says to him:Thou know'st, great son, The end of war's uncertain; but this certain, That, if thou conquer Rome, the benefit Which thou shalt thereby reap is such a name Whose repetition will be dogg'd with curses; Whose chronicle thus writ:—'The man was noble, But with his last attempt he wip'd it out; Destroy'd his country, and his name remains To the ensuing age abhorr'd.' Speak to me, son: Thou hast affected the fine strains of honour, To imitate the graces of the gods, To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o' the air, And yet to charge thy sulphur with a bolt That should but rive an oak.Coriolanus is a worthy end to Shakespeare's tragic Roman trilogy, of which the other two plays are Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. The main flaw is that its hero, Caius Martius, is in many ways the architect of his own doom. All that was required of him to be chosen consul was to make some slight accommodation to the plebeians, which he is unable to do. As he is exiled, he spits out in vituperation:You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate As reek o' the 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 rumour 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.As his mother Volumnia, who has never compromised when bravery was called for, sees this as a defect in her son:Pray be counsell'd; I have a heart as little apt as yours, But yet a brain that leads my use of anger To better vantage.I had read this play many years ago and forgot much of the story. Reading it now, I see it as political dynamite in our own divided political environment -- with Tea Partiers on one side and Occupy Wall Streeters on the other. I can well believe that some recent productions ended in riots. The conflict between the rich and the poor is eternal, as much an issue in Ancient Athens as in Elizabethan England and in our own day. Perhaps the saddest scene for me was Coriolanus's repudiation of his old friend Menenius Agrippa, a moderate who urged Coriolanus to bend a little before the tribunes broke him.

  19. 5 out of 5

    leynes

    I really don't get this play. Why was everyone so obsessed with Coriolanus? Like, people either really loved him (and excused all his shitty behaviour without a second thought) or they literally hated him and wanted to see him tortured or killed. In the first act, we are thrown into the action without much explanation as to why the plebeians hate Coriolanus (then known as Caius Marcius) so friggin' much. I mean, when he steps onto the scene it becomes kind of apparent because he is the biggest s I really don't get this play. Why was everyone so obsessed with Coriolanus? Like, people either really loved him (and excused all his shitty behaviour without a second thought) or they literally hated him and wanted to see him tortured or killed. In the first act, we are thrown into the action without much explanation as to why the plebeians hate Coriolanus (then known as Caius Marcius) so friggin' much. I mean, when he steps onto the scene it becomes kind of apparent because he is the biggest shithead ever, like, this guy invent arrogance and the "holier than thou"-attitude. Ugh, what an ass. However, he also does radiate BIG DICK ENERGY because he is mighty ambitious and actually a pretty skilled fighter, a bloodstained warrior who would do anything for his beloved city Rome. He hates the Romans, especially the poor ones, but his still loyal to the soil he was born on. And so when he is victorious agains the city of Coriolo, he is named Coriolanus as a reward... he's also urged to become the consul, which doesn't make any sense at all, since the people hate him so much and he hates the people so much... It's a mess. In order to become consul, it is asked of him to flatter the Roman citizens and to wear a gown of humility. Like, does that sound like our homeboy to you? No. You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate As reek o’ the rotten fens, whose loves I prize As the dead carcasses of unburied men That do corrupt my air, – I banish you. So yeah, five minutes after his promise to be peaceful and ask the people for forgiveness, Coriolanus starts insulting them in the meanest manner. So we could call his attempt of being humble an epic fail. Instead of becoming the consul of Rome, the people actually join forces against him, turn on him and banish him. Oh, how the turntables. ;)) Coriolanus then proceeds to join forces with his enemy Aufidius, a Volscian, against Rome ... BECAUSE HE IS A BITTER HOE??? Like, hun, I get that you're mad but don't expect me to root for you when you're literally about to burn down the city in which you left your wife and mother to perish. But of course, in a heart-wrenching effort, the women in Coriolanus' life manage to speak some damn sense into him and he agrees to spare Rome. At this point, I was already on edge because everything seemed to fucking perfect with only a few scenes left to go and I knew this damn play was entitled the TRAGEDY of Coriolanus for a reason, so I just waited patiently for homeboy to do. Luckily, Aufidius got me covered, he got a bunch of conspirators together, they accused Coriolanus publicly of treason and killed him. Yup, no trial, no questions asked, Roman style. THE END! So yeah, there really isn't much to say about the play. Usually, I am blown away by Shakespeare's writing but in this instance it felt quite subpar... even tho, even I have to agree that Coriolanus is an amazing lesson if you want to learn some original insults (e.g. “The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.”, “More of your conversation would infect my brain.”, “He's a disease that must be cut away.”) Oh, the little things in life.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Terence

    In anticipation of the release of a new filmed version of Coriolanus, I reread the play in Dec 2011. It remains a difficult play to enjoy, and I'm going to retain my 2-star rating - it's OK compared to other Shakespeare plays. The protagonist is an arrogant, spoiled, immature patrician whose disgust for Rome's plebeians is so manifest and violent that his enemies easily manipulate the citizens into banishing him. He flies to his chief enemy, Tullus Aufidius, the leader of the Volsces, and returns In anticipation of the release of a new filmed version of Coriolanus, I reread the play in Dec 2011. It remains a difficult play to enjoy, and I'm going to retain my 2-star rating - it's OK compared to other Shakespeare plays. The protagonist is an arrogant, spoiled, immature patrician whose disgust for Rome's plebeians is so manifest and violent that his enemies easily manipulate the citizens into banishing him. He flies to his chief enemy, Tullus Aufidius, the leader of the Volsces, and returns to Rome at the head of an invading army. Coriolanus' enemies suffer for being relatively pale and forgettable. In Rome, the cynical manipulators of the rabble are the tribunes Sicinius Velutus and Junius Brutus; and Tullus is a coldly pragmatic politician, not a charismatic villain like Iago (Othello or Aaron (Titus Andronicus) (as Marjorie Garber notes in Shakespeare After All, comparing him to the Octavian of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra). The most interesting character in the cast is Volumnia, Coriolanus' mother. Though I think for most modern readers there's little to like or sympathize with in a woman who exults in her son's bloody mindedness: I pray you, daughter, sing; or express yourself in a more comfortable sort. If my son were my husband, I should freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he won honour than in the embracements of his bed where he would show most love. When yet he was but tender-bodied and the only son of my womb, when youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way, when for a day of kings' entreaties a mother should not sell him an hour from her beholding, I, considering how honour would become such a person, that it was no better than picture-like to hang by the wall, if renown made it not stir, was pleased to let him seek danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter, I sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child than now in first seeing he proved himself a man. (Act I, sc. 3) Another reviewer has pointed out another problem with the play and that's its unrelenting grimness. I recently watched an Othello performed at the Globe Theater in 2008 where the importance of humor (even if dark) was showcased in the performance of Othello's servant and the hapless naivite of Roderigo. There are a few scenes that could be milked for laughs (in particular I'm thinking of Act IV, sc. 6, when the citizens are falling all over themselves saying how they really didn't mean to banish Coriolanus) but they are few. This being Shakespeare, though, the language is marvelous and our author always manages to articulate the views of all his characters. In light of the current political climate both here in the U.S. and abroad, I found some passages particularly a propos. E.g., Care for us! True, indeed! They ne'er cared for us yet: suffer us to famish, and their storehouses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily to chain up and restrain the poor. If the wars eat us not up, they will; and there's all the love they bear us. (Act I, sc. 1) or He that will give good words to thee will flatter beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs, that like nor peace nor war? The one affrights you, the other makes you proud. He that trust to you, where he should find you lions, finds you hares; where foxes geese; you are no surer, no, than is the coal of fire upon the ice, or hailstone in the sun. Your virtue is, to make him worthy whose offense subdues him, and curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness deserves your hate; and your affections are a sick man's appetite, who desires most that which would increase his evil. He that depends upon your favours swims with fins of lead and hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye? With every minute you do change a mind, and call him noble that was now your hate, him vile that was your garland. What's the matter, that in these several places of the city you cry against the noble senate, who, under the gods, keep you in awe, which else would feed on one another? (ibid.) and Let me have war, say I; it exceeds peace as far as day does night; it's spritely, waking, audible, and full of vent. Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy; mulled, deaf, sleepy, insensible; a getter of more bastard children than war's a destroyer of men. (Act IV, sc. 6)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marquise

    This is an excellent drama, very political in terms of plotline and very main character-driven, a rarity for a Shakespearean play. It's written in verse for the most part, with sections in plain prose, and covers the later years in the life of Roman general Caius Martius Coriolanus, patrician war hero of the Volscian/Roman wars, as chronicled by Plutarch in his Lives. The story has a straight pull forward: The Volsces, an Italian tribe, start a war with Rome and the city calls its most brilliant This is an excellent drama, very political in terms of plotline and very main character-driven, a rarity for a Shakespearean play. It's written in verse for the most part, with sections in plain prose, and covers the later years in the life of Roman general Caius Martius Coriolanus, patrician war hero of the Volscian/Roman wars, as chronicled by Plutarch in his Lives. The story has a straight pull forward: The Volsces, an Italian tribe, start a war with Rome and the city calls its most brilliant general, Martius, to its defense. He defeats them at a battle by Corioles, earning the name of Coriolanus and an acclamation from the populace. Pushed by his mother, he seeks the consulship after and is close to election, but before the vote, two envious tribunes raise the rabble against him, taunt him with his never-hidden contempt for the fickle commonfolk, and when hot-tempered Coriolanus bites the bait and exchanges very harsh words with the tribunes in public, they accuse him of treason and have him banished. In exile, Coriolanus plots his revenge, which will predictably be his doom and he ends up being Caesar'd. Not very complicated politicking, isn't it? But in its apparent simplicity it's quite relatable amongst all the politics-based dramas; the figure of the great man betrayed by his own countrymen is a familiar one throughout time, and Rome has had its share of them. I liked Coriolanus as a man, he's noble and courageous, but also arrogant and unable to rein in his impatient temper and lack of tactfulness. He has that one fatal flaw that leads to a downfall, but he's not a victim of fate or supernatural influences beyond his control; he's very much an active participant in his rise and in his endgame. I'm more convinced now that Shakespeare does stupendously when he follows a given historical source closely, observations to the chronicler's reliability aside, which is patent in his Roman dramas, all of them based on the same historian already named. That makes me wish he'd written some more works out of the same source, because in the Lives there are a few other famous Greeks and Romans who'd have made for great theatrical stories. I'd have sold my soul for reading Shakespeare's rendition of the lives of Cincinnatus, Scipio Africanus, Alexander the Great and Sulla! And seeing the number of times he mentions Alexander favourably in several of his plays, I suspect Shakespeare may have found him interesting, too.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten #EnoughIsEnough

    This is the first time I have listened or seen Coriolanus. (That is a tragedy in itself.) I listened to it on BBC Radio 3 and it featured Diana Rigg (!!) as Coriolanus' proud mother. This was an absorbing play. Much more so than I imagined. Many times plays are re-imagined in modern times. It doesn't always work. However, I can see this working. The politics, the fickleness of the people, the radicalization of the people seems very real to me. I would love to see this visually sometime.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The bleakest and most uncompromisingly harsh of the tragedies. The people of Rome are an easily fooled rabble, their leaders (the Tribunes) are unprincipled careerists, the patricians are weak and fearful. Caius Martius (Coriolanus) is a great general but among the worst political leaders imaginable, getting himself exiled from Rome when the acclaim for annihilating the Volscain army should be at its highest. His mother, Volumina, may be the coldest and least maternal woman in literature, wishin The bleakest and most uncompromisingly harsh of the tragedies. The people of Rome are an easily fooled rabble, their leaders (the Tribunes) are unprincipled careerists, the patricians are weak and fearful. Caius Martius (Coriolanus) is a great general but among the worst political leaders imaginable, getting himself exiled from Rome when the acclaim for annihilating the Volscain army should be at its highest. His mother, Volumina, may be the coldest and least maternal woman in literature, wishing only that her son have military success and be elected cousul. His wounds are signs of her fitness as the mother of a warrior and his death in battle would be the highest accolade. At the end, of course, she betrays him, convincing him not to lead an army against Rome even after the Romans banished him and knowing he would die as a result of her advice. While not the most immediately inviting play "Coriolanus" is a superb study of the pathology of politics. Its structure is very clean--it almost hurtles along and the semi-comic byplay among three servingman at the court of Aufidius comes as a welcome respite. Beautifully plotted--once Coriolanus makes his first irrevocable decision to lead the Volscains against his former homeland, you want to know how everyone in Rome will react. Will they be shocked, afraid, outraged? They are all of that and more. Even Menenius, the wisest of the not very wise patricians, disbelieves that Martius would have an army in the field advancing on the gates of Rome. The patricians dither, the plebians claim that they didn't really want to banish him after all and Volumina plots the best way to manipulate her son. Which is never really difficult, although part of Shakespeare's genius makes us think it should be. Here is a proud leader, a believer that he alone possesses absolute truth and virtue, a man who has been scorned by those that he feels are beneath him. Given the chance by a former enemy, a person whose courage he respects, to get revenge on Rome there isn't much that can stop him. Or so it would seem. It turns out that he is powerless against his mother, a character who makes Lady Macbeth look like Mary Poppins. The only even partially sympathetic characters in this desolate view of the world are Virgilia, his wife, who would rather have a live husband than a dead icon of Roman glory and Aufidius, the leader of the Volscains. There is much more here, of course--there always is in Shakespeare--especially considering it was written and first performed early in the reign of James I who wanted to be an absolute ruler and who clearly wasn't going to be. I've read "Coriolanus" twice through this time, listened to a very decent BBC audio book, watched a filmed production from the Globe and am reading some of the criticism. It isn't a bad way to approach any of Shakespeare's plays, whether this one, with which I was only noddingly familiar or others I have loved for decades.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Roman general Caius Marcius is nicknamed Coriolanus translated from Latin as "Conqueror of Coriolis", after dealing with success with Rome's enemies in the homonymous town. I believe that Shakespeare didn't mean "anus" like Romans did i.e. "ring", a signet ring as a prize on the finger of a champion, but as we use it, hence Coriolanus is "that asshole from Coriolis". Furthermore, since "coriolis" means "secure", Coriolanus is the "security/militant asshole" or a saving-his-own-ass guy. Anyway this Roman general Caius Marcius is nicknamed Coriolanus translated from Latin as "Conqueror of Coriolis", after dealing with success with Rome's enemies in the homonymous town. I believe that Shakespeare didn't mean "anus" like Romans did i.e. "ring", a signet ring as a prize on the finger of a champion, but as we use it, hence Coriolanus is "that asshole from Coriolis". Furthermore, since "coriolis" means "secure", Coriolanus is the "security/militant asshole" or a saving-his-own-ass guy. Anyway this play is a real tragedy in a good way, if ever a tragedy could accept such an adjective. Shakespeare with this play, his swansong tragedy, turns his look back into the past and pays his respects to the founders of the genre, once more the Greeks (the ancient ones because the modern Greeks do not write tragedies anymore, they just improvise). Read it. It's a different Shakespeare. It's main character is so obscure, far from the ones in his other plays. He acts rather than thinks with no apparent internal conflicts. He loves and respects his mother (how Italian, like those mafia guys that could rip your heart out with their teeth but cannot defy their mother). He is brave, ruthless and a popular hero who surprisingly turns into a defector. A masterpiece upon the thirst for power and its pursuit between politicians and militants amid the mob and the noble and ignoble motives of men's actions. This guy being the least Shakespearian one, made me question even the authorship of the play.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Fierce warrior, great general, total prat.

  26. 4 out of 5

    katerina ☕

    Anger's my meat: I sup upon myself, And so shall starve with feeding.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    This is an odd play with many layers. The most interesting character is Volumnia, Coriolanus' mother. The complexities here are daunting and I believe this play would make for some lively discussion. My own reading though was just cursory. The ending is the strangest part. I am not quite sure I get what is going on in the last scene with Aufidius. Time to break out the Asimov.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    An arrogant Roman general switches sides, wants political power, has horrid temperament, is deposed, wants revenge, death comes for him.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3: Shakespeare's penetrating portrayal of political turmoil in a society at war with itself. Coriolanus, a great martial hero, is banished by those he despises, the common people of Rome. Disaster must surely follow. Coriolanus . . . Trystan Gravelle Volumnia . . . Diana Rigg Menenius . . . James Fleet Cominius . . . Paul Hilton Sicinius . . . Tony Turner Brutus . . . Joel MacCormack Lartius . . . David Hounslow Aufidius . . . Ray Fearon Virgilia . . . Clare Corbett Valeria . . From BBC Radio 3 - Drama on 3: Shakespeare's penetrating portrayal of political turmoil in a society at war with itself. Coriolanus, a great martial hero, is banished by those he despises, the common people of Rome. Disaster must surely follow. Coriolanus . . . Trystan Gravelle Volumnia . . . Diana Rigg Menenius . . . James Fleet Cominius . . . Paul Hilton Sicinius . . . Tony Turner Brutus . . . Joel MacCormack Lartius . . . David Hounslow Aufidius . . . Ray Fearon Virgilia . . . Clare Corbett Valeria . . . Susan Jameson Gentlewoman . . . Franchi Webb with Michael Bertenshaw, Kenny Blyth, Joseph Ayre and Christopher Harper Introduction by Natalie Haynes Directed by Marc Beeby https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00... 4* Antony and Cleopatra 4* A Midsummer Night's Dream 3* Twelfth Night 5* Lenny Henry in Shakespeare's Othello 3* The Tempest 5* Hamlet 3* Romeo and Juliet 3* As You Like It 5* Macbeth 4* The Taming of the Shrew 4* Julius Caesar 3* The Winter's tale 5* King Lear 4* Henry VIII 4* Pericles 4* Richard II (Wars of the Roses #1) 4* Henry VI (War of Roses #4) 5* Richard III (War of Roses #5) 4* Measure for Measure 4* The Merchant of Venice 4* The Two Gentlemen of Verona 4* Coriolanus TR Henry IV (Wars of the Roses #2) TR Henry V (War of Roses #3) TR The Comedy of Errors About Shakespeare (fiction&non-fiction): 3* Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper 3* Mrs. Shakespeare: The Complete Works by Robert Nye 3* Shakespeare's Local by Pete Brown 4* Shakespeare's Restless World by Neil MacGregor 2* Chasing Shakespeares by Sarah Smith 3* Another Shakespeare by Martyn Wade 4* 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear by James Shapiro 4* Molière et Shakespeare by Paul Stapfer 3* A Play for the Heart: The Death of Shakespeare by Nick Warburton 4* William Shakespeare by Victor Hugo

  30. 5 out of 5

    catechism

    ok, coriolanus/aufidius has overtaken brutus/cassius as Shakespeare Ship Which Most Appeals To My Particular Sensibilities

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