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3 hours 15 minutes
Coriolanus by William Shakespeare - is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608. The play is based on the life of the legendary Roman leader Caius Marcius Coriolanus. Shakespeare worked on it during the same years he wrote Antony and Cleopatra, making them his last two tragedies.
The play opens in Rome shortly after the expulsion of the Tarquin kings. There are riots in progress after stores of grain have been withheld from ordinary citizens. The rioters are particularly angry at Caius Marcius, a brilliant Roman general whom they blame for the loss of their grain. The rioters encounter a patrician named Menenius Agrippa, as well as Caius Marcius himself. Menenius tries to calm the rioters, while Marcius is openly contemptuous, and says that the plebeians are not worthy of the grain because of their lack of military service. Two of the tribunes of Rome, Brutus and Sicinius, privately denounce Marcius. Marcius leaves Rome after news arrives that a Volscian army is in the field.
The commander of the Volscian army, Tullus Aufidius, has fought Marcius on several occasions and considers him a blood enemy. The Roman army is commanded by Cominius, with Marcius as his deputy. While Cominius takes his soldiers to meet Aufidius's army, Marcius leads a rally against the Volscian city of Corioli. The siege of Corioli is initially unsuccessful, but the Romans conquer it when Marcius is able to force open the gates of the city. Even though he is exhausted from the fighting, Marcius marches quickly to join Cominius and fight the other Volscian forces. Marcius and Aufidius meet in single combat, fighting until Aufidius's own soldiers drag him away from the battle.
In recognition of his great courage, Cominius gives Caius Marcius the agnomen, or 'official nickname', of Coriolanus. When they return to Rome, Coriolanus's mother Volumnia encourages her son to run for consul. Coriolanus is hesitant to do this, but he bows to his mother's wishes. He effortlessly wins the support of the Roman Senate, and seems at first to have won over the plebeians as well. However, Brutus and Sicinius scheme to defeat Coriolanus and instigate another plebeian riot in opposition to his becoming consul. Faced with this opposition, Coriolanus flies into a rage and rails against the concept of popular rule. He compares allowing plebeians to have power over the patricians to allowing 'crows to peck the eagles'. The two tribunes condemn Coriolanus as a traitor for his words and order him to be banished. Coriolanus retorts that it is he who banishes Rome from his presence.
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