Coriolanus is a play by William Shakespeare first performed in 1608. Read Coriolanus here, with side-by-side No Fear translations into modern English.
Roman citizens are upset with the ruling class over the cost of grain. Meanwhile, the Volsces threaten to attack Rome, and Martius is appointed as a lieutenant in the coming war.
The Senators of Corioles advise Tullus Aufidius to take his army into the field, despite Aufidius’s concern that the Romans may already be planning to attack Corioles.
Martius's wife and mother talk while sewing. Virgilia worries for his safety, while Volumnia feels proud of the honorable victories her son has earned.
The Roman and Volscian armies meet outside of Corioles, where the Volscians gain an initial advantage. Martius rallies his troops with threats and insults, and the Romans drive the Volscians back into the city of Corioles.
Martius scolds his soldiers for looting the city before the battle is even over, then hears an alarm suggesting Aufidius has entered the battle. Despite being wounded, Martius races to join the other Roman soldiers.
Martius and Cominius meet at the Roman camp. Martius complains about the worthless performance of the plebian soldiers and asks that he be the one to fight Tullus Aufidius.
Lartius tells some Roman soldiers to guard the city of Corioles, but to come running if it looks like the rest of the army needs help in the battle.
Martius and Aufidius finally meet on the field of battle and agree to fight until one of them flees. Volscian troops try to help Aufidius, but he doesn’t want their help, and Martius drives them off.
Martius is praised for his contributions to the battle, but he refuses to accept this. In honor of Martius's role in the conquest of Corioles, Cominius honors him with the name “Coriolanus.”
The defeated Aufidius curses Martius, who has now defeated him five times.
Brutus and Sicinius discuss their concern for Coriolanus's ego, and how little regard he has for the common people. They worry that if Coriolanus is made consul, he will ruin Rome.
The Senators want Coriolanus to run for consul, which will require him to earn the good will of the commoners—something that Coriolanus finds demeaning. Worried that Coriolanus may actually win the good will of the commoners, Brutus and Sicinius devise a plan to sabotage his candidacy.
Coriolanus is unable to hide his contempt for the common citizens, but his military service is enough to get the votes he needs to become consul. Brutus and Sicinius meet with the citizens and convince them to reverse their votes for Coriolanus.
When Brutus and Sicinius tell Coriolanus that the plebeians will not accept him as consul of Rome, Coriolanus becomes furious and berates the plebeians for their stupidity. The scene escalates until swords are drawn and Coriolanus hides at a Senator’s house until an airing of grievances can be arranged.
Coriolanus refuses to take back what he said about the plebeians. His mother counsels him to act humble and ask for forgiveness, even if it means lying, and Coriolanus eventually agrees to do so.
Coriolanus attempts to apologize to the plebeians, but Brutus and Sicinius bait him into losing his temper. Brutus and Sicinius declare that Coriolanus must be exiled from Rome, and he agrees to go.
Coriolanus’s wife and mother weep for his exile, while Cominius offers to go with him, but Coriolanus leaves the city alone.
Volumnia finds Brutus and Sicinius and berates them for exiling Coriolanus.
A Roman traitor reports to the Volscians that Coriolanus has been exiled, and that Aufidius can now get his revenge on Rome.
Coriolanus arrives at the city of Antium where he plans to become an ally to Aufidius and an enemy to Rome.
Coriolanus presents himself to Aufidius. Aufidius embraces Coriolanus as a friend and promises him revenge on the Romans.
Brutus and Sicinius congratulate themselves on the exile of Coriolanus, when news arrives that the Volscian army is marching on Rome with Coriolanus at the head. The Romans immediately panic and regret driving Coriolanus away.
Aufidius realizes that Coriolanus is already starting to win too much devotion from the soldiers. Aufidius decides that after Rome is conquered, he will need to dispose of Coriolanus.
Cominius pleads with Coriolanus to turn back the Volscian army, but Coriolanus is unmoved.
Menenius pleads with Coriolanus to turn back the Volscian army, but Coriolanus is unmoved.
Coriolanus’s family pleads with Coriolanus to turn back the Volscian army, and Coriolanus is convinced to make peace. Aufidius realizes that this provides the opportunity he needs to get Coriolanus killed.
Menenius and Sicinius discuss the doomed state of Rome when word arrives that the women have succeeded in convincing Coriolanus to make peace.
The Romans burst into celebration and welcome Volumnia home as the savior of her city.
Aufidius succeeds in provoking Coriolanus’s rage, and Coriolanus is stabbed to death by Aufidius’s co-conspirators in the ensuing confrontation. The Senate declares Coriolanus a noble man and orders a hero’s burial.
Understanding the Bard is hard, but the No Fear Shakespeare guide for Coriolanus makes it easy!