- “With every minute you do change a mind, And call him noble that was now your hate, him vile that was your garland” Martius (Act 1 Sc 1 line 180)
- “I sin in envying his nobility, and were I anything but what I am, I would wish me only he.” Martius (Act1 Sc 1 line 228)
- “He is a lion that I am proud to hunt.” Martius (Act 1 Sc 1 line 232) – CHARACTER
- “…And I am constant.” Martius (Act 1 Sc 1 line 238) – CHARACTER
- “First, you know Martius is chief enemy to the people.” Citizen (Act 1 Sc 1 line 6)
- “Worthy Menenius Agrippa, one that hath always loved the people.” Citizen( Act 1 Sc 1 line 49) – CHARACTER
- “There was a time when all the body’s members, rebelled against the belly, thus accused it.” Menenius (Act 1 Sc 1 line 93) – IMAGERY
- “What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues that, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, make yourselves scabs?” Martius (Act 1 Sc 1 line161) -IMAGERY
- “He that trusts you, where he should find lions finds you hares…” Martius (Act 1 Sc 1 line 167)
- “With every minute you do change a mind.” Martius (Act 1 Sc 1 line 179)
- “If my son were my husband, I should freelier rejoice in that absence wherein he won honour than in the embracement of his bed where he would show most love.” Volumnia (Act 1 Sc 3 line 3) – CHARACTER
- “Had I a dozen sons…I had rather had eleven die nobly for their country than one voluptuously surfeit out of action” Volumnia (Act 1 Sc 3 line 21) – CHARACTER
- “He had rather see the swords and hear a drum than look upon his schoolmaster.” Virgilia(Act 1 Sc 3 line 59)
- “I’ll not over the threshold till my lord return from the wars.” Virgillia (Act 5 Sc 5 line 5) – CHARACTER
- “The blood I drop is rather physical than dangerous to me.” Martius (Act 1 Sc 7 line 15) – IMAGERY
- “I’ll fight with none but thee, for I hate thee worse than a promise-breaker.” Martius (Act 1 Sc 9 line 7) -CHARACTER
- “Not Afric owns a serpent I abhor more than thy fane and envy.” Martius (Act 1 Sc 9 line 9)
- “I thank you general, but I cannot make my heart consent to take a bribe to pay my sword.” Martius ( Act1 Sc 10 line 37) – CHARACTER
- “I request you to give my poor host freedom.” Martius ( Act 1 Sc 10 line 87)
I’ll fight with none but thee; for I do hate thee
Worse than a promise-breaker.
We hate alike:
Not Afric owns a serpentI abhor
More than thy fame and envy. Fix thy foot.
Let the first budger die the other’s slave,
And the gods doom him after!
If I fly, Marcius,
Holloa me like a hare.
Within these three hours, Tullus,
Alone I fought in your Corioli walls,
And made what work I pleased: ’tis not my blood
Wherein thou seest me mask’d; for thy revenge
Wrench up thy power to the highest.
Wert thou the Hector
That was the whip of your bragg’d progeny,
Thou shouldst not scape me here.
You shall not be
The grave of your deserving; Rome must know
The value of her own: ’twere a concealment
Worse than a theft, no less than a traducement,
To hide your doings; and to silence that,
Which, to the spire and top of praises vouch’d,
Would seem but modest: therefore, I beseech you
In sign of what you are, not to reward
What you have done–before our army hear me.
I have some wounds upon me, and they smart
To hear themselves remember’d.
Should they not,
Well might they fester ‘gainst ingratitude,
And tent themselves with death. Of all the horses,
Whereof we have ta’en good and good store, of all
The treasure in this field achieved and city,
We render you the tenth, to be ta’en forth,
Before the common distribution, at
Your only choice.
I thank you, general;
But cannot make my heart consent to take
A bribe to pay my sword: I do refuse it;
And stand upon my common part with those
That have beheld the doing.”
I would I were a Roman; for I cannot,
Being a Volsce, be that I am. Condition!
What good condition can a treaty find
I’ the part that is at mercy? Five times, Marcius,
I have fought with thee: so often hast thou beat me,
And wouldst do so, I think, should we encounter
As often as we eat. By the elements,
If e’er again I meet him beard to beard,
He’s mine, or I am his: mine emulation
Hath not that honour in’t it had; for where
I thought to crush him in an equal force,
True sword to sword, I’ll potch at him some way
Or wrath or craft may get him.
Welcome to Rome, renowned Coriolanus!
No more of this; it does offend my heart:
Pray now, no more.
Look, sir, your mother!
You have, I know, petition’d all the gods
For my prosperity!
Nay, my good soldier, up;
My gentle Marcius, worthy Caius, and
By deed-achieving honour newly named,–
What is it?–Coriolanus must I call thee?–
But O, thy wife!
My gracious silence, hail!
Wouldst thou have laugh’d had I come coffin’d home,
That weep’st to see me triumph? Ay, my dear,
Such eyes the widows in Corioli wear,
And mothers that lack sons.
Now, the gods crown thee!
On the sudden,
I warrant him consul.
Then our office may,
During his power, go sleep.
He cannot temperately transport his honours
From where he should begin and end, but will
Lose those he hath won.
In that there’s comfort.
The commoners, for whom we stand, but they
Upon their ancient malice will forget
With the least cause these his new honours, which
That he will give them make I as little question
As he is proud to do’t.
I heard him swear,
Were he to stand for consul, never would he
Appear i’ the market-place nor on him put
The napless vesture of humility;
Nor showing, as the manner is, his wounds
To the people, beg their stinking breaths.
It was his word: O, he would miss it rather
Than carry it but by the suit of the gentry to him,
And the desire of the nobles.
I wish no better
Than have him hold that purpose and to put it
‘Tis most like he will.
It shall be to him then as our good wills,
A sure destruction
The conflict between the patricians, or traditional ruling class, and the plebeians, or common people, is central to the play. At the opening of the play, the plebeians are rebelling against the patricians, whom they accuse of hoarding grain while the plebeians starve. The tribunes Brutus and Sicinius are of the plebeian class and representatives of that class. Their mistrust and dislike of Coriolanus is partly their class’s mistrust and dislike of the patrician class. In addition, Coriolanus fosters this mistrust and dislike because of the pride and contempt he displays towards the plebeians.
The patricians, equally, mistrust and scorn the plebeians. Both Menenius and Coriolanus dismiss them as fragments, incomplete people: words applied to them include “great toe?(I.i.142), “cobbled [patched] shoes?(I.i.182), and “shreds?(I.i.194). They are “dissentious rogues?(I.i.150). Menenius and Coriolanus, being patricians, are biased witnesses, but their judgments are validated by the action of the play, which is not neutral with regard to class. Shakespeare assumes that class is a predictor of intelligence, rationality, and ability to govern. The plebeians cannot be relied upon to think for themselves or stick to a decision once they have made it; they are easily manipulated by the self-serving tribunes; they are cowardly in battle; and they are unable to take any responsible role in government. Coriolanus is driven out of Rome because Brutus and Sicinius play upon the plebeians?fears that he will become a tyrant if elected consul. Repeatedly, the patricians are the voice of reason; they do not want Coriolanus to be banished; they try to give him a fair hearing when he is being condemned by the plebeians; and at the end of the play, their Volscian equivalent, the Lords, again try to give Coriolanus a fair hearing before he is hacked to death by the Conspirators.
Pride is Coriolanus’s main problematical quality, and it defines his fate. His pride partly arises from his remarkable martial qualities, but it prevents him making the necessary compromises to become a political leader. If he were not so proud, he would be viewed by the plebeians both as a war hero and a suitable consul. They would see him as they do Menenius, as “one that hath always loved the people?(I.i.41?2), rather than as “chief enemy to the people?(I.i.5?) and “a very dog to the commonalty?(I.i.23). Coriolanus’s pride leads to his offending the plebeians at every step, and prevents him from making amends to them. He even responds to his banishment with pride, insisting that it is he who banishes the Roman people, and hurling insults at them. This makes his future rehabilitation in their eyes all the more unlikely, and means that Coriolanus is permanently trapped in his stubborn resolve to reject his native land. Similarly, his pride is a factor in antagonizing Aufidius, with whom Coriolanus takes refuge in exile (“He bears himself more proudlier, / Even to my person, that I thought he would / When first I did embrace him.??IV.vii.8?0).
Different kinds of virtue
“Virtus,?valiantness or martial valor, was the most highly prized character virtue in ancient Rome at the time the play is set. It encompassed courage, boldness, heroism, and resoluteness. Coriolanus has these qualities in abundance, but it is at the expense of another more humble virtue, “pietas,?or love and respect for family, country, and gods. While “virtus?was unquestionably of more value in war time, “pietas?was vital in peace time to provide the ability to compromise and forgive that held society together.
The two virtues often find themselves in conflict in the play, and Coriolanus, by upholding “virtus?and neglecting “pietas,?cuts himself off from society and humanity in general. While the plebeians are grateful for Coriolanus’s war record, they do not value “virtus?as highly as he does. Understandably, they are more concerned with the quality of their daily lives and being listened to and treated with respect. Coriolanus cannot provide these elements ?in fact, he seems to work against them. He is too inflexible in his warrior-like stance to make the compromises necessary to making society function smoothly. In banishing him, the plebeians deliver their verdict on “virtus,?though naturally they regret their rashness when another attack on Rome is imminent. Finally, Coriolanus, under the influence of Volumnia, does set aside “virtus?and bows to the demands of “pietas?in his abandonment of the attack on Rome.
The two virtues, however, have not been reconciled; they cannot coexist in Coriolanus. It is Coriolanus’s tragedy that this allowance of humanity into his nature is fatal to him; he is aware that it will lead to his death. Aufidius, another inflexible man wedded to “virtus,?is unable to forgive Coriolanus for his betrayal of “virtus.?Aufidius is also unable to overcome his own warlike rivalry towards Coriolanus ?another aspect of “virtus??and so has him killed.
The play does not reconcile the two virtues but rather, shows ways in which they conflict. It also shows their importance changing with changing times: “virtus?is necessary for defending Rome and expanding its influence through conquest, but “pietas?is necessary for building a cohesive society. With the death of Coriolanus and the ascendancy of politicians like Menenius, Brutus, and Sicinius, the suggestion is that “virtus?has had its day and “pietas?is the more timely quality.
The past versus progress
The struggle between the patricians and the plebeians is also a struggle between the past and progress. The patricians support the ways of the past, including the traditional hierarchical system of government, whereas the people want change, including a share in government. This theme is embodied in Coriolanus himself, who is a war hero of the traditional kind at a time that has moved beyond the values he represents. Now, political skill, not immovable courage, is what is needed for Rome to progress.
An atmosphere of uncertainty pervades this play due to shifting allegiances. It is difficult to identify who is a friend and who is an enemy. On the one hand, Coriolanus is a war hero who has a claim on the people’s loyalty for his military services. On the other hand, the people dislike his pride and under the influence of the tribunes, quickly become his enemy and drive him out of Rome. This turns Coriolanus’s allegiance from Rome to his former enemies, the Volscians. Aufidius and Coriolanus are sworn enemies who become friends after Coriolanus is banished, but envy and rivalry gain ascendancy in Aufidius’s mind and he once again becomes Coriolanus’s treacherous enemy.
While such shifts come naturally to Aufidius and he is skilled at hiding them when needed, Coriolanus is of an open and guileless nature, so that everyone knows whose side he is on. As the age of martial conquest begins to give way to an age of political manoeuvring, it is no accident that Aufidius and the other politicians, Menenius, Brutus and Sicinius, survive, but Coriolanus dies.
The play’s treatment of the battles also shows how times are changing. The audience sees little actual fighting but hears a large amount of military intelligence, including an entire scene (IV.iii) featuring a Roman spying for the Volscians ?another example of changed allegiance. The days of heroic action, when allegiances were clear, are past, and have given way to the compromises, subterfuge, negotiations, alliances of convenience, and other ‘grey areas?of the political arena
Human Morality and the Laws of Nature by Ian Mackean
by Ian Mackean
In his novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) deals with issues of morality in two fundamental ways; one is the relativity of moral values – their variation according to time and place – the other is the opposition between man-made laws and Nature. These issues are explored through the experiences of Tess Durbyfield as she encounters the problems of life, and exemplify Hardy’s idea of the ‘two forces’:
So the two forces were at work here as everywhere, the inherent will to enjoy, and the circumstantial will against enjoyment. (p.332)
The ‘circumstantial will against enjoyment’ is often a matter of morality or convention, but equally often it is a matter of chance, or fate.
The first example of the relativity of moral values is seen in the clash of attitudes between Tess and her mother…
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