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MonkeyNotes-Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
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LIST OF CHARACTERS

Major

Caius Marcius (Coriolanus) - the protagonist of the play. Marcius is an unbending, stiff-necked Roman soldier and an arrogant aristocrat who despises the common people and their tribunes --- Sicinius Velutus and Junius Brutus. After a famous victory at Corioli against the Volscians and their leader Aufidius, he is given the honorific title of Coriolanus in memory of his triumph. He is also promised the consulship of Rome. His inflexibility and contempt of the commoners, however, results in his being banished from Rome. He allies himself with Aufidius, his archenemy, and leads the Volscian army against his own people. Coriolanus refuses to relent to the entreaties of the Romans and to agree to a peace treaty. His mother, Volumnia, finally succeeds in persuading him to enter into a treaty with the Romans. When he returns to Antium, Aufidius accuses him of treachery and incites the Volscians to assassinate him.

Cominius - a Roman general who leads the army against the Volscians at Corioli. Cominius later awards Marcius the honorific title Coriolanus in memory of his remarkable victory and recommends him for consulship. He is genuinely concerned about the welfare of Rome and tries to persuade the citizens of Rome not to banish Coriolanus. He offers to accompany Coriolanus in his exile. When Coriolanus joins the Volscians and is about to attack Rome, Cominius undertakes to persuade him to spare Rome. However, his requests are respectfully but firmly rejected by Coriolanus.


Menenius Agrippa - the witty smooth-tongued patrician who is a friend of Coriolanus. During the entire play, Menenius works as a conciliatory force between the commoners, the Senators, and Coriolanus. Although he despises the commoners as much as Coriolanus, he tries at all times to placate them and deflect their ire. He is the only person apart from Virgilia who really loves Coriolanus. But Coriolanus shockingly rejects the pleas of this true friend when he requests him not to attack Rome.

Sicinius Velutus - the hotheaded of the two “bald tribunes.” Sicinius incites the Romans against Coriolanus. An elderly demagogue, he is characterised by Coriolanus as an “old goat ” and a “ tongue o’ the common mouth.” He has neither the interests of the patricians nor the commoners in mind; instead, he is self- serving and greedy for power.

Junius Brutus - one of the two tribunes. Along with Sicinius Velutus, Brutus arouses the Roman mob against Coriolanus. Always the second to speak, he is also distinguished from the firebrand Sicinius by his soft-spoken and sly nature. When Coriolanus returns with the Volscian army to attack Rome, he begs Menenius Agrippa to stop Coriolanus’ advance. Immediately afterwards he vanishes from the play.

Tullus Aufidius - the Volscian leader and Coriolanus’ chief rival and enemy. Aufidius is defeated by Marcius at Corioli and vows to destroy him at any cost, even if it means resorting to trickery. This characteristic separates him from Coriolanus, who is a great warrior but honest in his dealings. Aufidius contributes to the demise of Coriolanus by offering him an opportunity to lead the Volscian army against the Romans. In the final scene of the play, he incites the Volscians to assassinate Coriolanus after he has entered into a peace treaty with Rome.

Volumnia - a powerful woman who exercises tremendous control over her son Coriolanus. Her distinguishing characteristic, like that of her son, is anger and single-mindedness. She says of herself that “ Anger’s my meat; I sup upon myself.” She also shares her son’s dislike of the commoners. She is responsible in many ways for Coriolanus’ behavior; from a very early age, she geared him towards being a warrior and refused him any other course. Her arguments persuade Coriolanus to abandon his plan of attacking Rome. As a result, she secures a “ happy victory to Rome, ” but loses her son, who is killed by the Volscians.

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