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MonkeyNotes-Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
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Minor

Titus Lartius - a general who, along with Coriolanus and Cominius, opposes the Volscians and leads the Romans against the city of Corioli. He is an uncomplicated and straightforward military man and drops out from the play as soon as the action moves from the battlefield to the politics of Rome.

Young Marcius - Coriolanus’ son. He is a boy of four or five years and speaks only one line and a half in the play. His character is sketched through the observations of Volumnia and Valeria, and it is evident that he is very much like his father.

Virgilia - Coriolanus’ wife. She is soft-spoken and often completely overshadowed by her domineering mother-in-law; yet she is an effective foil to Volumnia’s rhetoric. She, along with her son and Volumnia, persuades Coriolanus to spare Rome.

Lieutenant to Aufidius - a junior officer to Aufidius. He listens to his leader’s complaints that Coriolanus has changed his loyalty but not his nature. His character is that of a yes-man and does not develop during the course of the play.

Nicanor - the Roman traitor who hurries from Rome with the news that Coriolanus’ banishment has disheartened the Senators, who are at odds with the commoners. He warns that the conditions are just right for the Volscians to attack Rome. His chief role is to spy for the Volscians.

Adrian, a Volscian - the messenger who meets the Roman spy Nicanor on the road and hears his news. His chief characteristic is the happiness he derives from meeting a fellow spy.

Valeria - a Roman matron and friend of Virgilia. Shakespeare characterizes her aptly as one of Virgilia’s “gossips.” She is a talkative, empty-headed friend who has more concern for a pregnant neighbor than for Virgilia’s agony at the news of Coriolanus’ departure.


The Citizens/The Mob - Shakespeare has given important parts to the commoners who provide varying perspectives on Coriolanus, as well as the events which occur in the play. They are largely an undifferentiated lot and comprise men, soldiers on sentry duty, messengers, officials of the Senate, and the citizens of Rome. Eight separate citizens emerge from the crowd to speak, but apart from the cynical Third Citizen and the rabble rousing First Citizen, they are not identifiable. They function less like individual people than as a Greek Chorus, commenting on the main action and providing a plurality of voices within the Roman republic.

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