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The Tribunes --- Brutus and Sicinius
The tribunes function as the antagonists on a simplistic level. Their first appearance in the play is unremarkable. They are not round characters and are almost indistinguishable from each other. Both of them hold similar views although Sicinius is the hotter headed of the two. Sicinius is an elderly demagogue, characterized by Coriolanus as an “old goat” and a “tongue o’the common mouth.” Sicinius is the one who poisons the commoners’ minds against Coriolanus and urges the commoners to revoke their election of Coriolanus as consul. Sicinius also stops the party of patricians making their way to the market place and delivers his “absolute shall” regarding Coriolanus. During the brawl scene in Act III, Sicinius is so vehement in his accusations and denunciation of Coriolanus as a traitor that Coriolanus has to be physically restrained from attacking him. Although his fanaticism is propelled by class hatred and an intense personal loathing of Coriolanus, he is also power hungry and wants to usurp some of the control of the Senate which the patricians have.
The tribunes are accurate judges of character and provide insightful remarks regarding Coriolanus. They are not as naive as the commoners and are better educated yet they are limited by their motives which are maligned. The dominating trait of their characters is their ability to manipulate events. They are self- serving men who are more concerned about the threat to their own office than about the commoners whom they represent. It is evident that they too despise the commoners as they speak to them in elevated language and criticize them behind their backs. They are shrewd politicians who only have their own interests at heart.