the appearance of the god of war recalls Death. Aufidius, after remarking on his appearance, fails to recognise his foe, and asks 'thy name?... / Speak man: what's thy name?' (ll.54-5) After the sixth appeal Coriolanus reveals his identity. The emphasis on the 'surname' and 'service' reiterates Coriolanus' need to find a cause for his allegiance declared at the end of the preceding scene - it is the last word of scene iv and is picked up in the first line of the fifth. The two kinds of service, domestic and military, private and public, become entangled and confused with a sexual element (ll.46-9). This echoes Nicanor's imagery of adultery to sketch the vulnerability of Rome (IV.iii.31-3). This implicitly draws attention to the question - does the service Coriolanus is offering the Volscians have more fidelity than that of the adulterer? Coriolanus' lengthy speech to Aufidius answers this. He complains his title is all his 'thankless country' ever gave him for his endeavours. What Coriolanus laments being denied is political power and authority, the senatorial office. It is now possible to understand his contempt, his utter hatred, for the patricians who empowered the plebeians to banish him. Coriolanus' wrath then, will be directed against Rome, against those who betrayed him - 'Against my canker'd country with the spleen / Of all the under Fiends' (ll.92-3) - he now needs Aufidius to join him. Aufidius embraces Coriolanus in a manner that recalls how Coriolanus and Cominius had embraced in the first act. The Volscian commander recalls his wedding night (ll.117- 19). Whether these interactions between martial figures in the play constitute a form of homoeroticism is debatable.
Aufidius and Coriolanus exit, leaving the remainder of the scene to the two servants, and with their departure drama and the onset of 'comedy'. They acknowledge the power Coriolanus is able to exert, and that he is the superior of their own master (ll. 150-75). We are informed of Coriolanus' acceptance into Aufidius' household on the arrival of a third party, the Third Servingman (ll.199-202). The servants discuss the merits of war - though they admit war is 'a ravisher', 'peace is a great maker of cuckolds'. The First Servingman argues that peace 'makes men hate one another' and demands 'Let me have war, I say. It exceeds peace as / far as day does night / ... peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy, mulled, / deaf, sleepy, insensible; a getter of more bastard children / than war's a destroyer of men.' (ll.325-32)
For Coriolanus was has fundamental purposes; the war against the Volscians extended the glory of the state, of himself and his family, and reduced the plebeian mass. Now war against Rome is for the fallen hero the remedy he will apply to the diseased state. Rather than destructive, immoral or evil, war is perceived as just, moral and inaugurating growth or improvement.Act IV, scene vi
We return to Rome, where under the Tribunes, the city is bustling and prospering - hence Sicinius' reference to 'Our tradesmen singing in their shops' (l.8). Even Menenius concedes the Tribunes are governing well (l.16). However there are rumours in Rome of the gathering Volscian army; the Tribunes know their political position is in jeopardy should these rumours be true. Thus the Tribunes seek to quieten the rumours, particularly when word reaches Rome that Coriolanus has joined with the Volscians. Menenius struggles to believe this, but it is confirmed by Cominius.
At the beginning of the scene we see the best of the Tribunes with prosperity and temporary peace they have brought to Rome; at its end we see them at their worst - fickle and divisive.Act IV, scene vii
Returning to the Volscian army, Aufidius discusses the effect Coriolanus has had over the soldiers. In contrast with his failure to win over the Roman citizens, Coriolanus has captivated the Volscian army and people. Aufidius is predictably begrudging of Coriolanus, but puts necessity before personal rivalry, for the moment (ll.6-8). Aufidius' thoughts traverse as he considers Coriolanus' fall from Rome and in observing 'our virtues / Lie in th' interpretation of the time' (ll.49-50), comments on the importance of circumstances or timing of an event for its success.
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