Marcius In reference to this mode of spelling this name see note on I, i, 11.
 Titus Lartius MacCallum (p. 398): Titus Lartius is sketched very slightly in Shakespeare, but a good deal more visually than in Plutarch, who says of him in two sentences that he was ‘one of the valliantest the Romaines had at that time,’ and that, having entered Corioli with Marcius, he, ‘when he was gotten out, had some leysure to bring the Romaines with more safetie into the cittie.’
 Cominius Page (Introd., p. 24): The little we read of Cominius gives us a life-like portrait of him, and leaves a pleasing impression on us. He is evidently of a frank and generous nature. As Coriolanus' superior officer he has under his command a soldier more famous than himself, so that he may acquire blame, but can hardly gain credit from the expedition against the Volsces. Such a trying position would have made most commanders morose and jealous, some would have found it intolerable. Cominius, however, accepts it with the utmost frankness, and the generals work together with hearty good fellowship and satisfactory result. Cominius generously attributes all the success to his brave colleague. He will not allow Coriolanus to conceal his great deeds, but proclaims them openly and emphatically before the Senate and people, and dwells on the disinterestedness of Coriolanus' conduct. Thus, instead of looking upon his second in command as a dangerous rival and endeavoring to extenuate and disparage his success in the field, he acknowledges his superiority to himself and extols his deeds of heroism on every occasion. Nor is all this done in a forced or perfunctory manner, as though he were straining to hide real mortification and jealousy by outward demonstrations of goodwill.
 Menenius Agrippa Dennis (Letters, ii, 385): If Shakespear was so conversant with the Ancients, how comes he to have introduc'd some Characters into his Plays so unlike what they are to be found in History? In the Character of Menenius he has doubly offended against that Historical Resemblance: For first whereas Menenius was an eloquent person, Shakespear has made him a downright Buffoon. And how is it possible for any man to conceive a Ciceronian JackPudding? Never was any Buffoon eloquent, or wise, or witty, or virtuous. All the good and ill qualities of a Buffoon are summed up in one word, and that is a Buffoon. And secondly, whereas Shakespear has made him a Hater and Contemner and Villifier of the People, we are assur'd by the Roman Historian that Menenius was extremely popular. He was so very far from opposing the Institution of the Tribunes, as he is represented in Shakespear, that he was chiefly instrumental in it. After the People had deserted the City, and sat down upon the sacred Mountain, he was the chief of the Delegates whom the Senate deputed to them, as being look'd upon to be the Person who would be most agreeable to them. In short, this very Menenius both liv'd and dy'd so very much their Favourite that, dying poor, he had pompous Funerals at the Expence of the Roman People.— Viehoff (Jahrbuch, iv, 48): Among the subordinate characters Menenius serves, on the one hand, in the highest way possible as a factor in the course of the action and as a foil to the protagonist; on the other hand, though like to a figure cast in a mould, he is full of individual life. From the historic materials for Menenius the poet could have created quite a different personality; since he worked upon the people advising and composing them it would have been easy to represent him as an earnest man overawing the rabble by his wisdom and worth. But how much greater advantage did the poet gain for his drama by the original coloring which he gave to this character! The Shakespearean Menenius is a goodnatured man about town of sanguine temperament and lively fancy, an irascible old man, whose temper turns easily and quickly, a babbler, given to the cracking of jokes, and likewise commonly to exaggeration and bragging, a friend to a good cup of warm wine and a well spread table, to which he ascribes significant effects on the inner man, gallant towards women, a spirited praiser of Coriolanus, a friend of peace, and though outwardly patrician, a man who yet has a heart for the people and desires their proper well-being. Through this mixture of characteristics he becomes qualified for the many functions which he exercises in the drama. His effect on the course of the action is not only through the mollification of the people by means of his fable, he serves also repeatedly as mediator to make the first impression on the stiff will of his young favorite. At the same time he is in his cheerful, easy-going nature an effective foil to the earnest, narrow-minded friend; if perchance one would think that a man so firm, so laconically given, such a despiser of outward show as Coriolanus should feel himself drawn to an old man whose moods are so evanescent, so talkative, and loving exaggeration, it is actually no less psychologically correct than that a man so heroic should have chosen as his wife a woman of so tender a nature as Virgilia. Furthermore, Menenius by his enthusiastic admiration for Coriolanus, sets up a glass wherein is reflected a picture of the latter, if also many times magnified as in a concave mirror. In conclusion the poet makes use of this character, with its ludicrous coloring, to lighten the tension which predominates in this drama and to reduce to artistic proportions its deep and powerful keynote.—Gervinus (p. 765): The most striking personage next to Coriolanus is Menenius Agrippa. Except the wellknown fable of the belly and the members, Shakespeare found nothing further concerning him in his English Plutarch than the remark that he was the pleasantest old man in the Senate. From this hint he has formed the lively character, to whom he awards the benevolent office, beside the ragged demi-god, of being contented to be a man amongst men. In all his individual qualities this contrast is carried out, although it seems as if unintentional. He has none of Coriolanus' thirst for fame; he rather rejoices in the fame of his friend; he idolises him, and it gives him an estate of seven years' health when Coriolanus condescends to write to him. . . . Even with the will to speak the truth of his hero he involuntarily oversteps its bounds. It is easy to him to be his unselfish admirer because his own talents lie in quite another direction. Age has broken his warlike strength, though his brave mind still looks out here and there, when in extremity he calls the nobles to help Coriolanus, and says he could himself ‘take up a brace of the best of the plebeians.’ But his true strength lies rather in mental superiority; his excellence is that of a clever orator. . . . He manages the furious Coriolanus according to his nature, sparing while he blames him, cursing his unkindness, and excusing and praising him in a breath. With Coriolanus he takes the part of the people, on account of their placability, and with the people, that of Coriolanus. . . . When Coriolanus is banished he is civil and pliant towards the tribunes; when the exile advances towards Rome he is maliciously cheerful, and in return for this he has to suffer the malice of the Volscian guards when his eloquence has failed to persuade Coriolanus. In these last scenes the weaknesses of old age show themselves more plainly, and in the midst of them his nobler nature appears more distinctly. This is excellently depicted and will give the actor enough to do. The struggle in Coriolanus between proud indifference and a heart breaking under the effect of his friends' first entreaties; in Menenius between confidence and renewed disappointment, and, beneath the cloak of playfulness, the inward struggle between friend and country, and the resolve of the cheerful old man to end like a Roman—these are contradictions which it requires the utmost art to reconcile.—Kreyssig (i, 477): We are not, on the whole, prepared to accord such good taste to this senatorial joker as has been brought forward by many commentators and admirers of Shakespeare. With his narrow aristocratic perception, his unrestrained explosions of contempt for the people he owes his popularity principally to a negative peculiarity, to which we can only give a measurable admiration. He himself best gives us the secret of his art of a statesman. He thinks what he says and expends his wickedness by his tongue. The larger part of his strength consists in his weakness. It is openheartedness and his merry man-of-the-world manner that takes the sting from his pride of nobility. He is known, indeed, as a Patrician, but as a merry one; his small, lovable failings take the sting from his malice. We need not weigh the words of a man who cares more for a glass of heated wine than for one of Tiber water; and who has more to do with the posteriors of the night than the forehead of the morning. Thus his plebeian manners in part fill up the cleft which his fundamental aristocratic disposition created between him and the people.—Delius (Jahrbuch, xix, p. 37) points out that in nearly all the cases of friendship as portrayed by Shakespeare the friends are of nearly the same age; that there is thus a certain agreement in views and characteristics since the friends are on a like footing. ‘But quite otherwise,’ he continues, ‘must the connection be between an older man and a young one, and just such a relationship has Shakespeare set forth in that between Coriolanus and Menenius, one might say created, for Plutarch afforded him nothing in this direction. In Plutarch Menenius Agrippa appears as the well-meaning, pacifying senator, who quiets the people with his well-known fable, but otherwise has nothing to do with the younger Marcius. It remained for our poet to represent these two, of opposing personalities, firmly knit together in closest friendship. First of all Shakespeare shows them to us as friends on account of like political views, as patrician opponents of the plebeians, and the plebeian fickleness; only that Menenius clothes his opposition to them with the cloak of friendliness to the people, while Coriolanus in his passionate manner gives the roughest expression possible to his disgust for these innovators. Later in the course of the drama the personal connection between them is brought to light. Menenius defends his young friend from the charges of pride and spite which the Tribunes pronounce against him when returning from the field, and hardly knows how to act for admiration when he receives the joyful message of the victory and near approach of his beloved Marcius. When he hears only of the letter which Marcius has written to him and which awaits him at his house, he declares himself rejuvenated by seven years. Even the wounds which Marcius brings back are to his old friend quite in keeping, that is, if they be not too large, because wounds proclaim the hero, and with righteous pride he enumerates all those which his darling had up to this time borne.’—[The remaining portion of these remarks on the friendship of Menenius and Coriolanus is, for the most part, a discursive and somewhat verbose account of the scenes wherein they appear together; ending with the scene at the Volscian outposts which, as Delius says, is the final rupture of their friendship and a complete severance of all ties between them; they never met again. —Ed.]—Lloyd (ap. Singer, ii, p. 489): The pleasant old Senator has a contempt for the ‘beastly plebeians’ and the Tribunes their ‘herdsmen’ as hearty as Coriolanus, and even expresses it as plainly and as coarsely, and yet he remains acceptable to both, and has the character of having always loved the people, on the strength of the hearty joviality of his temperament, his tendency to ridicule rather than to revile, and it must be said, at bottom, so much esteem for the people that he does not consider his own individual dignity a counterbalance for the lives of the whole of them. We may note how his apologue [of the belly and the members] appears, from the character of his subsequent speech, to be the natural form into which his expressions of practical wisdom overflow; the spiritual world reveals itself to him in an incarnation of physical and material analogies, and his ideas willingly come abroad clothed in trope and metaphor of which homeliness seems to be a prime recommendation. The discussion in Rome is a rent that ‘must be patched with cloth of any color’; for the unpopular Marcius—‘The service of the foot (one of the members we before heard of) Being once gangrened, is not then respected For what it was before.’ The relentless Coriolanus is figured by ‘yond’ coign of the capitol, yond' corner-stone’; ‘there is a difference between a grub and a butterfly, yet your butterfly was a grub’—‘he no more remembers his mother now than an eight year old horse’;—‘Mark what mercy his mother shall bring from him: there is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger.’—C. C. Clarke (Sh. Characters, p. 479): Among the secondary characters in this play the most estimable, as well as the most interesting, is old Menenius, the Patrician and Senator. He forms an amiable link between the two orders; he is precisely the character a nobleman should be; wearing the insignia of his rank with a bland and easy dignity; gracefully condescending, and even familiar with the commonalty, sympathising with their wants, difficulties, and privations; and this gives him the privilege to speak to them with the authority of his longer experience, with better education and knowledge. This same sympathy, too, which they all recognise, gives him the warrant to visit their misconduct and their senseless waverings, their vacillations, irrational turbulence, and revolt, with an asperity they would ill bear from another who cared less for them and their destitute condition. It is observable that throughout all his displeasure and petulance against the mob Menenius never makes use of a cruel or even unkind speech: in his spleen he is sufficiently and humorously contemptuous; but we hear no such expression as the scoundrelly exultation of Coriolanus at the approaching war with the Volscians, when he says: ‘I am glad on't; then we shall have means to vent Our musty superfluity’; a speech admirably in character with one who considered the masses below him in the commonwealth only as so much material to build up his own pomp and ambition. Menenius has described his own nature and temper in that sparring scene between himself and the Tribunes of the People, Brutus and Sicinius. It is a happy display of a testy, wayward, and humorous old man, with a rich vein of kind-heartedness running through his testy temper. —Stapfer (p. 446): We might expect to find in Menenius Agrippa, as he plays the part of mediator between the Patricians and the Plebeians, a wise and moderate politician, equally removed from the extreme opinions of either party, a perfect man, in fact, like the Aristes and Cléantes in Molière, who are always softly and gravely insisting upon moderation in all things, and complain sadly of the unreasonableness of men. But Shakespeare is not wont to introduce these wellbalanced moralists into his scenes, whose whole knowledge consists in striking a balance between the false and the true. They are certainly not very entertaining personages; what interest they may possess is not of a dramatic kind, but belongs to them as monuments of Molière's courageous good sense, as the expression of a particular state of society, and of a particular period, in which reason was held in higher esteem than any other of the poetic faculties. . . . Shakespeare had a horror of the frightfully tiresome person of the reasonable and ratiocinative type. The laughter-moving diversity of the innumerable fools who play a part in the great human tragi-comedy is the stuff whereof he makes his plays; we need not, therefore, expect to meet with a sage philosopher in Menenius Agrippa. . . . Being what he is, it is easy to divine that he plays the part of mediator out of no feelings of calm conviction, or elevated sense of justice, and, in fact, the only reason of his setting his wits to work to reconcile the hostile parties is that he is a fat old fellow, who likes to be comfortable and able to empty his bottle in peace and quiet; and civil dissensions spoil a cup of hot wine even more than many drops of Tiber water. In the quarrel of the other members with the stomach it was greatly to his interest, as part and parcel of the stomach, to re-establish order as soon as possible, and it may be fairly conjectured that the idea of his fable was suggested to him by the hindrances thrown in the way of his ease and good living. . . . But his character is shown most clearly, with his vanity, his fund of good humour, his lively inconsequent sallies, and his fussy airs as a hard worked patriot, after the blow has fallen and Coriolanus has turned traitor to Rome. Half a dozen times he repeats to the Tribunes: ‘You have made good work’; in the midst of the general consternation he takes a satirical pleasure in their political humiliation, and though it is not a time for laughter, he still, like an incorrigible jester, continues to pour out his jokes. . . . Shakespeare's Menenius Agrippa is a good-hearted man in the main, but of no real worth morally or even intellectually, in spite of his celebrated fable.—C. Taylor (Shakespeare Gallery, p. 68): To analyse the character of Menenius we should advert to his Courage, which never once forsakes him, even amid dangers whose termination is utterly unforeseen: many men can boldly face an enemy in the field, who would shrink before an armed and tumultuous populace; many can risque dangers in concert with others, who when alone consult and obey timidity under the spacious name of prudence. . . . Courage, in such persons, appears a varying quality, a flashing flame, rather than a steady light; but the courage of Menenius is uniform: he speaks plainly to the people and plainly to Coriolanus, neither dreads the headstrong rashness of the former nor the fierce sallies of the latter; his judgment sees the path proper to be pursued, and his courage prompts him clearly to deliver his opinion in advising it. But his courage is not of that cast which repulses the union of other Virtues; his Prudence and Management no less merit observation than his courage: he makes free with himself when about to make free with others; qualifies, by a general oddity of remark and expression, the severity of those sarcasms which he has in reserve; humorously descants on his own private character, and by his eccentric and jocose treatment of himself induces us to admit with less scrutiny his reflections on others. . . . We see no starts of passion in Menenius, no sudden hurricane transports him to excess, but one even tenor of mind and sentiment accompanies him: ruffled only as accidents ruffle it, but never outrageous or turbulent. Sensible of injuries in his own person or in that of his friend, but seeking no illicit mode of gratifying revenge. Ever desirous of seeing the most cheerful side of things, and rather yielding to the impulse of joy than to the melancholy of dejection, he preserves that moderation which readily finds opportunities in circumstances around it, and equally readily improves them.—Page (Introd., p. 22): Menenius is perhaps the most complicated, the most difficult to analyse, in some respects the most Shakespearian of all the characters in the play. He sometimes reminds us of Coriolanus. He has the same contempt for the ‘rabble,’ the same indignation and impatience at the thought of their interfering in the government of the state, he often tells them his mind in pretty plain language, but his objurations are milder, less frequent, and less insulting; he stoops to reason with them, and endeavors to enlighten their understanding by parables. To gain certain ends he sees no harm in flattering and cajoling the common people according to ‘the custom’ of the country. He shows considerable diplomatic skill in his efforts to reconcile Coriolanus and the plebeians, or at least to prevent their discordant natures from breaking out into open rupture; but this almost impossible task is beyond his powers, and he fails, as perhaps every one else would have done. He tries his hand again in the attempt to negotiate between the terrified Romans and Coriolanus in the camp of the Volsces. Though he has great confidence of obtaining at least a favourable reception, and explains Cominius’ brusque dismissal to want of tact, his mission, from the very nature of the case, results in an immediate and ignominious failure. His undertaking was one in which success was possible to only one person in the whole world—Volumnia. His language is pithy and sententious; he possesses a vein of dry humour which reminds us of Jacques is As You Like It. His fable of the Belly and the Members is one of the most striking features in the play; it is apt in substance and couched in quaint and characteristic language. Almost every speech of Menenius illustrates this point. He possesses a warm and faithful heart. He loves and admires Coriolanus, who calls him ‘father’ and ‘old and true Menenius.’ . . . Coriolanus loves him in return. ‘You know the very road into his kindness,’ says Brutus, and Coriolanus’ own language shows us that Menenius was dear to him.—Brooke (p. 227): Menenius is the old and jovial aristocrat who loves a cup of hot wine and adores a hero like Coriolanus; hasty in temper, but keeping no malice, and in politics eager for moderate counsels; bluff of speech because he is old and because of his class-contempt for the people, which contempt he generally modifies into good-humoured attacks on their follies. He is endured, but seen through, by the tribunes of the people—‘Come, sir, come, we know you well enough.’ A thorough patrician, who yet desires to be hail-fellowwell-met with the people; who has among them the fame of caring for them, but who does not really care for their wrongs in comparison with the smallest right the patricians claim; the prosperous conservative, quite ready to help the people provided the people are kept down. The possibility of any democratic change never enters his mind. The world of Rome will always go on as it is now. You may as well, he says to the citizens, ‘Strike at the heavens with your staves as lift them Against the Roman state.’ The patricians, the senate, are the centre of Rome; if the centre be weakened the people will perish—and he tells his story of the belly and the rebellious members of the body. ‘But we are perishing now,’ they say, ‘and the nobility are the cause.’ ‘Wait, keep quiet, don't disturb the state, all will soon be quite comfortable. The one thing needful is no change. All your good comes from the patricians.’ When change has been wrought, and he hears that Tribunes have been granted, he does not understand it. ‘This is strange,’ he says. Then when further change is wrought, and Coriolanus is banished, Menenius accepts the Tribunes and the change; and then, when Rome turns against the Tribunes, throws himself back into the old position. His conservatism is permanent opportunism. However, at this early point of the play (in his belief in the everlasting continuance of the state as it is) the blindness of this Roman Polonius is clear though he seems so wise. Coriolanus sees twice as far just because his hatred of the people opens his eyes. He knows, when the Tribunes are given to the people, that the predominance of his class is doomed. Hatred, often blind, is sometimes keen-eyed. There are many instances of the blindness of Menenius, of the clear sight of Coriolanus. Here is one. Menenius is the slave of custom; Coriolanus is not. One of the touches of the play nearest to his character is where his pride, and in this case his intelligence, overcomes his conservatism, and he throws precedent overboard, ‘Custom calls me to 't:
What custom wills, in all things should we do 't,
The dust on antique time would lie unswept,
And mountainous error be too highly heap'd
For truth to o'er-peer.’
That is not the conservative position. Menenius cannot agree with him; Coriolanus must follow all the precedents of the past. Again and again he implores him for temperate conduct, and the battle in his mind between love and admiration for Coriolanus and disapproval of his uncontrolled choler is excellently drawn by Shakespeare. Yet, while he disapproves and is even weary of the furious temper of his friend, he hates the people the more because they attack his friend. From the moment the battle is set in array till the banishment of Coriolanus no one is harder on the people than Menenius. No Philippe Égalité is to be trusted. The traditions of their class are stronger than their popular good nature. —Verity (Student's Sh.): Menenius illustrates, more than any other character in Shakespeare that occurs to me, how a seed of suggestion will fructify in Shakespeare's imagination. All that Plutarch says about Menenius is that he was ‘chief man’ of the embassy of ‘the pleasantest old men and the most acceptable to the people’ who were sent by the Senate to remonstrate with them after their secession to the Mons Sacer outside Rome; that he used successfully ‘many good persuasions and gentle requests to the people’; and ended with his ‘notable tale’ of the belly and the other members of the body.—MacCallum (p. 498): In the drama Menenius is undoubtedly the chief of the young man's [Coriolanus] friends as well as one of the most prominent persons; and what has Plutarch to say about him? He is introduced only in connection with the fable which he tells the seceders to the Holy Hill, and, apart from the fable, all that we hear of him is confined to a few sentences. . . . Even the few particulars given Shakespeare alters or neglects. It is not to the secessionists on the Mons Sacer, but to a street mob in Rome, that the fable is told. It not merely serves to lubricate in advance the negotiations that result in the Tribunate, but effectually discomfits the murmurers, and Menenius learns only subsequently and to his surprise that the Senate has meanwhile conceded the political innovation. There is no hint in Plutarch of his being himself one of the Patricians, and if Shakespeare glanced at Holland's Livy he would see that, in point of fact, tradition assigned to him a plebeian origin. Above all, he has no dealings whatever with Marcius, and, according to Livy, died a year before his banishment. Plutarch thus furnishes hardly anything for the portrait of the man, and nothing at all for his relations with the hero.
 Sicinius Velutus, . . . Junius Brutus Gervinus (p. 765): The Tribunes, in their mean, intolerant, strutting pride of office, are striking contrasts to Coriolanus's grand pride of action. As upstarts they set up as high pretensions as Coriolanus without his capacity; they show themselves in the settling of small matters as impatient and violent as he does in great things and from great motives; they place their petty ambition on the obeisance of the populace, whilst their eyes could not even reach to the height of his ambitious projects; opposed to his valour is their unwarlike disposition; opposed to his openness and straightforwardness are their desperate intrigues, and their lying in wait for the expression of his pride and fury, which will be his ruin; opposed to his bold abuse of the people is the aptness with which they lead the populace as they please, and know how to keep themselves free from blame.—C. C. Clarke (Sh. Characters, p. 483): Sicinius and Brutus are thorough specimens of a brace of vulgar demagogues. In their very first scene they manifest the grudging envy, the malignant spirit which actuates them against Marcius; and their vile nature exposes itself in the low motives they attribute to him. They are constantly on the watch for opposition and vexatious objection. They meanly incite the people and prompt them into animosity against him. They take advantage of his defects of temper—his irascible and tornado disposition—to urge him into self-destruction. They do this with the cunning of little minds and the unscrupulousness of base politicians. It is principally their venting their splenetic remarks behind his back which gives so hateful an effect to their comments; had they urged their objections to his face they might, and they ought to, have commanded attention, for there is truth in what they adduce of his overweening pride. It is their hole-and-corner plotting and scheming, as well as animadverting surreptitiously, which imparts so dastardly a character to their movements, by not daring to impeach him openly, betraying their sense that they cannot do so with strict justice. The unfairness with which these factionmongers proceed is indicated in strong colours where they order the man, who brings the unwelcome news that the Volsces are marching upon Rome, ‘to be whipped,’ accusing him of having raised the report for mere party purpose. One exclaims: ‘Nothing but his report!’ and the other, on hearing the addition that Marcius is said to lead the Volscian power, rejoins ‘Rais'd only that the weaker sort may wish
God Marcius home again.
Sicin. The very trick on't!’
Ay, precisely the kind of trick that these gentry were well versed in; the trick of spreading false reports to stir popular excitement. No wonder they suspected it to be a hatched rumour, and ordered the fellow who promulgated it to be forthwith scourged. No one better than they could estimate his desert.—Oechelhaüser (Einführungen, i, 292): As individuals Brutus and Sicinius cannot be distinguished one from the other. Only once before has Shakespeare with his abundant wealth of character invention portrayed with evident design two similar parallel figures, that is to say, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, although these two perhaps stand in the moral scale a little higher than our two Tribunes. Both these pairs of villains likewise have this in common: they are characterised for the most part as types, not as individuals, which is somewhat unusual in Shakespeare. Taken together Brutus and Sicinius are one and the same man; the poet was obliged to separate them only that he might create and bring out their train of thought in the form of dialogue. The closest investigation fails in deciding which of the two, Brutus or Sicinius, bears away the palm for baseness. If we examine critically who particularly of all the characters in the tragedy for the most part misprise and abuse the people, it will be found that not Coriolanus or the other patricians, but the Tribunes of the People are directly to blame. In them is united every criterion of human underhandedness: hatred and malice towards everything great and noble, ingratitude, hypocrisy, and cowardice, resorting to the basest means to attain their own selfish ends. With diabolical calculation on his weakness they hound Coriolanus to his death, and while denouncing him as a traitor they push him into the arms of treason itself. His aristocratic pride and his measureless impetuosity are no mitigating circumstances for these two, who, reckoning on these weaknesses, instigate him to treason. Coriolanus's lack of restraint will excuse the hostile attitude of the people—to a certain extent justify it—but it will not excuse that of the Tribunes. The parts of these two are generally represented on the stage as too harmless; in both these Tribunes there glows a spark of devilish villainy. Their representation cannot be entrusted to secondary talent, since the rôles demand a large versatility, and the individuality must be finely wrought out if the poet's design is to be clearly brought to light. In the first place, a base ambition and measureless vanity dominate their bearing. To the people they are the most humane friends, the superzealous servants of their wishes, smiles and hand shakes are common to them. In the presence of Coriolanus they seek to demonstrate the value of their office, act the parts of acknowledgers and well-wishers, but therewith goad him with pin-pricks until he lays himself more and more open to attack, which thus gives countenance to their charges against him.—Cholmeley (Introd., xiii.): The Tribunes, though legendary persons, bear names well known in Rome, and Brutus is supposed to be a descendant of the husband of Lucretia and overthrower of Tarquin.—MacCallum (p. 500): [In Plutarch's account of the Tribunate] Brutus is only once named, and nothing is said of his disposition or ways. Even of Sicinius, who is more conspicuous, we only read that he was ‘the cruellest and stowtest’ of the two. But it is less their character than their policy that occupies Plutarch, and even their policy is presented in an ambiguous light. They are described as the only authors of the rising which culminated in the exodus from the city; but with that exodus Plutarch, on the whole, seems to sympathise. They are described as ‘seditious tribunes’ when they oppose the colonisation of Velitræ and the renewal of the war; but Plutarch shows they had good grounds for doing so. Even their action against Coriolanus for opposing the grant of corn and advocating the abolition of their office was, from their own point of view and perhaps from any point of view, perfectly legitimate. We can only say that in the measures they took they were violent and unscrupulous. Yet when we consider the bitterness of party feeling and the exigencies of public life, they seem no worse than many statesmen who have been accounted great. Even their overt policy then is more respectable than that of Shakespeare's pair of demagogues, and, of course, it is Shakespeare who has created, or all but created, for them their vulgar but life-like characters.
 Young Marcius Thümmel (Jahrbuch, x, 14): In an exposition dealing with Shakespeare's Feminine Ideals this young Marcius has been singled out for affectionate mention, and extolled not only as a child drawn from the very marrow of Rome but also in himself the ideal child among the Shakespearian children. I am heartily sorry that I am not able to share in this great admiration for the boy. Valeria, the family friend, finds in him all that is most lovable, according to the wont of all chattering gossips, and what she praises as a mark of his determination seems to me but a savour of the wickedness of a little destroyer of animals [I, iii, 64-68]. The praise of his grandmother, who knows nothing in the world greater than her son Coriolanus, the arch-warrior, characterises the little urchin as the portrait of his father, especially as a warrior in miniature, and if he speaks to his father in the Volscian camp of his future heroic deeds—concerning which the history is for us quite silent—it only sounds more like the bluster of a stripling who has not had enough of the rod.
 Tullus Aufidius Taylor (Sh. Gallery, p. 246): In a general view Tullus serves as a foil to Coriolanus, and being in many degrees his rival, yet on the whole his inferior, being also covert instead of open, ambiguous instead of plain, and rather choosing to wear the mask of conspiracy than the genuine countenance of enmity, he contrasts, with great effect, the conspicuous failings of the hero of the piece, and produces a regret at the success of his machinations; since, if such a punishment was properly due, justice, not malevolence, ought to have inflicted it, it should not have been the office of Tullus Aufidius.—C. C. Clarke (Sh. Characters, p. 480): The character of Tullus Aufidius is well placed in opposition with that of Coriolanus. It is no vulgar foil, no bald contrast, but it is superficially bright only. Beneath a show of martial eminence, which fits him to be the hero's antagonist, he possesses a low soul, which places him intrinsically beneath the great Roman. Where Coriolanus is proud, Aufidius is ambitious; where Coriolanus is loftily self-conscious, Aufidius is aspiring by self-seeking. Exteriorly Tullus forms no unworthy rival in arms with Caius Marcius, but interiorly, morally, he is immeasurably below him. With his usual delicacy, but vigour of delineation, the poet has depicted this from first to last. At the very outset we behold Tullus burning with desire to cope with Marcius, and to win some share of that warlike renown for which he is famous. He has a fever of military jealousy upon him which has its hot and its cold fits. He is seized with one of the latter on finding that Coriolanus is under his own roof, a poor and banished man; finding his great rival thus within his power, it allays his thirst of competition, and substitutes in its place a complacent feeling of patronage, which takes the appearance of chivalrous sentiment. But this impulse soon passes, and his old professional jealousy is rekindled at the first view of Coriolanus's reinstation in command. His vulgar nature cannot bear the sight of the other's pre-eminence; and this perpetual consciousness of inferiority goads him with ever sharper desire to attain superior rank. It makes him basely rejoice when he beholds Coriolanus give way to the pleading of his mother and his wife; it impels him to the villainy of working his downfall; it urges him to treachery and murder—crime. As an instance of Shakespeare's subtlety in drawing these moral portraitures it is to be observed that Aufidius, even at the best of his behaviour towards his noble rival, when he receives him with kindliness at his house at Antium, always addresses him as ‘Caius Marcius’; and the secret rankling which prompted the name is betrayed in open avowal where he subsequently calls him so, and the other exclaiming ‘Marcius!’ he retorts: ‘Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius; dost thou think I'll grace thee with that robbery, thy stolen name Coriolanus in Corioli?’ It is in the moral inferiority of Tullus Aufidius, thus subtly drawn, that Shakespeare has presented him as an effective opposite to the principal character.—Gervinus (p. 765): The prevailing difference, which raises Coriolanus high above Tullus, is that he is of nobler nature, that in his bitterness of feeling he is seized by an unnatural enmity against his country, but he returns to his better nature; whereas Tullus is naturally malicious, and is flattered by the need of his enemy thus fleeing to him for protection; he forms an unnatural friendship with him, and then returns to his deceitful spite in the conspiracy against Coriolanus. —Viehoff (Jahrbuch, iv, p. 50): The basic foundations of such a character as Aufidius must lie either in similarity to those of the protagonist or must be contrasted with them, since not mere dissimilarity but similarity and contrast inciteeye and imagination to comparative observation of such figures. According to this formula Shakespeare has created the character of Aufidius. He is the pride of the Volscians as Coriolanus is the celebrated hero of the Romans. As Aufidius is the enemy most dreaded by the Romans, Coriolanus is the one most feared by the Volscians. Virgilia implores heaven to protect her husband in the presence of the ruthless Aufidius. Volumnia thinks of him as the man from whom, before all others, her son may win renown. Coriolanus himself pays him the highest praise and even maintains that were he not himself he would wish to be Aufidius. He is of the same heroic mould as Coriolanus, and in him likewise patriotism outweighs both love of deeds and love of fame; he says: ‘I would I were a Roman, for I cannot, Being a Volsce, be that I am’ (I, x, 6, 7). But even as Homer is careful that the excellent Hector shall not grow above the greatness of Achilles, in like manner Shakespeare represents the heroic mood and strength of Aufidius related, indeed, to that of Coriolanus, but in secondary rank. The fight between the two heroes serves to this end to the smallest details; and just as Aufidius admits the superiority of Coriolanus, his own servants express the same view without any subterfuge. More than this, since these related characteristics bring out the contrasts in both characters, they assure to Coriolanus the major interest of the onlookers.—Hudson (Sh's Life, Art, etc., ii, 487): Tullus Aufidius makes a very effective foil to Coriolanus, the contrast between them being pressed forward in just the right way to show off the vein of true nobleness which there is in the latter. He has all the pride and passionateness of the hero without any of his gratitude and magnanimity. In Coriolanus the spirit of rivalry and emulation never passes the bounds of honour; in the other it turns to downright personal envy and hate. The hero glories in him as an antagonist, and loves to whip him in fair fight, but is far above all thought of ruining him or stabbing him in the dark. The shocking speech of Aufidius, in the first scene where he appears after the taking of Corioli, is a skilful forecast and premonition of his transport of baseness at the close.— Oechelhaüser (i, 294): What I have said in regard to the frequent unsatisfactory casting of the parts of the Tribunes will apply in greater degree to that of Aufidius, which is customarily entrusted to the juvenile leading man or the lover. This is utterly wrong. Aufidius is a character-part which must be assigned with great carefulness. There is, moreover, no motive to represent Aufidius as actually younger than Coriolanus; such, on the contrary, places in the way of the representation of the rôle extraordinary difficulties. Generally speaking, all the rôles in Coriolanus are so clearly drawn that the actor can hardly go wrong in the proper conception of each one; but that of Aufidius is not so clear. His treacherous nature is first made manifest at the end of the tragedy; his reception of Coriolanus bears the marks of genuine pleasure and heartiness. The fault of such a misconception of the actor or the public can only be ascribed to the omission, by the majority of adapters, of the last scene of Act I, which Shakespeare, as I firmly believe, has added solely for the characteristic speech of Aufidius. So little doubtful is it that this was the design of the poet is shown by his not finding in Plutarch at this point of the action any indication of Aufidius's treacherous thrusts at Coriolanus. Here is set forth the innermost designs of Aufidius, to which he remains unbrokenly true to the very end, that is, by every means, honourable or dishonourable, to destroy Coriolanus; at the altar, even under the protection of the host's hearth, he would murder him. Were this outburst of treacherous, ignoble rage but directed against his great vanquisher, then the scene in the house of Aufidius could most assuredly be shown as a real heartfelt welcome, especially as there is not sufficient means given to the actor to make clear to the audience the complete hypocrisy and artificiality of this reception by means of tone of voice and exaggerated evidences of amity. So, and not otherwise, is this reception of Coriolanus to be understood and represented. In Aufidius is personified by the poet the craft and treachery which, for the most part, characterise the conduct of war and politics of the Volscians. He is false through and through. He accepts Coriolanus as a friend not altogether from good nature—one with whom he later by chance falls out—but with the preconceived traitorous design to make use of him in his own interest against Rome and then insidiously, as he had sworn, to cast him aside. His whole behaviour towards Coriolanus is a subtle dissimulation, until in the final scene he throws aside the mask and the hero falls under the daggers of those incited by Aufidius. Only the final words of Aufidius addressed to the corpse of Coriolanus should be conceived as the expression of remorse, the moral reaction, and accordingly so uttered. In the fourth and fifth Acts Aufidius must make effective use of by-play in order that his falseness to Coriolanus may constantly be kept in evidence; in the last Act the captain attending him may be used effectively to this end.—Page (Introd., p. 23): Tullus Aufidius is a rash, hasty, impetuous man, completely under the guidance of impulse. This view of his character accounts for more of his actions and his speeches. He is a brave and able general, but his ardent desire to vie with Coriolanus makes him think more of a personal combat with his rival than of the prudent management of the war as a whole. His language is usually violent and hyperbolical. His hatred for Coriolanus is expressed in unmeasured terms. When worsted by him as a general he uses the most frightful imprecations against him, vowing vengeance in highly inflated sentences. . . . Aufidius is as impulsive in his friendship as in his hate. When Coriolanus comes to him at Antium after his banishment from Rome, Aufidius receives his great rival with open arms and ‘a thousand welcomes,’ and declares him more a friend than ever an enemy. Nor have we any reason to consider these protestations as insincere; Aufidius' friendship is thoroughly genuine, but short lived.—Mönch (Jahrbuch, xlii, p. 146): Both Coriolanus and Aufidius appear alike in the passionate incitement of their natures, boiling over in the effort to predominate or to be of great account, impatient of every opposition to self-advancement. With each the devotion to the welfare of his country is alloyed with a large amount of egotism. But the Roman will rise through external opposition; the Volscian, through internal prejudice. The former desires before all else his own way; the latter, his own individual honour. Their dispositions are, indeed, as far asunder as pretentious pride and sensitive ambition. Or if not as far as obstinacy and irresolution (which would be saying too much), yet as obstinate steadfastness and lax unsteadfastness. Coriolanus likewise does not escape powerful crises and overthrows, yet he remains true to his own nature; he is twice unfaithful to the cause which he serves, and both times allows himself to be deeply moved by the accusation of ‘Traitor’; Aufidius becomes a traitor to his comrade gradually through smallness of mind. The former succumbs to his own supermanhood, the latter—if only morally—to his own quest for greatness. The contrast is certainly plain enough, if it be not so elementary as directness and craft, as the honorable man and the rogue, as the hero and the poltroon. The poet has delicate colours on his pallet.—MacCallum (p. 502): The chief features of Aufidius' character and the story of its development, the emulation that is dislodged by generosity, the generosity that is submerged in envy, were already supplied for Shakespeare's use [by Plutarch]. But the darker lines are lacking in the earlier picture. There is neither the unscrupulous rancour in his initial relations with Marcius that Shakespeare attributes to them nor the hypocritical pretense at the close. Plutarch does not bring the contrast with Coriolanus to a head. And in connection with this it should be observed that Tullus appears late and intervenes only incidentally. Less than a sentence is spared to his earlier antagonism with Coriolanus, nor is he present in the march on Rome, or during the siege. And this is typical of Plutarch's treatment of all the subordinate persons. They enter for a moment and are dismissed. But in Shakespeare they accompany the action throughout, and do this in such a way that they illustrate and influence the career of the hero, and have their own characters and careers illustrated and influenced by him. They are all, even young Marcius by description, introduced in the first four scenes, with an indication of their general peculiarities and functions, and with the single exception of Titus Lartius they continue to reappear almost to the end.
 Volumnia See Appendix: Volumnia.
 Virgilia Ruskin (Sesame and Lilies, II, § 56) declares that Shakespeare has no heroes, only heroines. There is scarcely a play that has not a perfect woman in it. ‘Virgilia is perhaps loveliest of all.’ Again in Proserpina, II, i (5), he speaks of Virgilia as the ‘perfect type of wife and mother, but without definiteness of character, nor quite strength of intellect enough entirely to hold her husband's heart. Else she had saved him: he would have left Rome in his wrath—but not her. Therefore it is his mother only that bends him: but she cannot save him.’ [See also note by Ruskin, II, i, 187.]—Viehoff (Jahrbuch, iv, p. 53): As a foil to the dominating womanly figure of Volumnia and likewise to Coriolanus, the poet has placed beside them Virgilia. The towering figure of the heroic mother-in-law and that of the stormy, unbending husband raise themselves in the presence of this womanly tender, silent, sensitive being so much the more strikingly. But tender as Virgilia seems, her character is yet rooted in firm soil, and holds her ground in what she judges fitting for herself, unmoved by the will of her dominant motherin-law, just as she quietly but firmly opposes her Roman feminine will to the obstinacy of her husband in the great scene of the fifth Act.—Oechelhaüser (Einführungen, i, 297): Virgilia should be young and fair, pale and mild, thoroughlymaidenly in bearing, speech and behaviour, all of ‘those dove's eyes That can make gods forsworn.’ But with all this her yielding nature must not seem unstable weakness. In the first Act she shows herself quite as determined to withstand the appeals of her mother-in-law and her friend, as she shows herself a Roman woman in the last Act. Virgilia's by-play must be wrought out with highest skill and, especially in the scene of welcome, the farewell scene, and the great persuasion scene of the last act, this last demands a very skilful interplay with that of Coriolanus. —Brooke (p. 244): Virgilia is as quiet as a forest lake. She will not leave the house while Coriolanus is away. The streets or shows of Rome shall not see her till he returns, and she is firm as a rock in this. A steadfast resolvedness attends on her quietness. Silence is her chief speech. All through the play she scarcely speaks. Yet she is alive before us. Only the greatest artist could, with a few touches here and there, placed exactly where they should be, and in fitness to their place, paint a whole character with such force and livingness that she remains forever clear, forever interesting. Shakespeare had done this for Cordelia; he does it again for Virgilia. When Volumnia praises the battle-rage of Coriolanus, and extols his blood and wounds, Virgilia cries: ‘His bloody brow! Oh, Jupiter, no blood! . . . Heaven bless my lord from fell Aufidius!’ And we know her heart from that moment. When Coriolanus meets her on his triumphant return from Corioli, he meets her with this word: ‘My gracious silence, hail!’ And we seem to see in the tender words, and in the admiration of ‘My gracious silence,’ the secret married life and love of Virgilia and her stormy husband. All through the long talk of Volumnia with the senators and Coriolanus about the consulship Virgilia does not say one word. The only time she breaks out into speech is against the Tribunes after the banishment of her husband, and her strong words then are sufficiently motived by the occasion. Twice only does she speak in that great scene when with his mother she comes to plead for Rome, and the secret depths and even fierceness of her Roman nature are shown in the force and tenderness with which she urges her right as wife and mother on her husband. ‘Thou shalt tread,’ says Volumnia, ‘if thou march to Rome, upon thy mother's womb.’ ‘Virgilia. Ay, and mine, that brought you forth this boy.’ (The words of Volumnia are Plutarch's; Virgilia's, Shakespeare's.) Only long silence can concentrate so much into a few words! And we hear of her no more.—MacCallum (p. 566): Virgilia takes comparatively little pleasure in the brilliance of Coriolanus's career and is more concerned for his life than for his glory. When Volumnia recalls how she sent him forth as a lad to win honour, Virgilia's heart pictures his possible death, and would that have been compensated? For she loves in the first place not the hero but the husband, and her love makes her timorous. She has none of her mother-in-law's assurance that his prowess is without match and beyond comparison. When ‘wondrous things’ are told of him how characteristic are their respective comments: ‘Virgilia. The gods grant them true! Volumnia. True! pow, wow!’ How differently they feel about his contest with his rival: ‘Virgilia. Heaven bless my lord from fell Aufidius! Volumnia. He'll beat Aufidius' head below his knee And tread upon his neck.’ So she shrinks from the thoughts of blood and wounds over which Volumnia gloats, and trembles at the dangers of the campaign. Devoured by suspense, she is in no mood to meet the ordinary social claims on her rank and sex, but shuts herself up within her four walls, and wears out the time over household tasks. Her seclusion and the attempts to draw her from it must not be misunderstood. They have sometimes been taken as pictures of domestic narrow-mindedness, on the one hand, and callous frivolity on the other. But frivolity is unthinkable in Volumnia; we may be sure she would never advise or do anything unbefitting the Roman matron. And it is quite opposed to the impression Valeria produces; we may be sure she would never suggest it. In Plutarch's story it is she who proposes and urges the deputation of women to Coriolanus, and though Shakespeare, to suit his own purpose, transfers by implication the credit of this to Volumnia, Plutarch's statement was enough to prevent him from transforming the true authoress of the idea into the fashionable gadabout that some critics have alleged her to be. On the contrary, with him she calls forth the most purely poetical passage in the whole play, and she does so by the vestal dignity and severity of her character. Coriolanus greets her in the camp: ‘The noble sister of Publicola,
The moon of Rome; chaste as the icicle
That's curdied by the frost from purest snow,
And hangs on Dian's temple: dear Valeria!’
The woman to whom this splendid compliment is paid by one who never speaks otherwise than he thinks is assuredly no more obnoxious than Volumnia herself to the charge of levity. They are both great high-hearted Roman ladies who do not let their private or public solicitudes interfere with their customary social routine, and Valeria visits her friend to cheer her in her anxiety, as she would have her, in turn, visit and comfort their common acquaintance. But Virgilia is cast in a gentler mould, though neither is she lacking in character, spirit, and magnanimity. Of course, she is not an aggressive woman, and she feels that the home is the place for her. She speaks seldom, and when she does her words are few. It is typical that she greets her husband when he returns a victor with no articulate welcome, but with her more eloquent tears. He addresses her in half humorous, half tender reproach, ‘My gracious silence, hail!’ A wonderful touch that comes from a wonderful insight. It may well be asked, as it has been asked, how Shakespeare knew that Virgilia's heart was too full for words. But with all this, she shows abundant resolution, readiness, and patriotism. She is adamant to the commands of her imperious mother-in-law and the entreaties of her insistent friend when they urge her to break her self-imposed retirement. She too has her rebuke for the insolent Tribunes. Above all, she, too, plays her part in turning Coriolanus from his revenge. In that scene, after her wont, she does not say much, less than two lines in all, that serve to contain the simple greeting and the quick answer to her husband's warning that he no longer sees things as he did: ‘The sorrow that delivers us thus changed Makes you think so.’ But who shall say that ‘those dove's eyes Which can make gods forsworn’ did not shed their influence on his mother's demand, and help him to break his vindictive vow. Remember, too, that the sacrifice this implied would mean more to her than to Volumnia, for though she likewise can dedicate what she holds dearest on the altar of her country, her affections, her home, Marcius as an individual, bulk more largely in her life. And if she loves him, we see how fondly he loves her. More than once or twice he alludes to his happiness as bridegroom, husband, and father. When she appears before him, his ejaculations and the tenderness of his appeal, ‘Best of my flesh, forgive my tyranny,’ speak volumes, in a mouth like his, for the keenness of his affection. To express the bliss that he feels in the salute of re-union this hero-lover can find analogues only in his banishment and his vengeance: ‘O! a kiss
Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!
Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss
I carried from thee, dear, and my true lip
Hath virgin'd it e'er since.’
This woman then with her love and sweetness, that strike such responsive chords in the rude breast of her lord, is apparently well fitted to smooth the harshness of his dealings with his fellow-men; and this would seem all the more likely since her gentleness is not of that flabby kind that cannot hold or bind, but is strengthened by firmness of will and largeness of feeling. All the same, she exerts no influence whatever before the very end on her husband's public life or even on his general character, because she has no interest in or aptitude for concerns of his busy practical career. She has chosen her own orbit in her home, and her love has no desire to step beyond.—A. C. Bradley (Coriolanus, p. 18): Ruskin, whose terms of praise and blame were never overcautious, wrote of Virgilia as ‘perhaps the loveliest of Shakespeare's characters.’ Others have described her as a shrinking submissive being, afraid of the very name of a wound, and much given to tears. This description is true; and, I may remark in passing, it is pleasant to remember that the hero's letter to his mother contained a full account of his wounds, while his letter to his wife did not mention them at all. But the description of these critics can hardly be the whole truth about a woman who inflexibly rejects the repeated invitations of her formidable mother-in-law and her charming friend to leave her house; who later does what she can to rival Volumnia in rating the Tribunes; and who at last quietly seconds her assurance that Coriolanus shall only enter Rome over her body. Still these added traits do not account for the indefinable impression which Ruskin received (if he did not rightly interpret it) and which thousands of readers share. It comes in part from that kind of muteness in which Virgilia resembles Cordelia, and which is made to suggest a world of feeling in reserve. And in part it comes from the words of her husband. His greeting when he returns from the war and she stands speechless before him, and his exclamation when he sees her approaching at their last meeting and speaks first of her and not of Volumnia.—J. M. Murry (London Mercury, Feb., 1922, p. 388): Of all the characters in Coriolanus one alone can be said to be truly congenial; and she is the least substantial of them all. Virgilia, Coriolanus's wife, though she is present throughout the whole of four scenes, speaks about a hundred words. But a sudden, direct light is cast upon her by a phrase which takes our breath with beauty when Coriolanus welcomes her on his triumphant return as ‘My gracious silence!’ Magical words! They give a miraculous substance to our fleeting, fading glimpses of a lovely vision which seems to tremble away from the clash of arms and pride that reverberates through the play. Behind the disdainful warrior and his Amazonian mother, behind the vehement speech of this double Lucifer, the exquisite, timid spirit of Virgilia shrinks out of sight into the haven of her quiet home. One can almost hear the faint click of the door behind her as it shuts her from the noise of brawling tongues. Yet in her presence, and in the memory of her presence, Coriolanus becomes another and a different being. It is true we may listen in vain for other words so tender as ‘My gracious silence!’ from his lips. A man who has one love alone finds only one such phrase in a lifetime. But in the heat of victorious battle, when Coriolanus would clasp Cominius in his arms for joy, he discovers in himself another splendid phrase to remember his happiness with Virgilia: ‘Oh! let me clip ye
In arms as sound as when I woo'd, in heart
As merry, as when our nuptial day was done
And tapers burned to bedward.’
And even in the anguish of the final struggle between his honour and his heart, when his wife comes with his mother to intercede for Rome, it is in the very accents of passionate devotion that he cries to Virgilia: ‘Best of my flesh!
Forgive my tyranny; but do not say
For that, “Forgive our Romans,” O! a kiss
Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge!
Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss
I carried from thee, dear, and my true lip
Hath virgin'd it e'er since.’
In the proud, unrelenting man of arms these sudden softenings are wonderful. They conjure up the picture of a more reticent and self-suppressed Othello, and we feel that to strike to the heart through Coriolanus's coat of mail it needed an unfamiliar beauty of soul, a woman whose delicate nature stood untouched apart from the broils and furies of her lord's incessant battling with the Roman people or the enemies of Rome.