How we cite our quotes:
I say unto you, what he hath done famously, he did
it to that end: though soft-conscienced men can be
content to say it was for his country he did it to
please his mother and to be partly proud; which he
is, even till the altitude of his virtue. (1.1.36-40)
Nobody denies that Coriolanus has performed a great military service for Rome. There is, however, a big debate about what motivates Coriolanus to achieve so much on the battlefield. Here, a Citizen accuses Coriolanus of doing it all to "please his mother" and not because he loves Rome or cares about the common people. Translation: Coriolanus is nothing but a mama's boy.
You are transported by calamity
Thither where more attends you, and you slander
The helms o' the state, who care for you like fathers,
When you curse them as enemies. (1.1.75-79)
When the starving Citizens riot against the patricians and accuse them of hoarding Rome's food supply, Menenius claims that the people have got it all wrong. See, the patricians love them and take care of them, just like "fathers" take care of their children. Uh, maybe. Or maybe Menenius is just a big liar because the patricians don't seem to care about the plebeians at all. Or maybe, in Coriolanus, parents can't be counted on to take care of and nurture their kids—which means that the patricians are like parents to the plebeians. You know, bad parents.
Away, you fool! it more becomes a man Than gilt his trophy: the breasts of Hecuba, When she did suckle Hector, look'd not lovelier Than Hector's forehead when it spit forth blood At Grecian sword, contemning. (1.3.39-43)
We've suggested that the patricians are a lot like bad parents withholding food from the plebeians, who are kind of like their "children." It turns out this whole "parents not feeding/nurturing their kids" idea is something that gets repeated throughout the play. Like here: Volumnia says that she thinks a warrior's bloody forehead is "lovelier" than a mother breastfeeding her infant. Literary critic Janet Adelman sees this as evidence that Volumnia withheld food and nutrients from Coriolanus when he was a baby. Is that why he's such a hot mess? Do you buy this psychological reading?