The ruling class has all the power, the plebeians are rioting in the street, and a brooding hero is about to swoop in to save the day. (Maybe.) Nope, it's not Dark Knight Rises: it's Shakespeare's Coriolanus, set in 491 B.C.E., when early Republican Rome has just transitioned from being ruled by a monarch to a government run by elected officials. With the last tyrant king (that would be Tarquin) tossed out on his rear end, there's a power vacuum and everyone is scrambling for, well, power. Shakespeare uses the struggle for social and political power in ancient Rome in order to ask some pretty timeless questions, like:
Coriolanus doesn't actually give us definitive answers. But Shakespeare does show us that aristocrats like Coriolanus are completely unfit to be political leaders: they have absolutely no clue that they have a social, political, and moral obligation to care about the powerless, the poor, and the hungry.
Although the tribunes are elected officials who are supposed to look out for the peoples' best interests, they seem more interested in talking advantage of tensions between the patricians and plebeians in order to gain personal power.
The social and political struggle for power in Coriolanus is just as relevant today as it was in ancient Rome and in Shakespeare's England.