How we cite our quotes:
Would you proceed especially against Caius Martius?
Against him first: he's a very dog to the commonalty.
Consider you what services he has done for his country?
Very well; and could be content to give him good
report fort, but that he pays himself with being proud. (1.1.26-30)
This is the first time we hear the plebeians accuse Coriolanus of being too "proud." According to the plebs, Coriolanus is the commoners' biggest enemy, despite his military service to Rome. But … why? Just because he's proud? Are they just annoyed that he's walking around with a big head, or has he actually done something to hurt them?
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.
What he cannot help in his nature, you account a
vice in him. You must in no way say he is covetous. (1.1.36-42)
Okay, this is interesting, don't you think. The First Citizen thinks that Coriolanus has been Rome's biggest military champion "partly" because he's so proud and partly because he wants to "please his mother." In other words, he's not just a one-dimensional figure who's simply got too much "pride." His character and behavior are shaped by all kinds of circumstances, including family relationships. In other other words—Rome's military leaders: they're just like us!
Was ever man so proud as is this Martius?
He has no equal.
When we were chosen tribunes for the people,--
Mark'd you his lip and eyes?
Nay. But his taunts.
Being moved, he will not spare to gird the gods.
Be-mock the modest moon.
The present wars devour him: he is grown
Too proud to be so valiant. (1.1.252-258)
This is where our two scheming tribunes accuse Coriolanus of excessive pride and begin to plot his destruction. Here's the thing, Shmoopers. We can't always trust what these two tribunes have to say because their hatred of Coriolanus is also motivated by their political aspirations. Sicinius and Brutus see Coriolanus as a threat because they know he wants to take away all their power. Jealous, much?