Analysis: Steaminess Rating
Exactly how steamy is this story?
Look. This is a political play so there's no time for a bunch of love scenes. Go read Romeo and Juliet or 50 Shades of Grey if that's what you're after. That said, there is a whole lot of steamy chatter about how sexy everybody thinks Coriolanus looks when he's getting his battle on. Actually, now that we think of it, several characters tell us that they think warfare is better than sex. So, put down that smutty novel you were about to read and listen up.
It turns out that Coriolanus' war buddies (and enemies) get turned on by his military prowess. When Coriolanus returns from battle, his pal Cominius gets all excited to see him:
O, let me clip [hug] you
In arms as sound as when I wooed, in heart
As merry as when our nuptial day was done
And tapers burnt bedward! (1.6.39-42)
So, Cominius obviously thinks his relationship with Coriolanus is just as exciting as his sexual relationship with his own wife. Here, he compares the thrill of seeing Coriolanus returning from battle to the anticipation of his wedding night. What's the deal? Well, this is a Shakespeare play set in ancient Rome so, naturally, there's going to be some homoerotic talk--especially when it comes to warfare, which gets a lot of characters all hot and bothered. This also tells us that relationships that are forged between men in times of war are valued above just about everything else.
Just ask Tullus Aufidius if you don't believe us. After comparing Coriolanus to his bride, he goes into detail about the dreams he has about encountering Coriolanus on the battlefield:
I have nightly since
Dreamt of encounters 'twixt thyself and me;
We have been down together in my sleep,
Unbuckling helms, fisting each other's throat,
And waked half dead with nothing. (4.5.135-139)