Study Guide

Coriolanus Act 3, Scene 1

By William Shakespeare

Act 3, Scene 1

Read the full text of Coriolanus Act 3 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • On a street in Rome, Coriolanus, Cominius, and Titus Lartius have a little chit-chat about Tullus Aufidius.
  • Apparently, Aufidius has slapped together a new Volscian army that is ready to rumble with Rome again.
  • Oh, this can't be good.
  • Now Sicinius and Brutus show up with more bad news: the plebeians have changed their minds and no longer want Coriolanus to be elected consul. They're all "Gee. Tough break, Coriolanus."
  • Coriolanus is seriously ticked off when he hears the news. He accuses the tribunes of turning the people against him. (Which they did, by the way.)
  • Naturally, Sicinius and Brutus act all innocent and go through a big "Who, us?" routine.
  • Then Coriolanus does exactly what the tribunes were hoping he would do. He flips out and turns into a giant rage-a-holic who says all the wrong things.
  • He bashes the plebeians and goes off about how much he hates them and why he thinks the "rabble" shouldn't have any say in how a government is run.
  • Coriolanus then threatens to take away the plebeians' right to elect tribunes.
  • Big mistake. Sicinius and Brutus accuse Coriolanus of treason and demand that he be arrested ASAP.
  • (Remember, the whole concept of a Roman Republic revolves around the idea that the government is elected by voters who have a say in how things should be run.)
  • By this time, the mob of plebeians has rushed back onto the scene to demand Coriolanus' death.
  • Fortunately for Coriolanus, the Senators help him escape the angry mob.
  • Sicinius tells the mob that Coriolanus is a "disease that must be cut away." (Get your highlighters out because that's important. More on this in "Symbols.")
  • Menenius finally stops the rioting when he tells the mob that he'll try to talk some sense into Coriolanus and promises to bring him to the marketplace for a public meeting.