Study Guide

Coriolanus Act 5, Scene 3

By William Shakespeare

Act 5, Scene 3

Read the full text of Coriolanus Act 5 Scene 3 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Coriolanus and Aufidius head over to Coriolanus' private tent for a little chat.
  • Coriolanus tells us that he feels kind of bad about the way he treated Menenius. After all, the dude loved him like a "father" loves a "son."
  • That said, Coriolanus wants nothing more to do with Rome, even if they send more people to beg for mercy.
  • Just then, Coriolanus' entire family shows up--his wife Virgilia, his little son Martius, and his mom Volumnia. Plus, his wife's sidekick, Valeria, is there, too. (For moral support, of course.)
  • Coriolanus tries to be hard but then his mom kneels before him and his wife cries out "My lord and husband."
  • He tells them not to bother begging for mercy but we can tell he's turning into a giant marshmallow.
  • Volumnia goes to work on her son by appealing to his love of family. Then she refers to Rome as Coriolanus' "dear nurse" and says that if he destroys Rome, it will be like stomping all over his "mother's womb." (Eww.)
  • Now his wife, Virgilia, adds that it would be like stomping on her womb, too. (You know, the one that gave birth to Coriolanus' adorable, butterfly-killing son.)
  • Now little Martius chimes in that he'll never let his dad stomp all over him. He'll "run away until [he's] bigger" and then he'll come back and "fight."
  • #daddyissues
  • This is too much for Coriolanus. He gets up and tries to leave.
  • That's when his mom goes off on him, delivering a lengthy speech about how Coriolanus will lose all his "honor" and "nobility" if he destroys Rome. Plus, it's the worst thing a guy could ever do to his family. (We're totally remembering this one for if we ever have a son.)
  • Meanwhile, his wife and son have been looking at him with big, sad eyes.
  • Coriolanus finally gives in and agrees to make peace between Rome and the Volscian people.
  • Meanwhile, Tullus Aufidius has been watching all this family drama unfold. He thinks it's awesome that Coriolanus has gone soft because now he's got the perfect chance to destroy him.