Study Guide

Coriolanus Act 5, Scene 6

By William Shakespeare

Act 5, Scene 6

Read the full text of Coriolanus Act 5 Scene 6 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Meanwhile in Corioles ….
  • Tullus Aufidius and a bunch of his Conspirator pals have shown up in Corioles, where people have gathered to welcome Coriolanus as their newest war hero.
  • We guess they forgot that this is the same guy who stomped all over them back in Act 1, scenes 4-5, which earned him the nickname name, "Coriolanus."
  • Aufidius and the Conspirators aren't there to celebrate. They've come to rat out Coriolanus to the Volscian senators for signing a peace treaty with Rome. (FYI--Shakespeare calls the Volscian senators "Lords," so we will too.)
  • We find out that Coriolanus is on his way to the city's marketplace, where he'll have to explain why he showed mercy to the Romans instead of stomping on their necks.
  • Aufidius and the Conspirators chat about their game plan. Since there's no way to know for certain how the Volscian people will react to Coriolanus, they'll just have to play it by ear.
  • The Volscian Lords arrive and they're not happy with Coriolanus. Still, they think he's a hero and are willing to hear him out.
  • Now Coriolanus parades in like he's just won the Super Bowl. He's surrounded by cheering crowds who can't get enough of him.
  • Aufidius wastes no time going on the attack. He accuses Coriolanus of being a "traitor" and a sissy, which sends the big war hero into ... you guessed it ... a rage.
  • Coriolanus dares the Volscians to "cut [him] to pieces" with their swords. (Hmm. probably not a good idea.)
  • Aufidius takes the opportunity to remind everyone that Coriolanus is the guy who killed a bunch of their relatives when he made war on their city.
  • Now the common people are all worked up and start yelling stuff like "Tear him to pieces!" and "He killed my son!" and "Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill him!" (No, we're not paraphrasing.)
  • Meanwhile, the Lords try to make peace.
  • The Conspirators know they've now got the common people on their side. They rush forward and stab Coriolanus—over and over—until he keels over, a la Julius Caesar.
  • Then Aufidius stands on top of the dead body and gloats like a mountain climber who's just summited K-2.
  • The Lords think this is a major bummer, but they're not about to punish anybody for what's just happened. What's the point, right? People gonna riot.
  • Instead, they decide to honor the fallen hero and order everyone to do the same.
  • Now Aufidius starts to feel kind of bad about everything and offers to help carry Coriolanus' body to its burial site. Generous!
  • With Coriolanus dead, Aufidius decides that the guy probably deserves a "noble memory," even if he was the man responsible for killing so many Volscian soldiers.
  • The End.