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Coriolanus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Coriolanus | Act 1, Scene 6 | Summary



In the rear lines of the battle, Cominius praises the valiant soldiers and their sacrifice. A messenger comes to relay the message of the Roman retreat to the trenches. Martius enters bloodied and explains they have taken Corioles. He asks for soldiers willing to die to follow him to the city to conquer Aufidius. Cominius tells Martius that he can have the pick of any men he desires.


The symbol of blood (wounding) continues its prominent role of indicating sacrifice and valor. Cominius at first does not even recognize Martius due to the blood smeared on Martius's face. The masculine love of combat is clear. Martius requests that only those soldiers who "love this painting" (the blood on his face) should consider following him into battle. Although he is not the highest-ranking or most important figure in the war from a historical standpoint, his character emerges more and more prominently. Like Volumnia, he tends to dominate each scene. This is fitting since he is the titular character. But his disposition and Volumnia's are so headstrong that no amount of reasoned action from the other characters is allowed to succeed. His focus is clearly on himself and his glory, highlighting the theme of hubris that continues to run throughout the remainder of the play.

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