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Coriolanus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Coriolanus | Act 4, Scene 3 | Summary



A Roman named Nicanor speaks with a Volscian named Adrian and tells him of the state of things in Rome. Nicanor appears to be a spy or Roman defector since he says Aufidius will surely have a victory against Rome now that Coriolanus is banished.


Nicanor may be the spy alluded to in Act 1, but this is never clarified. This is the first actual appearance of a Volscian spy in the play. This is a transitional scene that prepares us for a shift in focus to the Volscians and away from Rome. In addition Nicanor is a subtle reminder of the theme of war that runs through the play. Cities under Roman control could be on constant alert or engaged in combat, which blurs the lines between peace and war.

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