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Coriolanus | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Coriolanus | Act Summaries

See Act Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Day 1

    Caius Martius leaves Rome to battle the Volscians.

    Act 1, Scene 2
  • Days later

    Martius defeats the Volscians and is hailed as Coriolanus.

    Act 1, Scene 9
  • Days later

    Martius returns to Rome and shows contempt for its citizens.

    Act 2, Scene 1
  • Next day

    Coriolanus wears the robe of humility but insults citizens.

    Act 2, Scene 3
  • Weeks or months later

    Coriolanus and Tullus Aufidius vow to defeat Rome.

    Act 4, Scene 5
  • Weeks later

    Coriolanus's mother and wife plead with him to relent, saving Rome.

    Act 5, Scene 3
  • Days later

    Coriolanus is put to death for treason.

    Act 5, Scene 6

Act Summaries Chart

Act Summary
Act 1, Scene 1 Armed plebeians (commoners) are protesting in the streets of Rome about the lack of food: the senators have set the pric... Read More
Act 1, Scene 2 The action shifts to the Volscian city of Corioles. The Volsci were an Italic (pre-Roman Italian) tribe who, during the ... Read More
Act 1, Scene 3 The action returns to Rome. Martius's mother, Volumnia, and wife, Virgilia, discuss Martius's heroism. Volumnia expresse... Read More
Act 1, Scene 4 Outside the walls of Corioles, the Romans prepare for battle with the Volscians. Martius places a bet with fellow warrio... Read More
Act 1, Scene 5 Soldiers return with the spoils of victory such as precious metal, coins, and clothing. Lartius notices Martius's bloodi... Read More
Act 1, Scene 6 In the rear lines of the battle, Cominius praises the valiant soldiers and their sacrifice. A messenger comes to relay t... Read More
Act 1, Scene 7 Lartius prepares for battle. He tells his lieutenant that the area around Corioles, including the port, must be secured ... Read More
Act 1, Scene 8 Martius and Aufidius do battle face to face while declaring their mutual hatred. Other Volscians enter to aid Aufidius. ... Read More
Act 1, Scene 9 Cominius publicly praises Martius in front of the soldiers, saying he can have a 10th of all the spoils of battle for su... Read More
Act 1, Scene 10 A Volscian soldier tells Aufidius, now "bloody" in the stage direction, that the city of Corioles has fallen. Aufidius e... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 The tribunes Brutus and Sicinius accuse the absent Coriolanus of being too proud and boastful. Menenius defends him and ... Read More
Act 2, Scene 2 An officer comments that Coriolanus is "vengeance proud and loves not the common people." Another feels he is a worthy m... Read More
Act 2, Scene 3 Before Coriolanus enters, citizens share their feelings of obligation to honor Coriolanus as the new consul. Coriolanus ... Read More
Act 3, Scene 1 Lartius tells Coriolanus that the Volscians are reorganizing and could attempt another attack on Rome. Cominius doubts t... Read More
Act 3, Scene 2 The scene begins with Coriolanus wondering if his mother, who was always contemptuous of the people, has cast him off no... Read More
Act 3, Scene 3 Brutus begins the scene by telling Sicinius they need to remind Coriolanus that the spoils from the battle at Corioles w... Read More
Act 4, Scene 1 Coriolanus says goodbye to his wife, mother, Cominius, and Menenius. Cominius offers to travel with Coriolanus for a mon... Read More
Act 4, Scene 2 Brutus and Sicinius tell the aedile to tell the people their enemy is gone. Brutus says he and Sicinius should be humble... Read More
Act 4, Scene 3 A Roman named Nicanor speaks with a Volscian named Adrian and tells him of the state of things in Rome. Nicanor appears ... Read More
Act 4, Scene 4 Coriolanus enters Antium disguised, and briefly addresses the city, saying he has been responsible for killing its men i... Read More
Act 4, Scene 5 Coriolanus enters Aufidius's residence while the Volscian is hosting a feast. He argues with the servants, who question ... Read More
Act 4, Scene 6 Brutus and Sicinius begin the scene commenting on the peacefulness in Rome since Coriolanus's departure. Menenius enters... Read More
Act 4, Scene 7 Aufidius and his lieutenant question allowing Coriolanus into their trust: Coriolanus is adored by Aufidius's army and o... Read More
Act 5, Scene 1 Meeting with Brutus and Sicinius, Menenius and Cominius describe their unsuccessful attempt to convince Coriolanus to fo... Read More
Act 5, Scene 2 Menenius visits the Volscian encampment and pleads with the obstinate guards to let him speak with Coriolanus. After the... Read More
Act 5, Scene 3 After Coriolanus tells Aufidius he will not tolerate any more pleas from the Romans, Volumnia, Virgilia, Valeria, and yo... Read More
Act 5, Scene 4 Menenius tells Sicinius there is likely no hope for Rome and the women will probably not be able to sway Coriolanus. A m... Read More
Act 5, Scene 5 Volumnia, Virgilia, and Valeria, having returned from the Volscian encampment, are praised by senators and lords and tre... Read More
Act 5, Scene 6 Aufidius shares with three conspirators how angry he is with Coriolanus's betrayal and that the will of the people deman... Read More
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