Coriolanus 5th Century B.C. legendary Roman
Marcius Coriolanus won his first glory in the revolt against Rome
's last king, Tarquinus Superbus
. His courageous fighting, and his rescue of a roman soldier who had been struck down earned him a personal commendation from the general
leading the revolt, in the form of a wreath of laurels
states, most men upon recieving their first touch of fame will accept it humbly and dissapear back into the world. (So comes the term "Fifteen minutes of fame
") Coriolanus, however, was a different story. He went out to fight in nearly every subsequent Roman
battle, earning more and more awards. His main goal was the happiness of his mother, who was a widow
and was greatly pleased by Marcius' accomplishments
Due to his many awards, Marcius gained a great deal of influence in Rome. During a following famine, the plebians
and the poor of the city grew angry, believing the famine to be the fault of the patricians
and the senate. Marcius grew angry at the "whining" of the public, but the senate disregarded this, allowing the people to elect five tribunes
to represent the public in the senate and higher level politics. Unknown to Marcius at the time, these tribunes would later become his downfall.
Soon following the famine, a war was brewing between the Romans and the Volscians
, whose home city was named Corioli
. Marcius marched off to war against Corioli, and helped to lead the Roman army to a crushing victory
After returning home, Marcius was given the title of "Coriolanus", or conqueror of Corioli. Due to his sudden popularity, Coriolanus was nominated for Consul
by the senate.
In order to win the election, Coriolanus had to go to the forum as per custom to ask of his fellow countrymen their direct backing. Still carrying a grudge and always proud, Coriolanus was reluctant to go to the forum and "beg votes of the people". He did in the end, however, and was approved by the public.
Soon after, two tribunes, Sicinnius
, decided that Coriolanus was a bad choice. They believed he would steal away the people's liberty and power (and their jobs as tribunes as well). Each being very demagougical, they managed to stir up the public opinion that Coriolanus was the wrong decision for consul. The people recanted, and Coriolanus seemed destined to not be consul
In a fit of rage, Coriolanus condemned the mob, and had to be carried off by his aides in order to not ruin himself further. Coriolanus' good friend Mennenius Agrippa
arranged for a meeting to make peace. Coriolanus reluctantly agreed to participate. It was a failure, and Coriolanus ended up in trial
. He was then tried for treason against the people, and nearly thrown off the Tarpeian Rock
due to an unfair trial he was forced into.
In a fairer trial, he was banished
from Rome. After his banishment, he sought refuge with the Volscians, who were still rebuilding from his victory over them. They took him in, and later he would lead them in an (unsuccessful) attack on Rome. He died amongst the Volscians.
Most of this information was taken from Plutarch
's Parallel Lives
's play Coriolanus