Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare's lesser-known (but extremely well thought-of by critics) plays, with such political overtones that it remains the only Shakespeare play banned by a modern democracy
(France in the 1930s).
Caius Martius is a Roman general; brilliant but arrogant and contemptuous of the ordinary folk. When we meet him at the start of the play, there are food riots going on in Rome and Caius Martius is being blamed for taking the grain supplies for the army. While others try and calm the situation, Martius simply retorts that the commoners aren't worthy of having the grain as they have not done military service.
After defeating the army of the Volsces tribe and capturing the city of Corioles, Martius is given the name "Coriolanus" as a reward, and is persuaded to run for Consul. However, two of his opponents conspire to whip up the commons against him and he is hounded out of Rome after making a bitter speech about the evils of democracy.
Caius Martius, now hungry for revenge against his homeland, offers his services to the Volsces and their leader Aufidius. Marching on Rome, he has the city at his mercy, but is persuaded by his wife and mother to spare the city. When he returns to Aufidius, he is murdered for his betrayal.
A film version was made in 2011, directed by Ralph Fiennes who also played the lead. Gerard Butler
played Aufidius, with Vanessa Redgrave (in a highly acclaimed performance) as Volumnia and Brian Cox as Menenius. It's a Setting Update
into a generic Crapsack World
"Calling itself Rome" (though filmed in Belgrade, Serbia). The film was largely acclaimed for being able to successfully please both Shakespeare purists and action movie junkies.
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