Summer Shakespeare II

Bruce A. McMenomy, Ph.D. for Scholars Online
2022: Wednesdays, 1:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Time
June 15 - Aug. 10

June 15:
The Comedy of Errors
Shakespeare's Sources

June 22:

June 29:
The Winter’s Tale
Dramatic Unities

July 6:

July 13:
Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3
History and Politics

July 20:
Antony and Cleopatra
Characterization and Time

July 27:
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Shared Characters

August 3:
Love’s Labour’s Lost

August 10:
All’s Well That Ends Well
The Problem Comedies


Things to consider while reading Coriolanus

This is one of Shakespeare’s Roman tragedies, along with Julius Caesar and Titus Andronicus. It’s based on an incident in the legendary early history of Rome — a narrative of loosely documented historical fact, almost certainly better established than the story of Titus Andronicus (which is chiefly Shakespeare’s own fiction, based on the mythological story of Procne and Philomela) and far less accurate than Julius Caesar. It is not considered a history play — that term is normally reserved for the unfolding sequence of plays relating to English history.

Coriolanus is thought to have been written around 1607 — after the death of Elizabeth — and is one of the few plays for which we cannot verify that it was ever performed. This does not necessarily mean that it was not: sources of all sorts for this period are somewhat sketchy.

To understand the setting of the play, it is important to realize that it takes place in about 490 B.C., long before Rome was an imperial city. It is still fighting for survival with other cities and tribes of Italy, among the the Corioli and Volscians. The office of tribune has recently been established to uphold the political rights of the lower classes (generally the plebeians) against the patrician and Senatorial aristocracy.

Here is a link to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s page on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production history of the play.

Here is a link to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s page on their production history of the play.

Here’s a summary of Coriolanus on film.

Coriolanus and what has come before

Shakespeare’s Sources and Other Versions of the Story

Themes that emerge in the play (only a few of the many)

Symmetries in the play

Problems in the play