Constant strife exists between the powerful aristocracy and the hungry citizens of Rome. Many in the the city yearn for peace but influential politicians know that their positions at home are secured by military campaigns abroad. Into this ferment stride the inflexible patrician General Caius Martius, fresh from his victory over the hated Volscians. Martius' deep distaste for the ordinary Roman people is exposed and exploited by his political rivals, and he is thrown into a humiliating exile.
Set in the early Roman republic, Coriolanus is Shakespeare's greatest political play. The competing claims of democracy and aristocracy are conveyed in harsh and stony language and with relentless speed and single-mindedness. At its heart, however, and against a lively background of citizens and soldiers, unfolds a personal tragedy of one man's emotional blindness.