A speech by the character Menenius was influenced by William Camden’s book, Remains of a Greater Work Concerning Britain, which was published in 1605. Revolts in England in 1607 may have influenced the choice of subject, involving insurrection and riots in ancient Rome. It is generally thought to date from 1607–1608.

The play wasn’t printed before appearing in the First Folio. It was probably typeset from Shakespeare’s draft manuscripts, or a transcript of them, with minor corrections from Heminge and Condell.


‘Down ladies! Let us shame him with our knees.’

Coriolanus, V iii

Brief synopsis of the play

The victorious Roman general Caius Martius, is honoured with the title Coriolanus, but his authority and self-esteem have led to arrogance: his lack of tact and his contempt for ordinary citizens is exploited by his rivals. When he is exiled, Coriolanus allies himself with his former enemies and agrees to lead them against Rome. His personal crisis is told against the background of civil disturbance and the disconnection between ordinary people and the ruling classes, in this great political play.