1) How is Aufidius’ domestic life a contrast to that of Coriolanus? What does Coriolanus look like when he presents himself at Aufidius’ home?
- In Rome, Coriolanus was viewed as a godly figure to be seen as an idol due to his achievements in war. He has a loving wife and an encouraging mother in aspects of war and glory. He draws his motivation from the two women and further fuels it with his rivalry towards Aufidius. Aufidius in his domestic life in regards to this scene seems to have the pull of the people but is not in as high regards as his counterpart. This comparison can be shown in regards to how “winners” and “losers” are considered in today’s society (whether its politicians or even sports players) as the “winners” are treated with glory and the “losers” while still backed by their people, have a more tainted view of their standing and accomplishments. What is ironic about the situation is that Coriolanus is driven to dress in very poor clothing and muffled (as opposed to his normal war gear in which his scars are highly visible as trophies) and he is forced to request an alliance with his rival to rebel against his home country. The muffling and clothing represent a slight turn in Coriolanus’ character as he is humbled whether by force or choice to fight against those who oppressed him.
2) How are the serving men characterized? How would you compare them to the citizens of Rome?
- As in many Shakespearean plays, these nameless characters are offered as a break from all of the chaos within the plot and provide humor to the common people. The serving men bear a correlation to the citizens of Rome as they are under the “aristocratic” nature of the two generals and consider them masters. This simple fact represents that they don’t bear the rank of the higher class men, but they are not afraid to defend their master. In seeing Coriolanus as a poor-man and an invader, they are not hesitant in trying to deny him entry to their master’s home. The citizens of Rome and serving men both are people who are influenced by the higher power in the way they act (Roman citizens in fighting for the Republic and in turn against Coriolanus, and the serving men fighting for their master Aufidius). All in all they represent the common man and offer opinions on how citizens of the time would react.
3) Explain their opinions of the two heroes.
- They feel very disgusted by Coriolanus’ social skills as he is dressed morbidly and interacts with the serving men terribly, but they are instantaneously star struck upon finding out his identity. It is a symbol that the opinion of this man is god-like due to his prowess in war and that seems to be the benchmark of honor and glory within the contemporary society. Due to Aufidius’ constant failure in battle (in specific with Coriolanus), he is viewed as a lesser soldier in the views of the serving man and is weaker due to his obstacles in battle. These opinions of the heroes from the serving men stress the importance of how the characters are judged mainly in terms of battle and war.