Coriolanus - William Shakespeare Shakespeare reimagines Caius Martius (Coriolanus) as a man who prides himself on excellence but is brought down by the mediocrity of those around him. A famed soldier, Martius attempts to bring the same martial discipline and terse communication to the Roman consulship. Unsurprisingly, politicians fail to yield to such drive.

Unlike Shakespeare’s psychological tragedies written prior, Martius conveys his thoughts by his actions rather than soliloquies. He falls victim to the conspiracies of others because he deems it beneath him to play politics. He is arrogant and impatient, not out of misplaced vanity, but because he does not suffer fools. The same qualities that make him an invaluable military commander make him insufferable to the Roman people.

Coriolanus is neither well known nor often produced. However, it is an excellent play. Martius is no less a fascinating character than Hamlet or King Lear or Macbeth. His contradictions and struggles are simply found behind the acts than through his speeches. With incredible restraint, Shakespeare’s mastery with words is put on hold so we can appreciate his mastery of silence.