You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, I banish you;
And here remain with your uncertainty!
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
The quote is from William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Coriolanus.” Coriolanus was a great war hero during the fifth century BC, the early years of the Roman Republic. After returning from a great victory, the Roman Senate would make him a consul—the highest office in the city. But the common people of Rome egged on by their leaders, the tribunes, believe him too proud and vote instead to banish him from the city. In anger Coriolanus cries, “I banish you,” leaves the city, and joins ranks with the enemy to revenge the insult by conquering Rome.
“Coriolanus” was the first of three plays we considered in June at the Wyoming School of Catholic Thought as we considered “’Shakespeare’s Rome.” Before we divided into seminar groups, Dr. Virginia Arbery delivered this introduction to the play, to the Roman Republic, and to questions concerning our own republic.