Coriolanus in Shakespeare’s tragedy
Coriolanus is a political tragedy rather than a historical play, inspired by the noble lesson of Plutarch’s “Parallel lives”.
As a tragedy it wants to voice and to give substance to mad vanity and blinding pride that guide the brave leader Gaius Marcius Coriolanus to stir up the popular revolt, which was the cause of his downfall.
But passions also insinuate themselves in this framework of the plot. They are the drive of human behaviour and if they are not dominated by wise common sense, they drive to madness.
Love of native country, jealousy, perseverance and boldness are brought to face a feeling which is unknown to the general’s thick skin: the sensation of peace as an ecstasy both for human beings and things.
Shakespeare’s tragical greatness to show us Coriolanus’s inner conflict lies in avoiding any easy compromise.
In fact the conclusion of the drama shows us a defeated leader, deprived of boldness and any desire for revenge and blood.
Once deprived of this formidable mainspring, Coriolanus, surrounded by his mother’s supplications for peace, to whom he can’t resist, remains unable to take his place in another sphere of action, different from the horrifying warmachine.
Coriolanus in Heinrich Joseph von Collin’s tragedy
Heinrich Joseph von Collin, an Austrian poet and dramatist, reasonably famous and also appreciated by Goethe, is the author of a tragedy, “Coriolanus”, enriched by an ouverture composed by Beethoven.
Although some people, Wagner included, asserted that Beethoven paid more attention to Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus”, rather than to Collin’s, it was Beethoven himself who showed his appreciation for the Austrian dramatist publicly.
Heinrich Joseph von Collin and Beethoven created a refined work of art together, that stages human values and crimes and that leads the audience into a rhythm alternating between drama and passion.