LAST TIME ON CORIOLANUS: Having returned in triumph from the wars, Coriolanus is prompted by his mother to run for the office of consul. His wartime heroics make him the frontrunner for the job, and he is quickly approved by the Senate. However, according to tradition, he must now put on "the gown of humility" and speak to the people, showing them his wounds in order to gain their voices in support. But will the fickle people forgive him for being such a hard-nosed bastard?
OK, so maybe the people are a little fickle. In their defense, the whole "giving your voices to the consul" ceremony is almost entirely pro forma, so it's not like they're used to the idea that their voices actually count for something.
This is a fantastic and rather hilarious section, where you have Coriolanus, all brimming with righteous indignation and dressed up in an incredibly filthy and torn outfit, attempting to beg the people whom he despises for their support. The people, it must be said, are remarkably accommodating, and never say anything like "Hey! Aren't you the guy who is always saying how stupid and worthless we are, and how we should all be hanged?"
Of course, just when it looks like Coriolanus has gotten away with it, the tribunes come back and remind everyone that they're always complaining about how much Coriolanus hates them, and that actually, yes, he wasn't very nice when he asked us for our voices, was he? Now, I try to stand up for the common people as much as possible, but in this case they really are a lot like sheep, instantly following whoever was the last person to speak to them.
Tune in again next Monday, when the public grumbling stirred up by the tribunes finally explodes. And so does Coriolanus's temper. There's a surprise.