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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Coriolanus

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

I went to see “Coriolanus” without knowing the story, never having read what some deem one of Shakespeare’s minor tragedies.  Historians agree, however, that Caius Martius, with Coriolanus added later when he vanquished the Volscian city of Corioli, did exist as a Roman aristocrat and soldier.
 
Give Mr. Shakespeare his due for writing such a relevant play from such an obscure moment in ancient history.
 
This modern adaptation of the play is by John Logan who also wrote screenplays for “Hugo” and “Aviator” and many others.  Actor Ralph Fiennes, in his directorial debut, also plays the proud Coriolanus just returned from victory. His mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave) urges him to stand for consul, but he is completely out of touch with the commoners. The Senate and his advisers are with him then against him. The crowds are encouraged to acclaim him but then two tribunes scheme against him, and Coriolanus’ pride erupts in a diatribe against the common people. He is denounced and sends himself into exile. He joins his adversary (Gerald Butler) but when they return to take Rome, Coriolanus caves to entireties of his mother and wife and refuses to attack. His betrayal, his inability to decide, and the influence of his mother, make Coriolanus similar in some ways to “Hamlet”.
 
This film, with some adjustments to speech, could be set it modern times.  The story is similar to the 2011 film the “Ides of March” where politics is the order of the day as well. In both films the main character, a politician, has a tragic flaw that does him in. For Coriolanus it is wealth, power and pride whereas in “Ides” it is pride, sex, and power that trip up the presidential candidate.
 
For all its war and violence “Coriolanus” is a story driven by strong women, especially Volumnia.  Volumnia and his wife Virgilia (Jessica Chastain). The performances are powerful. Ralph Fiennes’s rage against the plebeians, the little people, the populace consisting of mostly commoners, is almost over-the-top; if his character hadn’t left town they would have killed him.
 
In a presidential year, “Coriolanus” is worth watching.  Pride, even if it be a man’s natural personality, is a deadly sin. It is a lesson Coriolanus never learned and it cost him his life.


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Angela Merici: Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a “secular institute” of religious women. 
<p>As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood. </p><p>She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals. </p><p>She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost. </p><p>At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death.</p> American Catholic Blog I hear far more people discuss the presence of evil in their lives than they do the supreme power of grace. God is bigger than evil!

 
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