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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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Gregory the Great: Coming events cast their shadows before: Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome. 
<p>Ordained a priest, he became one of the pope's seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, and at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome. </p><p>He was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of "Gregorian" chant is disputed. </p><p>Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king. </p><p>An Anglican historian has written: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great." </p><p>His book, <i>Pastoral Care</i>, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine (August 28), Ambrose (December 7) and Jerome (September 30)as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Loving trust and total surrender made Our Lady say yes to the message of the angel, and cheerfulness made her run in haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. So much in our lives, too, is saying yes to Jesus, and running haste to serve him in the poorest of the poor.  –Mother Theresa

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