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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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Anthony Zaccaria: At the same time that Martin Luther was attacking abuses in the Church, a reformation within the Church was already being attempted. Among the early movers of the Counter-Reformation was Anthony Zaccaria. His mother became a widow at 18 and devoted herself to the spiritual education of her son. He received a medical doctorate at 22 and, while working among the poor of his native Cremona in Italy, was attracted to the religious apostolate. He renounced his rights to any future inheritance, worked as a catechist and was ordained a priest at the age of 26. Called to Milan in a few years, he laid the foundations of three religious congregations, one for men and one for women, plus an association of married couples. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy, religious and lay people. 
<p>Greatly inspired by St. Paul (his congregation is named the Barnabites, after the companion of that saint), Anthony preached with great vigor in church and street, conducted popular missions and was not ashamed of doing public penance. </p><p>He encouraged such innovations as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate, frequent Communion, the Forty Hours devotion and the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. </p><p>His holiness moved many to reform their lives but, as with all saints, it also moved many to oppose him. Twice his community had to undergo official religious investigation, and twice it was exonerated. </p><p>While on a mission of peace, he became seriously ill and was brought home for a visit to his mother. He died at Cremona at the age of 36.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, help me make my life more about you and less about me. May others see you in me—your image and likeness. Teach me ways to increase my time with you, my service to others, and my love for my family, for strangers, and for the poor. You are the light in the darkness. With each new day, may we be light to one another.

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