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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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Peter of Alcantara: Peter was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter’s day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended. 
<p>Born into a noble family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practiced many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.</p><p>Peter’s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter’s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: "To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara."</p><p>In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor.</p><p>As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares.</p><p>He was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Remember the widow’s mite. She threw into the treasury of the temple only two small coins, but with them, all her great love…. It is, above all, the interior value of the gift that counts: the readiness to share everything, the readiness to give oneself. —Pope John Paul II

 
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