“Valour Will Weep”: The Ethics of Valor, Anger, and Pity in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus

“Valour Will Weep”: The Ethics of Valor, Anger, and Pity in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus Anatomizing Caius Martius Coriolanus illuminates Shakespeare’s critique of Rome in the Roman plays: Rome’s single-minded privileging of a species of valor that is indistinguishable from wrath; an imperialist urge for conquest implicit in its earliest historical and cultural beginnings; and an underlying cruelty, implacability, and wholehearted devotion to a perverse and frequently contradictory principle of adversity and oppugnancy. Martius seems to fit the mold of Seneca’s angry man, and his disposition and conduct betray the destructive and self-destructive nature of Rome; yet he also has the capacity for an attitude that runs contrary to Roman mores in his surprising access to pity, an emotion Seneca and Cicero deem unRoman, weak, and inferior to the virtue of clemency. Martius concedes to unexpected emotional registers and is remarkable for his ability, for a time, to see beyond the Roman customs and conventions that have sculpted, defined, and enclosed him. In a startling incongruity, Martius, Rome’s apparently absolute exponent of valor, simultaneously discloses all that is cruelly present and constitutive of Rome and all that is pitilessly absent and lacking from it. In the tragic close Martius suggests the good of a world where “valor will weep.” http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

“Valour Will Weep”: The Ethics of Valor, Anger, and Pity in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus

Studies in Philology, Volume 113 (2) – Apr 6, 2016

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1543-0383

Abstract

Anatomizing Caius Martius Coriolanus illuminates Shakespeare’s critique of Rome in the Roman plays: Rome’s single-minded privileging of a species of valor that is indistinguishable from wrath; an imperialist urge for conquest implicit in its earliest historical and cultural beginnings; and an underlying cruelty, implacability, and wholehearted devotion to a perverse and frequently contradictory principle of adversity and oppugnancy. Martius seems to fit the mold of Seneca’s angry man, and his disposition and conduct betray the destructive and self-destructive nature of Rome; yet he also has the capacity for an attitude that runs contrary to Roman mores in his surprising access to pity, an emotion Seneca and Cicero deem unRoman, weak, and inferior to the virtue of clemency. Martius concedes to unexpected emotional registers and is remarkable for his ability, for a time, to see beyond the Roman customs and conventions that have sculpted, defined, and enclosed him. In a startling incongruity, Martius, Rome’s apparently absolute exponent of valor, simultaneously discloses all that is cruelly present and constitutive of Rome and all that is pitilessly absent and lacking from it. In the tragic close Martius suggests the good of a world where “valor will weep.”

Journal

Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Apr 6, 2016

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