I read this play for the first time my freshman year of college, and I remember at the time being convinced that Coriolanus had no autonomy, that he was completely directed by his mother, and that that was all that mattered in the play. Now, on my second reading, I am less sure.
First, I’m interested in the relationship between Coriolanus and his great rival Aufidius. The Norton edition I just read had a footnote suggesting homoeroticism in their relationship, but I think I’m more interested in possible Gilgamesh-Enkidu comparisons. Additionally, I’m interested in why Shakespeare portrays the people of Rome as such ignorant fools. Wasn’t Rome supposed to be the pinnacle of society? Shouldn’t the people be at least quasi-intelligent?
Overall, this play strikes me more as a tragedy than a history, and I find myself empathizing with essentially no characters. No wonder most people don’t read this thing.