When Shakespeare wrote Coriolanus and the sources he used for the play.

William Houston plays Coriolanus in 2007, directed by Gregory Doran.
Photo by Simon Annand © RSC – Image Licensing


Coriolanus was probably written around 1607-8 and was first published in the First Folio in 1623. There is no record of the play being performed during Shakespeare's lifetime.


As with his other Roman plays, Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare's main source was Sir Thomas North's 1579 translation of Plutarch's Lives of Noble Grecians and Romanes, specifically the Life of Caius Marcius Coriolanus.

He may also have read Livy's Ab Urbe condita, available in translation from 1600. Shakespeare telescopes and rearranges events for dramatic purposes although some scenes, such as Coriolanus' attack on the tribunes, follow closely North's phrasing. The characters of Menenius and Volumnia are expanded considerably from Plutarch.  

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