Coriolanus and the Roman World of Contradiction: A Paradoxical World Elsewhere

The European Legacy 15 (2):171-194 (2010)
Abstract
This study argues that Shakespeare's aim in Coriolanus is twofold: (1) to depict the ancient world of Rome as dominated by contradiction; and (2) to signal to us moderns, in the biblical tradition, that we can comprehend or, in other words, interpret the contradictory world of the ancients solely on the basis of a paradoxical world elsewhere, beyond contradiction. Shakespeare thus shows us how important it is to distinguish between the contradictory values of antiquity, from which the Romans (like the Greeks) know no exit, and the paradoxical values of modernity, whose interpretive basis, the love of neighbor—interpret others as you would have others interpret you—provides us moderns with a world of otherness (Augustine's City of God) by which we can overcome the earthly contradictions dividing us
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