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I don't think *Coriolanus* is better than *Hamlet* or the greatest
Shakespeare tragedy (is there really only one "greatest"?), but it has been
underrated. It is in many ways brilliant. but not for Eliot's reasons and
not just because we can see it as modern. I think Eliot would take that
line for two reasons: Volumnia is a powerful and tragic mother, and Eliot
had a profound need for his mother. He uses the line about her in
"Difficulties of a Statesman": "O mother / What shall I cry?" He would, I
think, have found her character deeply moving--and it would "make sense."

Perhaps more important, Eliot said he had always preferred the world of
Virgil to the world of Homer, and he saw the Roman Empire as the precursor
of the Holy Roman Empire--the lead-in to a Christian world. He also liked
the world of Virgil because Virgil was, in his words, "one for whom the
world made sense" and for whom "history had meaning." I discuss this at
length in the first volume of *T. S. Eliot Studies*, if anyone is
interested.

Eliot admired Virgil in large part because Eliot wanted the world to make
sense and have meaning. I think he simply did not understand Hamlet, for
whom the world does not make sense. And yet it is impossible for me to see
how it lacks what Eliot calls an "objective correlative."  Hamlet's problem
is not just his mother or his disgust at her. I assume if your uncle has
murdered your father, your mother is now his wife, your friends are
betraying you and trying to help you get killed, and Polonius is spying on
you for the king/ father murder, you have more than one reason to be
distressed.

In both cases, Eliot's reaction is focused on the mother. But both plays
are about far more. Coriolanus does yield to his mother in the end, but he
began the play as an arrogant and dismissive aristocrat who refused to
listen to a starving populous--their rage and his exile are not simply due
to Volumnia's urging. The play is also (and more so) political and
economic. Volumnia uses her love and attitudes to urge her son to take a
side he was already embarked upon.
Nancy

On Thu, Jan 4, 2018 at 10:46 AM, Rickard A. Parker <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

> Is Coriolanus Shakespeare’s Greatest Tragedy? A Closer Look at T.S.
> Eliot’s Zany Claim.
> By David Haglund
> Jan. 20 2012
>
> http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2012/01/
> coriolanus_why_did_t_s_eliot_love_it_so_much_.html
>