Coriolanus was a legendary Roman military hero and patrician who supposedly lived during the 5th century B.C. Born Gaius Marcius, he received the surname Coriolanus after he defeated the Volscians at the battle of Corioli. Plutarch told his story in The Parallel Lives of Greeks and Romans.
   According to Plutarch, Coriolanus was forced to leave Rome because he refused to distribute grain to the starving plebeians unless they gave up the people's tribunate. He went to his former enemies, the Volscians, and offered to lead them against Rome. They accepted his offer, but as Coriolanus approached Rome, his mother and wife begged him to spare the city. He withdrew his army and returned to Antium, where he was killed by the angry Volscians. A famous dramatization is the tragedy Coriolanus by William Shakespeare.