Coriolanus (Gnaeus Marcius Coriolanus)kôrˌēəlāˈnəs, Roman patrician. He is said to have derived his name from the capture of the Volscian city Corioli. According to legend he was expelled from Rome because he demanded the abolition of the people's tribunate in return for distributing state grain to the starving plebeians. He joined the Volscians and led (491? B.C.) them in an attack on Rome. Only the tears of his wife and his mother caused him to spare the city. The angry and frustrated Volscians put him to death. Plutarch tells the story, and Shakespeare's Coriolanus is based on Plutarch.