Volumnia is Coriolanus’s mother, a stiff-backed, haughty, proud and unbending woman.
She loves her son dearly, but particularly loves his honor, and would rather see him dead than lose that honor. She has brought him up to share these ideals, and she therefore bears a great deal of responsibility for how he has turned out and the character traits that doom him. A ruthless matron, she is delighted to hear that her grandson is torturing butterflies, as this makes him like his father and presages well for the future, and has absolutely no patience with her daughter-in-law Virgilia’s weeping weakness and fear. She is delighted to hear that Coriolanus has been wounded, as it offers visible proof of his valor. She instructs him in how to win people over, knowing just how to play on him to convince him to do so. Volumnia despises the common people, if possible even more than does her son, but is spared by them due to her gender. Still, when it comes down to it she loves the idea of Rome more, and sacrifices Coriolanus to it when she convinces him to abandon his attack on the city.