Coriolanus is largely based on the "Life of Coriolanus" in Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans (1579). The wording of Menenius's speech about the body politic is derived from William Camden's Remaines of a Greater Worke Concerning Britaine (1605), where Pope Adrian IV compares a well-run government to a body in which "all parts performed their functions, only the stomach lay idle and consumed all;" the fable is also alluded to in John of Salisbury's Policraticus (Camden's source) and William Averell's A Marvailous Combat of Contrarieties (1588).
Other sources have been suggested, but are less certain. Shakespeare might also have drawn on Livy's Ab Urbe condita, as translated by Philemon Holland, and possibly a digest of Livy by Lucius Annaeus Florus; both of these were commonly used texts in Elizabethan schools. Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy were available in manuscript translations, and could also have been used by Shakespeare. He might also have made use of "Plutarch's original source, the Roman Antiquities of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, as well as on his own grammar-school knowledge of Roman custom and law".