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Coriolanus   


The patrician house of the Marcii in Rome produced many men of distinction,
and among the rest, Ancus Marcius, grandson to Numa by his daughter,
and king after Tullus Hostilius; of the same family were also Publius
and Quintus Marcius, which two conveyed into the city the best and
most abundant supply of water they have at Rome. As likewise Censorinus,
who, having been twice chosen censor by the people, afterwards himself
induced them to make a law that nobody should bear that office twice.
But Caius Marcius, of whom I now write, being left an orphan, and
brought up under the widowhood of his mother, has shown us by experience,
that, although the early loss of a father may be attended with other
disadvantages, yet it can hinder none from being either virtuous or
eminent in the world, and that it is no obstacle to true goodness
and excellence; however bad men may be pleased to lay the blame of
their corruptions upon that misfortune and the neglect of them in
their minority. Nor is he less an evidence to the truth of their opinion
who conceive that a generous and worthy nature without proper discipline,
like a rich soil without culture, is apt with its better fruits to
produce also much that is bad and faulty. While the force and vigour
of his soul, and a persevering constancy in all he undertook, led
him successfully into many noble achievements, yet, on the other side,
also, by indulging the vehemence of his passion, and through an obstinate
reluctance to yield or accommodate his humours and sentiments to those
of a people about him, he rendered himself incapable of acting and
associating with others. Those who saw with admiration how proof his
nature was against all the softnesses of pleasure, the hardships of
service, and the allurements of gain, while allowing to that universal
firmness of his the respective names of temperance, fortitude, and
justice, yet in the life of the citizen and the statesman, could not
choose but be disgusted at the severity and ruggedness of his deportment,
and with his overbearing, haughty, and imperious temper. Education
and study, and the favours of the muses, confer no greater benefit
on those that seek them than these humanizing and civilizing lessons,
which teach our natural qualities to submit to the limitations prescribed
by reason, and to avoid the wildness of extremes.
Those were times at Rome in which that kind of worth was most esteemed
which displayed itself in military achievements; one evidence of which
we find in the Latin word for virtue, which is properly equivalent
to manly courage. As if valour and all virtue had been the same thing,
they used as the common term the name of the particular excellence.
But Marcius, having a more passionate inclination than any of that
age for feats of war, began at once, from his very childhood, to handle
arms; and feeling that adventitious implements and artificial arms
would effect little, and be of small use to such as have not their
native and natural weapons well fixed and prepared for service, he
so exercised and inured his body to all sorts of activity and encounter,
that besides the lightness of a racer, he had a weight in close seizures
and wrestlings with an enemy, from which it was hard for any to disengage
himself; so that his competitors at home in displays of bravery, loth
to own themselves inferior in that respect, were wont to ascribe their
deficiencies to his strength of body, which they say no resistance
and no fatigue could exhaust.
The first time he went out to the wars, being yet a stripling, was
when Tarquinius Superbus, who had been King of Rome and was afterwards
expelled, after many unsuccessful attempts, now entered upon his last
effort, and proceeded to hazard all as it were upon a single throw.
A great number of the Latins and other people of Italy joined their
forces, and were marching with him toward the city, to procure his
restoration; not, however, so much out of a desire to serve and oblige
Tarquin, as to gratify their own fear and envy at the increase of
the Roman greatness; which they were anxious to check and reduce.
The armies met and engaged in a decisive battle, in the vicissitudes
of which Marcius, while fighting bravely in the dictator's presence,
saw a Roman soldier struck down at a little distance, and immediately

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