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Pages of Coriolanus

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They were not a little disturbed by his first appearance, seeing him
covered with blood and sweat, and attended with a small train; but
when he hastily made up to the consul with gladness in his looks,
giving him his hand, and recounting to him how the city had been taken,
and when they saw Cominius also embrace and salute him, every one
took fresh heart; those that were near enough hearing, and those that
were at a distance guessing, what had happened; and all cried out
to be led to battle. First, however, Marcius desired to know of him
how the Volscians had arrayed their army and where they had placed
their best men and on his answering that he took the troops of the
Antiates in the centre to be their prime warriors that would yield
to none in bravery, "Let me demand and obtain of you," said Marcius,
"that we may be posted against them." The consul granted the request,
with much admiration for his gallantry. And when the conflict began
by the soldiers darting at each other, and Marcius sallied out before
the rest the Volscians opposed to him were not able to make head against
him; wherever he fell in, he broke their ranks, and made a lane through
them; but the parties turning again, and enclosing him on each side
with their weapons, the consul, who observed the danger he was in
despatched some of the choicest men he had for his rescue. The conflict
then growing warm and sharp about Marcius and many falling dead in
a little space, the Romans bore so hard upon their enemies, and pressed
them with such violence, that they forced them at length to abandon
their ground, and to quit the field. And going now to prosecute the
victory, they besought Marcius, tired out with his toils, and faint
and heavy through the loss of blood, that he would retire to the camp.
He replied, however, that weariness was not for conquerors, and joined
with them in the pursuit. The rest of the Volscian army was in like
manner defeated, great numbers killed, and no less taken captive.
The day after, when Marcius, with the rest of the army, presented
themselves at the consul's tent, Cominius rose, and having rendered
all due acknowledgment to the gods for the success of that enterprise,
turned next to Marcius, and first of all delivered the strongest encomium
upon his rare exploits, which he had partly been an eye-witness of
himself, in the late battle, and had partly learned from the testimony
of Lartius. And then he required him to choose a tenth part of all
the treasure and horses and captives that had fallen into their hands,
before any division should be made to others; besides which, he made
him the special present of a horse with trappings and ornaments, in
honour of his actions. The whole army applauded; Marcius, however,
stepped forth, and declaring his thankful acceptance of the horse,
and his gratification at the praises of his general, said, that all
other things, which he could only regard rather as mercenary advantages
than any significations of honour, he must waive, and should be content
with the ordinary proportion of such rewards. "I have only," said
he, "one special grace to beg, and this I hope you will not deny me.
There was a certain hospitable friend of mine among the Volscians,
a man of probity and virtue, who is become a prisoner, and from former
wealth and freedom is now reduced to servitude. Among his many misfortunes
let my intercession redeem him from the one of being sold as a common
slave." Such a refusal and such a request on the part of Marcius were
followed with yet louder acclamations; and he had many more admirers
of this generous superiority to avarice, than of the bravery he had
shown in battle. The very persons who conceived some envy and despite
to see him so specially honoured, could not but acknowledge, that
one who so nobly could refuse reward, was beyond others worthy to
receive it; and were more charmed with that virtue which made him
despise advantage, than with any of those former actions that have
gained him his title to it. It is the higher accomplishment to use
money well than to use arms; but not to need it is more noble than
to use it.
When the noise of approbation and applause ceased, Cominius, resuming,
said: "It is idle, fellow-soldiers, to force and obtrude those other

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