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Coriolanus   


to create him consul. But when the day of election was now come, and
Marcius appeared in the forum, with a pompous train of senators attending
him, and the patricians all manifested greater concern, and seemed
to be exerting greater efforts, than they had ever done before on
the like occasion, the commons then fell off again from the kindness
they had conceived for him, and in the place of their late benevolence,
began to feel something of indignation and envy; passions assisted
by the fear they entertained, that if a man of such aristocratic temper
and so influential among the patricians should be invested with the
power which that office would give him, he might employ it to deprive
the people of all that liberty which was yet left them. In conclusion,
they rejected Marcius. Two other names were announced, to the great
mortification of the senators, who felt as if the indignity reflected
rather upon themselves than on Marcius. He, for his part, could not
bear the affront with any patience. He had always indulged his temper,
and had regarded the proud and contentious element of human nature
as a sort of nobleness and magnanimity; reason and discipline had
not imbued him with that solidity and equanimity which enters so largely
into the virtues of the statesman. He had never learned how essential
it is for any one who undertakes public business, and desires to deal
with mankind, to avoid above all things that self-will, which, as
Plato says, belongs to the family of solitude; and to pursue, above
all things, that capacity so generally ridiculed, of submission to
ill-treatment. Marcius, straightforward and direct, and possessed
with the idea that to vanquish and overbear all opposition is the
true part of bravery, and never imagining that it was the weakness
and womanishness of his nature that broke out, so to say, in these
ulcerations of anger, retired, full of fury and bitterness against
the people. The young patricians, too, all that were proudest and
most conscious of their noble birth, had always been devoted to his
interest, and, adhering to him now, with a fidelity that did him no
good, aggravated his resentment with the expression of their indignation
and condolence. He had been their captain, and their willing instructor
in the arts of war, when out upon expeditions, and their model in
that true emulation and love of excellence which makes men extol,
without envy or jealousy, each other's brave achievements.
In the midst of these distempers, a large quantity of corn reached
Rome, a great part bought up in Italy, but an equal amount sent as
a present from Syracuse, from Gelo, then reigning there. Many began
now to hope well of their affairs, supposing the city, by this means,
would be delivered at once, both of its want and discord. A council,
therefore, being presently held, the people came flocking about the
senate-house, eagerly awaiting the issue of that deliberation, expecting
that the market-prices would now be less cruel, and that what had
come as gift would be distributed as such. There were some within
who so advised the senate; but Marcius, standing up, sharply inveighed
against those who spoke in favour of the multitude, calling them flatterers
of the rabble, traitors to the nobility, and alleging, that, by such
gratifications, they did but cherish those ill seeds of boldness and
petulance that had been sown among the people, to their own prejudice,
which they should have done well to observe and stifle at their first
appearance, and not have suffered the plebeians to grow so strong,
by granting them magistrates of such authority as the tribunes. They
were, indeed, even now formidable to the state since everything they
desired was granted them; no constraint was put on their will; they
refused obedience to the consuls and, overthrowing all law and magistracy,
gave the title of magistrate to their private factious leaders. "When
things are come to such a pass for us to sit here and decree largesses
and bounties for them, like those Greeks where the populace is supreme
and absolute, what would it be else," said he, "but to take their
disobedience into pay and maintain it for the common ruin of us all?
They certainly cannot look upon these liberalities as a reward of
public service, which they know they have so often deserted; nor yet
of those secessions, by which they openly renounce their country;

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