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Coriolanus   


of his character, then that he might thus make the breach final between
himself and the people.
He came, therefore, as it were, to make his apology, and clear himself;
in which belief the people kept silence, and gave him a quiet hearing.
But when, instead of the submissive and deprecatory language expected
from him, he began to use not only an offensive kind of freedom, seeming
rather to accuse than apologize, but, as well by the tone of his voice
as the air of his countenance, displayed a security that was not far
from disdain and contempt of them, the whole multitude then became
angry, and gave evident signs of impatience and disgust; and Sicinnius,
the most violent of the tribunes, after a little private conference
with his colleagues, proceeded solemnly to pronounce before them all,
that Marcius was condemned to die by the tribunes of the people, and
bid the Aediles take him to the Tarpeian rock, and without delay throw
him headlong from the precipice. When they, however, in compliance
with the order, came to seize upon his body, many, even of the plebeian
party, felt it to be a horrible and extravagant act; the patricians,
meantime, wholly beside themselves with distress and horror, hurried
up with cries to the rescue; and while some made actual use of their
hands to hinder the arrest, and surrounding Marcius, got him in among
them, others, as in so great a tumult no good could be done by words,
stretched out theirs, beseeching the multitude that they would not
proceed to such furious extremities; and at length, the friends and
acquaintance of the tribunes, wisely perceiving how impossible it
would be to carry off Marcius to punishment without much bloodshed
and slaughter of the nobility, persuaded them to forbear everything
unusual and odious; not to despatch him by any sudden violence, or
without regular process, but refer the cause to the general suffrage
of the people. Sicinnius then, after a little pause, turning to the
patricians, demanded what their meaning was, thus forcibly to rescue
Marcius out of the people's hands, as they were going to punish him;
when it was replied by them, on the other side, and the question put,
"Rather, how came it into your minds, and what is it you design, thus
to drag one of the worthiest men of Rome, without trial, to a barbarous
and illegal execution?" "Very well," said Sicinnius, "you shall have
no ground in this respect for quarrel or complaint against the people.
The people grant your request, and your partisan shall be tried. We
appoint you, Marcius," directing his speech to him, "the third market-day
ensuing, to appear and defend yourself, and to try if you can satisfy
the Roman citizens of your innocence, who will then judge your case
by vote." The patricians were content with such a truce and respite
for that time, and gladly returned home, having for the present brought
off Marcius in safety.
During the interval before the appointed time (for the Romans hold
their sessions every ninth day, which from that cause are called mundinoe
in Latin), a war fell out with the Antiates, likely to be of some
continuance, which gave them hope they might one way or other elude
the judgment. The people, they presumed, would become tractable, and
their indignation lessen and languish by degrees in so long a space,
if occupation and war did not wholly put it out of their mind. But
when, contrary to expectation, they made a speedy agreement with the
people of Antium. and the army came back to Rome, the patricians were
again in great perplexity, and had frequent meetings to consider how
things might be arranged, without either abandoning Marcius, or yet
giving occasion to the popular orators to create new disorders. Appius
Claudius, whom they counted among the senators most averse to the
popular interest, made a solemn declaration, and told them beforehand,
that the senate would utterly destroy itself and betray the government,
if they should once suffer the people to assume the authority of pronouncing
sentence upon any of the patricians; but the oldest senators and most
favourable to the people maintained, on the other side, that the people
would not be so harsh and severe upon them, as some were pleased to
imagine, but rather become more gentle and humane upon the concession
of that power, since it was not contempt of the senate, but the impression

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