Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Plutarch
Pages of Coriolanus



Previous | Next
                  

Coriolanus   


his service, appears unprofitable and useless to you."
Tullus, on hearing this, was extremely rejoiced, and giving him his
right hand, exclaimed, "Rise, Marcius, and be of good courage; it
is a great happiness you bring to Antium, in the present use you make
of yourself; expect everything that is good from the Volscians." He
then proceeded to feast and entertain him with every display of kindness,
and for several days after they were in close deliberation together
on the prospects of a war.
While this design was forming, there were great troubles and commotions
at Rome, from the animosity of the senators against the people, heightened
just now by the late condemnation of Marcius. Besides that their soothsayers
and priests, and even private persons, reported signs and prodigies
not to be neglected; one of which is stated to have occurred as follows:
Titus Latinus, a man of ordinary condition, but of a quiet and virtuous
character, free from all superstitious fancies, and yet more from
vanity and exaggeration, had an apparition in his sleep, as if Jupiter
came and bade him tell the senate, that it was with a bad and unacceptable
dancer that they had headed his procession. Having beheld the vision,
he said, he did not much attend to it at the first appearance; but
after he had seen and slighted it a second and third time, he had
lost a hopeful son, and was himself struck with a palsy. He was brought
into the senate on a litter to tell this, and the story goes that
he had no sooner delivered his message there, but he at once felt
his strength return and got upon his legs, and went home alone without
need of any support. The senators, in wonder and surprise, made a
diligent search into the matter. That which his dream alluded to was
this: some citizen had, for some heinous offence, given up a servant
of his to the rest of his fellows with charge to whip him first through
the market, and then to kill him; and while they were executing this
command, and scourging the wretch, who screwed and turned himself
into all manner of shapes and unseemly motions, through the pain he
was in, the solemn procession in honour of Jupiter chanced to follow
at their heels. Several of the attendants on which were, indeed, scandalized
at the sight, yet no one of them interfered, or acted further in the
matter than merely to utter some common reproaches and execrations
on a master who inflicted so cruel a punishment. For the Romans treated
their slaves with great humanity in these times, when, working and
labouring themselves, and living together among them, they naturally
were more gentle and familiar with them. It was one of the severest
punishments for a slave who had committed a fault to have to take
the piece of wood which supports the pole of a wagon, and carry it
about through the neighbourhood; a slave who had once undergone the
shame of this, and been thus seen by the household and the neighbours,
had no longer any trust or credit among them, and had the name of
furcifer; furca being the Latin word for a prop, or support.
When, therefore, Latinus had related his dream, and the senators were
considering who this disagreeable and ungainly dancer could be, some
of the company, having been struck with the strangeness of the punishment,
called to mind and mentioned the miserable slave who was lashed through
the streets and afterwards put to death. The priests, when consulted,
confirmed the conjecture; the master was punished; and orders given
for a new celebration of the procession and the spectacles in honour
of the god. Numa, in other respects also a wise arranger of religious
offices, would seem to have been especially judicious in his direction,
with a view to the attentiveness of the people, that, when the magistrates
or priests performed any divine worship, a herald should go before,
and proclaim with a loud voice, Hoc age, Do this you are about, and
so warn them to mind whatever sacred action they were engaged in,
and not suffer any business or worldly avocation to disturb and interrupt
it; most of the things which men do of this kind being in manner forced
from them, and effected by constraint. It is usual with the Romans
to recommence their sacrifices and processions and spectacles, not
only upon such a cause as this, but for any slighter reason. If but
one of the horses which drew the chariots called Tensae, upon which

Previous | Next
Site Search