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Coriolanus   


the images of their gods were placed, happened to fail and falter,
or if the driver took hold of the reins with his left hand, they would
decree that the whole operation should commence anew; and, in latter
ages, one and the same sacrifice was performed thirty times over,
because of the occurrence of some defect or mistake or accident in
the service. Such was the Roman reverence and caution in religious
matters.
Marcius and Tullus were now secretly discoursing of their project
with the chief men of Antium, advising them to invade the Romans while
they were at variance among themselves. And when shame appeared to
hinder them from embracing the motion, as they had sworn to a truce
and cessation of arms for the space of two years, the Romans themselves
soon furnished them with a pretence, by making proclamation, out of
some jealousy or slanderous report, in the midst of the spectacles,
that all the Volscians who had come to see them should depart the
city before sunset. Some affirm that this was a contrivance of Marcius,
who sent a man privately to the consuls, falsely to accuse the Volscians
of intending to fall upon the Romans during the games, and to set
the city on fire. This public affront roused and inflamed their hostility
to the Romans; and Tullus, perceiving it, made his advantage of it,
aggravating the fact, and working on their indignation, till he persuaded
them, at last, to despatch ambassadors to Rome, requiring the Romans
to restore that part of their country and those towns which they had
taken from the Volscians in the late war. When the Romans heard the
message, they indignantly replied that the Volscians were the first
that took up arms, but the Romans would be the last to lay them down.
This answer being brought back, Tullus called a general assembly of
the Volscians; and the vote passing for a war, he then proposed that
they should call in Marcius, laying aside the remembrance of former
grudges, and assuring themselves that the services they should now
receive from him as a friend and associate would abundantly outweigh
any harm or damage he had done them when he was their enemy. Marcius
was accordingly summoned, and having made his entrance, and spoken
to the people, won their good opinion of his capacity, his skill,
counsel, and boldness, not less by his present words than by his past
actions. They joined him in commission with Tullus, to have full power
as the general of their forces in all that related to the war. And
he, fearing lest the time that would be requisite to bring all the
Volscians together in full preparation might be so long as to lose
him the opportunity of action, left order with the chief persons and
magistrates of the city to provide other things, while he himself,
prevailing upon the most forward to assemble and march out with him
as volunteers without staying to be enrolled, made a sudden inroad
into the Roman confines, when nobody expected him, and possessed himself
of so much booty, that the Volscians found they had more than they
could either carry away or use in the camp. The abundance of provision
which he gained, and the waste and havoc of the country which he made,
were, however, of themselves and in his account, the smallest results
of that invasion; the great mischief he intended, and his special
object in all, was to increase at Rome the suspicions entertained
of the patricians, and to make them upon worse terms with the people.
With this view, while spoiling all the fields and destroying the property
of other men, he took special care to preserve their farms and lands
untouched, and would not allow his soldiers to ravage there, or seize
upon anything which belonged to them. From hence their invectives
and quarrels against one another broke out afresh, and rose to a greater
height than ever; the senators reproaching those of the commonalty
with their late injustice to Marcius; while the plebeians, on their
side did not hesitate to accuse them of having, out of spite and revenge,
solicited him to this enterprise, and thus, when others were involved
in the miseries of a war by their means, they sat like unconcerned
spectators, as being furnished with a guardian and protector abroad
of their wealth and fortunes, in the very person of the public enemy.
After this incursion and exploit, which was of great advantage to

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