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Coriolanus   


city. The nearness of his approach did, indeed, create much terror
and disturbance, yet it also ended their dissensions for the present;
as nobody now, whether consul or senator, durst any longer contradict
the people in their design of recalling Marcius; but, seeing their
women running affrighted up and down the streets, and the old men
at prayer in every temple with tears and supplications, and that,
in short, there was a general absence among them both of courage and
wisdom to provide for their own safety, they came at last to be all
of one mind, that the people had been in the right to propose as they
did a reconciliation with Marcius, and that the senate was guilty
of a fatal error to begin a quarrel with him when it was a time to
forget offences, and they should have studied rather to appease him.
It was, therefore, unanimously agreed by all parties, that ambassadors
should be despatched, offering him return to his country, and desiring
he would free them from the terrors and distresses of the war. The
persons sent by the senate with this message were chosen out of his
kindred and acquaintance, who naturally expected a very kind reception
at their first interview, upon the score of that relation and their
old familiarity and friendship with him; in which, however, they were
much mistaken. Being led through the enemy's camp, they found him
sitting in state amidst the chief men of the Volscians, looking insupportably
proud and arrogant. He bade them declare the cause of their coming,
which they did in the most gentle and tender terms, and with a behaviour
suitable to their language. When they had made an end of speaking,
he returned them a sharp answer, full of bitterness and angry resentment,
as to what concerned himself and the ill-usage he had received from
them; but as general of the Volscians, he demanded restitution of
the cities and the lands which had been seized upon during the late
war, and that the same rights and franchises should be granted them
at Rome, which had been before accorded to the Latins; since there
could be no assurance that a peace would be firm and lasting without
fair and just conditions on both sides. He allowed them thirty days
to consider and resolve.
The ambassadors being departed, he withdrew his forces out of the
Roman territory. This, those of the Volscians who had long envied
his reputation, and could not endure to see the influence he had with
the people, laid hold of, as the first matter of complaint against
him. Among them was also Tullus himself, not for any wrong done him
personally by Marcius, but through the weakness incident to human
nature, He could not help feeling mortified to find his own glory
thus totally obscured, and himself overlooked and neglected now by
the Volscians, who had so great an opinion of their new leader, that
he alone was all to them, while other captains, they thought, should
be content with that share of power which he might think fit to accord.
From hence the first seeds of complaint and accusation were scattered
about in secret, and the malcontents met and heightened each other's
indignation, saying, that to retreat as he did was in effect to betray
and deliver up though not their cities and their arms, yet what was
as bad, the critical times and opportunities for action, on which
depend the preservation or the loss of everything else; since in less
than thirty days' space, for which he had given a respite for the
war, there might happen the greatest changes in the world. Yet Marcius
spent not any part of the time idly, but attacked the confederates
of the enemy, ravaged their land, and took from them seven great and
populous cities in that interval. The Romans, in the meanwhile, durst
not venture out to their relief; but were utterly fearful, and showed
no more disposition or capacity for action than if their bodies had
been struck with a palsy, and became destitute of sense and motion.
But when the thirty days were expired, and Marcius appeared again
with his whole army, they sent another embassy, to beseech him that
he would moderate his displeasure and would withdraw the Volscian
army, and then make any proposals he thought best for both parties;
the Romans would make no concessions to menaces, but if it were his
opinion that the Volscians ought to have any favour shown them, upon

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