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



Previous | Next
                  

Coriolanus   


the practical and elective element of our nature, by certain initial
occasions, by images presented to the imagination, and thoughts suggested
to the mind, such either as to excite it to, or avert and withhold
it from, any particular course.
In the perplexity which I have described, the Roman women went, some
to other temples, but the greater part, and the ladies of highest
rank, to the altar of Jupiter Capitolinus. Among these suppliants
was Valeria, sister to the great Poplicola, who did the Romans eminent
service both in peace and war. Poplicola himself was now deceased,
as is told in the history of his life; but Valeria lived still, and
enjoyed great respect and honour at Rome, her life and conduct no
way disparaging her birth. She, suddenly seized with the sort of instinct
or emotion of mind which I have described, and happily lighting, not
without divine guidance, on the right expedient, both rose herself,
and bade the others rise, and went directly with them to the house
of Volumnia, the mother of Marcius. And coming in and finding her
sitting with her daughter-in-law, and with her little grandchildren
on her lap, Valeria, then surrounded by her female companions, spoke
in the name of them all:-
"We that now make our appearance, O Volumnia, and you, Vergilia, are
come as mere women to women, not by direction of the senate, or an
order from the consuls, or the appointment of any other magistrate;
but the divine being himself, as I conceive, moved to compassion by
our prayers, prompted us to visit you in a body, and request a thing
on which our own and the common safety depends, and which, if you
consent to it, will raise your glory above that of the daughters of
the Sabines, who won over their fathers and their husbands from mortal
enmity to peace and friendship. Arise and come with us to Marcius;
join in our supplication, and bear for your country this true and
just testimony on her behalf; that, notwithstanding the many mischiefs
that have been done her, yet she has never outraged you, nor so much
as thought of treating you ill, in all her resentment, but does now
restore you safe into his hands, though there be small likelihood
she should obtain from him any equitable terms."
The words of Valeria were seconded by the acclamations of the other
women, to which Volumnia made answer:-
"I and Vergilia, my country-women, have an equal share with you all
in the common miseries, and we have the additional sorrow, which is
wholly ours, that we have lost the merit and good fame of Marcius,
and see his person confined, rather than protected, by the arms of
the enemy. Yet I account this the greatest of all misfortunes, if
indeed the affairs of Rome be sunk to so feeble a state as to have
their last dependence upon us. For it is hardly imaginable he should
have any consideration left for us, when he has no regard for the
country which he was wont to prefer before his mother and wife and
children. Make use, however, of our service; and lead us, if you please,
to him; we are able, if nothing more, at least to spend our last breath
in making suit to him for our country."
Having spoken thus, she took Vergilia by the hand, and the young children,
and so accompanied them to the Volscian camp. So lamentable a sight
much affected the enemies themselves, who viewed them in respectful
silence. Marcius was then sitting in his place, with his chief officers
about him, and, seeing the party of women advance toward them, wondered
what should be the matter; but perceiving at length that his mother
was at the head of them, he would fain have hardened himself in his
former inexorable temper, but, overcome by his feelings, and confounded
at what he saw, he did not endure they should approach him sitting
in state, but came down hastily to meet them, saluting his mother
first, and embracing her a long time, and then his wife and children,
sparing neither tears nor caresses, but suffering himself to be borne
away and carried headlong, as it were, by the impetuous violence of
his passion.
When he had satisfied himself, and observed that his mother Volumnia
was desirous to say something, the Volscian council being first called

Previous | Next
Site Search