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Coriolanus   


despatch him, as, if he escaped now, he was never likely to give him
such another advantage. Having therefore got together and suborned
several partisans against him, he required Marcius to resign his charge,
and give the Volscians an account of his administration. He, apprehending
the danger of a private condition, while Tullus held the office of
general and exercised the greatest power among his fellow-citizens,
made answer, that he was ready to lay down his commission, whenever
those from whose common authority he had received it should think
fit to recall it, and that in the meantime he was ready to give the
Antiates satisfaction, as to all particulars of his conduct, if they
were desirous of it.
An assembly was called and popular speakers, as had been concerted,
came forward to exasperate and incense the multitude; but when Marcius
stood up to answer, the more unruly and tumultuous part of the people
became quiet on a sudden, and out of reverence allowed him to speak
without the least disturbance; while all the better people, and such
as were satisfied with a peace, made it evident by their whole behaviour,
that they would give him a favourable hearing, and judge and pronounce
according to equity.
Tullus, therefore, began to dread the issue of the defence he was
going to make for himself; for he was an admirable speaker, and the
former services he had done the Volscians had procured and still preserved
for him greater kindness than could be outweighed by any blame for
his late conduct. Indeed, the very accusation itself was a proof and
testimony of the greatness of his merits, since people could never
have complained or thought themselves wronged, because Rome was not
brought into their power, but that by his means they had come so near
to taking it. For these reasons, the conspirators judged it prudent
not to make any further delays, nor to test the general feeling; but
the boldest of their faction, crying out that they ought not to listen
to a traitor, nor allow him still to retain office and play the tyrant
among them, fell upon Marcius in a body, and slew him there, none
of those that were present offering to defend him. But it quickly
appeared that the action was in nowise approved by the majority of
the Volscians, who hurried out of their several cities to show respect
to his corpse; to which they gave honourable interment, adorning his
sepulchre with arms and trophies, as the monument of a noble hero
and a famous general. When the Romans heard tidings of his death,
they gave no other signification either of honour or of anger towards
him, but simply granted the request of the women, that they might
put themselves into mourning and bewail him for ten months, as the
usage was upon the loss of a father or a son or a brother; that being
the period fixed for the longest lamentation by the laws of Numa Pompilius,
as is more amply told in the account of him.
Marcius was no sooner deceased, but the Volscians felt the need of
his assistance. They quarrelled first with the Aequians, their confederates
and their friends, about the appointment of the general of their joint
forces, and carried their dispute to the length of bloodshed and slaughter;
and were then defeated by the Romans in a pitched battle, where not
only Tullus lost his life, but the principal flower of their whole
army was cut in pieces; so that they were forced to submit and accept
of peace upon very dishonourable terms, becoming subjects of Rome,
and pledging themselves to submission.
THE END

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