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on a tribunal, with his chief officers about him, and fee-
ing that female party advance toward them, he wonder-
ed what mould be the matter ; but he perceived at length
that his own wife was at the head of the company ;
whereupon he endeavoured to harden himfelf in his for-
mer obftinacy, and would fain have continued inexora-
ble to all entreaties ^ but overcome by affection, and,
itrangely difordered at fuch an, he could
not endure they mould approach him fitting in that
{lately pod are, but came down haftily to meet them, fa-
luting his mother rlrft, and embracing her a long time,
and then his wife and children, fparing neither tears
nor carefies on this occafion, but fuffering himfelf to be
borne away, as it were, by the impetuous torrent of his
affection. When he had taken his fill of thefe Indear-
ments, and obferved that his mother was defirous to
fpeak to him, the Volfcian council being firfl called in,
he heard her difcourfe before them to this effect:
*' You may eafily conjecture, my fon, though we mould
" fay nothing ourfelves, from our miferabie afpect and
" drefs, in how forlorn a condition we have lived at home

" fmce

(?) This was not done in an bate held for many hours, and the

iinftant j the defign was firft com- votes at firft were pretty equal,

municated to the coniuls, and the feveralof the ienators reprefent-

confuls fummbned the fenate to ing how dangerous it would be

confider if the ladies fhouldbe al- to truft their wives and children

Jowed to leave the city. The de- in the camp of the enemy, where


Calus Marcius Coriolamis. 183

' C4 fince your banifhment and now confider with yourfelfj
*' whether we are not the moil unfortunate of women,
" fince that which ought to prove the moft delightful
*' fpedtacle, is, through I know not what fatality, become
* { of all others the moft formidable and dreadful to us,
*' when Volumnia fees her fon, and Vergilia her hufband,
" encamped as .an enemy before the walls of Rome ' Yea
*' even prayer to the gods, from which others derive com-
" fort and relief in all manner of misfortunes, adds to our
" anxiety and diftrefs j for we cannot at the fame time
" petition the .gods for Rome's victory, and your prefer*
'* vation. What the worft of our enemies would impre-
" cate on us as a curie, is interwoven and mingled with
** our prayers -, for your wife and children lie under the nc-
" cellity, either of lofmg you, or their native country. As
" for myfel lam refolvednotto live till fortune fhall put
" an end to the war, .and determine between the contend-
" ing parties. If I cannot prevail with you to prefer peace
" and friendfhip to enmity andhoftility, and to become a
" benefactor to both parties, xather than a plague to either,
" be allured of this, that you fhall not advance to aflault
*' your country but by trampling on the dead body of
" her who gave you birth ; for I will not live to fee the
*' day of triumph either for my fon's overthrow, or
" Rome's deflrucliion. If I defired you to fave your
" country by ruining the Volfcians, I -confefs the cale
* c would be hard, and the choice difficult : for is un-
" natural to {laughter -our fellow-rcitizens, it is likewife
" ynjuft to -betray thofe who have placed their confidence
" in us. But now, without doing the lead harm to others,
" we defire only .a deliverance from our own evils ; and
" though the thing be equally expedient for them and us,
" yet will it be more honourable to the Volfcians, who
" having fo much the better of us at prefent, will be
" thought freely to bellow the -greateft of bleffings,

" peace

probably they might be detained women, who were come to wait

prifoners. At laft the majority on him under the divine protec-

was^for it ; it being urged that tion. The debate held till night,

Coriolanus was incapable of fuf- when the decree paft, end the

faring the lead outrage to be ladies fet out the next morning

Committed .upon the perfous of as foon as it was light, having

M 4 chariots

the LIFE of

peace and friendfhip, even when they receive no lefsat
" our hands than is conferred by them. If we obtain thefe,
" the merit of fuch a reconciliation will be chiefly yours - y
" but if they be not granted, you alone muft expect to bear
** the blame from both nations. And though the chance of
" war is uncertain, this will be the certain event of that
" which you are engaged in ^ if you conquer, you v/ill only
u get the reputation of having undone your country ; if
" you are conquered, the world will fay, that to fatisfy
" your revenge you have been the author of the greateft
" mifery to your friends and benefactors."

Marcius liftened to his mother, while (he went on with
her c|ifcourfe, and anfwered not a word ; but Volumnia
feeing him fland mute for a long time after fhe had left
fpeaking, proceeded again in this manner ; " O my fon,
" why are you filent ? Is it laudable to facrifice fo much to
" patfion and fefentment ? And can it be lefs fo, to grant
" fomething to the intreaties of a mother in fuch a caufe as
" this ? Is it the property of a noble mind to retain a fenfe
" of injuries? Andean you think it unworthy of a great
" and good man to repay with gratitude and refpett fuch
" obligations as children receive from their parents ? But
" it becomes you more than all other men to be grateful,
" fmce you punifh ingratitude with fuch feverity ; and in-
" deed you have been fufficiently avenged of your coun-
" try, for requiting your fervices fo ill ; but the debt of
4< gratitude which you owe to your mother remains yet
" unpaid. Themofl lacred ties both of nature and religion,
" without any other conftraint, mould methinks oblige
* 4 you to grant me fojufta requeft but if words cannot
" prevail, this only relburce is left." Having faid this, fhe
threw herfelf at his feet, and fo did his wife and children ;
upon which Marcius cryingout, " O mother ' what is it you
" have done ?" raifed her up from the ground, and preffing
her hand with mo re than ordinary vehemence, "You have
** gained a victory, fays he, over me, that is fortunate
" enough for the Romans, but deftruftive to myfelf,

I go

chariots provided for them by the of that important fervice, it was

confuls for that purpofe. decreed that an encomium of

(8) To perpetuate the memory thofe ladies fhouldbe engraven o.n


Caius Marcius Coriolanus. 185

w I go vanquifhed by you alone." Then after a little pri-
vate conference with his mother and his wife, he fent
them back again to Rome, as they defired of him.

The next morning he decamped and led the Volfcians
homeward, who were variouily affected with what had
parted -, for fomeof them complained of him, and con-
demned the action ; while others, who wifhed for peace,
blamed neither and though they very much difliked his
proceedings, yet they could not look upon Marcius as a
treacherous perfon, but thought it pardonable in him to
be fubdued by fuch powerful felicitations. However no
one contradicted his orders, but all obediently followed
him, moved rather by the admiration of his virtue, than
any regard they had now to his authority. As for the
Roman people, they did not fo effectually difcover how
much fear and danger they were in while the war lafted,
as they did after they were freed from it ; for thofe that
guarded the walls had no fooner given notice that the
Volfcians were retired, but they fet open all their temples
immediately, and began to crown themfelves with flowers,
and offer facrifice, as they were wont to do upon tidings
brought of any fignal victory. But their joy appeared chiefly
in the refpect and kindnefs which was fhewn to the wo-
men, both by the fenate and people (8) ; every one declar-
ing it his opinion, that they were evidently the caufes and
inftruments of the publick fafety ; and the fenate hav-
ing parted a decree, that whatever honour or emolu-
ment they fhould defire as a recompence for their fer-
vice fhould be granted them by the magiftrates, they
demanded nothing elfe but that (9) a temple might be
erected to the fortune of women, all the expence of which
they offered to defray themfelves, if the city would be
at the coft of facrifices, and other religious ceremonies.
The fenate highly commended their generofity, but
caufed the temple to be built, and a flatue to be fet up
therein at the public charge ; neverthelefs they made

a con-

a publick monument. vailed upon and mollified by his

(9) It was eretled on the fame mother, in the t.afin way, about
place where Coiiolanus was pre- four miles from Rome.

(0 They


a contribution among themfelves for another image of
fortune, which, as the Romans lay, at the time of placing
it in the temple pronounced thefe words, " O women,
" molt acceptable to the Gods is your piety and devotion
*''inthe preientyou have madeofme." And they fabuloufly
report that the fame words were repeated a fecond time ;
fuch ablurd and incredible things do they relate. Indeed I
think it poflible enough, that flames may both fweat and
run with tears, yea, and difcharge certain dewy drops of
a fanguine dye ; for timber and ftones are frequently feen
to contract a kindoffcurfand mould, that produce moi-
fture; and they do not only exhibit many different
colours of themfelves, but receive variety of tinctures
from the ambient air ; by which it is notabfurd to ima-
gine that the Deity may advertife and forewarn us of
what is to come. It may happen alfb, that thefe flatues
mall fometimes make a noife not unlike that of a figh
or groan, through a rupture, or violent feparation of
their inward parts ^ but that an articulate voice, and
xprefs words, mould be thus formed by inanimate
Beings, is utterly impoflible^ for neither the foul of
man, nor even God himfelf, can utter vocal founds,
and pronounce words, without an organized body and
parts fitted for utterance. But where hiflory does in a
manner force our aflent by the concurrence of many
credible witneffes, in fuch a cafe we are to conclude,
that an impreflion not unlike that which affects the
fenfe, is made upon the imagination, and produces a
belief of a real fenfation ; jufl as it happens to us when
we are fafl afleep, our eyes and ears feeming to be enter-
tained with thofe things which we neither fee nor hear.
As for thofe perfons, who have fuch an ardent love for
the Deity, that they cannot difbelieve or reject any thing
of this kind, their opinion is founded on the admirable
efficiency of the Divine power, which furpafles our
comprehenfion. For God has no manner of refemb-
lance, either as to his nature, operations, or power,
with what is human, and therefore it is no wonder at
all if he mould devife and perform that, which cannot
be contrived or accomplimed by any mortal. And


Cams Marcius Coriolamis. 187

Chough he differs from, and does infinitely excel us in
.all things elfe, yet the diilimilitude and diftance betwixt
him and men, appears no where ib much, as m the pro-
.digious effects of his .omnipotence. However " moft of
-" the Divine operations," as Heraclitus affirms, " efcape
" our knowledge, becaufe we have not faith enough to
" believe them."

Upon the return of Marcius with the army to Antium,
Tullus (who perfectly hated him, and could no longer
endure a man of whole authority he was fo much afraid)
refolved to difpatch him, well knowing that if he omit r
ted the prefent opportunity, he never fhould have fuch
another advantage over him for that purpofe. Having
therefore fuborncd feveral to appear againft him, he re-
quired Marcius to refign his charge, and give theVolfci-
ans an account of his adminiftration. Marcius appre-
hending the danger of a private condition, if Tullus
Ihould be made commander in chief, and thereby ob-
tain the greateft power and interefl with the people of
Antium, made anfwer, "That he was ready to lay down his
" commiffion, whenever the Volfoianftates, from whofecom-
" monauthority he had received it, fhould think fit tocom-
" mand him ; and that in the mean time he did not refufe to
" give the Antiates fatisfaction, as to all the particulars of
" his conduct, if they were defirous of it." An aflembly
then being called, fome appointed for that defign, by their
harangues exaiperated and incenfed the multitude ; but
when Marcius flood up to anfwer their objections, the
more unruly and tumultuous part of the ailembly grew
calm and quiet on the fudden, and out of reverence to
his perfon gave him liberty to fpeak without the leafl
difturbance ; befides that all the better fort of the peo-
ple, and fuch as were moft delighted with the peace,
made it evident by their behaviour, that they would give
him a favourable hearing, and then judge and pronounce
according to equity. Tullus therefore began to dreaci
his apology, for Marcius was an excellent orator ; and
the gratitude of the Volfcians for his former fervices
out-weighed their difpleafure, on account of his late con-,
duct: nay the very accufation itfelf, was a proof of the


i88 We LIFE of

greatnefs of his merits ; for they could have had no
ground of complaint that Rome was not then brought
into their power, but becaufe by his means only they
had been fo near taking it. For thefe reafons the con-
fpirators judged it prudent not to make any further
delays, or attempt to gain the fuffrages of the people ;
but the boldeft of their faction crying out, that they
ought not to liften to a traitor, nor allow him flill to
bear rule among them, fell upon Marcius in a body, and
flew him there, none of thofe that were prefent fo much
as offering to defend him. But it quickly appeared,
that this bafe and unworthy action was by no means
approved by the majority of the Volfcians ; for they came
running out of their feveral cities to fhew refped to
his corpfe, which they did by (i) an honourable inter-
ment of it, adorning his fepulchre with arms and tro-
phies, as the monument of a noble hero and a famous
General. (2) When the Romans heard of his death,
they gave no other fignification either of honour or of
anger towards him, but only granted this requeft of the
women, that they might put themfelves into mourning,
and bewail him for ten months, as their cuftom was
upon the lofs of a father, fon, or brother ; that being
the period fet for the longeft mourning by the laws of
Numa Pompilius, as I have more amply related in his
life. Marcius was no fooner dead, but the Volfcians
found their need of his affiftance, and wifhed for him
again ; for they quarrelled firft with the ^Equi, (their
confederates and their friends) about the nomination of

a General,

(i) They drefTed him in his memory. When the pile was

General's robes, laid his corpfe confumed, they gathered up his

on a magnificent bier, which was afhes, which they interred on the

borne on the fhoulders of fuch fpot, and creeled a magnificent

young officers as were particu- monument there. Coriolanus was

larly diib'nguiihed for their mar- (lain in the fecond year of the
tial exploits. Before him were . feventy-third Olympiad, in the

borne the fpoils he had obtained two hundred and fixty-fixth year

from the enemy, the crowns he of Rome, and eight years after his

had won, and plans of the cities firft campaign. He fell therefore

he had taken. In this order was in the flower of his age, if it be

he laid on the pile, while feveral true what Plutarch fays, that he

vi&inis were (lain in honour to his made his firft campaign when he

. Caius Marcius Coriolanus;

a General, who fhould be commander in chief of their
joint forces ; which difpute was carried on with fo much
fiercenefs, that it came at length to bloodfhed and flaugh-
ter on both fides. After this, they were defeated by the
Romans in a pitched battle, where not only Tullus loft
his life, but the flower of their whole army was cut in
pieces ; fo that they were forced to fubmit, and accept
of peace upon very difhonourable terms promifmg to
obey the Romans in whatever they mould impofe.

Comparifan of Alcibiades with Coriolanus.

HAving thus given an account of as many of the
actions of thefe two great men, as we thought
worthy to be remembered, it is eafy to be feen that they
are much upon a level with refpect to their exploits in
war ; for both the one and the other gave clear inftances
of their courage and fortitude ; and when they had the
command in chief, they mowed equal proofs of their
military conduct and capacity ; unlefs fome may think
Alcibiades the greater General of the two, from the many
victories he obtained during the whole courfe of his
life, by fea as well as land. But this is common to
them both, that whilft they had the chief command in
the army, and fought in perfon, the affairs of their
country were in a profperous condition, but changed


was very young. But this is liable that in the decline of life he was

to a great many ftrong objections, wont to fay, that " a ftateof exile

and 1 cannot but think thatneither " was always uncomfortable, but

Dionyfiusof HalicarnafTus^norLi- " more fo to an old man than to

vy, had any exacl accounts of the " another. '

time when Coriolanus was born, (2) Dionyfius of HalicarnafTus

and at what age he performed his fays, that they coniidered his death

firft exploits. Livy informs us as a public calamity, and had a.

that there were different accounts public as well as private mourn-

given of the caufe and manner ing for him But perhaps Plu-

of his death ; that according to tarch means that they did not ho-

Fabius a very ancient author, he nour his memory with any pub-

lived till he was very old ; and lick monument.

(5) For

Comparifon cf

for the worfe the moment they went over to the'

As to their behaviour in point of government, it is
mod certain that all wife men have abhorred that of
Alcibiades as too licentious, too fervile and flattering to
the people, and that the Romans hated that of Co-
riolanus as too haughty and auftere, and favouring too
much of Ariftocracy. So that neither of them is to be
commended, if confidered in that capacity ; though the
mild and popular Governor is much lefs to be con-
demned, than he that chufes rather to opprefs and ty-
rannize over the people then to be thought fawning and
obfequious. For if it be mean to feek for power by
courting the favour of the populace ; to purfue it by
infolence and oppreflion is not only mean but unjuft.

It cannot be denied that Coriolanus was full of candor
and fimplicity, whereas Alcibiades was made up of cheat
and impofture. He is particularly reproached for the
trick he put upon the Lacedaemonian ambafladors, when
he impofed upon them on purpofe to renew the war, as
we are told by Thucydides. However, though this arti-
fice neceflarily engaged the Athenians in a deftru&ive
war, yet it ferved more firmly to eftablifh the alliance
with the Mantinaeans, and Grecians, and to render it ftill
more formidable, which was purely owing to his fkill
and addrefs. But was not Coriolanus guilty of an im-
pofture too, when he ftirred up the Romans againft the
Volfcians, by loading the latter with an infamous piece
of calumny during the exhibition of the publick gamef,
of which fome of them were gone to be fpedlators, as
is related by Dionyfius of Halycarnaflus ? and there is
fomething in this adtion which renders it more odious
than that of Alcibiades ; for he was not prompted to it
by the inftigations of ambition, and the heats arifing
from difputes about government and politicks, as Alci-
biades was, but purely did it to gratify his anger ; which,
as Dion fays, " never pays for the fervices it receives.'*
By this means he laid wafte many large trads in Italy,
and facrificed to the refentment he had conceived againft


(3) For he prevented Tifaphernes Aom affifting the Spartans with
all his forces.

Alcibiades with Coriolanus.

his country a great number of cities, from which he
never had received any injury.

It muft be allowed that Alcibiades alfo in his pafllon
was the caufe of many grievous calamities to the Athe-
nians : but he grew cool as fcon as they repented ; and
being a fecond time driven into exile, he could not
bear with patience the blunders committed by the gene-
rals who had been appointed to fucceed him, nor could
he fee with indifference the dangers to which they were
expofed, but (as Ariftides had done before to Themi-
ftocles, and, which of all the adions of his life is the
moft extolled) he went in per {on to wait on thofe ge-
nerals, whom he knew to be not his friends, mowed
them wherein they had erred,, and taught them what
remained to be done for their fafety. Whereas Co-
riolanus punilhed the whole body of the people though
he had been injured only by a part of them, and though
the befl and moft confiderable of the citizens were fel-
low-fufferers with him and compaffionated his misfor-
tunes. Befides by being inflexible to the many meflages
and embattles fent to him on purpofe to repair one fingle
injury, he mowed that he had the ruin of his country
more in view than his own re-eftablifhment, when he
raiied that cruel war againft them without fb much as
giving ear to any terms of accommodation.

It may be faid that there is this difference between
them ; that Alcibiades returned not to Athens till he found
himfelf in imminent danger from the ill-will and diftruft
of the Lacedaemonians ; and that, on the other hand, Co-
riolanus had no juftifiable pretence to forfake the Volfci-
ans, who had always ufed him well, having declared
him their General with full authority, and repofed the
higheft confidence in him ; herein very different from
Alcibiades, who was rather abufed than employed or
trufted by the Spartans -, and who, after having been
driven to and fro in the city and the camp, found him-
felf at laft obliged to refort to TiiTaphernes ; Unlefs it may
be fuppofed that in hopes of being recalled he made his
court (3) to that officer on purpofe to prevent the utter
ruin of his country.


392 fbe ComparifGn of

As to the love of money, Alcibiades received prefentg
and bribes without any icruple. And what he thus
fhamefully got, was as fhamefully fpent in debauch and
luxury. Whereas Coriolanus could not be prevailed
upon by his generals to accept even of the prefents that
had been offered him with all the tokens of honour and
diftinction. Therefore when the difputes arofe about
the cancelling of the debts, he became flill more infup-
portable to the people, who conceived that in the part
which he acted in that affair, he had no view to his own
intereft, but only meant to infult and trample upon

Antipater, in a letter which he wrote concerning Ari-
(lotle's death, faid, " That befides his other talents, he had
41 that of acquiring the good-will of every one. For want
of this talent all Coriolanus's great actions and virtues were
odious even to thofe who received the moft benefit by them,
who could not endure that pride, obftinacy and morofe-
nefs of temper, which Plato calls the u companion of foli-
M tude." Whereas Alcibiades fo well knew how to win
upon thofe with whom he converfed, that it is not to be
wondered at if he was beloved and honoured for his good
actions, when even his faults and extravagancies often
appeared graceful and pleafing. For this reafon though
the one had been the caufe of many heavy calamities to
his country, yet was he feveral times chofen General
with abfolute authority ; whereas the other when he
put up for the Confulfhip, which he had a right to ex-
pect after fo many exploits and victories, was repulfed
with di'Tionour. Thus the Athenians could not hate
Alcibiades, though he had brought innumerable calami-
ties upon them; nor could the Romans love Coriolanus,
notwithftanding the eminent iervices he had done his
country, and the high efteem he was in for his virtue.

To this we may add, that Coriolanus did nothing con-
fiderable for Rome vvliilfl he had the command of her
armies, but did a great deal againfl her when at the
head of that of her enemies ; and that Alcibiades, whe-
ther in the quality of a private foldier, or a commander,
was fignally ferviceable to the Athenians ; that when


Alcibiades with Coriolanus.

prefent he was always too ftrong for his enemies, aiid
they never could get the better of him but in his ab-
fence ; whereas the Romans condemned Coriolanus to his
face ; and he was at length flam by the Volfcians, though
indeed treacheroufly and unjuftly, but not v/ithout a
colour of juftice for having in publick refufed peace to

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