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26. But Marcius and Tullus were secretly conferring at Antium with the chief men, and were urging them to begin the war while the Romans were torn by internal dissensions. And when shame restrained them from this course, because they had agreed to a truce and cessation of hostilities for two years, the Romans themselves furnished them with a pretext, by making proclamation at the spectacles and games, because of some suspicion or slanderous report, that the visiting Volscians must leave the city before sunset. [2] Some say1 that this was due to a deceitful stratagem of Marcius, who sent a man to the consuls in Rome, bearing the false charge that the Volscians purposed to fall upon the Romans at the spectacles, and set the city on fire.2 This proclamation made all the Volscians more embittered against the Romans; and Tullus, magnifying the incident, and goading them on, at last persuaded them to send ambassadors to Rome3 and demand back the territory and the cities which had been taken from the Volscians in war. [3] But the Romans, after hearing the ambassadors, were full of indignation, and replied that the Volscians might be first to take up arms, but the Romans would be last to lay them down. Upon receiving this answer, Tullus called a general assembly of his people, and after they had voted for the war, advised them to call in Marcius, cherishing no resentment against him, but firmly convinced that he would be more helpful as an ally than he had been injurious as a foe.

1 See the following Comparison, ii. 2.

2 According to Livy (ii. 37, 1-7), it was Tullus himself who came to the consuls, as had been planned with Marcius. Plutarch agrees rather with Dionysius Hal. viii. 3.

3 Livy speaks only of a revolt (ii. 38, fin.). Plutarch agrees with Dionysius Hal. viii. 4-10.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 37.1
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 38
    • Plutarch, Comparison of Alcibiades and Coriolanus, 2.2
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
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