But Marcius, when he heard of it, was yet more exasperated, and raising the siege of Lavinium, marched against Rome in wrath, and encamped at the so-called Fossae Cluiliae, only five miles distant from the city. Although the sight of him produced terror and great confusion there, still, it put a stop for the present to their dissensions; for no one longer, whether consul or senator, dared to oppose the people in the matter of restoring Marcius.
On the contrary, when they saw the women running frantic in the city, and the aged men resorting to the sacred shrines with suppliant tears and prayers, and everywhere an utter lack of courage and saving counsels, then all agreed that the people had done well to seek a reconciliation with Marcius, but that the senate had made a total mistake in beginning then to indulge its wrath and revengeful spirit, when it had been well to lay such feelings aside. It was, therefore, unanimously decided to send ambassadors to Marcius, offering him the privilege of returning to his country, and begging him to stop his war upon them.
Moreover, the messengers from the senate were kinsmen and friends of Marcius, and expected to be treated with great friendliness in their first interview with a man who was a relative and associate of theirs. But matters turned out quite otherwise; for after being led through the camp of the enemy, they found him seated in great state, and looking insufferably stern.
Surrounded by the chief men of the Volscians, he bade the Romans declare their wishes. They did so, in reasonable and considerate language, and with a manner suitable to their position, and when they had ceased, he made an answer which, so far as it concerned himself; was full of bitterness and anger at their treatment of him, and in behalf of the Volscians, as their general, he ordered the restitution of the cities and territory which had been torn from them in war, and the passage of a decree granting the Volscians, as allies, equal civic rights, as had been done for the Latins.
For no respite from the war would be secure and lasting, he said, except it be based on just and equal rights. Moreover, he gave them thirty days for deliberation, and when the ambassadors were gone, he immediately withdrew his forces from the country.1