But when he was sated with this, and perceived that his mother now wished to say something, he brought to his side the councillors of the Volscians, and heard Volumnia speak as follows:
‘Thou seest, my son, even if we do not speak ourselves, and canst judge from the wretchedness of our garb and aspect, to what a pitiful state thy banishment has reduced us.
And now be sure that we who come to thee are of all women most unhappy, since fortune has made the sight which should have been most sweet, most dreadful for us, as I behold my son, and this wife of thine her husband, encamped against the walls of our native city. And that which for the rest is an assuagement of all misfortune and misery, namely prayer to the gods, has become for us most impracticable; for we cannot ask from the gods both victory for our country and at the same time safety for thee, but that which any one of our foes might imprecate upon us as a curse, this must be the burden of our prayers.
For thy wife and children must needs be deprived either of their country or of thee. As for me, I will not wait to have the war decide this issue for me while I live, but unless I can persuade thee to substitute friendship and concord for dissension and hostility, and so to become a benefactor of both parties rather than a destroyer of one of them, then consider and be well assured that thou canst not assail thy country without first treading underfoot the corpse of her who bore thee. For it does not behoove me to await that day on which I shall behold my son either led in triumph by his fellow-citizens or triumphing over his country.
If, then, I asked you to save your country by ruining the Volscians, the question before thee would be a grievous one, my son, and hard to decide, since it is neither honourable for a man to destroy his fellow-citizens, nor just for him to betray those who have put their trust in him; but as it is, we ask only a relief from evils, something which would be salutary for both parties alike, but more conducive to fame and honour for the Volscians, because their superiority in arms will give them the appearance of bestowing the greatest of blessings, namely peace and friendship, although they get these no less themselves. If these blessings are realized, it will be chiefly due to thee; if they are not, then thou alone wilt bear the blame from both nations.
And though the issues of war are obscure, this is manifest, that if victorious, thou wilt only be thy country's destroying demon, and if defeated, the world will think that, to satisfy thy wrath, thou didst bring down the greatest calamities upon men who were thy benefactors and friends.’