While Volumnia was saying this, Marcius listened without making any answer, and after she had ceased also, he stood a long time in silence. Volumnia therefore began once more:
‘Why art thou silent, my son? Is it right to yield everything to wrath and resentment, but wrong to gratify a mother in such a prayer as this?
Or is the remembrance of his wrongs becoming to a great man, while the remembrance, with reverence and honour, of the benefits which children have received from their parents is not the duty of a great and good man? Surely for no man were it more seemly to cherish gratitude than for thee, who dost so bitterly proceed against ingratitude.
And yet, although thou hast already punished thy country severely, thou hast not shown thy mother any gratitude. It were, therefore, a most pious thing in thee to grant me, without any compulsion, so worthy and just a request as mine; but since I cannot persuade thee, why should I spare my last resource?’ And with these words she threw herself at his feet, together with his wife and children.
Then Marcius, crying out
‘What hast thou done to me, my mother!’ lifted her up, and pressing her right hand warmly, said:
‘Thou art victorious, and thy victory means good fortune to my country, but death to me; for I shall withdraw vanquished, though by thee alone.’ When he had said this, and had held a little private conference with his mother and his wife, he sent them back again to Rome, as they desired, and on the next morning led away his Volscians, who were not all affected in the same way nor equally pleased by what had happened.
For some found fault both with him and with what he had done; but others, who were favourably disposed towards a peaceful settlement of the dispute, with neither; while some, though displeased with his proceedings, nevertheless could not look upon Marcius as a bad man, but thought it pardonable in him to be broken down by such strong compulsions. No one, however, opposed him, but all followed him obediently, though rather out of admiration for his virtue than regard for his authority.1