But as for Marcius, when he came back to Antium from his expedition, Tullus, who had long hated him and been oppressed with jealousy of him, plotted to take him off at once, believing that if his enemy escaped him now, he would never give him another chance to seize him. Having, therefore, arrayed a large party against him, he bade him lay down his command and give the Volscians an account of his administration.
But Marcius, afraid of being reduced to private station when Tullus was in command and exercising the greatest influence among his own countrymen, said he would resign his command to the Volscians, if they bade him do so, since it was at their general bidding that he had assumed it; and that he was ready, and would not refuse even before that, to give a full account of his administration to all the people of Antium who desired it. An assembly was therefore held, at which the popular leaders who had been set to the work rose and tried to embitter the multitude against him.
But when Marcius rose to speak, the more disorderly part of his audience grew quiet, out of reverence for him, and gave him opportunity to speak fearlessly, while the best of the men of Antium, and those that were especially pleased with peace, made it clear that they would listen to him with favour and give a just decision. Tullus, therefore, began to fear the effect of the man's plea in self-defence; for he was one of the most powerful speakers, and his earlier achievements secured him a gratitude which outweighed his later fault; nay more, the very charge against him was but so much proof of the great gratitude which was his due.
For they would not have thought themselves wronged in not getting Rome into their power, had not the efforts of Marcius brought them near to taking it.
Accordingly, the conspirators decided to make no more delay, and not to test the feelings of the multitude; but the boldest of them, crying out that the Volscians must not listen to the traitor, nor suffer him to retain his command and play the tyrant among them, fell upon him in a body and slew him, and no man present offered to defend him.1
However, that the deed was not wrought with the approval of the majority of the Volscians, was seen at once from their coming out of their cities in concourse to his body, to which they gave honourable burial, adorning his tomb with arms and spoils, as that of a chieftain and general. But when the Romans learned of his death, they paid him no other mark either of honour or resentment, but simply granted the request of the women that they might mourn for him ten months, as was customary when any one of them lost a father, or a son, or a brother. For this was the period fixed for the longest mourning, and it was fixed by Numa Pompilius, as is written in his Life.2
The loss of Marcius was keenly felt at once by the Volscian state. For, in the first place, they quarrelled with the Aequians, who were their allies and friends, over the supreme command, and carried their quarrel to the length of bloodshed and slaughter; in the second place, they were defeated in battle by the Romans, wherein Tullus was slain and the very flower of their forces was cut to pieces, so that they were glad to accept most disgraceful terms, becoming subjects of Rome, and pledging themselves to obey her commands.3