It would seem that when a young man's ambition is no integral part of his nature, it is apt to be quenched by an honourable distinction which is attained too early in life; his thirst and fastidious appetite are speedily satisfied. But serious and firm spirits are stimulated by the honours they receive, and glow brightly, as if roused by a mighty wind to achieve the manifest good. They do not feel that they are receiving a reward for what they have done, but rather that they are giving pledges of what they will do, and they are ashamed to fall behind their reputation instead of surpassing it by their actual exploits.
It was in this spirit that Marcius vied with himself in manly valour, and being ever desirous of fresh achievement, he followed one exploit with another, and heaped spoils upon spoils, so that his later commanders were always striving with their predecessors in their efforts to do him honour, and to surpass in their testimonials to his prowess. Many indeed were the wars and conflicts which the Romans waged in those days, and from none did he return without laurels and rewards of valour.
But whereas other men found in glory the chief end of valour, he found the chief end of glory in his mother's gladness. That she should hear him praised and see him crowned and embrace him with tears of joy, this was what gave him, as he thought, the highest honour and felicity. And it was doubtless this feeling which Epaminondas also is said to have confessed, in considering it his greatest good fortune that his father and mother lived to know of his generalship and victory at Leuctra.
But he was so blessed as to have both his parents share in his pleasure and success, whereas Marcius, who thought he owed his mother the filial gratitude also which would have been due to his father, could not get his fill of gladdening and honouring Volumnia, nay, he even married according to her wish and request, and continued to live in the same house with his mother after children were born to him.