The reputation and influence procured by his valour were already great in the city, when the senate, taking the part of the wealthy citizens, began to be at variance with the common people, who thought they suffered many grievous ills at the hands of the money-lenders. For those of them that were possessed of moderate means were stripped of all they had by means of pledges and sales, while those who were altogether without resources were led away in person and put in prison, although their bodies bore many marks of wounds received and hardships undergone in campaigns for the defence of their country.
The last of these had been against the Sabines, and they had undertaken it upon a promise of their wealthiest creditors to deal moderately with them, and after a vote of the senate that Marcus Valerius, the consul, should guarantee the promise. But after they had fought zealously in that battle also, and had conquered the enemy, no consideration was shown them by their creditors,
and the senate did not even pretend to remember its agreements, but again suffered them to be seized in pledge of payments and haled away to prison. Then there were tumults and disorderly gatherings in the city, and the enemy, not unaware of the popular confusion, burst in and ravaged the country, and when the consuls summoned those of military age to arms, no one responded. In this crisis, the opinions of those in authority were again at variance.
Some thought that concessions should be made to the plebeians, and the excessive rigor of the law relaxed; but others opposed this, and among them was Marcius. He did not regard the financial difficulties as the main point at issue, and exhorted the magistrates to be wise enough to check and quell this incipient attempt at bold outrage on the part of a populace in revolt against the laws.