So when Marcius disclosed his many scars from many contests, wherein he had been a foremost soldier for seventeen years together, the people were put out of countenance by his valour, and agreed with one another to elect him. But when the day for casting their votes came, and Marcius made a pompous entry into the forum escorted by the senate, and all the patricians about him were clearly more bent on success than ever before,
the multitude fell away again from their good will towards him, and drifted into feelings of resentment and envy. These feelings were reinforced by their fear that if an aristocrat, who had such weight with the patricians, should become supreme in the government, he might altogether deprive the people of their liberties.
So, being in such a state of mind, they rejected Marcius and others were proclaimed elected. The senators were indignant, thinking the insult directed rather at them than at Marcius, and he himself could not treat the occurrence with restraint or forbearance. He had indulged the passionate and contentious side of his nature, with the idea that there was something great and exalted in this, and had not been imbued, under the influence of reason and discipline, with that gravity and mildness which are the chief virtues of a statesman.
Nor did he know that one who undertakes public business must avoid above all things that self-will which, as Plato says,1
‘companion of solitude’; must mingle with men, and be a lover of that submissiveness to injury which some people ridicule so much. But since he was ever a straightforward man and obstinate, and since he thought that conquest and mastery in all things and at all times was the prerogative of bravery, rather than of effeminate weakness (which breaks out in anger, like a swelling sore, from the troubled and wounded spirit), he event away full of indignation and bitterness towards the people.
The younger patricians, too, that element in the city which made most vaunt of noble birth and was most showy, had always been amazingly devoted to the man, and, adhering to him now, when their presence did him no good, fanned his anger by their sympathetic vexation and sorrow. For he was their leader and willing teacher of the art of war in their campaigns, and inspired them in their victories with a zeal for valour, which had no tinge of mutual jealousy.