But though he was so free of hand, Coriolanus was a proud, shy man, who would not make friends with the plebeians, and whom the tribunes hated as much as he despised them. He was elected consul, and the tribunes refused to permit him to become one; and when a shipload of wheat arrived from Sicily, there was a fierce quarrel as to how it should be distributed. The tribunes impeached him before the people for withholding it from them, and by the vote of a large number of citizens he was banished from Roman lands. His anger was great, but quiet. He went without a word away from the Forum to his house, where he took leave of his mother Veturia, his wife Volumnia, and his little children, and then went and placed himself by the hearth of Tullus the Volscian chief, in whose army he meant to fight to revenge himself upon his countrymen.
Together they advanced upon the Roman territory, and after ravaging the country threatened to besiege Rome. Men of rank came out and entreated him to give up this wicked and cruel vengeance, and to have pity on his friends and native city; but he answered that the Volscians were now his nation, and nothing would move him. At last, however, all the women of Rome came forth, headed by his mother Veturia and his wife Volumnia, each with a little child, and Veturia entreated and commanded her son in the most touching manner to change his purpose and cease to ruin his country, begging him, if he meant to destroy Rome, to begin by slaying her. She threw herself at his feet as she spoke, and his hard spirit gave way.
“Ah! mother, what is it you do?” he cried as he lifted her up. “Thou hast saved Rome, but lost thy son.”
[Illustration: ROMAN CAMP]
And so it proved, for when he had broken up his camp and returned to the Volscian territory till the senate should recall him as they proceeded, Tullus, angry and disappointed, stirred up a tumult, and he was killed by the people before he could be sent for to Rome. A temple to “Women’s Good Speed” was raised on the spot where Veturia knelt to him.
Another very proud patrician family was the Quinctian. The father, Lucius Quinctius, was called Cincinnatus, from his long flowing curls of hair. He was the ablest man among the Romans, but stern and grave, and his eldest son Kaeso was charged by the tribunes with a murder and fled the country. Soon after there was a great inroad of the AEqui and Volscians, and the Romans found themselves in great danger. They saw no one could save them but Cincinnatus, so they met in haste and chose him Dictator, though he was not present. Messengers were sent to his little farm on the Tiber, and there they found him holding the stilts of the plough. When they told their errand, he turned to his wife, who was helping him, and said, “Racilia, fetch me my toga;” then he washed his face and hands, and was saluted as Dictator. A boat was ready to take him to Rome, and as he landed, he was met by the four-and-twenty