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The tension between the plebeians and patricians is almost forgotten when it is announced that the Volscians have taken up arms and are ready to attack. Marcius is thrilled by this news, for he is first and foremost a soldier and is eager to meet his archenemy, Aufidius, who he praises for his valor and calls a lion. When asked to be the second in command to Cominius during battle, Marcius gladly agrees. By the end of the first scene, it is obvious that Marcius is a proud, self-centered, aristocratic warrior who is most comfortable on the battlefield. Since courage and loyalty are the two treasured values of Roman society, Marcius has done well.
Before the opening, introductory scene draws to a close, the recently elected tribunes, Sicinius Velutus and Junius Brutus, converse on recent events and discuss Marcius. They believe him to be crafty and dishonest, which shows that they are not good judges of character, for Marcius is really straightforward and honest. They do correctly comment on his excessive pride, even claiming he is “too proud to be valiant.” In truth, it is his pride, coupled with his inflexibility, that will ultimately lead to the downfall of Marcius.
Although the opening scene is one of the longest in the play, its pace is rapid due to the many changes in characters and moods. It also serves to introduce the main characters, the setting, and the conflicts of the entire play.