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Act I, Scene 2
This short scene shifts to the Volscian Senate in Corioli, depicting the Senators engaged in a council of war. They discuss the likely consequences of Rome’s premature discovery of their preparations for war. Aufidius is irritated by this development and reproaches the First Senator for not keeping the Volscian preparations a closely guarded secret. When the First Senator denies any knowledge of a military leak, Aufidius produces a letter that he had received four days earlier stating that the Romans have raised an army against the Volscians under the leadership of Cominius, Marcius, and Titus Lartius. The letter also states that the Roman citizens are rebelling. To dispel some of Aufidius’ anger, the Second Senator makes him a general for the battle. Aufidius closes the scene by commenting that if he and Marcius should meet on the battlefield, there is sure to be a fight to death.
This scene, which takes place in the Volscian Senate, moves the action further towards the imminent clash between the Volscian and Roman armies. The discussion between the Senators and Aufidius reveals that their own preparations have been discovered by the Romans, giving the enemy time to organize and march towards Corioli. Aufidius is very upset about the military leak of news and implies that there may have been espionage. Of course, Aufidius also seems to have a spy, for he has received the letter stating that the Romans are marching towards Corioli. This system of an intelligence network increases in importance as the play proceeds.
The men in the Corioli Senate obviously know about the reputation of Marcius. Aufidius comments that the people of Rome hate this leader, probably as much as they hate the Volscians. He also knows, however, that Marcius is a good and courageous soldier; if the two of them should meet on the battlefield, there is sure to be a fight until death. It is also obvious that the Corioli Senators like and respect Aufidius as a diplomat and as a brave warrior in battle. It is also apparent that he is proud and ambitious, like his enemy Marcius. Unlike Marcius, however, Aufidius seems to be totally comfortable in the world of politics.