Tullus Aufidius consults with Volscian Senators in the Senate House in Corioles. A senator asks Aufidius to confirm his opinion that the Romans know the Volscians’ plans. Aufidius confirms this, asking what the senators expect, since nothing planned in Corioles can be brought into action before Rome catches word of it and comes up with a countermeasure. He reads from a letter that he received four days ago, which reports that Rome has gathered an army. The report says that included in that army are Cominius, Caius Martius (who is Aufidius’s old enemy, and is hated by Rome more than Aufidius himself is), and Titus Lartius, a valiant soldier. This army is most likely moving towards Corioles.
Part of the political landscape of Volces and Rome is a network of spies, suggested by Aufidius’ assertion that nothing can be planned in Corioles without it being discovered by the Romans. Aufidius knows that Romans hate Martius despite his military excellence. The fact that they hate an insider more than an outsider shows how fractured Rome is and might suggest that the citizens are ungrateful for Martius’ service.
The Volscian Senator says that he never had any doubt Rome would be ready to respond, and Aufidius laments that the early discovery of their plan – taking as many towns as possible before Rome found out – has hindered their ability to execute it. A second senator tells Aufidius to take his commission and leave them to defend Corioles unless his army is desperately needed, but Aufidius says that some of the Roman army is already on their way, and he has no doubt that they are well prepared for the war. He tells the senators that he and Caius Martius have sworn to fight to the death if they ever fight again. The senators wish him luck in this battle, and he wishes them safety in the coming war.
Roman military might is in general superior to the Volscians, as the Volscian plan was to catch Rome by surprise. Aufidius further reveals the intense bond between himself and Martius. They are united by their desire to kill one another in hand to hand combat—a kind of brutally intimate encounter.