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Act I, Scene 8
This scene depicts the critical encounter between Caius Marcius and Aufidius. An alarum is sounded, and Marcius and Aufidius enter from opposite sides. Marcius proclaims that he will fight with none except Aufidius, whom he hates worse than a person who breaks promises. Aufidius rejoins with equal scorn, saying he hates Marcius more than a serpent. Both of them swear that they will not stop fighting until one of them is defeated. Marcius tells Aufidius that the blood covering his body is that of the Volscian soldiers whom he had slain while capturing Corioli only three hours earlier. As the duel progresses, Marcius has the upper hand and Aufidius, breaking his promise, retreats.
This is a crucial moment in the play, for the two archrivals finally engage in a fight. The scene highlights the personal rivalry between Marcius and Aufidius. From the beginning of the play, Marcius has been waiting for this battle and has rushed from the siege of Corioli, impatient to confront Aufidius. Through their spoken dialogue, it is obvious that both men hate each other and view this as a personal duel. They both promise to fight until one man is clearly defeated. The battle is, therefore, anti-climactic, for Aufidius retreats, breaking his promise and indicating that the two will encounter each other again.
It is important to note that before the duel started, Marcius stated that he hates Aufidius worse than a man who breaks his promise. Since Marcius is characterized by honesty and straightforwardness, the lowest form of life to him is a man who cannot be trusted; now Aufidius has broken the promise of fighting to defeat, if not death. As a result, Marcius is picture as the better person - a more noble warrior and an honest man.