Life of Pyrrhus 1
Historians tell us that the first king of the Thesprotians and Molossians after the flood was Phaethon, one of those who came into Epeirus with Pelasgus; but some say that Deucalion and Pyrrha established the sanctuary at Dodona and dwelt there among the Molossians. In after time, however, Neoptolemus the son of Achilles, bringing a people with him, got possession of the country for himself, and left a line of kings descending from him. These were called after him Pyrrhidae; for he had the surname of Pyrrhus in his boyhood, and of his legitimate children by Lanassa, the daughter of Cleodaeus the son of Hyllus, one was named by him Pyrrhus. Consequently Achilles also obtained divine honours in Epeirus, under the native name of Aspetus. But the kings who followed in this line soon lapsed into barbarism and became quite obscure, both in their power and in their lives, and it was Tharrhypas, historians say, who first introduced Greek customs and letters and regulated his cities by humane laws, thereby acquiring for himself a name. Alcetas was a son of Tharrhypas, Arybas of Alcetas, and of Arybas and Troas, Aeacides. He married Phthia, the daughter of Menon the Thessalian, a man who won high repute at the time of the Lamian war and acquired the highest authority among the confederates after Leosthenes. Phthia bore to Aeacides two daughters, De?dameia and Troas, and a son, Pyrrhus.
Life of Pyrrhus 2
But factions arose among the Molossians, and expelling Aeacides they brought into power the sons of Neoptolemus The friends of Aeacides were then seized and put to death, but Pyrrhus, who was still a babe and was sought for by the enemy, was stolen away by Androcleides and Angelus, who took to flight. However, they were obliged to take along with them a few servants, and women for the nursing of the child, and on this account their flight was laborious and slow and they were overtaken. They therefore entrusted the child to Androcleion, Hippias, and Neander, sturdy and trusty young men, with orders to fly with all their might and make for Megara, a Macedonian town; while they themselves, partly by entreaties and partly by fighting, stayed the course of the pursuers until late in the evening. After these had at last been driven back, they hastened to join the men who were carrying Pyrrhus. The sun had already set and they were near their hoped-for refuge, when suddenly they found themselves cut off from it by the river which flowed past the city. This had a forbidding and savage look, and when they tried to cross it, proved altogether impassable. For its current was greatly swollen and violent from rains that had fallen, and the darkness made everything more formidable. Accordingly, they gave up trying to cross unaided, since they were carrying the child and the women who cared for the child; and perceiving some of the people of the country standing on the further bank, they besought their help in crossing, and showed them Pyrrhus, with loud cries and supplications. But the people on the other side could not hear them for the turbulence and splashing of the stream, and so there was delay, one party shouting what the other could not understand, until some one bethought himself of a better way. He stripped off a piece of bark from a tree and wrote thereon with a buckle-pin a message telling their need and the fortune of the child; then he wrapped the bark about a stone, which he used to give force to his cast, and threw it to the other side. Some say, however, that it was a javelin about which he wrapped the bark, and that he shot it across. Accordingly, when those on the other side had read the message and saw that no time was to be lost, they cut down trees, lashed them together, and made their way across. As chance would have it, the first of them to make his way across was named Achilles; he took Pyrrhus in his arms, and the rest of the fugitives were conveyed across by others in one way or another.
Life of Pyrrhus 3
Having thus outstripped their pursuers and reached a place of safety, the fugitives betook themselves to Glaucias the king of the Illyrians; and finding him sitting at home with his wife, they put the little child down on the floor before them. Then the king began to reflect. He was in fear of Cassander, who was an enemy of Aeacides, and held his peace a long time as he took counsel with himself. Meanwhile Pyrrhus, of his own accord, crept across the floor, clutched the king's robe, and pulled himself on to his feet at the knees of Glaucias, who was moved at first to laughter, then to pity, as he saw the child clinging to his knees and weeping like a formal suppliant. Some say, however, that the child did not supplicate Glaucias, but caught hold of an altar of the gods and stood there with his arms thrown round it, and that Glaucias thought this a sign from Heaven. Therefore he at once put Pyrrhus in the arms of his wife, bidding her rear him along with their children; and a little while after, when the child's enemies demanded his surrender, and Cassander offered two hundred talents for him, Glaucias would not give him up, but after he had reached the age of twelve years, actually conducted him back into Epeirus with an armed force and set him upon the throne there. In the aspect of his countenance Pyrrhus had more of the terror than of the majesty of kingly power. He had not many teeth, but his upper jaw was one continuous bone, on which the usual intervals between the teeth were indicated by slight depressions. People of a splenetic habit believed that he cured their ailment; he would sacrifice a white cock, and, while the patient lay flat upon his back, would press gently with his right foot against the spleen. Nor was any one so obscure or poor as not to get this healing service from him if he asked it. The king would also accept the cock after he had sacrificed it, and this honorarium was most pleasing to him. It is said, further, that the great toe of his right foot had a divine virtue, so that after the rest of his body had been consumed, this was found to be untouched and unharmed by the fire. These things, however, belong to a later period.
Life of Pyrrhus 4
When he had reached the age of seventeen years and was thought to be firmly seated on his throne, it came to pass that he went on a journey, when one of the sons of Glaucias, with whom he had been reared, was married. Once more, then, the Molossians banded together, drove out his friends, plundered his property, and put themselves under Neoptolemus. Pyrrhus, thus stripped of his realm and rendered destitute of all things, joined himself to Demetrius the son of Antigonus, who had his sister De?dameia to wife. She, while she was still a girl, had been nominally given in marriage to Alexander, Roxana's son; but their affairs miscarried, and when she was of age Demetrius married her. In the great battle which all the kings fought at Ipsus Pyrrhus was present, and took part with Demetrius, though still a stripling. He routed the enemy opposed to him, and made a brilliant display of valour among the combatants. Moreover, though Demetrius lost the day, Pyrrhus did not abandon him, but kept guard over his cities in Greece which were entrusted to him, and when Demetrius made peace with Ptolemy, sailed to Egypt as hostage for him. Here, both in hunting and in bodily exercises, he gave Ptolemy proof of his prowess and endurance, and seeing that among the wives of Ptolemy it was Berenic? who had the greatest influence and was foremost in virtue and understanding, he paid especial court to her. He was adept at turning to his own advantage the favour of his superiors, just as he was inclined to look down upon his inferiors, and since he was orderly and restrained in his ways of living, he was selected from among many young princes as a husband for Antigone, one of the daughters of Berenic?, whom she had by Philip before her marriage with Ptolemy.
Life of Pyrrhus 5
After this marriage he was held in still greater esteem, and since Antigone was an excellent wife to him, he brought it to pass that he was sent into Epeirus with money and an army to regain his kingdom. Most people there were glad to see him come, owing to their hatred of Neoptolemus, who was a stern and arbitrary ruler. However, fearing lest Neoptolemus should have recourse to one of the other kings, he came to terms and made friendship with him on the basis of a joint exercise of the royal power. But as time went on there were people who secretly exasperated them against one another and filled them with mutual suspicions. The chief ground, however, for action on the part of Pyrrhus is said to have its origin as follows. It was customary for the kings, after sacrificing to Zeus Areius at Passaro, a place in the Molossian land, to exchange solemn oaths with the Epeirots, the kings swearing to rule according to the laws, and the people to maintain the kingdom according to the laws. Accordingly, this was now done; both the kings were present, and associated with one another, together with their friends, and many gifts were interchanged. Here Gelon, a man devoted to Neoptolemus, greeted Pyrrhus in a friendly manner and made him a present of two yoke of oxen for ploughing. Pyrrhus was asked for these by Myrtilus, his cup-bearer; and when Pyrrhus would not give them to him, but gave them to another, Myrtilus was deeply resentful. This did not escape the notice of Gelon, who therefore invited Myrtilus to supper, and even, as some say, enjoyed his youthful beauty as they drank; then he reasoned with him and urged him to become an adherent of Neoptolemus and to destroy Pyrrhus by poison. Myrtilus accepted the proposal, pretending to approve of it and to be persuaded, but informed Pyrrhus. He also, by the king's orders, presented Alexicrates, the king's chief cup-bearer, to Gelon, assuring him that he would take part in their enterprise; for Pyrrhus wished to have several persons who could testify to the intended crime. Thus Gelon was thoroughly deceived, and Neoptolemus as well, and as thoroughly, who, supposing that the plot was duly progressing, could not keep it to himself, but in his joy would talk about it to his friends. Once, in particular, after a revel at the house of his sister Cadmeia, he fell to prattling about the matter, supposing that no one would hear the conversation but themselves; for no one else was near except Phaenarete, the wife of Samon, a man who managed the flocks and herds of Neoptolemus, and Phaenarete was lying on a couch with her face to the wall and seemed to be asleep. But she heard everything, and next day went unobserved to Antigone the wife of Pyrrhus, and told her all that she had heard Neoptolemus say to his sister. When Pyrrhus learned of it, he kept quiet for a time, but on a day of sacrifice invited Neoptolemus to supper and killed him. For he was aware that the chief men among the Epeirots were devoted to himself and were eager to see him rid himself of Neoptolemus; also that they wished him not to content himself with having a small share of the kingdom, but to follow his natural bent and attempt greater things, and, now that some suspicion had added its weight to other motives for the deed, to anticipate Neoptolemus by taking him off first.
Life of Pyrrhus 6
And now, in honour of Berenic? and Ptolemy, he gave the name of Ptolemy to his infant son by Antigone, and called the city which he had built on the peninsula of Epeirus, Berenicis. After this, he began to revolve many large projects in his mind; but his hopes were fixed first and more especially on undertakings close at hand, and he found a way to take direct part in Macedonian affairs, on grounds something like the following. Of Cassander's sons, the elder, Antipater, killed his mother Thessalonic? and drove away his brother Alexander. Alexander sent to Demetrius begging for help, and also called upon Pyrrhus. Demetrius was delayed by matters that he had in hand; but Pyrrhus came, and demanded as a reward for his alliance Stymphaea and Parauaea in Macedonia, and, of the countries won by the allies, Ambracia, Acarnania, and Amphilochia. The youthful Alexander gave way to his demands, and Pyrrhus took possession of these countries and held them for himself with garrisons; he also proceeded to strip from Antipater the remaining parts of his kingdom and turn them over to Alexander. Now Lysimachus the king, who was eager to give aid to Antipater, was fully occupied himself and could not come in person; but knowing that Pyrrhus was desirous to do Ptolemy every favour and refuse him nothing, he sent a forged letter to him which stated that Ptolemy urged him to give up his expedition on payment of three hundred talents from Antipater. As soon as Pyrrhus opened the letter he perceived the fraud of Lysimachus; for the letter did not have the customary address, "The father, to the son, health and happiness," but instead, "King Ptolemy, to King Pyrrhus, health and happiness." Pyrrhus reviled Lysimachus for the fraud, but nevertheless made the desired peace, and they all met to ratify it with sacrificial oaths. However, after a bull, a boar, and a ram had been brought up for sacrifice, of its own accord the ram fell down dead. The rest of the spectators were moved to laughter, but Theodotus the seer prevented Pyrrhus from taking the oath by declaring that Heaven thus betokened in advance the death of one of the three kings. In this way, then, Pyrrhus was led to renounce the peace.
Life of Pyrrhus 7
Thus Alexander's affairs were already settled with the help of Pyrrhus, but nevertheless Demetrius came to him; and as soon as he arrived it was plain that he was not wanted, and he inspired only fear; and after they had been together a few days their mutual distrust led them to plot against each other. But Demetrius, taking advantage of his opportunity, got beforehand with the young prince and slew him, and was proclaimed king of Macedonia.?Now, even before this there had been differences between him and Pyrrhus, and Pyrrhus had overrun Thessaly; and greed for power, the natural disease of dynasties, made them formidable and suspicious neighbours, and all the more after the death of De?dameia. And now that both of them had occupied part of Macedonia, they came into collision, and their quarrel was furnished with stronger grounds. Demetrius therefore made an expedition against the Aetolians and conquered them, and then, leaving Pantauchus there with a large force, he himself moved against Pyrrhus, and Pyrrhus, when he heard of it, against him. Owing to a mistake in the way, however, they passed by one another, and Demetrius, throwing his forces into Epeirus, plundered the country, while Pyrrhus, encountering Pantauchus, joined battle with him. There was a sharp and terrible conflict between the soldiers who engaged, and especially also between the leaders. For Pantauchus, who was confessedly the best of the generals of Demetrius for bravery, dexterity, and vigour of body, and had both courage and a lofty spirit, challenged Pyrrhus to a hand-to-hand combat; and Pyrrhus, who yielded to none of the kings in daring and prowess, and wished that the glory of Achilles should belong to him by right of valour rather than of blood alone, advanced through the foremost fighters to confront Pantauchus. At first they hurled their spears, then, coming to close quarters, they plied their swords with might and skill. Pyrrhus got one wound, but gave Pantauchus two, one in the thigh, and one along the neck, and put him to flight and overthrew him; he did not kill him, however, for his friends haled him away. Then the Epeirots, exalted by the victory of their king and admiring his valour, overwhelmed and cut to pieces the phalanx of the Macedonians, pursued them as they fled, slew many of them, and took five thousand of them alive.
Life of Pyrrhus 8
This conflict did not fill the Macedonians with wrath and hate towards Pyrrhus for their losses, rather it led those who beheld his exploits and engaged him in the battle to esteem him highly and admire his bravery and talk much about him. For they likened his aspect and his swiftness and all his motions to those of the great Alexander, and thought they saw in him shadows, as it were, and intimations of that leader's impetuosity and might in conflicts. The other kings, they said, represented Alexander with their purple robes, their body-guards, the inclination of their necks, and their louder tones in conversation; but Pyrrhus, and Pyrrhus alone, in arms and action. Of his knowledge and ability in the field of military tactics and leadership one may get proofs from the writings on these subjects which he left. It is said also that Antigonus, when asked who was the best general, "Pyrrhus, if he lives to be old." This verdict of Antigonus applied only to his contemporaries. Hannibal, however, declared that the foremost of all generals in experience and ability was Pyrrhus, that Scipio was second, and he himself third, as I?have written in my life of Scipio. And in a word, Pyrrhus would seem to have been always and continually studying and meditating upon this one subject, regarding it as the most kingly branch of learning; the rest he regarded as mere accomplishments and held them in no esteem. For instance, we are told that when he was asked at a drinking-party whether he thought Python or Caphisias the better flute-player, he replied that Polysperchona was a good general, implying that it became a king to investigate and understand such matters only. He was also kind towards his familiar friends, and mild in temper, but eager and impetuous in returning favours. At any rate, when Aeropus died, he was distressed beyond measure, declaring that Aeropus had indeed only suffered what was common to humanity, but that he blamed and reviled himself because he had always delayed and moved slowly in the matter and so had not returned his friend's favour. For the debts due to one's creditors can be paid back to their heirs; but if the favours received from friends are not returned while those friends can be sensible of the act, it is an affliction to a just and good man. Again, in Ambracia there was a fellow who denounced and reviled him, and people thought that Pyrrhus ought to banish him. "Let him remain here," said Pyrrhus, "and speak ill of us among a few, rather than carry his slanders round to all mankind." And again, some young fellows indulged in abuse of him over their cups, and were brought to task for it. Pyrrhus asked them if they had said such things, and when one of them replied, "We did, O?King; and we should have said still more than this if we had had more wine." Pyrrhus laughed and dismissed them.
Life of Pyrrhus 9
In order to enlarge his interests and power he married several wives after the death of Antigone. He took to wife, namely, a daughter of Autoleon, king of the Paeonians; Bircenna, the daughter of Bardyllis the Illyrian; and Lanassa, the daughter of Agathocles of Syracuse, who brought him as her dowry the city of Corcyra, which had been captured by Agathocles. By Antigone he had a son Ptolemy, Alexander by Lanassa, and Helenus, his youngest son, by Bircenna. He brought them all up to be brave in arms and fiery, and he whetted them for this from their very birth. It is said, for instance, that when he was asked by one of them, who was still a boy, to whom he should leave his kingdom, he replied: "To that one of you who keeps his sword the sharpest." This, however, meant nothing less than the famous curse of Oedipus in the tragedy; that "with whetted sword," and not by lot, the brothers should "divide the house." So savage and ferocious is the nature of rapacity.
Life of Pyrrhus 10
After this battle Pyrrhus returned to his home rejoicing in the splendour which his fame and lofty spirit had brought him; and when he was given the surname of "Eagle" by the Epeirots, "Through you," he said, "am?I an eagle; why, pray, should I?not be? It is by your arms that I?am borne aloft as by swift pinions." But a little while later, learning that Demetrius was dangerously sick, he suddenly threw an army into Macedonia, intending merely to overrun and plunder some parts of it. Yet he came within a little of mastering the whole country and getting the kingdom without a battle; for he marched on as far as Edessa without opposition from anyone, and many actually joined his forces and shared his expedition. And now Demetrius himself was roused by the peril to act beyond his strength, while his friends and commanders in a short time collected many soldiers and set out with zeal and vigour against Pyrrhus. Pyrrhus, however, had come more for plunder than anything else, and would not stand his ground, but fled, losing a part of his army on the march, under the attacks of the Macedonians. However, because Demetrius had easily and speedily driven Pyrrhus out of the country, he did not leave him to his own devices, but now that he had determined to undertake a great enterprise and to recover his father's realm with a hundred thousand soldiers and five hundred ships, he did not wish to have collisions with Pyrrhus, nor yet to leave behind in him an enterprising and troublesome neighbour for the Macedonians. He wished, rather, since he had no time to wage war against Pyrrhus, to come to terms and make peace with him, and then turn his arms against the other kings. But after an agreement had been made between them for these reasons, the purpose of Demetrius became apparent, as well as the magnitude of his preparations, and the kings, in alarm, kept sending to Pyrrhus messengers and letters,expressing their amazement that he should let slip his own opportunity for making war and wait for Demetrius to seize his; and that when he was able to drive Demetrius out of Macedonia, since he was now much occupied and disturbed, he should await the time when his adversary, at his leisure and after he had become great, could wage a decisive struggle with him for the sanctuaries and tombs of the Molossian land, an adversary who had just robbed him of Corcyra, and his wife besides. For Lanassa, who found fault with Pyrrhus for being more devoted to his barbarian wives than to her, had retired to Corcyra, whither, since she desired a royal marriage, she invited Demetrius, understanding that he, of all the kings, was most readily disposed to marry wives. So Demetrius sailed thither, married Lanassa, and left a garrison in the city.
Life of Pyrrhus 11
Such letters the kings kept sending to Pyrrhus, and at the same time on their own part they assailed Demetrius while he was still waiting to complete his preparations. Ptolemy sailed up with a great fleet and tried to bring the Greek cities to revolt, while Lysimachus invaded upper Macedonia from Thrace and ravaged the country. So Pyrrhus, taking the field at the same time with these, marched against Beroea, expecting, as proved to be the case, that Demetrius would go to confront Lysimachus, and thus leave the lower country unprotected. That night Pyrrhus dreamed that he was called by Alexander the Great, and that when he answered the call he found the king lying on a couch, but met with kindly speech and friendly treatment from him, and received a promise of his ready aid and help. "And how, O?King," Pyrrhus ventured to ask, "when thou art sick, canst thou give me aid and help?" "My name itself will give it," said the king, and mounting a Nisaean horse he led the way.
This vision gave Pyrrhus great assurance, and leading his army with all speed through the intervening districts he took possession of Beroea; then, stationing the greater part of his forces there, he proceeded to subdue the rest of the country through his generals. When Demetrius heard of this, and became aware of a pernicious uproar in his camp on the part of the Macedonians, he was afraid to led them farther on, lest on coming into the neighbourhood of a Macedonian king of great renown they should go over to him. Therefore he turned back and led them against Pyrrhus, with the idea that he was a foreigner and hated by the Macedonians. But after he had pitched his camp over against Pyrrhus, many Beroeans came thither with loud praises of Pyrrhus; they said he was invincible in arms and a brilliant hero, and treated his captives with mildness and humanity. There were some also whom Pyrrhus himself sent into the camp; they pretended to be Macedonians, and said that now was the favourable time to rid themselves of Demetrius and his severity, by going over to Pyrrhus, a man who was gracious to the common folk and fond of his soldiers. In consequence of this, the greater part of the army was all excitement, and went about looking for Pyrrhus; for it chanced that he had taken off his helmet, and he was not recognised until he bethought himself and put it on again, when its towering crest and its goat's horns made him known to all. Some of the Macedonians therefore ran to him and asked him for his watchword, and others put garlands of oaken boughs around their heads because they saw the soldiers about him garlanded. And presently even to Demetrius himself certain persons ventured to say that if he quietly withdrew and renounced his undertakings men would think that he had taken wise counsel. He saw that this advice tallied with the agitation in the camp, and was frightened, and secretly stole away, after putting on a broad-brimmed hat and a simple soldier's cloak. So Pyrrhus came up, took the camp without a blow, and was proclaimed king of Macedonia.
Life of Pyrrhus 12
But now Lysimachus made his appearance, claimed that the overthrow of Demetrius had been the joint work of both, and demanded a division of the kingdom. So Pyrrhus, who did not yet feel entire confidence in the Macedonians, but was still doubtful about them, accepted the proposition of Lysimachus, and they divided the cities and the territory with one another. This availed for the present, and prevented war between them, but shortly afterward they perceived that the distribution which they had made did not put an end to their enmity, but gave occasion for complaints and quarrels. For how men to whose rapacity neither sea nor mountain nor uninhabitable desert sets a limit,?men to whose inordinate desires the boundaries which separate Europe and Asia put no stop, can remain content with what they have and do one another no wrong when they are in close touch, it is impossible to say. Nay, they are perpetually at war, because plots and jealousies are parts of their natures, and they treat the two words, war and peace, like current coins, using whichever happens to be for their advantage, regardless of justice; for surely they are better men when they wage war openly than when they give the names of justice and friendship to the times of inactivity and leisure which interrupt their work of injustice. And Pyrrhus made this plain; for, setting himself to hinder the growing power of Demetrius, and trying to prevent its recovery, so to speak, from a serious illness, he went to the help of the Greeks and entered Athens. Here he went up to the acropolis and sacrificed to the goddess, then came down again on the same day, and told the people he was well pleased with the confidence and goodwill which they had shown him, but that in future, if they were wise, they would not admit any one of the kings into their city nor open their gates to him. After this, he actually made peace with Demetrius, but in a little while, when Demetrius had set out for Asia, he once more took the advice of Lysimachus and tried to bring Thessaly to revolt, besides waging war upon the garrisons of Demetrius in the Greek cities. For he found that the Macedonians were better disposed when they were on a campaign than when they were unoccupied, and he himself was by nature entirely averse to keeping quiet.
But at last, after Demetrius had been wholly overthrown in Syria, Lysimachus, who now felt himself secure, and had nothing on his hands, at once set out against Pyrrhus. Pyrrhus was in camp at Edessa, where Lysimachus fell upon his provision trains and mastered them, thus bringing him to straits; then, by letters and conferences he corrupted the leading Macedonians, upbraiding them because they had chosen as lord and master a man who was a foreigner, whose ancestors had always been subject to Macedonia, and were thrusting the friends and familiars of Alexander out of the country. After many had thus been won over, Pyrrhus took alarm and departed with his Epeirots and allied forces, thus losing Macedonia precisely as he got it. Whence we see that kings have no reason to find fault with popular bodies for changing sides as suits their interests; for in doing this they are but imitating the kings themselves, who are their teachers in unfaithfulness and treachery, and think him most advantaged who least observes justice.
Life of Pyrrhus 13
At this time, then, when Pyrrhus had been driven back into Epeirus and had given up Macedonia, Fortune put it into his power to enjoy what he had without molestation, to live in peace, and to reign over his own people. But he thought it tedious to the point of nausea if he were not inflicting mischief on others or suffering it at others' hands, and like Achilles could not endure idleness,
"but ate his heart away
Remaining there, and pined for war-cry and battle."Filled with such desires, then, he found ground for fresh undertakings in the following circumstances. The Romans were at war with the people of Tarentum, who, being able neither to carry on the war, nor yet, owing to the rashness and villainy of their popular leaders, to put an end to it, wished to make Pyrrhus their leader and summon him to the war, believing him to be most at leisure of all the kings, and a most formidable general. Of the elderly and sensible citizens, some who were directly opposed to this plan were overborne by the clamour and violence of the war party, and others, seeing this, absented themselves from the assembly. But there was a certain worthy man, Meton by name, who, when the day on which the decree was to be ratified was at hand and the people were taking their seats in the assembly, took a withered garland and a torch, after the way of revellers, and came dancing in behind a flute-girl who led the way for him. Then, as will happen in a throng of free people not given to decorum, some clapped their hands at sight of him, and others laughed, but none tried to stop him; nay, they bade the woman play on her flute and called upon Meton to come forward and give them a song; and it was expected that he would do so. But when silence had been made, he said: "Men of Tarentum, ye do well not to frown upon those who wish to sport and revel, while they can. And if ye are wise, ye will also get some enjoyment still out of your freedom, assured that ye will have other business and a different life and diet when Pyrrhus has come into the city." These words brought conviction to most of the Tarentines, and a murmur of applause ran through the assembly. But those who were afraid that if peace were made they would be given up to the Romans, reviled the people for tamely submitting to such shameless treatment from a drunken reveller, and banding together they cast Meton out. And so the decree was ratified, and the people sent ambassadors to Pyrrhus, not only from their own number, but also from the Italian Greeks. These brought gifts to Pyrrhus, and told him they wanted a leader of reputation and prudence, and that he would find there large forces gathered from Lucania, Messapia, Samnium, and Tarentum, amounting to twenty thousand horse and three hundred and fifty thousand foot all told. This not only exalted Pyrrhus himself, but also inspired the Epeirots with eagerness to undertake the expedition.
Life of Pyrrhus 14
Now, there was a certain Cineas, a man of Thessaly, with a reputation for great wisdom, who had been a pupil of Demosthenes the orator, and was quite the only public speaker of his day who was thought to remind his hearers, as a statue might, of that great orator's power and ability. Associating himself with Pyrrhus, and sent by him as ambassador to the cities, he confirmed the saying of Euripides, to wit, "all can be won by eloquence
That even the sword of warring enemies might gain."At any rate, Pyrrhus used to say that more cities had been won for him by the eloquence of Cineas than by his own arms; and he continued to hold Cineas in especial honour and to demand his services. It was this Cineas, then, who, seeing that Pyrrhus was eagerly preparing an expedition at this time to Italy, and finding him at leisure for the moment, drew him into the following discourse. "The Romans, O?Pyrrhus, are said to be good fighters, and to be rulers of many warlike nations; if, then, Heaven should permit us to conquer these men, how should we use our victory?" And Pyrrhus said: "Thy question, O?Cineas, really needs no answer; the Romans once conquered, there is neither barbarian nor Greek city there which is a match for us, but we shall at once possess all Italy, the great size and richness and importance of which no man should know better than thyself." After a little pause, then, Cineas said: "And after taking Italy, O?King, what are we to do?" And Pyrrhus, not yet perceiving his intention, replied: "Sicily is near, and holds out her hands to us, an island abounding in wealth and men, and very easy to capture, for all is faction there, her cities have no government, and demagogues are rampant now that Agathocles is gone." "What thou sayest," replied Cineas, "is probably true; but will our expedition stop with the taking of Sicily?" "Heaven grant us," said Pyrrhus, "victory and success so far; and we will make these contests but the preliminaries of great enterprises. For who could keep his hands off Libya, or Carthage, when that city got within his reach, a city which Agathocles, slipping stealthily out of Syracuse and crossing the sea with a few ships, narrowly missed taking? And when we have become masters here, no one of the enemies who now treat us with scorn will offer further resistance; there is no need of saying that." "None whatever," said Cineas, "for it is plain that with so great a power we shall be able to recover Macedonia and rule Greece securely. But when we have got everything subject to us, what are we going to do?" Then Pyrrhus smiled upon him and said: "We shall be much at ease, and we'll drink bumpers, my good man, every day, and we'll gladden one another's hearts with confidential talks." And now that Cineas had brought Pyrrhus to this point in the argument, he said: "Then what stands in our way now if we want to drink bumpers and while away the time with one another? Surely this privilege is ours already, and we have at hand, without taking any trouble, those things to which we hope to attain by bloodshed and great toils and perils, after doing much harm to others and suffering much ourselves."
By this reasoning of Cineas Pyrrhus was more troubled than he was converted; he saw plainly what great happiness he was leaving behind him, but was unable to renounce his hopes of what he eagerly desired.
Life of Pyrrhus 15
First, then, he sent Cineas to Tarentum with three thousand soldiers; next, after numerous cavalry-transports, decked vessels, and passage-boats of every sort had been brought over from Tarentum, he put on board of them twenty elephants and three thousand horse, twenty thousand foot, two thousand archers, and five hundred slingers. When all was ready, he put out and set sail; but when he was half way across the Ionian sea he was swept away by a north wind that burst forth out of all season. In spite of its violence he himself, through the bravery and ardour of his seamen and captains, held out and made the land, though with great toil and danger; but the rest of the fleet was thrown into confusion and the ships were scattered. Some of them missed Italy and were driven off into the Libyan and Sicilian sea; others, unable to round the Iapygian promontory, were overtaken by night, and a heavy and violent sea, which drove them upon harbourless and uncertain shores, and destroyed them all except the royal galley. She, as long as the waves drove upon her side, held her own, and was saved by her great size and strength from the blows of the water; but soon the wind veered round and met her from the shore, and the ship was in danger of being crushed by the heavy surges if she stood prow on against them. However, to allow her again to be tossed about by an angry open sea and by blasts of wind that came from all directions, was thought to be more fearful than their present straits. Pyrrhus therefore sprang up and threw himself into the sea, and his friends and bodyguards were at once emulously eager to help him. But night and the billows with their heavy crashing and violent recoil made assistance difficult, so that it was not until day had already come and the wind was dying away that he succeeded in gaining the shore, in body altogether powerless, but with boldness and strength of spirit still making head against this distress. The Messapians, among whom he had been cast forth, ran together with eager offers to assist as well as they could, and at the same time some of his ships that had escaped the storm came up; in these there were but a few horsemen all told, less than two thousand footmen, and two elephants.
Life of Pyrrhus 16
With these Pyrrhus set out for Tarentum, where Cineas, on learning of his approach, led out his soldiers to meet him. Entering the city, he did nothing that was against the wishes of the Tarentines, nor did he put any compulsion upon them, until his ships came back in safety from the sea and the greater part of his forces were assembled. Then, however, seeing that the multitude were incapable, unless under strong constraint, of either saving themselves or saving others, but were inclined to let him do their fighting for them while they remained at home in the enjoyment of their baths and social festivities, he closed up the gymnasia and the public walks, where, as they strolled about, they fought out their country's battles in talk; he also put a stop to the drinking-bouts, revels, and festivals, as unseasonable, called the men to arms, and was stern and inexorable in his enrolment of them for military service. Many therefore left the city, since they were not accustomed to being under orders, and called it servitude not to live as they pleased. And now word was brought to Pyrrhus that Laevinus the Roman consul was coming against him with a large army and plundering Lucania as he came. Pyrrhus had not yet been joined by his allies, but thinking it an intolerable thing to hold back and suffer his enemies to advance any nearer, he took the field with his forces, having first sent a herald to the Romans with the enquiry whether it was their pleasure, before waging war, to receive satisfaction from the Italian Greeks, employing him as arbiter and mediator. But Laevinus made answer that the Romans neither chose Pyrrhus as a mediator nor feared him as a foe. Pyrrhus therefore went forward and pitched his camp in the plain between the cities of Pandosia and Heracleia. When he learned that the Romans were near and lay encamped on the further side of the river Siris, he rode up to the river to get a view of them; and when he had observed their discipline, the appointment of their watches, their order, and the general arrangement of their camp, he was amazed, and said to the friend that was nearest him: "The discipline of these Barbarians is not barbarous; but the result will show us what it amounts to." He was now less confident of the issue, and determined to wait for his allies; but he stationed a guard on the bank of the river to check the Romans if, in the meantime, they should attempt to cross it. The Romans, however, anxious to anticipate the coming of the forces which Pyrrhus had decided to await, attempted the passage, their infantry crossing the river by a ford, and their cavalry dashing through the water at many points, so that the Greeks on guard, fearing that they would be surrounded, withdrew. When Pyrrhus saw this, he was greatly disturbed, and charging his infantry officers to form in line of battle at once and stand under arms, he himself rode out with his three thousand horsemen, hoping to come upon the Romans while they were still crossing, and to find them scattered and in disorder. But when he saw a multitude of shields gleaming on the bank of the river and the cavalry advancing upon him in good order, he formed his men in close array and led them to the attack. He was conspicuous at once for the beauty and splendour of his richly ornamented armour, and showed by his deeds that his valour did not belie his fame; and this most of all because, while actively participating in the fight and vigorously repelling his assailants, he did not become confused in his calculations nor lose his presence of mind, but directed the battle as if he were surveying it from a distance, darting hither and thither himself and bringing aid to those whom he thought to be overwhelmed.
Here Leonnatus the Macedonian, observing that an Italian was intent upon Pyrrhus, and was riding out against him and following him in every movement from place to place, said: "Seest thou, O?King, that Barbarian yonder, riding the black horse with white feet? He looks like a man who has some great and terrible design in mind. For he keeps his eyes fixed upon thee, and is intent to reach thee with all his might and main, and pays no heed to anybody else. So be on thy guard against the man." To him Pyrrhus made reply: "What is fated, O?Leonnatus, it is impossible to escape; but with impunity neither he nor any other Italian shall come to close quarters with me." While they were still conversing thus, the Italian levelled his spear, wheeled his horse, and charged upon Pyrrhus. Then at the same instant the Barbarian's spear smote the king's horse, and his own horse was smitten by the spear of Leonnatus. Both horses fell, but while Pyrrhus was seized and rescued by his friends, the Italian, fighting to the last, was killed. He was a Frentanian, by race, captain of a troop of horse, Oplax by name.
Life of Pyrrhus 17
This taught Pyrrhus to be more on his guard; and seeing that his cavalry were giving way, he called up his phalanx and put it in array, while he himself, after giving his cloak and armour to one of his companions, Megacles, and hiding himself after a fashion behind his men, charged with them upon the Romans. But they received and engaged him, and for a long time the issue of the battle remained undecided; it is said that there were seven turns of fortune, as each side either fled back or pursued. And indeed the exchange of armour which the king had made, although it was opportune for the safety of his person, came near overthrowing his cause and losing him the victory. For many of the enemy assailed Megacles and the foremost of them, Dexo?s by name, smote him and laid him low, and then, snatching away his helmet and cloak, rode up to Laevinus, displaying them, and shouting as he did so that he had killed Pyrrhus. Accordingly, as the spoils were carried along the ranks and displayed, there was joy and shouting among the Romans, and among the Greeks consternation and dejection, until Pyrrhus, learning what was the matter, rode along his line with his face bare, stretching out his hand to the combatants and giving them to know him by his voice. At last, when the Romans were more than ever crowded back by the elephants, and their horses, before they got near the animals, were terrified and ran away with their riders, Pyrrhus brought his Thessalian cavalry upon them while they were in confusion and routed them with great slaughter. Dionysius states that nearly fifteen thousand of the Romans fell, but Hieronymus says only seven thousand; on the side of Pyrrhus, thirteen thousand fell, according to Dionysius, but according to Hieronymus less than four thousand. These, however, were his best troops; and besides, Pyrrhus lost the friends and generals whom he always used and trusted most. However, he took the camp of the Romans after they had abandoned it, and won over to his side some of their allied cities; he also wasted much territory, and advanced until he was ?within three hundred furlongs' distance from Rome. And now, after the battle, there came to him many of the Lucanians and Samnites. These he censured for being late, but it was clear that he was pleased and proud because with his own troops and the Tarentines alone he had conquered the great force of the Romans.
Life of Pyrrhus 18
The Romans did not depose Laevinus from his consular office; and yet we are told that Caius Fabricius declared that it was not the Epeirots who had conquered the Romans, but Pyrrhus who had conquered Laevinus, Fabricius being of the opinion that the Roman defeat was not due to their army, but to its general; but they lost no time in filing up their depleted legions and raising others, used fearless and vehement language about the war, and thus filled Pyrrhus with consternation. He decided, therefore, to send to them first and find out whether they were disposed to come to terms, for he regarded the capture of their city and their complete conquest as a large task and one that was beyond his present force, whereas a friendly settlement with them after a victory would greatly enhance his reputation. Accordingly, Cineas was sent to Rome, where he had conferences with the men in authority, and sent their wives and children gifts in the name of the king. No one, however, would accept the gifts, but all replied,?men and women alike, that if a peace were publicly concluded they also, on their part, would show goodwill and kindness to the king. Moreover, though Cineas made many and alluring proposals to the senate, not one of them was received there with alacrity or pleasure, although Pyrrhus offered to restore without a ransom their men who had been captured in battle, and promised to assist them in the subjugation of Italy, and in return for these favours asked only friendship for himself, immunity for the Tarentines, and nothing else. Nevertheless, most of the senators were plainly inclined towards peace, since they had been defeated in one great battle, and expected another with a larger army, now that the Italian Greeks had joined Pyrrhus. At this point Appius Claudius, a man of distinction, but one whom old age and blindness had forced to give up all public activities, now that the message from the king had come and a report was rife that the senate was going to vote for the proposed cessation of hostilities, could not restrain himself, but ordered his attendants to take him up and had himself carried on a litter through the forum to the senate-house. When he had reached the door, his sons and sons-in-law took him up in their arms and brought him inside, and the senators, out of regard for the man, kept respectful silence.
Life of Pyrrhus 19
Then Appius raised himself up where he was and said: "Up to this time, O?Romans, I?have regarded the misfortune to my eyes as an affliction, but it now distresses me that I?am not deaf as well as blind, that I?might not hear the shameful resolutions and decrees of years which bring low the glory of Rome. For what becomes of the words that ye are ever reiterating to all the world, namely, that if the great Alexander of renown had come to Italy and had come into conflict with us, when we were young men, and with our fathers, when they were in their prime, he would not now be celebrated as invincible, but would either have fled, or, perhaps, have fallen there, and so have left Rome more glorious still? Surely ye are proving that this was boasting and empty bluster, since ye are afraid of Chaonians and Molossians, who were ever the prey of the Macedonians, and ye tremble before Pyrrhus, who has ever been a minister and servitor to one at least of Alexander's bodyguards,and now comes wandering over Italy, not so much to help the Greeks who dwell here, as to escape his enemies at home, promising to win for us the supremacy here with that army which could not avail to preserve for him a small portion of Macedonia. Do not suppose that ye will rid yourself of this fellow by making him your friend; nay, ye will bring against you others, and they will despise you as men whom anybody can easily subdue, if Pyrrhus goes away without having been punished for his insults, but actually rewarded for them in having enabled Tarentines and Samnites to mock at Romans."
After Appius had thus spoken, his hearers were seized with eagerness to prosecute the war, and Cineas was sent back with the reply that Pyrrhus must first depart out of Italy, and then, if he wished, the Romans would talk about friendship and alliance; but as long as he was there in arms, they would fight him with all their might, even though he should rout in battle ten thousand men like Laevinus. It is said, too, that Cineas, while he was on this mission, made it his earnest business at the same time to observe the life and manners of the Romans, and to understand the excellences of their form of government; he also conversed with their best men, and had many things to tell Pyrrhus, among which was the declaration that the senate impressed him as a council of many kings, and that, as for the people, he was afraid it might prove to be a Lernaean hydra for them to fight against, since the consul already had twice as many soldiers collected as those who faced their enemies before, and there were many times as many Romans still who were capable of bearing arms.
Life of Pyrrhus 20
After this, an embassy came from the Romans to treat about the prisoners that had been taken. The embassy was headed by Caius Fabricius, who, as Cineas reported, was held in highest esteem at Rome as an honourable man and good soldier, but was inordinately poor. To this man, then, Pyrrhus privately showed kindness and tried to induce him to accept gold, not for any base purpose, indeed, but calling it a mark of friendship and hospitality. But Fabricius rejected the gold, and for that day Pyrrhus let him alone; on the following day, however, wishing to frighten a man who had not yet seen an elephant, he ordered the largest of these animals to be stationed behind a hanging in front of which they stood conversing together. This was done; and at a given signal the hanging was drawn aside, and the animal raised his trunk, held it over the head of Fabricius, and emitted a harsh and frightful cry. But Fabricius calmly turned and said with a smile to Pyrrhus: "Your gold made no impression on me yesterday, neither does your beast to-day."b Again, at supper, where all sorts of topics were discussed, and particularly that of Greece and her philosophers, Cineas happened somehow to mention Epicurus, and set forth the doctrines of that school concerning the gods, civil government, and the highest good, explaining that they made pleasure the highest good, but would have nothing to do with civil government on the ground that it was injurious and the ruin of felicity, and that they removed the Deity as far as possible from feelings of kindness or anger or concern for us, into a life that knew no care and was filled with ease and comfort. But before Cineas was done, Fabricius cried out and said: "O?Hercules, may Pyrrhus and the Samnites cherish these doctrines, as long as they are at war with us."
Thus Pyrrhus was led to admire the high spirit and character of the man, and was all the more eager to have friendship with this city instead of waging war against it; he even privately invited him, in case he brought about the settlement, to follow his fortunes and share his life as the first and foremost of all his companions and generals. But Fabricius, as we are told, said quietly to him: "Nay, O?King, this would not be to thy advantage; for the very men who now admire and honour thee, if they should become acquainted with me, would prefer to have me as their king rather than thee." Such a man was Fabricius. And Pyrrhus did not receive the speech with anger or like a tyrant, but actually reported to his friends the magnanimity of Fabricius, and entrusted his prisoners of war to him alone, on condition that, in case the senate should not vote for the peace, they should be sent back again to him, though they might first greet their relatives and celebrate the festival of Saturn. And they were so sent back after the festival, the senate having voted a penalty of death for any that stayed behind.
Life of Pyrrhus 21
After this, and when Fabricius had assumed the consulship, a man came into his camp with a letter for him. The letter had been written by the physician of Pyrrhus, who promised that he would take the king off by poison, provided that the Romans would agree to reward him for putting an end to the war without further hazard on their part. But Fabricius, who was indignant at the iniquity of the man, and had disposed his colleague to feel likewise, sent a letter to Pyrrhus with all speed urging him to be on his guard against the plot. The letter ran as follows: "Caius Fabricius and Quintus Aemilius, consuls of Rome, to King Pyrrhus, health and happiness. It would appear that thou art a good judge neither of friends nor of enemies. Thou wilt see, when thou hast read the letter which we send, that the men with whom thou art at war are honourable and just, but that those whom thou trustest are unjust and base. And indeed we do not give thee this information out of regard for thee, but in order that thy ruin may not bring infamy upon us, and that men may not say of us that we brought the war to an end by treachery because we were unable to do so by valour." When Pyrrhus had read this letter and got proof of the plot against his life, he punished the physician, and as a requital to Fabricius and the Romans made them a present of his prisoners of war, and once more sent Cineas to negotiate a peace for him. But the Romans would not consent to receive the men for nothing, either as a favour from an enemy, or as a reward for not committing iniquity against him, and therefore released for Pyrrhus an equal number of Tarentines and Samnites whom they had taken; on the subject of friendship and peace, however, they declared they would allow nothing to be said until Pyrrhus had taken his arms and his army out of Italy and sailed back to Epeirus on the ships that brought him. Consequently, Pyrrhus found himself obliged to fight another battle, and after recuperating his army he marched to the city of Asculum, where he engaged the Romans. Here, however, he was forced into regions where his cavalry could not operate, and upon a river with swift current and wooded banks, so that his elephants could not charge and engage the enemy's phalanx. Therefore, after many had been wounded and slain, for the time being the struggle was ended by the coming of night. But on the next day, designing to fight the battle on level ground, and to bring his elephants to bear upon the ranks of the enemy, Pyrrhus occupied betimes the unfavourable parts of the field with a detachment of his troops; then he put great numbers of slingers and led his forces to the attack in dense array and with a mighty impetus. So the Romans, having no opportunity for sidelong shifts and counter-movements, as on the previous day, were obliged to engage on level ground and front to front; and being anxious to repulse the enemy's men-at-arms before their elephants came up, they fought fiercely with their swords against the Macedonian spears, reckless of their lives and thinking only of wounding and slaying, while caring naught for what they suffered. After a long time, however, as we are told, they began to be driven back at the point where Pyrrhus himself was pressing hard upon his opponents; but the greatest havoc was wrought by the furious strength of the elephants, since the valour of the Romans was of no avail in fighting them, but they felt that they must yield before them as before an onrushing billow or a crashing earthquake, and not stand their ground only to die in vain, or suffer all that is most grievous without doing any good at all. After a short flight the Romans reached their camp, with a loss of six thousand men, according to Hieronymus, who also says that on the side of Pyrrhus, according to the king's own commentaries, thirty-five hundred and five were killed. Dionysius, however, makes no mention of two battles at Asculum, nor of an admitted defeat of the Romans, but says that the two armies fought once for all until sunset and then at last separated; Pyrrhus, he says, was wounded in the arm by a javelin, and also had his baggage plundered by the Daunians; and there fell, on the side of Pyrrhus and on that of the Romans, over fifteen thousand men.
The two armies separated; and we are told that Pyrrhus said to one who was congratulating him on his victory, "If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined." For he had lost a great part of the forces with which he came, and all his friends and generals except a few; moreover, he had no others whom he could summon from home, and he saw that his allies in Italy were becoming indifferent, while the army of the Romans, as if from a fountain gushing forth indoors, was easily and speedily filled up again, and they did not lose courage in defeat, nay, their wrath gave them all the more vigour and determination for the war.
Life of Pyrrhus 22
But while he was involved in such perplexities, new hopes once more inspired him, and projects which divided his purposes. For at one and the same time there came to him from Sicily men who offered to put into his hands the cities of Agrigentum, Syracuse, and Leontini, and begged him to help them to drive out the Carthaginians and rid the island of its tyrants; and from Greece,?men with tidings that Ptolemy Ceraunus with his army had perished at the hands of the Gauls, and that now was the time of all times for him to be in Macedonia, where they wanted a king. Pyrrhus rated Fortune soundly because occasions for two great undertakings had come to him at one time, and thinking that the presence of both meant the loss of one, he wavered in his calculations for a long time. Then Sicily appeared to offer opportunities for greater achievements, since Libya was felt to be near, and he turned in this direction, and forthwith sent out Cineas to hold preliminary conferences with the cities, as was his wont, while he himself threw a garrison into Tarentum. The Tarentines were much displeased at this, and demanded that he either apply himself to the task for which he had come, namely to help them in their war with Rome, or else abandon their territory and leave them their city as he had found it. To this demand he made no very gracious reply, but ordering them to keep quiet and await his convenience, he sailed off. On reaching Sicily, his hopes were at once realized securely; the cities readily gave themselves up to him, and wherever force and conflict were necessary nothing held out against him at first, but advancing with thirty thousand foot, twenty-five hundred horse, and two hundred ships, he put the Phoenicians to rout and subdued the territory under their control. Then he determined to storm the walls of Eryx, which was the strongest of their fortresses and had numerous defenders. So when his army was ready, he put on his armour, went out to battle, and made a vow to Heracles that he would institute games and a sacrifice in his honour, if the god would render him in the sight of the Sicilian Greeks an antagonist worthy of his lineage and resources; then he ordered the trumpets to sound, scattered the Barbarians with his missiles, brought up his scaling-ladders, and was the first to mount the wall. Many were the foes against whom he strove; some of them he pushed from the wall on either side and hurled them to the ground, but most he laid dead in heaps about him with the strokes of his sword. He himself suffered no harm, but was a terrible sight for his enemies to look upon, and proved that Homer was right and fully justified in saying that valour, alone of the virtues, often displays transports due to divine possession and frenzy. After the capture of the city, he sacrificed to the god in magnificent fashion and furnished spectacles of all sorts of contests.
Life of Pyrrhus 23
The Barbarians about Messana, called Mamertines, were giving much annoyance to the Greeks, and had even laid some of them under contribution. They were numerous and warlike, and therefore had been given a name which, in the Latin tongue, signifies martial. Pyrrhus seized their collectors of tribute and put them to death, then conquered the people themselves in battle and destroyed many of their strongholds. Moreover, when the Carthaginians were inclined to come to terms and were willing to pay him money and sent him ships in case friendly relations were established, he replied to them (his heart being set on greater things) that there could be no settlement or friendship between himself and them unless they abandoned all Sicily and made the Libyan Sea a boundary between themselves and the Greeks. But now, lifted up by his good fortune and by the strength of his resources, and pursuing the hopes with which he had sailed from home in the beginning, he set his heart upon Libya first; and since many of the ships that he had were insufficiently manned, he began to collect oarsmen, not dealing with the cities in an acceptable or gentle manner, but in a lordly way, angrily putting compulsion and penalties upon them. He had not behaved in this way at the very beginning, but had even gone beyond others in trying to win men's hearts by gracious intercourse with them, by trusting everybody, and by doing nobody any harm. But now he ceased to be a popular leader and became a tyrant, and added to his name for severity a name for ingratitude and faithlessness. Nevertheless the Sicilians put up with these things as necessary, although they were exasperated; but then came his dealings with Thoenon and Sosistratus. These were leading men in Syracuse, and had been first to persuade Pyrrhus to come into Sicily. Moreover, after he had come, they immediately put their city into his hands and assisted him in most of what he had accomplished in Sicily. And yet he was willing neither to take them with him nor to leave them behind, and held them in suspicion. Sosistratus took the alarm and withdrew; but Thoenon was accused by Pyrrhus of complicity with Sosistratus and put to death. With this, the situation of Pyrrhus was suddenly and entirely changed. A?terrible hatred arose against him in the cities, some of which joined the Carthaginians, while others called in the Mamertines. And now, as he saw everywhere secessions and revolutionary designs and a strong faction opposed to him, he received letters from the Samnites and Tarentines, who had been excluded from all their territories, could with difficulty maintain the war even in their cities, and begged for his assistance. This gave him a fair pretext for his sailing away, without its being called a flight or despair of his cause in the island; but in truth it was because he could not master Sicily, which was like a storm-tossed ship, but desired to get out of her, that he once more threw himself into Italy. And it is said that at the time of his departure looked back at the island and said to those about him: "My friends, what a wrestling ground for Carthaginians and Romans we are leaving behind us!" And this conjecture of his was soon afterwards confirmed.
Life of Pyrrhus 24
But the Barbarians combined against him as he was setting sail. With the Carthaginians he fought a sea-fight in the strait and lost many of his ships, but escaped with the rest to Italy; and here the Mamertines, more than ten thousand of whom had crossed in advance of him, though they were afraid to match forces with him, yet threw his whole army into confusion by setting upon him and assailing him in difficult regions. Two of his elephants fell, and great numbers of his rearguard were slain. Accordingly, riding up in person from the van, he sought to ward off the enemy, and ran great risks in contending with men who were trained to fight and were inspired with high courage. And when he was wounded on the head with a sword and withdrew a little from the combatants, the enemy were all the more elated. One of them ran forth far in advance of the rest, a man who was huge in body and resplendent in armour, and in a bold voice challenged Pyrrhus to come out, if he were still alive. This angered Pyrrhus, and wheeling round in spite of his guards, he pushed his way through them ? full of wrath, smeared with blood, and with a countenance terrible to look upon, and before the Barbarian could strike dealt him such a blow on his head with his sword that, what with the might of his arm and the excellent temper of his steel, it cleaved its way down through, so that at one instant the parts of the sundered body fell to either side. This checked the Barbarians from any further advance, for they were amazed and confounded at Pyrrhus, and thought him some superior being. So he accomplished the rest of his march unmolested and came to Tarentum, bringing twenty thousand foot and three thousand horse. Then, adding to his force the best troops of the Tarentines, he forthwith led them against the Romans, who were encamped in the country of the Samnites.
Life of Pyrrhus 25
But the power of the Samnites had been shattered, and their spirits were broken, in consequence of many defeats at the hands of the Romans. They also cherished considerable resentment against Pyrrhus because of his expedition to Sicily; hence not many of them came to join him. Pyrrhus, however, divided his army into two parts, sent one of them into Lucania to attack the other consul, that he might not come to the help of his colleague, and led the other part himself against Manius Curius, who was safely encamped near the city of Beneventum and was awaiting assistance from Lucania; in part also it was because his soothsayers had dissuaded him with unfavourable omens and sacrifices that he kept quiet. Pyrrhus, accordingly, hastening to attack this consul before the other one came up, took his best men and his most warlike elephants and set out by night against his camp. But since he took a long circuit through a densely wooded country, his lights did not hold out, and his soldiers lost their way and straggled. This caused delay, so that the night passed, and at daybreak he was in full view of the enemy as he advanced upon them from the heights, and caused much tumult and agitation among them.
Manius, however, since the sacrifices were propitious and the crisis forced action upon him, led his forces out and attacked the foremost of the enemy, and after routing these, put their whole army to flight, so that many of them fell and some of their elephants were left behind and captured. This victory brought Manius down into the plain to give battle; here, after an engagement in the open, he routed the enemy at some points, but at one was overwhelmed by the elephants and driven back upon his camp, where he was obliged to call upon the guards, who were standing on the parapets in great numbers, all in arms, and full of fresh vigour. Down they came from their strong places, and hurling their javelins at the elephants compelled them to wheel about and run back through the ranks of their own men, thus causing disorder and confusion there. This gave the victory to the Romans, and at the same time the advantage also in the struggle for supremacy. For having acquired high courage and power and a reputation for invincibility from their valour in these struggles, they at once got control of Italy, and soon afterwards of Sicily.
Life of Pyrrhus 26
Thus Pyrrhus was excluded from his hopes of Italy and Sicily, after squandering six years' time in his wars there, and after being worsted in his undertakings, but he kept his brave spirit unconquered in the midst of his defeats; and men believed that in military experience, personal prowess, and daring, he was by far the first of the kings of his time, but that what he won by his exploits he lost by indulging in vain hopes, since through passionate desire for what he had not he always failed to establish securely what he had. For this reason Antigonus used to liken him to a player with dice who makes many fine throws but does not understand how to use them when they are made.
He returned to Epeirus with eight thousand foot and five hundred horse, and since he had no money he sought for a war by which he could maintain his army. Some Gauls joined him, and he thereupon made an incursion into Macedonia, where Antigonus the son of Demetrius was reigning, designing to strip and plunder the country. But after he had taken a great number of cities and two thousand Macedonian soldiers had come over to him, he began to hope for greater things, and set out to attack Antigonus, and falling upon him in a narrow pass, threw his whole army into confusion. The Gauls who formed the rearguard of Antigonus, a numerous body, made a sturdy resistance; but after a fierce battle most these were cut to pieces, while those who had charge of the elephants were hemmed in and surrendered themselves and all their animals. Then Pyrrhus, thus greatly strengthened, and consulting his good fortune rather than his judgment, advanced upon the phalanx of the Macedonians, which was filled with confusion and fear because of their previous defeat. For this reason they refrained from engagement or battle with him, whereupon Pyrrhus, stretching out his right hand and calling upon the generals and captains, brought over to him all the infantry of Antigonus in a body. So Antigonus took to flight with a few of his horsemen, and occupied some of the seaboard cities; while Pyrrhus, thinking that amid so many successes his achievement against the Gauls conduced most to his glory, dedicated the most beautiful and splendid of his spoils in the temple of Athena Itonis, with the following elegiac inscription:
"These shields, now suspended here as a gift to Athena Itonis, Pyrrhus the Molossian took from valiant Gauls, after defeating the entire army of Antigonus; which is no great wonder; for now, as well as in olden time, the Aeacidae are brave spearmen."
After the battle, however, he at once proceeded to occupy the cities. And after getting Aegae into his power, besides other severities exercised upon its inhabitants he left as a garrison in the city some of the Gauls who were making the campaign with him. But the Gauls, a race insatiable of wealth, set themselves to digging up the tombs of the kings who had been buried there; the treasure they plundered, the bones they insolently cast to the four winds. This outrage Pyrrhus treated with lightness and indifference, as it was thought; he either postponed punishment because he had some business on hand, or remitted it altogether because he was afraid to chastise the Barbarians; and on this account he was censured by the Macedonians. Moreover, before his affairs were securely and firmly established, his thoughts swung again towards new hopes. He railed at Antigonus and called him a shameless man for not laying aside the purple and wearing a common robe; and when Cleonymus the Spartan came and invited him to come to Lacedaemon, he readily listened to him.
Now, Cleonymus was of royal lineage, but because he was thought to be of a violent and arbitrary temper, he enjoyed neither goodwill nor confidence at home, but Areus was king there. This was one general ground of complaint which he had against his fellow citizens, and it was of long standing. Besides, Cleonymus in his later years had married Chilonis the daughter of Leotychides, a beautiful woman of royal lineage; but she had fallen desperately in love with Acrotatus the son of Areus, a young man in the flower of his age, and thus rendered his marriage distressing to Cleonymus, since he loved her, at the same time disgraceful; for every Spartan was well aware that the husband was despised by his wife. Thus his domestic vexations added themselves to his political disappointment, and in indignation and wrath he brought Pyrrhus against Sparta. Pyrrhus had twenty-five thousand foot and two thousand horse, besides twenty-four elephants, so that the magnitude of his preparations made it clear at once that he was not aiming to acquire Sparta for Cleonymus, but the Peloponnesus for himself. And yet his professions were all to the contrary, and particularly those which he made to the Lacedaemonian ambassadors themselves when they met him at Megalopolis. ?He told them he had come to set free the cities which were subject to Antigonus, yes, and that he was going to send his younger sons to Sparta, if nothing prevented, to be brought up in the Lacedaemonian customs, that so they might presently have the advantage over all other princes. With these fictions he beguiled those who came to meet him on his march, but as soon as he reached Laconian territory he began to ravage and plunder it. ?And when the Spartan ambassadors upbraided him for making war upon them without previous declaration, he said: "Yet we know that you Spartans also do not tell others beforehand what you are going to do." Whereupon one of those who were present, Mandrocleidas by name, said to him in the broad Spartan dialect: "If thou art a god, we shall suffer no harm at thy hands; for we have done thee no wrong; but if a man, another will be found who is even stronger than thou."
Life of Pyrrhus 27
After this, he marched down against the city of Sparta. Cleonymus urged him to make the assault as soon as he arrived, but Pyrrhus was afraid, as we are told, that his soldiers would plunder the city if they fell upon it at night, and therefore restrained them, saying that they would accomplish just as much by day. For there were but few men in the city, and they were unprepared, owing to the suddenness of the peril; and Areus was not at home, but in Crete, whither he was bringing military aid for the Gortynians. And this, indeed, more than anything else, proved the salvation of the city, which its weakness and lack of defenders caused to be despised. For Pyrrhus, thinking that no one would give him battle, bivouacked for the night, and the friends and Helot slaves of Cleonymus adorned and furnished his house in the expectation that Pyrrhus would take supper there with its owner.
When night had come, the Lacedaemonians at first took counsel to send their women off to Crete, but the women were opposed to this; and Archidamia came with a sword in her hand to the senators and upbraided them in behalf of the women for thinking it meet that they should live after Sparta had perished. Next, it was decided to run a trench parallel with the camp of the enemy, and at either end of it to set their waggons, sinking them to the wheel-hubs in the ground, in order that, thus firmly planted, they might impede the advance of the elephants. When they began to carry out this project, there came to them the women and maidens, some of them in their robes, with tunics girt close, and others in their tunics only, to help the elderly men in the work. The men who were going to do the fighting the women ordered to keep quiet, and assuming their share of the task they completed with their own hands a third of the trench. ?The width of the trench was six cubits, its depth four, and its length eight hundred feet, according to Phylarchus; according to Hieronymus, less than this. When day came and the enemy were putting themselves in motion, these women handed the young men their armour, put the trench in their charge, and told them to guard and defend it, assured that it was sweet to conquer before the eyes of their fatherland, and glorious to die in the arms of their mothers and wives, after a fall that was worthy of Sparta. As for Chilonis, she withdrew from the rest, and kept a halter about her neck, that she might not come into the power of Cleonymus if the city were taken.
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Pyrrhus himself, then, with his men-at-arms, tried to force his way directly against the many shields of the Spartans which confronted him, and over a trench which was impassable and afforded his soldiers no firm footing owing to the freshly turned earth. But his son Ptolemy, with two thousand Gauls and picked Chaonians, went round the trench and tried to force a passage where the waggons were. These, however, being so deeply planted in the earth and so close together, made not only his onset, but also the counter-efforts of the Lacedaemonians, a difficult matter. The Gauls pulled the wheels up and were dragging the waggons down into the river; but the young Acrotatus saw the danger, and running through the city with three hundred men got round behind Ptolemy without being seen by him, owing to some depressions in the ground, and at last fell upon his rear ranks and forced them to turn about and fight with him. And now the Barbarians crowded one another into the trench and fell among the waggons, and finally, after great slaughter, were successfully driven back. The elderly men and the host of women watched the brilliant exploit of Acrotatus. And when he went back again through the city to his allotted post, covered with blood and triumphant, elated with his victory, the Spartan women thought that he had become taller and most beautiful than ever, and envied Chilonis her lover. Moreover, some of the elderly men accompanied him on his way, crying: "Go, Acrotatus, and take to thyself Chilonis; only, see that thou begettest brave sons for Sparta."
A?fierce battle was also waged where Pyrrhus himself led, and many Spartans made a splendidfight, but particularly Phyllius, who surpassed all in the tenacity of his resistance and the numbers of the on-rushing enemy whom he slew; and when he perceived that his powers were failing from the multitude of the wounds he had received, he made way for one of his comrades in the line, and fell inside the ranks, that his dead body might not come into the hands of the enemy.
Life of Pyrrhus 29
Night put an end to the battle; and Pyrrhus, as he slept, had the following vision. He dreamed that Sparta was smitten with thunderbolts from his hand and was all ablaze, and that he was filled with joy. His joy waked him from his sleep, and he commanded his officers to get the army ready for action, and narrated the dream to his friends, convinced that he was going to take the city by storm. Most of them, then, were fully persuaded that he was right, but Lysimachus was not pleased with the vision; he said he was afraid lest, as places smitten by thunderbolts are kept free from the tread of men, the deity might be indicating in advance to Pyrrhus also that the city was not to be entered by him. But Pyrrhus declared that this was nonsense intended for the crowd, and great folly, and calling upon his hearers to take their arms in their hands and act upon the belief that
"One is the best of all omens, to fight in defence of Pyrrhus,"rose up, and at day-break led forth his army.
But the Lacedaemonians defended themselves with an alacrity and bravery beyond their strength; the women, too, were at hand, proffering missiles, distributing food and drink to those who needed them, and taking up the wounded. The Macedonians tried to fill up the trench, collecting and throwing into it great quantities of materials, beneath which the arms and dead bodies were hidden away. And when the Lacedaemonians tried to put a stop to this, Pyrrhus was seen forcing his way on horseback past the trench and the waggons into the city. But the men stationed at this point raised a shout, and there was a concourse and shrieking of the women, and just as Pyrrhus was riding through the waggons and attacking the men in front of him, his horse was wounded in the belly by a Cretan javelin and leaped to one side, and in his death agony threw Pyrrhus upon steep and slippery ground. His companions were thrown into confusion around him, and the Spartans, running upon them and making good use of their missiles, drove them all off. After this, Pyrrhus brought the fighting to a stop at other points also, thinking that the Spartans would make some concessions, now that almost all of them were wounded and many had fallen. But now the good fortune of the city, either because she was satisfied with the bravery of its men, or because she would show forth the great power which she herself has in desperate crises, brought to their aid from Corinth, when the hopes of the Spartans were already sorry, Ameinias the Phocian, one of the generals of Antigonus, with mercenary troops; and no sooner had he been received into the city than Areus the Spartan king came from Crete, bringing with him two thousand soldiers. So the women at once dispersed to their homes, since they no longer thought it meet to busy themselves with the work of war, and the men, after dismissing from their ranks those of unmilitary age whom necessity had brought there, arrayed themselves for battle.
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Pyrrhus, too, was more than ever possessed by a fierce ambition to become master of the city, now that reinforcements had come to it; but since he could accomplish nothing, and met with fresh losses, he went away, and fell to ravaging the country, purposing to spend the winter there. But Fate was not to be escaped. For at Argos there was a feud between Aristeas and Aristippus; and since Aristippus was thought to enjoy the friendship of Antigonus, Aristeas hastened to invite Pyrrhus into Argos. Pyrrhus was away entertaining one hope after another, and since he made one success but the starting point for a new one, while he was determined to make good each disaster by a fresh undertaking, he suffered neither defeat nor victory to put a limit to his troubling himself and troubling others. At once, therefore, he broke camp and set out for Argos. But Areus, by setting frequent ambushes and occupying the most difficult points on the march, kept cutting off the Gauls and Molossians who brought up the rear for Pyrrhus. Now, it had been foretold to Pyrrhus by his seer, in consequence of sacrifices where no liver could be found, that he was to lose one of his kindred; but here, unhappily, owing to the agitation and tumult among his rear-guard, he forgot himself, and ordered his son Ptolemy with his comrades to go to the rescue, while he himself drew his army more quickly out of the narrow pass and led them forward. A fierce battle raged where Ptolemy was, and while a band of picked Spartans under the command of Evalcus engaged the soldiers who were fighting in front of him, a man of stout arm and swift foot, Oryssus by name, of Aptera in Crete, ran up on one side of the prince as he was fighting spiritedly, smote him, and laid him low. Upon Ptolemy's fall and the rout of his company, the Spartans pursued, carrying all before them, and before they were aware of it had dashed out into the plain and were cut off by the infantry of Pyrrhus. Against this band of Spartans Pyrrhus, who had just heard of the death of his son and was in anguish, turned his Molossian horsemen. He himself charged at their head, and sated himself with Spartan blood. He had always shown himself invincible and terrible in arms, but now his daring and might surpassed all previous displays. When he set his horse upon Evalcus, the Spartan stepped aside and had almost cut off with his sword the bridle-hand of Pyrrhus; as it was he hit the rein and severed it. Pyrrhus transfixed the Spartan with a thrust of his spear, and at the same instant fell off his horse, and fighting on foot, at once proceeded to slay all the picked band which was fighting over the body of Evalcus. This great additional loss to Sparta when the war was already at an end was due to the ambition of the commanders.
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So Pyrrhus, after accomplishing as it were an expiation for his son and celebrating his obsequies with a brilliant contest, having also vented much of his grief in his fury against the enemy, led his army on towards Argos. And when he learned that Antigonus was already posted on the heights commanding the plain, he pitched his camp near Nauplia. On the following day he sent a herald to Antigonus, calling him a robber, and challenging him to come down into the plain and fight with him for the kingdom. But Antigonus replied that in conducting a campaign he relied more on opportunities than upon arms, and that many roads to death lay open to Pyrrhus if he was tired of life. And now to both kings came ambassadors from Argos, entreating them to go away and allow the city to be neutral, but well-disposed towards both. Antigonus, accordingly, consented, and gave his son to the Argives as a hostage; Pyrrhus also agreed to go away, but since he gave no pledge, he remained under suspicion.
Moreover, Pyrrhus himself had a significant portent; for the heads of his sacrificed cattle, though they already lay apart from the bodies, were seen to put out their tongues and lick up their own gore. And besides this, in the city of Argos the priestess of Apollo Lyceius ran forth from the temple crying that she saw the city full of corpses and slaughter, and that the eagle which visited the scene of combat presently vanished away.
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At dead of night Pyrrhus came up to the walls of the city, and finding that the gate called Diamperes had been thrown open for them by Aristeas, was undiscovered long enough for his Gauls to enter the city and take possession of the market-place. But the gate would not admit his elephants, and therefore the towers had to be taken off their backs and put on again when the animals were inside, in darkness and confusion. This caused delay, and the Argives, taking the alarm, ran up to Aspis and other strong places of the city, and sending to Antigonus called upon him for help. Antigonus marched up close to the city, and lying in wait there himself, sent his generals and his son inside with a considerable relief-force. Areus also came, with a thousand Cretans and Spartans (the most lightly armed). All these troops united in an assault upon the Gauls and threw them into great confusion. And Pyrrhus, who now entered the city with shouts and cries by way of Cylarabis, noticed that the Gauls did not answer his men with any vigour or courage, and therefore conjectured that their response was that of men confounded and in distress. Accordingly, he led on faster, pushing along the horsemen in front of him, who were making their way with difficulty among the water-conduits, of which the city is full, and were in peril of their lives from them. And now, in this night-battle, there was great uncertainty as to what commands were given and how the commands were carried out; men straggled and lost their way among the narrow streets, and generalship was of no avail owing to the darkness, confused shouting, and confined spaces; both parties therefore were unable to accomplish anything and waited for the day.
But when at last it began to grow light, the sight of the Aspis filled with armed enemies greatly disturbed Pyrrhus; moreover, among the numerous votive-offerings in the market-place he caught sight of a wolf and bull in bronze, represented as closing with one another in battle, and he was dumbfounded, for he called to mind an ancient oracle which declared that it was fated for him to die when he saw a wolf fighting with a bull. Now, the Argives say that these figures were set up in their market-place as memorials of an ancient event. Namely, when Dana?s first landed in the country, near Pyramia in the district of Thyreatis, and was on his way to Argos, he saw a wolf fighting with a bull; and conceiving that he himself was represented by the wolf (since both were strangers and were attacking the natives), he watched the battle to its end, and when the wolf had prevailed, paid his vows to Apollo Lyceius (the wolf-god), attacked the city, and was victorious, after Gelanor, who was at that time king of Argos, had been driven out by a faction. This, then, was the significance of the dedication.
Life of Pyrrhus 33
Dejected at this sight, as well as because none of his hopes were being realized, Pyrrhus proposed to retreat; but fearing the narrowness of the gates he sent to his son Helenus, who had been left outside the city with the greater part of the forces, ordering him to tear down part of the wall and succour those who rushed out through the breach, in case the enemy molested them. Owing to the haste and tumult, however, the messenger brought no clear orders, but actually made a mistake, and the young prince, taking the rest of the elephants and the best of his soldiers, marched through the gate into the city to help his father. But Pyrrhus was already on the retreat. And as long as the market-place afforded him room for withdrawing and fighting, he would turn and repel his assailants; but after he had been driven out of the market-place into the narrow street which led up to the gate, and encountered those who were rushing to his aid from the opposite direction, some of these could not hear him when he called out to them to withdraw, and those who did, even though they were very ready to obey him, were kept from doing so by those who were pouring in behind them from the gate. For the largest of the elephants had fallen athwart the gateway and lay there roaring, in the way of those who would have turned back; and another elephant, one of those which had gone on into the city, Nicon by name, seeking to recover his rider, who had fallen from his back in consequence of wounds, and dashing in the face of those who were trying to get out, crowded friends and foes alike together in a promiscuous throng, until, having found the body of his master, he took it up with his proboscis, laid it across his two tusks, and turned back as if crazed, overthrowing and killing those who came in his way. Thus crushed and matted together not a man of them could act at all for himself, but the whole multitude, bolted together, as it were, into one body, kept rolling and swaying this way and that. Little fighting could be done against those of the enemy who were continually being caught up into their ranks or attacking them from the rear, and they wrought most harm to themselves. For when a man had drawn his sword or poised his spear, he could not recover or sheathe his weapon again, but it would pass through those who stood in its way, and so they died from one another's blows.
Life of Pyrrhus 34
But Pyrrhus, seeing the stormy sea that surged about him, took off the coronal with which his helmet was distinguished, and gave it to one of his companions; then, relying on his horse, he plunged in among the enemy who were pursuing him. Here he was wounded by a spear which pierced his breastplate ? not a mortal, nor even a severe wound ? and turned upon the man who had struck him, who was an Argive, not of illustrious birth, but the son of a poor old woman. His mother, like the rest of the women, was at this moment watching the battle from the house-top, and when she saw that her son was engaged in conflict with Pyrrhus, she was filled with distress in view of the danger to him, and lifting up a tile with both her hands threw it at Pyrrhus. It fell upon his head below his helmet and crushed the vertebrae at the base of his neck, so that his sight was blurred and his hands dropped the reins. Then he sank down from his horse and fell near the tomb of Licymnius, unrecognised by most who saw him. But a certain Zopyrus, who was serving under Antigonus, and two or three others, ran up to him, saw who he was, and dragged him into a door-way just as he was beginning to recover from the blow. And when Zopyrus drew an Illyrian short-sword with which to cut off his head, Pyrrhus gave him a terrible look, so that Zopyrus was frightened; his hands trembled, and yet he essayed the deed; but being full of alarm and confusion his blow did not fall true, but along the mouth and chin, so that it was only slowly and with difficulty that he severed the head. Presently what had happened was known to many, and Alcyoneus, running to the spot, asked for the head as if he would see whose it was. But when he had got it he rode away to his father, and cast it down before him as he sat among his friends. Antigonus, however, when he saw and recognised the head, drove his son away, smiting him with his staff and calling him impious and barbarous; then, covering his face with his cloak he burst into tears, calling to mind Antigonus his grandfather and Demetrius his father, who were examples in his own family of a reversal of fortune. He head and body of Pyrrhus, then, Antigonus caused to be adorned for burial and burned; and when Alcyoneus found Helenus in an abject state and wearing a paltry cloak, and spoke to him kindly and brought him into the presence of his father, Antigonus was pleased with his conduct, and said: "This is better, my son, than what thou didst before; but not even now hast thou done well in allowing this clothing to remain, which is a disgrace the rather to us who are held to be the victors." Then, after showing kindness to Helenus and adorning his person, he sent him back to Epeirus, and he dealt mildly with the friends of Pyrrhus when he became master of their camp and of their whole force.