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Title: Pyrrhus - Makers of History
Author: Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pyrrhus - Makers of History" ***

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 Makers of History





 Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight
 hundred and fifty-four, by


 in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
 of New York.



In respect to the heroes of ancient history, who lived in times
antecedent to the period when the regular records of authentic history
commence, no reliance can be placed upon the actual verity of the
accounts which have come down to us of their lives and actions. In
those ancient days there was, in fact, no line of demarkation between
romance and history, and the stories which were told of Cyrus, Darius,
Xerxes, Romulus, Pyrrhus, and other personages as ancient as they, are
all more or less fabulous and mythical. We learn this as well from the
internal evidence furnished by the narratives themselves as from the
researches of modern scholars, who have succeeded, in many cases, in
disentangling the web, and separating the false from the true. It is
none the less important, however, on this account, that these ancient
tales, as they were originally told, and as they have come down to us
through so many centuries, should be made known to readers of the
present age. They have been circulated among mankind in their
original form for twenty or thirty centuries, and they have mingled
themselves inextricably with the literature, the eloquence, and the
poetry of every civilized nation on the globe. Of course, to know what
the story is, whether true or false, which the ancient narrators
recorded, and which has been read and commented on by every succeeding
generation to the present day, is an essential attainment for every
well-informed man; a far more essential attainment, in fact, for the
general reader, than to discover now, at this late period, what the
actual facts were which gave origin to the fable.

In writing this series of histories, therefore, it has been the aim of
the author not to _correct_ the ancient story, but to repeat it as it
stands, cautioning the reader, however, whenever occasion requires,
not to suppose that the marvelous narratives are historically true.


 Chapter                                                    Page

    I. OLYMPIAS AND ANTIPATER                                 13

   II. CASSANDER                                              40

  III. EARLY LIFE OF PYRRHUS                                  64

   IV. WARS IN MACEDON                                        86

    V. WAR IN ITALY                                          111

   VI. NEGOTIATIONS                                          134

  VII. THE SICILIAN CAMPAIGN                                 159

 VIII. THE RETREAT FROM ITALY                                188

   IX. THE FAMILY OF LYSIMACHUS                              210

    X. THE RECONQUEST OF MACEDON                             235

   XI. SPARTA                                                249

  XII. THE LAST CAMPAIGN OF PYRRHUS                          268



 THE ROMAN ENCAMPMENT                            _Frontispiece_.

 MAP--EMPIRE OF PYRRHUS                                       12

 EURYDICE IN PRISON                                           57

 MAP--GRECIAN EMPIRE                                         110

 THE TROPHIES                                                132

 THE ELEPHANT CONCEALED                                      145

 THE ASSAULT                                                 177

 THE ROUT                                                    206

 THE FALLEN ELEPHANT                                         223

 THE CHARGE                                                  283

 THE DEATH OF PYRRHUS                                        300

[Illustration: MAP--EMPIRE OF PYRRHUS.]




B.C. 336-321

Situation of the country of Epirus.--Epirus and Macedon.--Their
political connections.--Olympias.--Her visits to
Epirus.--Philip.--Olympias as a wife.--She makes many
difficulties.--Alexander takes part with his mother in her
quarrel.--Olympias is suspected of having murdered her
husband.--Alexander's treatment of his mother.--His kind
and considerate behavior.--Antipater.--Character of
Antipater.--Alexander's opinion of him.--Olympias makes a great
deal of trouble.--Alexander sends Craterus home.--Alexander's wife
Roxana.--Her babe.--Aridæus.--The two competing claimants to the
crown.--Some account of the Ptolemaic dynasty.--The distribution of
Alexander's empire.--Compromise between the rival claims.--Question of
marriage.--Cleopatra.--Nicæa.--Nicæa is sent to Babylon.--Antipater's
plan.--Another matrimonial question.--Cynane.--Excitement in the
army.--Ada's new name.--Various intrigues.--Schemes of Antipater
and Ptolemy.--Nicæa.--Perdiccas' plans.--A battle.--Craterus is
killed.--Discontent.--Unpopularity of Perdiccas.--Transit of the
Nile.--Extraordinary incident.--Great numbers swept into the river
and destroyed.--The kings are to be sent back to Babylon.--Antipater
returns to Macedon full of honors.

Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, entered at the very beginning of his life
upon the extraordinary series of romantic adventures which so
strikingly marked his career. He became an exile and a fugitive from
his father's house when he was only two years old, having been
suddenly borne away at that period by the attendants of the household,
to avoid a most imminent personal danger that threatened him. The
circumstances which gave occasion for this extraordinary ereption were
as follows:

The country of Epirus, as will be seen by the accompanying map, was
situated on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea,[A] and on the
southwestern confines of Macedonia. The kingdom of Epirus was thus
very near to, and in some respects dependent upon, the kingdom of
Macedon. In fact, the public affairs of the two countries, through the
personal relations and connections which subsisted from time to time
between the royal families that reigned over them respectively, were
often intimately intermingled, so that there could scarcely be any
important war, or even any great civil dissension in Macedon, which
did not sooner or later draw the king or the people of Epirus to take
part in the dispute, either on one side or on the other. And as it
sometimes happened that in these questions of Macedonian politics the
king and the people of Epirus took opposite sides, the affairs of the
great kingdom were often the means of bringing into the smaller one an
infinite degree of trouble and confusion.

[Footnote A: See the opposite map.]

The period of Pyrrhus's career was immediately subsequent to that of
Alexander the Great, the birth of Pyrrhus having taken place about
four years after the death of Alexander. At this time it happened that
the relations which subsisted between the royal families of the two
kingdoms were very intimate. This intimacy arose from an extremely
important intermarriage which had taken place between the two families
in the preceding generation--namely, the marriage of Philip of
Macedon with Olympias, the daughter of a king of Epirus. Philip and
Olympias were the father and mother of Alexander the Great. Of course,
during the whole period of the great conqueror's history, the people
of Epirus, as well as those of Macedon, felt a special interest in his
career. They considered him as a descendant of their own royal line,
as well as of that of Macedon, and so, very naturally, appropriated to
themselves some portion of the glory which he acquired. Olympias, too,
who sometimes, after her marriage with Philip, resided at Epirus, and
sometimes at Macedon, maintained an intimate and close connection,
both with her own and with Philip's family; and thus, through various
results of her agency, as well as through the fame of Alexander's
exploits, the governments of the two countries were continually

It must not, however, by any means be supposed that the relations
which were established through the influence of Olympias, between the
courts of Epirus and of Macedon, were always of a friendly character.
They were, in fact, often the very reverse. Olympias was a woman of a
very passionate and ungovernable temper, and of a very determined
will; and as Philip was himself as impetuous and as resolute as she,
the domestic life of this distinguished pair was a constant succession
of storms. At the commencement of her married life, Olympias was, of
course, generally successful in accomplishing her purposes. Among
other measures, she induced Philip to establish her brother upon the
throne of Epirus, in the place of another prince who was more directly
in the line of succession. As, however, the true heir did not, on this
account, relinquish his claims, two parties were formed in the
country, adhering respectively to the two branches of the family that
claimed the throne, and a division ensued, which, in the end, involved
the kingdom of Epirus in protracted civil wars. While, therefore,
Olympias continued to hold an influence over her husband's mind, she
exercised it in such a way as to open sources of serious calamity and
trouble for her own native land.

After a time, however, she lost this influence entirely. Her disputes
with Philip ended at length in a bitter and implacable quarrel. Philip
married another woman, named Cleopatra, partly, indeed, as a measure
of political alliance, and partly as an act of hostility and hatred
against Olympias, whom he accused of the most disgraceful crimes.
Olympias went home to Epirus in a rage, and sought refuge in the court
of her brother.

Alexander, her son, was left behind at Macedon at this separation
between his father and mother. He was then about nineteen years of
age. He took part with his mother in the contest. It is true, he
remained for a time at the court of Philip after his mother's
departure, but his mind was in a very irritable and sullen mood; and
at length, on the occasion of a great public festival, an angry
conversation between Alexander and Philip occurred, growing out of
some allusions which were made to Olympias by some of the guests, in
the course of which Alexander openly denounced and defied the king,
and then abruptly left the court, and went off to Epirus to join his
mother. Of course the attention of the people of Epirus was strongly
attracted to this quarrel, and they took sides, some with Philip, and
some with Olympias and Alexander.

Not very long after this, Philip was assassinated in the most
mysterious and extraordinary manner.[B] Olympias was generally accused
of having been the instigator of this deed. There was no positive
evidence of her guilt; nor, on the other hand, had there ever been in
her character and conduct any such indications of the presence of even
the ordinary sentiments of justice and humanity in her heart as could
form a presumption of her innocence. In a word, she was such a woman
that it was more easy and natural, as it seemed, for mankind to
believe her guilty than innocent; and she has accordingly been very
generally condemned, though on very slender evidence, as accessory to
the crime.

[Footnote B: For a full account of this transaction, see "History of
Alexander the Great."]

Of course, the death of Philip, whether Olympias was the procurer of
it or not, was of the greatest conceivable advantage to her in respect
to its effect upon her position, and upon the promotion of her
ambitious schemes. The way was at once opened again for her return to
Macedon. Alexander, her son, succeeded immediately to the throne. He
was very young, and would submit, as she supposed, very readily to the
influence of his mother. This proved, in fact, in some sense to be
true. Alexander, whatever may have been his faults in other respects,
was a very dutiful son. He treated his mother, as long as he lived,
with the utmost consideration and respect, while yet he would not in
any sense subject himself to her authority and influence in his
political career. He formed his own plans, and executed them in his
own way; and if there was ever at any time any dispute or disagreement
between him and Olympias in respect to his measures, she soon learned
that he was not to be controlled in these things, and gave up the
struggle. Nor was this a very extraordinary result; for we often see
that a refractory woman, who can not by any process be made to submit
to her husband, is easily and completely managed by a son.

Things went on thus tolerably smoothly while Alexander lived. It was
_only_ tolerably, however; for Olympias, though she always continued
on friendly terms with Alexander himself, quarreled incessantly with
the commanders and ministers of state whom he left with her at Macedon
while he was absent on his Asiatic campaigns. These contentions caused
no very serious difficulty so long as Alexander himself was alive to
interpose, when occasion required, and settle the difficulties and
disputes which originated in them before they became unmanageable.
Alexander was always adroit enough to do this in a manner that was
respectful and considerate toward his mother, and which yet preserved
the actual administrative power of the kingdom in the hands to which
he had intrusted it.

He thus amused his mother's mind, and soothed her irritable temper by
marks of consideration and regard, and sustained her in a very
dignified and lofty position in the royal household, while yet he
confided to her very little substantial power.

The officer whom Alexander had left in chief command at Macedon, while
absent on his Asiatic expedition, was Antipater. Antipater was a very
venerable man, then nearly seventy years of age. He had been the
principal minister of state in Macedonia for a long period of time,
having served Philip in that capacity with great fidelity and success
for many years before Alexander's accession. During the whole term of
his public office, he had maintained a most exalted reputation for
wisdom and virtue. Philip placed the most absolute and entire
confidence in him, and often committed the most momentous affairs to
his direction. And yet, notwithstanding the illustrious position which
Antipater thus occupied, and the great influence and control which he
exercised in the public affairs of Macedon, he was simple and
unpretending in his manners, and kind and considerate to all around
him, as if he were entirely devoid of all feelings of personal
ambition, and were actuated only by an honest and sincere devotedness
to the cause of those whom he served. Various anecdotes were related
of him in the Macedonian court, which showed the estimation in which
he was held. For example, Philip one day, at a time when placed in
circumstances which required special caution and vigilance on his
part, made his appearance at a late hour in the morning, and he
apologized for it by saying to the officers, "I have slept rather late
this morning, but then I knew that Antipater was awake." Alexander,
too, felt the highest respect and veneration for Antipater's
character. At one time some person expressed surprise that Antipater
did not clothe himself in a purple robe--the badge of nobility and
greatness--as the other great commanders and ministers of state were
accustomed to do. "Those men," said Alexander, "wear purple on the
outside, but Antipater is purple within."

The whole country, in a word, felt so much confidence in the wisdom,
the justice, and the moderation of Antipater, that they submitted
very readily to his sway during the absence of Alexander. Olympias,
however, caused him continual trouble. In the exercise of his regency,
he governed the country as he thought his duty to the people of the
realm and to Alexander required, without yielding at all to the
demands or expectations of Olympias. She, consequently, finding that
he was unmanageable, did all in her power to embarrass him in his
plans, and to thwart and circumvent him. She wrote letters continually
to Alexander, complaining incessantly of his conduct, sometimes
misrepresenting occurrences which had actually taken place, and
sometimes making accusations wholly groundless and untrue. Antipater,
in the same manner, in his letters to Alexander, complained of the
interference of Olympias, and of the trouble and embarrassment which
her conduct occasioned him. Alexander succeeded for a season in
settling these difficulties more or less perfectly, from time to time,
as they arose; but at last he concluded to make a change in the
regency. Accordingly, on an occasion when a considerable body of new
recruits from Macedon was to be marched into Asia, Alexander ordered
Antipater to accompany them, and, at the same time, he sent home
another general named Craterus, in charge of a body of troops from
Asia, whose term of service had expired.[C] His plan was to retain
Antipater in his service in Asia, and to give to Craterus the
government of Macedon, thinking it possible, perhaps, that Craterus
might agree better with Olympias than Antipater had done.

[Footnote C: For the route from Macedonia to Babylon, see map.]

Antipater was not to leave Macedon until Craterus should arrive there;
and while Craterus was on his journey, Alexander suddenly died. This
event changed the whole aspect of affairs throughout the empire, and
led to a series of very important events, which followed each other in
rapid succession, and which were the means of affecting the condition
and the fortunes of Olympias in a very material manner. The state of
the case was substantially thus. The story forms quite a complicated
plot, which it will require close attention on the part of the reader
clearly to comprehend.

The question which rose first to the mind of every one, as soon as
Alexander's death became known, was that of the succession. There was,
as it happened, no member of Alexander's own family who could be
considered as clearly and unquestionably his heir. At the time of his
death he had no child. He had a wife, however, whose name was Roxana,
and a child was born to her a few months after Alexander's death.
Roxana was the daughter of an Asiatic prince. Alexander had taken her
prisoner, with some other ladies, at a fort on a rock, where her
father had placed her for safety. Roxana was extremely beautiful, and
Alexander, as soon as he saw her, determined to make her his wife.
Among the thousands of captives that he made in his Asiatic campaign,
Roxana, it was said, was the most lovely of all; and as it was only
about four years after her marriage that Alexander died, she was still
in the full bloom of youth and beauty when her son was born.

But besides this son, born thus a few months after Alexander's death,
there was a brother of Alexander, or, rather, a half-brother, whose
claims to the succession seemed to be more direct, for he was living
at the time that Alexander died. The name of his brother was Aridæus.
He was imbecile in intellect, and wholly insignificant as a political
personage, except so far as he was by birth the next heir to Alexander
in the Macedonian line. He was not the son of Olympias, but of another
mother, and his imbecility was caused, it was said, by an attempt of
Olympias to poison him in his youth. She was prompted to do this by
her rage and jealousy against his mother, for whose sake Philip had
abandoned her. The poison had ruined the poor child's intellect,
though it had failed to destroy his life. Alexander, when he succeeded
to the throne, adopted measures to protect Aridæus from any future
attempt which his mother might make to destroy him, and for this, as
well as perhaps for other reasons, took Aridæus with him on his
Asiatic campaign. Aridæus and Roxana were both at Babylon when
Alexander died.

Whatever might be thought of the comparative claims of Aridæus and of
Roxana's babe in respect to the inheritance of the Macedonian crown,
it was plain that neither of them was capable of exercising any actual
power--Alexander's son being incapacitated by his youthfulness, and
his brother by his imbecility. The real power fell immediately into
the hands of Alexander's great generals and counselors of state. These
generals, on consultation with each other, determined not to decide
the question of succession in favor of either of the two heirs, but to
invest the sovereignty of the empire jointly in them both. So they
gave to Aridæus the name of Philip, and to Roxana's babe that of
Alexander. They made these two princes jointly the nominal sovereigns,
and then proceeded, in their name, to divide all the actual power
among themselves.

In this division, Egypt, and the African countries adjoining it, were
assigned to a very distinguished general of the name of Ptolemy, who
became the founder of a long line of Egyptian sovereigns, known as the
Ptolemaic dynasty--the line from which, some centuries later, the
renowned Cleopatra sprang. Macedon and Greece, with the other European
provinces, were allotted to Antipater and Craterus--Craterus himself
being then on the way to Macedon with the invalid and disbanded troops
whom Alexander had sent home. Craterus was in feeble health at this
time, and was returning to Macedon partly on this account. In fact, he
was not fully able to take the active command of the detachment
committed to him, and Alexander had accordingly sent an officer with
him, named Polysperchon, who was to assist him in the performance of
his duties on the march. This Polysperchon, as will appear in the
sequel, took a very important part in the events which occurred in
Macedonia after he and Craterus had arrived there.

In addition to these great and important provinces--that of Egypt in
Africa, and Macedon and Greece in Europe--there were various other
smaller ones in Asia Minor and in Syria, which were assigned to
different generals and ministers of state who had been attached to the
service of Alexander, and who all now claimed their several portions
in the general distribution of power which took place after his death.
The distribution gave at first a tolerable degree of satisfaction. It
was made in the _name_ of Philip the king, though the personage who
really controlled the arrangement was Perdiccas, the general who was
nearest to the person of Alexander, and highest in rank at the time of
the great conqueror's decease. In fact, as soon as Alexander died,
Perdiccas assumed the command of the army, and the general direction
of affairs.[D] He intended, as was supposed, to make himself emperor
in the place of Alexander. At first he had strongly urged that
Roxana's child should be declared heir to the throne, to the exclusion
of Aridæus. His secret motive in this was, that by governing as
regent during the long minority of the infant, he might prepare the
way for finally seizing the kingdom himself. The other generals of the
army, however, would not consent to this; they were inclined to insist
that Aridæus should be king. The army was divided on this question for
some days, and the dispute ran very high. It seemed, in fact, for a
time, that there was no hope that it could be accommodated. There was
every indication that a civil war must ensue--to break out first under
the very walls of Babylon. At length, however, as has already been
stated, the question was compromised, and it was agreed that the crown
of Alexander should become the joint inheritance of Aridæus and of the
infant child, and that Perdiccas should exercise at Babylon the
functions of regent. Of course, when the division of the empire was
made, it was made in the name of Philip; for the child of Roxana, at
the time of the division, was not yet born. But, though made in King
Philip's name, it was really the work of Perdiccas. His plan, it was
supposed, in the assignment of provinces to the various generals, was
to remove them from Babylon, and give them employment in distant
fields, where they would not interfere with him in the execution of
his plans for making himself master of the supreme power.

[Footnote D: The death of Alexander took place, and the distribution
here referred to was made at Babylon. For the situation of this city
in reference to Macedon and the intervening countries, see map.]

After these arrangements had been made, and the affairs of the empire
had been tolerably well settled for the time being by this
distribution of power, and Perdiccas began to consider what ulterior
measures he should adopt for the widening and extending of his power,
a question arose which for a season greatly perplexed him: it was the
question of his marriage. Two proposals were made to him--one by
Olympias, and one by Antipater. Each of these personages had a
daughter whom they were desirous that Perdiccas should make his wife.
The daughter of Olympias was named Cleopatra--that of Antipater was
Nicæa. Cleopatra was a young widow. She was residing at this time in
Syria. She had been married to a king of Epirus named Alexander, but
was now residing in Sardis, in Asia Minor. Some of the counselors of
Perdiccas represented to him very strongly that a marriage with her
would strengthen his position more than any other alliance that he
could form, as she was the sister of Alexander the Great, and by his
marriage with her he would secure to his side the influence of
Olympias and of all of Alexander's family. Perdiccas so far acceded
to these views that he sent a messenger to Sardis to visit Cleopatra
in his name, and to make her a present. Olympias and Cleopatra
accordingly considered the arrangement a settled affair.

In the mean time, however, Antipater, who seems to have been more in
earnest in his plans, sent off his daughter Nicæa herself to Babylon,
to be offered directly to Perdiccas there. She arrived at Babylon
after the messenger of Perdiccas had gone to visit Cleopatra. The
arrival of Nicæa brought up very distinctly to the mind of Perdiccas
the advantages of an alliance with Antipater. Olympias, it is true,
had a great name, but she possessed no real power. Antipater, on the
other hand, held sway over a widely-extended region, which comprised
some of the most wealthy and populous countries on the globe. He had a
large army under his command, too, consisting of the bravest and
best-disciplined troops in the world; and he himself, though advanced
in age, was a very able and effective commander. In a word, Perdiccas
was persuaded, by these and similar considerations, that the alliance
of Antipater would be more serviceable to him than that of Olympias,
and he accordingly married Nicæa. Olympias, who had always hated
Antipater before, was now, when she found herself thus supplanted by
him in her plans for allying herself with Perdiccas, aroused to the
highest pitch of indignation and rage.

Besides the marriage of Perdiccas, another matrimonial question arose
about this time, which led to a great deal of difficulty. There was a
lady of the royal family of Macedon named Cynane--a daughter of Philip
of Macedon, and half-sister of Alexander the Great--who had a daughter
named Ada. Cynane conceived the design of marrying her daughter to
King Philip, who was now, as well as Roxana and her babe, in the hands
of Perdiccas as their guardian. Cynane set out from Macedon with her
daughter, on the journey to Asia, in order to carry this arrangement
into effect. This was considered as a very bold undertaking on the
part of Cynane and her daughter; for Perdiccas would, of course, be
implacably hostile to any plan for the marriage of Philip, and
especially so to his marrying a princess of the royal family of
Macedon. In fact, as soon as Perdiccas heard of the movement which
Cynane was making, he was enraged at the audacity of it, and sent
messengers to intercept Cynane and murder her on the way. This
transaction, however, as soon as it was known, produced a great
excitement throughout the whole of the Macedonian army. The army, in
fact, felt so strong an attachment for every branch and every member
of the family of Alexander, that they would not tolerate any violence
or wrong against any one of them. Perdiccas was quite terrified at the
storm which he had raised. He immediately countermanded the orders
which he had given to the assassins; and, to atone for his error and
allay the excitement, he received Ada, when she arrived at Babylon,
with great apparent kindness, and finally consented to the plan of her
being married to Philip. She was accordingly married to him, and the
army was appeased. Ada received at this time the name of Eurydice, and
she became subsequently, under that name, quite renowned in history.

During the time in which these several transactions were taking place,
various intrigues and contentions were going on among the governors of
the different provinces in Europe and Asia, which, as the results of
them did not particularly affect the affairs of Epirus, we need not
here particularly describe. During all this period, however,
Perdiccas was extending and maturing his arrangements, and laying his
plans for securing the whole empire to himself; while Antipater and
Ptolemy, in Macedon and Egypt, were all the time holding secret
communications with each other, and endeavoring to devise means by
which they might thwart and circumvent him. The quarrel was an example
of what very often occurs in such political systems as the Macedonian
empire presented at this time--namely, a combining of the extremities
against the centre. For some time the efforts of the hostile parties
were confined to the maneuvers and counter-maneuvers which they
devised against each other. Antipater was, in fact, restrained from
open hostility against Perdiccas from a regard to his daughter Nicæa,
who, as has been already mentioned, was Perdiccas' wife. At length,
however, under the influence of the increasing hostility which
prevailed between the two families, Perdiccas determined to divorce
Nicæa, and marry Cleopatra after all. As soon as Antipater learned
this, he resolved at once upon open war. The campaign commenced with a
double operation. Perdiccas himself raised an army; and, taking Philip
and Eurydice, and also Roxana and her babe in his train, he marched
into Egypt to make war against Ptolemy. At the same time, Antipater
and Craterus, at the head of a large Macedonian force, passed across
the Hellespont into Asia Minor, on their way to attack Perdiccas in
Babylon. Perdiccas sent a large detachment of troops, under the
command of a distinguished general, to meet and encounter Antipater
and Craterus in Asia Minor, while he was himself engaged in the
Egyptian campaign.

The result of the contest was fatal to the cause of Perdiccas.
Antipater advanced triumphantly through Asia Minor, though in one of
the battles which took place there Craterus was slain. But while
Craterus himself fell, his troops were victorious. Thus the fortunes
of war in this quarter went against Perdiccas. The result of his own
operations in Egypt was still more disastrous to him. As he approached
the Egyptian frontier, he found his soldiers very averse to fighting
against Ptolemy, a general whom they had always regarded with extreme
respect and veneration, and who, as was well known, had governed his
province in Egypt with the greatest wisdom, justice, and moderation.
Perdiccas treated this disaffection in a very haughty and domineering
manner. He called his soldiers rebels, and threatened to punish them
as such. This aroused their indignation, and from secret murmurings
they proceeded to loud and angry complaints. Perdiccas was not their
king, they said, to lord it over them in that imperious manner. He was
nothing but the tutor of their kings, and they would not submit to any
insolence from him. Perdiccas was soon quite alarmed to observe the
degree of dissatisfaction which he had awakened, and the violence of
the form which it seemed to be assuming. He changed his tone, and
attempted to soothe and conciliate the minds of his men. He at length
succeeded so far as to restore some degree of order and discipline to
the army, and in that condition the expedition entered Egypt.[E]

[Footnote E: For the route taken by this expedition, see map.]

Perdiccas crossed one of the branches of the Nile, and then led his
army forward to attack Ptolemy in a strong fortress, where he had
intrenched himself with his troops. The forces of Perdiccas, though
much more numerous than those of Ptolemy, fought with very little
spirit; while those of Ptolemy exerted themselves to the utmost, under
the influence of the strong attachment which they felt for their
commander. Perdiccas was beaten in the engagement; and he was so much
weakened by the defeat, that he determined to retreat back across the
river. When the army arrived at the bank of the stream, the troops
began to pass over; but after about half the army had crossed, they
found, to their surprise, that the water, which had been growing
gradually deeper all the time, became impassable. The cause of this
deepening of the stream was at first a great mystery, since the
surface of the water, as was evident by marks along the shore,
remained all the time at the same level. It was at length ascertained
that the cause of this extraordinary phenomenon was, that the sands in
the bottom of the river were trampled up by the feet of the men and
horses in crossing, so that the current of the water could wash them
away; and such was the immense number of footsteps made by the
successive bodies of troops, that, by the time the transportation had
been half accomplished, the water had become too deep to be forded.
Perdiccas was thus, as it were, caught in a trap--half his army being
on one side of the river, and himself, with the remainder, on the

He was seriously alarmed at the dangerous situation in which he thus
found himself placed, and immediately resorted to a variety of
expedients to remedy the unexpected difficulty. All his efforts were,
however, vain. Finally, as it seemed imperiously necessary to effect a
junction between the two divisions of his army, he ordered those who
had gone over to make an attempt, at all hazards, to return. They did
so; but in the attempt, vast numbers of men got beyond their depth,
and were swept down by the current and drowned. Multitudes of the
bodies, both of the dead and of the dying, were seized and devoured by
the crocodiles which lined the shores of the river below. There were
about two thousand men thus lost in the attempt to recross the stream.

In all military operations, the criterion of merit, in the opinion of
an army, is success; and, of course, the discontent and disaffection
which prevailed in the camp of Perdiccas broke out anew in consequence
of these misfortunes. There was a general mutiny. The officers
themselves took the lead in it, and one hundred of them went over in a
body to Ptolemy's side, taking with them a considerable portion of the
army; while those that were left remained with Perdiccas, not to
defend, but to destroy him. A troop of horse gathered around his tent,
guarding it on all sides, to prevent the escape of their victim, and
then a certain number of the men rushed in and killed him in the midst
of his terror and despair.

Ptolemy now advanced to the camp of Perdiccas, and was received there
with acclamation. The whole army submitted themselves at once to his
command. An arrangement was made for the return of the army to
Babylon, with the kings and their train. Pithon, one of the generals
of Perdiccas, took the command of the army, and the charge of the
royal family, on the return. In the mean time, Antipater had passed
into Asia, victorious over the forces that Perdiccas had sent against
him. A new congress of generals was held, and a new distribution of
power was made. By the new arrangement, Antipater was to retain his
command in Macedon and Greece, and to have the custody of the kings.
Accordingly, when every thing had thus been settled, Antipater set out
on his return to Macedon, with Philip and Eurydice, and also Roxana
and the infant Alexander, in his train. The venerable soldier--for he
was now about eighty years of age--was received in Macedon, on his
return, with universal honor and applause. There were several
considerations, in fact, which conspired to exalt Antipater in the
estimation of his countrymen on this occasion. He had performed a
great military exploit in conducting the expedition into Asia, from
which he was now triumphantly returning. He was bringing back to
Macedon, too, the royal family of Alexander, the representatives of
the ancient Macedonian line; and by being made the custodian of these
princes, and regent of the empire in their name, he had been raised to
the most exalted position which the whole world at that period could
afford. The Macedonians received him, accordingly, on his return, with
loud and universal acclamations.



B.C. 320-316

Antipater's difficulties--Trouble with Olympias and Eurydice.--Character
of Eurydice.--Her dictatorial and overbearing demeanor.--The convention
of Triparadeisus.--Violence of Eurydice.--Antipater's life in
danger.--Eurydice forced to submit.--Antipater is dangerously sick.--The
arrangements made by him.--Antipater's arrangements for the
succession.--Polysperchon.--Polysperchon invites Olympias to return
to Macedon.--Cassander plans a rebellion.--His pretended hunting
party.--Cassander explains his designs to his friends.--They agree
to join him.--Olympias is afraid to return to Macedon.--War between
Cassander and Polysperchon.--Curious incident.--Polysperchon's
mine.--Success of it.--The conflict.--Consternation produced by the
elephants.--Plan of defense against them.--The iron spikes.--Olympias
finally concludes to go to Macedon.--Eurydice's troops desert
her.--Olympias in her chariot.--Eurydice is captured.--She is sent to
a dungeon.--Death of Philip.--Eurydice's despair.--he cell.--Eurydice's
dreadful end.--Cassander's movements.--Olympias acts in the most
energetic manner.--The siege of Pydna.--Movement of Cassander.--The
carrying away of Pyrrhus.--Olympias resorts to a stratagem.--Olympias
in prison.--Her end.

Although Antipater, on his return to Macedon, came back loaded with
honors, and in the full and triumphant possession of power, his
situation was still not without its difficulties. He had for enemies,
in Macedon, two of the most violent and unmanageable women that ever
lived--Olympias and Eurydice--who quarreled with him incessantly, and
who hated each other even more than they hated him.

Olympias was at this time in Epirus. She remained there, because she
did not choose to put herself under Antipater's power by residing in
Macedon. She succeeded, however, by her maneuvers and intrigues, in
giving Antipater a great deal of trouble. Her ancient animosity
against him had been very much increased and aggravated by the failure
of her plan for marrying her daughter Cleopatra to Perdiccas, through
the advances which Antipater made in behalf of his daughter Nicæa; and
though Nicæa and Perdiccas were now dead, yet the transaction was an
offense which such a woman as Olympias never could forgive.

Eurydice was a still greater source of annoyance and embarrassment to
Antipater than Olympias herself. She was a woman of very masculine
turn of mind, and she had been brought up by her mother, Cynane, to
martial exercises, such as those to which young men in those days were
customarily trained. She could shoot arrows, and throw the javelin,
and ride on horseback at the head of a troop of armed men. As soon as
she was married to Philip she began at once to assume an air of
authority, thinking, apparently, that she herself, being the wife of
the king, was entitled to a much greater share of the regal authority
than the generals, who, as she considered them, were merely his tutors
and guardians, or, at most, only military agents, appointed to execute
his will. During the memorable expedition into Egypt, Perdiccas had
found it very difficult to exercise any control over her; and after
the death of Perdiccas, she assumed a more lofty and imperious tone
than ever. She quarreled incessantly with Pithon, the commander of the
army, on the return from Egypt; and she made the most resolute and
determined opposition to the appointment of Antipater as the custodian
of the persons of the kings.

The place where the consultation was held, at which this appointment
was made, was Triparadeisus,[F] in Syria. This was the place where the
expedition of Antipater, coming from Asia Minor, met the army of Egypt
on its return. As soon as the junction of the two armies was effected,
and the grand council was convened, Eurydice made the most violent
opposition to the proceedings. Antipater reproved her for evincing
such turbulence and insubordination of spirit. This made her more
angry than ever; and when at length Antipater was appointed to the
regency, she went out and made a formal harangue to the army, in which
she denounced Antipater in the severest terms, and loaded him with
criminations and reproaches, and endeavored to incite the soldiers to
a revolt. Antipater endeavored to defend himself against these
accusations by a calm reply; but the influence which Eurydice's
tempestuous eloquence exerted on the minds of the soldiery was too
much for him. A very serious riot ensued, which threatened to lead to
the most disastrous results. For a time Antipater's life was in most
imminent danger, and he was saved only by the interposition of some of
the other generals, who hazarded their own lives to rescue him from
the enraged soldiery.

[Footnote F: See map.]

The excitement of this scene gradually subsided, and, as the generals
persisted in the arrangement which they had made, Eurydice found
herself forced to submit to it. She had, in fact, no real power in her
hands except that of making temporary mischief and disturbance; and,
as is usually the case with characters like hers, when she found that
those around her could not be driven from their ground by her
fractiousness and obstinacy, she submitted herself to the necessity of
the case, though in a moody and sullen manner. Such were the relations
which Antipater and Eurydice bore to each other on the return of
Antipater to Macedon.

The troubles, however, in his government, which Antipater might have
reasonably expected to arise from his connection with Olympias and
Eurydice, were destined to a very short continuance, so far as he
personally was concerned; for, not long after his return to Macedon,
he fell sick of a dangerous disease, under which it was soon evident
that the vital principle, at the advanced age to which he had
attained, must soon succumb. In fact, Antipater himself soon gave up
all hopes of recovery, and began at once to make arrangements for the
final surrender of his power.

It will be recollected that when Craterus came from Asia to Macedon,
about the time of Alexander's death, he brought with him a general
named Polysperchon, who, though nominally second in command, really
had charge of the army on the march, Craterus himself being at the
time an invalid. When, some time afterward, Antipater and Craterus set
out on their expedition to Asia, in the war against Perdiccas,
Polysperchon was left in charge of the kingdom of Macedon, to govern
it as regent until Antipater should return. Antipater had a son named
Cassander, who was a general in his army. Cassander naturally expected
that, during the absence of his father, the kingdom would be committed
to his charge. For some reason or other, however, Antipater had
preferred Polysperchon, and had intrusted the government to him.
Polysperchon had, of course, become acquainted with the duties of
government, and had acquired an extensive knowledge of Macedonian
affairs. He had governed well, too, and the people were accustomed to
his sway. Antipater concluded, therefore, that it would be better to
continue Polysperchon in power after his death, rather than to
displace Polysperchon for the sake of advancing his son Cassander. He
therefore made provision for giving to Cassander a very high command
in the army, but he gave Polysperchon the kingdom. This act, though
Cassander himself never forgave it, raised Antipater to a higher place
than ever in the estimation of mankind. They said that he did what no
monarch ever did before; in determining the great question of the
succession, he made the aggrandizement of his own family give place to
the welfare of the realm.

Antipater on his death-bed, among other councils which he gave to
Polysperchon, warned him very earnestly against the danger of yielding
to any woman whatever a share in the control of public affairs. Woman,
he said, was, from her very nature, the creature of impulse, and was
swayed in all her conduct by the emotions and passions of her heart.
She possessed none of the calm, considerate, and self-controlling
principles of wisdom and prudence, so essential for the proper
administration of the affairs of states and nations. These cautions,
as Antipater uttered them, were expressed in general terms, but they
were understood to refer to Olympias and Eurydice, whom it had always
been very difficult to control, and who, of course, when Antipater
should be removed from the scene, might be expected to come forward
with a spirit more obtrusive and unmanageable than ever.

These counsels, however, of the dying king seemed to have had very
little effect upon Polysperchon; for one of the first measures of his
government, after Antipater was dead, was to send to Epirus to invite
Olympias to return to Macedon. This measure was decided upon in a
grand council which Polysperchon convened to deliberate on the state
of public affairs as soon as the government came into his hands.
Polysperchon thought that he should greatly strengthen his
administration by enlisting Olympias on his side. She was held in
great veneration by all the people of Macedon; not on account of any
personal qualities which she possessed to entitle her to such regard,
but because she was the mother of Alexander. Polysperchon, therefore,
considered it very important to secure her influence, and the prestige
of her name in his favor. At the same time, while he thus sought to
propitiate Olympias, he neglected Cassander and all the other members
of Antipater's family. He considered them, doubtless, as rivals and
antagonists, whom he was to keep down by every means in his power.

Cassander, who was a man of a very bold, determined, and ambitious
spirit, remained quietly in Polysperchon's court for a little time,
watching attentively all that was done, and revolving silently in his
mind the question what course he himself should pursue. At length he
formed a small party of his friends to go away on a hunting excursion.
When he reached a safe distance from the court of Polysperchon, he
called his friends around him, and informed them that he had resolved
not to submit to the usurpation of Polysperchon, who, in assuming the
throne of Macedon, had seized what rightfully belonged, he said, to
him, Cassander, as his father's son and heir. He invited his friends
to join him in the enterprise of deposing Polysperchon, and assuming
the crown.

He urged this undertaking upon them with very specious arguments. It
was the only course of safety for them, as well as for him, since
they--that is, the friends to whom Cassander was making these
proposals--had all been friends of Antipater; and Olympias, whom
Polysperchon was about to take into his counsels, hated the very name
of Antipater, and would evince, undoubtedly, the most unrelenting
hostility to all whom she should consider as having been his friends.
He was confident, he said, that the Asiatic princes and generals would
espouse his cause. They had been warmly attached to Antipater, and
would not willingly see his son and rightful successor deprived of his
legitimate rights. Besides, Philip and Eurydice would join him. They
had every thing to fear from Olympias, and would, of course, oppose
the power of Polysperchon, now that he had determined to ally himself
to her.

The friends of Cassander very readily agreed to his proposal, and the
result proved the truth of his predictions. The Asiatic princes
furnished Cassander with very efficient aid in his attempt to depose
his rival. Olympias adhered to Polysperchon, while Eurydice favored
Cassander's cause. A terrible conflict ensued. It was waged for some
time in Greece, and in other countries more or less remote from
Macedon, the advantage in the combats being sometimes on one side and
sometimes on the other. It is not necessary to detail here the events
which occurred in the contest so long as the theatre of war was beyond
the frontiers of Macedon, for the parties with whom we are now
particularly dealing were not directly affected by the conflict until
it came nearer home.

It ought here to be stated that Olympias did not at first accept the
invitation to return to Macedon which Polysperchon sent to her. She
hesitated. She consulted with her friends, and they were not decided
in respect to the course which it would be best for her to pursue. She
had made a great many enemies in Macedon during her former residence
there, and she knew well that she would have a great deal to fear from
their hostility in case she should return, and thus put herself again,
as it were, into their power. Then, besides, it was quite uncertain
what course affairs in Macedon would finally take. Antipater had
bequeathed the kingdom to Polysperchon, it was true; but there might
be great doubt whether the people would acquiesce in this decision,
and allow the supreme power to remain quietly in Polysperchon's hands.
She concluded, therefore, to remain a short time where she was, till
she could see how the case would finally turn. She accordingly
continued to reside in Epirus, keeping up, however, a continual
correspondence with Polysperchon in respect to the measures of his
government, and watching the progress of the war between him and
Cassander in Greece, when that war broke out, with the utmost
solicitude and anxiety.

Cassander proved to be too strong for Polysperchon in Greece. He had
obtained large bodies of troops from his Asiatic allies, and he
maneuvered and managed these forces with so much bravery and skill,
that Polysperchon could not dislodge him from the country. A somewhat
curious incident occurred on one occasion during the campaign, which
illustrates the modes of warfare practiced in those days. It seems
that one of the cities of Peloponnesus, named Megalopolis, was on the
side of Cassander, and when Polysperchon sent them a summons to
surrender to him and acknowledge his authority, they withdrew all
their property and the whole of their population within the walls, and
bid him defiance. Polysperchon then advanced and laid siege to the

After fully investing the city and commencing operations on various
sides, to occupy the attention of the garrison, he employed a corps of
sappers and miners in secretly undermining a portion of the wall. The
mode of procedure, in operations like this, was to dig a subterranean
passage leading to the foundations of the wall, and then, as fast as
these foundations were removed, to substitute props to support the
superincumbent mass until all was ready for the springing of the mine.
When the excavations were completed, the props were suddenly pulled
away, and the wall would cave in, to the great astonishment of the
besieged, who, if the operation had been skillfully performed, knew
nothing of the danger until the final consummation of it opened
suddenly before their eyes a great breach in their defenses.
Polysperchon's mine was so successful, that three towers fell into it,
with all the wall connecting them. These towers came down with a
terrific crash, the materials of which they had been composed lying,
after the fall, half buried in the ground, a mass of ruins.

The garrison of the city immediately repaired in great numbers to the
spot, to prevent the ingress of the enemy; while, on the other hand, a
strong detachment of troops rushed forward from the camp of
Polysperchon to force their way through the breach into the city. A
very desperate conflict ensued, and while the men of the city were
thus engaged in keeping back the invaders, the women and children were
employed in throwing up a line of intrenchments further within, to
cover the opening which had been made in the wall. The people of the
city gained the victory in the combat. The storming party were driven
back, and the besieged were beginning to congratulate themselves on
their escape from the danger which had threatened them, when they were
suddenly terrified beyond measure by the tidings that the besiegers
were arranging a train of elephants to bring in through the breach.
Elephants were often used for war in those days in Asiatic countries,
but they had seldom appeared in Greece. Polysperchon, however, had a
number of them in the train of his army, and the soldiers of
Megalopolis were overwhelmed with consternation at the prospect of
being trampled under foot by these huge beasts, wholly ignorant as
they were of the means of contending against them.

It happened, however, that there was in the city of Megalopolis at
this time a soldier named Damides, who had served in former years
under Alexander the Great, in Asia. He went to the officers who had
command within the city and offered his aid. "Fear nothing," said he,
"but go on with your preparations of defense, and leave the elephants
to me. I will answer for them, if you will do as I say." The officers
agreed to follow his instructions. He immediately caused a great
number of sharp iron spikes to be made. These spikes he set firmly in
the ends of short stakes of wood, and then planted the stakes in the
ground all about the intrenchments and in the breach, in such a manner
that the spikes themselves, points upward, protruded from the ground.
The spikes were then concealed from view by covering the ground with
straw and other similar rubbish.

The consequence of this arrangement was, that when the elephants
advanced to enter the breach, they trod upon these spikes, and the
whole column of them was soon disabled and thrown into confusion. Some
of the elephants were wounded so severely that they fell where they
stood, and were unable to rise. Others, maddened with the pain which
they endured, turned back and trampled their own keepers under foot in
their attempts to escape from the scene. The breach, in short, soon
became so choked up with the bodies of beasts and men, that the
assailants were compelled to give up the contest and withdraw. A
short time afterward, Polysperchon raised the siege and abandoned the
city altogether.

In fact, the party of Cassander was in the end triumphant in Greece,
and Polysperchon determined to return to Macedon.

In the mean time, Olympias had determined to come to Macedon, and aid
Polysperchon in his contest with Cassander. She accordingly left
Epirus, and with a small body of troops, with which her brother
Alexander, who was then King of Epirus, furnished her, went on and
joined Polysperchon on his return. Eurydice was alarmed at this; for,
since she considered Olympias as her great political rival and enemy,
she knew very well that there could be no safety for her or her
husband if Olympias should obtain the ascendency in the court of
Polysperchon. She accordingly began to call upon those around her, in
the city where she was then residing, to arm themselves for her
defense. They did so, and a considerable force was thus collected.
Eurydice placed herself at the head of it. She sent messengers off to
Cassander, urging him to come immediately and join her. She also sent
an embassage to Polysperchon, commanding him, in the name of Philip
the king, to deliver up his army to Cassander. Of course this was only
a form, as she could not have expected that such a command would have
been obeyed; and, accordingly, after having sent off these orders, she
placed herself at the head of the troops that she had raised, and
marched out to meet Polysperchon on his return, intending, if he would
not submit, to give him battle.

Her designs, however, were all frustrated in the end in a very
unexpected manner. For when the two armies approached each other, the
soldiers who were on Eurydice's side, instead of fighting in her cause
as she expected, failed her entirely at the time of trial. For when
they saw Olympias, whom they had long been accustomed almost to adore
as the wife of old King Philip, and the mother of Alexander, and who
was now advancing to meet them on her return to Macedon, splendidly
attended, and riding in her chariot, at the head of Polysperchon's
army, with the air and majesty of a queen, they were so overpowered
with the excitement of the spectacle, that they abandoned Eurydice in
a body, and went over, by common consent, to Polysperchon's side.

Of course Eurydice herself and her husband Philip, who was with her
at this time, fell into Polysperchon's hands as prisoners. Olympias
was almost beside herself with exultation and joy at having her hated
rival thus put into her power. She imprisoned Eurydice and her husband
in a dungeon, so small that there was scarcely room for them to turn
themselves in it; and while they were thus confined, the only
attention which the wretched prisoners received was to be fed, from
time to time, with coarse provisions, thrust in to them through a hole
in the wall. Having thus made Eurydice secure, Olympias proceeded to
wreak her vengeance on all the members of the family of Antipater whom
she could get within her power. Cassander, it is true, was beyond her
reach for the present; he was gradually advancing through Thessaly
into Macedonia, at the head of a powerful and victorious army. There
was another son of Antipater, however, named Nicanor, who was then in
Macedon. Him she seized and put to death, together with about a
hundred of his relatives and friends. In fact, so violent and insane
was her rage against the house of Antipater, that she opened a tomb
where the body of another of his sons had been interred, and caused
the remains to be brought out and thrown into the street. The people
around her began to remonstrate against such atrocities; but these
remonstrances, instead of moderating her rage, only excited it still
more. She sent to the dungeon where her prisoners, Philip and
Eurydice, were confined, and caused Philip to be stabbed to death with
daggers; and then, when this horrid scene was scarcely over, an
executioner came in to Eurydice with a dagger, a rope, and a cup of
poison, saying that Olympias sent them to her, that she might choose
herself by what she would die. Eurydice, on receiving this message,
replied, saying, "I pray Heaven that Olympias herself may one day have
the like alternative presented to her." She then proceeded to tear the
linen dress which she wore into bandages, and to bind up with these
bandages the wounds in the dead body of her husband. This dreadful
though useless duty being performed, she then, rejecting all three of
the means of self-destruction which Olympias had offered her,
strangled herself by tying tight about her neck a band which she
obtained from her own attire.

[Illustration: EURYDICE IN PRISON.]

Of course, the tidings of these proceedings were not long in reaching
Cassander. He was at this time in Greece, advancing, however, slowly
to the northward, toward Macedon. In coming from Greece into Thessaly,
his route lay through the celebrated Pass of Thermopylæ. He found this
pass guarded by a large body of troops, which had been posted there to
oppose his passage. He immediately got together all the ships, boats,
galleys, and vessels of every kind which he could procure, and,
embarking his army on board of them, he sailed past the defile, and
landed in Thessaly. Thence he marched into Macedon.

While Cassander had thus been slowly approaching, Polysperchon and
Olympias had been very vigorously employed in making preparations to
receive him. Olympias, with Roxana and the young Alexander, who was
now about five years old, in her train, traveled to and fro among the
cities of Macedonia, summoning the people to arms, enlisting all who
would enter her service, and collecting money and military stores. She
also sent to Epirus, to Æacides the king, the father of Pyrrhus,
imploring him to come to her aid with all the force he could bring.
Polysperchon, too, though separate from Olympias, made every effort to
strengthen himself against his coming enemy. Things were in this state
when Cassander entered Macedon.

Cassander immediately divided his troops into two distinct bodies, and
sending one, under the command of an able general, to attack
Polysperchon, he himself went in pursuit of Olympias. Olympias
retreated before him, until at length she reached the city of Pydna, a
city situated in the southeastern part of Macedon, on the shore of the
Ægean Sea.[G] She knew that the force under her command was not
sufficient to enable her to offer her enemy battle, and she
accordingly went into the city, and fortified herself there.
Cassander advanced immediately to the place, and, finding the city
too strongly fortified to be carried by assault, he surrounded it with
his army, and invested it closely both by land and sea.

[Footnote G: See map.]

The city was not well provided for a siege, and the people within very
soon began to suffer for want of provisions. Olympias, however, urged
them to hold out, representing to them that she had sent to Epirus for
assistance, and that Æacides, the king, was already on his way, with a
large force, to succor her. This was very true; but, unfortunately for
Olympias, Cassander was aware of this fact as well as she, and,
instead of waiting for the troops of Æacides to come and attack him,
he had sent a large armed force to the confines between Epirus and
Macedon, to intercept these expected allies in the passes of the
mountains. This movement was successful. The army of Æacides found,
when they reached the frontier, that the passages leading into
Macedonia were all blocked up by the troops of the enemy. They made
some ineffectual attempts to break through; and then the leading
officers of the army, who had never been really willing to embark in
the war, revolted against Æacides, and returned home. And as, in the
case of deeds of violence and revolution, it is always safest to go
through and finish the work when it is once begun, they deposed
Æacides entirely, and raised the other branch of the royal family to
the throne in his stead. It was on this occasion that the infant
Pyrrhus was seized and carried away by his friends, to save his life,
as mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this history. The
particulars of this revolution, and of the flight of Pyrrhus, will be
given more fully in the next chapter. It is sufficient here to say,
that the attempt of Æacides to come to the rescue of Olympias in her
peril wholly failed, and there was nothing now left but the wall of
the city to defend her from her terrible foe.

In the mean time, the distress in the city for want of food had become
horrible. Olympias herself, with Roxana and the boy, and the other
ladies of the court, lived on the flesh of horses. The soldiers
devoured the bodies of their comrades as they were slain upon the
wall. They fed the elephants, it was said, on saw-dust. The soldiers
and the people of the city, who found this state of things
intolerable, deserted continually to Cassander, letting themselves
down by stealth in the night from the wall. Still Olympias would not
surrender; there was one more hope remaining for her. She contrived
to dispatch a messenger to Polysperchon with a letter, asking him to
send a galley round into the harbor at a certain time in the night, in
order that she might get on board of it, and thus escape. Cassander
intercepted this messenger. After reading the letter, he returned it
to the messenger again, and directed him to go on and deliver it. The
messenger did so, and Polysperchon sent the galley. Cassander, of
course, watched for it, and seized it himself when it came. The last
hope of the unhappy Olympias was thus extinguished, and she opened the
gates and gave herself up to Cassander. The whole country immediately
afterward fell into Cassander's hands.

The friends of the family of Antipater were now clamorous in their
demands that Olympias should be brought to punishment for having so
atrociously murdered the sons and relatives of Antipater while she was
in power. Olympias professed herself willing to be tried, and appealed
to the Macedonian senate to be her judges. She relied on the
ascendency which she had so long exercised over the minds of the
Macedonians, and did not believe that they would condemn her.
Cassander himself feared that they would not; and although he was
unwilling to murder her while she was a defenseless prisoner in his
hands, he determined that she should die. He recommended to her
secretly not to take the hazard of a trial, but to make her escape and
go to Athens, and offered to give her an opportunity to do so. He
intended, it was said, if she made the attempt, to intercept and slay
her on the way as a fugitive from justice. She refused to accede to
this proposal, suspecting, perhaps, Cassander's treachery in making
it. Cassander then sent a band of two hundred soldiers to put her to

These soldiers, when they came into the prison, were so impressed by
the presence of the queen, to whom, in former years, they had been
accustomed to look up with so much awe, that they shrank back from
their duty, and for a time it seemed that no one would strike the
blow. At length, however, some among the number, who were relatives of
those that Olympias had murdered, succeeding in nerving their arms
with the resolution of revenge, fell upon her and killed her with
their swords.

As for Roxana and the boy, Cassander kept them close prisoners for
many years; and finally, feeling more and more that his possession of
the throne of Alexander was constantly endangered by the existence of
a son of Alexander, caused them to be assassinated too.



B.C. 332-295

The family of Epirus.--Their difficulties.--The two Alexanders.--Their
different destinies.--Adventures of Alexander of Macedon.--The Gulf of
Tarentum.--Oracle of Dodona.--The equivocal prediction.--Pandosia.--The
unexpected inundation.--Effects of it.--Bridge carried away.--The River
of Sorrow.--Alexander killed.--His body falls into the river.--A woman
rescues the remains.--Olympias.--Æacides marches to relieve Pydna.--The
flight of the family with Pyrrhus.--The party meet with a narrow
escape.--Ingenious mode of sending a letter.--The raft.--Pyrrhus is
carried to Illyria.--Little Pyrrhus at the court of Glaucias.--Pyrrhus
becomes a large boy.--Cassander's plans.--Glaucias establishes Pyrrhus
on his throne.--Rebellion.--Pyrrhus once more an exile.--Pyrrhus enters
into the service of Demetrius.--Pyrrhus acquires great renown.--He
becomes a hostage.--The situation of a hostage.--Pyrrhus in the court
of Ptolemy.

In the two preceding chapters we have related that portion of the
history of Macedonia which it is necessary to understand in order
rightly to appreciate the nature of the difficulties in which the
royal family of Epirus was involved at the time when Pyrrhus first
appeared upon the stage. The sources of these difficulties were two:
first, the uncertainty of the line of succession, there being two
branches of the royal family, each claiming the throne, which state of
things was produced, in a great measure, by the interposition of
Olympias in the affairs of Epirus some years before; and, secondly,
the act of Olympias in inducing Æacides to come to Macedonia, to
embark in her quarrel against Cassander there. Of course, since there
were two lines of princes, both claiming the throne, no sovereign of
either line could hold any thing more than a divided empire over the
hearts of his subjects; and consequently, when Æacides left the
kingdom to fight the battles of Olympias in Macedon, it was
comparatively easy for the party opposed to him to effect a revolution
and raise their own prince to the throne.

The prince whom Olympias had originally made king of Epirus, to the
exclusion of the claimant belonging to the other branch of the family,
was her own brother. His name was Alexander. He was the son of
Neoptolemus. The rival branch of the family were the children of
Arymbas, the brother of Neoptolemus. This Alexander flourished at the
same time as Alexander the Great, and in his character very much
resembled his distinguished namesake. He commenced a career of
conquest in Italy at the same time that his nephew embarked in his in
Asia, and commenced it, too, under very similar circumstances. One
went to the East, and another to the West, each determined to make
himself master of the world. The Alexander of Macedon succeeded. The
Alexander of Epirus failed. The one acquired, consequently, universal
and perpetual renown, while the memory of the other has been almost
entirely neglected and forgotten.

One reason, unquestionably, for the difference in these results was
the difference in the character of the enemies respectively against
whom the two adventurers had to contend. Alexander of Epirus went
westward into Italy, where he had to encounter the soldiery of the
Romans--a soldiery of the most rugged, determined, and indomitable
character. Alexander of Macedon, on the other hand, went to the East,
where he found only Asiatic races to contend with, whose troops,
though countless in numbers and magnificently appointed in respect to
all the purposes of parade and display, were yet enervated with
luxury, and wholly unable to stand against any energetic and
determined foe. In fact, Alexander of Epirus used to say that the
reason why his nephew, Alexander of Macedon, had succeeded, while he
himself had failed, was because he himself had invaded countries
peopled by _men_, while the Macedonian, in his Asiatic campaign, had
encountered only women.

However this may be, the campaign of Alexander of Epirus in Italy had
a very disastrous termination. The occasion of his going there was a
request which he had received from the inhabitants of Tarentum that he
would come over and assist them in a war in which they were engaged
with some neighboring tribes. Tarentum was a city situated toward the
western shore of Italy. It was at the head of the deep bay called the
Gulf of Tarentum, which bay occupies the hollow of the foot that the
form of Italy presents to the eye as seen upon a map.[H] Tarentum was,
accordingly, across the Adriatic Sea from Epirus. The distance was
about two hundred miles. By taking a southerly route, and going up the
Gulf of Tarentum, this distance might be traversed wholly by sea. A
little to the north the Adriatic is narrow, the passage there being
only about fifty miles across. To an expedition, however, taking this
course, there would remain, after arriving on the Italian shore, fifty
miles or more to be accomplished by land in order to reach Tarentum.

[Footnote H: See map.]

Before deciding to comply with the request of the Tarentines that he
would come to their aid, Alexander sent to a celebrated oracle in
Epirus, called the oracle of Dodona, to inquire whether it would be
safe for him to undertake the expedition. To his inquiries the oracle
gave him this for an answer:

     "The waters of Acheron will be the cause of your death, and
     Pandosia is the place where you will die."

Alexander was greatly rejoiced at receiving this answer. Acheron was a
stream of Epirus, and Pandosia was a town upon the banks of it. He
understood the response to mean that he was fated to die quietly in
his own country at some future period, probably a remote one, and that
there was no danger in his undertaking the expedition to which he had
been called. He accordingly set sail from Epirus, and landed in Italy;
and there, believing that he was fated to die in Epirus, and not in
Italy, he fought in every battle with the most desperate and reckless
bravery, and achieved prodigies of valor. The possibility that there
might be an Acheron and a Pandosia in Italy, as well as in Epirus, did
not occur to his mind.

For a time he was very successful in his career. He fought battles,
gained victories, conquered cities, and established his dominion over
quite an extended region. In order to hold what he had gained, he sent
over a great number of hostages to Epirus, to be kept there as
security for the continued submission of those whom he had subdued.
These hostages consisted chiefly, as was usual in such cases, of
children. At length, in the course of the war, an occasion arose in
which it was necessary, for the protection of his troops, to encamp
them on three hills which were situated very near to each other.
These hills were separated by low interval lands and a small stream;
but at the time when Alexander established his encampment, the stream
constituted no impediment to free intercommunication between the
different divisions of his army. There came on, however, a powerful
rain; the stream overflowed its banks; the intervals were inundated.
This enabled the enemy to attack two of Alexander's encampments, while
it was utterly impossible for Alexander himself to render them any
aid. The enemy made the attack, and were successful in it. The two
camps were broken up, and the troops stationed in them were put to
flight. Those that remained with Alexander, becoming discouraged by
the hopeless condition in which they found themselves placed,
mutinied, and sent to the camp of the enemy, offering to deliver up
Alexander to them, dead or alive, as they should choose, on condition
that they themselves might be allowed to return to their native land
in peace. This proposal was accepted; but, before it was put in
execution, Alexander, having discovered the plot, placed himself at
the head of a determined and desperate band of followers, broke
through the ranks of the enemies that surrounded him, and made his
escape to a neighboring wood. From this wood he took a route which
led him to a river, intending to pass the river by a bridge which he
expected to find there, and then to destroy the bridge as soon as he
had crossed it, so as to prevent his enemies from following him. By
this means he hoped to make his way to some place of safety. He found,
on arriving at the brink of the stream, that the bridge had been
carried away by the inundation. He, however, pressed forward into the
water on horseback, intending to ford the stream. The torrent was
wild, and the danger was imminent, but Alexander pressed on. At length
one of the attendants, seeing his master in imminent danger of being
drowned, exclaimed aloud, "This cursed river! well is it named
Acheron." The word Acheron, in the original language, signifies River
of Sorrow.

By this exclamation Alexander learned, for the first time, that the
river he was crossing bore the same name with the one in Epirus, which
he supposed had been referred to in the warning of the oracle. He was
at once overwhelmed with consternation. He did not know whether to go
forward or to return. The moment of indecision was suddenly ended by a
loud outcry from his attendants, giving the alarm that the traitors
were close upon him. Alexander then pushed forward across the water.
He succeeded in gaining the bank; but as soon as he did so, a dart
from one of his enemies reached him and killed him on the spot. His
lifeless body fell back into the river, and was floated down the
stream, until at length it reached the camp of the enemy, which
happened to be on the bank of the stream below. Here it was drawn out
of the water, and subjected to every possible indignity. The soldiers
cut the body in two, and, sending one part to one of the cities as a
trophy of their victory, they set up the other part in the camp as a
target for the soldiers to shoot at with darts and javelins.

At length a woman came into the camp, and, with earnest entreaties and
many tears, begged the soldiers to give the mutilated corpse to her.
Her object in wishing to obtain possession of it was, that she might
send it home to Epirus, to the family of Alexander, and buy with it
the liberty of her husband and her children, who were among the
hostages which had been sent there. The soldiers acceded to this
request, and the parts of the body having been brought together again,
were taken to Epirus, and delivered to Olympias, by whom the remains
were honorably interred. We must presume that the woman who sent them
obtained the expected reward, in the return of her husband and
children, though of this we are not expressly informed.

Of course, the disastrous result of this most unfortunate expedition
had the effect, in Epirus, of diminishing very much the popularity and
the strength of that branch of the royal family--namely, the line of
Neoptolemus--to which Alexander had belonged. Accordingly, instead of
being succeeded by one of his brothers, Æacides, the father of
Pyrrhus, who was the representative of the other line, was permitted
quietly to assume the crown. It might have been expected that Olympias
would have opposed his accession, as she was herself a princess of the
rival line. She did not, however, do so. On the contrary, she gave him
her support, and allied herself to him very closely; and he, on his
part, became in subsequent years one of her most devoted adherents and

When Olympias was shut up in Pydna by the army of Cassander, as was
related in the last chapter, and sent for Æacides to come to her aid,
he immediately raised an army and marched to the frontier. He found
the passes in the mountains which led from Epirus to Macedonia all
strongly guarded, but he still determined to force his way through. He
soon, however, began to observe marks of discontent and
dissatisfaction among the officers of his army. These indications
increased, until at length the disaffection broke out into open
mutiny, as stated in the last chapter. Æacides then called his forces
together, and gave orders that all who were unwilling to follow him
into Macedon should be allowed freely to return. He did not wish, he
said, that any should accompany him on such an expedition excepting
those who went of their own free will. A considerable part of the army
then returned, but, instead of repairing peaceably to their homes,
they raised a general insurrection in Epirus, and brought the family
of Neoptolemus again to the throne. A solemn decree of the state was
passed, declaring that Æacides, in withdrawing from the kingdom, had
forfeited his crown, and banishing him forever from the country. And
as this revolution was intended to operate, not merely against Æacides
personally, but against the branch of the royal family to which he
belonged, the new government deemed it necessary, in order to finish
their work and make it sure, that many of his relatives and friends,
and especially his infant son and heir, should die. Several of the
members of Æacides' family were accordingly killed, though the
attendants in charge succeeded in saving the life of the child by a
sudden flight.

The escape was effected by the instrumentality of two of the officers
of Æacides' household, named Androclides and Angelus. These men, as
soon as the alarm was given, hurried the babe away, with only such
nurses and other attendants as it was necessary to take with them. The
child was still unweaned; and though those in charge made the number
of attendants as small as possible, still the party were necessarily
of such a character as to forbid any great rapidity of flight. A troop
was sent in pursuit of them, and soon began to draw near. When
Androclides found that his party would be overtaken by the troop, he
committed the child to the care of three young men, bidding them to
ride on with him, at their utmost speed, to a certain town in Macedon,
called Megaræ, where they thought he would be safe; and then he
himself, and the rest of his company, turned back to meet the
pursuers. They succeeded, partly by their representations and
entreaties, and partly by such resistance and obstruction as it was
in their power to make, in stopping the soldiers where they were. At
length, having, though with some difficulty, succeeded in getting away
from the soldiers, Androclides and Angelus rode on by secret ways till
they overtook the three young men. They now began to think that the
danger was over. At length, a little after sunset, they approached the
town of Megaræ. There was a river just before the town, which looked
too rough and dreadful to be crossed. The party, however, advanced to
the brink, and attempted to ford the stream, but they found it
impossible. It was growing dark; the water of the river, having been
swelled by rains, was very high and boisterous, and they found that
they could not get over. At length they saw some of the people of the
town coming down to the bank on the opposite side. They were in hopes
that these people could render them some assistance in crossing the
stream, and they began to call out to them for this purpose; but the
stream ran so rapidly, and the roaring of the torrent was so great,
that they could not make themselves heard. The distance was very
inconsiderable, for the stream was not wide; but, though the party
with Pyrrhus called aloud and earnestly, and made signs, holding up
the child in their arms to let the people see him, they could not make
themselves understood.

At last, after spending some time in these fruitless efforts, one of
the party who were with Pyrrhus thought of the plan of writing what
they wished to say upon a piece of bark, and throwing it across the
stream to those on the other side. They accordingly pulled off some
bark from a young oak which was growing on a bank of the river, and
succeeded in making characters upon it by means of the tongue of a
buckle, sufficient to say that they had with them Pyrrhus, the young
prince of Epirus, and that they were flying with him to save his life,
and to implore the people on the other side to contrive some way to
get them over the river. This piece of bark they then managed to throw
across the stream. Some say that they rolled it around a javelin, and
then gave the javelin to the strongest of their party to throw; others
say that they attached it to a stone. In some way or other they
contrived to give it a sufficient momentum to carry it across the
water; and the people on the other side, when they obtained it, and
read what was written upon it, were greatly excited by the tidings,
and engaged at once with ardor and enthusiasm in efforts to save the

They brought axes and began to cut down trees to make a raft. In due
time the raft was completed; and, notwithstanding the darkness of the
night, and the force and swiftness of the current of the stream, the
party of fugitives succeeded in crossing upon it, and thus brought the
child and all the attendants accompanying him safely over.

The party with Pyrrhus did not intend to stop at Megaræ. They did not
consider it safe, in fact, for them to remain in any part of Macedon,
not knowing what course the war between Polysperchon and Cassander
would take there, or how the parties engaged in the contest might
stand affected toward Pyrrhus. They determined, therefore, to press
forward in their flight till they had passed through Macedon, and
reached the country beyond.

The country north of Macedon, on the western coast, the one in which
they determined to seek refuge, was Illyria. The name of the King of
Illyria was Glaucias. They had reason to believe that Glaucias would
receive and protect the child, for he was connected by marriage with
the royal family of Epirus, his wife, Beroa, being a princess of the
line of Æacides. When the fugitives arrived at the court of Glaucias,
they went to the palace, where they found Glaucias and Beroa; and,
after telling the story of their danger and escape, they laid the
child down as a suppliant at the feet of the king.

Glaucias felt not a little embarrassed at the situation in which he
was placed, and did not know what to do. He remained for a long time
silent. At length, little Pyrrhus, who was all the while lying at his
feet, began to creep closer toward him; and, finally, taking hold of
the king's robe, he began to climb up by it, and attempted to get into
his lap, looking up into the king's face, at the same time, with a
countenance in which the expression of confidence and hope was mingled
with a certain instinctive infantile fear. The heart of the king was
so touched by this mute appeal, that he took the child up in his arms,
dismissed at once all prudential considerations from his mind, and, in
the end, delivered the boy to the queen, Beroa, directing her to bring
him up with her own children.

Cassander soon discovered the place of Pyrrhus's retreat, and he made
great efforts to induce Glaucias to give him up. He offered Glaucias
a very large sum of money if he would deliver Pyrrhus into his hands;
but Glaucias refused to do it. Cassander would, perhaps, have made war
upon Glaucias to compel him to comply with this requisition, but he
was then fully occupied with the enemies that threatened him in Greece
and Macedon. He did, subsequently, make an attempt to invade the
dominions of Glaucias, and to get possession of the person of Pyrrhus,
but the expedition failed, and after that the boy was allowed to
remain in Illyria without any further molestation.

Time passed on, until at length Pyrrhus was twelve years old. During
this interval great changes took place in the affairs of Cassander in
Macedon. At first he was very successful in his plans. He succeeded in
expelling Polysperchon from the country, and in establishing himself
as king. He caused Roxana and the young Alexander to be assassinated,
as was stated in the last chapter, so as to remove out of the way the
only persons who he supposed could ever advance any rival claims to
the throne. For a time every thing went well and prosperously with
him, but at length the tide of his affairs seemed to turn. A new enemy
appeared against him in Asia--a certain distinguished commander,
named Demetrius, who afterward became one of the most illustrious
personages of his age. Just at this time, too, the King of Epirus,
Alcetus, the prince of the family of Neoptolemus, who had reigned
during Pyrrhus's exile in Illyria, died. Glaucias deemed this a
favorable opportunity for restoring Pyrrhus to the throne. He
accordingly placed himself at the head of an army, and marched into
Epirus, taking the young prince with him. No effectual resistance was
made, and Pyrrhus was crowned king. He was, of course, too young
actually to reign, and a sort of regent was accordingly established in
power, with authority to govern the country in the young king's name
until he should come of age.

This state of things could not be very stable. It endured about five
years; and during this time Pyrrhus seemed to be very firmly
established in power. The strength of his position, however, was more
apparent than real; for the princes of the other branch of the family,
who had been displaced by Pyrrhus's return to power, were of course
discontented and restless all the time. They were continually forming
plots and conspiracies, and were only waiting for an opportunity to
effect another revolution. The opportunity at length came. One of the
sons of Glaucias was to be married. Pyrrhus had been the companion and
playmate of this prince during his residence in Illyria, and was, of
course, invited to the wedding. Supposing that all was safe in his
dominions, he accepted the invitation, and went to Illyria. While he
was there, amusing himself in the festivities and rejoicings connected
with the wedding, his rivals raised a rebellion, took possession of
the government, and of all of Pyrrhus's treasures, killed or put to
flight his partisans and friends, and raised a prince of the family of
Neoptolemus to the throne. Pyrrhus found himself once more an exile.

The revolution in Epirus was so complete, that, after careful
consideration and inquiry, Pyrrhus could see, with the resources he
had at his command, no hope of recovering his throne. But, being of an
ambitious and restless spirit, he determined not to remain idle; and
he concluded, therefore, to enter into the service of Demetrius in his
war against Cassander. There were two considerations which led him to
do this. In the first place, Cassander was his most formidable enemy,
and the prospect of his being ultimately restored again to his throne
would depend almost entirely, he well knew, upon the possibility of
destroying, or at least curtailing, Cassander's power. Then, besides,
Demetrius was especially his friend. The wife of Demetrius was
Deidamia, the sister of Pyrrhus, so that Pyrrhus looked upon Demetrius
as his natural ally. He accordingly offered to enter the service of
Demetrius, and was readily received. In fact, notwithstanding his
youth--for he was now only seventeen or eighteen years of
age--Demetrius gave him a very important command in his army, and took
great pains to instruct him in the art of war. It was not long before
an opportunity was afforded to make trial of Pyrrhus's capacity as a
soldier. A great battle was fought at Ipsus, in Asia Minor, between
Demetrius on one side and Cassander on the other. Besides these two
commanders, there were many princes and generals of the highest rank
who took part in the contest as allies of the principal combatants,
which had the effect of making the battle a very celebrated one, and
of causing it to attract very strongly the attention of all mankind at
the time when it occurred. The result of the contest was, on the
whole, unfavorable to the cause of Demetrius. His troops, generally,
were compelled to give way, though the division which Pyrrhus
commanded retained their ground. Pyrrhus, in fact, acquired great
renown by his courage and energy, and perhaps still more by his
success on this occasion. Young as he was, Demetrius immediately gave
him a new and very responsible command, and intrusted to him the
charge of several very important expeditions and campaigns, in all of
which the young soldier evinced such a degree of energy and courage,
combined, too, with so much forethought, prudence, and military skill,
as presaged very clearly his subsequent renown.

At length an alliance was formed between Demetrius and Ptolemy, king
of Egypt, and as security for the due execution of the obligations
assumed by Demetrius in the treaty which they made, Ptolemy demanded a
hostage. Pyrrhus offered to go himself to Egypt in this capacity.
Ptolemy accepted him, and Pyrrhus was accordingly taken in one of
Ptolemy's ships across the Mediterranean to Alexandria.

In Egypt the young prince was, of course, an object of universal
attention and regard. He was tall and handsome in person, agreeable in
manners, and amiable and gentle in disposition. His royal rank, the
fame of the exploits which he had performed, the misfortunes of his
early years, and the strange and romantic adventures through which he
had passed, all conspired to awaken a deep interest in his favor at
the court of Ptolemy. The situation of a hostage, too, is always one
which strongly attracts the sympathy and kind feelings of those who
hold him in custody. A captive is regarded in some sense as an enemy;
and though his hard lot may awaken a certain degree of pity and
commiseration, still the kind feeling is always modified by the fact
that the object of it, after all, though disarmed and helpless, is
still a foe. A hostage, however, is a friend. He comes as security for
the faithfulness of a friend and an ally, so that the sympathy and
interest which are felt for him as an exile from his native land, are
heightened by the circumstance that his position makes him naturally
an object of friendly regard.

The attachment which soon began to be felt for Pyrrhus in the court of
Ptolemy was increased by the excellent conduct and demeanor which he
exhibited while he was there. He was very temperate and moderate in
his pleasures, and upright and honorable in all his doings. In a
word, he made himself a general favorite; and after a year or two he
married Antigone, a princess of the royal family. From being a hostage
he now became a guest, and shortly afterward Ptolemy fitted out an
expedition to proceed to Epirus and restore him to his throne. On
arriving in Epirus, Pyrrhus found every thing favorable to the success
of his plans. The people of the country had become discontented with
the government of the reigning king, and were very willing to receive
Pyrrhus in his place. The revolution was easily effected, and Pyrrhus
was thus once more restored to his throne.



B.C. 295-288

Pyrrhus is restored to his throne.--A
celebration.--Festivities.--Gelon's gift.--Gelon and Myrtilus form
a plot.--The cup-bearer pretends to join the plot.--Conversation
overheard in a very singular manner.--Quarrel between Cassander's
heirs.--Pyrrhus takes his first independent command.--Anecdotes of
Pyrrhus.--His popularity.--Pyrrhus detects a forgery.--Plan of the
forgers.--The war is ended.--Pyrrhus returns home.--Interview with
Demetrius on the frontier.--Plots and counterplots.--Demetrius
triumphs.--Relations between Demetrius and Pyrrhus.--War breaks out
between them.--Thebes.--Recklessness and cruelty of Demetrius.--War
between Pyrrhus and Demetrius.--Pantauchus.--The single
combat.--Pyrrhus wounded.--Pantauchus narrowly escapes
death.--Demetrius is hated by his subjects.--His famous garment.--It
is left unfinished.--Pyrrhus's wives.--His motive for marrying
Lanassa.--Lanassa is discontented, and deserts Pyrrhus.--War
protracted for many years.

The prince whom Pyrrhus displaced from the throne of Epirus on his
return from Egypt, as narrated in the last chapter, was, of course, of
the family of Neoptolemus. His own name was Neoptolemus, and he was
the second son of the Neoptolemus who gave his name to the line.

Pyrrhus exercised an uncommon degree of moderation in his victory over
his rival; for, instead of taking his life, or even banishing him from
the kingdom, he treated him with respectful consideration, and
offered, very generously, as it would seem, to admit him to a share of
the regal power. Neoptolemus accepted this proposal, and the two kings
reigned conjointly for a considerable time. A difficulty, however,
before long occurred, which led to an open quarrel, the result of
which was that Neoptolemus was slain. The circumstances, as related by
the historians of the time, were as follows:

It seems that it was the custom of the people of Epirus to celebrate
an annual festival at a certain city in the kingdom, for the purpose
chiefly of renewing the oaths of allegiance on the one part, and of
fealty on the other, between the people and the king. Of course, there
were a great many games and spectacles, as well as various religious
rites and ceremonies, connected with this celebration; and among other
usages which prevailed, it was the custom for the people to bring
presents to the king on the occasion. When the period for this
celebration recurred, after Pyrrhus's restoration to the throne, both
Pyrrhus and Neoptolemus, each attended by his own particular followers
and friends, repaired to the city where the celebration was to be
held, and commenced the festivities.

Among other donations which were made to Pyrrhus at this festival, he
received a present of two yoke of oxen from a certain man named Gelon,
who was a particular friend of Neoptolemus. It appears that it was the
custom for the kings to dispose of many of the presents which they
received on these occasions from the people of the country, by giving
them to their attendants and the officers of their households; and a
certain cup-bearer, named Myrtilus, begged Pyrrhus to give these oxen
to him. Pyrrhus declined this request, but afterward gave the oxen to
another man. Myrtilus was offended at this, and uttered privately many
murmurings and complaints. Gelon, perceiving this, invited Myrtilus to
sup with him. In the course of the supper, he attempted to excite
still more the ill-will which Myrtilus felt toward Pyrrhus; and
finding that he appeared to succeed in doing this, he finally proposed
to Myrtilus to espouse the cause of Neoptolemus, and join in a plot
for poisoning Pyrrhus. His office as cup-bearer would enable him,
Gelon said, to execute such a design without difficulty or danger,
and, by doing it, he would so commend himself to the regard of
Neoptolemus, that he might rely on the most ample and abundant
rewards. Myrtilus appeared to receive these proposals with great
favor; he readily promised to embark in the plot, and promised to
fulfill the part assigned him in the execution of it. When the proper
time arrived, after the conclusion of the supper, Myrtilus took leave
of Gelon, and, proceeding directly to Pyrrhus, he related to him all
that had occurred.

Pyrrhus did not take any rash or hasty measures in the emergency, for
he knew very well that if Gelon were to be then charged with the
crime which he had proposed to commit, he would deny having ever
proposed it, and that then there would be only the word of Myrtilus
against that of Gelon, and that impartial men would have no positive
means of deciding between them. He thought, therefore, very wisely,
that, before taking any decided steps, it would be necessary to obtain
additional proof that Gelon had really made the proposal. He
accordingly directed Myrtilus to continue to pretend that he favored
the plan, and to propose to Gelon to invite another cup-bearer, named
Alexicrates, to join the plot. Alexicrates was to be secretly
instructed to appear ready to enter into the conspiracy when he should
be called upon, and thus, as Pyrrhus expected, the testimony of two
witnesses would be obtained to Gelon's guilt.

It happened, however, that the necessary evidence against Gelon was
furnished without a resort to this measure; for when Gelon reported to
Neoptolemus that Myrtilus had acceded to his proposal to join him in a
plan for removing Pyrrhus out of the way, Neoptolemus was so much
overjoyed at the prospect of recovering the throne to his own family
again, that he could not refrain from revealing the plan to certain
members of the family, and, among others, to his sister Cadmia. At the
time when he thus discovered the design to Cadmia, he supposed that
nobody was within hearing. The conversation took place in an apartment
where he had been supping with Cadmia, and it happened that there was
a servant-woman lying upon a couch in the corner of the room at the
time, with her face to the wall, apparently asleep. She was, in
reality, not asleep, and she overheard all the conversation. She lay
still, however, and did not speak a word; but the next day she went to
Antigone, the wife of Pyrrhus, and communicated to her all that she
had heard. Pyrrhus now considered the evidence that Neoptolemus was
plotting his destruction as complete, and he determined to take
decisive measures to prevent it. He accordingly invited Neoptolemus to
a banquet. Neoptolemus, suspecting nothing, came, and Pyrrhus slew him
at the table. Henceforward Pyrrhus reigned in Epirus alone.

Pyrrhus was now about twenty-three years of age, and inasmuch as, with
all his moderation in respect to the pursuit of youthful pleasures, he
was of a very ambitious and aspiring disposition, he began to form
schemes and plans for the enlargement of his power. An opportunity
was soon afforded him to enter upon a military career. Cassander, who
had made himself King of Macedon in the manner already described, died
about the time that Pyrrhus established himself on his throne in
Epirus. He left two sons, Alexander and Antipater. These brothers
immediately quarreled, each claiming the inheritance of their father's
crown. Antipater proved to be the strongest in the struggle; and
Alexander, finding that he could not stand his ground against his
brother without aid, sent messengers at the same time to Pyrrhus, and
also to Demetrius, in Thessaly, calling upon both to come to his
assistance. They both determined to do so. Demetrius, however, was
engaged in some enterprises which detained him for a time, but Pyrrhus
immediately put himself at the head of his army, and prepared to cross
the frontier.

The commencement of this march marks an important era in the life of
Pyrrhus, for it was now for the first time that he had an army wholly
under his command. In all the former military operations in which he
had been engaged, he had been only a general, acting under the orders
of his superiors. Now he was an independent sovereign, leading forth
his own troops to battle, and responsible to no one for the manner in
which he exercised his power. The character which he displayed in this
new capacity was such as very soon to awaken the admiration of all his
troops, and to win their affection in a very strong degree. His fine
personal appearance, his great strength and dexterity in all martial
exercises, his kind consideration for his soldiers, the systematic and
skillful manner in which all his arrangements were made, and a certain
nobleness and generosity of character which he displayed on many
occasions, all combined to make him an object of universal favor and

Various anecdotes were related of him in camp, which evinced the
superiority of his mind, and that peculiar sense of confidence and
strength which so often accompanies greatness. At one time a person
was accused of being disaffected toward him, and of being in the habit
of speaking evil of him on all occasions; and some of his counselors
proposed that the offender should be banished. "No," said Pyrrhus;
"let him stay here, and speak evil of me only to a few, instead of
being sent away to ramble about and give me a bad character to all the
world." At another time, some persons, when half intoxicated, at a
convivial entertainment, had talked very freely in censure of
something which Pyrrhus had done. They were called to account for it;
and when asked by Pyrrhus whether it was true that they had really
said such things, they replied that it was true. "And there is no
doubt," they added, "that we should have said things a great deal
worse if we had more wine." Pyrrhus laughed at this reply, and
dismissed the culprits without any punishment. These, and other
similar indications of the magnanimity which marked the general's
character, made a great and very favorable impression upon the minds
of all under his command.

Possessing thus, in a very high degree, the confidence and affection
of his troops, Pyrrhus was able to inspire them with his own ardor and
impetuosity when they came to engage in battle, and his troops were
victorious in almost every conflict. Wherever he went, he reduced the
country into subjection to Alexander, and drove Antipater before him.
He left garrisons of his own in the towns which he captured, so as to
make his conquests secure, and in a short time the prospect seemed
certain that Antipater would be expelled from the country, and
Alexander placed upon the throne.

In this crisis of their affairs, some of the allies of Antipater
conceived the design of circumventing their enemy by artifice, since
it appeared that he was so superior to them in force. They knew how
strong was his feeling of reverence and regard for Ptolemy, the King
of Egypt, his father-in-law, and they accordingly forged a letter to
him in Ptolemy's name, enjoining him to make peace with Antipater, and
withdraw from Macedon. Antipater, the letter said, was willing to pay
him three hundred talents of silver in consideration of his doing so,
and the letter strongly urged him to accede to this offer, and
evacuate the kingdom.

It was much less difficult to practice a successful deception of this
kind in ancient days than it is now, for then writing was usually
performed by scribes trained for the purpose, and there was therefore
seldom any thing in the handwriting of a communication to determine
the question of its authenticity. Pyrrhus, however, detected the
imposition which was attempted in this case the moment that he opened
the epistle. It began with the words, "King Ptolemy to King Pyrrhus,
greeting;" whereas the genuine letters of Ptolemy to his son-in-law
were always commenced thus: "The father to his son, greeting."

Pyrrhus upbraided the contrivers of this fraud in severe terms for
their attempt to deceive him. Still, he entertained the proposition
that they made, and some negotiations were entered into, with a view
to an amicable settlement of the dispute. In the end, however, the
negotiations failed, and the war was continued until Alexander was
established on his throne. Pyrrhus then returned to his own kingdom.
He received, in reward for his services in behalf of Alexander, a
grant of that part of the Macedonian territory which lies upon the
coast of the Adriatic Sea, north of Epirus; and thus peace was
restored, and all things seemed permanently settled.

It will be recollected, perhaps, by the reader, that at the time that
Alexander sent for Pyrrhus to assist him, he had also sent for
Demetrius, who had been in former years the ally and friend of
Pyrrhus. In fact, Deidamia, the sister of Pyrrhus, was Demetrius's
wife. Demetrius had been engaged with the affairs of his own
government at the time that he received this message, and was not then
ready to grant the desired aid. But after a time, when he had settled
his own affairs, he placed himself at the head of an army and went to
Macedon. It was now, however, too late, and Alexander was sorry to
learn that he was coming. He had already parted with a considerable
portion of his kingdom to repay Pyrrhus for his aid, and he feared
that Demetrius, if he were allowed to enter the kingdom, would not he
satisfied without a good part of the remainder.

He accordingly advanced to meet Demetrius at the frontier. Here, at an
interview which he held with him, he thanked him for his kindness in
coming to his aid, but said that his assistance would now not be
required. Demetrius said that it was very well, and so prepared to
return. Alexander, however, as Demetrius afterward alleged, did not
intend to allow him to withdraw, but formed a plan to murder him at a
supper to which he designed to invite him. Demetrius avoided the fate
which was intended for him by going away unexpectedly from the supper
before Alexander had time to execute his plan. Afterward, Demetrius
invited Alexander to a supper. Alexander came unarmed and unprotected,
in order to set his guest an example of unconcern, in hopes that
Demetrius would come equally defenseless to a second entertainment
which he had prepared for him the next day, and at which he intended
to adopt such measures that his guest should not be able by any
possibility to escape. Demetrius, however, did not wait for the second
attempt, but ordered his servants to kill Alexander, and all who were
with him, while they were at _his_ table. One of Alexander's men, when
the attack was made upon them, said, as the soldiers of Demetrius were
stabbing him, "You are too quick for us by just one day."

The Macedonian troops, whom Alexander had brought with him to the
frontier, when they heard of the murder of their king, expected that
Demetrius would come upon them at once, with all his army, and cut
them to pieces. But, instead of this, Demetrius sent them word that he
did not intend them any harm, but wished, on the contrary, for an
opportunity to explain and justify to them what he had done. He
accordingly met them, and made a set harangue, in which he related the
circumstances which led him to take the life of Alexander, and
justified it as an act of self-defense. This discourse was received
with great applause, and the Macedonian soldiers immediately hailed
Demetrius king.

How far there was any truth in the charge which Demetrius brought
against Alexander of intending to kill him, it is, of course,
impossible to say. There was no evidence of the fact, nor could there
be any evidence but such as Demetrius might easily fabricate. It is
the universal justification that is offered in every age by the
perpetrators of political crimes, that they were compelled to perform
themselves the deeds of violence and cruelty for which they are
condemned, in order to anticipate and preclude the performance of
similar deeds on the part of their enemies.

Demetrius and Pyrrhus were now neighboring kings, and, from the
friendly relations which had subsisted between them for so many years,
it might, perhaps, be supposed that the two kingdoms which they
respectively ruled would enjoy, from this time, a permanent and
settled peace, and maintain the most amicable intercourse with each
other. But the reverse was the fact. Contentions and quarrels arose on
the frontiers. Each nation complained that the borderers of the other
made inroads over the frontier. Demetrius and Pyrrhus gradually got
drawn into these disputes. Unfortunately for the peace of the two
countries, Deidamia died, and the strong band of union which she had
formed between the two reigning families was sundered. In a word, it
was not long before Pyrrhus and Demetrius came to open war.

The war, however, which thus broke out between Demetrius and Pyrrhus
did not arise wholly from accidental collisions occurring on the
frontiers. Demetrius was a man of the most violent and insatiable
ambition, and wholly unscrupulous in respect to the means of
gratifying the passion. Before his difficulties with Pyrrhus began, he
had made expeditions southwardly into Greece, and had finally
succeeded in reducing a large portion of that country to his sway. He,
however, at one time, in the course of his campaigns in Greece,
narrowly escaped a very sudden termination of his career. He was
besieging Thebes, one of the principal cities of Greece, and one which
was obstinately determined not to submit to him. In fact, the
inhabitants of the city had given him some special cause of offense,
so that he was excessively angry with them, and though for a long time
he made very little progress in prosecuting the siege, he was
determined not to give up the attempt. At one period, he was himself
called away from the place for a time, to engage in some military
duty demanding his attention in Thessaly, and during his absence he
left his son to conduct the siege. On his return to Thebes, he found
that, through the energetic and obstinate resistance which was made by
the people of Thebes, great numbers of his men were continually
falling--so much so, that his son began to remonstrate with him
against allowing so great and so useless a slaughter to go on.
"Consider," said he, "why you should expose so many of your valiant
soldiers to such sure destruction, when--"

Here Demetrius, in a passion, interrupted him, saying, "Give yourself
no concern about how many of the soldiers are killed. The more there
are killed, the fewer you will have to provide subsistence for!"

The brutal recklessness, however, which Demetrius thus evinced in
respect to the slaughter of his troops was not attended, as such a
feeling often is, with any cowardly unwillingness to expose himself to
danger. He mingled personally in the contests that took place about
the walls of the city, and hazarded his own life as freely as he
required his soldiers to hazard theirs. At length, on one occasion, a
javelin thrown from the wall struck him in the neck, and, passing
directly through, felled him to the ground. He was taken up for dead,
and borne to his tent. It was there found, on examination, that no
great artery or other vital part had been wounded, and yet in a very
short time a burning fever supervened, and for some time the life of
Demetrius was in imminent danger. He still, however, refused to
abandon the siege. At length, he recovered from the effects of his
wound, and, in the end, the city surrendered.

It was on the return of Demetrius to Macedon, after the close of his
successful campaign in Greece, that the war between him and Pyrrhus
broke out. As soon as it appeared that actual hostilities were
inevitable, both parties collected an army and prepared for the

They marched to meet each other, Pyrrhus from Epirus, and Demetrius
from Macedon. It happened, however, that they took different routes,
and thus passed each other on the frontier. Demetrius entered Epirus,
and found the whole country open and defenseless before him, for the
military force of the country was all with Pyrrhus, and had passed
into Macedon by another way. Demetrius advanced accordingly, as far as
he chose, into Pyrrhus's territories, capturing and plundering every
thing that came in his way.

Pyrrhus himself, on the other hand, met with quite a different
reception. Demetrius had not taken all his army with him, but had left
a large detachment under the command of a general named Pantauchus, to
defend the country during his absence. Pyrrhus encountered Pantauchus
as he entered Macedon, and gave him battle. A very hard-fought and
obstinate conflict ensued. In the course of it, Pantauchus challenged
Pyrrhus to single combat. He was one of the most distinguished of
Demetrius's generals, being celebrated above all the officers of the
army for his dexterity, strength, and courage; and, as he was a man of
very high and ambitious spirit, he was greatly pleased with the
opportunity of distinguishing himself that was now before him. He
conceived that a personal encounter with so great a commander as
Pyrrhus would add very much to his renown.

Pyrrhus accepted the challenge. The preliminary arrangements were
made. The combatants came out into the field, and, as they advanced to
the encounter, they hurled their javelins at each other before they
met, and then rushed forward to a close and mortal combat with swords.
The fight continued for a long time. Pyrrhus himself received a wound;
but, notwithstanding this, he succeeded in bringing his antagonist to
the ground, and would have killed him, had not the friends of
Pantauchus rushed on and rescued him from the danger. A general battle
between the two armies ensued, in which Pyrrhus was victorious. The
army of Pantauchus was totally routed, and five thousand men were
taken prisoners.

The Macedonian troops whom Pyrrhus thus defeated, instead of being
maddened with resentment and anger against their conqueror, as it
might have been expected they would be, were struck with a sentiment
of admiration for him. They applauded his noble appearance and bearing
on the field, and the feats of courage and strength which he
performed. There was a certain stern and lofty simplicity in his air
and demeanor which reminded them, as they said, of Alexander the
Great, whom many of the old soldiers remembered. They compared Pyrrhus
in these respects with Demetrius, their own sovereign, greatly to the
disadvantage of the latter; and so strong was the feeling which was
thus excited in Pyrrhus's favor, that it was thought at the time that,
if Pyrrhus had advanced toward the capital with a view to the conquest
of the country, the whole army would have gone over at once to his
side, and that he might have made himself king of Macedon without any
further difficulty or trouble. He did not do this, however, but
withdrew again to Epirus when Demetrius came back into Macedonia. The
Macedonians were by no means pleased to see Demetrius return.

In fact, Demetrius was beginning to be generally hated by all his
subjects, being regarded by them all as a conceited and cruel tyrant.
He was not only unscrupulously ambitious in respect to the dominions
of his neighbors, but he was unjust and overbearing in his treatment
of his own friends. Pyrrhus, on the other hand, was kind and courteous
to his army, both to the officers and soldiers. He lived in habits of
great simplicity, and shared the hardships as well as the toils of
those who were under his command. He gave them, too, their share of
the glory which he acquired, by attributing his success to their
courage and fidelity. At one time, after some brilliant campaign in
Macedon, some persons in his army compared his progress to the flight
of an eagle. "If I am an eagle," said he in reply, "I owe it to you,
for you are the wings by means of which I have risen so high."

Demetrius, on the other hand, treated the officers and men under his
command with a species of haughtiness and disdain. He seemed to regard
them as very far beneath him, and to take pleasure in making them feel
his vast superiority. He was vain and foppish in his dress, expended
great sums in the adornment of his person, decorating his robes and
vestments, and even his shoes, with gold and precious stones. In fact,
he caused the manufacture of a garment to be commenced which he
intended should outvie in magnificence and in costly adornments all
that had ever before been fabricated. This garment was left unfinished
at the time of his death, and his successors did not attempt to
complete it. They preserved it, however, for a very long time as a
curiosity, and as a memorial of vanity and folly.

Demetrius, too, was addicted to many vices, being accustomed to the
unrestrained indulgence of his appetites and propensities in every
form. It was in part owing to these excesses that he became so hateful
in manners and character, the habitual indulgence of his animal
appetites and propensities having had the effect of making him morose
and capricious in mind.

The hostility between Pyrrhus and Demetrius was very much increased
and aggravated at one time by a difficulty in which a lady was
concerned. Antigone, the first wife of Pyrrhus, died, and after her
death Pyrrhus married two or three other wives, according to the
custom which prevailed in those days among the Asiatic kings. Among
these wives was Lanassa, the daughter of Agathocles, the king of
Syracuse. The marriage of Pyrrhus with Antigone was apparently
prompted by affection; but his subsequent alliances seem to have been
simple measures of governmental policy, designed only to aid him in
extending his dominions or strengthening his power. His inducement for
marrying Lanassa was to obtain the island of Corcyra, which the King
of Syracuse, who held that island at that time under his dominion, was
willing to give to his daughter as her dowry. Now the island of
Corcyra, as will be seen from the map, was off the coast of Epirus,
and very near, so that the possession of it would add very
considerably to the value of Pyrrhus's dominion.

Lanassa was not happy as Pyrrhus's bride. In fact, to have been
married for the sake of an island brought as dowry, and to be only one
of several wives after all, would not seem to be circumstances
particularly encouraging in respect to the promise of conjugal bliss.
Lanassa complained that she was neglected; that the other wives
received attentions which were not accorded to her. At last, when she
found that she could endure the vexations and trials of her condition
no longer, she left her husband and went back to Corcyra, and then
sent an invitation to Demetrius to come and take possession of the
island, and marry her. In a word, she divorced herself and resumed
possession of her dowry, and considered herself at liberty to dispose
of both her person and her property anew.

Demetrius accepted the offer which was made him. He went to Corcyra,
married Lanassa, and then, leaving a garrison to protect the island
from any attempt which Pyrrhus might make to recover it, he went back
to Macedon. Of course, after this transaction, Pyrrhus was more
incensed against Demetrius than ever.

Very soon after this Pyrrhus had an opportunity to revenge himself for
the injury which Demetrius had done him. Demetrius was sick; he had
brought on a fever by excessive drinking. Pyrrhus determined to take
advantage of the occasion to make a new invasion of Macedonia. He
accordingly crossed the frontier at the head of a numerous army.
Demetrius, sick as he was, mounted on horseback, and put himself at
the head of his forces to go out to meet his enemy. Nothing important
resulted from this campaign; but, after some ineffectual attempts at
conquest, Pyrrhus returned to his own country.

In this way the war between Pyrrhus and Demetrius was protracted for
many years, with varying success, one party being sometimes
triumphant, and sometimes the other. At last, at a time when the tide
of fortune seemed inclined to turn against Pyrrhus, some circumstances
occurred which were the means of attracting his attention strongly in
another direction, and ended in introducing him to a new and very
brilliant career in an altogether different region. These
circumstances, and the train of events to which they led, will form
the subject of the following chapter.

[Illustration: MAP--GRECIAN EMPIRE.]



B.C. 280

The grand expedition into Italy.--The dominion of the Romans.--The
Tarentines.--Various parties formed at Tarentum.--Boisterous
meetings.--Meton's artifice.--Meton succeeds in accomplishing his
aim.--Pyrrhus is invited to come to Tarentum.--Great numbers of
volunteers.--Cineas.--Cineas propounds questions to Pyrrhus.--Pyrrhus
explains his designs and plans.--The opinion of Cineas on the
subject.--Pyrrhus sets sail.--His fleet and army.--Pyrrhus narrowly
escapes death by shipwreck.--He establishes himself at Tarentum.--His
energy.--Pyrrhus adopts very decisive measures.--The Tarentines were
Greeks in origin.--Troops come in slowly.--Lævinus.--Pyrrhus sees a
Roman encampment.--The Romans attack Pyrrhus by crossing the
river.--Extraordinary spectacle.--Pyrrhus conspicuous.--Conversation
between Pyrrhus and Leonatus.--Pyrrhus in dreadful danger.--The
elephants.--Trophies borne through the field.--Pyrrhus shows
himself.--The Romans defeated.

The grand undertaking in which Pyrrhus now engaged, as indicated in
the last chapter, the one in which he acquired such great renown, was
an expedition into Italy against the Romans. The immediate occasion of
his embarking in this enterprise was an invitation which he received
from the inhabitants of Tarentum to come to their aid.[I] His
predecessor, Alexander, had been drawn into Italy precisely in the
same way; and we might have supposed that Pyrrhus would have been
warned by the terrible fate which Alexander met with not to follow in
his steps. But military men are never deterred from dangerous
undertakings by the disasters which others have encountered in
attempting them before. In fact, perhaps Pyrrhus was the more eager to
try his fortune in this field on account of the calamitous result of
his uncle's campaign. He was unwilling that his kingdom of Epirus
should rest under the discredit of a defeat, and he was fired with a
special ambition to show that he could overcome and triumph where
others had been overborne and destroyed.

[Footnote I: See map.]

The dominion of the Romans had extended itself before this time over a
considerable portion of Italy, though Tarentum, and the region of
country dependent upon it, had not yet been subdued. The Romans were,
however, now gradually making their way toward the eastern and
southern part of Italy, and they had at length advanced to the
frontiers of the Tarentine territory; and having been met and resisted
there by the Tarentine troops, a collision ensued, which was followed
by an open and general war. In the struggle, the Tarentines found that
they could not maintain their ground against the Roman soldiery. They
were gradually driven back; and now the city itself was in very
imminent danger.

The difficulties in which the Tarentines were placed were greatly
increased by the fact that there was no well-organized and stable
government ruling in the city. The government was a sort of democracy
in its form, and in its action it seems to have been a democracy of a
very turbulent character--the questions of public policy being
debated and decided in assemblies of the people, where it would seem
that there was very little of parliamentary law to regulate the
proceedings; and now the dangers which threatened them on the approach
of the Romans distracted their councils more than ever, and produced,
in fact, universal disorder and confusion throughout the city.

Various parties were formed, each of which had its own set of measures
to urge and insist upon. Some were for submitting to the Romans, and
thus allowing themselves to be incorporated in the Roman commonwealth;
others were for persevering in their resistance to the last extremity.
In the midst of these disputes, it was suggested by some of the
counselors that the reason why they had not been able to maintain
their ground against their enemies was, that they had no commander of
sufficient predominance in rank and authority to concentrate their
forces, and employ them in an efficient and advantageous manner; and
they proposed that, in order to supply this very essential deficiency,
Pyrrhus should be invited to come and take the command of their
forces. This plan was strongly opposed by the more considerate and
far-sighted of the people; for they well knew that when a foreign
power was called in, in such a manner, as a temporary friend and ally,
it almost always became, in the end, a permanent master. The mass of
the people of the city, however, were so excited by the imminence of
the immediate peril, that it was impossible to impress them with any
concern for so remote and uncertain a danger, and it was determined
that Pyrrhus should be called.

It was said that the meetings which were held by the Tarentines while
these proceedings were in progress, were so boisterous and disorderly
that, as often happens in democratic assemblies, the voices of those
who were in the minority could not be heard; and that at last one of
the public men, who was opposed to the plan of sending the invitation
to Pyrrhus, resorted to a singular device in order to express his
opinion. The name of this personage was Meton. The artifice which he
adopted was this: he disguised himself as a strolling mountebank and
musician, and then, pretending to be half intoxicated, he came into
the assembly with a garland upon his head, a torch in his hand, and
with a woman playing on a sort of flute to accompany him. On seeing
him enter the assembly, the people all turned their attention toward
him. Some laughed, some clapped their hands, and others called out to
him to give them a song. Meton prepared to do so; and when, after much
difficulty, silence was at length obtained, Meton came forward into
the space that had been made for him, and, throwing off his disguise,
he called out aloud,

"Men of Tarentum! You do well in calling for a song, and in enjoying
the pleasures of mirth and merriment while you may; for I warn you
that you will see very little like mirth or merriment in Tarentum
after Pyrrhus comes."

The astonishment which this sudden turn in the affair occasioned, was
succeeded for a moment by a murmur of assent, which seemed to pass
through the assembly; the good sense of many of the spectators being
surprised, as it were, into an admission that the sentiment which
Meton had so surreptitiously found means to express to them was true.
This pause was, however, but momentary. A scene of violent excitement
and confusion ensued, and Meton and the woman were expelled from the
meeting without any ceremony.

The resolution of sending for Pyrrhus was confirmed, and embassadors
were soon afterward dispatched to Epirus. The message which they
communicated to Pyrrhus on their arrival was, that the Tarentines,
being engaged in a war with the Romans, invited Pyrrhus to come and
take command of their armies. They had _troops_ enough, they said, and
all necessary provisions and munitions of war. All that they now
required was an able and efficient general; and if Pyrrhus would come
over to them and assume the command, they would at once put him at the
head of an army of twenty thousand horse and three hundred and fifty
thousand foot soldiers.

It seems incredible that a state should have attained to such a degree
of prosperity and power as to be able to bring such a force as this
into the field, while under the government of men who, when convened
for the consideration of questions of public policy in a most
momentous crisis, were capable of having their attention drawn off
entirely from the business before them by the coming in of a party of
strolling mountebanks and players. Yet such is the account recorded by
one of the greatest historians of ancient times.

Pyrrhus was, of course, very much elated at receiving this
communication. The tidings, too, produced great excitement among all
the people of Epirus. Great numbers immediately began to offer
themselves as volunteers to accompany the expedition. Pyrrhus
determined at once to embark in the enterprise, and he commenced
making preparations for it on a very magnificent scale; for,
notwithstanding the assurance which the Tarentines had given him that
they had a very large body of men already assembled, Pyrrhus seems to
have thought it best to take with him a force of his own.

As soon as a part of his army was ready, he sent them forward under
the command of a distinguished general and minister of state, named
Cineas. Cineas occupied a very high position in Pyrrhus's court. He
was a Thessalian by birth. He had been educated in Greece, under
Demosthenes, and he was a very accomplished scholar and orator as well
as statesman. Pyrrhus had employed him in embassies and negotiations
of various kinds from time to time, and Cineas had always discharged
these trusts in a very able and satisfactory manner. In fact, Pyrrhus,
with his customary courtesy in acknowledging his obligations to those
whom he employed, used to say that Cineas had gained him more cities
by his address than he had ever conquered for himself by his arms.

Cineas, it was said, was, in the outset, not much in favor of this
expedition into Italy. The point of view in which he regarded such an
enterprise was shown in a remarkable conversation which he held with
Pyrrhus while the preparations were going on. He took occasion to
introduce the subject one day, when Pyrrhus was for a short period at
leisure in the midst of his work, by saying,

"The Romans are famed as excellent soldiers, and they have many
warlike nations in alliance with them. But suppose we succeed in our
enterprise and conquer them, what use shall we make of our victory?"

"Your question answers itself," replied the king. "The Romans are the
predominant power in Italy. If they are once subdued, there will be
nothing in Italy that can withstand us; we can go on immediately and
make ourselves masters of the whole country."

After a short pause, during which he seemed to be reflecting on the
career of victory which Pyrrhus was thus opening to view, Cineas

"And after we have conquered Italy, what shall we do next?"

"Why, there is Sicily very near," replied Pyrrhus, "a very fruitful
and populous island, and one which we shall then very easily be able
to subdue. It is now in a very unsettled state, and could do nothing
effectual to resist us."

"I think that is very true," said Cineas; "and after we make ourselves
masters of Sicily, what shall we do then?"

"Then," replied Pyrrhus, "we can cross the Mediterranean to Lybia and
Carthage. The distance is not very great, and we shall be able to land
on the African coast at the head of such a force that we shall easily
make ourselves masters of the whole country. We shall then have so
extended and established our power, that no enemy can be found in any
quarter who will think of opposing us."

"That is very true," said Cineas; "and so you will then be able to put
down effectually all your old enemies in Thessaly, Macedon, and
Greece, and make yourself master of all those countries. And when all
this is accomplished, what shall we do then?"

"Why, then," said Pyrrhus, "we can sit down and take our ease, and
eat, drink, and be merry."

"And why," rejoined Cineas, "can not we sit down and take our ease,
and enjoy ourselves now, instead of taking all this trouble
beforehand? You have already at your command every possible means of
enjoyment; why not make yourself happy with them now, instead of
entering on a course which will lead to such dreadful toils and
dangers, such innumerable calamities, and through such seas of blood,
and yet bring you after all, at the end, nothing more than you have at
the beginning?"

It may, perhaps, be a matter of doubt whether Cineas intended this as
a serious remonstrance against the execution of Pyrrhus's designs, or
only as an ingenious and good-humored satire on the folly of ambition,
to amuse the mind of his sovereign in some momentary interval of
leisure that came in the midst of his cares. However it may have been
intended, it made no serious impression on the mind of Pyrrhus, and
produced no change in his plans. The work of preparation went
vigorously on; and as soon as a portion of the troops were ready to
embark, Cineas was put in command of them, and they crossed the
Adriatic Sea. After this, Pyrrhus completed the organization of the
remaining force. It consisted of twenty elephants, three thousand
horse, and twenty thousand foot, with two thousand archers, and
twenty thousand slingers. When all was ready, Pyrrhus put these troops
on board a large fleet of galleys, transports, and flat-bottomed
boats, which had been sent over to him from Tarentum by Cineas for the
purpose, and at length set sail. He left Ptolemy, his eldest son, then
about fifteen years old, regent of the kingdom, and took two younger
sons, Alexander and Helenus, with him. The expedition was destined, it
seems, to begin in disaster; for no sooner had Pyrrhus set sail than a
terrible storm arose, which, for a time, threatened the total
destruction of the fleet, and of all who were on board of it. The ship
which conveyed Pyrrhus himself was, of course, larger and better
manned than the others, and it succeeded at length, a little after
midnight, in reaching the Italian shore, while the rest of the fleet
were driven at the mercy of the winds, and dispersed in every
direction over the sea, far and wide. But, though Pyrrhus's ship
approached the shore, the violence of the winds and waves was so
great, that for a long time it was impossible for those on board to
land. At length the wind suddenly changed its direction, and began to
blow very violently off the shore, so that there seemed to be great
probability that the ship would be driven to sea again. In fact, so
imminent was the danger, that Pyrrhus determined to throw himself into
the sea and attempt to swim to the shore. He accordingly did so, and
was immediately followed by his attendants and guards, who leaped into
the water after him, and did every thing in their power to assist him
in gaining the land. The danger, however, was extreme; for the
darkness of the night, the roaring of the winds and waves, and the
violence with which the surf regurgitated from the shore, rendered the
scene terrific beyond description. At last, however, about daybreak,
the shipwrecked company succeeded in gaining the land.

Pyrrhus was almost completely exhausted in body by the fatigues and
exposures which he had endured, but he appeared to be by no means
depressed in mind. The people of the country flocked down to the coast
to render aid. Several other vessels afterward succeeded in reaching
the shore; and as the wind now rapidly subsided, the men on board of
them found comparatively little difficulty in effecting a landing.
Pyrrhus collected the remnant thus saved, and marshaled them on the
shore. He found that he had about two thousand foot, a small body of
horse, and two elephants. With this force he immediately set out on
his march to Tarentum. As he approached the city, Cineas came out to
meet him at the head of the forces which had been placed at his
command, and which had made the passage in safety.

As soon as Pyrrhus found himself established in Tarentum, he
immediately assumed the command of every thing there, as if he were
already the acknowledged sovereign of the city. In fact, he found the
city in so disorganized and defenseless a condition, that this
assumption of power on his part seemed to be justified by the
necessity of the case. The inhabitants, as is often the fact with men
when their affairs are in an extreme and desperate condition, had
become reckless. Every where throughout the city disorder and idleness
reigned supreme. The men spent their time in strolling about from
place to place, or sitting idly at home, or gathering in crowds at
places of public diversion. They had abandoned all care or concern
about public affairs, trusting to Pyrrhus to save them from the
impending danger. Pyrrhus perceived, accordingly, that an entire
revolution in the internal condition of the city was indispensably
required, and he immediately took most efficient measures for
effecting it. He shut up all the places of public amusement, and even
the public walks and promenades, and put an end to all feastings,
revels, and entertainments. Every man capable of bearing arms was
enrolled in the army, and the troops thus formed were brought out
daily for severe and long-protracted drillings and reviews. The people
complained loudly of these exactions; but Pyrrhus had the power in his
hands, and they were compelled to submit. Many of the inhabitants,
however, were so dissatisfied with these proceedings, that they went
away and left the city altogether. Of course it was those who were the
most hopelessly idle, dissolute, and reckless that thus withdrew,
while the more hardy and resolute remained. While these changes were
going on, Pyrrhus set up and repaired the defenses of the city. He
secured the walls, and strengthened the gates, and organized a
complete system of guards and sentries. In a word, the condition of
Tarentum was soon entirely changed. From being an exposed and
defenseless town, filled with devotees of idleness and pleasure, it
became a fortress, well secured at all points with material defenses,
and occupied by a well-disciplined and resolute garrison.

The inhabitants of the southeastern part of Italy, where Tarentum was
situated, were of Greek origin, the country having been settled, as it
would seem, by emigrants from the opposite shores of the Adriatic Sea.
Their language, therefore, as well as their customs and usages of
life, were different from those of the Roman communities that occupied
the western parts of the peninsula. Now the Greeks at this period
regarded themselves as the only truly civilized people in the world;
all other nations they called barbarians. The people of Tarentum,
therefore, in sending for Pyrrhus to come to their aid against the
Romans, did not consider him as a foreigner brought in to help them in
a civil war against their own countrymen, but rather as a
fellow-countryman coming to aid them in a war against foreigners. They
regarded him as belonging to the same race and lineage with
themselves, while the enemies who were coming from beyond the
Apennines to assail them they looked upon as a foreign and barbarous
horde, against whom it was for the common interest of all nations of
Greek descent to combine. It was this identity of interest between
Pyrrhus and the people whom he came to aid, in respect both to their
national origin and the cause in which they were engaged, which made
it possible for him to assume so supreme an authority over all their
affairs when he arrived at Tarentum.

The people of the neighboring cities were slow in sending in to
Pyrrhus the quotas of troops which the Tarentines had promised him;
and before his force was collected, the tidings arrived that the
Romans were coming on at the head of a great army, under the command
of the consul Lævinus. Pyrrhus immediately prepared to go forth to
meet them. He marshaled the troops that were already assembled, and
leaving the city, he advanced to meet the consul. After proceeding
some way, he sent forward an embassador to the camp of Lævinus to
propose to that general that, before coming to extremities, an effort
should be made to settle the dispute between the Romans and Tarentines
in some amicable manner, and offering his services as an umpire and
mediator for this purpose. To this embassage Lævinus coolly replied
"that he did not choose to accept Pyrrhus as a mediator, and that he
did not fear him as an enemy." Of course, after receiving such a
message as this, there was nothing left to Pyrrhus but to prepare for

He advanced, accordingly, at the head of his troops, until, at
length, he reached a plain, where he encamped with all his forces.
There was a river before him, a small stream called the River
Siris.[J] The Romans came up and encamped on the opposite side of the
bank of this stream. Pyrrhus mounted his horse and rode to an eminence
near the river to take a view of them.

[Footnote J: See map.]

He was much surprised at what he saw. The order of the troops, the
systematic and regular arrangement of guards and sentinels, and the
regularity of the whole encampment, excited his admiration.[K]

[Footnote K: See Frontispiece.]

"Barbarians!" said he. "There is certainly nothing of the barbarian in
their manner of arranging their encampment, and we shall soon see how
it is with them in other respects."

So saying, he turned away, and rode to his own camp. He, however, now
began to be very seriously concerned in respect to the result of the
approaching contest. The enemy with whom he was about to engage was
obviously a far more formidable one than he had anticipated. He
resolved to remain where he was until the allies whom he was expecting
from the other Grecian cities should arrive. He accordingly took
measures for fortifying himself as strongly as possible in his
position, and he sent down a strong detachment from his main body to
the river, to guard the bank and prevent the Romans from crossing to
attack him. Lævinus, on the other hand, knowing that Pyrrhus was
expecting strong re-enforcements, determined not to wait till they
should come, but resolved to cross the river at once, notwithstanding
the guard which Pyrrhus had placed on the bank to dispute the passage.

The Romans did not attempt to cross the stream in one body. The troops
were divided, and the several columns advanced to the river and
entered the water at different points up and down the stream, the
foot-soldiers at the fords, where the water was most shallow, and the
horsemen at other places--the most favorable that they could find. In
this manner the whole river was soon filled with soldiers. The guard
which Pyrrhus had posted on the bank found that they were wholly
unable to withstand such multitudes; in fact, they began to fear that
they might be surrounded. They accordingly abandoned the bank of the
river, and retreated to the main body of the army.

Pyrrhus was greatly concerned at this event, and began to consider
himself in imminent danger. He drew up his foot-soldiers in battle
array, and ordered them to stand by their arms, while he himself
advanced, at the head of the horsemen, toward the river. As soon as he
came to the bank, an extraordinary spectacle presented itself to view.
The surface of the stream seemed covered in every part with shields,
rising a little above the water, as they were held up by the arms of
the horsemen and footmen who were coming over. As fast as the Romans
landed, they formed an array on the shore, and Pyrrhus, advancing to
them, gave them battle.

The contest was maintained, with the utmost determination and fury on
both sides, for a long time. Pyrrhus himself was very conspicuous in
the fight, for he wore a very costly and magnificent armor, and so
resplendent in lustre withal as to be an object of universal
attention. Notwithstanding this, he exposed himself in the hottest
parts of the engagement, charging upon the enemy with the most
dauntless intrepidity whenever there was occasion, and moving up and
down the lines, wherever his aid or the encouragement of his presence
was most required. At length one of his generals, named Leonatus, rode
up to him and said,

"Do you see, sire, that barbarian trooper, on the black horse with
the white feet? I counsel you to beware of him. He seems to be
meditating some deep design against you; he singles you out, and keeps
his eye constantly upon you, and follows you wherever you go. He is
watching an opportunity to execute some terrible design, and you will
do well to be on your guard against him."

"Leonatus," said Pyrrhus, in reply, "we can not contend against our
destiny, I know very well; but it is my opinion that neither that man,
nor any other man in the Roman army that seeks an encounter with me,
will have any reason to congratulate himself on the result of it."

He had scarcely spoken these words when he saw the horseman whom
Leonatus had pointed out coming down upon him at full speed, with his
spear grasped firmly in his hands, and the iron point of it aimed
directly at Pyrrhus. Pyrrhus sprang immediately to meet his
antagonist, bringing his own spear into aim at the same time. The
horses met, and were both thrown down by the shock of the encounter.
The friends of Pyrrhus rushed to the spot. They found both horses had
been thrust through by the spears, and they both lay now upon the
ground, dying. Some of the men drew Pyrrhus out from under his horse
and bore him off the field, while others stabbed and killed the Roman
where he lay.

Pyrrhus, having escaped this terrible danger, determined now to be
more upon his guard. He supposed, in fact, that the Roman officers
would be made furious by the death of their comrade, and would make
the most desperate efforts to avenge him. He accordingly contrived to
find an opportunity, in the midst of the confusion of the battle, to
put off the armor which made him so conspicuous, by exchanging with
one of his officers, named Megacles. Having thus disguised himself, he
returned to the battle. He brought up the foot-soldiers and the
elephants; and, instead of employing himself, as heretofore, in
performing single feats of personal valor, he devoted all his powers
to directing the arrangements of the battle, encouraging the men, and
rallying them when they were for a time driven away from their ground.

By the exchange of armor which Pyrrhus thus made he probably saved his
life; for Megacles, wherever he appeared after he had assumed the
dress of Pyrrhus, found himself always surrounded by enemies, who
pressed upon him incessantly and every where in great numbers, and he
was finally killed. When he fell, the men who slew him seized the
glittering helmet and the resplendent cloak that he wore, and bore
them off in triumph into the Roman lines, as proof that Pyrrhus was
slain. The tidings, as it passed along from rank to rank of the army,
awakened a long and loud shout of acclamation and triumph, which
greatly excited and animated the Romans, while it awakened in the army
of Pyrrhus a correspondent emotion of discouragement and fear. In
fact, for a short time it was universally believed in both armies that
Pyrrhus was dead. In order to correct this false impression among his
own troops, which threatened for a season to produce the most fatal
effects, Pyrrhus rode along the ranks with his head uncovered, showing
himself to his men, and shouting to them that he was yet alive.

[Illustration: THE TROPHIES.]

At length, after a long and very obstinate conflict, the Greeks gained
the victory. This result was due in the end, in a great measure, to
the elephants which Pyrrhus brought into the battle. The Roman horses,
being wholly unused to the sight of such huge beasts, were terrified
beyond measure at the spectacle, and fled in dismay whenever they saw
the monsters coming. In fact, in some cases, the riders lost all
command of their horses, and the troop turned and fled, bearing down
and overwhelming the ranks of their friends behind them. In the end
the Romans were wholly driven from the field. They did not even return
to their camp, but, after recrossing the river in confusion, they fled
in all directions, abandoning the whole country to their conqueror.
Pyrrhus then advanced across the river and took possession of the
Roman camp.



B.C. 280-279

Effects of the victory.--Public opinion at Rome.--Expectations of
Pyrrhus.--His mistake.--Cineas sent an embassador to Rome.--Cineas's
plans for bribing the Roman senators.--Speech of Cineas in the Roman
senate.--Debate in the senate.--An incident of the discussion.--Appius
Claudius is brought on a bed to the senate.--Speech of Appius
Claudius.--Effect of his speech on the senate.--Cineas makes report of
his mission.--Fabricius sent to Pyrrhus.--His reception.--The elephant
concealed in the tent.--Pyrrhus makes great offers to Fabricius.--The
Roman armies advance.--The two generals.--The armies encamp in sight
of each other.--His military honors.--Story of Decius Mus.--The
vision.--Extraordinary alternative proposed.--The two consuls draw
lots.--Decius sacrifices himself.--Superstitious fears of the
soldiers.--Decius Mus.--Reply of Decius Mus to Pyrrhus.--The Romans
afraid of the elephants.--The battle.--The elephants.--War
chariots.--Doubtful victory.--Winter-quarters.--Nicias.--Pyrrhus's
physician.--His treachery.--A generous exchange of prisoners.--No

The result of the battle on the banks of the Siris, decisive and
complete as the victory was on the part of the Greeks, produced, of
course, a very profound sensation at Rome. Instead, however, of
discouraging and disheartening the Roman senate and people, it only
aroused them to fresh energy and determination. The victory was
considered as wholly due to the extraordinary military energy and
skill of Pyrrhus, and not to any superiority of the Greek troops over
those of the Romans in courage, in discipline, or in efficiency in the
field. In fact, it was a saying at Rome at the time, that it was
Lævinus that had been conquered by Pyrrhus in the battle, and not the
Romans by the Greeks. The Roman government, accordingly, began
immediately to enlist new recruits, and to make preparations for a new
campaign, more ample and complete, and on a far greater scale than

Pyrrhus was much surprised when he heard these things. He had
supposed that the Romans would have been disheartened by the defeat
which they had sustained, and would now think only of proposals and
negotiations for peace. He seems to have been but very imperfectly
informed in respect to the condition of the Roman commonwealth at this
period, and to the degree of power to which it had attained. He
supposed that, after suffering so signal and decisive a defeat, the
Romans would regard themselves as conquered, and that nothing remained
to them now but to consider how they could make the best terms with
their conqueror. The Roman troops had, indeed, withdrawn from the
neighborhood of the place where the battle had been fought, and had
left Pyrrhus to take possession of the ground without molestation.
Pyrrhus was even allowed to advance some considerable distance toward
Rome; but he soon learned that, notwithstanding their temporary
reverses, his enemies had not the most remote intention of submitting
to him, but were making preparations to take the field again with a
greater force than ever.

Under these circumstances, Pyrrhus was for a time somewhat at a loss
what to do. Should he follow up his victory, and advance boldly
toward the capital, with a view of overcoming the Roman power
entirely, or should he be satisfied with the advantage which he had
already gained, and be content, for the present, with being master of
Western Italy? After much hesitation, he concluded on the latter
course. He accordingly suspended his hostile operations, and prepared
to send an embassador to Rome to propose peace. Cineas was, of course,
the embassador commissioned to act on this occasion.

Cineas accordingly proceeded to Rome. He was accompanied by a train of
attendants suitable to his rank as a royal embassador, and he took
with him a great number of costly presents to be offered to the
leading men in Rome, by way, as it would seem, of facilitating his
negotiations. The nature of the means which he thus appears to have
relied upon in his embassy to Rome may, perhaps, indicate the secret
of his success in the diplomatic duties which he had performed in
Greece and in Asia, where he had acquired so much distinction for his
dexterity in negotiating treaties favorable to the interests of his
master. However this may be, Cineas found that the policy which he
contemplated would not answer in Rome. Soon after his arrival in the
city, and in an early stage of the negotiations, he began to offer
his presents to the public men with whom he had to deal; but they
refused to accept them. The Roman senators to whom the gifts were
offered returned them all, saying that, in case a treaty should be
concluded, and peace made between the two nations, they should then
have no objections to an interchange of such civilities; but, while
the negotiations were pending, they conceived it improper for them to
receive any such offerings. It may, perhaps, be taken as an additional
proof of the nature of the influences which Cineas was accustomed to
rely upon in his diplomatic undertakings, that he offered many of his
gifts on this occasion to the ladies of the Roman senators as well as
to the senators themselves; but the wives were found as incorruptible
as the husbands. The gifts were all alike returned.

Not discouraged by the failure of this attempt, Cineas obtained
permission of the Roman senate to appear before them, and to address
them on the subject of the views which Pyrrhus entertained in respect
to the basis of the peace which he proposed. On the appointed day
Cineas went to the senate-chamber, and there made a long and very able
and eloquent address, in the presence of the senate and of the
principal inhabitants of the city. He was very much impressed on this
occasion with the spectacle which the august assembly presented to his
view. He said afterward, in fact, that the Roman senate seemed to him
like a congress of kings, so dignified and imposing was the appearance
of the body, and so impressive was the air of calmness and gravity
which reigned in their deliberations. Cineas made a very able and
effective speech. He explained the views and proposals of Pyrrhus,
presenting them in a light as favorable and attractive as possible.
Pyrrhus was willing, he said, to make peace on equal terms. He
proposed that he should give up all his prisoners without ransom, and
that the Romans should give up theirs. He would then form an alliance
with the Romans, and aid them in the future conquests that they
meditated. All he asked was that he might have the sanction of the
Roman government to his retaining Tarentum and the countries connected
with and dependent upon it; and that, in maintaining his dominion over
these lands, he might look upon the Roman people as his allies and

After Cineas had concluded his speech and had withdrawn from the
senate-chamber, a debate arose among the senators on the propositions
which he had made to them. There was a difference of opinion; some
were for rejecting the proposals at once; others thought that they
ought to be accepted. Those who were inclined to peace urged the
wisdom of acceding to Pyrrhus's proposals by representing the great
danger of continuing the war. "We have already," said they, "lost one
great and decisive battle; and, in case of the renewal of the
struggle, we must expect to find our enemy still more formidable than
he was before; for many of the Italian nations of the eastern coast
have joined his standard since hearing of the victory which he has
obtained, and more are coming in. His strength, in fact, is growing
greater and greater every day; and it is better for us to make peace
with him now, on the honorable terms which he proposes to us, rather
than to risk another battle, which may lead to the most disastrous

In the midst of this discussion, an aged senator, who had been for a
long time incapacitated by his years and infirmities from appearing in
his seat, was seen coming to the assembly, supported and led by his
sons and sons-in-law, who were making way for him in the passages and
conducting him in. His name was Appius Claudius. He was blind and
almost helpless through age and infirmity. He had heard in his chamber
of the irresolution of the senate in respect to the further
prosecution of the war with Pyrrhus, and had caused himself to be
taken from his bed and borne through the streets by servants on a
chair to the senate-house, that he might there once more raise his
voice to save, if possible, the honor and dignity of his country. As
he entered the chamber, he became at once the object of universal
attention. As soon as he reached his seat, a respectful silence began
to prevail throughout the assembly, all listening to hear what he had
to say. He expressed himself as follows:

"Senators of Rome,--I am blind, and I have been accustomed to consider
my blindness as a calamity; but now I could wish that I had been deaf
as well as blind, and then I might never have heard of the disgrace
which seems to impend over my country. Where are now the boastings
that we made when Alexander the Great commenced his career, that if he
had turned his arms toward Italy and Rome, instead of Persia and the
East, we would never have submitted to him; that he never would have
gained the renown of being invincible if he had only attacked _us_,
but would, on the other hand, if he invaded our dominions, only have
contributed to the glory of the Roman name by his flight or his fall?
These boasts we made so loudly that the echo of them spread throughout
the world. And yet now, here is an obscure adventurer who has landed
on our shores as an enemy and an invader, and because he has met with
a partial and temporary success, you are debating whether you shall
not make an ignominious peace with him, and allow him to remain. How
vain and foolish does all our boastful defiance of Alexander appear
when we now tremble at the name of Pyrrhus--a man who has been all his
life a follower and dependent of one of Alexander's inferior
generals--a man who has scarcely been able to maintain himself in his
own dominions--who could not retain even a small and insignificant
part of Macedon which he had conquered, but was driven ignominiously
from it; and who comes into Italy now rather as a refugee than a
conqueror--an adventurer who seeks power here because he can not
sustain himself at home! I warn you not to expect that you can gain
any thing by making such a peace with him as he proposes. Such a
peace makes no atonement for the past, and it offers no security for
the future. On the contrary, it will open the door to other invaders,
who will come, encouraged by Pyrrhus's success, and emboldened by the
contempt which they will feel for you in allowing yourselves to be
thus braved and insulted with impunity."

The effect of this speech on the senate was to produce a unanimous
determination to carry on the war. Cineas was accordingly dismissed
with this answer: that the Romans would listen to no propositions for
peace while Pyrrhus remained in Italy. If he would withdraw from the
country altogether, and retire to his own proper dominions, they would
then listen to any proposals that he might make for a treaty of
alliance and amity. So long, however, as he remained on Italian
ground, they would make no terms with him whatever, though he should
gain a thousand victories, but would wage war upon him to the last

Cineas returned to the camp of Pyrrhus, bearing this reply. He
communicated also to Pyrrhus a great deal of information in respect to
the government and the people of Rome, the extent of the population,
and the wealth and resources of the city; for while he had been
engaged in conducting his negotiations, he had made every exertion to
obtain intelligence on all these points, and he had been a very
attentive and sagacious observer of all that he had seen. The account
which he gave was very little calculated to encourage Pyrrhus in his
future hopes and expectations. The people of Rome, Cineas said, were
far more numerous than he had before supposed. They had now already on
foot an army twice as large as the one which Pyrrhus had defeated, and
multitudes besides were still left in the city, of a suitable age for
enlisting, sufficient to form even larger armies still. The prospect,
in a word, was very far from such as to promise Pyrrhus an easy

Of course, both parties began now to prepare vigorously for war.
Before hostilities were resumed, however, the Romans sent a messenger
to the camp of Pyrrhus to negotiate an exchange of prisoners. The name
of this embassador was Fabricius. Fabricius, as Pyrrhus was informed
by Cineas, was very highly esteemed at Rome for his integrity and for
his military abilities, but he was without property, being dependent
wholly on his pay as an officer of the army. Pyrrhus received
Fabricius in the most respectful manner, and treated him with every
mark of consideration and honor. He, moreover, offered him privately a
large sum of money in gold. He told Fabricius that, in asking his
acceptance of such a gift, he did not do it for any base purpose, but
intended it only as a token of friendship and hospitality. Fabricius,
however, refused to accept the present, and Pyrrhus pressed him no

The next day Pyrrhus formed a plan for giving his guest a little
surprise. He supposed that he had never seen an elephant, and he
accordingly directed that one of the largest of these animals should
be placed secretly behind a curtain, in an apartment where Fabricius
was to be received. The elephant was covered with his armor, and
splendidly caparisoned. After Fabricius had come in, and while he was
sitting in the apartment wholly unconscious of what was before him,
all at once the curtain was raised, and the elephant was suddenly
brought to view; and, at the same instant, the huge animal, raising
his trunk, flourished it in a threatening manner over Fabricius's
head, making at the same time a frightful cry, such as he had been
trained to utter for the purpose of striking terror into the enemy, in
charging upon them on the field of battle. Fabricius, instead of
appearing terrified, or even astonished at the spectacle, sat quietly
in his seat, to all appearance entirely unmoved, and, turning to
Pyrrhus with an air of the utmost composure, said coolly, "You see
that you make no impression upon me, either by your gold yesterday or
by your beast to-day."


Pyrrhus was not at all displeased with this answer, blunt as it may
seem. On the contrary, he seems to have been very deeply impressed
with a sense of the stern and incorruptible virtue of Fabricius's
character, and he felt a strong desire to obtain the services of such
an officer in his own court and army. He accordingly made new
proposals to Fabricius, urging him to use his influence to induce the
Romans to make peace, and then to go with him to Epirus, and enter
into his service there.

"If you will do so," said Pyrrhus, "I will make you the chief of my
generals, and my own most intimate friend and companion, and you shall
enjoy abundant honors and rewards."

"No," replied Fabricius, "I can not accept those offers, nor is it for
your interest that I should accept them; for, were I to go with you to
Epirus, your people, as soon as they came to know me well, would lose
all their respect for you, and would wish to have me, instead of you,
for their king."

We are, perhaps, to understand this rejoinder, as well as the one
which Fabricius made to Pyrrhus in respect to the elephant, as
intended in a somewhat jocose and playful sense; since, if we suppose
them to have been gravely and seriously uttered, they would indicate a
spirit of vanity and of empty boasting which would seem to be wholly
inconsistent with what we know of Fabricius's character. However this
may be, Pyrrhus was pleased with both; and the more that he saw and
learned of the Romans, the more desirous he became of terminating the
war and forming an alliance with them. But the Romans firmly persisted
in refusing to treat with him, except on the condition of his
withdrawing first entirely from Italy, and this was a condition with
which he deemed it impossible to comply. It would be equivalent, in
fact, to an acknowledgment that he had been entirely defeated.
Accordingly, both sides began again to prepare vigorously for war.

The Romans marched southward from the city with a large army, under
the command of their two consuls. The names of the consuls at this
time were Sulpicius Saverrio and Decius Mus. These generals advanced
into Apulia, a country on the western coast of Italy, north of
Tarentum. Here they encamped on a plain at the foot of the Apennines,
near a place called Asculum. There was a stream in front of their
camp, and the mountains were behind it. The stream was large and deep,
and of course it greatly protected their position. On hearing of the
approach of the Romans, Pyrrhus himself took the field at the head of
all his forces, and advanced to meet them. He came to the plain on
which the Roman army was encamped, and posted himself on the opposite
bank of the stream. The armies were thus placed in close vicinity to
each other, being separated only by the stream. The question was,
which should attempt to cross the stream and make the attack upon the
other. They remained in this position for a considerable time, neither
party venturing to attempt the passage.

While things were in this condition--the troops on each side waiting
for an opportunity of attacking their enemies, and probably without
any fear whatever of the physical dangers which they were to encounter
in the conflict--the feeling of composure and confidence among the men
in Pyrrhus's army was greatly disturbed by a singular superstition. It
was rumored in the army that Decius Mus, the Roman commander, was
endowed with a species of magical and supernatural power, which would,
under certain circumstances, be fatal to all who opposed him. And
though the Greeks seem to have had no fear of the material steel of
the Roman legions, this mysterious and divine virtue, which they
imagined to reside in the commander, struck them with an invincible

The story was, that the supernatural power in question originated in
one of the ancestors of the present Decius, a brave Roman general,
who lived and flourished in the century preceding the time of Pyrrhus.
His name, too, was Decius Mus. In the early part of his life, when he
was a subordinate officer, he was the means of saving the whole army
from most imminent danger, by taking possession of an eminence among
the mountains, with the companies that were under his command, and
holding it against the enemy until the Roman troops could be drawn out
of a dangerous defile where they would otherwise have been overwhelmed
and destroyed. He was greatly honored for this exploit. The consul who
commanded on the occasion rewarded him with a golden crown, a hundred
oxen, and a magnificent white bull, with gilded horns. The common
soldiers, too, held a grand festival and celebration in honor of him,
in which they crowned him with a wreath made of dried grasses on the
field, according to an ancient custom which prevailed among the Romans
of rewarding in this way any man who should be the means of saving an
army. Of course, such an event as saving an army was of very rare
occurrence; and, accordingly, the crowning of a soldier by his
comrades on the field was a very distinguished honor, although the
decoration itself was made of materials so insignificant and

Decius rose rapidly after this time from rank to rank, until at length
he was chosen consul. In the course of his consulship, he took the
field with one of his colleagues, whose name was Torquatus, at the
head of a large army, in the prosecution of a very important war in
the interior of the country. The time arrived at length for a decisive
battle to be fought. Both armies were drawn up on the field, the
preparations were all made, and the battle was to be fought on the
following day. In the night, however, a vision appeared to each
consul, informing him that it had been decreed by fate that a
_general_ on one side and the _army_ on the other were to be destroyed
on the following day; and that, consequently, either of the consuls,
by sacrificing himself, might secure the destruction of the enemy. On
the other hand, if they were to take measures to save themselves, the
general on the other side would be killed, and on their side the
_army_ would be defeated and cut to pieces.

The two consuls, on conferring together upon the following morning,
immediately decided that either one or the other of them should die,
in order to secure victory to the arms of their country; and the
question at once arose, what method they should adopt to determine
which of them should be the sacrifice. At last it was agreed that they
would go into battle as usual, each in command of his own wing of the
army, and that the one whose wing should first begin to give way
should offer himself as the victim. The arrangements were made
accordingly, and the result proved that Decius was the one on whom the
dire duty of self-immolation was to devolve. The wing under his
command began to give way. He immediately resolved to fulfill his vow.
He summoned the high priest. He clothed himself in the garb of a
victim about to be offered in sacrifice. Then, with his military cloak
wrapped about his head, and standing upon a spear that had been
previously laid down upon the ground, he repeated in the proper form
words by which he devoted himself and the army of the enemy to the God
of Death, and then finally mounted upon his horse and drove furiously
in among the thickest of the enemy. Of course he was at once thrust
through with a hundred spears and javelins; and immediately afterward
the army of the enemy gave way on all hands, and the Romans swept the
field, completely victorious.

The power which was in this instance supernaturally granted to Decius
to secure the victory to the Roman arms, by sacrificing his own life
on the field of battle, afterward descended, it was supposed, as an
inheritance, from father to son. Decius Mus, the commander opposed to
Pyrrhus, was the grandson of his namesake referred to above; and now
it was rumored among the Greeks that he intended, as soon as the
armies came into action, to make the destruction of his enemies sure
by sacrificing himself, as his grandfather had done. The soldiers of
Pyrrhus were willing to meet any of the ordinary and natural chances
and hazards of war; but, where the awful and irresistible decrees of
the spiritual world were to be against them, it is not strange that
they dreaded the encounter.

Under these circumstances, Pyrrhus sent a party of messengers to the
Roman camp to say to Decius, that if in the approaching battle he
attempted to resort to any such arts of necromancy to secure the
victory to the Roman side, he would find himself wholly unsuccessful
in the attempt; for the Greek soldiers had all been instructed not to
kill him if he should throw himself among them, but to take him alive
and bring him a prisoner to Pyrrhus's camp; and that then, after the
battle was over, he should be subjected, they declared, to the most
cruel and ignominious punishments, as a magician and an impostor.
Decius sent back word, in reply, that Pyrrhus had no occasion to give
himself any uneasiness in respect to the course which the Roman
general would pursue in the approaching battle. The measure that he
had referred to was one to which the Romans were not accustomed to
resort except in emergencies of the most extreme and dangerous
character, and Pyrrhus ought not to flatter himself with the idea that
the Romans regarded his invasion as of sufficient consequence to
require them to have recourse to any unusual means of defense. They
were fully convinced of their ability to meet and conquer him by
ordinary modes of warfare. To prove that they were honest in this
opinion, they offered to waive the advantage which the river afforded
them as a means of defense, and allow Pyrrhus to cross it without
molestation, with a view to fighting the battle afterward upon the
open field; or they would themselves cross the river, and fight the
battle on Pyrrhus's side of it--whichever Pyrrhus himself preferred.
They asked for no advantage, but were willing to meet their
adversaries on equal terms, and abide by the result.

Pyrrhus could not with honor decline to accept this challenge. He
decided to remain where he was, and allow the Romans to cross the
stream. This they accordingly did; and when all the troops had
effected the passage, they were drawn up in battle array on the plain.
Pyrrhus marshaled his forces also, and both parties prepared for the

The Romans stood most in awe of the elephants, and they resorted to
some peculiar and extraordinary means of resisting them. They prepared
a great number of chariots, each of which was armed with a long
pointed spear, projecting forward in such a manner that when the
chariots should be driven on toward the elephants, these spears or
beaks should pierce the bodies of the beasts and destroy them. The
chariots, too, were filled with men, who were all provided with
fire-brands, which they were to throw at the elephants, and frighten
them, as they came on. These chariots were all carefully posted in
front of that part of Pyrrhus's army where the elephants were
stationed, and the charioteers were strictly ordered not to move until
they should see the elephants advancing.

The battle, as might have been expected from the circumstances which
preceded it, and from the character of the combatants, was fought with
the most furious and persevering desperation. It continued through the
whole day; and in the various parts of the field, and during the
different hours of the day, the advantage was sometimes strongly on
one side, and sometimes on the other, so that it was wholly uncertain,
for a long time, what the ultimate result would be. The elephants
succeeded in getting round the chariots which had been posted to
intercept them, and effected a great destruction of the Roman troops.
On the other hand, a detachment of the Roman army made their way to
the camp of Pyrrhus, and attacked it desperately. Pyrrhus withdrew a
part of his forces to protect his camp, and that turned the tide
against him on the field. By means of the most Herculean exertions,
Pyrrhus rallied his men, and restored their confidence; and then, for
a time, the fortune of war seemed to incline in his favor. In the
course of the day Decius was killed, and the whole command of the
Roman army then devolved upon Sulpicius, his colleague. Pyrrhus
himself was seriously wounded. When, at last, the sun went down, and
the approaching darkness of the night prevented a continuance of the
combat, both parties drew off such as remained alive of their
respective armies, leaving the field covered with the dead and dying.
One of Pyrrhus's generals congratulated him on his victory. "Yes,"
said Pyrrhus; "another such victory, and I shall be undone."

In fact, after trying their strength against each other in this
battle, neither party seemed to be in haste to bring on another
contest. They both drew away to places of security, and began to
send for re-enforcements, and to take measures to strengthen
themselves for future operations. They remained in this state of
inaction until at length the season passed away, and they then went
into winter-quarters, each watching the other, but postponing, by
common consent, all active hostilities until spring. In the spring
they took the field again, and the two armies approached each other
once more. The Roman army had now two new commanders, one of whom
was the celebrated Fabricius, whom Pyrrhus had negotiated with on
former occasions. The two commanders were thus well acquainted with
each other; and though, as public men, they were enemies, in private
and personally they were very good friends.

Pyrrhus had a physician in his service named Nicias. This man
conceived the design of offering to the Romans to poison his master
on condition of receiving a suitable reward. He accordingly wrote a
letter to Fabricius making the proposal. Fabricius immediately
communicated the letter to his colleague, and they both concurred in
the decision to inform Pyrrhus himself of the offer which had been
made them, and put him on his guard against the domestic traitor. They
accordingly sent him the letter which they had received, accompanied
by one from themselves, of the following tenor:

    "Caius Fabricius and Quintus Æmilius to King Pyrrhus,

    "You seem to be as unfortunate in the choice of your friends
    as you are in that of your enemies. The letter which we send
    herewith will satisfy you that those around you, on whom you
    rely, are wholly unworthy of your confidence. You are
    betrayed; your very physician, the man who ought to be most
    faithful to you, offers to poison you. We give you this
    information, not out of any particular friendship for you,
    but because we do not wish to be suspected of conniving at an
    assassination--a crime which we detest and abhor. Besides, we
    do not wish to be deprived of the opportunity of showing the
    world that we are able to meet and conquer you in open war."

Pyrrhus was very much struck with what he considered the extraordinary
generosity of his enemies. He immediately collected together all the
prisoners that he had taken from the Romans, and sent them home to the
Roman camp, as a token of acknowledgment and gratitude on his part for
the high and honorable course of action which his adversaries had
adopted. They, however, Roman-like, would not accept such a token
without making a corresponding return, and they accordingly sent home
to Pyrrhus a body of Greek prisoners equal in number and rank to those
whom Pyrrhus had set free.

All these things tended to increase the disinclination of Pyrrhus to
press the further prosecution of the war. He became more and more
desirous every day to make peace with the Romans, preferring very much
that such a people should be his allies rather than his enemies. They,
however, firmly and pertinaciously refused to treat with him on any
terms, unless, as a preliminary step, he would go back to his own
dominions. This he thought he could not do with honor. He was
accordingly much perplexed, and began earnestly to wish that something
would occur to furnish him with a plausible pretext for retiring from



B.C. 291-276

Lanassa.--The tyrant her father.--His adventures.--Agathocles's flight
from Africa.--Terrible consequences.--The sea dyed with blood.--Shocking
story.--Texina and her children.--Extraordinary story.--Mænon's
contrivance for administering poison.--Dangers of usurpation.--Mænon's
career.--Pyrrhus receives two tempting invitations.--Pyrrhus's
perplexity.--He decides to go to Sicily.--He makes great preparations
at Tarentum.--The Tarentines remonstrate.--Their arguments.--Pyrrhus
sends Cineas in advance to Sicily.--Form of Sicily.--Situation of
Messana.--Conduct of the Mamertines in Sicily.--The Mamertines take
complete possession of Messana.--Three objects to be accomplished in
Sicily.--The grand expedition sails to Sicily.--He determines to take
Eryx by storm.--Pyrrhus at the head of the column.--Combat on the
walls.--Pyrrhus victorious.--Grand celebration.--Result of the
battle.--He attacks the Mamertines.--Is victorious.--Pyrrhus forms
new schemes.--Want of seamen.--The Sicilians are opposed to his
plans.--General rebellion in Sicily.--Pyrrhus's character.--He
possesses no perseverance.--New plan.--Disastrous attempt to get back
to Italy.--Terrible conflict.--Pyrrhus is wounded in the head.--Shocking
spectacle.--The Mamertine champion.--Pyrrhus succeeds in reaching

The fact has already been mentioned that one of the wives whom Pyrrhus
had married after the death of Antigone, the Egyptian princess, was
Lanassa, the daughter of Agathocles, the King of Sicily. Agathocles
was a tyrannical monster of the worst description. His army was little
better than an organized band of robbers, at the head of which he went
forth on marauding and plundering expeditions among all the nations
that were within his reach. He made these predatory excursions
sometimes into Italy, sometimes into the Carthaginian territories on
the African coast, and sometimes among the islands of the
Mediterranean Sea. In these campaigns he met with a great variety of
adventures, and experienced every possible fate that the fortune of
war could bring. Sometimes he was triumphant over all who opposed him,
and became intoxicated with prosperity and success. At other times,
through his insane and reckless folly, he would involve himself in
the most desperate difficulties, and was frequently compelled to give
up every thing, and to fly alone in absolute destitution from the
field of his attempted exploits to save his life.

On one such occasion, he abandoned an army in Africa, which he had
taken there on one of his predatory enterprises, and, flying secretly
from the camp, he made his escape with a small number of attendants,
leaving the army to its fate. His flight was so sudden on this
occasion that he left his two sons behind him in the hands and at the
mercy of the soldiers. The soldiers, as soon as they found that
Agathocles had gone and left them, were so enraged against him that
they put his sons to death on the spot, and then surrendered in a body
to the enemy. Agathocles, when the tidings of this transaction came to
him in Sicily, was enraged against the soldiers in his turn, and, in
order to revenge himself upon them, he immediately sought out from
among the population of the country their wives and children, their
brothers and sisters, and all who were in any way related to them.
These innocent representatives of the absent offenders he ordered to
be seized and slain, and their bodies to be cast into the sea toward
Africa as an expression of revengeful triumph and defiance. So great
was the slaughter on this occasion, that the waters of the sea were
dyed with blood to a great distance from the shore.

Of course, such cruelty as this could not be practiced without
awakening, on the part of those who suffered from it, a spirit of
hatred and revenge. Plots and conspiracies without number were formed
against the tyrant's life, and in his later years he lived in
continual apprehension and distress. His fate, however, was still more
striking as an illustration of the manner in which the old age of
ambitious and unprincipled men is often embittered by the ingratitude
and wickedness of their children. Agathocles had a grandson named
Archagathus, who, if all the accounts are true, brought the old king's
gray hairs in sorrow to the grave. The story is too shocking to be
fully believed, but it is said that this grandson first murdered
Agathocles's son and heir, his own uncle, in order that he might
himself succeed to the throne--his own father, who would have been the
next heir, being dead. Then, not being willing to wait until the old
king himself should die, he began to form plots against his life, and
against the lives of the remaining members of the family. Although
several of Agathocles's sons were dead, having been destroyed by
violence, or having fallen in war, he had a wife, named Texina, and
two children still remaining alive. The king was so anxious in respect
to these children, on account of Archagathus, that he determined to
send them with their mother to Egypt, in order to place them beyond
the reach of their merciless nephew. Texina was very unwilling to
consent to such a measure. For herself and her sons the proposed
retiring into Egypt was little better than going into exile, and she
was, moreover, extremely reluctant to leave her husband alone in
Syracuse, exposed to the machinations and plots which his unnatural
grandson might form against him. She, however, finally submitted to
the hard necessity and went away, bidding her husband farewell with
many tears. Very soon after her departure her husband died.

The story that is told of the manner of his death is this: There was
in his court a man named Mænon, whom Agathocles had taken captive when
a youth, and ever since retained in his court. Though originally a
captive, taken in war, Mænon had been made a favorite with Agathocles,
and had been raised to a high position in his service. The indulgence
however, and the favoritism with which he had been regarded, were not
such as to awaken any sentiments of gratitude in Mænon's mind, or to
establish any true and faithful friendship between him and his master;
and Archagathus, the grandson, found means of inducing him to
undertake to poison the king. As all the ordinary modes of
administering poison were precluded by the vigilance and strictness
with which the usual avenues of approach to the king were guarded,
Mænon contrived to accomplish his end by poisoning a quill which the
king was subsequently to use as a tooth-pick. The poison was
insinuated thus into the teeth and gums of the victim, where it soon
took effect, producing dreadful ulceration and intolerable pain. The
infection of the venom after a short time pervaded the whole system of
the sufferer, and brought him to the brink of the grave; and at last,
finding that he was speechless, and apparently insensible, his
ruthless murderers, fearing, perhaps, that he might revive again,
hurried him to the funeral pile before life was extinct, and the fire
finished the work that the poison had begun.

The declaration of Scripture, "They that take the sword shall perish
by the sword," is illustrated and confirmed by the history of almost
every ancient tyrant. We find that they almost all come at last to
some terrible end. The man who usurps a throne by violence seems, in
all ages and among all nations, very sure to be expelled from it by
greater violence, after a brief period of power; and he who poisons or
assassinates a precedent rival whom he wishes to supplant, is almost
invariably cut off by the poison or the dagger of a following one, who
wishes to supplant him.

The death of Agathocles took place about nine years before the
campaign of Pyrrhus in Italy, as described in the last chapter, and
during that period the kingdom of Sicily had been in a very distracted
state. Mænon, immediately after the poisoning of the king, fled to the
camp of Archagathus, who was at that time in command of an army at a
distance from the city. Here, in a short time, he contrived to
assassinate Archagathus, and to seize the supreme power. It was not
long, however, before new claimants and competitors for possession of
the throne appeared, and new wars broke out, in the course of which
Mænon was deposed. At length, in the midst of the contests and
commotions that prevailed, two of the leading generals of the
Sicilian army conceived the idea of bringing forward Pyrrhus's son by
Lanassa as the heir to the crown. This prince was, of course, the
grandson of the old King Agathocles, and, as there was no other
descendant of the royal line at hand who could be made the
representative of the ancient monarchy, it was thought, by the
generals above referred to, that the only measure which afforded any
hope of restoring peace to the country was to send an embassy to
Pyrrhus, and invite him to come and place his young son upon the
throne. The name of Lanassa's son was Alexander. He was a boy, perhaps
at this time about twelve years old.

At the same time that Pyrrhus received the invitation to go to Sicily,
a message came to him from certain parties in Greece, informing him
that, on account of some revolutions which had taken place there, a
very favorable opportunity was afforded him to secure for himself the
throne of that country, and urging him to come and make the attempt.
Pyrrhus was for some time quite undecided which of these two proposals
to accept. The prize offered him in Greece was more tempting, but the
expedition into Sicily seemed to promise more certain success. While
revolving the question in his mind which conquest he should first
undertake, he complained of the tantalizing cruelty of fortune, in
offering him two such tempting prizes at the same time, so as to
compel him to forego either the one or the other. At length he decided
to go first to Sicily.

It was said that one reason which influenced his mind very strongly in
making this decision was the fact that Sicily was so near the coast of
Africa; and the Sicilians being involved in wars with the
Carthaginians, he thought that, if successful in his operations in
Sicily, the way would be open for him to make an expedition into
Africa, in which case he did not doubt but that he should be able soon
to overturn the Carthaginian power, and add all the northern coasts of
Africa to his dominions. His empire would thus embrace Epirus, the
whole southern part of Italy, Sicily, and the coasts of Africa. He
could afterward, he thought, easily add Greece, and then his dominions
would include all the wealthy and populous countries surrounding the
most important part of the Mediterranean Sea. His government would
thus become a naval power of the first class, and any further
extension of his sway which he might subsequently desire could easily
be accomplished.

In a word, Pyrrhus decided first to proceed to Sicily, and to postpone
for a brief period his designs on Greece.

He accordingly proceeded to withdraw his troops from the interior of
the country in Italy, and concentrate them in and around Tarentum. He
began to make naval preparations, too, on a very extensive scale. The
port of Tarentum soon presented a very busy scene. The work of
building and repairing ships--of fabricating sails and rigging--of
constructing and arming galleys--of disciplining and training
crews--of laying in stores of food and of implements of war, went on
with great activity, and engaged universal attention. The Tarentines
themselves stood by, while all these preparations were going on,
rather as spectators of the scene than as active participants. Pyrrhus
had taken the absolute command of their city and government, and was
exercising supreme power, as if he were the acknowledged sovereign of
the country. He had been invited to come over from his own kingdom to
_help_ the Tarentines, not to _govern_ them; but he had seized the
sovereign power, justifying the seizure, as is usual with military men
under similar circumstances, by the necessity of the case. "There must
be order and submission to authority in the city," he said, "or we
can make no progress in subduing our enemies." The Tarentines had thus
been induced to submit to his assumption of power, convinced, perhaps,
partly by his reasoning, and, at all events, silenced by the display
of force by which it was accompanied; and they had consoled themselves
under a condition of things which they could not prevent, by
considering that it was better to yield to a temporary foreign
domination, than to be wholly overwhelmed, as there was every
probability, before Pyrrhus came to them, that they would be, by their
domestic foes.

When, however, they found that Pyrrhus was intending to withdraw from
them, and to go to Sicily, without having really effected their
deliverance from the danger which threatened them, they at first
remonstrated against the design. They wished him to remain and finish
the work which he had begun. The Romans had been checked, but they had
not been subdued. Pyrrhus ought not, they said, to go away and leave
them until their independence and freedom had been fully established.
They remonstrated with him against his design, but their remonstrances
proved wholly unavailing.

When at length the Tarentines found that Pyrrhus was determined to go
to Sicily, they then desired that he should withdraw his troops from
their country altogether, and leave them to themselves. This, however,
Pyrrhus refused to do. He had no intention of relinquishing the power
which he had acquired in Italy, and he accordingly began to make
preparations for leaving a strong garrison in Tarentum to maintain his
government there. He organized a sort of regency in the city, and set
apart a sufficient force from his army to maintain it in power during
his absence. When this was done, he began to make preparations for
transporting the rest of his force to Sicily by sea.

He determined to send Cineas forward first, according to his usual
custom, to make the preliminary arrangements in Sicily. Cineas
consequently left Tarentum with a small squadron of ships and galleys,
and, after a short voyage, arrived safely at Syracuse. He found the
leading powers in that city ready to welcome Pyrrhus as soon as he
should arrive, and make the young Alexander king. Cineas completed and
closed the arrangements for this purpose, and then sent messengers to
various other cities on the northern side of the island, making known
to them the design which had been formed of raising an heir of King
Agathocles to the throne, and asking their co-operation in it. He
managed these negotiations with so much prudence and skill, that
nearly all that part of the island which was in the hands of the
Sicilians readily acceded to the plan, and the people were every where
prepared to welcome Pyrrhus and the young prince as soon as they
should arrive.

Sicily, as will be seen by referring to the map, is of a triangular
form. It was only the southern portion which was at this time in the
hands of the Sicilians. There were two foreign and hostile powers in
possession, respectively, of the northeastern and northwestern
portions. In the northeastern corner of the island was the city of
Messana--the Messina of modern days. In the time of Pyrrhus's
expedition, Messana was the seat and stronghold of a warlike nation,
called the Mamertines, who had come over from Italy across the Straits
of Messana some years before, and, having made themselves masters of
that portion of the island, had since held their ground there,
notwithstanding all the efforts of the Sicilians to expel them. The
Mamertines had originally come into Sicily, it was said, as Pyrrhus
had gone into Italy--by invitation. Agathocles sent for them to come
and aid him in some of his wars. After the object for which they had
been sent for had been accomplished, Agathocles dismissed his
auxiliaries, and they set out on their return. They proceeded through
the northeastern part of the island to Messana, where they were to
embark for Italy. Though they had rendered Agathocles very efficient
aid in his campaigns, they had also occasioned him an infinite deal of
trouble by their turbulent and ungovernable spirit; and now, as they
were withdrawing from the island, the inhabitants of the country
through which they passed on the way regarded them every where with
terror and dread. The people of Messana, anxious to avoid a quarrel
with them, and disposed to facilitate their peaceable departure from
the land by every means in their power, received them into the city,
and hospitably entertained them there. Instead, however, of quietly
withdrawing from the city in proper time, as the Messanians had
expected them to do, they rose suddenly and unexpectedly upon the
people, at a concerted signal, took possession of the city, massacred
without mercy all the men, seized the women and children, and then,
each one establishing himself in the household that choice or chance
assigned him, married the wife and adopted the children whose husband
and father he had murdered. The result was the most complete and
extraordinary overturning that the history of the world can afford. It
was a political, a social, and a domestic revolution all in one.

This event took place many years before the time of Pyrrhus's
expedition; and though during the interval the Sicilians had made many
efforts to dispossess the intruders and to recover possession of
Messana, they had not been able to accomplish the work. The Mamertines
maintained their ground in Messana, and from that city, as their
fortress and stronghold, they extended their power over a considerable
portion of the surrounding country.

This territory of the Mamertines was in the northeastern part of the
island. In the northwestern part, on the other hand, there was a large
province in the hands of the Carthaginians. Their chief city was Eryx;
though there was another important city and port, called Lilybæum,
which was situated to the southward of Eryx, on the sea-shore. Here
the Carthaginians were accustomed to land their re-enforcements and
stores; and by means of the ready and direct communication which they
could thus keep up with Carthage itself, they were enabled to resist
all the efforts which the Sicilians had made to dispossess them.

There were thus three objects to be accomplished by Pyrrhus in Sicily
before his dominion over the island could be complete--namely, the
Sicilians themselves, in the southern and central parts of the island,
were to be conciliated and combined, and induced to give up their
intestine quarrels, and to acknowledge the young Alexander as the king
of the island; and then the Mamertines on the northeast part, and the
Carthaginians in the northwest, were to be conquered and expelled.

The work was done, so far as related to the Sicilians themselves,
mainly by Cineas. His dexterous negotiations healed, in a great
measure, the quarrels which prevailed among the people, and prepared
the way for welcoming Pyrrhus and the young prince, as soon as they
should appear. In respect to the Carthaginians and the Mamertines,
nothing, of course, could be attempted until the fleets and armies
should arrive.

At length the preparations for the sailing of the expedition from
Tarentum were completed. The fleet consisted of two hundred sail. The
immense squadron, every vessel of which was crowded with armed men,
left the harbor of Tarentum, watched by a hundred thousand spectators
who had assembled to witness its departure, and slowly made its way
along the Italian shores, while its arrival at Syracuse was the object
of universal expectation and interest in that city. When at length the
fleet appeared in view, entering its port of destination, the whole
population of the city and of the surrounding country flocked to the
shores to witness the spectacle. Through the efforts which had been
made by Cineas, and in consequence of the measures which he had
adopted, all ranks and classes of men were ready to welcome Pyrrhus as
an expected deliverer. In the name of the young prince, his son, he
was to re-establish the ancient monarchy, restore peace and harmony to
the land, and expel the hated foreign enemies that infested the
confines of it. Accordingly, when the fleet arrived, and Pyrrhus and
his troops landed from it, they were received by the whole population
with loud and tumultuous acclamations.

After the festivities and rejoicings which were instituted to
celebrate Pyrrhus's arrival were concluded, the young Alexander was
proclaimed king, and a government was instituted in his name--Pyrrhus
himself, of course, being invested with all actual power. Pyrrhus then
took the field; and, on mustering his forces, he found himself at the
head of thirty or forty thousand men. He first proceeded to attack the
Carthaginians. He marched to the part of the island which they held,
and gave them battle in the most vigorous and determined manner. They
retreated to their cities, and shut themselves up closely within the
walls. Pyrrhus advanced to attack them. He determined to carry Eryx,
which was the strongest of the Carthaginian cities, by storm, instead
of waiting for the slow operations of an ordinary siege. The troops
were accordingly ordered to advance at once to the walls, and there
mounting, by means of innumerable ladders, to the parapets above, they
were to force their way in, over the defenses of the city, in spite of
all opposition. Of course, such a service as this is, of all the
duties ever required of the soldier, the most dangerous possible. The
towers and parapets above, which the assailants undertake to scale,
are covered with armed men, who throng to the part of the wall against
which the attack is to be directed, and stand there ready with spears,
javelins, rocks, and every other conceivable missile, to hurl upon
the heads of the besiegers coming up the ladders.

Pyrrhus, however, whatever may have been his faults in other respects,
seems to have been very little inclined at any time to order his
soldiers to encounter any danger which he was not willing himself to
share. He took the head of the column in the storming of Eryx, and was
the first to mount the ladders. Previous, however, to advancing for
the attack, he performed a grand religious ceremony, in which he
implored the assistance of the god Hercules in the encounter which was
about to take place; and made a solemn vow that if Hercules would
assist him in the conflict, so as to enable him to display before the
Sicilians such strength and valor, and to perform such feats as should
be worthy of his name, his ancestry, and his past history, he would,
immediately after the battle, institute on the spot a course of
festivals and sacrifices of the most imposing and magnificent
character in honor of the god. This vow being made, the trumpet
sounded and the storming party went forward--Pyrrhus at the head of
it. In mounting the ladder, he defended himself with his shield from
the missiles thrown down upon him from above until he reached the top
of the wall, and there, by means of his prodigious strength, and
desperate and reckless bravery, he soon gained ground for those that
followed him, and established a position there both for himself and
for them, having cut down one after another those who attempted to
oppose him, until he had surrounded himself with a sort of parapet,
formed of the bodies of the dead.

[Illustration: THE ASSAULT.]

In the mean time, the whole line of ladders extending along the wall
were crowded with men, all forcing their way upward against the
resistance which the besieged opposed to them from above; while
thousands of troops, drawn up below as near as possible to the scene
of conflict, were throwing a shower of darts, arrows, javelins,
spears, and other missiles, to aid the storming party by driving away
the besieged from the top of the wall. By these means those who were
mounting the ladders were so much aided in their efforts that they
soon succeeded in gaining possession of the wall, and thus made
themselves masters of the city.

Pyrrhus then, in fulfillment of his vow, instituted a great
celebration, and devoted several days to games, spectacles, shows, and
public rejoicings of all kinds, intended to express his devout
gratitude to Hercules for the divine assistance which the god had
vouchsafed to him in the assault by which the city had been carried.

By the result of this battle, and of some other military operations
which we can not here particularly describe, the Carthaginians were
driven from the open field and compelled to shut themselves up in
their strongholds, or retire to the fastnesses of the mountains, where
they found places of refuge and defense from which Pyrrhus could not
at once dislodge them. Accordingly, leaving things at present as they
were in the Carthaginian or western part of the island, he proceeded
to attack the Mamertines in the eastern part. He was equally
successful here. By means of the tact and skill which he exercised in
his military arrangements and maneuvers, and by the desperate bravery
and impetuosity which he displayed in battle, he conquered wherever he
came. He captured and destroyed many of the strongholds of the
Mamertines, drove them entirely out of the open country, and shut them
up in Messana. Thus the island was almost wholly restored to the
possession of the Sicilians, while yet the foreign intruders, though
checked and restrained, were not, after all, really expelled.

The Carthaginians sent messengers to him proposing terms of peace.
Their intention was, in these proposals, to retain their province in
Sicily, as heretofore, and to agree with Pyrrhus in respect to a
boundary, each party being required by the proposed treaty to confine
themselves within their respective limits, as thus ascertained.
Pyrrhus, however, replied that he could entertain no such proposals.
He answered them precisely as the Romans had answered him on a similar
occasion, saying that he should insist upon their first retiring from
Sicily altogether, as a preliminary step to any negotiations whatever.
The Carthaginians would not accede to this demand, and so the
negotiations were suspended.

Still the Carthaginians were so securely posted in their strongholds,
that Pyrrhus supposed the work of dislodging them by force would be a
slow, and tedious, and perhaps doubtful undertaking. His bold and
restless spirit accordingly conceived the design of leaving them as
they were, and going on in the prosecution of his original design, by
organizing a grand expedition for the invasion of Africa. In fact, he
thought this would be the most effectual means of getting the
Carthaginians out of Sicily; since he anticipated that, if he were to
land in Africa, and threaten Carthage itself, the authorities there
would be compelled to recall all their forces from foreign lands to
defend their own homes and firesides at the capital. He determined,
therefore, to equip his fleet for a voyage across the Mediterranean
without any delay.

He had ships enough, but he was in want of mariners. In order to
supply this want, he began to impress the Sicilians into his service.
They were very reluctant to engage in it, partly from natural
aversion to so distant and dangerous an enterprise, and partly because
they were unwilling that Pyrrhus should leave the island himself until
their foreign foes were entirely expelled. "As soon as you have gone,"
they said, "the Carthaginians and the Mamertines will come out from
their hiding-places and retreats, and the country will be immediately
involved in all the difficulties from which you have been endeavoring
to deliver us. All your labor will have been lost, and we shall sink,
perhaps, into a more deplorable condition than ever."

It was evident that these representations were true, but Pyrrhus could
not be induced to pay any heed to them. He was determined on carrying
into effect his design of a descent upon the coast of Africa. He
accordingly pressed forward his preparations in a more arbitrary and
reckless spirit than ever. He became austere, imperious, and
tyrannical in his measures. He arrested some of the leading generals
and ministers of state--men who had been his firmest friends, and
through whose agency it was that he had been invited into Sicily, but
whom he now suspected of being unfriendly to his designs. One of these
men he put to death. In the mean time, he pressed forward his
preparations, compelling men to join his army and to embark on board
his fleet, and resorting to other harsh and extreme measures, which
the people might perhaps have submitted to from one of their own
hereditary sovereigns, but which were altogether intolerable when
imposed upon them by a foreign adventurer, who had come to their
island by their invitation, to accomplish a prescribed and definite
duty. In a word, before Pyrrhus was ready to embark on his African
campaign, a general rebellion broke out all over Sicily against his
authority. Some of the people joined the Mamertines, some the
Carthaginians. In a word, the whole country was in an uproar, and
Pyrrhus had the mortification of seeing the great fabric of power
which, as he imagined, he had been so successfully rearing, come
tumbling suddenly on all sides to the ground.

As the reader will have learned long before this time, it was not the
nature of Pyrrhus to remain on the spot and grapple with difficulties
like these. If there were any new enterprise to be undertaken, or any
desperate battle to be fought on a sudden emergency, Pyrrhus was
always ready and eager for action, and almost sure of success. But he
had no qualities whatever to fit him for the exigencies of such a
crisis as this. He had ardor and impetuosity, but no perseverance or
decision. He could fight, but he could not plan. He was recklessly and
desperately brave in encountering physical danger, but, when involved
in difficulties and embarrassments, his only resource was to fly.
Accordingly, it was soon announced in Sicily that Pyrrhus had
determined to postpone his plan of proceeding to Africa, and was going
back to Tarentum, whence he came. He had received intelligence from
Tarentum, he said, that required his immediate return to that city.
This was probably true; for he had left things in such a condition at
Tarentum, that he was, doubtless, continually receiving such
intelligence from that quarter. Whether he received any special or
extraordinary summons from Tarentum just at this time is extremely
uncertain. He, however, pretended that such a message had come; and
under this pretense he sheltered himself in his intended departure, so
as just to escape the imputation of being actually driven away.

His enemies, however, did not intend to allow him to depart in peace.
The Carthaginians, being apprised of his design, sent a fleet to watch
the coast and intercept him; while the Mamertines, crossing the
Strait, marched to the place on the coast of Italy where they expected
he would land, intending to attack him as soon as he should set foot
upon the shore. Both these plans were successful. The Carthaginians
attacked his fleet, and destroyed many of his ships. Pyrrhus himself
barely succeeded in making his escape with a small number of vessels,
and reaching the shore. Here, as soon as he gained the land, he was
confronted by the Mamertines, who had reached the place before him
with ten thousand men. Pyrrhus soon collected from the ships that
reached the land a force so formidable that the Mamertines did not
dare to attack him in a body, but they blocked up the passes through
which the way to Tarentum lay, and endeavored in every way to
intercept and harass him in his march. They killed two of his
elephants, and cut off many separate detachments of men, and finally
deranged all his plans, and threw his whole army into confusion.
Pyrrhus at length determined to force his enemies to battle.
Accordingly, as soon as a favorable opportunity occurred, he pushed
forward at the head of a strong force, and attacked the Mamertines in
a sudden and most impetuous manner.

A terrible conflict ensued, in which Pyrrhus, as usual, exposed
himself personally in the most desperate manner. In fact, the various
disappointments and vexations which he had endured had aroused him to
a state of great exasperation against his tormenting enemies. He
pushed forward into the hottest part of the battle, his prodigious
muscular strength enabling him to beat down and destroy, for a time,
all who attempted to oppose him.

At last, however, he received a terrible wound in the head, which, for
the moment, entirely disabled him. He was rescued from his peril by
his friends, though stunned and fainting under the blow, and was borne
off from the scene of conflict with the blood flowing down his face
and neck--a frightful spectacle. On being carried to a place of safety
within his own ranks, he soon revived, and it was found that he was
not dangerously hurt. The enemy, however, full of rage and hatred,
came up as near as they dared to the spot where Pyrrhus had been
carried, and stood there, calling out to him to come back if he was
still alive, and filling the air with taunting and insulting cries,
and vociferations of challenge and defiance. Pyrrhus endured this
mockery for a few moments as well as he could, but was finally goaded
by it into a perfect phrensy of rage. He seized his weapons, pushed
his friends and attendants aside, and, in spite of all their
remonstrances and all their efforts to restrain him, he rushed forth
and assailed his enemies with greater fury than ever. Breathless as he
was from his former efforts, and covered with blood and gore, he
exhibited a shocking spectacle to all who beheld him. The champion of
the Mamertines--the one who had been foremost in challenging Pyrrhus
to return--came up to meet him with his weapon upraised. Pyrrhus
parried the blow, and then, suddenly bringing down his own sword upon
the top of his antagonist's head, he cut the man down, as the story is
told, from head to foot, making so complete a division, that one half
of the body fell over to one side, and the other half to the other.

It is difficult, perhaps, to assign limits to the degree of physical
strength which the human arm is capable of exerting. This fact,
however, of cleaving the body of a man by a blow from a sword, was
regarded in ancient times as just on the line of absolute
impossibility, and was considered, consequently, as the highest
personal exploit which a soldier could perform. It was attributed, at
different times, to several different warriors, though it is not
believed in modern days that the feat was ever really performed.

But, whatever may have been the fate of the Mamertine champion under
Pyrrhus's sword, the army itself met with such a discomfiture in the
battle that they gave Pyrrhus no further trouble, but, retiring from
the field, left him to pursue his march to Tarentum for the remainder
of the way in peace. He arrived there at last, with a force in numbers
about equal to that with which he had left Tarentum for Sicily. The
whole object, however, of his expedition had totally failed. The
enterprise, in fact, like almost all the undertakings which Pyrrhus
engaged in, though brilliantly and triumphantly successful in the
beginning, came only to disappointment and disaster in the end.



B.C. 276-274

State of Pyrrhus's army.--His enfeebled condition.--Precarious
situation of his affairs.--Affair of Locri.--Pyrrhus recaptures
it.--Proserpina, the Goddess of Death.--Explanations.--Centaurs,
mermaids, hippogriffs, and other fables.--Fabulous history of
Proserpina.--Ceres seeks her.--Mystical significancy of Proserpina's
life.--Pyrrhus resolves to confiscate the treasures at Locri.--The
ships are wrecked and the treasures lost.--Pyrrhus is oppressed
with superstitious fears.--He goes forth from Tarentum to meet the
Romans.--Pyrrhus meets Curius near Beneventum.--He advances through a
mountain path by torch-light.--The Romans taken by surprise.--Pyrrhus
is repulsed.--Adventures of Pyrrhus on the field of battle.--Onset of
the elephants.--They are terrified by the torches.--The young elephant
and its mother.--Pyrrhus's flight.--His desperate expedient.--He
arrives at length safely in Epirus.--

The force with which Pyrrhus returned to Tarentum was very nearly as
large as that which he had taken away, but was composed of very
different materials. The Greeks from Epirus, whom he had brought over
with him in the first instance from his native land, had gradually
disappeared from the ranks of his army. Many of them had been killed
in battle, and still greater numbers had been carried off by exposure
and fatigue, and by the thousand other casualties incident to such a
service as that in which they were engaged. Their places had been
supplied, from time to time, by new enlistments, or by impressment and
conscription. Of course, these new recruits were not bound to their
commander by any ties of attachment or regard. They were mostly
mercenaries--that is, men hired to fight, and willing to fight, in any
cause or for any commander, provided they could be paid. In a word,
Pyrrhus's fellow-countrymen of Epirus had disappeared, and the ranks
of his army were filled up with unprincipled and destitute wretches,
who felt no interest in his cause--no pride in his success--no concern
for his honor. They adhered to him only for the sake of the pay and
the indulgences of a soldier's life, and for their occasional hopes of

Besides the condition of his army, Pyrrhus found the situation of his
affairs in other respects very critical on his arrival at Tarentum.
The Romans had made great progress, during his absence, in subjugating
the whole country to their sway. Cities and towns, which had been
under his dominion when he went to Sicily, had been taken by the
Romans, or had gone over to them of their own accord. The government
which he had established at Tarentum was thus curtailed of power, and
shut in in respect to territory; and he felt himself compelled
immediately to take the field, in order to recover his lost ground.

He adopted vigorous measures immediately to re-enforce his army, and
to obtain the necessary supplies. His treasury was exhausted; in order
to replenish it, he dispatched embassadors to his various allies to
borrow money. He knew, of course, that a large portion of his army
would abandon him immediately so soon as they should find that he was
unable to pay them. He was, therefore, quite uneasy for a time in
respect to the state of his finances, and he instructed his
embassadors to press the urgency of his wants upon his allies in a
very earnest manner.

He did not, however, wait for the result of these measures, but
immediately commenced active operations in the field. One of his first
exploits was the recapture of Locri, a city situated on the southern
shore of Italy, as will be seen by the map. This city had been in his
possession before he went to Sicily, but it had gone over to the
Romans during his absence. Locri was a very considerable town, and the
recovery of it from the Romans was considered quite an important gain.
The place derived its consequence, in some considerable degree, from a
celebrated temple which stood there. It was the temple of Proserpina,
the Goddess of Death. This temple was magnificent in its structure,
and it was enriched with very costly and valuable treasures. It not
only gave distinction to the town in which it stood, but, on account
of an extraordinary train of circumstances which occurred in
connection with it, it became the occasion of one of the most
important incidents in Pyrrhus's history.

Proserpina, as has already been intimated, was the Goddess of Death.
It is very difficult for us at the present day to understand and
appreciate the conceptions which the Greeks and Romans, in ancient
times, entertained of the supernatural beings which they
worshiped--those strange creations, in which we see historic truth,
poetic fancy, and a sublime superstition so singularly blended. To aid
us in rightly understanding this subject, we must remember that in
those days the boundaries of what was known as actual reality were
very uncertain and vague. Only a very small portion, either of the
visible world or of the domain of science and philosophy, had then
been explored; and in the thoughts and conceptions of every man, the
natural and the true passed by insensible gradations, on every hand,
into the monstrous and the supernatural, there being no principles of
any kind established in men's minds to mark the boundaries where the
true and the possible must end, and all beyond be impossible and
absurd. The knowledge, therefore, that men derived from the
observation of such truths and such objects as were immediately
around them, passed by insensible gradations into the regions of fancy
and romance, and all was believed together. They saw lions and
elephants in the lands which were near, and which they knew; and they
believed in the centaurs, the mermaids, the hippogriffs, and the
dragons, which they imagined inhabiting regions more remote. They saw
heroes and chieftains in the plains and in the valleys below; and they
had no reason to disbelieve in the existence of gods and demi-gods
upon the summits of the blue and beautiful mountains above, where, for
aught they knew, there might lie boundless territories of verdure and
loveliness, wholly inaccessible to man. In the same manner, beneath
the earth somewhere, they knew not where, there lay, as they imagined,
extended regions destined to receive the spirits of the dead, with
approaches leading to it, through mysterious grottoes and caverns,
from above. Proserpina was the Goddess of Death, and the queen of
these lower abodes.

Various stories were told of her origin and history. The one most
characteristic and most minutely detailed is this:

She was the daughter of Jupiter and Ceres. She was very beautiful;
and, in order to protect her from the importunity of lovers, her
mother sent her, under the care of an attendant named Calligena, to a
cavern in Sicily, and concealed her there. The mouth of the cavern was
guarded by dragons. Pluto, who was the god of the inferior regions,
asked her of Jupiter, her father, for his wife. Jupiter consented, and
sent Venus to entice her out of her cavern, that Pluto might obtain
her. Venus, attended by Minerva and Diana, proceeded to the cavern
where Proserpina was concealed. The three goddesses contrived some
means to keep the dragons that guarded the cavern away, and then
easily persuaded the maiden to come out to take a walk. Proserpina was
charmed with the verdure and beauty which she found around her on the
surface of the ground, strongly contrasted as they were with the gloom
and desolation of her cavern. She was attended by nymphs and zephyrs
in her walk, and in their company she rambled along, admiring the
beauty and enjoying the fragrance of the flowers. Some of the flowers
which most attracted her attention were produced on the spot by the
miraculous power of Jupiter, who caused them to spring up in wonderful
luxuriance and splendor, the more effectually to charm the senses of
the maiden whom they were enticing away. At length, suddenly the
earth opened, and Pluto appeared, coming up from below in a golden
chariot drawn by immortal steeds, and, seizing Proserpina, he carried
her down to his own abodes.

Ceres, the mother of Proserpina, was greatly distressed when she
learned the fate of her daughter. She immediately went to Jupiter, and
implored him to restore Proserpina to the upper world. Jupiter, on the
other hand, urged Ceres to consent to her remaining as the wife of
Pluto. The mother, however, would not yield, and finally her tears and
entreaties so far prevailed over Jupiter as to induce him to give
permission to Ceres to bring Proserpina back, provided that she had
not tasted of any food that grew in the regions below. Ceres
accordingly went in search of her daughter. She found, unfortunately,
that Proserpina, in walking through the Elysian fields with Pluto, had
incautiously eaten a pomegranate which she had taken from a tree that
was growing there. She was consequently precluded from availing
herself of Jupiter's permission to return to Olympus. Finally,
however, Jupiter consented that she should divide her time between the
inferior and the superior regions, spending six months with Pluto
below, and six months with her mother above; and she did so.

Proserpina was looked upon by all mankind with feelings of great
veneration and awe as the goddess and queen of death, and she was
worshiped in many places with solemn and imposing ceremonies. There
was, moreover, in the minds of men, a certain mystical significancy in
the mode of life which she led, in thus dividing her time by regular
alternations between the lower and upper worlds, that seemed to them
to denote and typify the principle of _vegetation_, which may be
regarded as, in a certain sense, alternately a principle of life and
death, inasmuch as, for six months in the year, it appears in the form
of living and growing plants, rising above the ground, and covering
the earth with verdure and beauty, and then, for the six months that
remain, it withdraws from the view, and exists only in the form of
inert and apparently lifeless roots and seeds, concealed in hidden
recesses beneath the ground. Proserpina was thus considered the type
and emblem of vegetation, and she was accordingly worshiped, in some
sense, as the goddess of resuscitation and life, as well as of death
and the grave.

One of the principal temples which had been built in honor of
Proserpina was situated, as has already been said, at Locri, and
ceremonials and festivals were celebrated here, at stated intervals,
with great pomp and parade. This temple had become very wealthy, too,
immense treasures having been collected in it, consisting of gold and
silver vessels, precious stones, and rich and splendid paraphernalia
of every kind--the gifts and offerings which had been made, from time
to time, by princes and kings who had attended the festivals.

When Pyrrhus had reconquered Locri from the Romans, and this temple,
with all its treasures, fell into his power, some of his advisers
suggested that, since he was in such urgent need of money, and all his
other plans for supplying himself had hitherto failed, he should take
possession of these treasures. They might, it was argued, be
considered, in some sense, as public property; and, as the Locrians
had revolted from him in his absence, and had now been conquered anew,
he was entitled to regard these riches as the spoils of victory.
Pyrrhus determined to follow this advice. He took possession of the
richest and most valuable of the articles which the temple contained,
and, putting them on board ships which he sent to Locri for the
purpose, he undertook to transport them to Tarentum. He intended to
convert them there into money, in order to obtain funds to supply the
wants of his army.

The ships, however, on their passage along the coast, encountered a
terrible storm, and were nearly all wrecked and destroyed. The
mariners who had navigated the vessels were drowned, while yet the
sacred treasures were saved, and that, too, as it would seem, by some
supernatural agency, since the same surges which overwhelmed and
destroyed the sacrilegious ships and seamen, washed the cases in which
the holy treasures had been packed up upon the beach; and there the
messengers of Pyrrhus found them, scattered among the rocks and on the
sand at various points along the shore. Pyrrhus was greatly terrified
at this disaster. He conceived that it was a judgment of Heaven,
inflicted upon him through the influence and agency of Proserpina, as
a punishment for his impious presumption in despoiling her shrine. He
carefully collected all that the sea had saved, and sent every thing
back to Locri. He instituted solemn services there in honor of
Proserpina, to express his penitence for his faults, and, to give a
still more decisive proof of his desire to appease her anger, he put
to death the counselors who had advised him to take the treasures.

Notwithstanding all these attempts to atone for his offense, Pyrrhus
could not dispel from his mind the gloomy impression which had been
made upon it by the idea that he had incurred the direct displeasure
of Heaven. He did not believe that the anger of Proserpina was ever
fully appeased; and whenever misfortunes and calamities befell him in
his subsequent career, he attributed them to the displeasure of the
goddess of death, who, as he believed, followed him every where, and
was intent on effecting his ruin.

It was now late in the season, and the military operations both of
Pyrrhus and of the Romans were, in a great measure, suspended until
spring. Pyrrhus spent the interval in making arrangements for taking
the field as soon as the winter should be over. He had, however, many
difficulties to contend with. His financial embarrassment still
continued. His efforts to procure funds were only very partially
successful. The people too, in all the region about Tarentum, were, he
found, wholly alienated from him. They had not forgiven him for having
left them to go to Sicily, and, in consequence of this abandonment of
their cause, they had lost much of their confidence in him as their
protector, while every thing like enthusiasm in his service was wholly
gone. Through these and other causes, he encountered innumerable
impediments in executing his plans, and his mind was harassed with
continual disappointment and anxiety.

Such, however, was still his resolution and energy, that when the
season arrived for taking the field, he had a considerable force in
readiness, and he marched out of Tarentum at the head of it, to go and
meet the Romans. The Romans themselves, on the other hand, had raised
a very large force, and had sent it forward in two divisions, under
the command of the two consuls. These two divisions took different
routes; one passing to the north, through the province of Samnium, and
the other to the south, through Lucania--both, however, leading toward
Tarentum. Pyrrhus divided his forces also into two parts. One body of
troops he sent northwardly into Samnium, to meet the northern division
of the Roman army, while with the other he advanced himself by the
more southern route, to meet the Roman consul who was coming through
Lucania. The name of this consul was Curius Dentatus.

Pyrrhus advanced into Lucania. The Roman general, when he found that
his enemy was coming, thought it most prudent to send for the other
division of his army--namely, the one which was marching through
Samnium--and to wait until it should arrive before giving Pyrrhus
battle. He accordingly dispatched the necessary orders to Lentulus,
who commanded the northern division, and, in the mean time, intrenched
himself in a strong encampment at a place called Beneventum. Pyrrhus
entered Lucania and advanced toward Beneventum, and, after
ascertaining the state of the case in respect to the situation of the
camp and the plans of Curius, he paused at some distance from the
Roman position, in order to consider what it was best for him to do.
He finally came to the conclusion that it was very important that his
conflict with the Romans under Curius should take place before
Lentulus should arrive to re-enforce them, and so he determined to
advance rapidly, and fall upon and surprise them in their
intrenchments before they were aware of his approach. This plan he
accordingly attempted to execute. He advanced in the ordinary manner
and by the public roads of the country until he began to draw near to
Beneventum. At the close of the day he encamped as usual; but,
instead of waiting in his camp until the following day, and then
marching on in his accustomed manner, he procured guides to lead his
troops around by a circuitous path among the mountains, with a view of
coming down suddenly and unexpectedly upon the camp of the Romans from
the hills very early in the morning. An immense number of torches were
provided, to furnish light for the soldiers in traversing the dark
forests and gloomy ravines through which their pathway lay.

Notwithstanding all the precautions which had been taken, the
difficulties of the route were so great that the progress of the
troops was very much impeded. The track was every where encumbered
with bushes, rocks, fallen trees, and swampy tracts of ground, so that
the soldiers made way very slowly. Great numbers of the torches failed
in the course of the night, some getting extinguished by accident, and
others going out from exhaustion of fuel. By these means great numbers
of the troops were left in the dark, and after groping about for a
time in devious and uncertain paths, became hopelessly lost in the
forest. Notwithstanding all these difficulties and discouragements,
however, the main body of the army pressed resolutely on, and, just
about daybreak, the van came out upon the heights above the Roman
encampment. As soon as a sufficient number were assembled, they were
at once marshaled in battle array, and, descending from the mountains,
they made a furious onset upon the intrenchments of the enemy.

The Romans were taken wholly by surprise, and their camp became
immediately a scene of the wildest confusion. The men started up every
where out of their sleep and seized their arms. They were soon in a
situation to make a very effectual resistance to the attack of their
enemies. They first beat the assailants back from the points where
they were endeavoring to gain admission, and then, encouraged by their
success, they sallied forth from their intrenchments, and became
assailants in their turn. The Greeks were soon overpowered, and forced
to retire altogether from the ground. A great many were killed, and
some elephants, which Pyrrhus had contrived by some means to bring up
to the spot, were taken. The Romans were, of course, greatly elated at
this victory.

In fact, so much was Curius gratified and pleased with this success,
and so great was the confidence with which it inspired him, that he
determined to wait no longer for Lentulus, but to march out at once
and give Pyrrhus battle. He accordingly brought forth his troops and
drew them up on a plain near his encampment, posting them in such a
way as to gain a certain advantage for himself in the nature of the
ground which he had chosen, while yet, since there was nothing but the
open field between himself and his enemy, the movement was a fair and
regular challenge to battle. Pyrrhus accepted this challenge by
bringing up his forces to the field, and the conflict began.

As soon as the combatants were fairly engaged, one of the wings of
Pyrrhus's army began to give way. The other wing, on the contrary,
which was the one that Pyrrhus himself personally commanded, was
victorious. Pyrrhus himself led his soldiers on; and he inspired
them with so much strength and energy by his own reckless daring,
that all those portions of the Roman army which were opposed to them
were beaten and driven back into the camp. This success, however,
was not wholly owing to the personal prowess of Pyrrhus. It was due,
in a great measure, to the power of the elephants, for they fought
in that part of the field. As the Romans were almost wholly
unaccustomed to the warfare of elephants, they knew not how to
resist them, and the huge beasts bore down all before them wherever
they moved. In this crisis, Curius ordered a fresh body of troops to
advance. It was a corps of reserve, which he had stationed near the
camp under orders to hold themselves in readiness there, to come
forward and act at any moment, and at any part of the field wherever
their services might be required. These troops were now summoned to
advance and attack the elephants. They accordingly came rushing on,
brandishing their swords in one hand, and bearing burning torches,
with which they had been provided for the occasion, in the other.
The torches they threw at the elephants as soon as they came near,
in order to terrify them and make them unmanageable; and then, with
their swords, they attacked the keepers and drivers of the beasts,
and the men who fought in connection with them. The success of this
onset was so great, that the elephants soon became unmanageable.
They even broke into the phalanx, and threw the ranks of it into
confusion, overturning and trampling upon the men, and falling
themselves upon the slain, under the wounds which the spears
inflicted upon them.

[Illustration: THE ROUT.]

A remarkable incident is said to have occurred in the midst of this
scene of confusion and terror, which strikingly illustrates the
strength of the maternal instinct, even among brutes. It happened that
there was a young elephant, and also its mother, in the same division
of Pyrrhus's army. The former, though young, was sufficiently grown to
serve as an elephant of war, and, as it happened, its post on the
field of battle was not very far from that of its mother. In the
course of the battle the young elephant was wounded, and it uttered
immediately a piercing cry of pain and terror. The mother heard the
cry, and recognized the voice that uttered it through all the din and
uproar of the battle. She immediately became wholly ungovernable, and,
breaking away from the control of her keepers, she rushed forward,
trampling down every thing in her way, to rescue and protect her
offspring. This incident occurred at the commencement of the attack
which the Roman reserve made upon the elephants, and contributed very
essentially to the panic and confusion which followed.

In the end Pyrrhus was entirely defeated. He was compelled to abandon
his camp and to retire toward Tarentum. The Romans immediately
advanced, flushed with victory, and carrying all before them. Pyrrhus
retreated faster and faster, his numbers continually diminishing as he
fled, until at last, when he reached Tarentum, he had only a few
horsemen in his train. He sent off the most urgent requests to his
friends and allies in Greece to furnish him aid. The help, however,
did not come, and Pyrrhus, in order to keep the small remnant that
still adhered to him together, resorted to the desperate expedient of
forging letters from his friends, promising speedy and abundant
supplies, and showing these letters to his officers, to prevent them
from being wholly discouraged and abandoning his cause. This miserable
contrivance, however, even if successful, could only afford a
momentary relief. Pyrrhus soon found that all hope and possibility of
retrieving his fortunes in Italy had entirely disappeared, and that no
alternative was left to him but to abandon the ground. So, pretending
to wonder why his allies did not send forward the succors which they
had promised in their letters, and saying that, since they were so
dilatory and remiss, he must go himself and bring them, but promising
that he would immediately return, he set sail from Tarentum, and,
crossing the sea, went home to his own kingdom. He arrived safely in
Epirus after an absence of six years.



B.C. 284-273

Some account of the family of Lysimachus.--Remarks on the principle
of hereditary succession.--Difficulties that often
occur.--Examples.--Return to the history of Macedon.--Stories of
Lysimachus's strength and courage.--Put in a dungeon with a
lion.--Amastris and her two sons.--Arsinoe.--Feud in Ptolemy's
family.--Origin of the quarrel.--Account of the family.--Ptolemy
Ceraunus.--Transfer of the quarrel from Egypt to
Macedon.--Lysandra.--Envy and hatred of Arsinoe.--Lysandra's husband
imprisoned.--Danger of her children.--Lysandra's flight.--An army
raised.--Desperate battle.--Ptolemy Ceraunus.--His reckless and
desperate character.--Alliance of Ceraunus with Seleucus.--His
plans.--Ceraunus's meditated treachery.--Argos.--Ceraunus proceeds
to Macedon.--His rivals and enemies.--Their various claims.--The
first contest was with Antigonus.--Arsinoe and her children.--Their
retreat to Cassandria.--Ceraunus proposes marriage to
Arsinoe.--Ceraunus finds himself in great prosperity.--Invasion
threatened.--Ceraunus prepares to defend himself.--Ceraunus thrown
to the ground and killed.--Consequences of the death of Ceraunus.

The reader will perhaps recollect that when Pyrrhus withdrew from
Macedon, before he embarked on his celebrated expedition into Italy,
the enemy before he was compelled to retire was Lysimachus. Lysimachus
continued to reign in Macedon for some time after Pyrrhus had gone,
until, finally, he was himself overthrown, under circumstances of a
very remarkable character. In fact, his whole history affords a
striking illustration of the nature of the results which often
followed, in ancient times, from the system of government which then
almost universally prevailed--a system in which the supreme power was
considered as rightfully belonging to some sovereign who derived it
from his ancestors by hereditary descent, and who, in the exercise of
it, was entirely above all sense of responsibility to the subjects of
his dominion.

It has sometimes been said by writers on the theory of civil
government that the principle of hereditary sovereignty in the
government of a nation has a decided advantage over any elective mode
of designating the chief magistrate, on account of its _certainty_. If
the system is such that, on the death of a monarch, the supreme power
descends to his eldest son, the succession is determined at once,
without debate or delay. If, on the other hand, an election is to take
place, there must be a contest. Parties are formed; plans and
counterplans are laid; a protracted and heated controversy ensues; and
when, finally, the voting is ended, there is sometimes doubt and
uncertainty in ascertaining the true result, and very often an angry
and obstinate refusal to acquiesce in it when it is determined. Thus
the principle of hereditary descent seems simple, clear, and liable to
no uncertainty or doubt, while that of popular election tends to lead
the country subject to it into endless disputes, and often ultimately
to civil war.

But though this may be in _theory_ the operation of the two systems,
in actual practice it has been found that the hereditary principle has
very little advantage over any other in respect to the avoidance of
uncertainty and dispute. Among the innumerable forms and phases which
the principle of hereditary descent assumes in actual life, the cases
in which one acknowledged and unquestioned sovereign of a country
dies, and leaves one acknowledged and unquestioned heir, are
comparatively few. The relationships existing among the various
branches of a family are often extremely intricate and complicated.
Sometimes they become variously entangled with each other by
intermarriages; sometimes the claims arising under them are disturbed,
or modified, or confused by conquests and revolutions; and thus they
often become so hopelessly involved that no human sagacity can
classify or arrange them. The case of France at the present time[L] is
a striking illustration of this difficulty, there being in that
country no less than three sets of claimants who regard themselves
entitled to the supreme power--the representatives, namely, of the
Bourbon, the Orleans, and the Napoleon dynasties. Each one of the
great parties rests the claim which they severally advance in behalf
of their respective candidates more or less exclusively on rights
derived from their hereditary relationship to former rulers of the
kingdom, and there is no possible mode of settling the question
between them but by the test of power. Even if all concerned were
disposed to determine the controversy by a peaceful appeal to the
principles of the law of descent, as relating to the transmission of
governmental power, no principles could be found that would apply to
the case; or, rather, so numerous are the principles that would be
required to be taken into the account, and so involved and complicated
are the facts to which they must be applied, that any distinct
solution of the question on theoretical grounds would be utterly
impossible. There is, and there can be, no means of solving such a
question but power.

[Footnote L: January, 1852.]

In fact, the history of the smaller monarchies of ancient times is
comprised, sometimes for centuries almost exclusively, in narratives
of the intrigues, the contentions, and the bloody wars of rival
families, and rival branches of the same family, in asserting their
respective claims as inheritors to the possession of power. This truth
is strikingly illustrated in the events which occurred in Macedon
during the absence of Pyrrhus in Italy and Sicily, in connection with
the family of Lysimachus, and his successor in power there. These
events we shall now proceed to relate in their order.

At the time when Pyrrhus was driven from Macedon by Lysimachus,
previous to his going into Italy, Lysimachus was far advanced in age.
He was, in fact, at this time nearly seventy years old. He commenced
his military career during the lifetime of Alexander the Great, having
been one of the great conqueror's most distinguished generals. Many
stories were told, in his early life, of his personal strength and
valor. On one occasion, as was said, when hunting in Syria, he
encountered a lion of immense size single-handed, and, after a very
desperate and obstinate conflict, he succeeded in killing him, though
not without receiving severe wounds himself in the contest. Another
story was, that at one time, having displeased Alexander, he was
condemned to suffer death, and that, too, in a very cruel and horrible
manner. He was to be thrown into a lion's den. This was a mode of
execution not uncommon in ancient times. It answered a double purpose;
it not only served for a terrible punishment in respect to the man,
but it also effected a useful end in respect to the animal. By giving
him a living man to seize and devour, the savage ferocity of the beast
was stimulated and increased, and thus he was rendered more valuable
for the purposes and uses for which he was retained. In the case of
Lysimachus, however, both these objects failed. As soon as he was put
into the dungeon where the lion was awaiting him, he attacked the
beast, and, though unarmed, he succeeded in destroying him. Alexander
admired so much the desperate strength and courage evinced by this
exploit, that he pardoned the criminal and restored him to favor.

Lysimachus continued in the service of Alexander as long as that
monarch lived; and when, at the death of Alexander, the empire was
divided among the leading generals, the kingdom of Thrace, which
adjoins Macedon on the east,[M] was assigned to him as his portion. He
is commonly designated, therefore, in history, as the King of Thrace;
though in the subsequent part of his life he obtained possession also,
by conquest, of the kingdom of Macedon. He married, in succession,
several wives, and experienced through them a great variety of
domestic troubles. His second wife was a Sicilian princess named
Amastris. She was a widow at the time of her marriage with Lysimachus,
and had two sons. After being married to her for some time, Lysimachus
repudiated and abandoned her, and she returned to Sicily with her two
sons, and lived in a certain city which belonged to them there. The
young men were not of age, and Amastris accordingly assumed the
government of the city in their name. They, however, quarreled with
their mother, and finally drowned her, in order to remove her out of
their way. Lysimachus, though he might justly have considered himself
as in some sense the cause of this catastrophe, since, by deserting
his wife and withdrawing his protection from her, he compelled her to
return to Sicily and put herself in the power of her unnatural sons,
was still very indignant at the event, and, fitting out an expedition,
he went to Sicily, captured the city, took the sons of Amastris
prisoners, and put them to death without mercy, in retribution for
their atrocious crime.

[Footnote M: See map.]

At the time when Lysimachus put away his wife, Amastris, he married
Arsinoe, an Egyptian princess, the daughter, in fact, of Ptolemy, the
son of Lagus, who was at this time the king of Egypt. How far
Lysimachus was governed, in his repudiation of Amastris, by the
influence of Arsinoe's personal attractions in winning his heart away
from his fidelity to his legitimate wife, and how far, on the other
hand, he was alienated from her by her own misconduct or the violence
of her temper, is not now known. At any rate, the Sicilian wife, as
has been stated, was dismissed and sent home, and the Egyptian
princess came into her place.

The small degree of domestic peace and comfort which Lysimachus had
hitherto enjoyed was far from being improved by this change. The
family of Ptolemy was distracted by a deadly feud, and, by means of
the marriage of Arsinoe with Lysimachus, and of another marriage which
subsequently occurred, and which will be spoken of presently, the
quarrel was transferred, in all its bitterness, to the family of
Lysimachus, where it produced the most dreadful results.

The origin of the quarrel in the household of Ptolemy was this:
Ptolemy married, for his first wife, Eurydice, the daughter of
Antipater. When Eurydice, at the time of her marriage, went with her
husband into Egypt, she was accompanied by her cousin Berenice, a
young and beautiful widow, whom she invited to go with her as her
companion and friend. A great change, however, soon took place in the
relations which they sustained to each other. From being very
affectionate and confidential friends, they became, as often happens
in similar cases, on far less conspicuous theatres of action, rivals
and enemies. Berenice gained the affections of Ptolemy, and at length
he married her. Arsinoe, whom Lysimachus married, was the daughter of
Ptolemy and Berenice. They had also a son who was named Ptolemy, and
who, at the death of his father, succeeded him on the throne. This son
subsequently became renowned in history under the name of Ptolemy
Philadelphus. He was the second monarch of the Ptolemaic line.

But, besides these descendants of Berenice, there was another set of
children in Ptolemy's family--namely, those by Eurydice. Eurydice had
a son and a daughter. The name of the son was Ptolemy Ceraunus; that
of the daughter was Lysandra. There was, of course, a standing and
bitter feud always raging between these two branches of the royal
household. The two wives, though they had once been friends, now, of
course, hated each other with perfect hatred. Each had her own circle
of partisans and adherents, and the court was distracted for many
years with the intrigues, the plots, the dissensions, and the endless
schemes and counterschemes which were resorted to by the two parties
in their efforts to thwart and circumvent each other. As Arsinoe, the
wife of Lysimachus, was the daughter of Berenice, it might have been
expected that the influence of Berenice's party would prevail in
Lysimachus's court. This would doubtless have been the case, had it
not been that unfortunately there was another alliance formed between
the two families which complicated the connection, and led, in the
end, to the most deplorable results. This other alliance was the
marriage of Agathocles, the son of Lysimachus, with Lysandra,
Eurydice's daughter. Thus, in the court and family of Lysimachus,
Berenice had a representative in the person of her daughter Arsinoe,
the wife of the king himself; while Eurydice, also, had one in the
person of her daughter Lysandra, the wife of the king's son. Of
course, the whole virulence of the quarrel was spread from Egypt to
Macedon, and the household of Lysimachus was distracted by the
dissensions of Arsinoe and Lysandra, and by the attempts which each
made to effect the destruction of the other.

Of course, in this contest, the advantage was on the side of Arsinoe,
since she was the wife of the king himself, while Lysandra was only
the wife of his son. Still, the position and the influence of
Lysandra were very high. Agathocles was a prince of great
consideration and honor. He had been very successful in his military
campaigns, had won many battles, and had greatly extended the dominion
and power of his father. He was a great favorite, in fact, both with
the army and with the people, all of whom looked up to him as the hope
and the pride of the kingdom.

Of course, the bestowal of all this fame and honor upon Lysandra's
husband only served to excite the rivalry and hatred of Arsinoe the
more. She and Lysandra were sisters, or, rather, half-sisters--being
daughters of the same father. They were, however, on this very
account, natural enemies to each other, for their mothers were rivals.
Arsinoe, of course, was continually devising means to curtail the
growing importance and greatness of Agathocles. Agathocles himself, on
the other hand, would naturally make every effort to thwart and
counteract her designs. In the end, Arsinoe succeeded in convincing
Lysimachus that Agathocles was plotting a conspiracy against him, and
was intending to take the kingdom into his own hands. This may have
been true. Whether it was true or false, however, can now never be
known. At all events, Lysimachus was induced to believe it. He ordered
Agathocles to be seized and put into prison, and then, a short time
afterward, he caused him to be poisoned. Lysandra was overwhelmed with
consternation and sorrow at this event. She was, moreover, greatly
alarmed for herself and for her children, and also for her brother,
Ptolemy Ceraunus, who was with her at this time. It was obvious that
there could be no longer any safety for her in Macedon, and so, taking
with her her children, her brother, and a few friends who adhered to
her cause, she made her escape from Macedon and went to Asia. Here she
cast herself upon the protection of Seleucus, king of Syria.

Seleucus was another of the generals of Alexander--the only one, in
fact, besides Lysimachus, who now survived. He had, of course, like
Lysimachus, attained to a very advanced period of life, being at this
time more than seventy-five years old. These veterans might have been
supposed to have lived long enough to have laid aside their ancient
rivalries, and to have been willing to spend their few remaining years
in peace. But it was far otherwise in fact. Seleucus was pleased with
the pretext afforded him, by the coming of Lysandra, for embarking in
new wars. Lysandra was, in a short time, followed in her flight by
many of the nobles and chieftains of Macedon, who had espoused her
cause. Lysimachus, in fact, had driven them away by the severe
measures which he had adopted against them. These men assembled at the
court of Seleucus, and there, with Lysander and Ptolemy Ceraunus, they
began to form plans for invading the dominions of Lysimachus, and
avenging the cruel death of Agathocles. Seleucus was very easily
induced to enter into these plans, and war was declared.

Lysimachus did not wait for his enemies to invade his dominions; he
organized an army, crossed the Hellespont, and marched to meet
Seleucus in Asia Minor. The armies met in Phrygia. A desperate battle
was fought. Lysimachus was conquered and slain.

Seleucus now determined to cross the Hellespont himself, and,
advancing into Thrace and Macedon, to annex those kingdoms to his own
domains. Ptolemy Ceraunus accompanied him. This Ptolemy, it will be
recollected, was the son of Ptolemy, king of Egypt, by his wife
Eurydice; and, at first view, it might seem that he could have no
claim whatever himself to the crown of Macedon. But Eurydice, his
mother, was the daughter of Antipater, the general to whom Macedon had
been assigned on the original division of the empire after Alexander's
death. Antipater had reigned over the kingdom for a long time with
great splendor and renown, and his name and memory were still held in
great veneration by all the Macedonians. Ptolemy Ceraunus began to
conceive, therefore, that he was entitled to succeed to the kingdom as
the grandson and heir of the monarch who was Alexander's immediate
successor, and whose claims were consequently, as he contended,
entitled to take precedence of all others.

Moreover, Ptolemy Ceraunus had lived for a long time in Macedon, at
the court of Lysimachus, having fled there from Egypt on account of
the quarrels in which he was involved in his father's family. He was a
man of a very reckless and desperate character, and, while a young man
in his father's court, he had shown himself very ill able to brook the
preference which his father was disposed to accord to Berenice and to
her children over his mother Eurydice and him. In fact, it was said
that one reason which led his father to give Berenice's family the
precedence over that of Eurydice, and to propose that _her_ son
rather than Ptolemy Ceraunus should succeed him, was the violent and
uncontrollable spirit which Ceraunus displayed. At any rate, Ceraunus
quarreled openly with his father, and went to Macedon to join his
sister there. He had subsequently spent some considerable time at the
court of Lysimachus, and had taken some active part in public affairs.
When Agathocles was poisoned, he fled with Lysandra to Seleucus; and
when the preparations were made by Seleucus for war with Lysimachus,
he probably regarded himself as in some sense the leader of the
expedition. He considered Seleucus as his ally, going with him to aid
him in the attempt to recover the kingdom of his ancestors.

Seleucus, however, had no such design. He by no means considered
himself as engaged in prosecuting an expedition for the benefit of
Ceraunus. _His_ plan was the enlargement of his own dominion; and as
for Ceraunus, he regarded him only as an adventurer following in his
train--a useful auxiliary, perhaps, but by no means entitled to be
considered as a principal in the momentous transactions which were
taking place. Ceraunus, when he found what the state of the case
really was, being wholly unscrupulous in respect to the means that he
employed for the attainment of his ends, determined to kill Seleucus
on the first opportunity.

Seleucus seems to have had no suspicion of this design, for he
advanced into Thrace, on his way to Macedon, without fear, and without
taking any precautions to guard himself from the danger of Ceraunus's
meditated treachery. At length he arrived at a certain town which they
told him was called Argos. He seemed alarmed on hearing this name,
and, when they inquired the reason, he said that he had been warned by
an oracle, at some former period of his life, to beware of Argos, as a
place that was destined to be for him the scene of some mysterious and
dreadful danger. He had supposed that another Argos was alluded to in
this warning, namely, an Argos in Greece. He had not known before of
the existence of any Argos in Thrace. If he had been aware of it, he
would have ordered his march so as to have avoided it altogether; and
now, in consequence of the anxious forebodings that were excited by
the name, he determined to withdraw from the place without delay. He
was, however, overtaken by his fate before he could effect his
resolution. Ptolemy Ceraunus, watching a favorable opportunity which
occurred while he was at Argos, came stealthily up behind the aged
king, and stabbed him in the back with a dagger. Seleucus immediately
fell down and died.

Ptolemy Ceraunus forthwith organized a body of adherents and proceeded
to Macedon, where he assumed the diadem, and caused himself to be
proclaimed king. He found the country distracted by dissensions, many
parties having been formed, from time to time, in the course of the
preceding reigns, each of which was now disposed to come forward with
its candidates and its claims. All these Ptolemy Ceraunus boldly set
aside. He endeavored to secure all those who were friendly to the
ancient house of Antipater by saying that he was Antipater's grandson
and heir; and, on the other hand, to conciliate the partisans of
Lysimachus, by saying that he was Lysimachus's avenger. This was in
one sense true, for he had murdered Seleucus, the man by whom
Lysimachus had been destroyed. He relied, however, after all, for the
means of sustaining himself in his new position, not on his reasons,
but on his troops; and he accordingly advanced into the country more
as a conqueror coming to subjugate a nation by force, than as a
prince succeeding peacefully to an hereditary crown.

He soon had many rivals and enemies in the field against him. The
three principal ones were Antiochus, Antigonus, and Pyrrhus. Antiochus
was the son of Seleucus. He maintained that his father had fairly
conquered the kingdom of Macedon, and had acquired the right to reign
over it; that Ptolemy Ceraunus, by assassinating Seleucus, had not
divested him of any of his rights, but that they all descended
unimpaired to his son, and that he himself, therefore, was the true
king of Macedon. Antigonus was the son of Demetrius, who had reigned
in Macedon at a former period, before Lysimachus had invaded and
conquered the kingdom. Antigonus therefore maintained that his right
was superior to that of Ptolemy, for his father had been the
acknowledged sovereign of the country at a period subsequent to that
of the reign of Antipater. Pyrrhus was the third claimant. He had held
Macedon by conquest immediately before the reign of Lysimachus, and
now, since Lysimachus had been deposed, his rights, as he alleged,
revived. In a word, there were four competitors for the throne, each
urging claims compounded of rights of conquest and of inheritance, so
complicated and so involved, one with the other, as to render all
attempts at a peaceable adjudication of them absolutely hopeless.
There could be no possible way of determining who was best entitled to
the throne in such a case. The only question, therefore, that remained
was, who was best able to take and keep it.

This question Ptolemy Ceraunus had first to try with Antigonus, who
came to invade the country with a fleet and an army from Greece. After
a very short but violent contest, Antigonus was defeated, both by sea
and by land, and Ceraunus remained master of the kingdom. This triumph
greatly strengthened his power in respect to the other competitors.
He, in fact, contrived to settle the question with them by treaty, in
which they acknowledged him as king. In the case of Pyrrhus, he
agreed, in consideration of being allowed peaceably to retain
possession of his kingdom, to furnish a certain amount of military aid
to strengthen the hands of Pyrrhus in the wars in which he was then
engaged in Italy and Sicily. The force which he thus furnished
consisted of five thousand foot, four thousand horse, and fifty

Thus it would seem that every thing was settled. There was, however,
one difficulty still remaining. Arsinoe, the widow of Lysimachus,
still lived. It was Arsinoe, it will be recollected, whose jealousy of
her half-sister, Lysandra, had caused the death of Agathocles and the
flight of Lysandra, and which had led to the expedition of Seleucus,
and the subsequent revolution in Macedon. When her husband was killed,
she, instead of submitting at once to the change of government, shut
herself up in Cassandria, a rich and well-defended city. She had her
sons with her, who, as the children of Lysimachus, were heirs to the
throne. She was well aware that she had, for the time being, no means
at her command for supporting the claims of her children, but she was
fully determined not to relinquish them, but to defend herself and her
children in the city of Cassandria, as well as she was able, until
some change should take place in the aspect of public affairs.
Ceraunus, of course, saw in her a very formidable and dangerous
opponent; and, after having triumphed over Antigonus, and concluded
his peace with Antiochus and with Pyrrhus, he advanced toward
Cassandria, revolving in his mind the question by what means he could
best manage to get Arsinoe and her children into his power.

He concluded to try the effect of cunning and treachery before
resorting to force. He accordingly sent a message to Arsinoe,
proposing that, instead of quarreling for the kingdom, they should
unite their claims, and asking her, for this purpose, to become his
wife. He would marry her, he said, and adopt her children as his own,
and thus the whole question would be amicably settled.

Arsinoe very readily acceded to this proposal. It is true that she was
the half-sister of Ceraunus; but this relationship was no bar to a
matrimonial union, according to the ideas that prevailed in the courts
of kings in those days. Arsinoe, accordingly, gave her consent to the
proposal, and opened the gates of the city to Ceraunus and his troops.
Ceraunus immediately put her two sons to death. Arsinoe herself fled
from the city. Very probably Ceraunus allowed her to escape, since, as
she herself had no claim to the throne, any open violence offered to
her would have been a gratuitous crime, which would have increased,
unnecessarily, the odium that would naturally attach to Ceraunus's
proceedings. At any rate, Arsinoe escaped, and, after various
wanderings, found her way back to her former home in her father's
court at Alexandria.

The heart of Ceraunus was now filled with exultation and pride. All
his schemes had proved successful, and he found himself, at last, in
secure possession, as he thought, of a powerful and wealthy kingdom.
He wrote home to his brother in Egypt, Ptolemy Philadelphus--by whom,
as the reader will recollect, he had been supplanted there, in
consequence of his father's preference for the children of
Berenice--saying that he now acquiesced in that disposition of the
kingdom of Egypt, since he had acquired for himself a better kingdom
in Macedon. He proceeded to complete the organization of his
government. He recruited his armies; he fortified his towns; and began
to consider himself as firmly established on his throne. All his
dreams, however, of security and peace, were soon brought to a very
sudden termination.

There was a race of half-civilized people on the banks of the Danube
called Gauls. Some tribes of this nation afterward settled in what is
now France, and gave their name to that country. At the period,
however, of the events which we are here relating, the chief seat of
their dominion was a region on the banks of the Danube, north of
Macedon and Thrace. Here they had been for some time concentrating
their forces and gradually increasing in power, although their
movements had been very little regarded by Ceraunus. Now, however, a
deputation suddenly appeared at Ceraunus's capital, to say that they
were prepared for an invasion of his dominions, and asking him how
much money he would give for peace. Ceraunus, in the pride of his
newly-established power, treated this proposal with derision. He
directed the embassadors to go back and say that, far from wishing to
purchase peace, he would not _allow_ peace to them, unless they
immediately sent him all their principal generals, as hostages for
their good behavior. Of course, after such an interchange of messages
as this, both parties immediately prepared for war.

Ceraunus assembled all the forces that he could command, marched
northward to meet his enemy, and a great battle was fought between the
two armies. Ceraunus commanded in person in this conflict. He rode
into the field at the head of his troops, mounted on an elephant. In
the course of the action he was wounded, and the elephant on which he
rode becoming infuriated at the same time, perhaps from being wounded
himself too, threw his rider to the ground. The Gauls who were
fighting around him immediately seized him. Without any hesitation or
delay they cut off his head, and, raising it on the point of a pike,
they bore it about the field in triumph. This spectacle so appalled
and intimidated the army of the Macedonians, that the ranks were soon
broken, and the troops, giving way, fled in all directions, and the
Gauls found themselves masters of the field.

[Illustration: THE FALLEN ELEPHANT.]

The death of Ptolemy Ceraunus was, of course, the signal for all the
old claimants to the throne to come forward with their several
pretensions anew. A protracted period of dissension and misrule
ensued, during which the Gauls made dreadful havoc in all the northern
portions of Macedon. Antigonus at last succeeded in gaining the
advantage, and obtained a sort of nominal possession of the throne,
which he held until the time when Pyrrhus returned to Epirus from
Italy. Pyrrhus, being informed of this state of things, could not
resist the desire which he felt of making an incursion into Macedon,
and seizing for himself the prize for which rivals, no better entitled
to it than he, were so fiercely contending.



B.C. 273-272

Fatal deficiencies in Pyrrhus's character.--Fickleness of
Pyrrhus.--Consequences which resulted from it.--Examples of his want
of perseverance.--Reasons for the proposed invasion of Macedon.--In
the outset Pyrrhus is successful.--The country is disposed to submit
to him.--Combat in the mountain defile.--Account of the phalanx.--Its
terrible efficacy.--Impossibility of making any impression upon
it.--The elephants.--Order of battle.--The elephants overpowered.--The
phalanx.--Pyrrhus invites the enemy to join him.--Pyrrhus is victorious,
and becomes master of Macedon.--Complaints of the people.--Pyrrhus pays
little regard to them.--Pyrrhus receives an unexpected invitation.

It was the great misfortune of Pyrrhus's life, a misfortune resulting
apparently from an inherent and radical defect in his character, that
he had no settled plans or purposes, but embarked in one project after
another, as accident or caprice might incline him, apparently without
any forethought, consideration, or design. He seemed to form no plan,
to live for no object, to contemplate no end, but was governed by a
sort of blind and instinctive impulse, which led him to love danger,
and to take a wild and savage delight in the performance of military
exploits on their own account, and without regard to any ultimate end
or aim to be accomplished by them. Thus, although he evinced great
power, he produced no permanent effects. There was no steadiness or
perseverance in his action, and there could be none, for in his whole
course of policy there were no ulterior ends in view by which
perseverance could be sustained. He was, consequently, always ready
to abandon any enterprise in which he might be engaged as soon as it
began to be involved in difficulties requiring the exercise of
patience, endurance, and self-denial, and to embark in any new
undertaking, provided that it promised to bring him speedily upon a
field of battle. He was, in a word, the type and exemplar of that
large class of able men who waste their lives in a succession of
efforts, which, though they evince great talent in those who perform
them, being still without plan or aim, end without producing any
result. Such men often, like Pyrrhus, attain to a certain species of
greatness. They are famed among men for what they seem to have the
power to do, and not for any thing that they have actually done.

In accordance with this view of Pyrrhus's character, we see him
changing continually the sphere of his action from one country to
another, gaining great victories every where, and evincing in all his
operations--in the organizing and assembling of his armies, in his
marches, in his encampments, and in the disposition of his troops on
the field of battle, and especially in his conduct during the period
of actual conflict--the most indomitable energy and the most
consummate military skill. But when the battle was fought and the
victory gained, and an occasion supervened requiring a cool and
calculating deliberation in the forming of future plans, and a steady
adherence to them when formed, the character and resources of
Pyrrhus's mind were found woefully wanting. The first summons from any
other quarter, inviting him to a field of more immediate excitement
and action, was always sufficient to call him away. Thus he changed
his field of action successively from Macedon to Italy, from Italy to
Sicily, from Sicily back to Italy, and from Italy to Macedon again,
perpetually making new beginnings, but nowhere attaining any ends.

His determination to invade Macedon once more, on his return to Epirus
from Italy, was prompted, apparently, by the mere accident that the
government was unsettled, and that Antigonus was insecure in his
possession of the throne. He had no intention, when he first embarked
in this scheme, of attempting the conquest of Macedon, but only
designed to make a predatory incursion into the country for the
purpose of plunder, its defenseless condition affording him, as he
thought, a favorable opportunity of doing this. The plea on which he
justified this invasion was, that Antigonus was his enemy. Ptolemy
Ceraunus had made a treaty of alliance with him, and had furnished him
with troops for recruiting and re-enforcing his armies in Italy, as
has already been stated; but Antigonus, when called upon, had refused
to do this. This, of course, gave Pyrrhus ample justification, as he
imagined, for his intended incursion into the Macedonian realms.

Besides this, however, there was another justification, namely, that
of necessity. Although Pyrrhus had been compelled to withdraw from
Italy, he had not returned by any means alone, but had brought quite a
large army with him, consisting of many thousands of men, all of whom
must now be fed and paid. All the resources of his own kingdom had
been wellnigh exhausted by the drafts which he had made upon them to
sustain himself in Italy, and it was now necessary, he thought, to
embark in some war, as a means of finding employment and subsistence
for these troops. He determined, therefore, on every account, to make
a foray into Macedon.

Before setting off on his expedition, he contrived to obtain a
considerable force from among the Gauls as auxiliaries. Antigonus,
also, had Gauls in his service, for they themselves were divided, as
it would seem, in respect both to their policy and their leaders, as
well as the Macedonians; and Antigonus, taking advantage of their
dissensions, had contrived to enlist some portion of them in his
cause, while the rest were the more easily, on that very account,
induced to join the expedition of Pyrrhus. Things being in this state,
Pyrrhus, after completing his preparations, commenced his march, and
soon crossed the Macedonian frontier.

As was usually the case with the enterprises which he engaged in, he
was, in the outset, very successful. He conquered several cities and
towns as he advanced, and soon began to entertain higher views in
respect to the object of his expedition than he had at first formed.
Instead of merely plundering the frontier, as he had at first
intended, he began to think that it would be possible for him to
subdue Antigonus entirely, and reannex the whole of Macedon to his
dominions. He was well known in Macedon, his former campaigns in that
country having brought him very extensively before the people and the
army there. He had been a general favorite, too, among them at the
time when he had been their ruler; the people admired his personal
qualities as a soldier, and had been accustomed to compare him with
Alexander, whom, in his appearance and manners, and in a certain air
of military frankness and generosity which characterized him, he was
said strongly to resemble. Pyrrhus now found, as he advanced into the
country of Macedonia, that the people were disposed to regard him with
the same sentiments of favor which they had formerly entertained for
him. Several of the garrisons of the cities joined his standard; and
the detachments of troops which Antigonus sent forward to the frontier
to check his progress, instead of giving him battle, went over to him
in a body and espoused his cause. In a word, Pyrrhus found that,
unexpectedly to himself, his expedition, instead of being merely an
incursion across the frontiers on a plundering foray, was assuming the
character of a regular invasion. In short, the progress that he made
was such, that it soon became manifest that to meet Antigonus in one
pitched battle, and to gain one victory, was all that was required to
complete the conquest of the country.

He accordingly concentrated his forces more and more, strengthened
himself by every means in his power, and advanced further and further
into the interior of the country. Antigonus began to retire,
desirous, perhaps, of reaching some ground where he could post himself
advantageously. Pyrrhus, acting with his customary energy, soon
overtook the enemy. He came up with the rear of Antigonus's army in a
narrow defile among the mountains; at least, the place is designated
as a narrow defile by the ancient historian who narrates these events,
though, from the number of men that were engaged in the action which
ensued, as well as from the nature of the action itself, as a
historian describes it, it would seem that there must have been a
considerable breadth of level ground in the bottom of the gorge.

The main body of Antigonus's troops was the phalanx. The Macedonian
phalanx is considered one of the most extraordinary military
contrivances of ancient times. The invention of it was ascribed to
Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, though it is probable that
it was only improved and perfected, and brought into general use, but
not really originated by him. The single phalanx was formed of a body
of about four thousand men. These men were arranged in a compact form,
the whole body consisting of sixteen ranks, and each rank of two
hundred and fifty-six men. These men wore each a short sword, to be
used in cases of emergency, and were defended by large shields. The
main peculiarity, however, of their armor, and the one on which the
principal power of the phalanx depended as a military body, was in the
immensely long spears which they carried. These spears were generally
twenty-one, and sometimes twenty-four feet long. The handles were
slender, though strong, and the points were tipped with steel. The
spears were not intended to be thrown, but to be held firmly in the
hands, and pointed toward the enemy; and they were so long, and the
ranks of the men were so close together, that the spears of the fifth
rank projected several feet before the men who stood in the front
rank. Thus each man in the front rank had five steel-pointed spears
projecting to different distances before him, while the men who stood
in ranks further behind rested their spears upon the shoulders of
those who were before them, so as to elevate the points into the air.

The men were protected by large shields, which, when the phalanx was
formed in close array, just touched each other, and formed an
impregnable defense. In a word, the phalanx, as it moved slowly over
the plain, presented the appearance of a vast monster, covered with
scales, and bristling with points of steel--a sort of military
porcupine, which nothing could approach or in any way injure. Missiles
thrown toward it were intercepted by the shields, and fell harmless to
the ground. Darts, arrows, javelins, and every other weapon which
could be projected from a distance, were equally ineffectual, and no
one could come near enough to men thus protected to strike at them
with the sword. Even cavalry were utterly powerless in attacking such
_chevaux de frise_ as the phalanx presented. No charge, however
furious, could break its serrated ranks; an onset upon it could only
end in impaling the men and the horses that made it together on the
points of the innumerable spears.

To form a phalanx, and to maneuver it successfully, required a special
training, both on the part of the officers and men, and in the
Macedonian armies the system was carried to very high perfection. When
foreign auxiliaries, however, served under Macedonian generals, they
were not generally formed in this way, but were allowed to fight under
their own leaders, and in the accustomed manner of their respective
nations. The army of Antigonus, accordingly, as he was retiring
before Pyrrhus, consisted of two portions. The phalanx was in advance,
and large bodies of Gauls, armed and arrayed in their usual manner,
were in the rear. Of course, Pyrrhus, as he came up with this force in
the ravine or valley, encountered the Gauls first. Their lines, it
would seem, filled up the whole valley at the place where Pyrrhus
overtook them, so that, at the outset of the contest, Pyrrhus had them
only to engage. There was not space sufficient for the phalanx to come
to their aid.

Besides the phalanx and the bodies of Gauls, there was a troop of
elephants in Antigonus's army. Their position, as it would seem, was
between the phalanx and the Gauls. This being the state of things, and
Pyrrhus coming up to the attack in the rear, would, of course,
encounter first the Gauls, then the elephants, and, lastly, the most
formidable of all, the phalanx itself.

Pyrrhus advanced to the attack of the Gauls with the utmost fury, and,
though they made a very determined resistance, they were soon
overpowered and almost all cut to pieces. The troop of elephants came
next. The army of Pyrrhus, flushed with their victory over the Gauls,
pressed eagerly on, and soon so surrounded the elephants and hemmed
them in, that the keepers of them perceived that all hope of
resistance was vain. They surrendered without an effort to defend
themselves. The phalanx now remained. It had hastily changed its
front, and it stood on the defensive. Pyrrhus advanced toward it with
his forces, bringing his men up in array in front of the long lines of
spears, and paused. The bristling monster remained immovable, evincing
no disposition to advance against its enemy, but awaiting, apparently,
an attack. Pyrrhus rode out in front of his lines and surveyed the
body of Macedonians before him. He found that he knew the officers
personally, having served with them before in the wars in which he had
been engaged in Macedon in former years. He saluted them, calling them
by name. They were pleased with being thus remembered and recognized
by a personage so renowned. Pyrrhus urged them to abandon Antigonus,
who had, as he maintained, no just title to the crown, and whose
usurped power he was about to overthrow, and invited them to enter
into his service, as the ancient and rightful sovereign of their
country. The officers seemed much disposed to listen to these
overtures; in fine, they soon decided to accede to them. The phalanx
went over to Pyrrhus's side in a body, and Antigonus, being thus
deprived of his last remaining support, left the field in company with
a few personal followers, and fled for his life.

Of course, Pyrrhus found himself at once in complete possession of the
Macedonian kingdom. Antigonus did not, indeed, entirely give up the
contest. He retreated toward the coast, where he contrived to hold
possession, for a time, of a few maritime towns; but his power as King
of Macedon was gone. Some few of the interior cities attempted, for a
time, to resist Pyrrhus's rule, but he soon overpowered them. Some of
the cities that he thus conquered he garrisoned with Gauls.

Of course, after such a revolution as this, a great deal was required
to be done to settle the affairs of the government on their new
footing, and to make the kingdom secure in the hands of the conqueror;
but no one in the least degree acquainted with the character and
tendencies of Pyrrhus's mind could expect that he would be at all
disposed to attend to these duties. He had neither the sagacity to
plan nor the steadiness of purpose to execute such measures. He could
conquer, but that was all. To secure the results of his conquests was
utterly beyond his power.

In fact, far from making such a use of his power as to strengthen his
position, and establish a permanent and settled government, he so
administered the affairs of state, or, rather, he so neglected them,
that very soon an extended discontent and disaffection began to
prevail. The Gauls, whom he had left as garrisons in the conquered
cities, governed them in so arbitrary a manner, and plundered them so
recklessly, as to produce extreme irritation among the people. They
complained earnestly to Pyrrhus. Pyrrhus paid little attention to
their representations. To fight a battle with an open enemy on the
field was always a pleasure to him; but to meet and grapple with
difficulties of this kind--to hear complaints, and listen to evidence,
and discuss and consider remedies, was all weariness and toil to him.

What he would have done, and what would have been the end of his
administration in Macedon, had he been left to himself, can not now be
known; for, very fortunately, as he deemed it, he was suddenly
relieved of all the embarrassment in which he was gradually getting
involved, as he had often been relieved in similar circumstances
before, by an invitation which came to him just at this time to embark
in a new military enterprise, which would draw him away from the
country altogether. It is scarcely necessary to say that Pyrrhus
accepted the invitation with the most eager alacrity. The
circumstances of the case will be explained in the next chapter.



B.C. 1000-272

Sparta.--Some account of the city.--The Spartan kings.--Origin of
the system.--Oracle at Delphi.--A difficulty.--The two lines of
kings.--A diarchy.--Dissensions.--Lycurgus.--His family.--Death of
his father.--Lycurgus assumes the crown.--Atrocious proposal.--Plan
arranged for disposing of the child.--Generous conduct of
Lycurgus.--Serious difficulties encountered.--Resentment
of the queen.--Lycurgus resolves on exiling himself from
Sparta.--Adventures of Lycurgus during his absence.--Account of
Charilaus.--His inefficiency.--Discontent of the people.--Lycurgus
is invited to return.--He finally complies.--He consults the oracle
at Delphi.--The response.--Charilaus is terrified.--He flies to a
sanctuary.--Nature and effects of the institutions of Lycurgus.--The
character and spirit of the Spartans.--Message sent to
Pyrrhus.--Account of Cleonymus.--Areus becomes king.--Affair of
Cleonymus and Chelidonis.--Appeal to Pyrrhus.--Pyrrhus determines to
march into Greece.

The war in which Pyrrhus was invited to engage, at the time referred
to at the close of the last chapter, arose out of a domestic quarrel
in one of the royal families of Sparta. Sparta was one of the
principal cities of the Peloponnesus, and the capital of a very
powerful and warlike kingdom.[N] The institutions of government in
this commonwealth were very peculiar, and among the most extraordinary
of them all was the arrangement made in respect to the kingly power.
There were two dynasties, or lines of kings, reigning conjointly. The
division of power between the two incumbents who reigned at any one
time may have been somewhat similar to that made in Rome between the
consuls. But the system differed from that of the consular government
in the fact that the Spartan kings were not elected magistrates, like
the Roman consuls, but hereditary sovereigns, deriving their power
from their ancestors, each in his own line.

[Footnote N: For the situation of Sparta, see map.]

The origin of this extraordinary system was said to be this: at a very
early period of the Spartan history, a king died suddenly, leaving two
children twins, as his heirs, but without designating either one of
them as his successor. The Spartans then applied to the mother of the
two children to know which of them was the first-born. She pretended
that she could not tell. They then applied to the oracle at Delphi,
asking what they should do. The response of the oracle directed them
to make both the children kings, but to bestow the highest honors upon
the oldest. By this answer the Spartans were only partially relieved
from their dilemma; for, under the directions of the oracle, the
necessity of determining the question of priority in respect to the
birth of the two children remained, without any light or guidance
being afforded them in respect to the mode of doing it.

At last some person suggested that a watch should be set over the
mother, with a view to ascertain for which of her children she had the
strongest affection. They supposed that she really knew which was the
first-born, and that she would involuntarily give to the one whom she
regarded in that light the precedence in the maternal services and
duties which she rendered to the babes. This plan succeeded. It was
discovered which was the first-born, and which was the younger; and
the Spartans, accordingly, made both the children kings, but gave the
highest rank to the former, as the oracle had directed. The children
both lived, and grew up to be men, and in due time were married. By a
singular coincidence, they married twin-sisters. In the two families
thus arising originated the Spartan lines of kings that reigned
jointly over the kingdom for many successive generations. To express
this extraordinary system of government, it has sometimes been said
that Sparta, though governed by kings, was not a monarchy, but a

The diarchy, however, as might have been expected, was found not to
work very successfully in practice. Various dissensions and
difficulties arose; and at length, about two hundred years after the
original establishment of the two lines, the kingdom became almost
wholly disorganized. At this juncture the celebrated lawgiver Lycurgus
arose. He framed a system of laws and regulations for the kingdom,
which were immediately put in force, and resulted not only in
restoring the public affairs to order at the time, but were the means,
in the end, of raising Sparta to the highest condition of prosperity
and renown.

Lycurgus was indebted for his success in the measures which he adopted
not merely to the sagacity which he exercised in framing them, and the
energy with which he carried them into effect: he occupied personally
a very peculiar position, which afforded him great facilities for the
performance of his work. He was a member of one of the royal families,
being a younger son of one of the kings. He had an elder brother named
Polydectes. His father died suddenly, from a stab that he received in
a fray. He was not personally engaged in the fray himself as one of
the combatants, but only went into it to separate other persons, who
had by some means become involved in a sudden quarrel. In the
struggle, he received a stab from a kitchen knife, with which one of
the combatants was armed, and immediately died.

Polydectes, of course, being the eldest son, succeeded to the throne.
He, however, very soon died, leaving a wife, but no children. About
eight months after his death, however, a child was born to his widow,
and this child, according to the then received principles of
hereditary descent, was entitled to succeed his father.

As, however, at the time of Polydectes's death the child was not born,
Lycurgus, the brother, was then apparently the heir. He accordingly
assumed the government--so far as the government devolved upon the
line to which his brother had belonged--intending only to hold it in
the interim, and to give it up ultimately when the proper heir should
appear. In the mean time, the widow supposed very naturally that he
would like to retain the power permanently. She was herself also
ambitious of reigning as queen; and she accordingly made to Lycurgus
the atrocious and unnatural proposal to destroy the life of her child,
on condition that he would marry her, and allow her to share the
kingdom with him. Lycurgus was much shocked at receiving such a
proposition, but he deemed it best, for the time being, to appear to
accede to it. He accordingly represented to the queen that it would
not be best for her to make the attempt which she had proposed, lest
she should thereby endanger her own safety. "Wait," said he, "and let
me know as soon as the child is born; then leave every thing to me. I
will do myself whatever is required to be done."

Lycurgus, moreover, had attendants, provided with orders to keep
themselves in readiness when the child should be born, and, if it
proved to be a son, to bring the babe to him immediately, wherever he
might be, or however he might be engaged. If it proved to be a
daughter, they were to leave it in the hands of the woman who had
charge of the queen. The babe proved to be a son. The officers took
it, accordingly, and brought it at once to Lycurgus. The unnatural
mother, of course, understood that it was taken away from her to be
destroyed, and she acquiesced in the supposed design, in order, by
sacrificing her child, to perpetuate her own queenly dignity and
power. Lycurgus, however, was intending to conduct the affair to a
very different result.

At the time when the attendants brought the new-born babe to
Lycurgus's house, Lycurgus was engaged with a party of friends whom he
had invited to a festival. These friends consisted of nobles,
generals, ministers of state, and other principal personages of the
Spartan commonwealth, whom Lycurgus had thus assembled in
anticipation, probably, of what was to take place. The attendants had
been ordered to bring the child to him without delay, wherever they
might find him. They accordingly came into the apartment where
Lycurgus and his friends were assembled, bringing the infant with
them in their arms. Lycurgus received him, and holding him up before
the company, called out to them, in a loud voice, "Spartans, I present
to you your new-born king!" The people received the young prince with
the most extravagant demonstrations of joy; and Lycurgus named him
Charilaus, which means, "Dear to the people."

The conduct of Lycurgus on this occasion was thought to be very
generous and noble, since by bringing the child forward as the true
heir to the crown, he surrendered at once all his own pretensions to
the inheritance, and made himself a private citizen. Very few of the
sons of kings, either in ancient or modern times, would have pursued
such a course. But, though in respect to his position, he abased
himself by thus descending from his place upon the throne to the rank
of a private citizen, he exalted himself very highly in respect to
influence and character. He was at once made protector of the person
of the child and regent of the realm during the young king's minority;
and all the people of the city, applauding the noble deed which he had
performed, began to entertain toward him feelings of the highest
respect and veneration.

It proved, however, that there were yet very serious difficulties,
which he was destined to meet and surmount before the way should be
fully open for the performance of the great work for which he
afterward became so renowned. Although the people generally of Sparta
greatly applauded the conduct of Lycurgus, and placed the utmost
confidence in him, there were still a few who hated and opposed him.
Of course, the queen herself, whose designs he had thwarted, was
extremely indignant at having been thus deceived. Not only was her own
personal ambition disappointed by the failure of her design, but her
womanly pride was fatally wounded in having been rejected by Lycurgus
in the offer which she had made to become his wife. She and her
friends, therefore, were implacably hostile to him. She had a brother,
named Leonidas, who warmly espoused her cause. Leonidas quarreled
openly with Lycurgus. He addressed him one day, in the presence of
several witnesses, in a very violent and threatening manner. "I know
very well," said he, "that your seeming disinterestedness, and your
show of zeal for the safety and welfare of the young king, are all an
empty pretense. You are plotting to destroy him, and to raise yourself
to the throne in his stead; and if we wait a short time, we shall see
you accomplishing the results at which you are really aiming, in your
iniquitous and hypocritical policy."

On hearing these threats and denunciations, Lycurgus, instead of
making an angry reply to them, began at once calmly to consider what
it would be best for him to do. He reflected that the life of the
child was uncertain, notwithstanding every precaution which he might
make for the preservation of it; and if by any casualty it should die,
his enemies might charge him with having secretly murdered it. He
resolved, therefore, to remove at once and forever all possible
suspicion, present or prospective, of the purity of his motives, by
withdrawing altogether from Sparta until the child should come of age.
He accordingly made arrangements for placing the young king under
protectors who could not be suspected of collusion with him for any
guilty purpose, and also organized an administration to govern the
country until the king should be of age. Having taken these steps, he
bade Sparta farewell, and set out upon a long and extended course of

He was gone from his native land many years, during which period he
visited all the principal states and kingdoms of the earth, employing
himself, wherever he went, in studying the history, the government,
and the institutions of the countries through which he journeyed, and
in visiting and conversing with all the most distinguished men. He
went first to Crete, a large island which lay south of the Ægean Sea,
its western extremity being not far from the coast of Peloponnesus.
After remaining for some time in Crete, visiting all its principal
cities, and making himself thoroughly acquainted with its history and
condition, he sailed for Asia Minor, and visited all the chief
capitals there. From Asia Minor he went to Egypt, and, after finishing
his observations and studies in the cities of the Nile, he journeyed
westward, and passed through all the countries lying on the northern
coast of Africa, and then from Africa he crossed over into Spain. He
remained long enough in each place that he visited to make himself
very thoroughly acquainted with its philosophy, its government, its
civilization, its state of progress in respect to the arts and usages
of social life--with every thing, in fact, which could have a bearing
upon national prosperity and welfare.

In the mean time, the current of affairs at Sparta flowed by no means
smoothly. As years rolled on, and the young prince, Charilaus,
advanced toward the period of manhood, he became involved in various
difficulties, which greatly embarrassed and perplexed him. He was of a
very amiable and gentle disposition, but was wholly destitute of the
strength and energy of character required for the station in which he
was placed. Disagreements arose between him and the other king. They
both quarreled, too, with their nobles and with the people. The people
did not respect them, and gradually learned to despise their
authority. They remembered the efficiency and the success of
Lycurgus's government, and the regularity and order which had marked
the whole course of public affairs during his administration. They
appreciated now, too, more fully than before, the noble personal
qualities which Lycurgus had evinced--his comprehensiveness of view,
his firmness of purpose, his disinterestedness, his generosity; and
they contrasted the lofty sentiments and principles which had always
governed him with the weakness, the childishness, and the petty
ambition of their actual kings. In a word, they all wished that
Lycurgus would return.

Even the kings themselves participated in this wish. They perceived
that their affairs were getting into confusion, and began to feel
apprehension and anxiety. Lycurgus received repeated messages from
them and from the people of Sparta, urging him to return, but he
declined to accept these proposals, and went on with his travels and
his studies as before.

At last, however, the Spartans sent a formal embassy to Lycurgus,
representing to him the troubled condition of public affairs in
Sparta, and the dangers which threatened the commonwealth, and urging
him in the most pressing manner to return. These embassadors, in their
interview with Lycurgus, told him that they had kings, indeed, at
Sparta, so far as birth, and title, and the wearing of royal robes
would go, but as for any royal qualities beyond this mere outside
show, they had seen nothing of the kind since Lycurgus had left them.

Lycurgus finally concluded to comply with the request. He returned to
Sparta. Here he employed himself for a time in making a careful
examination into the state of the country, and in conversing with the
principal men of influence in the city, and renewing his acquaintance
with them. At length he formed a plan for an entire organization of
the government. He proposed this plan to the principal men, and,
having obtained the consent of a sufficient number of them to the
leading provisions of his new constitution, he began to take measures
for the public promulgation and establishment of it.

The first step was to secure a religious sanction for his proceedings,
in order to inspire the common people with a feeling of reverence and
awe for his authority. He accordingly left Sparta, saying that he was
going to consult the oracle at Delphi. In due time he returned,
bringing with him the response of the oracle. The response was as

"Lycurgus is beloved of the gods, and is himself divine. The laws
which he has framed are perfect, and under them a commonwealth shall
arise which shall hereafter become the most famous in the world."

This response, having been made known in Sparta, impressed every one
with a very high sense of the authority of Lycurgus, and disposed all
classes of people to acquiesce in the coming change. Lycurgus did not,
however, rely entirely on this disposition. When the time came for
organizing the new government, he stationed an armed force in the
market-place one morning at a very early hour, so that the people,
when they came forth, as usual, into the streets, found that Lycurgus
had taken military possession of the city. The first feeling was a
general excitement and alarm. Charilaus, the king, who, it seems, had
not been consulted in these movements at all, was very much terrified.
He supposed that an insurrection had taken place against his
authority, and that his life was in danger. To save himself, he fled
to one of the temples as to a sanctuary. Lycurgus sent to him,
informing him that those engaged in the revolution which had taken
place intended no injury to him, either in respect to his person or
his royal prerogatives. By these assurances the fears of Charilaus
were allayed, and thenceforth he co-operated with Lycurgus in carrying
his measures into effect.

This is not the place for a full account of the plan of government
which Lycurgus introduced, nor of the institutions which gradually
grew up under it. It is sufficient to say that the system which he
adopted was celebrated throughout the world during the period of its
continuance, and has since been celebrated in every age, as being the
most stern and rugged social system that was ever framed. The
commonwealth of Sparta became, under the institutions of Lycurgus,
one great camp. The nation was a nation of soldiers. Every possible
device was resorted to to inure all classes of the population, the
young and the old, the men and the women, the rich and the poor, to
every species of hardship and privation. The only qualities that were
respected or cultivated were such stern virtues as courage, fortitude,
endurance, insensibility to pain and grief, and contempt for all the
pleasures of wealth and luxury. Lycurgus did not write out his system.
He would not allow it to be written out. He preferred to put it in
operation, and then leave it to perpetuate itself, as a matter of
usage and precedent. Accordingly, after fully organizing the
government on the plan which he had arranged, and announcing the laws,
and establishing the customs by which he intended that the ordinary
course of social life should be regulated, he determined to withdraw
from the field and await the result. He therefore informed the people
that he was going away again on another journey, and that he would
leave the carrying forward of the government which he had framed for
them and initiated in their hands; and he required of them a solemn
oath that they would make no change in the system until he returned.
In doing this, his secret intention was _never_ to return.

Such was the origin, and such the general character of the Spartan
government. In the time of Pyrrhus, the system had been in operation
for about five hundred years.[O] During this period the state passed
through many and various vicissitudes. It engaged in wars, offensive
and defensive; it passed through many calamitous and trying scenes,
suffering, from time to time, under the usual ills which, in those
days, so often disturbed the peace and welfare of nations. But during
all this time, the commonwealth retained in a very striking degree the
extraordinary marks and characteristics which the institutions of
Lycurgus had enstamped upon it. The Spartans still were terrible in
the estimation of all mankind, so stern and indomitable was the spirit
which they manifested in all the enterprises in which they engaged.

[Footnote O: The precise time at which the events connected with the
early history of Sparta really occurred is not satisfactorily
determined, so that the dates placed at the heads of the pages can
only be regarded as approximations.]

It was from Sparta that the message came to Pyrrhus asking his
assistance in a war that was then waging there. The war originated in
a domestic quarrel which arose in the family of one of the lines of
kings. The name of the prince who made application to Pyrrhus was
Cleonymus. He was a younger son of one of the Spartan kings. He had
had an older brother named Acrotatus. The crown, of course, would have
devolved on this brother, if he had been living when the father died.
But he was not. He died before his father, leaving a son, however,
named Areus, as his heir. Areus, of course, claimed the throne when
his grandfather died. He was not young himself at this time. He had
advanced beyond the period of middle life, and had a son who had grown
up to maturity.

Cleonymus was very unwilling to acquiesce in the accession of Areus to
the throne. He was himself the son of the king who had died, while
Areus was only the grandson. He maintained, therefore, that he had the
highest claim to the succession. He was, however, overruled, and Areus
assumed the crown.

Soon after his accession, Areus left Sparta and went to Crete,
intrusting the government of his kingdom, in the mean time, to his
son. The name of this son was Acrotatus. Cleonymus, of course, looked
with a particularly evil eye upon this young man, and soon began to
form designs against him. At length, after the lapse of a considerable
period, during which various events occurred which can not be here
described, a circumstance took place which excited the hostility which
Cleonymus felt for Acrotatus to the highest degree. The circumstances
were these:

Cleonymus, though far advanced in life, married, about the time that
the events occurred which we are here describing, a very young lady
named Chelidonis. Chelidonis was a princess of the royal line, and was
a lady of great personal beauty. She, however, had very little
affection for her husband, and at length Acrotatus, who was young and
attractive in person, succeeded in winning her love, and enticing her
away from her husband. This affair excited the mind of Cleonymus to a
perfect phrensy of jealousy and rage. He immediately left Sparta, and,
knowing well the character and disposition of Pyrrhus, he proceeded
northward to Macedon, laid his case before Pyrrhus, and urged him to
fit out an expedition and march to the Peloponnesus, with a view of
aiding him to put down the usurpers, as he called them, and to
establish him on the throne of Sparta instead. Pyrrhus immediately saw
that the conjuncture opened before him a prospect of a very brilliant
campaign, in a field entirely new, and he at once determined to embark
forthwith in the enterprise. He resolved, accordingly, to abandon his
interests in Macedon and march into Greece.



B.C. 272

Pyrrhus makes preparations for his campaign.--Pyrrhus's
designs.--Excitement in Greece.--Pyrrhus's army advances toward
Sparta.--Embassadors.--Pyrrhus arrives at Sparta.--He postpones
the attack.--Plans of the Spartans.--They propose to remove
the women.--The women send a delegation into the
senate-chamber.--Preparations for receiving Cleonymus.--His
wife.--The Spartans resolve to attack Pyrrhus in the morning.--Ditch
dug.--Ramparts raised.--The labors of the women.--Digging the
trench.--Citizens at work all night.--The women assist.--Effect of
the trench.--The wagons.--Ptolemy, the son of Pyrrhus, removes the
wagons.--The triumph of Acrotatus.--Pyrrhus's dream.--The dream
produces no effect.--Pyrrhus tries another plan.--The battle.--Work
of the women.--Pyrrhus leads the troops forward.--Pyrrhus's horse is
wounded.--Pyrrhus himself in great danger.--The army retires.--Areus
and Acrotatus.--Areus comes to succor the city.--Pyrrhus receives
a new invitation.--Argos.--Pyrrhus leaves Sparta, and is
pursued.--Death of Ptolemy.--Combat with Evalcus.--Pyrrhus's
revenge.--Pyrrhus before the walls of Argos.--A stratagem.--Attempt
of the elephants to enter the city.--Consternation of the
inhabitants of Argos.--Confusion of the soldiers.--Pyrrhus waits
for morning.--The bronze statue.--Ancient prophecy.--Pyrrhus's
alarm.--He resolves to retreat from the city.--Pyrrhus finds the
streets blocked up.--Dreadful confusion.--The fallen elephant in the
gateway.--Pyrrhus is greatly alarmed.--He lays aside his plume.--He
is struck by a tile thrown down upon him.--His dreadful death.--The
head borne away.--Summary of Pyrrhus's character.--Conclusion.

Immediately on receiving the invitation of Cleonymus, Pyrrhus
commenced making preparations on a very extensive scale for the
intended campaign. He gathered all the troops that he could command,
both from Macedon and Epirus. He levied taxes and contributions,
provided military stores of every kind, and entered into all the other
arrangements required for such an enterprise. These preliminary
operations required a considerable time, so that he was not ready to
commence his march until the following year. When all was ready, he
found that his force consisted of twenty-five thousand foot, two
thousand horse, and a troop of twenty-four elephants. He had two sons,
neither of whom, it would seem, was old enough to be intrusted with
the command, either in Macedon or Epirus, during his absence, and he
accordingly determined to take them with him. Their names were Ptolemy
and Helenus. Pyrrhus himself at this time was about forty-five years
of age.

Although in this expedition Cleonymus supposed that Pyrrhus was going
into Greece only as his ally, and that the sole object of the war was
to depose Areus and place Cleonymus on the throne in his stead,
Pyrrhus himself entertained far different designs. His intention was,
while invading the country in Cleonymus's name, to overrun and conquer
it all, with a view of adding it to his own dominions. Of course, he
gave no intimation to Cleonymus that he entertained any such designs.

The approach of Pyrrhus naturally produced great excitement and
commotion in Sparta. His fame as a military commander was known
throughout the world; and the invasion of their country by such a
conqueror, at the head of so large a force, was calculated to awaken
great alarm among the people. The Spartans, however, were not much
accustomed to be alarmed. They immediately began to make preparations
to defend themselves. They sent forward an embassage to meet Pyrrhus
on the way, and demand wherefore he was coming. Pyrrhus made evasive
and dishonest replies. He was not intending, he said, to commit any
hostilities against Sparta. His business was with certain other
cities of the Peloponnesus, which had been for some time under a
foreign yoke, and which he was now coming to free. The Spartans were
not deceived by these protestations, but time was gained, and this was
Pyrrhus's design.

His army continued to advance, and in its progress began to seize and
plunder towns belonging to the Spartan territory. The Spartans sent
embassadors again, demanding what these proceedings meant. The
embassadors charged it upon Pyrrhus, that, contrary to the laws and
usages of nations, he was making war upon them without having
previously declared war.

"And do you Spartans," said Pyrrhus, in reply, "always tell the world
whatever you are going to do before you do it?" Such a rejoinder was
virtually acknowledging that the object of the expedition was an
attack on Sparta itself. The embassadors so understood it, and bid the
invader defiance.

"Let there be war, then," said they, "if you will have it so. We do
not fear you, whether you are a god or a man. If you are a god, you
will not be disposed to do us any injury, for we have never injured
you. If you are a man, you can not harm us, for we can produce men in
Sparta able to meet any other man whatever."

The embassadors then returned to Sparta, and the people immediately
pushed forward with all diligence their preparations for putting the
city in an attitude of defense.

Pyrrhus continued his march, and at length, toward evening, approached
the walls of the city. Cleonymus, who knew well what sort of enemies
they had to deal with, urgently recommended that an assault should be
made that night, supposing that the Spartans would succeed in making
additional defenses if the attack were postponed until the morning.
Pyrrhus, however, was disposed not to make the attack until the
following day. He felt perfectly sure of his prize, and was,
accordingly, in no haste to seize it. He thought, it was said, that if
the attack were made in the night, the soldiers would plunder the
city, and thus he should lose a considerable part of the booty which
he hoped otherwise to secure for himself. He could control them better
in the daytime. He accordingly determined to remain in his camp,
without the city, during the night, and to advance to the assault in
the morning. So he ordered the tents to be pitched on the plain, and
sat quietly down.

In the mean time, great activity prevailed within the walls. The
senate was convened, and was engaged in debating and deciding the
various questions that necessarily arise in such an emergency. A plan
was proposed for removing the women from the city, in order to save
them from the terrible fate which would inevitably await them, should
the army of Pyrrhus be successful on the following day. It was thought
that they might go out secretly on the side opposite to that on which
Pyrrhus was encamped, and thence be conducted to the sea-shore, where
they might be conveyed in ships and galleys to the island of Crete,
which, as will appear from the map, was situated at no great distance
from the Spartan coast. By this means the mothers and daughters, it
was thought, would be saved, whatever might be the fate of the
husbands and brothers. The news that the senate were discussing such a
plan as this was soon spread abroad among the people. The women were
aroused to the most strenuous opposition against this plan. They
declared that they never would seek safety for themselves by going
away, and leaving their fathers, husbands, and brothers in such
danger. They commissioned one of their number, a princess named
Archidamia, to make known to the senate the views which they
entertained of this proposal. Archidamia went boldly into the
senate-chamber, with a drawn sword in her hand, and there arrested the
discussion in which the senators were engaged by demanding how they
could entertain such an opinion of the women of Sparta as to suppose
that they could survive the destruction of the city and the death of
all whom they loved. They did not wish to be saved, she said, unless
all could be saved together; and she implored the senate to abandon at
once all ideas of sending them away, and allow them, instead, to take
their share in the necessary labors required for the defense of the
city. The senate yielded to this appeal, and, abandoning the design
which they had entertained of sending the women away, turned their
attention immediately to plans of defense.

While these earnest consultations and discussions were going on in the
senate, and in the streets and dwellings of the city, there was one
place which presented a scene of excitement of a very different
kind--namely, the palace of Cleonymus. There all were in a state of
eager anticipation, expecting the speedy arrival of their master. The
domestics believed confidently that an attack would be made upon the
city that night by the combined army of Cleonymus and Pyrrhus; and
presuming that it would be successful, they supposed that their
master, as soon as the troops should obtain possession of the city,
would come home at once to his own house, bringing his distinguished
ally with him. They busied themselves, therefore, in adorning and
preparing the apartments of the house, and in making ready a splendid
entertainment, in order that they might give to Cleonymus and his
friend a suitable reception when they should arrive.

Chelidonis, however, the young and beautiful, but faithless wife of
Cleonymus, was not there. She had long since left her husband's
dwelling, and now she was full of suspense and anxiety in respect to
his threatened return. If the city should be taken, she knew very well
that she must necessarily fall again into her husband's power, and she
determined that she never would fall into his power again alive. So
she retired to her apartment, and there putting a rope around her
neck, and making all other necessary preparations, she awaited the
issue of the battle, resolved to destroy herself the moment she should
hear tidings that Pyrrhus had gained the victory.

In the mean time, the military leaders of the Spartans were engaged in
strengthening the defenses, and in making all the necessary
preparations for the ensuing conflict. They did not, however, intend
to remain within the city, and await the attack of the assailants
there. With the characteristic fearlessness of the Spartan character,
they determined, when they found that Pyrrhus was not intending to
attack the city that night, that they would themselves go out to meet
him in the morning.

One reason, however, for this determination doubtless was, that the
city was not shut in with substantial walls and defenses, like most of
the other cities of Greece, as it was a matter of pride with the
Spartans to rely on their own personal strength and courage for
protection, rather than on artificial bulwarks and towers. Still, such
artificial aids were not wholly despised, and they now determined to
do what was in their power in this respect, by throwing up a rampart
of earth, under cover of the darkness of the night, along the line
over which the enemy must march in attacking the city. This work was
accordingly begun. They would not, however, employ the soldiers in the
work, or any strong and able-bodied men capable of bearing arms. They
wished to reserve the strength of all these for the more urgent and
dreadful work of the following day. The ditch was accordingly dug, and
the ramparts raised by the boys, the old men, and especially by the
women. The women of all ranks in the city went out and toiled all
night at this labor, having laid aside half their clothes, that their
robes might not hinder them in the digging. The reader, however, must
not, in his imagination, invest these fair laborers with the delicate
forms, and gentle manners, and timid hearts which are generally deemed
characteristic of women, for the Spartan females were trained
expressly, from their earliest life, to the most rough and bold
exposures and toils. They were inured from infancy to hardihood, by
being taught to contend in public wrestlings and games, to endure
every species of fatigue and exposure, and to despise every thing like
gentleness and delicacy. In a word, they were little less masculine in
appearance and manners than the men; and accordingly, when Archidamia
went into the senate-chamber with a drawn sword in her hand, and
there, boldly facing the whole assembly, declared that the women would
on no account consent to leave the city, she acted in a manner not at
all inconsistent with what at Sparta was considered the proper
position and character of her sex. In a word, the Spartan women were
as bold and stern, and almost as formidable, as the men.

All night long the work of excavation went on. Those who were too
young or too feeble to work were employed in going to and fro,
carrying tools where they were required, or bringing food and drink to
those who were digging in the trench, while the soldiers remained
quietly at rest within the city, awaiting the duties which were to
devolve upon them in the morning. The trench was made wide and deep
enough to impede the passage of the elephants and of the cavalry, and
it was guarded at the ends by wagons, the wheels of which were half
buried in the ground at the places chosen for them, in order to render
them immovable. All this work was performed in such silence and
secrecy that it met with no interruption from Pyrrhus's camp, and the
whole was completed before the morning dawned.

As soon as it began to be light, the camp of Pyrrhus was in motion.
All was excitement and commotion, too, within the city. The soldiers
assumed their arms and formed in array. The women gathered around
them while they were making these preparations, assisting them to
buckle on their armor, and animating them with words of sympathy and
encouragement. "How glorious it will be for you," said they, "to gain
a victory here in the precincts of the city, where we can all witness
and enjoy your triumph; and even if you fall in the contest, your
mothers and your wives are close at hand to receive you to their arms,
and to soothe and sustain you in your dying struggles!"

When all was ready, the men marched forth to meet the advancing
columns of Pyrrhus's army, and the battle soon began. Pyrrhus soon
found that the trench which the Spartans had dug in the night was
destined greatly to obstruct his intended operations. The horse and
the elephants could not cross it at all; and even the men, if they
succeeded in getting over the ditch, were driven back when attempting
to ascend the rampart of earth which had been formed along the side of
it, by the earth thrown up in making the excavation, for this earth
was loose and steep, and afforded them no footing. Various attempts
were made to dislodge the wagons that had been fixed into the ground
at the ends of the trench, but for a time all these efforts were
fruitless. At last, however, Ptolemy, the son of Pyrrhus, came very
near succeeding. He had the command of a force of about two thousand
Gauls, and with this body he made a circuit, so as to come upon the
line of wagons in such a manner as to give him a great advantage in
attacking them. The Spartans fought very resolutely in defense of
them; but the Gauls gradually prevailed, and at length succeeded in
dragging several of the wagons up out of the earth. All that they thus
extricated they drew off out of the way, and threw them into the

Seeing this, young Acrotatus, the prince whom Areus his father, now
absent, as the reader will recollect, in Crete, had left in command in
Sparta when he went away, hastened to interpose. He placed himself at
the head of a small band of two or three hundred men, and, crossing
the city on the other side, he went unobserved, and then, making a
circuit, came round and attacked the Gauls, who were at work on the
wagons in the rear. As the Gauls had already a foe in front nearly
strong enough to cope with them, this sudden assault from behind
entirely turned the scale. They were driven away in great confusion.
This feat being accomplished, Acrotatus came back at the head of his
detachment into the city, panting and exhausted with the exertions he
had made, and covered with blood. He was received there with the
loudest applause and acclamations. The women gathered around him, and
overwhelmed him with thanks and congratulations. "Go to Chelidonis,"
said they, "and rest. She ought to be yours. You have deserved her.
How we envy her such a lover!"

The contest continued all the day, and when night came on Pyrrhus
found that he had made no sensible progress in the work of gaining
entrance into the city. He was, however, now forced to postpone all
further efforts till the following day. At the proper time he retired
to rest, but he awoke very early in the morning in a state of great
excitement; and, calling up some of the officers around him, he
related to them a remarkable dream which he had had during the night,
and which, he thought, presaged success to the efforts which they were
to make on the following day. He had seen, he said, in his dream, a
flash of lightning dart from the sky upon Sparta, and set the whole
city on fire. This, he argued, was a divine omen which promised them
certain success; and he called upon the generals to marshal the
troops and prepare for the onset, saying, "We are sure of victory

Whether Pyrrhus really had had such a dream, or whether he fabricated
the story for the purpose of inspiring anew the courage and confidence
of his men, which, as would naturally be supposed, might have been
somewhat weakened by the ill success of the preceding day, can not be
absolutely ascertained. Whichever it was, it failed wholly of its
intended effect. Pyrrhus's generals said, in reply, that the omen was
adverse, and not propitious, for it was one of the fundamental
principles of haruspicial science that lightning made sacred whatever
it touched. It was forbidden even to step upon the ground where a
thunder-bolt had fallen; and they ought to consider, therefore, that
the descent of the lightning upon Sparta, as figured to Pyrrhus in the
dream, was intended to mark the city as under the special protection
of heaven, and to warn the invaders not to molest it. Finding thus
that the story of his vision produced a different effect from the one
he had intended, Pyrrhus changed his ground, and told his generals
that no importance whatever was to be attached to visions and dreams.
They might serve, he argued, very well to amuse the ignorant and
superstitious, but wise men should be entirely above being influenced
by them in any way. "You have something better than these things to
trust in," said he. "You have arms in your hands, and you have Pyrrhus
for your leader. This is proof enough for you that you are destined to

How far these assurances were found effectual in animating the courage
of the generals we do not know; but the result did not at all confirm
Pyrrhus's vain-glorious predictions. During the first part of the day,
indeed, he made great progress, and for a time it appeared probable
that the city was about to fall into his hands. The plan of his
operations was first to fill up the ditch which the Spartans had made;
the soldiers throwing into it for this purpose great quantities of
materials of every kind, such as earth, stones, fagots, trunks of
trees, and whatever came most readily to hand. They used in this work
immense quantities of dead bodies, which they found scattered over the
plain, the results of the conflict of the preceding day. By means of
the horrid bridging thus made, the troops attempted to make their way
across the ditch, while the Spartans, formed on the top of the
rampart of earth on the inner side of it, fought desperately to repel
them. All this time the women were passing back and forth between them
and the city, bringing out water and refreshments to sustain the
fainting strength of the men, and carrying home the wounded and dying,
and the bodies of the dead.

[Illustration: THE CHARGE.]

At last a considerable body of troops, consisting of a division that
was under the personal charge of Pyrrhus himself, succeeded in
breaking through the Spartan lines, at a point near one end of the
rampart which had been thrown up. When the men found that they had
forced their way through, they raised loud shouts of exultation and
triumph, and immediately rushed forward toward the city. For a moment
it seemed that for the Spartans all was lost; but the tide of victory
was soon suddenly turned by a very unexpected incident. An arrow
pierced the breast of the horse on which Pyrrhus was riding, and gave
the animal a fatal wound. The horse plunged and reared in his agony
and terror, and then fell, throwing Pyrrhus to the ground. This
occurrence, of course, arrested the whole troop in their progress. The
horsemen wheeled suddenly about, and gathered around Pyrrhus to rescue
him from his danger. This gave the Spartans time to rally, and to
bring up their forces in such numbers that the Macedonian soldiers
were glad to be able to make their way back again, bearing Pyrrhus
with them beyond the lines. After recovering a little from the
agitation produced by this adventure, Pyrrhus found that his troops,
discouraged, apparently, by the fruitlessness of their efforts, and
especially by this last misfortune, were beginning to lose their
spirit and ardor, and were fighting feebly and falteringly all along
the line. He concluded, therefore, that there was no longer any
prospect of accomplishing his object that day, and that it would be
better to save the remaining strength of his troops by withdrawing
them from the field, rather than to discourage and enfeeble them still
more by continuing what was now very clearly a useless struggle. He
accordingly put a stop to the action, and the army retired to their

Before he had opportunity to make a third attempt, events occurred
which entirely changed the whole aspect of the controversy. The reader
will recollect that Areus, the king of Sparta, was absent in Crete at
the time of Pyrrhus's arrival, and that the command of the army
devolved, during his absence, on Acrotatus, his son; for the kings of
the other line, for some reason or other, took a very small part in
the public affairs of the city at this time, and are seldom mentioned
in history. Areus, as soon as he heard of the Macedonian invasion,
immediately collected a large force and set out on his return to
Sparta, and he entered into the city at the head of two thousand men
just after the second repulse which Acrotatus had given to their
enemies. At the same time, too, another body of re-enforcements came
in from Corinth, consisting of allies of the Spartans, gathered from
the northern part of the Peloponnesus. The arrival of these troops in
the city filled the Spartans with joy, and entirely dispelled their
fears. They considered themselves as now entirely safe. The old men
and the women, considering that their places were now abundantly
supplied, thenceforth withdrew from all active participation in the
contest, and retired to their respective homes, to rest and refresh
themselves after their toils.

Notwithstanding this, however, Pyrrhus was not yet prepared to give up
the contest. The immediate effect, in fact, of the arrival of the
re-enforcements was to arouse his spirit anew, and to stimulate him to
a fresh determination that he would not be defeated in his purpose,
but that he would conquer the city at all hazards. He accordingly made
several more desperate attempts, but they were wholly unsuccessful;
and at length, after a series of losses and defeats, he was obliged to
give up the contest and withdraw. He retired, accordingly, to some
little distance from Sparta, where he established a permanent camp,
subsisting his soldiers by plundering the surrounding country. He was
vexed and irritated by the mortifications and disappointments which he
had endured, and waited impatiently for an opportunity to seek

While he was thus pondering his situation, uncertain what to do next,
he received one day a message from Argos, a city in the northern part
of the Peloponnesus, asking him to come and take part in a contest
which had been opened there. It seems that a civil war had broken out
in that city, and one of the leaders, knowing the character of
Pyrrhus, and his readiness to engage in any quarrel which was offered
to him, had concluded to apply for his aid. Pyrrhus was, as usual,
very ready to yield to this request. It afforded him, as similar
proposals had so often done before, a plausible excuse for abandoning
an enterprise in which he began to despair of being able to succeed.
He immediately commenced his march to the northward. The Spartans,
however, were by no means disposed to allow him to go off unmolested.
They advanced with all the force they could command, and, though they
were not powerful enough to engage him in a general battle, they
harassed him and embarrassed his march in a very vexatious manner.
They laid ambushes in the narrow defiles through which he had to pass;
they cut off his detachments, and plundered and destroyed his
baggage. Pyrrhus at length sent back a body of his guards under
Ptolemy, his son, to drive them away. Ptolemy attacked the Spartans
and fought them with great bravery, until at length, in the heat of
the contest, a celebrated Cretan, of remarkable strength and activity,
riding furiously up to Ptolemy, felled him to the ground, and killed
him at a single blow. On seeing him fall, his detachment were struck
with dismay, and, turning their backs on the Spartans, fled to Pyrrhus
with the tidings.

Pyrrhus was, of course, excited to the highest pitch of phrensy at
hearing what had occurred. He immediately placed himself at the head
of a troop of horse, and galloped back to attack the Spartans and
avenge the death of his son. He assaulted his enemies, when he reached
the ground where they were posted, in the most furious manner, and
killed great numbers of them in the conflict that ensued. At one time,
he was for a short period in the most imminent danger. A Spartan,
named Evalcus, who came up and engaged him hand to hand, aimed a blow
at his head, which, although it failed of its intended effect, came
down close in front of his body, as he sat upon his horse, and cut
off the reins of the bridle. The instant after, Pyrrhus transfixed
Evalcus with his spear. Of course, Pyrrhus had now no longer the
control of his horse, and he accordingly leaped from him to the ground
and fought on foot, while the Spartans gathered around, endeavoring to
rescue and protect the body of Evalcus. A furious and most terrible
contest ensued, in which many on both sides were slain. At length
Pyrrhus made good his retreat from the scene, and the Spartans
themselves finally withdrew. Pyrrhus having thus, by way of comfort
for his grief, taken the satisfaction of revenge, resumed his march
and went to Argos.

Arrived before the city, he found that there was an army opposed to
him there, under the command of a general named Antigonus. His army
was encamped upon a hill near the city, awaiting his arrival. The mind
of Pyrrhus had become so chafed and irritated by the opposition which
he had encountered, and the defeats, disappointments, and
mortifications which he had endured, that he was full of rage and
fury, and seemed to manifest the temper of a wild beast rather than
that of a man. He sent a herald to the camp of Antigonus, angrily
defying him, and challenging him to come down from his encampment and
meet him in single combat on the plain. Antigonus very coolly replied
that _time_ was a weapon which he employed in his contests as well as
the sword, and that he was not yet ready for a battle; adding, that if
Pyrrhus was weary of his life, and very impatient to end it, there
were plenty of modes by which he could accomplish his desire.

Pyrrhus remained for some days before the walls of Argos, during which
time various negotiations took place between the people of the city
and the several parties involved in the quarrel, with a view to an
amicable adjustment of the dispute, in order to save the city from the
terrors attendant upon a contest for the possession of it between such
mighty armies. At length some sort of settlement was made, and both
armies agreed to retire. Pyrrhus, however, had no intention of keeping
his agreement. Having thrown the people of the city somewhat off their
guard by his promise, he took occasion to advance stealthily to one of
the gates at dead of night, and there, the gate being opened to him by
a confederate within the city, he began to march his soldiers in. The
troops were ordered to keep silence, and to step noiselessly, and thus
a large body of Gauls gained admission, and posted themselves in the
market-place without alarming or awakening the inhabitants. To render
this story credible, we must suppose that the sentinels and guards had
been previously gained over to Pyrrhus's side.

The foot-soldiers having thus made their entrance into the city,
Pyrrhus undertook next to pass some of his elephants in. It was found,
however, when they approached the gate, that they could not enter
without having the towers first removed from their backs, as the gates
were only high enough to admit the animals alone. The soldiers
accordingly proceeded to take off the towers, and then the elephants
were led in. The towers were then to be replaced. The work of taking
down the towers, and then of putting them on again, which all had to
be done in the dark, was attended with great difficulty and delay, and
so much noise was unavoidably made in the operation, that at length
the people in the surrounding houses took the alarm, and in a very
short period the whole city was aroused. Eager gatherings were
immediately held in all quarters. Pyrrhus pressed forward with all
haste into the market-place, and posted himself there, arranging his
elephants, his horse, and his foot in the manner best adapted to
protect them from any attack that might be made. The people of Argos
crowded into the citadel, and sent out immediately to Antigonus to
come in to their aid. He at once put his camp in motion, and,
advancing toward the walls with the main body, he sent in some
powerful detachments of troops to co-operate with the inhabitants of
the city. All these scenes occurring in the midst of the darkness of
the night, the people having been awakened from their sleep by a
sudden alarm, were attended, of course, by a dreadful panic and
confusion; and, to complete the complication of horrors, Areus, with
the Spartan army under his command, who had followed Pyrrhus in his
approach to the city, and had been closely watching his movements ever
since he had arrived, now burst in through the gates, and attacked the
troops of his hated enemy in the streets, in the market-place, and
wherever he could find them, with shouts, outcries, and imprecations,
that made the whole city one widespread scene of unutterable confusion
and terror.

The general confusion and terror, however, produced by the assaults of
the Spartans were the only results that immediately followed them, for
the troops soon found that no real progress could be made, and no
advantage gained by this nocturnal warfare. The soldiers could not
distinguish friends from foes. They could not see or hear their
commander, or act with any concert or in any order. They were
scattered about, and lost their way in narrow streets, or fell into
drains or sewers, and all attempts on the part of the officers to
rally them, or to control them in any way, were unavailing. At length,
by common consent, all parties desisted from fighting, and
awaited--all in an awful condition of uncertainty and suspense--the
coming of the dawn.

Pyrrhus, as the objects that were around him were brought gradually
into view by the gray light of the morning, was alarmed at seeing that
the walls of the citadel were covered with armed men, and at observing
various other indications, by which he was warned that there was a
very powerful force opposed to him within the city. As the light
increased, and brought the boundaries of the market-place where he
posted himself into view, and revealed the various images and figures
which had been placed there to adorn it, he was struck with
consternation at the sight of one of the groups, as the outlines of it
slowly made themselves visible. It was a piece of statuary, in
bronze, representing a combat between a wolf and a bull. It seems that
in former times some oracle or diviner had forewarned him that when he
should see a wolf encountering a bull, he might know that the hour of
his death was near. Of course, he had supposed that such a spectacle,
if it was indeed true that he was ever destined to see it, could only
be expected to appear in some secluded forest, or in some wide and
unfrequented spot among the mountains. Perhaps, indeed, he had paid
very little attention to the prophecy, and never expected that it
would be literally realized. When, however, this group in bronze came
out to view, it reminded him of the oracle, and the dreadful
foreboding which its appearance awakened, connected with the anxiety
and alarm naturally inspired by the situation in which he was placed,
filled him with consternation. He feared that his hour was come, and
his only solicitude now was to make good his retreat as soon as
possible from the fatal dangers by which he seemed to be surrounded.

But how to escape was the difficulty. The gate was narrow, the body of
troops with him was large, and he knew that in attempting to retire
he would be attacked from all the streets in the vicinity, and from
the tops of the houses and walls, and that his column would inevitably
be thrown into disorder, and would choke up the gateway and render it
wholly impassable, through their eagerness to escape and the confusion
that would ensue. He accordingly sent out a messenger to his son
Helenus, who remained all the time in command of the main body of the
army, without the walls, directing him to come forward with all his
force, and break down a portion of the wall adjoining the gateway, so
as to open a free egress for his troops in their retreat from the
city. He remained himself at his position in the market-place until
time had elapsed sufficient, as he judged, for Helenus to have
received his orders, and to have reached the gate in the execution of
them; and then, being by this time hard pressed by his enemies, who
began early in the morning to attack him on all quarters, he put his
troops in motion, and in the midst of a scene of shouts, uproar,
terror, and confusion indescribable, the whole body moved on toward
the gate, expecting that, by the time they arrived there, Helenus
would have accomplished his work, and that they should find a broad
opening made, which would allow of an easy egress. Instead of this,
however, they found, before they reached the gate, that the streets
before them were entirely blocked up with an immense concourse of
soldiers that were pouring tumultuously into the city. It seems that
Helenus had, in some way or other, misunderstood the orders, and
supposed that he was directed to enter the city himself, to re-enforce
his father within the walls. The shock of the encounter produced by
these opposing currents redoubled the confusion. Pyrrhus, and the
officers with him, shouted out orders to the advancing soldiers of
Helenus to fall back; but in the midst of the indescribable din and
confusion that prevailed, no vociferation, however loud, could be
heard. Nor, if the orders had been heard, could they have been obeyed,
for the van of the coming column was urged forward irresistibly by the
pressure of those behind, and the panic which by this time prevailed
among the troops of Pyrrhus's command made them frantic and furious in
their efforts to force their way onward and get out of the city. An
awful scene of confusion and destruction ensued. Men pressed and
trampled each other to death, and the air was filled with shrieks and
cries of pain and terror. The destruction of life was very great, but
it was produced almost entirely by the pressure and the
confusion--men, horses, and elephants being mingled inextricably
together in one vast living mass, which seemed, to those who looked
down upon it from above, to be writhing and struggling in the most
horrible contortions. There was no fighting, for there was no room for
any one to strike a blow. If a man drew his sword or raised his pike,
his arms were caught and pinioned immediately by the pressure around
him, and he found himself utterly helpless. The injury, therefore,
that was done, was the result almost altogether of the pressure and
the struggles, and of the trampling of the elephants and the horses
upon the men, and of the men upon each other.

The elephants added greatly to the confusion of the scene. One of the
largest in the troop fell in the gateway, and lay there for some time
on his side, unable to rise, and braying in a terrific manner. Another
was excited to a phrensy by the loss of his master, who had fallen off
from his head, wounded by a dart or a spear. The faithful animal
turned around to save him. With his trunk he threw the men who were in
the way off to the right hand and the left, and then, taking up the
body of his master with his trunk, he placed it carefully upon his
tusks, and then attempted to force a passage through the crowd,
trampling down all who came in his way. History has awarded to this
elephant a distinction which he well deserved, by recording his name.
It was Nicon.

[Illustration: DEATH OF PYRRHUS.]

All this time Pyrrhus was near the rear of his troops, and thus was
in some degree removed from the greatest severity of the pressure.
He turned and fought, from time to time, with those who were
pressing upon his line from behind. As the danger became more
imminent, he took out from his helmet the plume by which he was
distinguished from the other generals, and gave it to a friend who
was near him, in order that he might be a less conspicuous mark for
the shafts of his enemies. The combats, however, between his party
and those who were harassing them in the rear were still continued;
and at length, in one of them, a man of Argos wounded him, by
throwing a javelin with so much force that the point of it passed
through his breast-plate and entered his side. The wound was not
dangerous, but it had the effect of maddening Pyrrhus against the
man who had inflicted it, and he turned upon him with great fury,
as if he were intending to annihilate him at a blow. He would very
probably have killed the Greek, had it not been that just at that
moment the mother of the man, by a very singular coincidence, was
surveying the scene from a house-top which overlooked the street
where these events were occurring. She immediately seized a heavy
tile from the roof, and with all her strength hurled it into the
street upon Pyrrhus just as he was striking the blow. The tile came
down upon his head, and, striking the helmet heavily, it carried
both helmet and head down together, and crushed the lower vertebræ
of the neck at their junction with the spine.

Pyrrhus dropped the reins from his hands, and fell over from his horse
heavily to the ground. It happened that no one knew him who saw him
fall, for so great had been the crowd and confusion, that Pyrrhus had
got separated from his immediate friends. Those who were near him,
therefore, when he fell, pressed on, intent only on their own safety,
and left him where he lay. At last a soldier of Antigonus's army,
named Zopyrus, coming up to the spot, accompanied by several others of
his party, looked upon the wounded man and recognized him as Pyrrhus.
They lifted him up, and dragged him out of the street to a portico
that was near. Zopyrus drew his sword, and raised it to cut off his
prisoner's head. At this instant Pyrrhus opened his eyes, and rolled
them up with such a horrid expression as to strike Zopyrus with
terror. His arm consequently faltered in dealing the blow, so that he
missed his aim, and instead of striking the neck, only wounded and
mutilated the mouth and chin. He was obliged to repeat the stroke
again and again before the neck was sundered. At length, however, the
dreadful deed was done, and the head was severed from the body.

Very soon after this, Halcyoncus, the son of Antigonus, rode up to the
spot, and after learning what had occurred, he asked the soldiers to
lift up the head to him, that he might look at it a moment. As soon as
it was within his reach, he seized it and rode away, in order to carry
it to his father. He found his father sitting with his friends, and
threw down the head at his feet, as a trophy which he supposed his
father would rejoice to see. Antigonus was, however, in fact,
extremely shocked at the spectacle. He reproved his son in the
severest terms for his brutality, and then, sending for the mutilated
trunk, he gave to the whole body an honorable burial.

That Pyrrhus was a man of great native power of mind, and of
extraordinary capacity as a military leader, no one can deny. His
capacity and genius were in fact so great, as to make him, perhaps,
the most conspicuous example that the world has produced of the manner
in which the highest power and the noblest opportunities may be wasted
and thrown away. He accomplished nothing. He had no plan, no aim, no
object, but obeyed every momentary impulse, and entered, without
thought and without calculation, into any scheme that chance, or the
ambitious designs of others, might lay before him. He succeeded in
creating a vast deal of turmoil and war, in killing an immense number
of men, and in conquering, though temporarily and to no purpose, a
great many kingdoms. It was mischief, and only mischief, that he did;
and though the scale on which he perpetrated mischief was great, his
fickleness and vacillation deprived it altogether of the dignity of
greatness. His crimes against the peace and welfare of mankind did not
arise from any peculiar depravity; he was, on the contrary, naturally
of a noble and generous spirit, though in process of time, through
the reaction of his conduct upon his heart, these good qualities
almost entirely disappeared. Still, he seems never really to have
wished mankind ill. He perpetrated his crimes against them
thoughtlessly, merely for the purpose of showing what great things he
could do.

                         THE END.


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software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.