It has been recorded, that in this year Alexandria in Egypt was founded; and that Alexander, king of Epirus, being slain by a Lucanian exile, verified in the circumstances of his death the prediction of Jupiter of Dodona.
At the time when he was invited into Italy by the Tarentines, a caution had been given him, “to beware of the Acherusian waters and the city Pandosia, for there were fixed the limits of his destiny.”
For that reason he made the greater haste to pass over to Italy, in order to be at as great a distance as possible from the city Pandosia in Epirus, and the river Acheron, which, after flowing through Molossis, runs into the lakes called Infernal, and is received into the Thesprotian gulf.
But, (as it frequently happens, that men, by endeavouring to shun their fate, run directly upon it,) after having often defeated the armies of Bruttium and Lucania, and taken Heraclea, a colony of the Tarentines, Consentia and Metapontum from the Lucanians, Terina from the Bruttians, and several other cities of the Messapians and Lucanians;
and having sent [p. 536]
into Epirus three hundred illustrious families, whom he in- tended to keep as hostages, he posted his troops on three hills, which stood at a small distance from each other, not far from the city Pandosia, and close to the frontiers of the Bruttians and Lucanians, in order that he might thence make incursions into every part of the enemy's country.
At that time he kept about his person two hundred Lucanian exiles, as faithful attendants, but whose fidelity, according to the general disposition of people of that description, was ever ready to follow the changes of fortune.
When continual rains spread such an inundation over all the plains, as cut off from the three separate divisions of the army all means of mutual aid, the two parties, in neither of which the king was present, were suddenly attacked and overpowered by the enemy, who, after putting them to the sword, employed their whole force in blockading the king himself.
From this place the Lucanian exiles sent emissaries to their countrymen, and stipulating a safe return for themselves, promised to deliver the king, either alive or dead, into their power. But he, bravely resolving to make an extraordinary effort, at the head of a chosen band, broke through the midst of their forces;
engaged singly, and slew the general of the Lucanians, and collecting together his men, who had been scattered in the retreat, arrived at a river which pointed out his road
by the ruins of a bridge which had been recently broken by the violence of the flood. Here, while the party was fording the river on a very uneven bottom, a soldier, almost spent with fatigue and apprehension, cried out as a reflection on the odious name of it, —“You
are justly named Acheros (dismal):” which expression reaching the king's ears, and instantly recalling to his mind the fate denounced on him, he halted, hesitating whether he should cross over or not.
Then Sotimus, one of the royal band of youths which attended him, asking why he delayed in such a critical moment, showed him that the Lucanians were watching an opportunity to perpetrate some act of treachery: whereupon the king, looking back, and seeing them coming towards him in a body, drew his sword, and pushed on his horse through the middle of the river.
When he had now reached the shallow, a Lucanian exile from a distance transfixed him with a javelin: after his fall, the current carried down his lifeless body, with the weapon sticking in it, to the posts of the enemy:
there a [p. 537]
shocking mangling of it took place; for dividing it in the middle, they sent one half to Consentia, and kept the other, as a subject of mockery, to themselves. While they were throwing darts and stones at it, a woman mixing with the crowd, who were enraged to a degree beyond the credible extent of human resentment, prevailed on them to stop for a moment.
She then told them with tears in her eyes that she had a husband and children, prisoners among the enemy; and that she hoped to be able with the king's body, however disfigured, to ransom her friends: this put an end to their outrages.
The remnants of his limbs were buried at Consentia, entirely through the care of the woman; and his bones were sent to Metapontum to the enemy, from whence they were conveyed to Epirus to his wife Cleopatra and his sister Olympias; the latter of whom was the mother, the former the sister, of Alexander the Great.
Such was the melancholy end of Alexander of Epirus; of which, although fortune did not allow him to engage in hostilities with the Romans, yet, as he waged war in Italy, I have thought it proper to give this brief account.
This year, the fifth time since the building of the city, the lectisternium was performed at Rome for procuring the favour of the same deities to whom it was addressed before.