AT the time when king Pyrrhus was on Italian soil and had won one or two battles, when the Romans were getting anxious, and the greater part of Italy had gone over to the king, a certain Timochares, an Ambracian and a friend of king Pyrrhus, came stealthily to the consul Gaius Fabricius and asked a reward, promising that if they could come to terms, he would poison the king. This, he said, could easily be done, since his son was the monarch's cup-bearer. Fabricius transmitted this offer to the senate. The senate sent envoys to the king, instructing them not to reveal anything about Timochares, but to warn the king to act with more caution, and be on his guard against the treachery of those nearest to his own person. This, as I have told it, is the version found in the History of Valerius Antias. 1 But Quadrigarius, in his third book, 2 says that it was not Timochares, but Nicias, that approached the consul; that the embassy was not sent by the senate, but by the consuls; and that Pyrrhus thanked and complimented the Roman people in a [p. 263] letter, besides clothing and returning all the prisoners that were then in his hands. The consuls at that time were Gaius Fabricius and Quintus Aemilius. 3 The letter which they sent to king Pyrrhus about that matter, according to Claudius Quadrigarius, ran as follows:
" The Roman consuls greet king Pyrrhus.We, being greatly disturbed in spirit because of your continued acts of injustice, desire to war with you as an enemy. But as a matter of general precedent and honour, it has seemed to us that we should desire your personal safety, in order that we may have the opportunity of vanquishing you in the field. Your friend Nicias came to us, to ask for a reward if he should secretly slay you. We replied that we had no such wish, and that he could look for no advantage from such an action; at the same time it seemed proper to inform you, for fear that if anything of the kind should happen, the nations might think that it was done with our connivance, and also because we have no desire to make war by means of bribes or rewards or trickery. As for you, if you do not take heed, you will have a fall."