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13. At this time, then, when Pyrrhus had been driven back into Epeirus and had given up Macedonia, Fortune put it into his power to enjoy what he had without molestation, to live in peace, and to reign over his own people. But he thought it tedious to the point of nausea if he were not inflicting mischief on others or suffering it at others' hands, and like Achilles could not endure idleness,

but ate his heart away
Remaining there, and pined for war-cry and battle.
1 Filled with such desires, then, he found ground for fresh undertakings in the following circumstances. [2] The Romans were at war with the people of Tarentum, who, being able neither to carry on the war, nor yet, owing to the rashness and villainy of their popular leaders, to put an end to it, wished to make Pyrrhus their leader and summon him to the war, believing him to be most at leisure of all the kings, and a most formidable general. Of the elderly and sensible citizens, some who were directly opposed to this plan were overborne by the clamour and violence of the war party, and others, seeing this, absented themselves from the assembly. [3] But there was a certain worthy man, Meton by name, who, when the day on which the decree was to be ratified was at hand and the people were taking their seats in the assembly, took a withered garland and a torch, after the way of revellers, and came dancing in behind a flute-girl who led the way for him. Then, as will happen in a throng of free people not given to decorum, some clapped their hands at sight of him, and others laughed, but none tried to stop him; nay, they bade the woman play on her flute and called upon Meton to come forward and give them a song; and it was expected that he would do so. [4] But when silence had been made, he said: ‘Men of Tarentum, ye do well not to frown upon those who wish to sport and revel, while they can. And if ye are wise, ye will all also get some enjoyment still out of your freedom, assured that ye will have other business and a different life and diet when Pyrrhus has come into the city.’ These words brought conviction to most of the Tarentines, and a murmur of applause ran through the assembly. [5] But those who were afraid that if peace were made they would be given up to the Romans, reviled the people for tamely submitting to such shameless treatment from a drunken reveller, and banding together they cast Meton out.2

And so the decree was ratified, and the people sent ambassadors to Pyrrhus,3 not only from their own number, but also from the Italian Greeks. These brought gifts to Pyrrhus, and told him they wanted a leader of reputation and prudence, [6] and that he would find there large forces gathered from Lucania, Messapia, Samnium, and Tarentum, amounting to twenty thousand horse and three hundred and fifty thousand foot all told. This not only exalted Pyrrhus himself, but also inspired the Epeirots with eagerness to undertake the expedition.

1 Iliad, i. 491 f.

2 Cf. Dionysius Hal., Excerpta ex lib. xix., 8.

3 In the summer of 281 B.C.

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