First, then, he sent Cineas to Tarentum with three thousand soldiers; next, after numerous cavalry-transports, decked vessels, and passage-boats of every sort had been brought over from Tarentum, he put on board of them twenty elephants and three thousand horse, twenty thousand foot, two thousand archers, and five hundred slingers. When all was ready, he put out and set sail; but when he was half way across the Ionian sea he was swept away by a north wind that burst forth out of all season.
In spite of its violence he himself, through the bravery and ardour of his seamen and captains, held out and made the land, though with great toil and danger; but the rest of the fleet was thrown into confusion and the ships were scattered. Some of them missed Italy and were driven off into the Libyan and Sicilian sea; others, unable to round the Iapygian promontory, were overtaken by night, and a heavy and violent sea, which drove them upon harbourless and uncertain shores, and destroyed them all except the royal galley.
She, as long as the waves drove upon her side, held her own, and was saved by her great size and strength from the blows of the water; but soon the wind veered round and met her from the shore, and the ship was in danger of being crushed by the heavy surges if she stood prow on against them. However, to allow her again to be tossed about by an angry open sea and by blasts of wind that came from all directions, was thought to be more fearful than their present straits. Pyrrhus therefore sprang up and threw himself into the sea,
and his friends and bodyguards were at once emulously eager to help him. But night and the billows with their heavy crashing and violent recoil made assistance difficult, so that it was not until day had already come and the wind was dying away that he succeeded in gaining the shore, in body altogether powerless, but with boldness and strength of spirit still making head against his distress. The Messapians, among whom he had been cast forth, ran together with eager offers to assist as well as they could, and at the same time some of his ships that had escaped the storm came up; in these there were but a few horsemen all told, less than two thousand footmen, and two elephants.