The Romans did not depose Laevinus from his consular office; and yet we are told that Caius Fabricius declared that it was not the Epeirots who had conquered the Romans, but Pyrrhus who had conquered Laevinus, Fabricius being of the opinion that the Roman defeat was not due to their army, but to its general; but they lost no time in filling up their depleted legions and raising others, used fearless and vehement language about the war, and thus filled Pyrrhus with consternation.
He decided, therefore, to send to them first and find out whether they were disposed to come to terms, for he regarded the capture of their city and their complete conquest as a large task and one that was beyond his present force, whereas a friendly settlement with them after a victory would greatly enhance his reputation. Accordingly, Cineas was sent to Rome, where he had conferences with the men in authority, and sent their wives and children gifts in the name of his king.
No one, however, would accept the gifts, but all replied, men and women alike, that if a peace were publicly concluded they also, on their part, would show goodwill and kindness to the king. Moreover, though Cineas made many kind and alluring proposals to the senate, not one of them was received there with alacrity or pleasure, although Pyrrhus offered to restore without a ransom their men who had been captured in the battle, and promised to assist them in the subjugation of Italy,
and in return for these favours asked only friendship for himself, immunity for the Tarentines, and nothing else. Nevertheless, most of the senators were plainly inclined towards peace, since they had been defeated in one great battle, and expected another with a larger army, now that the Italian Greeks had joined Pyrrhus.
At this point Appius Claudius, a man of distinction, but one whom old age and blindness had forced to give up all public activities, now that the message from the king had come and a report was rife that the senate was going to vote for the proposed cessation of hostilities, could not restrain himself, but ordered his attendants to take him up and had himself carried on a litter through the forum to the senate-house.
When he had reached the door, his sons and sons-in-law took him up in their arms and brought him inside, and the senators, out of regard for the man, kept respectful silence.