But while he was involved in such perplexities, new hopes once more inspired him, and projects which divided his purposes. For at one and the same time there came to him from Sicily men who offered to put into his hands the cities of Agrigentum, Syracuse, and Leontini, and begged him to help them to drive out the Carthaginians and rid the island of its tyrants; and from Greece, men with tidings that Ptolemy Ceraunus1
with his army had perished at the hands of the Gauls, and that now was the time of all times for him to be in Macedonia, where they wanted a king.
Pyrrhus rated Fortune soundly because occasions for two great undertakings had come to him at one time, and thinking that the presence of both meant the loss of one, he wavered in his calculations for a long time. Then Sicily appeared to offer opportunities for greater achievements,
since Libya was felt to be near, and he turned in this direction, and forthwith sent out Cineas to hold preliminary conferences with the cities, as was his wont, while he himself threw a garrison into Tarentum. The Tarentines were much displeased at this, and demanded that he either apply himself to the task for which he had come, namely to help them in their war with Rome, or else abandon their territory and leave them their city as he had found it. To this demand he made no very gracious reply, but ordering them to keep quiet and await his convenience, he sailed off.
On reaching Sicily,2
his hopes were at once realized securely; the cities readily gave themselves up to him, and wherever force and conflict were necessary nothing held out against him at first, but advancing with thirty thousand foot, twenty-five hundred horse, and two hundred ships, he put the Phoenicians to rout and subdued the territory under their control. Then he determined to storm the walls of Eryx, which was the strongest of their fortresses and had numerous defenders.
So when his army was ready, he put on his armour, went out to battle, and made a vow to Heracles that he would institute games and a sacrifice in his honour, if the god would render him in the sight of the Sicilian Greeks an antagonist worthy of his lineage and resources; then he ordered the trumpets to sound, scattered the Barbarians with his missiles, brought up his scaling-ladders, and was the first to mount the wall.
Many were the foes against whom he strove; some of them he pushed from the wall on either side and hurled them to the ground, but most he laid dead in heaps about him with the strokes of his sword. He himself suffered no harm, but was a terrible sight for his enemies to look upon, and proved that Homer3
was right and fully justified in saying that valour, alone of the virtues, often displays transports due to divine possession and frenzy. After the capture of the city, he sacrificed to the god in magnificent fashion and furnished spectacles of all sorts of contests.