This conflict did not fill the Macedonians with wrath and hate towards Pyrrhus for their losses, rather it led those who beheld his exploits and engaged him in the battle to esteem him highly and admire his bravery and talk much about him. For they likened his aspect and his swiftness and all his motions to those of the great Alexander, and thought they saw in him shadows, as it were, and imitations of that leader's impetuosity and might in conflicts.1
The other kings, they said, represented Alexander with their purple robes, their body-guards, the inclination of their necks,2
and their louder tones in conversation; but Pyrrhus, and Pyrrhus alone, in arms and action.
Of his knowledge and ability in the field of military tactics and leadership one may get proofs from the writings on these subjects which he left. It is said also that Antigonus, when asked who was the best general, replied,
‘Pyrrhus, if he lives to be old.’ This verdict of Antigonus applied only to his contemporaries. Hannibal, however, declared that the foremost of all generals in experience and ability was Pyrrhus, that Scipio was second, and he himself third, as I have written in my Life of Scipio.3
And in a word, Pyrrhus would seem to have been always and continually studying and meditating upon this one subject, regarding it as the most kingly branch of learning; the rest he regarded as mere accomplishments and held them in no esteem. For instance, we are told that when he was asked at a drinking-party whether he thought Python or Caphisias the better flute-player, he replied that Polysperchon was a good general, implying that it became a king to investigate and understand such matters only.
He was also kind towards his familiar friends, and mild in temper, but eager and impetuous in returning favours. At any rate, when Aeropus died, he was distressed beyond measure, declaring that Aeropus had indeed only suffered what was common to humanity, but that he blamed and reviled himself because he had always delayed and moved slowly in the matter and so had not returned his friend's favour. For the debts due to one's creditors can be paid back to their heirs; but if the favours received from friends are not returned while those friends can be sensible of the act, it is an affliction to a just and good man.
Again, in Ambracia there was a fellow who denounced and reviled him, and people thought that Pyrrhus ought to banish him.
‘Let him remain here,’ said Pyrrhus,
‘and speak ill of us among a few, rather than carry his slanders round to all mankind.’ And again, some young fellows indulged in abuse of him over their cups, and were brought to task for it. Pyrrhus asked them if they had said such things, and when one of them replied,
‘We did, 0 King; and we should have said still more than this if we had had more wine.’ Pyrrhus laughed and dismissed them.4