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26. Thus Pyrrhus was excluded from his hopes of Italy and Sicily, after squandering six years' time in his wars there, and after being worsted in his undertakings, but he kept his brave spirit unconquered in the midst of his defeats; and men believed that in military experience, personal prowess, and daring, he was by far the first of the kings of his time, but that what he won by his exploits he lost by indulging in vain hopes, since through passionate desire for what he had not he always failed to establish securely what he had. [2] For this reason Antigonus used to liken him to a player with dice who makes many fine throws but does not understand how to use them when they are made.

He returned to Epeirus1 with eight thousand foot and five hundred horse, and since he had no money he sought for a war by which he could maintain his army. Some Gauls joined him, and he thereupon made an incursion into Macedonia, where Antigonus the son of Demetrius was reigning, designing to strip and plunder the country. [3] But after he had taken a great number of cities and two thousand Macedonian soldiers had come over to him, he began to hope for greater things, and set out to attack Antigonus, and falling upon him in a narrow pass, threw his whole army into confusion. The Gauls who formed the rearguard of Antigonus, a numerous body, made a sturdy resistance; but after a fierce battle most of these were cut to pieces, while those who had charge of the elephants were hemmed in and surrendered themselves and all their animals. [4] Then Pyrrhus, thus greatly strengthened, and consulting his good fortune rather than his judgment, advanced upon the phalanx of the Macedonians, which was filled with confusion and fear because of their previous defeat. For this reason they refrained from engagement or battle with him, whereupon Pyrrhus, stretching out his right hand and calling upon the generals and captains, brought over to him all the infantry of Antigonus in a body. [5] So Antigonus took to flight with a few of his horsemen, and occupied some of the seaboard cities; while Pyrrhus, thinking that amid so many successes his achievement against the Gauls conduced most to his glory, dedicated the most beautiful and splendid of the spoils in the temple of Athena Itonis, with the following elegiac inscription:

These shields, now suspended here as a gift to Athena Itonis, Pyrrhus the Molossian took from valiant Gauls, after defeating the entire army of Antigonus; which is no great wonder; for now, as well as in olden time, the Aeacidae are brave spearmen.
[6] After the battle, however, he at once proceeded to occupy the cities. And after getting Aegae into his power, besides other seventies exercised upon its inhabitants he left as a garrison in the city some of the Gauls who were making the campaign with him. But the Gauls, a race insatiable of wealth, set themselves to digging up the tombs of the kings who had been buried there; the treasure they plundered, the bones they insolently cast to the four winds. [7] This outrage Pyrrhus treated with lightness and indifference, as it was thought; he either postponed punishment because he had some business on hand, or remitted it altogether because he was afraid to chastise the Barbarians; and on this account he was censured by the Macedonians. Moreover, before his affairs were securely and firmly established, his thoughts swung again towards new hopes. He railed at Antigonus and called him a shameless man for not laying aside the purple and wearing a common robe; and when Cleonymus the Spartan came and invited him to come to Lacedaemon, he readily listened to him.

[8] Now, Cleonymus was of royal lineage, but because he was thought to be of a violent and arbitrary temper, he enjoyed neither goodwill nor confidence at home, but Areus was king there. This was one general ground of complaint which he had against his fellow citizens, and it was of long standing. Besides, Cleonymus in his later years had married Chilonis the daughter of Leotychides, a beautiful woman of royal lineage; but she had fallen desperately in love with Acrotatus the son of Areus, a young man in the flower of his age, and thus rendered his marriage distressing to Cleonymus, since he loved her, and at the same time disgraceful; for every Spartan was well aware that the husband was despised by his wife. [9] Thus his domestic vexations added themselves to his political disappointment, and in indignation and wrath he brought Pyrrhus against Sparta.2 Pyrrhus had twenty-five thousand foot and two thousand horse, besides twenty-four elephants, so that the magnitude of his preparations made it clear at once that he was not aiming to acquire Sparta for Cleonymus, but the Peloponnesus for himself. And yet his professions were all to the contrary, and particularly those which he made to the Lacedaemonian ambassadors themselves when they met him at Megalopolis. [10] He told them he had come to set free the cities which were subject to Antigonus, yes, and that he was going to send his younger sons to Sparta, if nothing prevented, to be brought up in the Lacedaemonian customs, that so they might presently have the advantage over all other princes. With these fictions he beguiled those who came to meet him on his march, but as soon as he reached Laconian territory he began to ravage and plunder it. [11] And when the Spartan ambassadors upbraided him for making war upon them without previous declaration, he said: ‘Yet we know that you Spartans also do not tell others beforehand what you are going to do.’ Whereupon one of those who were present, Mandrocleidas by name, said to him in the broad Spartan dialect: ‘If thou art a god, we shall suffer no harm at thy hands; for we have done thee no wrong; but if a man, another will be found who is even stronger than thou.’

1 Late in the year 274 B.C.

2 In 272 B.C.

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