Pyrrhus, too, was more than ever possessed by a fierce ambition to become master of the city, now that reinforcements had come to it; but since he could accomplish nothing, and met with fresh losses, he went away, and fell to ravaging the country, purposing to spend the winter there. But Fate was not to be escaped. For at Argos there was a feud between Aristeas and Aristippus; and since Aristippus was thought to enjoy the friendship of Antigonus, Aristeas hastened to invite Pyrrhus into Argos.
Pyrrhus was always entertaining one hope after another, and since he made one success but the starting point for a new one, while he was determined to make good each disaster by a fresh undertaking, he suffered neither defeat nor victory to put a limit to his troubling himself and troubling others. At once, therefore, he broke camp and set out for Argos. But Areus, by setting frequent ambushes and occupying the most difficult points on the march, kept cutting off the Gauls and Molossians who brought up the rear for Pyrrhus.
Now, it had been foretold to Pyrrhus by his seer, in consequence of sacrifices where no liver could be found, that he was to lose one of his kindred; but here, unhappily, owing to the agitation and tumult among his rear-guard, he forgot himself, and ordered his son Ptolemy with his comrades to go to the rescue, while he himself drew his army more quickly out of the narrow pass and led them forward.
A fierce battle raged where Ptolemy was, and while a band of picked Spartans under the command of Evalcus engaged the soldiers who were fighting in front of him, a man of stout arm and swift foot, Oryssus by name, of Aptera in Crete, ran up on one side of the young prince as he was fighting spiritedly, smote him, and laid him low.
Upon Ptolemy's fall and the rout of his company, the Spartans pursued, carrying all before them, and before they were aware of it had dashed out into the plain and were cut off by the infantry of Pyrrhus. Against this band of Spartans Pyrrhus, who had just heard of the death of his son and was in anguish, turned his Molossian horsemen. He himself charged at their head, and sated himself with Spartan blood. He had always shown himself invincible and terrible in arms, but now his daring and might surpassed all previous displays.
When he set his horse upon Evalcus, the Spartan stepped aside and had almost cut off with his sword the bridle-hand of Pyrrhus; as it was he hit the rein and severed it. Pyrrhus transfixed the Spartan with a thrust of his spear, and at the same instant fell off his horse, and fighting on foot, at once proceeded to slay all the picked band which was fighting over the body of Evalcus. This great additional loss to Sparta when the war was already at an end was due to the ambition of the commanders.