THE ELEPHANTS ROUTED
 AFTER such a murderous battle as that of Heraclea,
Pyrrhus shrank from meeting the Romans again, in
spite of all his bravery. He therefore sent the
eloquent Cineas to Rome, to try and make peace.
But the fine speeches of the orator had no effect,
and when Pyrrhus tried to bribe the senators to do
as he wished, he found that this, also, was in
Fabricius, the Roman ambassador, came to his
tent, and Pyrrhus tried to frighten him into
submission by placing an elephant behind the
drapery and making it trumpet all at once.
Fabricius had never heard such a frightful sound
in his life, and fancied that his last hour
had come; but he remained firm in his refusal to
Eloquence, bribery, and intimidation having all
three failed, Pyrrhus again made ready to fight.
The Romans, in the mean while, had collected
another army. They were now accustomed to the
sight of the fighting elephants, and their
trumpeting no longer inspired them with fear. They
met Pyrrhus once more at Asculum, and were
again defeated; but their loss was not so great as
that of the enemy.
The Romans were not ready to despair, in spite of
their defeat. Of course they one and all hated
Pyrrhus, yet they knew that he was an honorable
foe, and they would therefore meet him in fair
fight. So, when a doctor wrote to Fabricius,
offering to poison his master, Pyrrhus, the honest
Roman was indignant.
 Instead of answering this treacherous letter,
Fabricius sent it to Pyrrhus, bidding him beware
lest the dishonest doctor should take his life.
This warning, sent by an enemy, filled Pyrrhus
with admiration for the Roman general's virtue,
and he warmly cried:
"It would be as easy to turn the sun from its
course, as thee from the path of honor, most noble
Instead of continuing the war, Pyrrhus now sent
back all the prisoners he had made, and offered
a truce. This was accepted, and Pyrrhus passed
over to Sicily, which he hoped to conquer more
easily. But he was soon forced to return to Italy,
and when he left the fertile island he regretfully
"What a fine battlefield we are leaving here for
Rome and Carthage!" And, as you will see in the
course of this story, this was true.
On the return of Pyrrhus to Italy, a final
encounter took place between him and the army
of Rome. Here the Romans pelted the fighting
elephants with balls of rosin and flax, which they
had set afire. The elephants, terrified by these
missiles, and maddened with pain, turned to
flee, trampling to death the soldiers of their own
Then the Romans took advantage of the confusion,
and, when the battle was over, Pyrrhus returned
home to mourn the loss of twenty-three thousand
brave fighting men.
His hopes of conquering Italy were ended; but, as
he still wished to rival Alexander, he next tried
to become master of Greece. While he was fighting
in this country, however, his career was cut
short. Once when he was forcing his way through a
city street, an old woman,
stand-  ing on the roof of her house, dropped a tile on
his head with such force that he was killed.
The Tarentines, deserted by Pyrrhus, yet unwilling
to submit to Rome, began to look for another
ally. The most powerful one they could find was
Carthage, the city founded by Dido, so they sent
there for aid.
In spite of the Carthaginian vessels, however,
the Romans soon became masters of Tarentum. The
walls of the city were all torn down, but the
inhabitants were spared, and were allowed to
continue their commerce under the protection of
The war was ended, and the army returned to Rome,
where a magnificent triumph was awarded to the
victorious consul. In the procession there were
four of the fighting elephants which the Romans
had captured, and all the people gazed in awe and
wonder at the huge creatures, which they then saw
for the first time.