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PYRRHUS IS DEFEATED
 PYRRHUS found it no easy task to return to Italy, for the
Romans had made a league with the Carthaginians, whose
fleet was now watching the shore, to prevent him from
But the soldier-king was not easily daunted, and
although in a battle with the Carthaginian fleet he
lost a number of his ships, he succeeded in reaching
When the king now marched for the second time into
Tarentum, it was at the head of as large an army as he
had brought with him from Epirus.
But although in numbers his army was as strong as
before, in real strength it had lost much. For the
king's own faithful veterans had perished on the
battlefields of Heraclea and Asculum, and their place
was taken by hired soldiers. And of true courage and
devotion to their leader, what did these hired fighters
The king himself, too, had lost hope of achieving great
things in Italy, and Cineas was no longer living to
cheer him with his outbursts of eloquence. Yet his
name alone, had he but known it, still awoke terror
among the legions of Rome, and made them shrink from
meeting him again in battle.
Meanwhile the Consul Dentatus, with his army, had
already left Rome, and was marching along the Appian
Way toward Maleventum. Here he took up a strong
position on the hills, hoping to fight as soon as his
colleague joined him.
 Pyrrhus knew that his cavalry and elephants could be of
little use on the hilly ground on which the Romans had
taken up their position, yet, rather than wait until
Dentatus was strengthened by the arrival of his
colleague, he at once offered battle.
All might have gone well for the king had not one of
his young elephants been wounded. In its pain and
fright it rushed wildly hither and thither among the
other elephants, seeking its mother.
The beasts were soon thrown into utter confusion, while
the hired soldiers were seized with panic, and proved
useless in quelling the disorder.
Two of the elephants were at length killed by the
Romans, while four were captured and led in the triumph
of Dentatus, when he returned victorious to Rome.
For the king was utterly defeated and forced to escape,
with only a few followers, to Tarentum. In 274 B.C. he
sailed back to Epirus, having lost all hope of gaining
a kingdom in Italy. But he left a garrison in
Tarentum, under one of his officers.
The town, however, was blockaded by the Carthaginian
fleet and besieged by the Consul Papirius, and soon,
being in a sorry strait for want of food, it was forced
Latin colonies were then sent to settle in many towns
that had until now been held by the Greeks, and soon
Rome was mistress from the river Rubicon to the extreme
south of Italy.