F Heritage History | Story of the Romans by Helene Guerber
Contents 
Front Matter The First Settlers Escape from the Burning City The Clever Trick The Boards Are Eaten The Wolf and the Twins Romulus Builds Rome The Maidens Carried Off Union of Sabines and Romans Death of Romulus Strange Signs of the Romans The Quarrel with Alba The Horatii and Curiatii Tarquin and the Eagle The Roman Youths The King Outwitted The Murder of Tarquin The Ungrateful Children The Mysterious Books Tarquin's Poppies The Oracle of Delphi The Death of Lucretia The Stern Father A Roman Triumph A Roman Triumph (Cont.) Defense of the Bridge The Burnt Hand The Twin Gods The Wrongs of the Poor Fable of the Stomach The Story of Coriolanus The Farmer Hero The New Laws Death of Virginia Plans of a Traitor A School-Teacher Punished Invasion of the Gauls The Sacred Geese Two Heroes of Rome Disaster at Caudine Forks Pyrrhus and His Elephants The Elephants Routed Ancient Ships Regulus and the Snake Hannibal Crosses the Alps The Romans Defeated The Inventor Archimedes The Roman Conquests Destruction of Carthage Roman Amusements The Jewels of Cornelia Death of Tiberius Gracchus Caius Gracchus Jugurtha, King of Numidia The Barbarians The Social War The Flight of Marius The Proscription Lists Sertorius and His Doe Revolt of the Slaves Pompey's Conquests Conspiracy of Catiline Caesar's Conquests Crossing of the Rubicon Battle of Pharsalia The Death of Caesar The Second Triumvirate The Vision of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra The Poisonous Snake The Augustan Age Death of Augustus Varus Avenged Death of Germanicus Tiberius Smothered The Wild Caligula Wicked Wives of Claudius Nero's First Crimes Christians Persecuted Nero's Cruelty Two Short Reigns The Siege of Jerusalem The Buried Cities The Terrible Banquet The Emperor's Tablets The Good Trajan Trajan's Column The Great Wall Hadrian's Death Antoninus Pius The Model Pagan Another Cruel Emperor An Unnatural Son The Senate of Women The Gigantic Emperor Invasion of the Goths Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra A Prophecy Fulfulled First Christian Emperor Roman Empire Divided An Emperor's Penance Sieges of Rome End of the Western Empire

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber




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 vain.

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 make peace.

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 Fabricius!"

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 said:

"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 army.

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, standing 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 Rome.

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.