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Ancient texts

Liv. (11)
Plut. Pyrrhus (14-26)
Cassius Dio (9;10)

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1st Punic war

War against king Pyrrhus of Epirus

282-276 bc

Dictator Hortensius

Again the plebeians tried and enlarged their power in the city. As usual this didn't happen without a struggle. Livius reports a third secession, which would have led to lex Hortensia or Hortensius' law. Q. Hortensius was a plebeian dictator and would bring back the plebeians. But he also made this law, that determined a plebiscite, a law approved by the people (and not by the senate and patricians in the comitia centuriata) was valid for everybody in Rome and not just the plebeians.

Tarentum asks king Pyrhus of Epirus for help

Once the Samnites were defeated, the conquest of Calabria and Apulia by the Romans seemed a matter of time. Tarentum a Greek colony already had participated in several wars against the Romans, started stirring up a number of cities to make war against Rome while it self didn't take part. When the Romans sent admiral L. Valerius to Tarentum but his ship(s) were attacked by the Tarentines and destroyed. A Roman envoy sent to Tarentum was maltreated and Rome declared war. When Rome closed in on Tarentum they remembered their Greek roots and invited the Greek king Pyrrhus of Epirus to come and help them. King Pyrrhus of Epirus

King Pyrrhus who had conquered large parts of Greece and dreamed of conquering an empire, saw this invitation as an opportunity to realize his plans, accepted the invitation against the advice of Cineas his counselor. He crossed over to Tarentum with 23,000 foot 3000 horse, 2000 archers,500 slingers. Oh and 20 elephants, animals the Romans had never laid eyes on before.

Consul P. Valerius Laevinus

Valerius Laevinus, the Roman consul approached Tarentum with a consular army. King Pyrrhus of Epirus sent word and offered to mediate between Tarentum and the Romans an offer Valerius declined. When the two armies met, Pyrrhus was shocked by the discipline the "barbaric" Romans showed and how they operated. In the next battle (Heracleia) Pyrrhus got wounded but won the battle. Pyrrhus won the battle, but with great losses on his own side. Cassius Dio let him speak the famous words:"If I should ever conquer again in this fashion, it would be my ruin"; Plutarchus saves this exclamation for the second battle.

    King Pyrrhus of Epirus    

King Pyrrhus of Epirus
Museo archeologico Napoli


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