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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Pyrrhus’s Speech

By Ennius (239–169 B.C.)

  • We cannot doubt, however, that the poem reached its highest level in describing the life struggle of Rome against Pyrrhus, and later against Hannibal. The former commander impressed even his Italian foemen as a gallant and chivalric figure. One fine speech of his yet remains, and Ennius must have had much of that “stern joy that warriors feel” when he laid such noble words upon the lips of the Epirote king. To be sure, their final victory made it easier for the Romans, or for their annalist, to be generous.

  • GOLD for myself I crave not; ye need not proffer a ransom.

    Not as hucksters might, let us wage our war, but as soldiers:

    Not with gold, but the sword. Our lives we will set on the issue.

    Whether your rule or mine be Fortune’s pleasure,—our mistress,—

    Let us by valor decide. And to this word hearken ye also:—

    Every valorous man who is spared by the fortune of battle,

    Fully determined am I his freedom as well to accord him.—

    Count it a gift. At the wish of the gods in heaven I grant it.