Pierre Epirsky, portrait herm, Naples, National Archaeological Museum
Plutarch wrote about Pierre:
“They talked a lot about him and thought that he resembled Alexander and his quickness of movements, and seeing his strength and onslaught in battle, everyone thought that Alexander’s shadow or similarity was in front of them ... The Epirots gave him the nickname Eagle.”
Pierre responded by saying that weapon warriors - his wings.
But it should be recognized that, being a brilliant tactician, Pierre was a worthless strategist. His character lacked perseverance and firmness, and, easily igniting himself, he cooled off just as quickly, and therefore did not bring to the logical any of his very promising undertakings. Unaware of fear in battle, Pierre invariably succumbed to affairs requiring patience, endurance, and self-denial. Continue to quote Plutarch:
“He lost his exploits for the sake of hopes for the future, and he who hungering for the distant and new, could not keep what he had achieved, if for this he needed to show perseverance. Therefore, Antigonus compared him with a dice player who knows how to make a deft shot, but does not know how to take advantage of his luck. ”
It seemed to contemporaries that if not today, then tomorrow, Pierre will accomplish a feat that will put him on a par with the great Alexander, and descendants are destined to be forever surprised at the insignificance of the actions of this outstanding commander.
Pierre was born in 319 BC in the royal family of a small state Epirus, located in the north-west of Greece between Macedonia and the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea.
Epirus on the map of Greece
According to ancient legends, the kings of this country were descended from the son of Achilles Neoptolem, who, by the way, in his youth also bore the name of Pierre ("Auburn"). Alexander of Macedon was by his mother a relative of the epyrian kings and was very proud of his origin, as it gave him the right to consider himself an Ellen, not a barbarian, but also a descendant of Achilles. Pierre was born 4 after the death of the great conqueror. The Diadochows (commanders-successors of Alexander of Macedon), blazing in the vast empire of the war, influenced the fate of a two-year-old boy. In 317 BC Kassandr's army (the son of the famous commander and regent of the empire of Antipater) entered Macedonia and surrounded the town of Pydna, where the last members of the family of Alexander the Great — his mother Olympiad, widow Roxana and son Alexander — took refuge.
Olympiad, Alexander's mother, medallion
The former Epirians princess Olympiad appealed to the king of this country, Aakiida, who moved to the aid of a relative, but could not make it through the mountain passes blocked by Cassandra's troops. Moreover, a rebellion broke out in Aakid's army, the king was deposed, many members of his family died, but the son of Pierre was rescued by two courtiers who managed to smuggle him to the court of Illyrian king Glavkiy.
Francois Boucher, Rescue Baby Pierre
After 10 years with the help of his patron, Pierre regained the crown of Epirus, but when he left the country for a short time after 5, a palace coup took place, costing him the throne. Diadokhov wars continued and the out-of-business 17-year-old Pyrr did not find anything better than to take part in one of them. He spoke on the side of Demetrius, the son of Antigone the One-Eyed, already familiar to us.
Demetrius I Poliorket - Paris, Louvre
Golden Stater of Demetria
Demetrius, who received the nickname Poliorket (“besieging the cities”) from his contemporaries, was married to the sister of Pyrrhus, and at that moment he helped his father in the war against the powerful coalition of the old companions of Alexander, which included Seleucus, Ptolemy, Lysimachus and Cassander. The decisive battle of Ips in Asia Minor (301 BC) ended with the death of 80-year-old Antigone and the complete defeat of the army he led. The only detachment that held their positions was commanded by Pierre, and contemporaries drew attention to the promising military talents of this young man. Soon, Demetrius managed to sign a peace treaty with Egypt's ruler Ptolemy, and Pyrrhus volunteered to become a hostage. In Alexandria, he quickly won the respect of Ptolemy, who gave his stepdaughter for him and helped to return the throne of Epirus (296 BC).
Ptolemy I Soter, bust, Louvre
Egyptian Tetradrachm of Ptolemy I
A representative of the older branch of the Pyrrides, Neoptolem, reigned in Epirus at that time. Pyrrhus and Neoptolem reached a compromise, becoming king-co-rulers, but the hatred and distrust between them were too great. It all ended with the murder of Neoptolem during a feast. Having established himself on the throne, Pierre intervened in the war of the sons of Cassander and received from the winner part of the territory of Macedonia.
More details about the events of those years are described in the article. https://topwar.ru/150287-krushenie-imperii-aleksandra-velikogo.html.
According to the testimony of contemporaries, during this period, Pyrrhus was very similar to the young Alexander of Macedon in his behavior and won universal love with unconditional generosity, ease of handling, generosity and care for the soldiers. Unfortunately, he was unable to maintain these qualities over the coming years. Personal courage and courage remained unchanged.
Monument to Pierre in the Greek city of Ioannina
But let's not get ahead. Treacherously killing the son of Cassandra Alexander, Demetrius took possession of Macedonia. But the fortification of the son of the fearsome Antigone was not part of the plans of his rivals: Lysimachus, Ptolemy and Pyrrhus joined the coalition and forced Demetrius to leave Macedonia. But Pyrrhus was cruelly deceived in his expectations, because the rights to this country were declared by Lysimachus, the commander of Alexander the Great, who had aged but not lost his belligerence.
He once killed two lions with his bare hands: one while hunting in Syria, the other in a cage where he was thrown by the orders of an angry Alexander. Now he threw out of Macedonia the lion cub, Pyrrhus, who did not have time to gain strength. But he did not have long to live, as the hero experienced in the battlefields was entangled in the intrigues of the daughters of the omnipresent Ptolemy, one of whom was his wife, and the other - daughter-in-law. As a result, he poisoned his own son and provoked the flight of his wife and her relatives to another veteran of the campaigns of Alexander - commander Selevku. Here it turned out to be too tough for Lysimachus.
But Seleucus did not reach Macedonia, since he was treacherously murdered by the son of the same Ptolemy, and now the killer of Seleucus Ptolemy Keravn (the fugitive, who was the diadocho commander rashly accepted at his court) claimed the unhappy country, the son of Seleucus Antioch, the son of Demetrius ( who died in captivity at Seleucus) Antigonus and Pierre. Ptolemy paid off five thousand foot soldiers, four thousand horsemen and fifty elephants from Pyrrhus, who at that time received a tempting offer from the citizens of Tarente (in Italy these animals made a real sensation and contributed a lot to the glory of Pyrrhus). After that, Ptolemy defeated Antigone and died in battle with the Galatians (Gauls). As a result, chaos reigned in Macedonia for a long time, and when Antigonus finally managed to take the vacant position of the king and brought some order, Pierre returned from Italy ... But, again, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
In 282 BC the inhabitants of Tarenta (a rich Greek colony in the south of Italy), by their own stupidity, provoked a war with Rome. The reason was the attack on 10 Roman ships that stopped in the city harbor: five of them managed to go to sea, but the rest were captured, their crews were sold into slavery, the commander of the Roman fleet died in battle. Not stopping there, the Tarentians attacked the city of Furies that entered into an alliance with Rome - the trading rival of Tarenta. Then they rejected the just and quite moderate demands of Rome, which requested only the liberation of the allied city, compensation for damage, the return of prisoners and punishment of the perpetrators of this, not authorized by the Tarento authorities, spontaneous attack. For some reason, the Tarentians did not take these demands seriously, the Roman Ambassador Lucius Postumius' speech in Greek caused general laughter due to grammatical errors, and then some idiot completely urinated on his toga - under the approving yoke of the sub-passionate crowd. The Roman calmly said that this spot on his toga would be washed away by the blood of the Tarentians, and left for his homeland. The following year, the troops of the consul Lucius Emilia Barbula defeated the large army of the army of Tarentum, and only then did its inhabitants have some "enlightenment in the mind": they were terribly scared and sent ambassadors to Pyrrhus, inviting him to lead the resistance of the "noble" Hellenes against the "aggressive barbarian people the Romans. " Pyrrhus was promised command of the 338th army and unlimited funding. For the Italian Greeks who lost their passionarity, this is not a new thing: on the battlefield, they have long been accustomed to display mercenaries instead of themselves, the first of which was the king of Sparta, the Archideans, who in 40 BC died in the war with the messapias. Then, for the pampered and careless Greek colonists, the Epirus king Alexander (uncle of Alexander the Great), the Spartan commander Cleonim, and finally the Syracuse tyrant Agathocles fought. Now, for them, the XNUMX-year-old Pyrrhus, who was destined to become famous in Italy and enter the cohort of great commanders, was supposed to fight Rome.
A little ahead, let us say that, during the Italian campaign, Pierre presented Rome with three very unpleasant, but, in the end, turned out to be very useful lessons. The first of these was the use of war elephants, which the Romans faced for the first time. The second is the innovative construction of troops. Polybius reports:
"Pyrrhus used not only weapons, but also the Italic warriors, when in battles with the Romans he put Roman maniples and phalanx units interspersed."
The third, and perhaps most important, lesson the Romans received after the first victory over Pyrrhus - Fontin writes that after the battle of Benevento, in imitation of the epire commander, the Romans began to camp around it, encircling it with a single shaft or hedge:
“In ancient times, the Romans everywhere organized their camps in cohorts in the form of individual huts. Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, was the first to introduce the custom of covering the whole army with one shaft. The Romans, having defeated Pyrrhus in the Aruza fields near Benevento, taking possession of his camp and familiarizing himself with his location, gradually turned to the layout that exists now. ”
But let's not rush and go back to 281 BC.
Still not knowing who he contacted, Pierre was delighted with the prospects that opened before him and headed overseas at the head of a small army. His plans included the conquest of Italy and Sicily, with the subsequent transfer of hostilities to the territory under Carthage. The illusions collapsed immediately upon arrival in Tarent, where Pierre saw the most real subpassional marsh: the local Greeks
“Voluntarily they were not inclined to defend themselves or to defend anyone, but they wanted to send him into battle in order to stay at home and not leave the baths and feasts.”
Pyrrhus immediately took matters into his own hands, closed the places of entertainment, conducted a total mobilization of the male population of the republic, and prohibited citizens from being idle on the street. As a result, many Tarentians fled from their “savior” ... to Rome (!), Because the subpasionarians have no homeland. The rest of them realized that they themselves had launched a huge pike into their pond, but it was too late to protest.
The plot turned out to be very interesting: on one side, at that time Pyrrhus, who had no equal tactics, had a small army of Epirus (countries on a par with Macedonia experiencing the Akmatic phase of ethnogenesis) and part-time Greeks of rich Italian colonies entering the Obcuracy phase. On the other, the Romans are experiencing a heroic ascent. We can immediately assume that in the upcoming war, Pierre will win until u run out ... No, not money, not soldiers and elephants — the epirota who came with him to Italy. That is exactly what happened.
In the persistent battle of Heraclea (280 BC), the Roman troops of the consul Publius Valeriy Levin one after another repulsed seven attacks by the infantrymen of Pyrrhus and the attack of Thessalian cavalry. And only after Pyrrhus moved his war elephants onto them, the frightened cavalry of the Romans retreated in panic, dragging the infantry units with them.
“With such warriors, I would have conquered the whole world,” said Pierre, seeing after the battle that the dead Romans lay on the battlefield in orderly rows, not retreating a single step under the blow of the famous Macedonian phalanx.
Tarent acquired vast territories in the west and north, many of the Italian allies of Rome went over to the side of the victors. However, the firmness and high fighting qualities of the Roman legions made such an impression on Pyrrhus himself that instead of continuing the successfully launched campaign he preferred to enter into negotiations with the enemy. The winner was so uncertain about the outcome of the war that his ambassadors began their work in Rome with persistent attempts to bribe the senators and their wives. Such a policy has not brought success:
“Let Pierre leave Italy, and then, if he wants, he is talking about friendship, but while he stays with the troops in Italy, the Romans will fight with him until he has enough strength even if he takes another 1,000 Levin to flight.”,
- such was the response of the Senate.
Ambassador Pyrrha, the famous Ossuary of the Thessalians, Kiney, in his report called the Senate a “gathering of kings”, and compared Rome with the Lerney's hydra, in which two new ones grow instead of a severed head. Pyrrhus and the embassy of Fabrizia Lussina were impressed by the agreement with which the prisoners of the Romans were sent home on the holidays of the Saturnalia, who then all returned without exception.
Not reaching a compromise, Pierre refused to offensive war, preferring to them the defense of the occupied territories. A huge Roman army under the command of the consuls Sulpice of the North and Decius Musa soon entered Apulia and located near the city of Auskul.
Giuseppe Rava. Pyrrhus and his army at the Battle of Auskul
The battle that took place in this city 279 BC was included in history called Pyrrhic victory. Pierre was seriously wounded, one of the Roman consuls (Decius Mousse) was killed, and the military-political situation could be considered a stalemate: Rome refused to negotiate peace and prepared for war until the last warrior, while Pierre did not have enough strength to inflict decisive defeat. He was no longer glad that he had contacted such allies and such an adversary and dreamed only of avoiding for the sake of his honor the further participation in military operations in Italy. Just at that time, the ambassadors from Sicily in civil war arrived. Tired of the strife, the inhabitants of the island offered to enthrone one of the sons of Pyrrhus. Pyrrhus agreed, in Tarente he left the detachment of Milon, in Lochrah the other, under the command of his son Alexander. This adventure was another mistake of our hero. The fact is that the Sicilians proper at that time belonged only to the southern part of the country. In the north-east of Sicily, the Campanian mercenaries, who called themselves mamertin (“the tribe of Mars”), were strengthened, and the north-west was in the hands of Carthage. As payment for the royal crown, the Sicilians expected help from Pyrrhus in the war against the newcomers. He did not disappoint their expectations and acted very successfully, the Carthaginian army was pushed back into the mountains, the Mamertines were blocked in Messana (modern Messina).
Pyrrhus campaign in Sicily
Further, routine measures to besiege the fortresses, blocking mountain passes, negotiations, and so on — that is, exactly what Pyrrh didn’t like to say, to put it mildly, didn’t follow. Instead, he decided to land troops in Africa and defeat Carthage in his ancestral lands. For these purposes, he needed additional troops, sailors and ships, and Pierre, without hesitation, decided to receive them in the same way as in Taren - by forcible mobilization. The result of these ill-conceived events was a rebellion. Pyrrhus had enough forces to restore order, but the hero had already cooled down to this enterprise and in three years he chose to return to Italy. Sailing from Sicily, Pierre said: "What a battlefield we leave to the Romans and the Carthaginians!"
Meanwhile, Tarenta’s position was critical. Taking advantage of the absence of Pyrrhus, the Romans inflicted a series of defeats on the Greeks and their Italian allies and threatened the very existence of this republic. Former prisoners of Pyrrhus as part of the Roman forces at that time spent the night outside the camp until they could kill two enemy soldiers. Epirotov in the army of Pyrrhus is almost gone, had to rely only on the mercenaries, but the treasury of Tarenta was depleted, and therefore desperately needing money Pyrrhus decided to rob the Proserpina temple in Locra. Unlike Pyrrhus, the Romans did not waste time in vain, they learned how to fight elephants and Pyrrhus's troops in the battle of Benevento (275 BC) were defeated. However, there is evidence of the doubtfulness of the decisive success of the Romans in this battle. So, Justin writes:
"He (Pyrrhus) knew so well the military matter that in wars with Illyrians, Sicilians, Romans and Carthaginians he had never been defeated, but for the most part turned out to be the winner."
And Polybius, speaking of the battles of Pyrrhus with the Romans, states:
"Almost always the outcome of the battle turned out to be questionable for him."
That is, Justin reports that the Romans were never able to defeat Pyrrhus, and Polybius, not very highly appreciating the initial successes of Pyrrhus in Italy, at the same time, did not call him defeated, and the Romans - the winners. The battle was lost, but not the war, but Pierre already understood the futility of the further campaign and was eager to return to his homeland.
After an 6-year absence, he returned to Epirus to immediately start a war in Macedonia he left. He was very popular in this country, whose residents remembered his justice, generosity and simplicity in circulation. The troops of Antigone sent to the border joined the army of Pyrrhus. In the decisive battle, the famous Macedonian phalanx also went over to its side, only a few coastal cities remained under the rule of Antigone. But to finish the business, so well begun in Macedonia, our hero was not too busy again: the younger brother of one of the Spartan kings called Pyrrha to march to his hometown, and he gladly went in search of a new glory.
“Having defeated Antigone’s own troops, and the mercenary troops of the Galatians, he (Pyrrhus) pursued him to the coastal cities and captured himself in upper Macedonia and Thessaly. Feast is generally very inclined to seize everything that came into his hands - and he was already not far from capturing all of Macedonia, - prevented Cleonim. This Cleonim convinced Pyrrhus, having left the Macedonians, to go to Peloponnese to obtain the imperial throne for Cleonim ... Cleonim brought Pyrrhus to Sparta with twenty-five thousand infantrymen, two thousand horsemen and twenty-four elephants. Already the large number of troops showed that Pierre wanted to acquire Sparta for Cleonim, and the Peloponnese for themselves. "
The Italian campaign did not teach him anything, with stubbornness worthy of a better use, Pierre was going to meet his death. When the three-day storming of the city did not bring success, he again, for the umpteenth time, lost interest in the goal of his journey and headed for Argos, where another fan of his talents dreamed of gaining power with the help of the army of the famous adventurer. To the surprise of Pierre, the Spartans followed him, continuously attacking his rearguard. In one of these battles, the son of Pyrrhus Ptolemy died.
"Already he heard about the death of his son and shocked by grief, Pierre (at the head of the Molossian cavalry) first broke into the ranks of the Spartans, trying to kill with a thirst for revenge, and although in battle he always seemed terrible and invincible, but this time his audacity and force eclipsed everything what happened in previous battles ... Jumping off the saddle, on foot, he put his entire selective squad next to Evalk. After the end of the war, excessive ambition of its rulers led Sparta to such senseless losses. ”
The city of Argos, in which there was a fierce struggle between the two parties, closed its gates, saw the troops of its enemy Antigone on the hill near the town of Pyrrhus, he stationed his own army on the plain, and detachments from Sparta settled to the side. Embarrassed by failures, Pierre decided to take a risky step. When one of his supporters opened the gates one night, he ordered his army to enter the city. Residents of Argos on time raised the alarm and sent messengers to Antigone. The Spartans also considered it their duty to intervene. As a result, on the streets of the city, an eerie night battle began in which the soldiers fought with the first opponents to meet them, and the townspeople shot bows from the windows of the houses or threw stones at those and others.
“It was impossible to understand this night battle neither in the actions of the troops, nor in the orders of the commanders. Separate squads wandered through narrow streets, in the dark, in cramped quarters, among the screams coming from everywhere; there was no opportunity to lead the troops, everyone was slow and waited for the morning "
Restoring command and control, Pierre decided to withdraw his soldiers from Argos. Fearing an ambush, he sent his son Gehlen, who remained outside the city, an order to break part of the wall and await his return. Gehlen misunderstood his father: deciding that he needed military help, he did not stop his troops at the wall, but led them to storm. As a result, in a narrow street, the retreating army of Pyrrhus faced the advancing army of Gehlen. There was a huge traffic jam, in which many soldiers died. The greatest damage the army of Pyrrha suffered from its own elephants. At this time, many residents of Argos were standing on the roof, throwing down tiles. One of these debris, abandoned by an old woman, interrupted Pyrrhus's cervical vertebrae. The first to his body were the soldiers of Antigonus, who cut off his head. The army without Pierre surrendered to Antigone.
Death of Pierre, engraving
Argos, a monument to Pierre at the site of his intended demise
Thus, the great commander, who failed to learn how to properly dispose of his abilities, perished ingloriously.