Pyrrhus's conference with Fabricius. A.M. 3724.

WAG 7724


This is one of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. In this scene the Roman general, Fabricius, is negotiating the terms of peace and prisoner exchange with Pyrrhus who had defeated the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BCE. Phyrrus, King of Hellenistic Epirus (319 - 272 BCE) wrote highly-praised treatises on the art of war. His very costly military sucesses against the Macedonians and the Romans gave rise to the phrase 'Phyrric Victory.' After Pyrrhus had defeated the Romans at Heraclea, the Senate sent Fabricius to negotiate the ransom and exchange of prisoners. Pyrrhus, at Cineas's advice, tried to bribe Fabricius with a fabulous gift, but the general, a man of high principle, refused it. Pyrrhus had to devise another plan. The next day, the negotiation continued, but the conversation suddenly stopped when Fabricius found himself standing before a huge elephant. When the elephant began to trumpet, Fabricius only laughed and said, "The beast can't move me today more than your gold yesterday". Pyrrhus, impressed by Fabricius's integrity, released the prisoners.