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Incorruptible and brave Gaius Fabricius

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Gaius Fabricius with Pyrrhus and the elephant
Gaius Fabricius with Pyrrhus and the elephant

Gaius Fabricius, in Roman transmissions, was an example of an incorruptible politician and an extremely honourable and brave man. This is evidenced by the history of the war with Pyrrhus (282-272 BCE).

In 280 BCE, after the Romans lost the battle of Heraclea, Gaius Fabricius was sent by the Senate to the camp of the king of Epirus to negotiate the redemption of Roman prisoners. Pyrrhus, knowing from his informants that Gaius Fabricius was not in a favourable financial situation, offered him money in exchange for “friendship and hospitality”. However, Fabrizio refused the gold, which made Pyrrhus very captivating.

The next day, Pyrrhus decided to intimidate Fabrizius, who had never seen elephants before. Therefore, during the meeting with him, he ordered the largest of these animals to be brought, which made a terrifying sound with a proboscis right next to Roman’s head. Fabricius was to reply to this situation: “Your gold made no impression on me yesterday, neither does your beast to‑day”.

Taken by the attitude of Fabricius, Pyrrhus agreed to release the prisoners without redemption.

  • Titus Livy, Periochae, 13
  • Plutarch, Pyrrhus, 18-20

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