Posted by Dennis » 1 Comment »
I’m adapting an old Latin reader (one that doesn’t seem to be in print or very well known) for use with my Latin III students in the Fall, and I’m oddly charmed by the story of Gaius Fabricius, that unflappable Roman whom Pyrrhus just couldn’t get to (evidently adapted from the account given by Plutarch).
Mīrā fuit constantiā Gaius Fabricius, vir in rēbus vel prosperīs vel adversīs constantissimus. Hunc ā senātū missum Pyrrhus magnificō hospitiō accēpit; spērāvit enim sē eum corrumpere posse. Itaque multa dōna, dein magnum pondus auri, dēnique partem regni sui eī obtulit. Quibus rēbus nēquāquam mōtus, Fabricius rēgi respondit ‘Si mē malum esse crēdis, cūr vīs amīcitiam meam? si bonum, cūr mē corrumpī posse spērās?’ Proximō diē alterum consilium cēpit Pyrrhus. Nam, elephantō post aulaeum (curtain) clam positō, Fabricium ad sē vocāvit. Paulisper colloquuntur; nihil suspicātur Fabricius; tum subitō, dīductō aulaeō, elephantus super caput Fabricii manum (trunk) dēmisit fremitumque horribilem ēdidit. Fabricius, nōn exterritus, sē vertit; et ridens, ‘Vidēs’, inquit, ‘mē neque heri aurō tuō corruptum neque hodiē bestiā territum.’
What a punchline: “You see that I was neither corrupted by your gold yesterday nor frightened by the beast today!”
What’s really funny to me is what it seems to imply about Pyrrhus. You can picture him steaming about Fabricius’ refusal to cave, and hatching this scheme. “I know! I’ll really scare the heck out of him by hiding an elephant behind a curtain, then getting it to blast him all trumpet-like! I can’t wait to see the look on his face!”
Really, Pyrrhus? That’s all you’ve got?