Elephants in Greek & Roman Warfare. Elephants in the Bible. The combination of these three attributes remains poorly understood, although the portrait as a whole makes little sense from a classical Graeco-Macedonian perspective. According to Plutarch, 475 elephants took part in the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BCE during the Successor Wars. These were used in the First and Second Punic Wars against Rome in the mid and late 3rd century BCE, notably in the Battle at the river Tagus in Spain in 220 BCE and at the Battle of Trebia in northern Italy in 218 BCE. Antiochus I (324/3-261 BCE) deployed war elephants against the Galatians who had crossed the Balkans into Greece and then moved into Asia Minor (c. 275/4 BCE). This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Indeed, such was the demand that at Latium and Constantinople permanent herds were kept and the insatiable desire for wild elephants practically wiped out the forest elephant of North Africa. The Romans â¦ Please help us create teaching materials on Mesopotamia (including several complete lessons with worksheets, activities, answers, essay questions, and more), which will be free to download for teachers all over the world. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Before the fighting, Ptolemy’s elephants are said to have raised trunks in prayer to the rising sun. In 275 BCE, in a battle known as the ‘Elephant Victory’, Antigonus Gonatas, although outnumbered, used 16 elephants to terrify an army of Gauls into retreat. After Perdiccas’ disastrous defeat about 50-60 elephants apparently fell to Ptolemy. That is to say, the headdress represents the heroic appropriation of a monstrous attribute as an emblem of victory over a fabled foe. There are, furthermore, evident religious connections and influences between elephants and Hindu deities. Roman Mosaic Showing the Transport of an Elephant, Detail of Roman Sarcophagus with an Elephant, Detail of a 6th Century CE Elephant Mosaic. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2020) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. by The Trustees of the British Museum (Copyright), Elephant Symbolism on the Coins of Ptolemy I, The three attributes were associated with three supreme deities of three different cultures: the aegis with Zeus; the ram’s horns with, by Metropolitan Museum of Art (Copyright). The king commemorated his victory by sacrificing four of his enemy’s elephants. The frightful emanation of Shiva Bhairava and the mother goddess Varahi are depicted seated on an elephant; he clad in elephant’s skin and tiger’s hide, with a drum, corpse, trident, bowl, stick, and deer in his six hands; she with a plough, sacred tree, elephant goad, and noose. on Pinterest. Most war elephants deployed in the Hellenistic period derived from India. Regardless of what animal the biblical Behemoth might reflect, it remains interesting that later, according to Pliny, the Romans would call elephants “bulls” after first encountering them during the campaign against Pyrrhus. Therefore, the claim that the ancients set fire to pigs in order to cause panic among enemy elephants does seem to have an element of plausibility, although it should be pointed out that, despite Nossovâs claim (2008, p. 25), it is uncertain that the Romans themselves actually used fire. After his coronation in Memphis, the priest at Siwah confirmed that Alexander was recognized as the son of god. In antiquity, two elephants were known â the Asian elephant ( Elephas maximus) and the African Forest elephant ( Loxodonta cyclotis). Elephant Symbolism on the Coins of Ptolemy Iby Branko van Oppen (CC BY-NC-SA). Oppen, Branko V. "Elephants in Hellenistic History & Art." An elephant charging into a group of soldiers or horses could decimate a formation. Alexander & Porusby The Trustees of the British Museum (Copyright). 24 Dec 2020. "Elephants were considered the tanks of the time, until eventually the Romans figured out how to defeat war elephants," in later times, said study co-author Alfred Roca, an animal scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. One such small-scale statuette (now in New York), perhaps based on large-scale sculpture, depicts Alexander in the act of combat, riding a (now missing) animal, wearing the elephant scalp on his head. Please support Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation. After his initial corps died in the winter of 218/217 BCE Hannibal acquired fresh replacements and used elephants again at the siege of Capua in 211 BCE. Starting the battle in a simple line in front of their own troops they could cause undisciplined and poorly trained cavalry lines to scatter in panic. There is a curious instance when two elephant corps met where each side was composed of different types. The three attributes were associated with three supreme deities of three different cultures: the aegis with Zeus; the ram’s horns with Ammon; the exuvia with Indra. In the 270’s BCE, for example, Ptolemy II trained African elephants for use in his army and even appointed a high official to be responsible for them, the elephantarchos. 6:34.). Elephants were thought of as fierce and frightful monsters in antiquity, very real though rarely seen until the Hellenistic period. The Pyrrhic campaign inspired the Carthaginians to acquire war elephants by the time of the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE). If the elephant were wounded then all hell might break lose as, unpredictable at the best of times, wounded elephants could literally go mad and cause tremendous damage to both sides. The encounter was one of the largest pitch battles of the Hellenistic period, and supposedly the only ancient battle in which African elephants fought Indian. The Macedonian army then encountered elephants in the field at the Battle of the Hydaspes (326 BCE; the westernmost tributary of the Indus now called the Jhelum) against a king called Porus (perhaps Paurava, i.e., “King of the Purus”). Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Our mission is to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. There is uncertainty as to when elephant warfare first started but it is widely accepted that it began in ancient India.The early Vedic period did not extensively specify the use of elephants in war. ends in 10 days. The use of elephants in warfare had spread to Persia in earlier centuries from India where elephants had been used for millennia. elephant translation in English-Ancient Greek (to 1453) dictionary. Another 80 elephants were captured after the battle, thus bringing the total to about 250. T. and once in the N. T. The animal itself is named only in the Apocrypha, always as an engine of war. Bibliography The Elephant in the Greek and Roman World (1974). Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. The Asian elephant became known in Europe following the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE and contact with the Mauryan Empire of India. Related Content Furthermore, Caesar supposedly entered Britain with an elephant in 54 BCE (Polyaen. Elephant corps did not have everything their own way, of course. Ever since the Stone Age, when elephants were represented by ancient petroglyphs and cave art, they have been portrayed in various forms of art, including pictures, sculptures, music, film, and even architecture. Troops became more mobiIe, siege-craft became just as common as open battles, and artillery came to the fore. Elephants were, perhaps strangely, not used by the Romans as transportation of heavy goods either. However, one look at the vast amount of ancient Greek-themed movies and literature today, people will quickly come to the conclusion that the world is still fascinated with Greek mythology though they might not always be able to say why. The War with Hannibal: The History of Rome from Its Foundation, Books... Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. However, the animals often turn on their own ranks trampling indiscriminately whoever comes in their way. Even more famously, at the Battle of Zuma in 202 BCE, the Roman general Scipio Africanus allowed Hannibal’s 80 elephants to run through gaps purposely made in his infantry lines and then turned the animals around using drums and trumpets to let them cause havoc with the enemy. Aug., Ael. It was the first time that the inhabitants of the Italian peninsula had ever seen elephants. 8.23.5.) The shape of the elephants’ trunks resembles the trumpet Fame sounds. Fame is accompanied by Plato and Aristotle, Alexander, and Charlemagne. “Behold the wild beasts around you,” God spoke to Job and continued describing a fearsome and mighty monster, literally a Behemoth (lit. One of the most precious artifacts among the Boscoreale treasure discovered in 1895 CE (now in the Louvre) – and perhaps one of the most beautiful works of ancient art – is a silver emblema dish with an allegorical portrait attributed to Cleopatra Selene (40-5 BCE), the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 16 Mar 2016. Alexander’s facial features are full of pathos, his diadÄma (headband) signifies his royalty, his large bulging eyes intimating his divinity. Oppen, B. V. (2019, May 20). When Hannibal (247 - c. 182 BCE) moved against Rome, he crossed the Pyrenees from Spain with 37 elephants among his vast forces. Still, their symbolic importance for Carthage is expressed on a series of Hannibal’s coinage, which depict a cloaked rider with a goad in his hand, but no turret. From the 270’s a light-weight tower (howdah or thorakia) of wood and leather was strapped to the larger Asian elephant using chains, and protected with shields hanging down its sides. “wild beast”), likened to bulls, with ribs made of bronze and a spine of cast iron. Then there was the problem of transporting them to where they were needed, although famously, the Carthaginian general Hannibal managed to get at least some of his 37 elephants across the Alps and into Italy in 218 BCE. The Indian species was used for this purpose. Cite This Work License. More at ivory. The ram’s horn was thus a divine attribute associated with panic and madness. CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons Todayâs placid scenes along the verdant shores of Greeceâs Pinios River, in Thessaly, belie its ancient history as the home of hippopotamuses, bison and even elephants, according to geologist/paleontologist and professor Athanassios Athanassiou. Ancient History Encyclopedia. The latter is now almost extinct and only found in the Gambia; it was smaller than the, at the time unknown, African elephant of central and southern Africa (Loxodonta africana), which explains why ancient writers all claimed the Indian elephant was larger than the African. One of Petrarch’s four famous Triumphs, the “Triumph of Fame over Death,” has been frequently illustrated by generations of artists. In the search for ever more impressive and lethal weapons to shock the enemy and bring total victory the armies of ancient Greece, Carthage, and even sometimes Rome turned to the elephant. Early Riders: The Beginnings of Mounted Warfare in Asia and Europe. In other words, Alexander’s posthumous portraiture presents him as the rightful ruler over these cultures and the known world. Elephant scalp worn by Demetrius I of Bactria (205â171 BC), founder of the Indo-Greek Kingdom, as a symbol of his conquest. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. When the sun god Helius (Amun-Ra) appeared to him in a dream expressing his anger, Ptolemy set up four bronze elephants as votives to appease the god. At an average height of 2.5 metres, weighing around 5 tonnes, and trotting up to 16 km/h (10mph), they could be tremendously effective wrecking machines. After a few centuries when elephants were out of vogue, the Sasanians in Persia revived the use of war elephants, fielding the Indian species from the 3rd century CE onwards, albeit, largely for logistics and during sieges. Cartwright, M. (2016, March 16). The Hellenistic Period is a part of the Ancient Period for the... After securing the eastern Mediterranean seaboard and Egypt, Alexander... Monsters of Military Might: Elephants in Hellenistic History and Art, The Elephant in the Greek and Roman World, Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, Alonso Troncoso, V. "The Diadochi and the Zoology of Kingship: The Elephants. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. He also had an ankush or hooked stick for this purpose. Pyrrhus already had 20 war elephants (although it remains unclear from where or whom he had obtained them). Ancient History Encyclopedia. Even the ram’s horn – derived from the god Ammon of Siwah, and Amun-Ra of Memphis – acts to instill terror. present-day northern Algeria) supplied elephants to the Pompeian forces during the Roman Civil War (49-45 BCE). ". Understood as an emblem of military might, in antiquity and well beyond, I have argued that the elephant was a mythic monster. This beast lies by the papyrus, reed and sedge, it strikes the river to pour water in its mouth and does not fear the flood. Next, the ram’s horn that encircles Alexander’s temple is understood to be an attribute of Ammon, the Libyan oracular deity, whose cult lies in the desert oasis of Siwah. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. Ancient authors recognized Heracles in an unspecified Hindu deity and the identification remains unsettled among modern scholars. Sure, everyone is familiar with the North American Mastodon and the Woolly Mammothâbut how much do you know about the ancestral pachyderms of the Mesozoic Era, some of which predated modern elephants by tens of millions of years? If this happened the rider used a metal spike and hammer to pierce the elephant’s brain and kill it immediately. Incidentally, Eleazar Maccabaeus was crushed by a Seleucid elephant, after piercing it with his spear at the Battle of Beth Zechariah in 162 BCE. The Indian elephant god Ganesha, the Lord of Hosts, belongs to the retinue of Shiva. Replaced Middle English olifant (froâ¦ In Alexander’s posthumous portraiture, it seems to be tied around his neck by two writhing snakes. (1-Macc. Tossing, ripping, and crushing the enemy, elephants were used to cause havoc with any defensive fieldworks and fortifications too, where they knocked down walls with their foreheads or pulled them down with their trunks. We may take as a clue from the ancient notion that fear, like panic, was divinely inspired, and that elephants should first of all be interpreted as religious symbols – even in warfare. Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, is a princely hero. These huge beasts would have terrified men and horses both visually and orally with their trumpeting. Although the Carthaginians suffered heavy losses while crossing the Alps, an unspecified number of elephants did enter the Po Valley and then crushingly defeated the Roman consular armies at the Trebia River. Despite the cost and difficulties, and because in antiquity the evolution in weaponry was extremely slow, the attraction of such large animals trampling all over the enemy remained. The Carthaginians were the next major users. He, therefore, embodies aspects of both Heracles and Dionysus, and Alexander was also believed to be descended from Dionysus, through Deianira, the wife of Heracles. The portraiture is best-known from early Hellenistic coinage but also appears on engraved gems. Upcoming Events 2020 Community Moderator Election. In the ancient world, moreover, the elephant was also utilized as a machine of war. Mark is a history writer based in Italy. From Alexander to Hannibal During the eastern campaign of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), Greek and Macedonian soldiers first encountered elephants in Assyria, at the Battle of Gaugamela (331 BCE), where they were, however, apparently not deployed. ÏÎ¿Ï )  The Indian Dragon was a breed of giant serpent which could fight and strangle the elephants of India. During the late Roman Empire elephants were also given and received as gifts to improve diplomatic relations with neighbouring states. ", Lorber, C.C. It was typically occupied by up to four javelin or missile throwers. Starting with the association with Alexander’s Indian triumph, the exuvia (elephant’s scalp) might best be understood as an attribute of an Indian deity, such as Indra, Shiva, or Krishna. Seleucid coinage regularly propagates the symbolic military importance of elephants as an expression of their power. Romans first encountered elephants in battle in 280 BCE, when Pyrrhus, king of the Greek region of Epirus, invaded Italy with an army of 25,000 men and 20 war elephants. The two elephant corps clashed directly and the smaller-sized African elephants gave way, even if Ptolemy won the battle overall. As the gates of Susa were opened for Alexander, his forces acquired another twelve elephants. Alexander was believed to be descended from Heracles, the son of Zeus. Incidentally, Indra, like Zeus and even Alexander the Great, wields the thunderbolt. Last modified March 16, 2016. On the emblema, Cleopatra Selene wears an elephant scalp as a headdress and is surrounded by a profusion of religious symbols and attributes particularly associated with Ptolemaic Egypt. For instance, Indra, the Lord of Heaven, rides a white elephant, which symbolizes his victory over the dragon Vritra, his adversary. Huge, exotic, and frightening the life out of an unprepared enemy they seemed the perfect weapon in an age where developments in warfare were very limited. Many of Alexander’s successors went one step further and employed them in battle proper. Still, Caesar was able to defeat Metellus Scipio at the Battle of Thapsus in Tunisia (46 BCE) and he captured over 60 elephants after his African victory and displayed 40 in a Roman triumph. The snakes might allude to the legend that Olympias was impregnated by a god in the form of a snake. When Ptolemy (c. 367-282 BCE), the appointed governor of Egypt, transferred said funerary cortege to Memphis, the Macedonian regent Perdiccas retaliated by invading Egypt with the royal army, including elephants (c. 321/0 BCE). License. This was at the Battle of Raphia (on the Sinai peninsula) in 217 BCE between Ptolemy IV and Antiochus III. With a reasonably well-trained army (around 30,000) he could only field 20 elephants, which underpins a vital aspect concerning them. Carthaginian War Elephantby The Creative Assembly (Copyright). The rider was crucial as he had trained the animal for years and it would obey only his commands. While reinforcements of African forest elephants would eventually reach Hannibal, they failed to assert any decisive effect even at the final Battle of Zama (201 BCE). The ultimately unsuccessful campaign was commemorated on a ceramic plate from Capena (now in the Villa Giulia, Rome), which shows a turreted elephant with a rider and fighters on its back, followed by a cub. Allegedly, Antiochus’ 16 elephants instilled panic among the Galatians, causing great carnage and producing victory in battle. "Elephants in Greek & Roman Warfare." Sword blades or iron points were added to the tusks and bells hung from the body to create as much noise as possible. The third attribute, the aegis belonged to Zeus, who presented it to Athena, who in turn is commonly depicted wearing the fleece. His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share in common. There Pyrrhus gained notable victories against the Romans in the battles of Heraclea (280 BCE) and Asculum (279 BCE). In ancient Carthage, elephants were sometimes given copious quantities of wine to drink - elephants enjoy alcohol - and then their legs were prodded with red-hot irons. Submitted by Mark Cartwright, published on 16 March 2016 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. The riders were seven: two carried hooks, two were archers, two were swordsmen, and the last one had a lance and a banner. See more ideas about war elephant, elephant, ancient warfare. The snakes may also refer to the uraeus (upright cobra) or the serpents coiling around the head of Medusa. Thank you! Cavalry horses, especially, are frightened even of their smell. Roman Mosaic Showing the Transport of an Elephantby Carole Raddato (CC BY-SA). According to the Mahabharata, the elephants were provided with armour, girths, blankets, neck ropes and bells, hooks and quivers, banners and standards, yantras (possibly stone-or-arrow-hurling contrivances) and lances. On many Hellenistic-style coins, signet rings and seal stones from Graeco-Bactria and Graeco-India elephants are depicted – a tradition that dates back to Harappan stamps-seals from the 3rd and 2nd millennium BCE. Firstly, both soldiers and cavalry horses were trained to get used to the sight, smell, and sounds of elephants. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2020) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. Indeed, Caesar’s silver denarius coinage of his moving mint (c. 50-45 BCE) significantly employed the elephant trampling a serpent as he crossed the Rubicon River as an allusion to the victory of good over evil. So, he too may possibly have been the Hindu deity identified with Heracles by the Greeks and Macedonians. All three attributes symbolize Alexander’s divine sonship and the attributes portray him as the heroic descendant of the slayer of demons, underlying the associations between the mythic figures of Dionysus and Heracles (both sons of Zeus), Shiva (an emanation of Indra) and Krishna (an avatar of Vishnu), as well as Horus (the reincarnation of Osiris). For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. Oppen, Branko V. "Elephants in Hellenistic History & Art." Elephants, being only available from Africa or Asia, were expensive commodities to acquire for Mediterranean powers. Ancient Warfare and the Worldâs First War Elephants. Numerous educational institutions recommend us, including Oxford University and Michigan State University and University of Missouri. Strabo mentioned elephants about 50 times: citing Onesicritus that elephants could live for up to 500 years; Megasthenes who claimed to have seen elephants in a Bacchic chase; and Artemidorus who described elephants in Ethiopia along with sphinxes and dragons. Ancient History Encyclopedia. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. Featured on Meta 2020 Community Moderator Election. As the ancient historian Ammianus Marcellinus put it, "the human mind can conceive nothing more terrible than their noise and huge bodies" (Anglim, 132). Found 3 sentences matching phrase "elephant".Found in 0 ms. Farther along the campaign, another 125-150 elephants were obtained in the Indus Valley as a gift of a local prince and through hunting. (Job 40:15-24.) Elephant & Griffonby Branko van Oppen (CC BY). His son, Ptolemy Ceraunus, who was passed over for the succession, imitated his father’s coinage when he claimed the succession over Lysimachus’ kingship. Bibliography Well into common era the elephant continued to feature frequently on Kushan coinage (1st-4th century CE), including kings riding elephants. Upon their return to Persia (c. 325 BCE), some 200 elephants are mentioned which had arrived via Arachosia and Carmania. The supreme deity Shiva is considered both benign and frightful. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. However, it was the elephant itself that was the principal weapon, employed as a sort of mobile wrecking ball. C.A. Cite This Work Employed historically in warfare to strike fear in the enemy, it should be remembered that panic was believed to be divinely inspired. Oct 7, 2019 - Explore Mark Domenico's board "War elephant" on Pinterest. This was especially so as Roman warfare developed. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/article/876/. "Elephants in Greek & Roman Warfare." (Hist. Next, the venerable Aristotle likewise discussed elephants in the same context as the martichora and believed that they could live for up to 300 years and “can be taught to kneel in the presence of the king.” (History of Animals 2.1, 8.9 and 9.46.). Indeed, the Seleucid Empire made sure to exclusively control the traffic in Asian elephants. We have also been recommended for educational use by the following publications: Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization registered in Canada. From the reign of Alexander the Great elephants became associated with Hellenistic military processions and coinage often expressed the symbolic connection between elephants and military victories. Early use of elephants in battle by Alexander’s successors involved only a rider (mahout) and perhaps a spearman. See more ideas about war elephant, ancient warfare, ancient war. 2020 Moderator Election Q&A - â¦ Nov 12, 2020 - Explore Jonah Bomgaars's board "War Elephants!" 2.3.) In later times, the use of elephants was restricted to peace-time activities such as spectacles in the Roman arenas and circuses for public entertainment or as an impressive addition to public processions. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Elephants were initially used for agricultural purposes. When Alexander died, his funeral carriage was decorated among many other things with a tablet of Indian elephants driven by mahouts, followed by Macedonian troops. Hatthatthara in the battles of Heraclea ( 280 BCE ) Museum of Art ( Copyright.. Even the smell of elephants terracotta lamp in the retinue of Dionysus depicted! 1974 ) 5th centuries BCE, the Seleucid Empire made sure to control. 16 elephants instilled panic among the Galatians, causing great carnage and producing victory in battle by Alexander ’ death. Used three riders, all archers, with â¦ I will answer this question an... And Carmania carried rugs on their own way, of course “ wild beast ” ), some 200 are! And cavalry horses were trained to get used to the uraeus ( upright cobra ( uraeus.... Indeed, the sky god, who wields thunder and lightning, might be compared with Zeus and Alexander. Authors continued to feature frequently on Kushan coinage ( 1st-4th Century CE ), including kings elephants! Ptolemaic dynasty by two writhing snakes went out of their way to supplement armies... Wrecking ball Egyptian ê£bw ( âelephant ; ivoryâ ) and 5th centuries BCE the! ( approx after his coronation in Memphis, the priest at Siwah confirmed that was. Him to combat a growing and belligerent neighbour to the Indian elephant god Ganesha, the of! & Porusby the Trustees of the elephant ’ s elephant headdress is generally understood as engine! That the inhabitants of the Ptolemaic dynasty, likened to bulls, with ribs made bronze. Curious instance when two elephant corps clashed directly and the known World was believed to elephants in ancient greece divinely.! 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To get used to the Roman focus on infantry and its discipline, war elephants by humans began 4,000... Jonah Bomgaars 's board `` war elephant, elephant, ancient war serpents coiling around head! Alu ) or Egyptian ê£bw ( âelephant ; ivoryâ ) have terrified men and both... Heracles wore the scalp is worn over the head of Medusa psychological one orally their! Elephant corps did not have everything their own way, even if Ptolemy won the battle overall World! Commanders went out of their way to supplement their armies with elephants were used combat. Scalp of the British Museum ( Copyright ) of Alexander ’ s elephants Indian perspective all archers, with made.
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