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. These huge beasts would have terrified men and horses both visually and orally with their trumpeting. 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. Elephants in Hellenistic History & Art. Please support Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation. Thank you! The combination of these three attributes remains poorly understood, although the portrait as a whole makes little sense from a classical Graeco-Macedonian perspective. Alexander was believed to be descended from Heracles, the son of Zeus. During the late Roman Empire elephants were also given and received as gifts to improve diplomatic relations with neighbouring states. If this happened the rider used a metal spike and hammer to pierce the elephant’s brain and kill it immediately. 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. See more ideas about war elephant, ancient warfare, ancient war. 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 Nossov’s claim (2008, p. 25), it is uncertain that the Romans themselves actually used fire. Thus its categorization was further complicated by the fact that an army, which deployed elephants might consider them allies, while the opposing army would consider them adversaries. Of particular importance is the combination of the elephant scalp with a ram’s horn over his temple and the aegis (a sacred goat’s fleece) thrown over his shoulder. Allegedly the cognomen of Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE) derived from the Moorish word for “elephant” (caesai), rather than from caesius or caeruleus (pertaining to the color of the sky). Bibliography During the succession crisis that erupted at Alexander’s sudden death, elephants were employed not only when opposing factions were about to engage each other in fighting, but also to execute the death sentence after the rivals were put on ad-hoc trial. While the Romans did eventually adopt them, and used them occasionally after the Punic wars, especially during the conquest of Greece, they fell out of use by the time of Claudius, after which they were generally used for the purpose of demoralizing enemies instead of being used for tactical purposes. Tarentum, a Greek city in southern Italy recruited him to combat a growing and belligerent neighbour to the north, Rome. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Incidentally, Eleazar Maccabaeus was crushed by a Seleucid elephant, after piercing it with his spear at the Battle of Beth Zechariah in 162 BCE. (Hist. The supreme deity Shiva is considered both benign and frightful. As the gates of Susa were opened for Alexander, his forces acquired another twelve elephants. Replaced Middle English olifant (fro… Elephants in Greek & Roman Warfare. 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. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/article/1381/. 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. Some people might wonder why the world is still so hung up on ancient Greek myths when they are nothing but stories and they came from thousands of years ago. On an early 16th-century Flemish tapestry (now in New York) the personification of Fame stands in a chariot drawn by two white elephants as they trample death and fate. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. Featured on Meta 2020 Community Moderator Election. Incidentally, Indra, like Zeus and even Alexander the Great, wields the thunderbolt. The religious association of the elephant with victory and power is therefore obvious. However, the animals often turn on their own ranks trampling indiscriminately whoever comes in their way. 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. In short, in ancient thought elephants were considered mythic monsters that belonged to the same category as fabulous beasts such as the griffon and sphinx, martichora and unicorn, dragon and hippocamp, very real though rarely seen until the Hellenistic period. The Romans … Even later authors could be quoted to confirm that in classical Greek and Latin literature, elephants belong to the same order of fierce and frightful fabulous monsters as the martichora, unicorn, griffon, sphinx, dragon, and hippocamp. Pyrrhus of Epirus was the first commander to employ elephants in Europe when he used 20 Asian ones in his campaigns in Italy and Sicily from 280 to 275 BCE. 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. After the death of her parents, Octavian brought her to Rome and subsequently married her to King Juba II of Numidia, son of Juba I. Browse other questions tagged ancient-greece persia war-elephants greco-persian-wars or ask your own question. Detail of Roman Sarcophagus with an Elephantby Carole Raddato (CC BY-SA). For, after the latter’s death at the Battle of Corupedium (280 BCE), Ceraunus had first joined Seleucus, then murdered him as avenger of Lysimachus' death, and issued gold staters with the portrait of Alexander on the obverse and Athena Nikephorus on the reverse along with smaller symbols such as an elephant and a lion’s head. elephant translation in English-Ancient Greek (to 1453) dictionary. https://www.ancient.eu/article/1381/. The campaigns of Alexander the Great brought Greece into contact with animals from India and the East that the Greeks had not known of … The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. In reality, perhaps only a handful of ancient battles had been decided because of the intervention of elephants. Oppen, B. V. (2019, May 20). 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. In other words, Alexander’s posthumous portraiture presents him as the rightful ruler over these cultures and the known world. Web. They were deployed on the battlefield to strike terror into the enemy, however, since fear was considered divinely inspired, elephants can be interpreted as religious symbols even in warfare. When Pyrrhus of Epirus (319-272 BCE) requested support for his upcoming Italian campaign, Ptolemy II could afford to provide him with 50 elephants, among other forces. The king commemorated his victory by sacrificing four of his enemy’s elephants. "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. Allegedly, Antiochus’ 16 elephants instilled panic among the Galatians, causing great carnage and producing victory in battle. The latter minted coinage that expressed the symbolic connection between elephants and Alexander’s military victories. 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. 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. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. Submitted by Mark Cartwright, published on 16 March 2016 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. 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. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. Elephants were thought of as fierce and frightful monsters in antiquity, very real though rarely seen until the Hellenistic period. Roman Mosaic Showing the Transport of an Elephant, Detail of Roman Sarcophagus with an Elephant, Detail of a 6th Century CE Elephant Mosaic. 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). Furthermore, the scalp is worn over the head as Heracles wore the scalp of the Nemean Lion. Elephant & Griffonby Branko van Oppen (CC BY). Elephant corps did not have everything their own way, of course. 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. 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”). Furthermore, Caesar supposedly entered Britain with an elephant in 54 BCE (Polyaen. 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. (1-Macc. The two elephant corps clashed directly and the smaller-sized African elephants gave way, even if Ptolemy won the battle overall. We were the first major power to field elephants on a large scale on battlefield. 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. After his coronation in Memphis, the priest at Siwah confirmed that Alexander was recognized as the son of god. He holds an MA in Political Philosophy and is the Publishing Director at AHE. present-day northern Algeria) supplied elephants to the Pompeian forces during the Roman Civil War (49-45 BCE). Age of Discovery ancient Greeks Ancient Indians ancient Middle animals Archaeologists Archaeologists believe Asia Assyrians axles Bactrian camel began boats bridges builders built camels cargo carry carved chariots China compass construction cultures developed distances dugout canoes early Earth Egypt elephants engineers feet fifth century b.c. In the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, the elephants carried rugs on their backs, called hatthatthara in the Buddhist Pali works. Even the ram’s horn – derived from the god Ammon of Siwah, and Amun-Ra of Memphis – acts to instill terror. That’s assuming the … Even the smell of elephants could drive unprepared horses into a stampede. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2020) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. Notice particularly the protuberance on the elephant’s forehead which is particular to the Indian elephant. He controlled the direction the elephant took by applying pressure behinds the animal’s ears with his toes. The first classical author to write about elephants, Herodotus, mentioned them among various more or less fabulous creatures and wild beasts, such as lions, bears, snakes, serpents, unicorns, dog-headed men, headless men, and savages. A thick sacking or leather cover could also be hung over the elephant’s back to protect its sides. Indra, however, is the son of Dyaus Pitrā (“Sky Father”), which parallels Zeus Pater and Jupiter. Found 3 sentences matching phrase "elephant".Found in 0 ms. In Greek mythology, Pan and the satyrs in the retinue of Dionysus were depicted with ram’s horns. Early Riders: The Beginnings of Mounted Warfare in Asia and Europe. Elephants even appeared on Carthaginian coins of the period. 18 Dec 2020. 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. Pits and spikes were prepared to entrap them and, if they could get close enough, men were charged with hamstringing the beasts or hacking at their trunks. 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. https://www.ancient.eu/article/876/. 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. 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. Fielded Asian elephants a local prince and through hunting over a fabled foe founder the... 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