Why Hannibal chosen the elephants?

When Hannibal, before more than 2.200 years ago left Carhage with his army, he took with him 37 elephants to attack Rome from the rear. He had 50.000 soldiers and 8.000 horses too. The distance was 2.400 km long and took 5 months. It was the most brilliant campaign of the Second Pun War.

The elephants were used in warfare, especially in the attack. The elephants were slaughtered in the way between enemies. In addition, they were able to bring “smaller towers” on them back from where the soldiers could more easily shoot.  During the march was a great benefit too. An elephant can carry a load ten times more than a horse. But a vast amount of plant eat a day, more than 140 kg. Hannibal’s elephants were not large in stature. This is the reason was enough to feed less. He put captivity them North Africa, at the Atlas Mountains. This elephant-species went extinct. He had some Indian elephants, which are brought from Egypt.

The first serious obstruction was the Rhone river. They built promontory which protruded into the river 60 meters for the elephants. At the end of promotory they anchored huge raft and they covered them sand to delusion the elephants. First they drove the cow-elephants and the elephant-bulls followed them. When they arrived the top of Alps another problems came. In the snowy grazing grounds there wasn’t enough feed for the animals and they had to go across narrow paths next to deep abysses.

In Carthage the elephants were held in high esteem. They decorated one of side their coins with elephants and the other side with gods or important person like Hannibal.

They crossed the Alps during 15 days. Hannibal lost thousands of soldiers but all of elephants survived. He defeated Scipio’s roman army and he became the model of classic daring.

Written by Ilona Kaszanyi

Reference: Hogy is van ez? (1992 Budapest, p. 344-345)


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