(But did he really love them? Or was he just using them?)
Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar Barca and not Hamilcar Oregano, loved elephants, it’s true. He loved their massive wrinkly faces and their disastrously floppy ears. He even loved their large, yellowing toes. He didn’t just love them for themselves though, he also really loved what they could do for him, theoretically, on the field of battle.
If you were a soldier, and let’s say you had a bronze sword and maybe a shield and, oh, if you were lucky, let’s say you had a spear or two as well. Let’s also say that this was your first day of fighting. You’re a neophyte soldier, fresh off the ancient soldier boot camp or whatever, and let’s say you’re screaming your voice raw, because you’re pretty scared, and everyone else is screaming, and maybe things seem a little less scary because of it. You’re all set, you think, to go maybe swing a sword at some other human beings, because you’re pretty sure they’re going to be swinging some swords at you, which you’re really not looking forward to to be honest. Anyhow, there’s all that adrenaline and blood pounding in your head. Oh yeah, and you maybe smack your sword against your shield a few times, because it makes a really satisfyingly resounding and pretty loud noise. Also, Old Sloucher over there, who’s been around a few battlefields, he’s pounding on his shield like there’s no tomorrow.
So you and, like, 500 other guys just start running running running and screaming and holding swords up, and you’re pretty glad you tied your sandals on tighter than usual that morning. So you’re all running and it’s feeling pretty great and you think, hey, maybe this soldiering thing isn’t so bad after all. You would be forgiven for thinking this, because it really is a truly glorious morning with the sun just beginning to shine over the mountains and all the flowers gloriously in bloom and the air so thick with the smell of wildflowers it’s like breathing honey, and then you run through a thicket of trees…
To find them.
You were ready for soldiers, even really mean and smelly ones with maybe their teeth filed down to points and with really sharp and curved blades and whatnot. What you weren’t ready for were these monstrous blobby grey tentacle monsters with, hey!, houses growing out of their backs.
So, that was a pretty bad day.
For Hannibal, those elephants worked out pretty swell. He was keen.