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In line with my previous post, here’s another trivia about romans courtesy of Choops – I’ll leave it to him whether or not he wants to be identified beyond his nick. =)
Ever heard of the term “pyrrhic victory”? It means you win, but at a devastatingly high cost. This term came from the Greek general Pyrrhus that remarked after a battle that “one more such victory would utterly undo him”.
Well anyway there’s another story connected with Pyrrhus. He was fighting the up and coming power in that region then, the Romans. Now one of the legacies of his cousin Alexander the Great was the introduction of war elephants to the Greek armies and Pyrrhus had quite a few of these in his army. The good thing about them is that opponents that have never encountered elephants before usually break and run at first contact.
But the problem is the Romans have encountered these creatures before. In fact, they actually won the battle by sending squealing pigs against them. The elephants panicked and ran, trampling Pyrrhus’ own troops. (There have been records of pigs smeared in fat, lit on fire and sent against elephants. This works just as well and takes care of the celebratory feast after the battle at the same time.)
The thing is this; captivity can bred a neurotic fear of small animals into elephants, so that a barking dog or, yes, even a mouse running across the floor can panic a circus elephant.