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Hannibal’s elephants

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Hannibal, a brilliant Carthaginian commander
Hannibal, a brilliant Carthaginian commander

Hannibal became famous not only for the great victories over disciplined Romans during the Second Punic War, but also from his surprising march through the Pyrenees and the Alps. During his trip, he had 38 elephants with him – animals that were not used to the cold climate and mountains.

The road of Hannibal’s troops led from Iberia through the Pyrenees and the Alps to Italy. Severe weather conditions and the fact that elephants consume 25 times more energy moving in the mountains than on flat terrain caused that most of the Hannibal elephants died during the crossing of the mountains, and 37 of them did not live to the famous battles of Cannae.

Polybius claimed that only a few of these powerful animals survived the harsh weather in the mountains.

  • Lancel Serge, Hannibal
  • McKeown J. C., A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the World's Greatest Empire

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