Surus, Hannibal Barca's Elephant

Widely acknowledged as one of the greatest military leaders in history, the Carthaginian general Hannibal famously invaded Italy from the north in 218 B.C., crossing the Alps from Gaul with an army of foot-soldiers, cavalry and a handful of north African forest elephants, smaller than the Asian and African elephants familiar to today’s zoo-goers. Of the six elephants that survived the arduous mountain trek, five died the following winter. The sixth, a one-tusked elephant named Surus, became Hannibal’s mount and mobile viewing platform in the marshes of the Arno. Over the next 15 years, Hannibal won significant battles and occupied much of Italy, sometimes with reinforcement elephants shipped directly from Africa. In a 209 B.C. battle with the Roman consul Marcellus, Hannibal’s war elephants created havoc until the Romans managed to wound one, touching off a cascade of panic among the pachyderms.

Strategic Genius Hannibal Hannibal's War Elephants



Artistic depictions of Surus