Friday, 14 September 2012

More elephantonyms

Following on from the post on Ajax in Taxila, we should note that Pliny the Elder (NH VIII v 11-12) tells us about some other named elephants.

King Antiochus (unnumbered, sadly) had at least two, one called Ajax, the other Patroclus. Pliny tells the story of reluctance, rivalry, and reward, on an occasion of fording a river. They were celebrities of their time: duo... celebres etiam cognominibus fuisse.

Cato the Elder (apud Pliny loc.cit.) excluded the names of generals from his Annals, but not that of Syros, 'the Syrian' altero dente mutilato.

Plutarch name in the Life of Pyrrhus 33.4 [.5 in the Teubner] a battle-elephant named Νίκων 'Victor'.


Anonymous said...

Ajax the elephant is also mentioned in Aelian, NA 7.37. Furthermore, Hannibal's main elephant was Surus (Pliny, HN 8.5.11).

Anonymous said...

Of course the last source was cited, but not the proud owner of the elephant.

Interestingly, Nikon was not only the name of an elephant but also the auspicious moniker of a donkey passed by Augustus before the battle of Actium (Suet., Aug. 96 and Plut., Vit. Ant. 65.5).