ptsd and ivory

Stephen Baldwin:

Like many serious historians of antiquity, I often find myself wondering what happened to Hannibal’s elephants when the triumphant beasts returned to Carthage.

Were they rewarded for their Alp-crossing heroics with peaceful and well-fed retirement on the Afrique plains of plenty? Or did they succumb to an elephantine form of shell-shock, flapping their enormous ears in nervous terror as sudden recollections of Scipio’s artillery barrages exploded inside their noble skulls?

Of course, since we know from ancient sources such as Juvenal and Strabo that Roman matrons employed an early type of parasol (umbraculum) to defend their delicate complexions from the harsh Italian sun, it is always possible that some unscrupulous Athenian merchant purchased the animals after the Punic wars so he could cut their feet off and thereby produce the first souvenir umbrella stands.

After all, that is surely what would happen today.