War Elephants
Elephants are used in war.


(permanent link) added: 2011-08-20 20:08:24 sponsor: NoirGrimoir (last reply: 2011-09-17 23:59:22)

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If you want to make an army look exotic and threatening, give them War Elephants. Or you know, war mammoths, one of the two. It's usually hard to decide which exactly the creatures are trying to be, or whether they are some fantasy equivalent, because they tend to be super-sized to the point where they almost qualify as war-barges, with hugely long tusks.

These creatures can be used by the Evil Army of Evil Foreigners inflicting massive damage. If not then they might be used by foreign allies, and usually used to indicate the army's exotic-ness. May also be accompanied by other safari animals like rhinos or leopards.

This trope is very much Truth in Television as historically, Persians and various Kingdoms in India and the middle east used Elephants in war as they are large, strong and highly trainable creatures who can carry multiple men high up on their backs, often officers who could get a raised view of the battle field, or archers and artillery, who could get clear views of targets.

Contrary to popular believe, Elephants are not afraid of mice. They are however afraid of pigs.

War Elephants are categorized as a Type 1 Living Weapon. Compare Horse of a Different Color

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • In Digimon, Mammothmon are usually used in this fashion.

Film
  • Xerxes army used elephants against the Spartans in 300. they basically fell tot heir deaths off a cliff though.
  • In Lord of the Rings, Mordor's army had people from the south who used ridiculously massive elephant creatures with huge tusks. In-world, the hobbits referred to them as 'Oliphaunts'.
  • In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen the Grand Turk uses elephants to propel his War Machines. The Baron gets them to back off with the strategic use of mice.
  • Subverted in Operation Dumbo Drop, in which the U.S. Army goes to great lengths to transport an elephant, but as a gift of a work animal to a Southeast Asian village, not a battle-beast.
  • Referenced in The Jungle Book (or at least the animated movie thereof) where one elephant commands the others like a Drill Sergeant Nasty (except without the swearing) and talks about the medals he earned.

Literature
  • In Thais of Athens, Seleucus (one of Alexander the Great's generals) gathers a whole unit of battle elephants while campaigning in India. It never sees much action in the novel, but Thais gets to ride one in Babylon.

Musicals

Tabletop Games

Video Games
  • In Civilization 2, war elephants are available as a unit. This is inexplicably available as a result of discovering polytheism.
    • In Civilization III they are the Indians' special unit, which they get instead of Knights when they invent Chivalry. Their stats are the same as Knights but they don't require any strategic resources to build (and thus can be built anywhere at any time).
  • Age of Wonders 1 and 2, have War Elephant units. Frostlings got Mammoth Rider in 2.
  • They also appear in Rome: Total War, with the more advanced types carrying archers on their backs. Only Carthage and the Seleucids can train them.
  • Dynasty Warriors - War elephants are generally used as mounts by the Nanman, and sometimes unlockable as a companion animal by the player character.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Older Than Dirt as Hannibal of Carthage actually used war elephants in many campaigns.
  • Historically, Persians and various Kingdoms in India also used Elephants in war.
  • Alexander the Great first encountered war elephants in India, and his general Seleukos got 500 of them in return for peace with an Indian king. He used these to gain a decisive advantage over the other Macedonian generals in the Wars of the Successors, eventually conquering the lion's share of Alexander's empire. Elephants were used in many Hellenistic armies after that, and were helpful for instance in defeating the Galatians in Turkey in the 3rd century BC. However, after a while, professional soldiers got used to the sight of elephants, meaning their psychological impact was lost. The Romans never adopted the practice of using them.
  • The people of Thailand have historically ridden elephants into battle. They are sacred animals there.

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