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The Elephants in the Battle

Ptolemy, accompanied by his sister, having arrived at the left wing of his army, and Antiochus with the royal guard at the right: they gave the signal for the battle, and opened the fight by a charge of elephants.
The battle of Rhaphia.
Only some few of Ptolemy's elephants came to close quarters with the foe: seated on these the soldiers in the howdahs maintained a brilliant fight, lunging at and striking each other with crossed pikes.1 But the elephants themselves fought still more brilliantly, using all their strength in the encounter, and pushing against each other, forehead to forehead.

The way in which elephants fight is this: they get their

Fighting elephants.
tusks entangled and jammed, and then push against one another with all their might, trying to make each other yield ground until one of them proving superior in strength has pushed aside the other's trunk; and when once he can get a side blow at his enemy, he pierces him with his tusks as a bull would with his horns. Now, most of Ptolemy's animals, as is the way with Libyan elephants, were afraid to face the fight: for they cannot stand the smell or the trumpeting of the Indian elephants, but are frightened at their size and strength, I suppose, and run away from them at once without waiting to come near them.
Antiochus's right wing successful.
This is exactly what happened on this occasion: and upon their being thrown into confusion and being driven back upon their own lines, Ptolemy's guard gave way before the rush of the animals; while Antiochus, wheeling his men so as to avoid the elephants, charged the division of cavalry under Polycrates. At the same time the Greek mercenaries stationed near the phalanx, and behind the elephants, charged Ptolemy's peltasts and made them give ground, the elephants having already thrown their ranks also into confusion. Thus Ptolemy's whole left wing began to give way before the enemy.

1 Sarissae, the long Macedonian spears.

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