Hanno, Adventures of a Sri Lankan Elephant in Rome

The first time elephants were seen in Europe was in 280 BC when Pyrrhus of Epirus and his army of 25,000 men and 20 elephants crossed from north Africa to Terentus in the heel of Italy to begin their march to Rome. The Romans were bewildered, not to say terrified, by the huge creatures and not knowing what to call them, dubbed them ‘Lucanian oxen’. In the following centuries elephants from both Africa and Asia became a familiar sight in the amphitheatres, parade grounds and battle fields of the classical world. But with the fall of Rome and Europe’s descent into the dark ages the elephant, although vaguely remembered, was rarely seen again until 802 AD.



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