Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hannibal's Elephant

So, I noticed things are relatively slow....so I thought I'd post a school paper. I love it when Mr. Davis gives us creative writing assignments. ;) The idea was to write 1000 words about the night before the battle of Cannae (during Rome's war with the Carthaginian general Hannibal) from a Carthaginian soldier's perspective. So here ya go :)
Comments are welcome, be they compliments or criticisms.
P.S. I'm planning on posting someting more real on Saturday, and I'll try very very hard to post consitently every Saturday. :-P

I am so deadly cold. The wind is unbearably bitter here, and the sky is grey and sunless. Elephants are not meant for the frigid North. Many of us died crossing the Infernal Alps; my friends, some of whom I had known in Carthage when I was young. They fell down in the snow, and never got up. I fear the country itself almost more than I fear its people. We will die of this dreadful cold yet. The men suffer too, for they were born in Africa and worship the sun like cats. And we are too poorly provisioned to have much of a barrier against the cold. The men’s armor, once a symbol of Carthage’s glory, is now so worn from our fighting that it amounts for little protection from Roman spears, let alone from the elements. The men’s tents are ragged and patched from a thousand set-ups and take-downs. Their shoes have holes from a thousand miles of ceaseless trudging, through ice and snow, over rock and rubble. Their minds are becoming numbed and exhausted from fighting a thousand battles, from killing thousands of other men, from enduring a thousand days away from their homeland.
The irony of our situation strikes despair into the hearts of our men. Thus far, we have been victorious in the field. When sword met sword, we have not failed to conquer. But that was then. That was when we were fresh, with plenteous provisions. Hannibal apparently has been so obsessed with hurting Rome he has been neglecting the very tool he is using- his own army. I have heard it said, back in the stables at Carthage- oh Carthage! - that an army moves on its belly. Apparently, Hannibal has not. Our provisions are evaporating like the dew off the grass (oh, how I would like some grass just now; even the dry summer straw of the savannas where I grew up). The rations that the men exist on are barely enough to feed a hedgehog. As for us, we are a little better off since we can eat the foliage of whatever plants happen to be around our camps- but we are hard pressed to find food in the amounts necessary to really sustain us. Have you ever seen an Elephant that is skin and bones? I bet you just can’t picture it. We’re starving. Though thus far undefeated by any man, we are defeated by starvation and the elements. And we all know that in this next battle, Rome cannot fail to defeat us when we fight them starving.
We elephants have no choice but to go on, to submit to Hannibal’s orders, for we are but beasts. And we are by nature patient beasts. But you can see the resentment and fear in the eyes of the men. We are on the verge of another battle, and they know they are weak from lack of food. They know now that Hannibal is a crazed (though albeit genius) lunatic whose sole purpose in life is to make Rome pay. When he was originally recruiting troops, they saw visions of glory and honor on the battlefield of Rome. But now, watching themselves die of starvation, they wonder why Hannibal had to drag all Carthage into his personal grudge. I’ve heard tell that some of the men- our Spanish troops- are planning to desert. I wish for Carthage’s honor, but not at the price Hannibal is willing to pay. I know it is honorable to fight to the end, but in my heart I wish we could surrender, quit, be done with this war. End the fighting and go home to Carthage. Feel the sun again. I envy the Spanish- they at least will see their homes one day. I will not.
It was my stable boy, Abdul, who told me of the Spanish defectors. It is from his conversations with the soldiers and the other stable boys that I get knowledge about what the army is doing. He was my stable boy back in Carthage; I know him, and he knows me. We met on the first day of my army training. I was nervous, fearful, untamed. The saddles, the ropes, and the earring that told my regiment all hurt; the noises of other elephants, shouting men, and trumpets were strange and frightening. But Abdul came up to me and gave me an apple; he spoke soothing words to me, and introduced me to the other elephants. He made me trust him. I love him, and I see the fear and pain in his eyes as he waits for death; death by starvation, or death by the hand of a Roman. I saw him say goodbye to his father and mother. I saw the pretty girl who used to come around the stable to talk to him give him her bracelet when he went off to fight Hannibal’s war. He’s wearing it now. He knows she’ll be waiting for him; but I fear he will never come back to Carthage. He fears it too. His fear is the fear of all the men. There is so much fear in the air tonight, I can almost reach out and grab a trunkful of it.
It is the night before the battle. The elephants whisper to each other as they huddle together against the cold air. Do you remember how we used to parade through the streets of Carthage on feast days? The children would ride on our backs and give us fruit from the palace gardens. And how we would lay in the sunny fields all day? Yes, I remember. I remember Carthage. But I will never see her again. I’ll never eat an apple or let a child ride me again. There is a battle tomorrow. I am fighting in it. Do not put despair in my heart by talking of my home. I will fall down in Rome, and never get up again.


Miss Pickwickian said...

Aww... it's so sad! I love how you made it from an Elephants perspective. Very cool. Enjoyed it...

Thanks for posting!
Miss Pickwickian

Esmeralda Gatsby said...

hahah thanks! It was actually really hard to write because we could only write 1000 words...I had to cut alot of stuff out to make it fit... it was a great excercise. :)