Proboscide

Elephant miniature by Sam Garcia
Miniature by Sam Garcia

Non videtur esse praetermittendum de virtute militis veterani V. legionis. nam cum in sinistro cornu elephas vulnere ictus et dolore concitatus in lixam inermem impetum fecisset eumque sub pede subditum dein genu innixus pondere suo proboscide erecta vibrantique stridore maximo premeret atque enecaret, miles hic non potuit pati quin se armatus bestiae offerret. quem postquam elephas ad se telo infesto venire animadvertit, reliquo cadavere militem proboscide circumdat atque in sublime extollit. armatus, qui in eiusmodi periculo constanter agendum sibi videret, gladio proboscidem qua erat circumdatus caedere quantum viribus poterat non destitit. quo dolore adductus elephas milite abiecto maximo cum stridore cursuque conversus ad reliquas bestias se recepit. (Ps.-Caesar, Bell. Afr. 84)

I ought not, I think, to omit to mention the gallantry of a veteran soldier of the Fifth legion. On the left wing an elephant, maddened by the pain of a wound it had received, had attacked an unarmed sutler, pinned him underfoot, and then knelt upon him; and now, with its trunk erect and swaying, and trumpeting loudly, it was crushing him to dead with its weight. This was more than the soldier could bear; he could not but confront the beast, fully armed as he was. When it observed him coming towards it with weapon poised to strike, the elephant abandoned the corpse, encircled the soldier with its trunk, and lifted him up in the air. The soldier, perceiving that a dangerous crisis of this sort demanded resolute action on his part, hewed with his sword again and again at the encircling trunk with all the strength he could muster. The resulting pain caused the elephant to drop the soldier, wheel round, and with shrill trumpetings make all speed to rejoin its fellows. (tr. A.G. Way)

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