Lucian, Zeuxis 8-11

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(8) So said Zeuxis, not in the best of tempers. Antiochus Soter had a somewhat similar experience about his battle with the Galatians. If you will allow me, I propose to give you an account of that event also. These people were good fighters, and on this occasion in great force; they were drawn up in a serried phalanx, the first rank, which consisted of steel-clad warriors, being supported by men of the ordinary heavy-armed type to the depth of four-and-twenty; twenty thousand cavalry held the flanks; and there were eighty scythed, and twice that number of ordinary war chariots ready to burst forth from the centre. These dispositions filled Antiochus with apprehension, and he thought the task was too hard for him. His own preparations had been hurried, on no great scale, and inadequate to the occasion; he had brought quite a small force, mostly of skirmishers and light-armed troops; more than half his men were without defensive armour. He was disposed to negotiate and find some honourable composition.

(9) Theodotas of Rhodes, however, a brave and skilful officer, put him in heart again. Antiochus had sixteen elephants; Theodotas advised him to conceal these as well as he could for the present, not letting their superior height betray them; when the signal for battle was given, the shock just at hand, the enemy's cavalry charging, and their phalanx opening to give free passage to the chariots, then would be the time for the elephants. A section of four was to meet the cavalry on each flank, and the remaining eight to engage the chariot squadron. 'By this means,' he concluded, 'the horses will be frightened, and there will be a stampede into the Galatian infantry.' His anticipations were realized, thus:

(10) Neither the Galatians nor their horses had ever seen an elephant, and they were so taken aback by the strange sight that, long before the beasts came to close quarters, the mere sound of their trumpeting, the sight of their gleaming tusks relieved against dark bodies, and minatory waving trunks, was enough; before they were within bow-shot, the enemy broke and ran in utter disorder; the infantry were spitted on each other's spears, and trampled by the cavalry who came scurrying on to them. The chariots, turning in like manner upon their own friends, whirled about among them by no means harmlessly; it was a Homeric scene of 'rumbling tumbling cars'; when once the horses shied at those formidable elephants, off went the drivers, and 'the lordless chariots rattled on,' their scythes maiming and carving any of their late masters whom they came within reach of; and, in that chaos, many were the victims. Next came the elephants, trampling, tossing, tearing, goring; and a very complete victory they had made of it for Antiochus.

(11) The carnage was great, and all the Galatians were either killed or captured, with the exception of a quite small band which got off to the mountains; Antiochus's Macedonians sang the Paean, gathered round, and garlanded him with acclamations on the glorious victory. But the King--so the story goes--was in tears; 'My men,' he said, 'we have more reason for shame; saved by those sixteen brutes! if their strangeness had not produced the panic, where should we have been?' And on the trophy he would have nothing carved except just an elephant.