Friday, May 18, 2012

Please Don't Let this be True

From Mentalfloss concerning the use of Battle Elephants back before there were Hummers:

If elephants were the world’s first tanks, flaming pigs—slathered in tar, lit on fire, and set loose to wreak havoc—were the world’s first anti-tank missiles. According to Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, the weapon worked because “elephants are scared by the smallest squeal of the hog.”

When flaming pigs succeeded, they were brilliant. In 266 BCE, the Greek city of Megara fended off the Macedonian conqueror Antigonus II Gonatas using pigs doused in resin. Antigonus’s elephants fled in terror from the bacon brigade. Most battles, however, highlighted the serious drawbacks of tactical barbecue. Since the lifespan of flaming pigs is short, their range was well under 400 feet. That meant the enemy pretty much had to be on top of you before the hogs would have any effect. The porcine missiles also lacked a guidance system, which made them woefully inaccurate. Even when directed toward enemy lines, they often ran wherever they pleased, starting fires on their own side.

They often ran wherever they pleased? Wherever they pleased? They may have run wherever, but I'll bet you anything it wasn't where they pleased. Can you imagine? The guy who usually feeds you sets you on fire and opens the cage? What must have been going through those poor little pigs minds? Then, out of the gate, they look and see all the other guys from the pen, also on fire and running in circles. What to do? Do you try to find the wisest old pig through the smoke and ask him the purpose of this new game?

Sure, I know pigs aren't as smart as dolphins, but you'd think they'd be smart enough to go for the guy who set them alight.