Looming Large: Hannibal and Elephants
“Hannibal Crossing the Alps on an Elephant” by Nicolas Poussin (1620-ish)
About Hannibal – we are reading from the Wicked History series, “Hannibal – Rome’s Worst Nightmare”. Hannibal Barca: an ambitious warrior with strategy skills perhaps surpassing history’s most effective military leaders. We are currently reading about Hannibal’s most outrageous achievement – crossing the Alps with 100,000 soldiers and 40 elephants. Interesting fact – when all was said and done – the Alps crossed and the war with Rome over (this would be the second Punic war – and isn’t PUNIC is such a weird word?) – only 1 elephant remained. (HEARTBREAK) (but isn’t the painting elegant? We LOVE it and we’ve ordered a poster of it.)
My son and I wanted to know more, so we also read “Unsolved Mystery: Where did Hannibal get his War Elephants?” from the Ancient Origins website (ancient-origins.net). This excellent short article: highly recommended.
About Elephants – we are reading from Cheryl Bardoe’s book, “Mammoths and Mastodons – Titans of the Ice Age” (titan – vocab). Absolutely text-book worthy. A mini-mini sampling of what we’ve learned:
- elephant (mammoth/mastodon) tusks are “ringed”, similar to a tree trunk. Layers of ivory are added every day and reveal all sorts of stuff, like the elephant’s age, whether the female gave birth, food consumed, and the climate.
- The remains of Columbian mammoths have been found in Texas! It seems so strange to us that these prehistoric creatures have walked where we walk. Crazy.
Large Pictures – Here is an abrupt change of topic: my son and I love looking at the ridiculous inventions of Rube Goldberg. However, Goldberg’s illustrations are so detailed, it is difficult for two people to absorb everything while sharing a book. So, we have found a most useful vehicle for enjoying the engineering shenanigans of Mr. Goldberg: a wall calendar! A big calendar page is the perfect size for us to appreciate every nuance of Goldberg’s contraptions.
And more large pictures! (at Le Fictitious Local Diner) – A large picture frame (3′ x 4′) has been installed on the wall next to the cash register at Le Fictitious Local Diner to showcase EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH.
If the diner employs 3 excellent cooks and 5 efficient and really nice waitresses, over the course of 4 years, how many times might each employee be designated as “employee of the month”? If the recognition comes with an honorarium (vocab) of $50, how much will the diner budget for this per year, and how much should each employee accrue (vocab) over the course of the 4 years? Lastly, if the diner spends $15 to get a glossy print of each EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH, how much will the diner spend on the photos in a year? (semi-trick question: some employees may be declared EOTM more than once in a year, and there is no need for duplicate photos, no sir, not at $15 a print). (answer at bottom of post)
The Elephant in the Living Room – music to celebrate the largest terrestrial (vocab) animal:
- Baby Elephant Walk, composed by iconic American composer Henry Mancini in 1961 for the movie “Hitari”. This piece won a Grammy in 1962.
- Pink Elephants on Parade, from the 1941 Disney movie, Dumbo, composed by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington. This movie segment received a bit of bad press, as many thought a film for children should not glorify hallucinations resulting from the mixing of the elephant’s water with champagne. Ya know, this footage IS sort of disturbing.
- The Elephant, from Camille Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals”, composed in 1886. The orchestra’s double bass perfectly matches the heavy lumbering steps of the elephant.
Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answers: 6 times, $600, $300, $120)