So I just purchased a copy of Rome Total War. I can’t give you a review because I haven’t played it quite yet, but I was flipping through some strategy guides and came across the notions of ‘flaming pigs’ (which, as Dave Barry would say, is an excellent name for a rock group). Technically they are called incindiary pigs, but I can’t determine which name is funnier…
Apparently the problem in ancient Rome was that your enemy often had elephants. These elephants liked to squish your infantry, which generally made the infantry grumpy and flat. This can be a real problem for an aspiring Roman general. What to do? The ancients solved it in an ingenious way.
They would route “the besiegers’ elephants by dousing pigs in oil and igniting them and then turning them loose against the elephants”
You read correctly. Live pigs, doused in oil, on fire, scaring elephants. Maybe the same thing could have been done with hobbits against those woolly mammoth things in LOTR.
When you think about it, for the Romans, it was killing two birds with one stone. Not only do you win the battle by making the enemy’s elephants turn tail and trample their own troops (how emarrasing for them is THAT?), but now you have a the workings of a killer BBQ to boot. Simply have your light infantry or Phalanx bring up the rear with hard rolls and marshmallows, a bit of brown sugar and ketchup (onion, garlic, a bit of liquid smoke and a pinch of mustard) and the conquering army can have after the battle.
I never learned this little piece of history in any of my 20 years of school, but thanks to the makers of video games, I now know what to do if a stampeding elephant herd ever wanders my way. Give me some charcoal lighter fluid, give me a bic, and stand back!