In 218 B.C. Hannibal took 37 elephants across the Alps invading Italy in one of the most daring and brilliant moves ever attempted by a general.

However the winter of 218/217 B.C. was extremely cold and this combined with the wounds suffered in the Battle of Trebia meant that all but one of Hannibal's elephants died. The one elephant that survived was named Surus. Surus is believed to have been adopted by Hannibal as his personal elephant after the battle of Trebia and there are mentions of his bravery. Surus carried Hannibal through the marshes of Arno in 217B.C.. Surus did play a key role in Hannibal's campaign, Hannibal used him as a publicity gimmick, since the Celts of northen Italy and the peasants of southern Italy, had never seen such an animal and were duly impressed that a man could command one. The site of this man who had defied Rome and crushed her armies on the back of a huge elephant would have been a sizable factor in the revolts of the celts and southern Italy. It has been suggested that Surus died on the banks of the River Ceno near modern day Bardi Castle.

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