The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Research Article

Lucretius' Elephant Wall

E. K. Borthwicka1

a1 University of Edinburgh

In an article1 entitled Lucrèce et les éléphants, Professor Ernout has referred to recent archaeological evidence that in palaeolithic times the skeletons of mammoths were used in the construction of primitive habitations, and observes that the well-known lines of Lucretius. 532 ff. about India being so prolific inelephants that the whole land ‘milibus e multis vallo munitur eburno’ mayrefer not to anything legendary (as Bailey and others had supposed), nor to themilitary use of elephants in large numbers for frontier defence, but to a recognitionof the fact that even in later times ‘les Indiens avaient pu conserver leurmode de vie et utiliser avec ses défenses d'éléphant le système de protectioninvente par leurs ancêtres, ou simplement conserver ces gigantesques os demammouths’, etc.