Peritas : The Hound of Alexander the Great

There is nothing better than the love and affection of your favorite dog or cat, or even a miniaturized pig. We as humans throughout history have craved the attention of our animal brethren. Be it for love, protection or even for domination, to challenge ourselves. In ancient times exotic animals would convey the power and wealth of the owner. It is a common bond among every culture to house and care for some type of pet. George Washington for example,was an avid dog lover. In fact he was on a mission to breed the perfect foxhound. Genghis Khan was said to use and favor Tibetan mastiffs in his wartime exploits. Something in excess of 10,000. Along with elephants to wage war.elephant

Many generals and great leaders owned and utilized animals from great parades of war elephants to packs of baboons for show and entertainment. Imagine having a hyena as a means of security. The use of domesticating pets served many purposes.

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Alexander on his horse Bucephalus

One tale of a pet so endeared, had a town named after him upon his death. Peritas, the hound of Alexander the Great himself. Very little is actually known, or confirmed about Peritas. The few tales that do come up are from Pliny the Elder, masterful  Roman storyteller and wordsmith, who perished in the fall of Pompeii.  Speculated to be a greyhound, he survived many battles with his master the great conqueror of Asia and India. This breed, be it grey hound, Molossar, or bulldog, was of a fierce blood line. roman dogThese dogs were presented as a gift to Alexander from one of the kings, whose township he held. Before they were handed over, this king wanted to show the dogs true stock by pitting them in a death match against lions testing their mettle and effectiveness in battle. Only when the lions took advantage, was another dog thrown in to aid. These dogs beat back the lions so much so, that a guard was sent in to cripple a dog, by smashing his legs. Alexander stood and protested harshly The skill and ferocity in battle that these dog or dogs possessed (its speculated that it was a pack presented as gift), proved worthy to serve in the greatest army ever conceived. The best dog of the pack Alexander named Peritas, and always kept him or her, close at heel. Alexander took Peritas through many battles, this dog proved himself time and time again to his master of his loyalty and courage, becoming a beloved and trusted friend up until his death. They always say the brightest candles burn out the fastest.

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It was A terrible battle with the Mallians. Alexander and his small group of personal guards charged up through Mallian fortifications, and became separated from the rest of his army. They were trapped and out numbered. Alexander was known to be full of piss and vinegar. Moves like this were not uncommon for the young leader, rushing the enemy and entrenching himself behind their lines exposing weakness. For some reason, this time he could not. Alexanders unit was beginning to take losses and the situation darkened. The great General, Conqueror of all of Asia, was wounded by a Javelin. No matter how hard they fought they remained out numbered and could not gain any ground.

 

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One of Alexanders generals heard a blood curdling howl, it was Peritas, who had been separated from his master, but sensed his troublesome predicament. The general commanded Peritas to go to his master! Being spry and nimble, Peritas fought his way into the enemy to get to his master, leading the charge of Alexanders army. Peritas was able to carve a path fighting off the Mallians by tearing into them with such ferocity, it struck visceral fear. The army was able to get in and rescue injured Alexander. The attempt was a success, but in doing so, Peritas received a mortal wound by a Javelin. The poor animal made it out of the fray on sheer adrenaline and will. He made his way back to Alexander only to die in his lap. I’m sure the fury that befell those Mallians could fill volumes.

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Alexander lived to continue fighting and conquering nations, but his beloved friend had given the ultimate sacrifice to him. His life to save Alexanders. This so moved the great king, that he named a conquered city after Peritas, whom battle after battle, proved himself to be a true ally. It is unsure, if the city named after Peritas is the same in which the dog fell. Alexander did the same for his horse, Bucephalus, upon his death.

 

The tenacity and loyalty of pets can not be matched, especially those pairs of humans and animals who share blood ties and bonds of hardship. Those flames burn hottest. We all need help, moral guidance and instruction. But not everyone realizes how lost we truly are in this world, without the human universal, the need for love and companionship of a friend. Leptis-3_2500348k

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