Four cavalrymen assemble on the banks of the Rhone.
Two are fools. I have beneath me behemoth, a mountain of flesh and
Tusk. I ought not simply break it like a horse. I will bring it to the tide of
Battle and the beast will find fury and both I and my adversary will be helpless to
Stay it, they say.
The fools charge into battle. The first’s mount balks at the Gaulish pikes and casts him
To the dirt, and it is his end. The second’s mount glimpses a wolf’s pelt on a pike man
Before him and mistakes it for a lion and falls
Into a blood rush. This fool survives two dozen adversaries, and is greatly rewarded
By his superiors. Here is a man who truly knows how to ride, they say.
Two are wise. The first wise man had broken his mount from its earliest days, and it
Obeys his very command. It is good for him to know that I am his master, for his every
Muscle to ripple only at my command, for I think clearly, and he does not, and my
Foresight will bring us the victory that base passion never could, he says.
His charge bears him dutifully to the tide of battle, and gives no hesitation as its rider
Drives it into the roil of pikes and lances.
And so is the first wise man’s end.
The second wise man had also broken his elephant. It is good for him to act under my
Direction, for I can see the ranks and formations and make sense of it. But he mustn’t
Act under it alone, for what use is an elephant which is as meek as a mouse? And as dull.
For the genius of the beast is not contained in its tusks alone, but in its cunning. It is he
Who will splinter the spears, who will cast the adversary underfoot. This he knows
Better than I ever could. His cunning will be our victory, and with it I will not interfere.
The second wise man drives his charge to the site of his adversary’s disadvantage, and
The Beast splinters the enemy, man and pike alike. Soon the Gauls disappear
Into the woods, and the fighting is done.
Here is another man who truly knows how to ride, his superiors say.