Quotes about Elephants


The elephant is a friend to man More than the dog, it’s constant. And now indeed our turn has come to be the Friend of the elephant.” From the song, Friends of the Elephant, composed by Paul Hippeau, for the Society of the Friends of the Elephant at their 1906 banquet.

“There is no creature among all the Beasts of the world which hath so great and ample demonstration of the power and wisdom of almighty God as the Elephant.” Edward Topsell, The Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes

“A king who always cares for the elephants like his own sons is always victorious & will enjoy the friendship of the celestial world after death.” Kautiliya, scholar of Buddhism in India

“I do not believe that this vicious bull moose had ever seen a man. I have never heard of another moose acting with the same determination and perseverance in ferocious malice; it behaved, as I have said, like some of the rare vicious rogues among African elephants, buffaloes, and rhinoceroses.” Theodore Roosevelt, 1858-1919, A Book-Lover’s Holidays in the Open, chapter XI, A Curious Experience

“He fought a great battle on the Indus with an Indian king, Porus, and here the Macedonian troops met elephants for the first time and defeated them.” H.G. Wells, 1866-1946, A Short History of the World, chapter XXVI, The Empire of Alexander the Great

“Villain Two: last summer’s tax cut. It was a mouse posturing as an elephant. The income tax rate reductions were inadequate and were diluted by being phased in over several years.” Fact and Comment Steve Forbes, Forbes Global, Jan. 7, 2002

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Desmond Tutu

“My roommate got a pet elephant. Then it got lost. It’s in the apartment somewhere.” Steven Wright

“The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?” David Attenborough

“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” Creighton Abrams

“Michael lives in a world, I think his main residence is aptly named Neverland. It’s a fantasy world. I mean, I’m sitting outside waiting for this interview that never happened. I hear this noise and I look over my left shoulder and it’s an elephant and a trainer walking the elephant.” Ed Bradley

“I have a memory like an elephant. In fact, elephants often consult me.” Noel Coward

“I have a face like the behind of an elephant..” Charles Laughton

“Who told you about my elephant? ” Paul Lynde

“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know. ” Groucho Marx

“Prior to Elephant I’d taken about six years of acting classes in Portland, but there’s not a huge market there. The only thing we have is commercial stuff, and that didn’t really appeal to me. So this is really a dream come true.” John Robinson

“I don’t do impersonations. I can do a wounded elephant! I can do a really good cow! And because of the amount of time I spent in North Yorkshire, I do a variety of sheep. All of which I will be happy to roll out for you!” Patrick Stewart

“There are certain elephant in the room stories that the media for some reason has refused to cover or has not covered sufficiently, and I’m proud that Salon has done that.” David Talbot

“Similar beliefs are held by the natives of the Cross River valley within the provinces of the Cameroons. Groups of people, generally the inhabitants of a village, have chosen various animals, with which they believe themselves to stand on a footing of intimate friendship or relationship. Amongst such animals are hippopotamuses, elephants, leopards, crocodiles, gorillas, fish, and serpents, all of them creatures which are either very strong or can easily hide themselves in the water or a thicket.” Sir James George Frazer, 1854-1941, The Golden Bough, § 3. The External Soul in Animals

“Why the eternal crikey, began the Secretary, did you let the man in? Do people commonly come to your Exhibition riding on mad elephants?” G.K. Chesterton, 1874-1936, The Man Who Was Thursday, Chapter XIII, The Pursuit of the President

“TANNER. Talk! Talk! It means nothing to you but talk. Well, go back to your mother, and help her to poison Rhoda’s imagination as she has poisoned yours. It is the tame elephants who enjoy capturing the wild ones. ANN. I am getting on. Yesterday I was a boa constrictor: to-day I am an elephant.” Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Man and Superman, Act II

“No matter how much you feed a wolf, an elephant still has bigger balls.” Popular Russian Saying, translated by Vladimir Ivanovich Shlyakov, 1993

“When we are hungry, elephants are food. When we are full, elephants are beautiful.” Edward R. Ricciuti (quoting Zimbabwean farmer)

“So slowly the hot elephant hearts grow full of desire, and the great beasts mate in secret at last, hiding their fire.” D.H. (David Herbert) Lawrence, 1885–1930, British poet. The Elephant Is Slow to Mate

“The Hindoos dreamed that the earth rested on an elephant, and the elephant on a tortoise, and the tortoise on a serpent; and though it may be an unimportant coincidence, it will not be out of place here to state, that a fossil tortoise has lately been discovered in Asia large enough to support an elephant. I confess that I am partial to these wild fancies, which transcend the order of time and development. They are the sublimest recreation of the intellect. The partridge loves peas, but not those that go with her into the pot.” Henry David Thoreau, 1817–1862, Walking, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 5, pp. 233-234, 1862

“He thought he saw an Elephant,
That practiced on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
“At length I realize,” he said,
“The bitterness of Life!”
Lewis Carroll, 1832–1898, Sylvie and Bruno (l. 1–6)

“to his eyes, Funnyface Or Elephant as yet
Mean nothing. His distinction between Me and Us
Is a matter of taste; his seasons are Dry and Wet;
He thinks as his mouth does.”
W.H. Auden, 1907–1973, Mundus et Infans, l. 20–24

“The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye,
And it looks like it’s climbin’ clear up to the sky.”
Oscar Hammerstein II, 1895–1960, Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ in Oklahoma, 1943

“I asked my mother for fifty cents
To see the elephant jump the fence.
He jumped so high he reached the sky,
And didn’t get back till the Fourth of July.”

“Down in the alley where the garbage grows, A flea jumped on an elephant’s toes, The elephant cried with tears in his eyes, Why don’t you pick on someone your size?” Unknown

“In this world, unsubdued and crazed elephants Are incapable of causing such harms As the miseries of the deepest hell Which can be caused by the unleashed elephant of my mind.” Unknown

“But if the elephant of my mind is firmly bound On all sides by the rope of mindfulness, All fears will cease to exist And all virtues will come into my hand.” Unknown

“Tigers, lions, elephants, bears, Snakes and all forms of enemies, The guardians of the hell worlds, Evil spirits and cannibals.” Unknown

(Trixie & Ed enter into the pool room. Ralph & Alice are already in the pool room. Ralph and Ed are in the middle of a fight.)
Ralph: “I didn’t know anything escaped from the zoo today.”
Ed: “If it was an elephant, I can tell them where to look.” From the Honeymooners

Ralph: “Because of Ed, I had to go to work without my bath.”
Trixie: “You didn’t have to do that Ralph. You could take your bath at the circus. They wouldn’t mind bathing one more elephant.” From the Honeymooners

“The Indian Elephant is Said Sometimes to Weep.” Charles Darwin

Cicero, of elephants: The Creature had a “fellowship with the human race.”

Les Miserables, “At night, the broad brow of the colossus, its trunk, tusks, tower, huge hindquarters, and four pillar-like legs stood out, astonishing and awesome against the starry sky.”

“If anyone wants to know what elephants are like, they are like people only more so.” Peter Corneille in Theatreprint

“The elephant’s a gentleman.” Rudyard Kipling in Oonts

“God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style. He just keep on trying other things.” Pablo Picasso, from Life with Picasso

“In order to leave nothing to chance, elephants plaster themselves with mud and dust as a further protection against both heat and flies. In the animal kingdom, it is not necessary to be thin-skinned to be sensitive.” C. Court Treat in Out of the Beaten Track

“The elephant has just one basic gait: an ambling walk; elephants cannot run or jump like other animals.” Richard D. Estes in the Safari Companion

“Trumpet in a herd of Elephants; crow in the company of cocks; bleat in a flock of goats.” Malayan Proverb

“When an elephant is in trouble even a frog will kick him.” Hindu Proverb

“Keep five yards from a carriage, ten yards from a horse, and a hundred yards from an elephant; but the distance one should keep from a wicked man cannot be measured.” Indian Proverb

“When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” African Proverb

“Belly of the Elephant. Bring to it what you may. Someone will have preceded you.” Hausa Proverb.

“There is an old African legend about the majestic bull elephant. When he realizes that death is near, he returns deep into the darkest forest. There he dies hidden from the world” Robert Baden-Powell upon his retirement in 1938

“Be thine enemy an ant, see in him an elephant.” Turkish Proverb

“What is bigger than an Elephant? But this also is become man’s plaything, and a spectacle at public solemnities; and it learns to skip, dance, & kneel.” Plutarch

“So geographers, in Afric maps, With savage pictures fill their gaps, and o’er unhabitable downs Place elephants for want of towns.” Jonathan Swift, from Poetry, a Rhapsody.

“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” General John B. Sedgwick’s last words, 1864

“You don’t shoot elephants, you ride them–you might as well shoot your charger.” King George V

“The Dog is man’s companion; the Elephant is his slave.” Sir Samuel Baker, 1890

“Th’ unwieldy elephant, To make them mirth, us’d all his might, and wreathed His lithe proboscis.” John Milton, Paradise Lost

“There is no such thing as a perfect leader either in the past or present, in China or elsewhere. If there is one, he is only pretending, like a pig inserting scallions into its nose in an effort to look like an elephant.” Unknown

“Arguments and opinions were unknown to the conversation of these ancient friends; you would as soon have expected to hear small talk in a company of elephants as to hear old Mr. Bowden or Elijah Tilley and their two mates waste breath upon any form of trivial gossip.” Sarah Orne Jewett, 1849-1909, The Country of the Pointed Firs, 1910, chapter XX, Along Shore

“Not too near and not too far
Out of the stress of the crowd
Music screams as elephants scream
When they lift their trunks and scream aloud
For joy of the night when masters are
Asleep and adream.”
D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), New Poems, 1916, Hyde Park at Night, before the War

“The elephant, the huge old beast, is slow to mate.” D.H. (David Herbert) Lawrence (1885–1930), British poet

“The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy; his legs are legs for necessity, not for flexure.” William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Ulysses, in Troilus and Cressida, act 2, sc. 3, l. 105-6

“A set of those odd-looking envelope-things,
Where Britannia (who seems to be crucified flings
To her right and her left, funny people with wings
Amongst elephants, Quakers, and Catabaw kings,
And a taper and wax, and small Queen’s-heads in packs,
Which, when notes are too big you must stick on their backs.” Ingoldsby, Legends.

“…out of whose account of the unicorn most of the modern unicorns have been described and figured, records it as “a very ferocious beast, similar in the rest of its body to a horse, with the head of a deer, the feet of an elephant, the tail of a boar, a deep, bellowing voice, and a single black horn, two cubits in length, standing out in the middle of its forehead.”‘ Pliny, the Roman naturalist

“Even as Hope upon her anchor leans, So leant she, not so fair, upon a tusk Shed from the broadest of her elephants.” John Keats, 1785-1821, Poetical Works, 1884, Hyperion

Five people — an Englishman, Russian, American, Frenchman and Irishman were each asked to write a book on elephants. Some amount of time later they had all completed their respective books. The Englishman’s book was entitled “The Elephant — How to Collect Them.” The Russian’s book titled “The Elephant — Vol. I.” The American’s book called “The Elephant — How to Make Money from Them.” The Frenchman’s book was “The Elephant — Its Mating Habits.” The Irishman’s named his book “The Elephant and Irish Political History.” Unknown

“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s word is one hundred percent.” Horton Hears a Who

“Not all elephants are born in Africa, there are some in Asia, too.” Walt Disney

“God knows, who made elephants.” Rudyard Kipling

“It has always seemed miraculous to me that these colossal animals can move noiselessly through the bush, and are thus able to surround one without warning.” Joy Adamson in Born Free

“It is the little bits of things that fret and worry us; we can dodge an elephant, but we can’t a fly.” Josh Billings

“The elephant, not only the largest but the most intelligent of animals, provides us with an excellent example. It is faithful and tenderly loving to the female of its choice, mating only every third year and then for no more than five days, and so secretly as never to be seen, until, on the sixth day, it appears and goes at once to wash its whole body in the river, unwilling to return to the herd until thus purified. Such good and modest habits are an example to husband and wife.” St. Francis De Sales, 1567–1622, French churchman, devotional writer. Introduction to the Devout Life, pt. 3, ch. 39, 1609

“If a joyous elephant should break forth into song, his lay would probably be very much like Whitman’s famous “Song of Myself.” It would have just about as much delicacy and deftness and discrimination.” Willa Cather, 1873–1947, originally published in the Nebraska State Journal, Jan. 19, 1896

“Even the elephant carries but a small trunk on his journeys. The perfection of traveling is to travel without baggage.” Henry David Thoreau, 1817–1862, U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Yankee in Canada, 1853

Over the low, barnacled, elephant-colored rocks, Come the first tide-ripples, moving, almost without sound, toward me, Running along the narrow furrows of the shore, the rows of dead clam shells.” Theodore Roethke, 1908–1963. U.S. poet. Meditation at Oyster River

“I wanted certainty in the kind of way in which people want religious faith. I thought that certainty is more likely to be found in mathematics than elsewhere. But I discovered that many mathematical demonstrations, which my teachers expected me to accept, were full of fallacies, and that, if certainty were indeed discoverable in mathematics, it would be in a new field of mathematics, with more solid foundations than those that had hitherto been thought secure. But as the work proceeded, I was continually reminded of the fable about the elephant and the tortoise. having constructed an elephant upon which the mathematical world could rest, I found the elephant tottering, and proceeded to construct a tortoise to keep the elephant from falling. But the tortoise was no more secure than the elephant, and after some twenty years of very arduous toil, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing more that I could do in the way of making mathematical knowledge indubitable.” Portraits from Memory

“If elephants didn’t exist, you couldn’t invent one. They belong to a small group of living things so unlikely they challenge credulity and common sense. Animals such as aardvarks, hammerhead sharks and star-nosed moles. All so odd they can only be described in terms of something else, something more familiar.

“There is nothing quite like an elephant. Nothing with which it can be compared, though the proverbial Six Blind Men of Indostan did their best, likening each part encountered separately to a snake, a spear, a fan, a wall, a tree and a rope. Taken altogether, these ingredients add up to a most singular animal whose trunk alone is enough to justify removing the elephant from the rest of the animal kingdom and setting it aside, along with ourselves perhaps, in categories of our own.”

“‘And yet, when you see an elephant embedded in its own earth, comfortable in its own skin, carrying its great weight effortlessly along on cushioned feet, the only possible response is: ˜Of course. How could it be otherwise?”‘

“Elephants exist, even if represented now by only two or three of their 353 known species. They would seem to be on their way out, but it is still possible to argue that they represent the most highly evolved form of life on the planet. Compared to them, we are primitive, hanging on to a stubborn, unspecialised, five-fingered state, clever but destructive. They are models of refinement, nature’s archangels, the oldest and largest land mammals, touchstones to our imagination.”

“Elephants are symbols of might and memory, harmony and patience, power and compassion. We are equivocal about them, as we are about anything which evokes strong feelings in us. We love and fear them, kill and revere them, see them as beasts of the moon with crescent tusks or as buffoons in baggy pants.”

“In captivity, their enormousness is muted, cloaked in indignity and shame, a source of acute dismay. But in the wild, they invoke awe, exercising uncanny skills, taking obvious delight in one another as they shuffle through our lives, keeping grave appointments at the other end of the world.”

There is much about them that remains mysterious. Lyall Watson, Elephantoms, 2003, p 25-26

“It is curious how there seems to be an instinctive disgust in Man for his nearest ancestors and relations. If only Darwin could conscientiously have traced man back to the Elephant or the Lion or the Antelope, how much ridicule and prejudice would have been spared to the doctrine of Evolution.” Henry Ellis

“Well, the big elephant in the whole system is the baby boomer generation that marches through like a herd of elephants. And we begin to retire in 2008.” Lindsey Graham

“Shallows where a lamb could wade and depths where an elephant would drown.” Mathew Henry

“I have a face like the behind of an elephant.” Charles Laughton

“In the divine Scriptures, there are shallows and there are deeps; shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim.” John Owen

“Be humble as the blade of grass that is being trodden underneath the feet. The little ant tastes joyously the sweetness of honey and sugar. The mighty elephant trembles in pain under the agony of sharp goad.” John Ruskin

“Love will draw an elephant through a key-hole.” Samuel Richardson, 1689–1761, Lovelace, in Clarissa, vol. 8, p. 149, AMS Press, 1990

“Consider the 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix. For a year GM marketing and design executives knew that its front end was a bust. But no one department would make the call to fix it because that would trigger a costly delay, and no one wanted to take responsibility for that. The car “was the walking wounded,” says John Smith, vice president of sales, service and parts. Then came Lutz, who told everyone there was an elephant in the room: The next Grand Prix wouldn’t sell. He sketched a new front end and gave it to the tube jockeys–the designers who translate pencil and paper to computerized designs that are transformed into foam mock-ups of cars. He told designers and engineers to hold under-the-hood changes to a minimum to keep the delay at weeks, rather than months. Within 72 hours, the car had a new nose. The upshot: What is now a low-profit rental car might in two years command the higher price that would otherwise go to a stylish foreign car.” Robert Lutz, Vice Chair, General Motors–Car Guy, Robyn Meredith, Forbes Global, Jan. 21, 2002

“Elephant: A mouse built to government specifications.” Lazarus Long

“A mouse is an elephant built by the Japanese.” Sayings Galore!

“An elephant is a mouse built to Mil-spec.” Sayings Galore!

“Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea — massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it.” Gene Spafford

“The elephant sneezed And fell on his knees, And that was the end of the monk, the monk, the monk.” Unknown

“Elephants endors’d with towers.” John Milton, Paradise Lost

“Prince, a precept I’d leave for you, Coined in Eden existing yet; Skirt the parlor, and shun the zoo–Women and elephants never forget.” Dorothy Parker, Ballade of the Unfortunate Mammals

“When peacefully browsing, elephants make noises often described as ‘tummy-rumbling,’ which maintain contact with other members of the group. This unusual sound is now known be be produced in the elephant’s larynx and may be likened to purring! If elephants are alarmed, the rumbling ceases immediately.” Dan Freeman in Elephants, the Vanishing Giants

“Proboscis: The rudimentary organ of an elephant which serves him in place of the knife-and-fork that Evolution has as yet denied him. For purposes of humor it is popularly called a trunk.” Ambrose Bierce

Writing a book is like washing an elephant: there no good place to begin or end, and it’s hard to keep track of what you’ve already covered.” Anonymous

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an Elephant. The only harmless great thing; the giant of beasts.” John Donne in The Progress of the Soul

“The circus is a place where horses, ponies and elephants are permitted to see men, women and children acting the fool.” Ambrose Bierce

“So oft in theologic wars, The disputants, I ween, Rail on in utter ignorance Of what each other mean, and prate about an Elephant Not one of them had seen!” John Godfrey Saxe

“The affection shown by a mother elephant to her calf does not cease when she gives birth to another. Often a family unit of two or three siblings is created, the calves playing together and the older ones looking after the baby.” Elephants, the Vanishing Giants

“A sign showing two elephants in a compromising position read: Decision making around here is like the mating of elephants! 1. It’s done at a high level. 2. It’s accomplished with a great deal of roaring & screaming. 3. It takes two years to get anything done.” Hodges Seminars International-Monthly Positive Talk Columns, January 1997

“I find it no easier to picture a completely socialized British Empire or United States than an elephant turning somersaults or a hippopotamus jumping a hedge.” J.B.S. Haldane, “On Being the Right Size” in the book Possible Worlds (1928)

“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, speaking on relations with the US

“I’m great,” the Lion said — “I reign The monarch of the wood and plain!”
The Elephant replied: “I’m great — No quadruped can match my weight!”
“I’m great — no animal has half So long a neck!” said the Giraffe.
“I’m great,” the Kangaroo said — “see My femoral muscularity!”
The ‘Possum said: “I’m great — behold, My tail is lithe and bald and cold!”
An Oyster fried was understood To say: “I’m great because I’m good!”
Each reckons greatness to consist In that in which he heads the list,
And Vierick thinks he tops his class Because he is the greatest ass. Arion Spurl Doke

“To get the attention of a large animal, be it an elephant or a bureaucracy, it helps to know what part of it feels pain. Be very sure, though, that you want its full attention.” Kelvin Throop

“Though one should be prepared to vomit rather frequently and disport with pink elephants and assorted grotesqueries while trying often unsuccessfully to make one’s way to the toilet.” William F. Buckley Jr.

“With a wave of his trunk/And a turn of his chin/He can pull down a house/Or pick up a pin.” Herbert Asquith in The Elephant

“Well, what’s he brought the old thing here for, then? People that own elephants don’t take their elephants around with ’em when they go visiting. What’s he got it here for?” Booth Tarkington, 1838-1918, The Magnificent Ambersons, 1918, chapter VIII

“Never fear that: if he be so resolv’d,
I can o’ersway him; for he loves to hear
That unicorns may be betray’d with trees,
And bears with glasses, elephants with holes”
William Shakespeare, 1564-1616, The Oxford Shakespeare, 1914, Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene I

“From this it follows that the animal kinsfolk may never be shot at or molested for fear of injuring or killing the persons whose lives are knit up with the lives of the brutes. This does not, however, prevent the people of a village, who have elephants for their animal friends, from hunting elephants. For they do not respect the whole species but merely certain individuals of it, which stand in an intimate relation to certain individual men and women; and they imagine that they can always distinguish these brother elephants from the common herd of elephants which are mere elephants and nothing more.” Sir James George Frazer, 1854-1941, The Golden Bough, § 3. The External Soul in Animals

“Over wide streams and mountains great we went,
And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent,
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants,
With Asian elephants:
Onward these myriads with song and dance”
John Keats, 1795-1821, Song of the Indian Maid, from Endymion

“The priests of Jupiter, and the Flamen Dilis of Rome, were clothed in white, and wore white hats. The victims offered to Jupiter were white. The Roman festivals were marked with white chalk, and at the death of a Cæsar the national mourning was white; white horses were sacrificed to the sun, white oxen were selected for sacrifice by the Druids, and white elephants are held sacred in Siam.” E. Cobham Brewer 1810-1897, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898

“When you have an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.” Abraham Lincoln

“Women and elephants never forget an injury.” Saki Reginald on Besetting Sins

“Way down South where bananas grow, A grasshopper stepped on an elephant’s toe. The elephant said, with tears in his eyes, ‘Pick on somebody your own size.’ Anonymous

“Pace yourself, an elephant can be swallowed, one bite at a time.” Anonymous

“He moves faster than a great cat, with the power of a charging bull elephant.” Old Jungle Sayings

“Phantom has wisdom of elephants.” Old Jungle Sayings

“Phantom steel fists dart like a bee – hit like a bull elephant.” Old Jungle Sayings

“Armies, emperors, elephants, kings, Carrying all different kinds of things, Marching in so grand a way, You never saw the like by day.” Robert Louis Steverson

“A true philosopher is like an elephant; he never puts the second foot down until the first one is solidly in place.” Fontenelle

“Erect as a sunbeam, Upspringeth the palm: The elephant browses, Undaunted and calm; In beautiful motion, The thrush plies his wings; Kind leaves of his covert, Your silence he sings.”Ralph Waldo Emerson, from The Sphinx

“Contrary to what most people say, the most dangerous animal in the world is not the lion or the tiger or even the elephant. It’s a shark riding on an elephant’s back, just trampling & eating everything they see.” Jack Handey

“Watch a human being walk through a bush, and it is a messy business. Watch an elephant encounter a thicket of twigs and thorns, and he seems to flow through it.” Anthony Smith in Throw Out Two Hands

‘”The idea of an incarnation of God is absurd: why should the human race think itself so superior to bees, ants, and elephants as to be put in this unique relation to its maker? . . Christians are like a council of frogs in a marsh or a synod of worms on a dung-hill croaking and squeaking “for our sakes was the world created.”‘ Julian the Apostate

“It chanced, then, that Oneus, as he offered sacrifices to the gods, omitted to pay due honors to Diana; and she, indignant at the neglect, sent a wild boar of enormous size to lay waste the fields of Calydon. Its eyes shone with blood and fire, its bristles stood like threatening spears, its tusks were like those of Indian elephants.” Thomas Bulfinch, 1796-1867, Age of Fable: Vols. I & II: Stories of Gods and Heroes, 1913, XVIII, Meleager and Atalanta

“On this long storm the rainbow rose,
On this late morn the sun;
The clouds, like listless elephants,
Horizons straggled down.”
Emily Dickinson, 1830-86, Complete Poems, 1924, Part Four: Time and Eternity

“The elephant has a thick skin, a head full of ivory, and as everyone who has seen a circus parade knows, proceeds best by grasping the tail of its predecessor.” Adlai E Stevenson on the 1960 presidential campaign, ib 30 Aug 60

“One of his friends asked him why he was publishing nothing. Hannibal’s elephants, he replied, never could learn the goose-step.” Lytton Strachey, 1880-1932, Eminent Victorians, 1918, Cardinal Manning, Part VI

“On the last night of the year the palace of the Kings of Cambodia is purged of devils. Men painted as fiends are chased by elephants about the palace courts.” Sir James George Frazer, 1854-1941, The Golden Bough, chapter LVII, Public Scapegoats

“…we stopped to watch a herd of elephants, cows and calves, browsing among the thorns, their curling trunks raised now and then to test the wind, or perhaps one big ear lifted and then slapped back against the body.” Theodore Roosevel, 1858-1919, A Book-Lover’s Holidays in the Open, 1916, chapter VIII, Primeval Man; and the Horse, the Lion, and the Elephant

“A camel makes an elephant feel like a jet plane.” Jacqueline Kennedy on 1962 visit to India, quoted by Ralph G Martin, A Hero for Our Time

“I’m afraid we felt the wrong end of the elephant first.” Alan Wagner, Vice President, CBS on failure of pioneering nighttime drama series Beacon Hill, NY Times 28 Oct 75

“Gunther talks to his animals in English, French, German (when he’s angry) and Baby Leopard. He also speaks fluent Elephant, several dialects of Tiger and Circus Horse.” In the New Yorker, speaking of animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams, 21 Apr 75

“A Roc is a fabulous white bird of enormous size, and such strength that it can truss elephants in its talons, and carry them to its mountain nest, where it devours them.” Arabian Nights; The Third Calender, and Sinbad the Sailor

“Leading the array, three stately elephants marched, bearing the Woons in gilded howdahs under gold umbrellas.” J. W. Palmer, Up and Down the Irrawaddi, chapter xx, p. 169

“But to the rest of us who also have to live in it with as much harmony as we can, such persons are certainly elephants at large in the garden.” Emily Post, 1873-1960, Etiquette, Chapter VII, Conversation, Need of Reciprocity

“He rode one of the royal elephants, seated in the royal palanquin, and escorted by soldiers who, dressed in appropriate costumes, represented the neighbouring peoples of Siam, Annam, Laos, and so on.” Sir James George Frazer, 1854-1941, The Golden Bough, chapter XXV, Temporary Kings

“The elephant which supports the world is called Muha-pudma, and the the tortoise which supports the elephant is called Chukwa. In some of the Eastern mythologies we are told that the world stands on the backs of eight elephants, called Achtequed-jams.” E. Cobham Brewer 1810-1897, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898

“The Greek tribes as we have told were a branch of the Aryan-speaking stem. They had come down among the Aegean cities and islands some centuries before 1000 B.C. They were probably already in southward movement before the Pharaoh Thothmes hunted his first elephants beyond the conquered Euphrates. For in those days there were elephants in Mesopotamia and lions in Greece.” H.G. Wells, 1866-1946, A Short History of the World, chapter XXIII, The Greeks

“The tale is that St. Thomas planted Christianity in China, and then returned to Mal’abar. Here he saw a huge beam of timber floating on the sea near the coast, and the king endeavouring, by the force of men and elephants, to haul it ashore, but it would not stir. St. Thomas desired leave to build a church with it, and, his request being granted, he dragged it easily ashore with a piece of packthread.” A St. Thomas’s thread

“The Persians had found an able general in Rustam; they had a great host with a force of elephants; and for three days they fought the Arabs at Kadessia and broke at last in headlong rout.” H.G. Wells, 1866-1946, A Short History of the World, chapter XLIV, The Great Days of the Arabs

“I shouldn’t wonder if I happened in town sometime before the elephants get away. He spoke very deliberately, with a State-of-Maine drawl, and his voice was smooth and agreeable.” Willa Cather, 1873-1947, One of Ours, Book One: On Lovely Creek

“They all drank whisky from tea-cups, and they were humorous, and never listened to one another, except when W. A. Rogers kidded the Italian waiter. Say, Gooseppy, he said innocently, I want a couple o’ fried elephants’ ears. Sorry, sir, we haven’t any. Huh? No elephants’ ears? What do you know about that! Rogers turned to Babbitt. Pedro says the elephants’ ears are all out!” Sinclair Lewis, 1885-1951, Babbitt, Chapter XIII

“On the third day, after the usual procession, the temporary king gave orders that the elephants should trample under foot the mountain of rice, which was a scaffold of bamboo surrounded by sheaves of rice.” Sir James George Frazer, 1854-1941, The Golden Bough, chapter XXV, Temporary Kings

“In pink and purple chequer, nor, up-pil’d, The cloudy rack slow journeying in the west, Like herded elephants” John Keats, 1785-1821, Poetical Works, 1884, Endymion, Book II

Sayings of Buddha about Elephants

As an elephant in the battle field Withstands the arrows shot from a bow, Even so will I endure abuse, For people’s conduct is mostly low.

A friend, well behaved, prudent and wise, Fare alone as a king renouncing his conquered land And as an elephant roaming alone in the wilds.

I shall endure hard words As the elephant endures the shafts of battle. For many people speak wildly.

Travel on alone Like an elephant in the forest.

The tamed elephant goes to battle. The king rides him. The tamed man is the master. He can endure hard words in peace.

Better than a mule Or the fine horses of Sindh Or mighty elephants of war Is the man who has mastered himself.

The mighty elephant Dhanapalaka Is wild when he is in rut, And when bound he will not eat, remembering the elephant grove.

I shall endure painful words as the elephant in battle endures arrows shot from the bow; for most people are ill-natured. They lead a tamed elephant into battle; the king mounts a tamed elephant.

Awake. Be the witness of your thoughts. The elephant hauls himself from the mud. In the same way drag yourself out of your sloth.

Take pleasure in being careful. Guard your mind well. Extricate yourself from mire, like a great tusker sunk in the mud.

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6 Responses to Quotes about Elephants

  1. Ademola Adejumo says:

    A snare is destroyed when elephant places its foot on it.

  2. Ademola Adejumo says:

    The odour of the elephant attracts dangerous serpents out of their hideouts.

  3. Ademola Adejumo says:

    Elephant is a source of terror to the bulls.

  4. Katie says:

    Elephants are grey, but not all grey things are elephants.

  5. Liza Chondo says:

    When you’ve eaten a whole elephant, the tail is hardest to swallow.

  6. gabriel subia says:

    A mouse can kill an elephant if he bites him once a day.

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