Eumenes: even horses need to take regular exercise

Horse Play
Photography by Hector Guerra

 

“During this siege, as he [Eumenes] perceived that the men, cooped up in such narrow limits and eating their food without exercise, would lose health, and also that the horses would lose condition if they never used their limbs. . . . He arranged the largest room in the fort . . . as a place of exercise for the men, and ordered them to walk there . . . . For the horses, he caused their necks to be hoisted by pulleys fastened in the roof of their stable, until their fore feet barely touched the ground. In this uneasy position they were excited by their grooms with blows and shouts until the struggle produced the effect of a hard ride, as they sprung about and stood almost erect upon their hind legs till the sweat poured off them, so that this exercise proved no bad training either for strength or speed.”
Selection from Plutarch’s Lives

Eumenes (ca. 362–316 BCE), nominally Alexander the Great’s chief secretary, was treated with great respect as the king’s most intimate friend and entrusted with several commands, eventually as commander of the cavalry. When Alexander died, his generals divided his conquests and began fighting with one another. At one stage of the wars Eumenes fled to a strong fortress in Asia Minor, where he was besieged and held out for more than a year. Later he was betrayed by his soldiers, taken prisoner, and killed.