Centuries earlier, the Carthaginian general Hannibal concocted perhaps the most famous ploy ever.
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Hannibal’s clever use of elephants to cross the Alps provides an example of a strategic ploy.
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Carthage was at war with Rome, a scary circumstance for most Carthaginians given their far weaker fighting force. The Alps had never been crossed by an army. In fact, the Alps were considered such a treacherous mountain range that the Romans did not bother monitoring the part of their territory that bordered the Alps. No horse was up to the challenge, but Hannibal cleverly put his soldiers on elephants, and his army was able to make the mountain crossing. The Romans were caught completely unprepared and most of them were frightened by the sight of charging elephants. By using the element of surprise, Hannibal was able to lead his army to victory over a much more powerful enemy.
Ploys continue to be important today. In 2011, a pizzeria owner in Pennsylvania was accused of making a rather unique attempt to outmaneuver two rival pizza shops. According to police, the man tried to sabotage his competitors by placing mice in their pizzerias. If the ploy had not been discovered, the two shops could have
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suffered bad publicity or even been shut down by authorities because of health concerns. Although most strategic ploys are legal, this one was not, and the perpetrator was arrested (Reuters, 2011).