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Shakespeare's line got me wondering what dogs the Romans used in war. In the book, "American colonies," by Alan Taylor, he mentions that the Spanish used mastiffs against the indigenous people in the Americas, but I've not seen any reference to Roman war dogs. Did the Spanish use Italian dogs? Annnnd, where'd the name, "mastiff" come from? (Proofreader daffynition: If your mother sees a 70Kg dog charging her it'll scare ma stiff) But what's the real one?
 
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I think it's just a figure of speech, meaning to let loose his army like a pack of hounds on the enemy.
A [b]mastiff/b] is what happens when I tell my wife I don't want to attend church.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Middle English mastif alteration of Old French mastin from Vulgar Latin *(canis) mānsuētīnus 'tame (dog)' from Latin mānsuētus past participle of mānsuēscere 'to tame' < manus, 'hand'.

Aww https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molossus_(dog))

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Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Thanks, Z. That helps. What I learned on my own is that there were two possible ancient breeds from which mastiffs may have been bred, but still no info on which dogs Shakespeare had in mind.
 
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which dogs Shakespeare had in mind.

That's because they were figurative, not literal. I can't recall any army that used dogs in battle.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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I think z had meant this link. His didn't work for me.

It's an interesting question, Geoff. In this Wikipedia article it says that dogs may not be dogs in the literal sense, but instead may figuratively mean "wild pack of soldiers."
 
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Originally posted by Proofreader:

That's because they were figurative, not literal. I can't recall any army that used dogs in battle.
Armies have indeed used dogs as weapons for many centuries. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogs_in_warfare Not to discount the figurative use, as it seems to be in Julius Caesar.

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Those dogs were not used as attack squadrons but only as trackers or protectors.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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From the Wikipedia article on military animals: "Dogs were used by the ancient Greeks for war purposes, and they were undoubtedly used much earlier in history. During their conquest of Latin America, Spanish conquistadors used Mastiffs to kill warriors in the Caribbean, Mexico and Peru. Mastiffs, as well as Great Danes, were used in England during the Middle Ages..." This corroborates the assertion in the book I mentioned in the first post.

And how about the pigs of war? In the same military animal Wiki: "Pliny the Elder wrote about the use of war pigs against elephants. As he relates it, elephants became scared by the squeal of a pig and would panic, bringing disaster to any soldiers who stood in their path of flight." Cry "Bacon," and let slip the pigs of war!"
 
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