Alexander, Alexander the Great, Ancient Greece, Arrian, Bucephalus, Greek History, History of Alexander's Expeditions, horseback riding, Horses, Life of Augustus, Philip II of Macedonia, Philoneicus the Thessalian, Suetonius
“There came a day when Philoneicus the Thessalian brought Philip (Alexander’s father) a horse named Bucephalus. The king and his friends went down to the plain to watch the horse’s trials, and came to the conclusion that he was wild and unmanageable, for he would allow no one to mount him. The king became angry at being offered such a vicious animal unbroken, and ordered it to be led away.
But Alexander, who was standing close by, remarked, ‘What a horse they are losing, and all because they don’t know how to handle him, or dare not try.’…
Alexander went quickly up to Bucephalus, took hold of his bridle, and turned him towards the sun, for he had noticed that the horse was shying at the sight of his own shadow, as it fell in front of him and constantly moved whenever he did. He ran alongside the animal for a little way, calming him down by stroking him, and then, when he saw he was full of spirit and courage, he quietly threw aside his cloak with a light spring vaulted safely on to his back… Finally, when he saw that the horse was free of his fears and impatient to show his speed, he gave him his reigns and urged him forward.
At First Philip and his friends held their breath until they saw Alexander reach the end of his gallop, turn in full control, and ride back triumphant. Thereupon the rest of the company broke into loud applause, while his father, we are told, actually wept for joy, and when Alexander had dismounted he kissed him and said, ‘My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedonia is too small for you.'”
A modern translation of the semi-mythic story “Alexander Tames Bucephalus” by Plutarch. This event would have occurred in 344 BC, when Alexander was 13.
Bucephalus, which means “ox head,” is the most famous horse of antiquity. According to his extensive wiki, he was black with a white star; his massive head, which would have been the foremost point of the charging Grecian army, was cast into busts and adorned some of the currency of the Greek empire in the century following his death.
Two more excerpts:
When Alexander’s sarcophagus was brought from its shrine, Augustus gazed at the body, then laid a crown of gold on its glass case and scattered some flowers to pay his respects. When they asked if he would like to see Ptolemy too, ‘I wished to see a king,’ he replied, ‘I did not wish to see corpses.’
Suetonius, Life of Augustus (121 AD)
As for the exact thoughts in Alexander’s mind, I am neither able nor concerned to guess them, but this I think I can state, that nothing common or mean would have been his intention; he would not have remained content with any of his conquests, not even if he had added the British Isles to Europe; he would always have searched beyond for something unknown, and if there had been no other competition, he would have competed against himself.
Arrian, History of Alexander’s Expeditions (140 AD)
One more post:
- Meet Alexander the Great