A short story about Bucephalus, The trusted black horse with a white patch over one of it’s eyes that Alexander the Great rode for thousands of miles and through many battles to create his mighty Macedonia Empire. Bucephalus mocked at fear and did not turn away from the sword. Swallowing the ground with fierce rage during battle. Trained to charge during the sound and smell of war.
Bucephalus was originally from Thessaly, located in the center portion of Greece.
We begin in Thessaly around the time 345 B.C. during a battle in ancient Greece. During that battle a black spirited steed was speared in the eye from a pike weapon. The panic and confusion of that injury caused the horse to throw the rider from it’s back. The rider was then trampled to death during that battle. For about a half a year the horse was blinded in one eye. It was this that was presumed to have triggered the horse’s wild and spooked nature. Eventually the horse regained it’s eye sight and legends have it that this horse continued to see the demons and ghosts of war in that eye. That is why Bucephalus continued to remain wild and out of control.
As time went on many horse grooms had tried to tame Bucephalus again but failed. Seeing no other alternative, they had to try and sell the horse to someone. A horse trader in Thessaly by the name of Philoneicus took the steed along with many other horses to the north into Macedonia. When they entered the kingdom of Macedonia they contacted King Philip the Second. The King bought Bucephalus for the cost of 13 talents.
In 1994 the World Almanac stated that 1 talent was worth 60 pounds. In today’s time 60 pounds is worth $95.28 US dollars. So multiple $95.28 thirteen times and you get $1,238.64
Back in 344 B.C. that no doubt was a lot of money!
After Philoneicus sells the black horse to the King, many of his horse grooms also had a bad time of trying to break and tame it. The horse was still extremely wild and this made the King angry at Philoneicus for selling him what he thought was an evil horse. While twelve year old Alexander, son of King Philip the Second, was watching the men try to tame Bucephalus, he noticed something that no one else noticed. After watching the failed attempts a while longer. He created a challenge to his father. The challenge that Alexander put forth was that He could be the one that would tame the beast. His father was at first ashamed of his sons request. Ashamed then embarrassed about how his immature twelve year son could tame Bucephalus when all others had failed. His father took the proposition and told his son that if he failed he would have to pay back the 13 talents, the cost of Bucephalus. The boy agreed to the consequences.
Earlier while Alexander was watching the attempts to tame the horse. He had noticed that Bucephalus was shying away from his own shadow. It was “afraid” of something. Could this be the ghosts of war that were still in the horse’s visions? Was it this that was making the horse so spooked and wild. Alexander gently led Bucephalus around while speaking into his ear. He then directed him into the sun so that his shadow was behind him. These actions eventually helped the horse to relax, calm down and forever lose those ghostly visions that haunted him for so long. At that time he then proclaimed the horse’s name to be Bucephalus (ox-head). Alexander choose that name because of the huge head the horse had. It was the size of an ox’s head. There was also two ox horn marks branded into the horse’s backside. Now Bucephalus was able to be ridden. Much to the public humiliation that King Philip took, the King regained his composer and commented with tears of joy to his son and said,
“Look thee out a kingdom equal to and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee“.
Legend has it that Bucephalus and Alexander were born simultaneously. Other stories tell of the horse being born in 355 B.C., a year after Alexander.
Bucephalus, the mighty stallion died of battle wounds in June 326 B.C. during Alexander’s last battle at Hydaspes which is now modern day Pakistan. This was the first time Bucephalus or Alexander ever saw an Elephant during a battle.
In honor of his horse, Alexander named a city on the west bank of the Hydaspes river, Bucephala. Now thought to be the modern town of Jhelum, Pakistan. And is buried in Jalalpur Sharif outside of Jhelum, Pakistan.
A brief time line of Alexander the Great.
356 B.C. – Alexander is born in Pella Macedonia.
344 B.C. – 12 year old Alexander rides Bucephalus his horse for the first time.
343 B.C. – Greek Philosopher Aristotle starts to tutor 13 year old Alexander about humanity and the world.
338 B.C. – 18 year old Alexander commands the Cavalry at the Battle of Chaeronea.
336 B.C. – Assassination of King Philip II, his father, 20 year old Alexander ascends to the throne.
335 B.C. – 21 year old Alexander crushes the revolt at Thebes.
334 B.C. – 22 year old Alexander pushes into Hellespont Persia with 40,000 men and seizing vast quantities of gold from the Persian Empire.
333 B.C. – 23 year old Alexander slices the Gordian Knot.
332 B.C. – 24 year old Alexander liberates Egypt.
331 B.C. – Egyptian oracle confirms 25 year old Alexander’s divinity.
329 B.C. – 27 year old Alexander pushes into Central Asia.
327 B.C. – 29 year old Alexander pushes into India.
326 B.C. – 30 year old Alexander loses Bucephalus due to battle wounds.
324 B.C. – 32 year old Alexander loses his lifelong friend Hephaestion.
323 B.C. – 33 year old Alexander dies in the city of Babylon.