Greek Legend: Alexander and Bucephalus

Have you heard of Alexander the Great's horse? He was very big and strong, and that is why he was given the name Bucephalus, Ox-Head (Bu-cephalus). His head was as big as the head of an ox!

When Alexander was thirteen years old, a horse-trader brought Bucephalus to the court of Alexander's father, King Philip. King Philip was impressed by the horse, but he feared no one could tame him. Each time someone tried to mount the horse, Bucephalus went wild and threw the rider from his back. King Philip was ready to send Bucephalus away when young Alexander spoke up.

"Father, let me try!" he said. "I am sure I will be able to ride him."

Philip was impressed by his son's determination. "Go ahead and try, my son," he replied.

Alexander approached the horse slowly and turned him to face the sun. He then slowly removed his cloak and laid it upon the ground. Then, to everyone's amazement, the horse allowed Alexander to ride him without protest. When Alexander dismounted, he again took care to make sure Bucephalus was facing into the sun.

His father then exclaimed, "Well done, my son! The horse shall be yours! But how did you manage to tame this wild creature?"

"I could see that the horse was terrified of his own shadow," Alexander replied, "so I pointed him towards the sun, and I also removed my cloak so it would not flutter in the breeze. I knew that if I could take away his fears, I would be able to ride him!"

Bucephalus and Alexander rode together in many triumphant battles, and when Bucephalus died, Alexander buried him with great honors on the bank of the Hydaspes River in what is now Pakistan.

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