One of my heroes of the past is Alexander the Great. This is due in part to Plutarch, whose portrait of Alexander, in his Parallel Lives, is arguably one of the reasons I became a historian. Plutarch’s story of the taming of Bucephalus is a classic, and I have, if you will indulge me, put it into verse:
Of flashing mane, the powerful one,
Of pride for the man of the north,
Macedonian warrior of whom
Philip, bred of horse-flesh.
The day arrived, not any day, a
Impatient traders waited on the king
Was law in the mountain kingdom.
“Thirteen talents?” the king roared, a
“The horse is worth but a drachma–
For none of his grooms could mount him.
An ox-head watched an ox-head, the
Young in years, not knowledge, Philip’s
Taunting the king and his men.
“Questioning your elders? Why do
Asked the king to the boy, not
When it came to horses.
The boy made challenge
The horse, if he did he
Bucephalus as his own.
They boy knew something—he showed
He had a secret no one
Save the giant horse.
He turned the horse to
A blind steed, impatient
Who gently called the horse
And onto his back clutching
They raced away the two ox-heads,
Alexander the king and Bucephalus, the horse he