|The Story of the Greeks|
|by Helene A. Guerber|
| Elementary history of Greece, made up principally of stories about persons, giving at the same time a clear idea of the most important events in the ancient world and calculated to enforce the lessons of perseverance, courage, patriotism, and virtue that are taught by the noble lives described. Beginning with the legends of Jason, Theseus, and events surrounding the Trojan War, the narrative moves on to present the contrasting city-states of Sparta and Athens, the war against Persia, their conflicts with each other, the feats of Alexander the Great, and annexation by Rome. Ages 10-14 |
THE STEED BUCEPHALUS
 WHEN only thirteen years of age, Alexander once saw
some horsedealers bringing a beautiful steed before the
king. The animal had a white spot on his nose shaped
somewhat like the head of an ox, and on this account
was named Bucephalus, which means "ox-head."
Philip admired the horse greatly, and bade the grooms
try him, to see if his gait was good. One after another
mounted, only to be thrown a few minutes later by the
fiery, restless steed, which was becoming very much
The horse seemed so skittish that Philip finally told
the men to lead him away, adding that a man would be
foolish to purchase such a useless animal. Alexander
then stepped forward and begged permission to try him.
His father first made fun of him for asking to mount a
horse which none of the grooms could manage; but, as
Alexander persisted in his wish, he was finally allowed
to make the attempt.
The young prince then quietly walked up to the excited
horse, took the bridle, held it firmly, and began to
speak gently and pat the steed's arched neck. After a
moment, Alexander led Bucephalus forward a few steps,
and then turned him around, for he had noticed that the
horse was frightened by his shadow.
Then, when the shadow lay where he could not see it,
and where it could no longer frighten him, the young
man dropped his cloak quietly, and vaulted upon the
 back. Once more Bucephalus reared, pranced, kicked, and
ran; but Alexander sat firmly on his back, spoke to
him gently, and, making no effort to hold him in, let
him speed across the plain.
In a few moments the horse's wildness was over, and
Alexander could ride back to his proud father, sitting
upon a steed which obeyed his slightest touch.
Alexander and Bucephalus.
Philip was so delighted with the coolness, courage, and
good horsemanship that Alexander had shown on this
occasion, that he made him a present of the steed.
Bucephalus became Alexander's favorite mount, and,
while he would allow no one else to ride him, he obeyed
his master perfectly.
Although most young men began the study of philosophy
only at sixteen, Alexander was placed under the tuition
of Aristotle soon after his first ride on Bucephalus.
This philosopher was a pupil of Plato. He was so
learned and well known, that Philip, in writing to him
to tell him of Alexander's birth, expressed his
pleasure that the gods had allowed his son to live in
the same age with so great a teacher.
Alexander loved Aristotle dearly, and willingly learned
all that was required of him. He often said that he was
very grateful, for this philosopher had taught him all
the good he knew. Alexander's remarkable coolness,
judgment, and perseverance were largely owing to his
teacher, and, had he always followed Aristotle's
advice, he would have been truly great.
But although Alexander did not always practice the
virtues which Aristotle had tried to teach him, he
never forgot his old tutor. He gave him large sums of
 so that the philosopher could continue his studies, and
find out new things; and during his journeys he always
sent him complete collections of the animals and plants
of the regions he visited.
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