|The Story of Greece|
|by Mary Macgregor|
| Stories from the history of ancient Greece beginning with mythical and legendary stories of gods and heroes and ending with the conquests of Alexander the Great. Gives short accounts of battles and sieges, and of the men who made Greece a great nation. Ages 10-14 |
ALEXANDER AND BUCEPHALUS
 ALEXANDER, the son of Philip of Macedon, became king in 336 B.C.
The queen-mother adored her brave son and dreamed of
the great things he would do when he became a man. She
did all she could to awake his ambition, telling him
that he was descended from Achilles, the hero of Troy,
and bidding him, when he was older, strive to do nobler
deeds than his great ancestor had done. One of his
tutors called the young prince Achilles, while he named
himself Phoenix, after the tutor of the old Greek hero.
The Iliad of Homer, which tells of the deeds of
Achilles, Alexander knew by heart. When he was a man
he always carried a copy with him on his campaigns. It
is said that he slept with it as well as his sword
beneath his pillow.
Alexander might almost have been a Spartan boy, so
simple was his training. He learned to ride, to race,
to swim, but he never cared to wrestle as did most lads
of his time. Nor would he offer prizes for such
contests at the games which were held each year.
When the prince was asked if he would run in the
Olympic games, for he was fleet of foot, he answered,
"Yes, if I could have kings to race with me."
Even as a lad he was eager to win glory, and when he
heard of a great victory gained by his royal father, or
of a town that had been subdued by him, he was more
sorry than glad, and said to his companions, "My father
will make so many conquests that there will be nothing
left for me to win."
 One day, while Alexander was still a boy, a Greek from
Thessaly arrived at the court of Macedon, bringing with
him a noble horse, named Bucephalus, which he offered
to sell for £2600.
Philip went with his son and his courtiers to look at
the horse and to test its powers. But when any one
approached or tried to mount, Bucephalus reared and
kicked, and became so unmanageable that the king,
growing angry, bade the Thessalian take the animal
The prince had been watching the horse keenly, and as
he was being led away, the lad exclaimed, "What an
excellent horse do they lose for want of skill and
courage to manage him!"
Philip heard what his son said, but at first he took no
notice of his words. But when the prince said the same
thing again and again, he looked at Alexander, and saw
that he was really sorry that the horse was being sent
Then, half mocking, the king said, "Do you reproach
those who are older than yourself, as if you knew more
and were better able to manage him than they?"
"I could manage the horse better than others have
done," answered the prince.
"And if you fail what will you forfeit?" asked the
"I will pay the whole price of the horse," said
The courtiers laughed at the confidence of the prince,
but paying no attention to them, he ran toward the
horse and seizing the bridle turned Bucephalus, so that
he faced the sun. For the prince had noticed that the
steed was afraid of his own shadow as it flitted
backward and forward with his every movement.
He ran toward the horse and seized the bridle
After speaking quietly to the horse and patting him,
the prince flung aside the mantle he was wearing, and
nimbly mounted on his back. Using neither whip nor
spur, he let the animal choose his own pace. And
Bucephalus was content to go at a quiet trot.
 Gradually Alexander urged him on to a gallop, with
voice and spur. As the pace grew quicker and quicker,
the king looked on in fear lest the lad should be
thrown. But when he saw that the horse was well under
control, and that Alexander had turned and was coming
back, he burst into tears of joy, while the courtiers
loudly applauded the prince.
As he leaped from the horse, Philip kissed him and
said, "O my son, look thee out a kingdom equal to and
worthy of thyself, for Macedon is too little for thee."
Soon after this the king sent for a famous philosopher,
named Aristotle, to teach his son.
Alexander was quick to learn, and his eager interest in
his studies pleased Aristotle. In after days, when the
prince had become king and was adding kingdom after
kingdom to his possessions, he wrote to his old tutor,
"I assure you I had rather excel others in the
knowledge of what is excellent than in the extent of my
power and dominions."
When Philip was murdered, Alexander was twenty years of
age, "a stripling," Demosthenes said, making light of
his youth. But had Demosthenes known the character of
the prince, he would not have spoken thus slightingly
of his years.
The orator not only rejoiced when Philip was murdered,
but he urged the people to rouse themselves and throw
off the yoke of Macedon. The old days when the
Athenians would not listen to Demosthenes were long
past. Now his matchless eloquence could hold them
spellbound, even when they refused to be guided by his
advice. But in Athens, as in many other cities,
discontent had long been smouldering, and fanned by his
words it broke out into a blaze.
The young king found that he must put down rebellion in
Greece before he set out, as he wished to do, to
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