THE WAR HORSE OF ALEXANDER 69
do. Then he turned to Alexander and said : ' Do you think that you, young and untried, can ride this horse better than those who have grown old in the stables ?' To which Alexander made answer, ' This horse I know I could ride better than they.' ' And if you fail,' asked Philip, ' what price will you pay for your good conceit of yourself?' And Alexander laughed out and said gaily, 'I will pay the price of the horse.' And thus it was settled.
So Alexander drew near to the horse, and took him by the bridle, turning his face to the sun so that he might not be frightened at the movements of his own shadow, for the prince had noticed that it scared him greatly. Then Alexander stroked his head and led him forwards, feeling his temper all the while, and when the horse began to get uneasy, the prince suddenly leapt on his back, and gradually curbed him with the bridle. Suddenly, as Bucephalus gave up trying to throw his rider, and only pawed the ground impatient to be off, Alexander shook the reins, and bidding him go, they flew like lightning round the course. This was Alexander's first conquest, and as he jumped down from the horse, his father exclaimed, ' Go, my son, and seek for a kingdom that is worthy, for Macedon is too small for such as thee.'
Henceforth Bucephalus made it clear that he served Alexander and no one else. He would submit quietly to having the gay trappings of a king's steed fastened on his head, and the royal saddle put on, but if any groom tried to mount him, back would go his ears and up would go his heels, and none dared come near him. For ten years after Alexander succeeded his father on the throne of Macedon (b.c. 336), Bucephalus bore him through all his battles, and was, says Pliny, ' of a passing good and memorable service in the wars,' and even when wounded, as he once was at the taking of Thebes, would not suffer his master to mount another horse. Together these two swam rivers, crossed mountains, penetrated into the