We Need Stories

We Need Stories

Once upon a time there was a horse that couldn’t be tamed.

He was young and strong, nervous and rangy. King Philip wanted to ride him in battle, and every man of the king’s army looked on that beautiful horse with admiration. But man after man could not tame him; with wild, frantic energy he started and bucked at every battle-hardened solder that tried to get close to him.

After many men had failed they were about to declare him untamable and send him back into the wild, when the king’s young son stepped forward and said, “Father, I can tame the horse!”

But all the older men scoffed and laughed: “How could you do something that all your elders and better couldn’t?” they asked him. But they let him try anyway. (Being the king’s son has its advantages.)

As the wild horse nervously skittered its way around the encampment, the young prince watched him closely. He studied how he moved, what he looked at. After a while he stood up and cried: “Ah! He’s being spooked by his own shadow!”

The prince edged over to the horse. He carefully took hold of the bridle. He turned him slowly around, toward the setting sun, away from his own shadow. And then the prince leapt up onto the horse’s back and to everyone’s surprise, the untamable horse readily accepted his new master!

The men cried out, “What a keen wit our prince has!” “Why you’ve done it Prince Alexander!” For that was his name: this young prince was Alexander, prince of Macedon, destined to become Alexander the Great.

Alexander named his horse Bucephalus, and he bore him to many victory in battle. Alexander grew into a mighty king under the tutelage of the philosopher Aristotle, who undoubtedly taught Alexander that patience, observation, and a little bit of bravery can untangle even the thorniest of knots.


This is one of the many, many (many) delightful stories from history that Wesley Callihan shares in Old Western Culture. It is taken from Plutarch’s Lives, from Year 2 (The Romans), Unit 2 (The Historians).

Bring these stories home: www.oldwesternculture.com

by Daniel Foucachon on Posted on

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