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11 famous horses from history

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on Aug. 26, 2016, 2:10 p.m.
The Alexander Mosaic featuring Alexander's horse Bucephalus.

Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons

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Bucephalus

Now let's go back — way, way back — in history. One of the most famous horses of antiquity is the favorite steed of Alexander the Great.

According to ancient accounts, Bucephalus was a huge black stallion and, as legend goes, was untamable until a young Alexander came onto the scene. The skittish horse would rear when anyone came near him, yet was finally quieted when Alexander turned him toward the sun, putting his shadow — the source of his fears — behind him.

Ancient History Encyclopedia writes: "According to Plutarch, as Alexander returned to the arena with Bucephalus and dismounted, Phillip said, “O my son look thee out a kingdom equal to and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee.” Historians claim this taming of the wild Bucephalus was a turning point in the young prince’s life, demonstrating the confidence and determination he was to show in his conquest of Asia.

Bucephalus became Alexander’s favorite horse and rode him in battle. At one point, the steed was stolen and Alexander promised to lay waste to the land and kill the inhabitants if the horse was not returned — which, of course, he promptly was.

Bucephalus died in 326 B.C. after the Battle of Hydaspes. Alexander founded the city of Bucephala in the horse's honor.