Βουκέφαλος, »bullhead«, the warhorse of Alexander. He was black, with a silver blaze. Some sources claim that his name came of a mark, shaped like an ox's head, that he had on one leg; but it seems more likely that it referred to his temperament. There is a story told of him, of how he found a rider, and the first feat of the young Alexander:
Philip of Macedon had purchased some horses, but one of them no man could tame. It careened through the paddock, bursting into sudden bucking and leaping, now and again, the whole long day. The king was angry, because he felt that he had been cheated; but prince Alexander, scarce thirteen, sat on the fence and looked thoughtfully at the horse.
»Father,« he said, »will you give me that horse, if I can tame him?«
»Certainly«, replied the king, »but take care, since you are my heir. If the horse harms you, I warn you that I shall surely kill it; for I have rarely seen such a useless beast.«
But Alexander went up to the horse, removed his cape and threw it over the animal's eyes; lo and behold, at once it became calm and docile. He leapt on its back, made it turn to face the sun, and then threw off the cape; and the horse ran and halted with perfect obedience! For it was his own shadow that the horse feared; and it is from this we have that idiom. Since that day, Bucephalus ran blinkered; and he was the fleetest and most dauntless of all the horses in the world.
He died in or after the Battle of the Hydaspes River. For Alexander it was an ill omen; he never crossed a river that Bucephalus had not.