Greek Legend about Alexander the Great’s Horse

Text: The informant recalls being told the story of bucephalus, a great stallion that no one could tame or ride that belonged to the king of Macedonia, Phillip. Alexander the great, his son,  made a bet with his father that if he could ride the animal it would be his. The King agreed. Alexander approached Bucephalus differently from the great generals who had tried to tame him with force. Instead of beating, yelling, or chasing, he spoke softly to the horse, praising its beauty. Realizing the horse was afraid of its own shadow, he cleverly redirected Bucephalus’s head towards the sun. This removed the shadow from view, calming the horse. Alexander was able to mount and ride Bucephalus successfully. 

Context: The informant explains he was told two things about the story. First, when someone is acting ferociously, it may not have anything to do with you, it is often because they are afraid of something. Second, that by being patient and observing you can figure out what is wrong, and by being nice you can diffuse the situation. He was told this story when he was a young boy growing up in the 70’s in New york in a Greek immigrant family. 

Analysis: I think this story serves two purposes. Firstly, it is meant to instill good values and socialize a young boy about how to handle heated situations. The second reason is to retain cultural identity. The informant is from a family of immigrants, very proud of their culture. By telling stories of Greeces most influential figures they retain their identity while instilling important values.