Perhaps the most famous horse in history. Bucephalus was the favourite war horse of Alexandra the Great. Alexandra was only 12 or 13 when he met Bucephalus for the first time. In 344 BC his father, King Philip the second of Macedonia, was in negotiations to buy the horse for 13 talents, a staggering amount of money for one horse. The sale was not going well as Bucephalus was proving too troublesome for anyone to ride. Alexandra came over and calmed the horse with soothing words and turned him towards the sun so it could not see its own shadow. He then rode Bucephalus to his father's immense pleasure and won the horse as his own.

Bucephalus and Alexandra struck up a deep and profound relationship which lasted all through Alexandra's teens and twenties and his campaigns and battles that forged the greatest empire the world has ever known. Some eighteen years later Bucephalus died from his wounds after the battle of Hydaspes in which Alexandra and his army defeated King Porus. Alexandra founded the city of Bucephala in honour of his beloved companion. It was on the west bank of the Hydaspes river now in present day Parkistan.

Alexandra claimed descent from Greek's most famous warrior Achilles. Horses were extremely important to Achilles who boasted that they had been given to his father by Poisidon and were therefore immortal. Alexandra emulated the feats of Achilles in all ways including the bonding with exceptional horses. The pair formed a cult which many subsequent military leaders followed, forging powerful links with their favourite war horses.

Bucephalus in battle

Detail from the Alexandra Mosaic showing the two of them fighting at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC.

Bucephalus gold coin

This gold coin depicting Bucephalus is from the reign of Seleucus who directly suceeded Alexandra to rule over his conquered lands.