Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Great Horse Stories – Bucephalas’ foals.

Bucephalas took time off from fighting to sire three foals: Electra, Hoplite, and Indus. Now they are grown, the Muse is delighted to bring you this exclusive interview with them.

Q. I know Bucephalas fathered all of you, but who was your mother?
Electra: Psylla. She’s dead now, but she was really brave. She was smaller than me, but she carried Alexander at the Battle of Granicus after Bucephalas got captured by the Persians, and she died fighting. I am determined to fight like her and make Bucephalas proud of me!
Hoplite: Harpinna. She’s got silly white speckles in her coat and she passed them on to me, so I’m not all black like Bucephalas. Alexander says I’ve inherited her bad temper, too. He can talk.
Indus: Aura! She had a stillborn foal before me, so she’s really protective. When the horsemaster tried to steal me in India, she got really fierce and reared up and knocked him over. Her coat’s white with age now, but I gather she was quite a looker when she was younger.

Q. Where were you born?
Electra: Pella, Macedonia, the same as Alexander. It’s a lovely place with green pastures between the mountains and the sea. I grew up and learnt how to carry a rider there before joining the army.
Hoplite: Some godforsaken place in Asia. Halicarnassus, I think, one of the many cities Alexander dominated. I didn’t get to see much of it. I had to march with the army almost as soon as I could walk and Harpinna wouldn’t wait for me. She was a hopeless mother.
Indus: India, at the edge of the world. It was raining.

Q. What does your name mean, and what do you think of it?
Electra: I’m named after the famous Electra Gate of Thebes, a Greek city Alexander burnt to the ground on the day I was born. I quite like my name.
Hoplite: It means “foot soldier”, because I was born in the army. I think it’s a bit common, considering Bucephalas’ blood runs in my veins, but what do you expect from grooms? Everyone knows they’ve got no imagination.
Indus: The grooms named me after the great river that flows at the edge of the world, where Bucephalas and Alexander had their last battle against the Indians. At least they didn't name me after an elephant.

Q. What do you think of your sire, Bucephalas?
Electra: He’s big and strong and he always looks after me in battle. No one could have a better dad.
Hoplite: He keeps giving me flat ears! I don’t think he likes the silly white freckles in my coat.
Indus: I never really knew him. He fell in battle at the Indus, but while he was sick he roused himself up with the last of his strength to protect me and Aura, so I know he loved me. Everyone says I look like him. I’m not as brave, though. I’m glad the war’s over so I won’t have to fight as many battles as he did.

Q. Who’s your rider?
Electra: Demetrius. He used to ride Aura, until Bucephalas got her in foal (with Indus). He’s kind and gentle, and he carries the great Shield of Achilles for Alexander so I usually get to gallop beside Bucephalas.
Hoplite: Don’t ask me! First it was Tydeos, a common groom! I soon bucked him off. Then some soldier called Peucestas, I think. I bucked him off, too. Then Alexander rode me while Bucephalas was lame. I tried to buck him off as well, but he got angry with me and we had a fight, which he won. Nobody likes riding me very much… not sure why.
Indus: Charmeia, Bucephalas’ groom, after he was injured in the last battle and could not be ridden any more. She’s very sweet and kind, so I feel lucky to have her.

Q. What do you think of your brothers and sister?
Electra: Little brothers? They’re always a pain, aren’t they? Hoplite’s the worst, though.
Hoplite: Electra’s really stuck up and keeps telling me off, just because she’s older than me and fights in battles. Indus is such a baby. It’s hard being the middle foal.
Indus: I like Electra – she looks after me when Aura needs a rest. Hoplite’s a big bully, so I keep out of his way when he’s in a bad mood.

Thank you, Bucephalas’ foals! The Muse thinks you are all beautiful, even Hoplite with his speckled coat. And when you have foals of your own, Bucephalas’ bloodline will continue - ha! (as he would say)


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