The Story of the Greeks
In a few moments the horse's wildness was over, and Alexander could ride back to his proud father, sitting upon a steed which obeyed his slightest touch.
Philip was so delighted with the coolness, courage, and good horsemanship that Alexander had shown on this occasion, that he made him a present of the steed. Bucephalus became Alexander's favorite mount, and, while he would allow no one else to ride him, he obeyed his master perfectly.
Although most young men began the study of philosophy only at sixteen, Alexander was placed under the tuition of Ar´is-totle soon after his first ride on Bucephalus. This philosopher was a pupil of Plato. He was so learned and well known, that Philip, in writing to him to tell him of Alexander's birth, expressed his pleasure that the gods had allowed his son to live in the same age with so great a teacher.
Alexander loved Aristotle dearly, and willingly learned all that was required of him. He often said that he was very grateful, for this philosopher had taught him all the good he knew. Alexander's remarkable coolness, judgment, and perseverance were largely owing to his teacher, and, had he always followed Aristotle's advice, he would have been truly great.
But although Alexander did not always practice the virtues which Aristotle had tried to teach him, he never forgot his old tutor. He gave him large sums of money,[Pg 232] so that the philosopher could continue his studies, and find out new things; and during his journeys he always sent him complete collections of the animals and plants of the regions he visited.
Philip, King of Macedon, as we have seen, had one great fault. He drank; and often his reason was clouded, and his step unsteady. Now, it is impossible to respect a man who is drunk, and everybody used to make fun of Philip when he was in that state.
Even Alexander, his own son, felt great contempt for him when he thus disgraced himself; and once when he saw his father stagger and fall after one of his orgies, he scornfully exclaimed, "See! here is a man who is getting ready to cross from Europe to Asia, and yet he cannot step safely from one couch to another."
Alexander, we are told, was greatly displeased by his father's conquests, and once angrily cried that if Philip really beat the Persians, and took possession of Asia, there would be nothing left for him to do.
You may readily imagine, therefore, that he was not very sorry when his father died before the expedition could be undertaken; for he thus became, at twenty, master of an immense army and of great riches, and head of all the Greek cities, which were then the finest in the world.
The news of Philip's death was received with great[Pg 233] joy by the Athenians also, who thought they would now be free. Demosthenes, in particular, was so glad to be rid of his hated foe, that he ran all through the city with a crown of flowers on his head, shaking hands with everybody he met, and shouting his congratulations.