Horsemen on Rearing Horses Part 1: Ancient World, Byzantium And Their Influence

Table Of Contents

Antique World

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The Beginnings: Saudi Petroglyphs and Aramean (Syrian) Reliefs, 2500 – 800 BC

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According to the Ashmolean Museum research, horses have first mentioned in Eastern written sources in cr. 2100 BC. Initially, they were used to pull the wheeled vehicles, but later, in the 1st millennium BC, there was a shift towards cavalry.

The beginnings of the image of a horseman on a rearing horse are rather humble: some petroglyphs in what is now Saudi Arabia and very unsophisticated relief sculptures of barefoot soldiers on a horseback, one of them holding a club, that was once decorating a palace of an Aramean king Kapara in what is now Syria.

Petroglyphs, 2500-1000 BC, A'abar Harema, Bir Hima, Saudi Arabia
Petroglyphs, 2500-1000 BC,
A'abar Harema, Bir Hima, Saudi Arabia
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Relief sculpture of a soldier riding a horse, 10th-9th century BC, Aramean or Hittite, Tell Halaf, Syria
Relief sculpture of a soldier riding a horse, 10th-9th century BC, Aramean or Hittite, Tell Halaf, Syria
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Relief sculpture of a soldier riding a horse, 10th-9th century BC, Aramean or Hittite, Tell Halaf, Syria
Relief sculpture of a soldier riding a horse, 10th-9th century BC, Aramean or Hittite, Tell Halaf, Syria
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Assyria: Wall Panel Relieves And Balawat Gates, 9th – 7th centuries BC

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Most Of Assyrian horsemen on the rearing horses that have survived to our days are the wall relieves in the palaces of kings Ashurnasirpal II, Tiglath-Pileser III and Ashurbanipal.

King Ashurbanipal‘s reliefs are perhaps the most famous and interesting of all these objects; the craftsmanship is astonishing. The lion hunt, the central theme of these reliefs, was double symbolic meaning. Firstly, it was to emphasize the bravery and the king’s supreme horsemanship and archery skill, the supreme virtues of a ruler by the standards of the time. The second meaning was to show that the king protects his people from the predator animals, that were also associated with the evil demons.

In addition, there is one of the bronze band on Balawat Gates, the one depicting king Shalmaneser III‘s campaign in Syria, showing the capture of cities in Hamath, part of 854 BC–846 BC Assyrian Conquest of Syria. Balawat is an archaeological in Iraq; it lies 25 kilometres (16 mi) southeast from the city of Mosul.

Gypsum wall panel relief showing an Assyrian official in a chariot pursuing enemy horsemen,865 BC-860 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
Gypsum wall panel relief showing an Assyrian official in a chariot pursuing enemy horsemen,
865 BC-860 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
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Gypsum wall panel relief showing Assyrian cavalry and infantry attacking the enemy,865 BC-860 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
Gypsum wall panel relief showing Assyrian cavalry and infantry attacking the enemy,
865 BC-860 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
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The Balawat Gates, bronze band depicting Shalmaneser III's campaign in Syria,858 BC-824 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
The Balawat Gates,
bronze band depicting Shalmaneser III's campaign in Syria,
858 BC-824 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
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Cylinder seal depicting a stag hunting, 800 BC-750 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
Cylinder seal depicting a stag hunting,
800 BC-750 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
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Wall panel relief depicting a horseman attacked by two mounted Assyrians, cr. 728 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
Wall panel relief depicting a horseman attacked by two mounted Assyrians,
cr. 728 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
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Wall panel relief depicting two Assyrian cavalrymen charging against enemies, cr. 728 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
Wall panel relief depicting two Assyrian cavalrymen charging against enemies,
cr. 728 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
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King Ashurbanipal killing a lion, 645-35 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
King Ashurbanipal killing a lion,
645-35 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
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King Ashurbanipal aiming an arrow, 645-35 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
King Ashurbanipal aiming an arrow,
645-35 BC, Neo-Assyrian (Iraq)
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Bakelite cigarette box with a horseman spearing lion in Assyrian style, 1930's, Birkby's Ltd., England
Bakelite cigarette box with a horseman spearing lion in Assyrian style,
1930's, Birkby's Ltd., England
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We will see that the equestrian lion hunt will fascinate many artists and patrons for the years to come: we will see it on the sword-sheath from Oxus Treasure, on Alexander the Great‘s sarcophagus, on the painting “The Lion Hunt” by Peter Paul Rubens etc.

Elam and Achaemenid Persia, 10th – 4th centuries BC

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Elamite And Persian Seals

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The earliest Persian region riders on rearing horses I could find are on numerous seals (mostly Cylinder seals) depicting a king (?) hunting a stag or a lion. We can see, that despite the time gap between Elam and Achaemenid Empire, the artistic tradition remained unaffected to the point that it is not always possible to determine if a particular seal is Neo-Elamite or Achaemenid.

Cylinder seal depicting hunting, cr. 10th-5th century BC, Neo-Elamite II (?)
Cylinder seal depicting hunting,
cr. 10th-5th century BC, Neo-Elamite II (?)
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Cylinder seal depicting hunting, cr. 10th-5th century BC, Neo-Elamite II or Achaemenid (?)
Cylinder seal depicting hunting,
cr. 10th-5th century BC, Neo-Elamite II or Achaemenid (?)
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Cylinder seal depicting hunting,cr. 8th-7th century BC, Neo-Elamite II
Cylinder seal depicting hunting,
cr. 8th-7th century BC, Neo-Elamite II
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Stamp-seal depicting hunting, cr. 6th-4th century BC, Achaemenid (?)
Stamp-seal depicting hunting,
cr. 6th-4th century BC, Achaemenid (?)
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Cylinder seals depicting hunting, cr. 750 BC-300 BC
Cylinder seals depicting hunting,
cr. 750 BC-300 BC
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Seal of Cyrus I, 600 - 580 BC, Persia, now Iran
Seal of Cyrus I, 600 - 580 BC,
Persia, now Iran
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Cylinder seal with a scene of a rider in a Median dress with a spear and a dog chasing a fallow deer, 538 BC-331 BC, Achaemenid Persia
Cylinder seal with a scene of a rider in a Median dress with a spear and a dog chasing a fallow deer,
538 BC-331 BC, Achaemenid Persia
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Two horsemen and a hound attack stags, ??, Greco-Persian
Two horsemen and a hound attack stags,
??, Greco-Persian
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Scaraboid stamp seal with a scene of a rider, possibly a king, in Median dress galloping towards the right and spearing a boar, 5th - 4th century BC
Scaraboid stamp seal with a scene of a rider, possibly a king, in Median dress galloping towards the right and spearing a boar,
5th - 4th century BC
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Oxus Treasure

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Shield-ornament (?), 4th century BC (?), Achaemenid, Persia, Oxus Treasure
Shield-ornament (?),
4th century BC (?), Achaemenid, Persia, Oxus Treasure
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Sword-sheath depicting a lion hunt, 5th century BC (?), Achaemenid, Persia, Oxus Treasure
Sword-sheath depicting a lion hunt,
5th century BC (?), Achaemenid, Persia, Oxus Treasure
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Two later objects, part of Oxus Treasure, contain somewhat more elaborate depictions of the riders on the rearing horses, again in the context of hunting.

There are relatively few Achaemenid silversmith objects that survived, we will see a lot mode produced by Sasanian Empire in a few hundred years’ time.

Horsemen Of Mixed Greco-Persian Origin

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For the few centuries before Alexander the Great subjugated both Greece and Persia, these two nations were arch-enemies. Persia was an empire, much bigger and wealthier, but Greece maintained clear cultural superiority. Many Persians appreciated it, but wanted to integrate their own culture into the art objects they were commissioning. This resulted in many objects of mixed Greco-Persian origin.

Funeral Monuments

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The clearest examples of interaction between Greek and Persian cultures are the funeral monuments erected in Persian provinces: they were of Persian types, much larger and more impressive than Greek funerary stelae, and the bas-reliefs that decorate them are made by Greek artists in typically Greek style.

There were three types of Persian tombs: pillar tombs, gothic-arched sarcophagi and temple tombs.

An example of a gothic-arched sarcophagus is a Lycian sarcophagus that was found in Sidon, modern Lebanon. It has the traditional Lycian shape (Lycia was a kingdom located in modern Turkey, part of Persian Achaemenid Empire when this sarcophagus was produced). However, the sculptural decoration was done in the style of Greek Peloponnese! Altıkulaç Sarcophagus, the other Greco-Persian sarcophagus, has unfortunately lost its upper part but retained the fragments of colour that once adorned it. It can probably be attributed to an Anatolian dynast of Hellespontine Phrygia, a Persian satrapy.

Lycian sarcophagus, end of 5th century BC, Chamber no. IV of the royal necropolis of Sidon, modern Lebanon
Lycian sarcophagus,
end of 5th century BC, Chamber no. IV of the royal necropolis of Sidon, modern Lebanon
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The Çan Sarcophagus, 400-375 BC, village of Altıkulaç, near Çan, modern-day Turkey
The Çan Sarcophagus,
400-375 BC, village of Altıkulaç, near Çan, modern-day Turkey
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The Çan Sarcophagus, detail of Persian horseman spearing fallen footsoldier, 400-375 BC, village of Altıkulaç, near Çan, modern-day Turkey
The Çan Sarcophagus, detail of Persian horseman spearing fallen footsoldier,
400-375 BC, village of Altıkulaç, near Çan, modern-day Turkey
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The Çan Sarcophagus, detail of hunting scene, 400-375 BC, village of Altıkulaç, near Çan, modern-day Turkey
The Çan Sarcophagus, detail of hunting scene,
400-375 BC, village of Altıkulaç, near Çan, modern-day Turkey
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The Nereid Monument, build around 390-380 BC at Xantos, also in Lycia, is the first known example of a temple-tomb. Most of the subjects depicted on these reliefs are typically Greek, but the architrave frieze shows a bear hunt scene, with a mounted hunter, which is typically Persian.

The reconstructed façade of the Nereid Monument, cr. 390-380 BC, classical Greek, Xanthos in Lycia, close to present-day Fethiye in Mugla Province, Turkey
The reconstructed façade of the Nereid Monument,
cr. 390-380 BC, classical Greek, Xanthos in Lycia, close to present-day Fethiye in Mugla Province, Turkey
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Detail of the first frieze of the Nereid monument showing heroic combats, cr. 390-380 BC, classical Greek, Xanthos in Lycia, close to present-day Fethiye in Mugla Province, Turkey
Detail of the first frieze of the Nereid monument showing heroic combats,
cr. 390-380 BC, classical Greek, Xanthos in Lycia, close to present-day Fethiye in Mugla Province, Turkey
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Detail of the first frieze of the Nereid monument showing heroic combats, cr. 390-380 BC, classical Greek, Xanthos in Lycia, close to present-day Fethiye in Mugla Province, Turkey
Detail of the first frieze of the Nereid monument showing heroic combats,
cr. 390-380 BC, classical Greek, Xanthos in Lycia, close to present-day Fethiye in Mugla Province, Turkey
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Detail of the architrave frieze of the Nereid Monument showing a dynast at the bear hunt, cr. 390-380 BC, classical Greek, Xanthos in Lycia, close to present-day Fethiye in Mugla Province, Turkey
Detail of the architrave frieze of the Nereid Monument showing a dynast at the bear hunt,
cr. 390-380 BC, classical Greek, Xanthos in Lycia, close to present-day Fethiye in Mugla Province, Turkey
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The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is the greatest example of a temple-tomb. It was built between 353 and 350 BC at Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey) for Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire, and his sister-wife. Even though Persians were arch-enemies of Greeks, Mausolus spoke Greek and admired the Greek way of life and government, so he invited Greek architects Satyros and Pythius of Priene to design his tomb. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by earthquakes, and we don’t know exactly what it looked like, but some authentic reliefs have survived.

House of the Temple, design based on the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, 1911-5, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
House of the Temple, design based on the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus,
1911-5, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
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Detail of the Amazon Frieze of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, cr. 350 BC, Pytheos (?), classical Greek, Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey)
Detail of the Amazon Frieze of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus,
cr. 350 BC, Pytheos (?), classical Greek, Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey)
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Detail of the Amazon Frieze of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, cr. 350 BC, Pytheos (?), classical Greek,  Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey)
Detail of the Amazon Frieze of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus,
cr. 350 BC, Pytheos (?), classical Greek, Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey)
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Detail of the Amazon Frieze of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, cr. 350 BC, Pytheos (?), classical Greek, Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey)
Detail of the Amazon Frieze of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus,
cr. 350 BC, Pytheos (?), classical Greek, Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey)
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Seals, A Coin and Tiles

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Ionian Tribute Bearers, 520 - 486 BC, Apadana Staircase, Persepolis, Iran
Ionian Tribute Bearers, 520 - 486 BC,
Apadana Staircase, Persepolis, Iran
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The next two objects were made Ionians, one of the Greek tribes, yet they depict Persian horsemen spearing Greek foot soldiers. This apparent paradox is easy to explain. Ionians lived in Asia Minor, on the coast of modern-day Turkey. They were under Persian rule, on and off, for the best part of time from the defeat of Lydian king Croesus by Cyrus the Great followed by the conquest of all the Ionian cities in 547-546 BC, and until 334 BC, when Alexander the Great defeated Persians in the Battle of the Granicus and subsequent battles. The reliefs of Apadana, the great audience hall of Persepolis, the most significant architecural monument of Persian Achaemenid Empire, were probably carved by Ionians.

The origin of the third object is unclear. However, given the similarity of subject, technique and production time, it is possible that these three objects belong together.

The fourth object is a coin, silver tetradrachm, with the depiction of a satrap on a rearing horse. It is another example of Greek workmanship that depicts Persian subject: it is made in Cyprus, an island originally populated by Greeks, and colonised by Persians, and depicts a ruler, a satrap, who was serving Persian empire.

Finally, there are two tiles, discovered in Asia Minor at the end of the 6th century BC when this territory was part of the Persian empire. The imagery and technique are very Greek.

Black jasper scarabaeoid seal: Persian Horseman Slaying a Greek foot soldier with a Spear, 2nd half of the 5th century, Greek/Ionian
Black jasper scarabaeoid seal: Persian Horseman Slaying a Greek foot soldier with a Spear,
2nd half of the 5th century, Greek/Ionian
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Plasma scarabaeoid seal: Persian Horseman Slaying a Greek with a Spear, cr. 450-400 BC, Greek/Ionian
Plasma scarabaeoid seal: Persian Horseman Slaying a Greek with a Spear,
cr. 450-400 BC, Greek/Ionian
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Chalcedony scarabaeoid seal: Persian Horseman Slaying a Hoplite with a Spear, First half of the 4th century BC, ?
Chalcedony scarabaeoid seal: Persian Horseman Slaying a Hoplite with a Spear,
First half of the 4th century BC, ?
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Silver tetradrachm of Evagoras II Salamis of Cyprus with satrap on horseback, 368–346 BC, Cyprus
Silver tetradrachm of Evagoras II Salamis of Cyprus with satrap on horseback,
368–346 BC, Cyprus
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Tile with a winged griffon and a horseman, 6th century BC, Asia Minor
Tile with a winged griffon and a horseman,
6th century BC, Asia Minor
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Tile with a winged griffon and a horseman, 6th century BC, Asia Minor
Tile with a winged griffon and a horseman,
6th century BC, Asia Minor
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Etruria: 6th-2nd Centuries BC: Pottery, Metalworks and Sarcophagi

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Horsemen on the rearing horses were making occasional appearances in the art of Etruria. It appears that it was where the horsewomen on rearing horses have made their debut appearance. It is interesting to note that, although the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum forward-facing riders figurines are very similar, the British museum consider them female (Amazons) whereas the Metropolitan museum considers them male.

Oinochoe showing galloping cavalrymen, 540-510 BC, Etruria
Oinochoe showing galloping cavalrymen,
540-510 BC, Etruria
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Terracotta hydria (water jar) with two horsemen, cr. 520–510 BC, Caere, Etruria
Terracotta hydria (water jar) with two horsemen,
cr. 520–510 BC, Caere, Etruria
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Terracotta hydria showing hare hunt, 6th century BC, Caere, Etruria
Terracotta hydria showing hare hunt,
6th century BC, Caere, Etruria
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Furniture-fitting or chariot-fitting, cr. 540 BC-520 BC
Furniture-fitting or chariot-fitting,
cr. 540 BC-520 BC
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Bronze cinerary urn with lid, cr. 500 BC (?), Etruscan
Bronze cinerary urn with lid,
cr. 500 BC (?), Etruscan
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Bronze cinerary urn with lid, cr. 500 BC, Etruscan
Bronze cinerary urn with lid,
cr. 500 BC, Etruscan
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Bronze statuette of a Scythian mounted archer, early 5th century BC
Bronze statuette of a Scythian mounted archer,
early 5th century BC
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Later on, cinerary urns were replaced with the sarcophagi depicting the scenes with the horsemen that indicate a strong influence of Greek culture.

Sarcophagus and lid with husband and wife with two pairs of horsemen and foot soldiers in combat, 350–300 BC, Italian/Etruscan
Sarcophagus and lid with husband and wife with two pairs of horsemen and foot soldiers in combat,
350–300 BC, Italian/Etruscan
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Sarcophagus of a woman with horsemen and foot soldiers in combat, cr. end of 2nd century BC, Italian/Etruscan
Sarcophagus of a woman with horsemen and foot soldiers in combat,
cr. end of 2nd century BC, Italian/Etruscan
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Ancient Greece, 6th – 3rd Centuries BC

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Pottery, 6th – 4th Centuries BC, Myth, Warfare And Sports

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The earliest Greek horsemen on rearing horses I could find are the depiction of anonymous sportsmen and warriors on Greek pottery. Predictably, the majority is warfare-related. We can see the battles of the gods of Ancient Greece such as Poseidon, the mythological heroes such as Odysseus, Troilus and Achilles. But most depict the fighting of anonymous Greek warriors against Thracians, Scythians and, especially, Amazons (but, interestingly, not Persians). One can observe that Amazons frequently wear Scythian trousers. This is because, based on a myth, Amazons and Scythians are closely linked. The reason why Thracians’ clothing is identical to Scythians’ (see situla with Odysseus below) is unclear.

Olpe with the depiction of two horsemen,cr. 575-550 BC, Corinthian
Olpe with the depiction of two horsemen,
cr. 575-550 BC, Corinthian
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Dinos with the depiction of horse races and Amazonomachy,6th century BC, Attic
Dinos with the depiction of horse races and Amazonomachy,
6th century BC, Attic
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Amphora with a battle scene in which a hoplite, or heavily armed infantryman, falls to the ground between two cavalrymen,cr. 530-520 BC, Attic
Amphora with a battle scene in which a hoplite, or heavily armed infantryman, falls to the ground between two cavalrymen,
cr. 530-520 BC, Attic
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Amphora with Achilles and Penthesilea,cr. 520 BC, Vulci (Attic production ?)
Amphora with Achilles and Penthesilea,
cr. 520 BC, Vulci (Attic production ?)
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Amphora with two armed horsemen clashing on the battlefield, their horses rearing above a fallen warrior trapped beneath them,cr. 520 BC, Attica
Amphora with two armed horsemen clashing on the battlefield, their horses rearing above a fallen warrior trapped beneath them,
cr. 520 BC, Attica
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Oinochoe with the depiction of mounted warriors trampling a Scythian archer,cr. 510 BC, Attica
Oinochoe with the depiction of mounted warriors trampling a Scythian archer,
cr. 510 BC, Attica
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Neck-amphora with the depiction of mounted warriors trampling an Amazon,cr. 510 BC-500 BC, Attica
Neck-amphora with the depiction of mounted warriors trampling an Amazon,
cr. 510 BC-500 BC, Attica
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Neck-amphora with the depiction of combat on an Amazone and a hoplite,cr. 500-490 BC, Attica
Neck-amphora with the depiction of combat on an Amazone and a hoplite,
cr. 500-490 BC, Attica
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Bell-krater showing a battle of two Amazons and one Greek,cr. 440 BC, Attica
Bell-krater showing a battle of two Amazons and one Greek,
cr. 440 BC, Attica
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Red-figured Amphora Showing An Amazon on Horseback, 440 BC, Attica
Red-figured Amphora Showing An Amazon on Horseback,
440 BC, Attica
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Dinos with the depiction of combat of Attic heroes with Amazons,440 BC-430 BC, Attica
Dinos with the depiction of combat of Attic heroes with Amazons,
440 BC-430 BC, Attica
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Amphora with the depiction of Amazonomachy,435-415 BC, painted by Aison
Amphora with the depiction of Amazonomachy,
435-415 BC, painted by Aison
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Column-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water),cr. 430 BC, Attica, attributed to the Marlay Painter
Column-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water),
cr. 430 BC, Attica, attributed to the Marlay Painter
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Red-figured Krater showing a Warrior and an Amazon, 430-420 BC, Apulia
Red-figured Krater showing a Warrior and an Amazon,
430-420 BC, Apulia
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Bell-krater showing a horseman crowned by Nike,cr. 420 BC, Attic
Bell-krater showing a horseman crowned by Nike,
cr. 420 BC, Attic
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Amphora known as the amphora of Milo: gigantomachy, including the depiction of Poseidon on a rearing horse,410-400 BC, Attica, attributed to the painter of Suessula
Amphora known as the amphora of Milo: gigantomachy, including the depiction of Poseidon on a rearing horse,
410-400 BC, Attica, attributed to the painter of Suessula
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Bell-krater showing a battle of Troilus and Achilles, cr. 380–370 BC, the Hoppin Painter, Apulia
Bell-krater showing a battle of Troilus and Achilles,
cr. 380–370 BC, the Hoppin Painter, Apulia
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Oinochoe showing a horseman and an amphora showing a horseman, beginning of the 4th century BC, Attic
Oinochoe showing a horseman and an amphora showing a horseman,
beginning of the 4th century BC, Attic
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Red-figured Pelike Showing a Fight of an Amazon on Horseback with a Gryphon, Third quarter of the 4th century BC, Attica
Red-figured Pelike Showing a Fight of an Amazon on Horseback with a Gryphon,
Third quarter of the 4th century BC, Attica
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Hydria with Greeks fighting a mounted Persian, 365-350 BC, Attic
Hydria with Greeks fighting a mounted Persian,
365-350 BC, Attic
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Situla with Odysseus (wearing the pilos hat) and Diomedes stealing the horses of Thracian king Rhesus they have just killed, 360 BC, Apulia
Situla with Odysseus (wearing the pilos hat) and Diomedes stealing the horses of Thracian king Rhesus they have just killed,
360 BC, Apulia
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Red-figured Pelike: Arimasp Fighting a Gryphon and Two Mantled Youths, 360-350 BC, Attica
Red-figured Pelike: Arimasp Fighting a Gryphon and Two Mantled Youths,
360-350 BC, Attica
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Falaieff with the depiction of combat on an Amazone and two griffons,4th century BC, Attica
Falaieff with the depiction of combat on an Amazone and two griffons,
4th century BC, Attica
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Drinking cup (kylix) with the depiction of an Arimaspean on horseback and a gryphon, cr. 4th century BC, Attica
Drinking cup (kylix) with the depiction of an Arimaspean on horseback and a gryphon,
cr. 4th century BC, Attica
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One could also find a few vessels which decoration is related to Panathenaic Games.

Panathenaic amphora, cr. 510 BC, Attica, attributed to the Leagros Group
Panathenaic amphora,
cr. 510 BC, Attica, attributed to the Leagros Group
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Panathenaic amphora, cr. 500 BC-490 BC, Attica, attributed to the Eucharides Painter
Panathenaic amphora,
cr. 500 BC-490 BC, Attica, attributed to the Eucharides Painter
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Neck-amphora with keles(?) scene, cr. 450 BC-430 BC, Attica, attributed to Polygnotos
Neck-amphora with keles(?) scene,
cr. 450 BC-430 BC, Attica, attributed to Polygnotos
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Panathenaic amphora, cr. 425 BC-400 BC, Attica, attributed to the Kuban Group
Panathenaic amphora,
cr. 425 BC-400 BC, Attica, attributed to the Kuban Group
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Parthenon Frieze, 443-438 BC

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Parthenon Frieze, sculpted in cr. 443-438 BC, depicts many horsemen (43 out of 121 blocks); and most of them have rearing horses. This is expected, since the subject of the relief that decorates the frieze are two (separate) processions, one of them is a Panathenaic Games procession. The other procession is war-related. As such, Parthenon frieze combines both major themes of the horsemen on the rearing horses of Ancient Greece.

West Frieze of the Parthenon, drawing by Marion Cox, taken from 'Greek Sculpture Classical Period' by John Boardman
West Frieze of the Parthenon,
drawing by Marion Cox,
taken from 'Greek Sculpture Classical Period' by John Boardman
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West Frieze of the Parthenon, Block II, 438 BC-432 BC, Athens
West Frieze of the Parthenon, Block II,
438 BC-432 BC, Athens
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West Frieze of the Parthenon, Block X, 438 BC-432 BC, Athens
West Frieze of the Parthenon, Block X,
438 BC-432 BC, Athens
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West Frieze of the Parthenon, 'Restored' using 3D imagery block X,2014, Athens
West Frieze of the Parthenon, 'Restored' using 3D imagery block X,
2014, Athens
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Rare Depictions Of Hunt, 6th-4th Centuries BC

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One could also expect some depiction of Greek hunters on rearing horses, but these are virtually inexistent. I have only found three objects with such depictions. All of them have some Persian connections. The first object, kantharos, uses the iconography that was only used by Persians at the time. Also, it was made in Beotia, the region in Ancient Greece that assisted the invaders during the Persian invasion of 480 BC; one could assume that Beotia had prior contacts with Persia. The next of is a fragment of sarcophagus made in Klazomenai, Greek region conquered by Persians. The last two objects, lekythos, both feature the depictions of the hunting scenes. Hallie Malcolm Franks suggests that the image that shows Persians hunting deer, griffons and a boar among other game is no less than a fictionalized account of Persian conquest, in which the borders of the empire have reached the edges of the Earth. I could not find much about the fourth object, but the similarity of style and depicted subject, as well as the proximity of times of creation, allows us to think that these two lekythoi are related.

Kantharos with the depiction of two horsemen with spears and dog hunting stag, mid-6th century BC, Boeotian
Kantharos with the depiction of two horsemen with spears and dog hunting stag,
mid-6th century BC, Boeotian
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Fragment of Klazomenian painted terracotta sarcophagus with youths riding horses below which run dogs, late 6th century BC, Klazomenian (modern Turkey)
Fragment of Klazomenian painted terracotta sarcophagus with youths riding horses below which run dogs,
late 6th century BC, Klazomenian (modern Turkey)
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Lekythos with Boar Hunt, ca. 380 BC, signed Xenophantos the Athenian
Lekythos with Boar Hunt,
ca. 380 BC, signed Xenophantos the Athenian
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Relief Lekythos with Hunting Scene, early 4th century BC, ?
Relief Lekythos with Hunting Scene,
early 4th century BC, ?
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However, there are two Greek amphorae that feature an image of a hunt, with a hound underneath the horse, yet there is no obvious connection to Persia. One was made in the 6th century BC in Reggio di Calabria, one of the oldest Greek colonies in southern Italy and an important maritime and commercial city as well as a cultural centre. There were other amphoras with horsemen produced in the same location at about the same time, which imagery is clearly Greek. The other one was made in Attica and depicts Dioscuri brothers’ hunting. The depiction of the horsemen is strikingly similar to what we see on the sarcophagus from Klazomenai (just above).

One could imagine that Persian motives were due to cultural or commercial contacts, either direct or indirect, through Greek territories colonised by Persia.

Amphora with horse riders, a man, a snake and two roosters,cr. 560-540 BC, Reggio di Calabria
Amphora with horse riders, a man, a snake and two roosters,
cr. 560-540 BC, Reggio di Calabria
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Amphora with horse riders, cr. 560-540 BC, Reggio di Calabria
Amphora with horse riders,
cr. 560-540 BC, Reggio di Calabria
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Amphora with horse riders, cr. 560-530 BC, Reggio di Calabria
Amphora with horse riders,
cr. 560-530 BC, Reggio di Calabria
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Amphora with horse riders, cr. 560-540 BC, Reggio di Calabria
Amphora with horse riders,
cr. 560-540 BC, Reggio di Calabria
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Amphora with riding youths, cr. 550-540 BC, Reggio di Calabria
Amphora with riding youths,
cr. 550-540 BC, Reggio di Calabria
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Amphora with the Dioscuri on horseback, Attic, cr. 500 BC
Amphora with the Dioscuri on horseback,
Attic, cr. 500 BC
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Funerary Stelae, 4th Century BC

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The next type of objects is sculptured funerary stelae. Very few of them featured horsemen. One stela was created to commemorate Dexileos, a 20 years old Athenian horseman who died in a Battle of Nemea fought against Sparta in 394 BC. This depiction is the first horseman on a rearing horse who is a real person, with a known name, of non-royal origin. In addition, this stela seems to make Ancient Greece the only culture where the first depiction of a real person on a rearing horse is not of a royal but of a commoner!

Funerary stela found near Athens, 4th century BC, Attic
Funerary stela found near Athens,
4th century BC, Attic
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Funerary stela of Aristokles found near Athens, cr. 350 BC, Attic
Funerary stela of Aristokles found near Athens,
cr. 350 BC, Attic
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Funerary stela found near Pelinna, cr. 350-340 BC, Thessaly
Funerary stela found near Pelinna,
cr. 350-340 BC, Thessaly
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Coins, 6th-3rd Centuries BC

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Thessalian Coins

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Pelinna was an ancient Greek city that gained particular prominence in the 4th century BC through its alliance with Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. Ancient Thessaly, the region Pelinna belonged to, was also famous for horse-rearing. This explains why the motif of the horseman was often used for its coinage.

Drachm with a horse and a rider,cr. 450–400 BC, Pelinna, Thessaly
Drachm with a horse and a rider,
cr. 450–400 BC, Pelinna, Thessaly
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Drachm with the head of Athena, signed by Telephantos, cr. 425–405 BC, Pharsalos, Thessaly
Drachm with the head of Athena, signed by Telephantos,
cr. 425–405 BC, Pharsalos, Thessaly
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Drachm with galloping bull,cr. 370 BC, Larissa, Thessaly
Drachm with galloping bull,
cr. 370 BC, Larissa, Thessaly
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Stater with the head of Hekate, struck under Alexander, cr. 369–357 BC, Pherai, Thessaly
Stater with the head of Hekate, struck under Alexander,
cr. 369–357 BC, Pherai, Thessaly
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From the iconographical perspective, the most interesting Thessalian coin is the humble bronze Pelinnian chalkous, the smallest, cheapest coin: it often features a horseman on a rearing horse striking fallen enemy hoplite.

Apuglian Coins

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Another Greek place that minted coins with horsemen on rearing horses was Taras (modern-day Taranto) in Apulia, southern Italy. In ancient times, around 500 BC, this Spartan colony was one of the largest city in the world, with population estimates up to 300,000 people. During the 4th century BC, it was a centre of a thriving decorated Greek pottery industry; we have seen some examples of it, with the depictions of the horsemen, above. Their coins tend to have Taras, the founder of the city, astride dolphin on the reverse; obverse very often features horsemen on rearing horses.

Stater  with a rider vaulting from a horse,420–380 BC, Taras, Apulia
Stater with a rider vaulting from a horse,
420–380 BC, Taras, Apulia
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Nommos with horse and rider,cr. 390 BC, Taras, Apulia
Nommos with horse and rider,
cr. 390 BC, Taras, Apulia
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Stater with a rider vaulting from a horse,380–344 BC, Taras, Apulia
Stater with a rider vaulting from a horse,
380–344 BC, Taras, Apulia
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Stater struck under Philokles,302–281 BC, Taras, Apulia
Stater struck under Philokles,
302–281 BC, Taras, Apulia
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Stater with a warrior on horseback crowned by Victory, struck under Kallikrates,cr. 240–228 BC, Taras, Apulia
Stater with a warrior on horseback crowned by Victory, struck under Kallikrates,
cr. 240–228 BC, Taras, Apulia
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Miscellaneous Coins

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Many other Greek poleis would occasionally depict the horsemen on the rearing horses on their coins, although it would not be systematic and horse-driven chariots would be seen more frequently. Two very imaginative coins show a fish underneath the horse.

Stater with a youth riding horse,450–400 BC, Kelenderis, Cilicia
Stater with a youth riding horse,
450–400 BC, Kelenderis, Cilicia
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Drachm with horseman hurling spear, cr. 450 BC, Aspendos, Pamphylia
Drachm with horseman hurling spear,
cr. 450 BC, Aspendos, Pamphylia
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Stater with horse and rider above tunny fish, cr. 460–400 BC, Kyzikos, Mysia
Stater with horse and rider above tunny fish,
cr. 460–400 BC, Kyzikos, Mysia
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Silver tetradrachm of Evagoras II Salamis of Cyprus with satrap on horseback, 368–346 BC, Cyprus
Silver tetradrachm of Evagoras II Salamis of Cyprus with satrap on horseback,
368–346 BC, Cyprus
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Alexander The Great And Hellenistic World

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Depictions Of Alexander The Great

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Time went by, and democracy was succeeded by tyranny. Alexander the Great was often represented on a rearing horse, with a spear. This iconography was developed during his lifetime and is used to these days. It is noteworthy that only three horses in this story have a name, and Alexander’s horse is one of them. His name is Bucephalus; he was reared in Ancient Thessaly.

Silver decadrachm of Alexander the Great showing him (?) attacking enemies riding an elephant, cr. 324 BC
Silver decadrachm of Alexander the Great showing him (?) attacking enemies riding an elephant,
cr. 324 BC
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Alexander sarcophagus, long side showing the battle of Issus, circa 320 BC, Ionian or Rhodian workmanchip, Hellenistic
Alexander sarcophagus, long side showing the battle of Issus,
circa 320 BC, Ionian or Rhodian workmanchip, Hellenistic
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Detail of the Alexander Sarcophagus showing the battle of Issus, painted replica (original - circa 320 BC), Ionian or Rhodian workmanchip, Hellenistic
Detail of the Alexander Sarcophagus showing the battle of Issus,
painted replica (original - circa 320 BC), Ionian or Rhodian workmanchip, Hellenistic
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Alexander sarcophagus, long side showing a lion hunt, with (l-r) Hephaestion, Abdalonymos and Alexander the Great, circa 320 BC, Ionian or Rhodian workmanchip, Hellenistic
Alexander sarcophagus, long side showing a lion hunt, with (l-r) Hephaestion, Abdalonymos and Alexander the Great,
circa 320 BC, Ionian or Rhodian workmanchip, Hellenistic
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Coin with a male head, struck in the name of Alexander the Great, cr. 316–297 BC, Macedonia
Coin with a male head, struck in the name of Alexander the Great,
cr. 316–297 BC, Macedonia
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Mosaic showing the battle of Issus, circa 100 BC, Pompeii, Roman empire, perhaps after an earlier Greek painting of Philoxenus of Eretria (4th-3rd century BC)
Mosaic showing the battle of Issus,
circa 100 BC, Pompeii, Roman empire, perhaps after an earlier Greek painting of Philoxenus of Eretria (4th-3rd century BC)
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Mosaic showing the battle of Issus, detail showing Alexander the Great, circa 100 BC, Pompeii, Roman empire, perhaps after an earlier Greek painting of Philoxenus of Eretria (4th-3rd century BC)
Mosaic showing the battle of Issus, detail showing Alexander the Great,
circa 100 BC, Pompeii, Roman empire, perhaps after an earlier Greek painting of Philoxenus of Eretria (4th-3rd century BC)
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Alexander the Great on Horseback, 100-1 BC, Roman
Alexander the Great on Horseback,
100-1 BC, Roman
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The Triumph of Alexander the Great, Late 18th century, Russian
The Triumph of Alexander the Great,
Late 18th century, Russian
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Macedonian Coins With Horsemen Other Than Alexander The Great

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Even though Alexander the Great has made the horseman his signature image, it was used in the Kingdom of Macedonia before and after him.

Stater with horse and rider, struck under Archelaos I, 413–399 BC, Macedonia
Stater with horse and rider, struck under Archelaos I,
413–399 BC, Macedonia
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Coin with a filleted head, struck under Philip II, 359–336 BC, Macedonia
Coin with a filleted head, struck under Philip II,
359–336 BC, Macedonia
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Coin with the head of Apollo, struck under Alexander V, 295 BC, Macedonia
Coin with the head of Apollo, struck under Alexander V,
295 BC, Macedonia
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Stater with the head of Demetrios Poliorketes, cr. 290–289 BC, Macedonia
Stater with the head of Demetrios Poliorketes,
cr. 290–289 BC, Macedonia
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Apulian Pottery And Funerary Vases, 4th-2nd Centuries BC

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Situla with an Amazonomachy scene, 340–330 BC, Apulia
Situla with an Amazonomachy scene,
340–330 BC, Apulia
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Pitcher (oinochoe) with a battle of the Greeks and Amazons, cr. 320–310 BC, Apulia
Pitcher (oinochoe) with a battle of the Greeks and Amazons,
cr. 320–310 BC, Apulia
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While the Hellenistic excelled in jewellery and architecture, vase painting degenerated at the end of the Classical Period.

However, in Apulia Red figure pottery was striving until circa 300 BC.

Apulian Funerary Vases, 4th-2nd Centuries BC

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Terracotta hydria showing battle of Greeks and Amazons (Amazonomachy), cr. 325-300 BC, Attic style, Kastri (Amphipolis), Central Macedonia, Greece
Terracotta hydria showing battle of Greeks and Amazons (Amazonomachy),
cr. 325-300 BC, Attic style, Kastri (Amphipolis), Central Macedonia, Greece
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Krater showing the Duel of Life and Death (Etruscan symbolism), cr. 320-280 BC, Canosa, Apulia
Krater showing the Duel of Life and Death (Etruscan symbolism),
cr. 320-280 BC, Canosa, Apulia
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Pergamon vase, a marble dinos with a depiction of 15 horsemen, 2nd century BC, Bergama, Turkey
Pergamon vase, a marble dinos with a depiction of 15 horsemen,
2nd century BC, Bergama, Turkey
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There are three Hellenistic funerary vases with depictions of horsemen. There are links between them, despite the fact that they were found in different locations. Perhaps this illustrates the globalisation of the Hellenistic world?

The first vase is a terracotta Attic gilded polychrome hydria with lead lid showing a battle of Greeks and Amazons (Amazonomachy). The vase had been used as a cinerary urn.

There are very few polychromatic Attic vases, but polychrome was popular in Apulia in the 3rd century BC. The second vase, made in Canosa, Apulia, is one of the earlier examples. The colours are water-based, this is why they look so worn compared to the Attic vase.

The third vase is a marble “Pergamon vase” that dates from the second century BC and was excavated in modern-day Turkey: it is decorated with a bas-relief that depicts 15 horsemen on rearing horses. This marble vase looks like an Attic funerary vase. However, when it was discovered, it contained not remains of a deceased person, but two alabaster urnes filled with gold!

Canosa figurines and funerary vases, 4th-2nd Centuries BC

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Canosa vases are a type of pottery belonging to ancient Apulian vase painting. They were designed exclusively for funerary use. The distinguishing feature of Canosa vases is the water-soluble paints. Blue, red, yellow, light purple and brown paints were applied to a white ground. Popular shapes included volute kraters, kantharoi, oinochoai and askoi. Decoration included applied plastic winged heads, gorgons and similar motifs. Sometimes the motives were horsemen on rearing horses! This decoration makes them very similar to Etruscan bronze cinerary urns which lids were also decorated with horsemen.

In addition, there were decorative terracota figurines produced in Canosa.

Terracotta horse and rider, 4th - 3rd century BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
Terracotta horse and rider,
4th - 3rd century BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
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Terracotta horse and rider, cr. 323 BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
Terracotta horse and rider,
cr. 323 BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
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Terracotta horse and rider, 3rd century BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
Terracotta horse and rider,
3rd century BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
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Terracotta relief attachment from an askos, showing a warrior on horseback, cr. 270-200 BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
Terracotta relief attachment from an askos, showing a warrior on horseback,
cr. 270-200 BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
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Terracotta relief attachment from an askos, showing a hunter on horseback, cr. 270-200 BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
Terracotta relief attachment from an askos, showing a hunter on horseback,
cr. 270-200 BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
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Terracotta relief, probably from a funnel vase, late 3rd–early 2nd century BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
Terracotta relief, probably from a funnel vase,
late 3rd–early 2nd century BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
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Terracotta relief, probably from a funnel vase, late 3rd–early 2nd century BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
Terracotta relief, probably from a funnel vase,
late 3rd–early 2nd century BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
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COMPARANDUM: Bronze cinerary urn with lid, cr. 500 BC, Etruscan
COMPARANDUM: Bronze cinerary urn with lid,
cr. 500 BC, Etruscan
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COMPARANDUM: Terracotta female head partially imitating a vase (lekythos), 325-300BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
COMPARANDUM: Terracotta female head partially imitating a vase (lekythos),
325-300BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
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COMPARANDUM: Pottery askos painted with a female head rising up from a flower, with terracotta statuettes of Erotes added above, cr. 310-290BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
COMPARANDUM: Pottery askos painted with a female head rising up from a flower, with terracotta statuettes of Erotes added above,
cr. 310-290BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
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COMPARANDUM: Askos with the monster Skylla, cr. 300 BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
COMPARANDUM: Askos with the monster Skylla,
cr. 300 BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
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COMPARANDUM: Askos with with three terracotta Nikai, the foreparts of two horses, reliefs showing the head of Medusa and a dancing maenad, cr. 270-200 BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
COMPARANDUM: Askos with with three terracotta Nikai, the foreparts of two horses, reliefs showing the head of Medusa and a dancing maenad,
cr. 270-200 BC, Canosa, Apulia, Italy
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Temple of Artemis Leucophryene, 3rd-2nd Century BC

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Suggested reconstructions of the temple of Artemis Leucophryene, 3rd-2nd century BC, Magnesia on the Maeander, Turkey
Suggested reconstructions of the temple of Artemis Leucophryene,
3rd-2nd century BC, Magnesia on the Maeander, Turkey
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The other example is the temple of Artemis Leucophryene (White-browed Artemis) in Magnesia on the Maeander (also modern-day Turkey) designed in late 3rd – early 2nd century BC by Hermogenes of Priene. It also featured a marble relief with the riders on rearing horses, but, in this case, it is a sculptured frieze, and the riders are Amazons. Roman architect and historian Vitruvius has called it the most beautiful temple in Asia Minor.

Detail of an Amazonomachy frieze of the temple of Artemis Leucophryene, 1st quarter of the 2nd century BC, Magnesia on the Maeander, Turkey
Detail of an Amazonomachy frieze of the temple of Artemis Leucophryene,
1st quarter of the 2nd century BC, Magnesia on the Maeander, Turkey
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Detail of an Amazonomachy frieze of the temple of Artemis Leucophryene, 1st quarter of the 2nd century BC, Magnesia on the Maeander, Turkey
Detail of an Amazonomachy frieze of the temple of Artemis Leucophryene,
1st quarter of the 2nd century BC, Magnesia on the Maeander, Turkey
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Detail of an Amazonomachy frieze of the temple of Artemis Leucophryene, 1st quarter of the 2nd century BC, Magnesia on the Maeander, Turkey
Detail of an Amazonomachy frieze of the temple of Artemis Leucophryene,
1st quarter of the 2nd century BC, Magnesia on the Maeander, Turkey
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Coins With Horsemen Minted in Paeonia

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Some very interesting from iconographical perspective coins were minted in Paeonia, the kingdom that roughly corresponds to the present-day Republic of Macedonia. Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) research suggests that the foe attacked by the horseman is Persian, however, Nicholas Wright suggests that this foe is Macedonian. There are many variations of the depiction of the horseman on the coins struck under king Patraos, see this list of king Patraos coins for further examples. The iconography is very similar to a Greek seal presumably made for a Persian patron, depicting a Persian horseman spearing a Greek foe.

Tetradrachm of King Paionia, 335–315 BC, Paeonia
Tetradrachm of King Paionia,
335–315 BC, Paeonia
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Tetradrachm of King Paionia, 335–315 BC, Paeonia
Tetradrachm of King Paionia,
335–315 BC, Paeonia
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Tetradrachm of King Teutamados, 4th century BC (?), Paeonia
Tetradrachm of King Teutamados,
4th century BC (?), Paeonia
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COMPARANDUM: Neck-amphora with the depiction of mounted warriors trampling an Amazon,cr. 510 BC-500 BC, Attica
COMPARANDUM: Neck-amphora with the depiction of mounted warriors trampling an Amazon,
cr. 510 BC-500 BC, Attica
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COMPARANDUM: Furniture-fitting or chariot-fitting, cr. 540 BC-520 BC
COMPARANDUM: Furniture-fitting or chariot-fitting,
cr. 540 BC-520 BC
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Hellenistic Coins Showing Dioscuri Brothers

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Later on, some Hellenistic coins were showing Dioscuri brothers on rearing horses. This motif appears in many times in various parts of the Hellenistic world.

Stater of Sodamos, showing Dioscuri,cr. 281–272 BC, Taras (Tarentum), Calabria (Hellenistic)
Stater of Sodamos, showing Dioscuri,
cr. 281–272 BC, Taras (Tarentum), Calabria (Hellenistic)
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Gold 20-stater of Eucratides I, the largest gold coin ever minted in Antiquity (weight 169.2 grams, diameter of 58 millimetres), showing Dioscuri, cr. 171-145 BC, Bactrian (Hellenistic)
Gold 20-stater of Eucratides I, the largest gold coin ever minted in Antiquity (weight 169.2 grams, diameter of 58 millimetres), showing Dioscuri,
cr. 171-145 BC, Bactrian (Hellenistic)
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A silver didrachm of Antiochus VI Dionysus showing Dioscuri, cr. 143-142 BC, Seleucid (Hellenistic)
A silver didrachm of Antiochus VI Dionysus showing Dioscuri,
cr. 143-142 BC, Seleucid (Hellenistic)
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A silver tetradrachm of Diomedes Soter showing Dioscuri, cr. 115-90 BC, Bactrian/Indo-Greek (Hellenistic)
A silver tetradrachm of Diomedes Soter showing Dioscuri,
cr. 115-90 BC, Bactrian/Indo-Greek (Hellenistic)
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Silver coin with helmeted warrior on horseback, king Philoxenus Anicetus, 100-95 BC, minted in Afghanistan, Indo-Greek kingdom
Silver coin with helmeted warrior on horseback, king Philoxenus Anicetus,
100-95 BC, minted in Afghanistan, Indo-Greek kingdom
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Coins With Horsemen (And A Butterfly!) Minted in Phrygia

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Lastly, there are two coins minted in the city of Kibyra in Greater Phrygia (modern south-west Turkey). They both have a depiction of a horseman on a rearing horse on the reverse. One is particularly charming – it features a large butterfly sitting on a horseman’s spear! They both were minted between 166 and 84 BC, which was a turbulent period in the history of Phrygia and Kibyra. Phrygia was ruled by a Greek king from 188 BC until 133 BC, when it was bequested to Rome. In 84-83 BC Moagetes, was the last tyrant of Kibyra, was defeated by Roman general Lucius Licinius Murena as a part of the Second Mithridatic War and the city Kibyra was attached to Phrygia. This reflected the change the world was undergoing at that time: Greek civilisation was losing its dominant position and the building of the Roman empire was gathering momentum.

Drachm with the head of youth, cr. 166–84 BC, Kibyra, Phrygia (Hellenistic)
Drachm with the head of youth,
cr. 166–84 BC, Kibyra, Phrygia (Hellenistic)
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Drachm with helmeted and cuirassed horseman holding a spear with a butterfly sitting on it, cr. 166–84 BC, Kibyra, Phrygia (Hellenistic)
Drachm with helmeted and cuirassed horseman holding a spear with a butterfly sitting on it,
cr. 166–84 BC, Kibyra, Phrygia (Hellenistic)
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Scythians: Metalwork, 5th-4th Centuries BC

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The Scythians were a large group of Iranian Eurasian nomads who were mentioned by the literate peoples surrounding them as inhabiting large areas in the central Eurasian steppes from about the 9th century BC until about the 1st century BC. They have left us little information about their history themselves. Ancient Greeks, their arch-enemies, notably Herodotus, were writing a lot about them, but their accounts are inevitably biased and not always plausible.

Quite a few surviving Scythian artefacts depict horsemen on rearing horses, all of them seem to be anonymous. Many of these artefacts are made of pure gold. Most are part of The State Hermitage Museum collection.

Comb with a Battle Scene, Late 5th-early 4th century BC
Comb with a Battle Scene,
Late 5th-early 4th century BC
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Bowl with the Depiction of a Lion-Hunt, Early 4th century BC
Bowl with the Depiction of a Lion-Hunt,
Early 4th century BC
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Greco-Scythian gold horseman appliqué, (?) cr. 4th century BC
Greco-Scythian gold horseman appliqué,
(?) cr. 4th century BC
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Greco-Scythian gold horseman appliqué, (?) cr. 4th century BC
Greco-Scythian gold horseman appliqué,
(?) cr. 4th century BC
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Greco-Scythian gold horseman appliqué, (?) cr. 4th century BC
Greco-Scythian gold horseman appliqué,
(?) cr. 4th century BC
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Greco-Scythian gold horseman appliqué, (?) cr. 4th century BC
Greco-Scythian gold horseman appliqué,
(?) cr. 4th century BC
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Greco-Scythian gold horseman appliqué, (?) cr. 4th century BC
Greco-Scythian gold horseman appliqué,
(?) cr. 4th century BC
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Thracians, 5th Century BC – 3rd Century AD

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The Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting a large area in southeastern Europe. Thracians are one of the three primary ancestral groups of modern Bulgarians. Thracians were exposed to other cultures through their wars: they were fighting against (and with) Persia, against Ancient Greece and Scythia, and later against Ancient Rome. All these conflicts have influenced Thracian culture and enabled the development of the motif of Thracian Horseman.

Thracian Depictions Of Hunting And Warfare With Horsemen, 5th-4th Centuries BC

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As suggested by Maya Vassileva, the early Thracian representations of the horsemen on the rearing horses are the Achaemenid (Persian) “borrowings” and were used to indicate the elite status of the rider.

Gilt silver phiale mesomphalos, late 5th century BC, made in Ancient Greece for a Thracian patron (?)
Gilt silver phiale mesomphalos,
late 5th century BC, made in Ancient Greece for a Thracian patron (?)
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The bezel of the gold seal-ring showing boar-hunt on horseback, 5th-4th century BC, Peychova tumulus
The bezel of the gold seal-ring showing boar-hunt on horseback,
5th-4th century BC, Peychova tumulus
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Silver gilt belt, 5th-4th century BC, Lovets, central Bulgaria
Silver gilt belt,
5th-4th century BC, Lovets, central Bulgaria
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Aleksandrovo tomb, 4th century BC, Haskovo district, Bulgaria
Aleksandrovo tomb,
4th century BC, Haskovo district, Bulgaria
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Aleksandrovo tomb, fragment of a mural, 4th century BC, 4th century BC, Haskovo district, Bulgaria
Aleksandrovo tomb, fragment of a mural,
4th century BC, 4th century BC, Haskovo district, Bulgaria
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Aleksandrovo tomb, fragment of a mural, 4th century BC, Haskovo district, Bulgaria
Aleksandrovo tomb, fragment of a mural,
4th century BC, Haskovo district, Bulgaria
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Thracian Horsemen On Funerary Stelae Or Votive Tablets, 3rd Century BC – 3rd Century AD

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Bas-relief of a Thracian horseman, 1st quarter of the 4th century BC (?)
Bas-relief of a Thracian horseman,
1st quarter of the 4th century BC (?)
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Later on, roughly from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD, there was a recurring motif of a horseman depicted in reliefs in the Balkans (Thrace, Macedonia, Moesia) known as the Thracian horseman. The presentation of the reliefs is quite similar to Roman funerary stelae. Their purpose was also, in many cases, to be funerary stelae; some are votive tablets. However, the iconography of the horsemen is different from the one we see on Roman funerary stelae. The first object I have found is very simple, just a horseman and his horse. But soon enough, as explained in Wikipedia, three types of Thracian horseman iconography have been developed: hunter motif, serpent-and-tree motif and rider-and-goddess motif.

The hunter motif is the earliest one. It represents a hunter on horseback, riding from left to right. Between the horse’s hooves is depicted either a hunting dog or a boar. In some instances, the dog is replaced by a lion. It is reminiscent of earlier Thracian horsemen, and is likely to be inspired by Persian imagery.

Bas-relief of a Thracian horseman, 3rd century BC
Bas-relief of a Thracian horseman,
3rd century BC
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Thracian horseman, a funerary stele with Greek inscription, ?
Thracian horseman, a funerary stele with Greek inscription,
?
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Tombstone with Thracian rider relief, 1st - 2nd century AD
Tombstone with Thracian rider relief,
1st - 2nd century AD
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Funerary stela of Amynandros and Makedonios showing a Thracian horseman, 2nd century AD
Funerary stela of Amynandros and Makedonios showing a Thracian horseman,
2nd century AD
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Marble votive tablet of the Thracian Horseman, 3rd century AD
Marble votive tablet of the Thracian Horseman,
3rd century AD
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Votive tablet with Thracian rider relief, 3rd century AD
Votive tablet with Thracian rider relief,
3rd century AD
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The serpent-and-tree motif has appeared later on. The serpent-and-tree could represent the rod of Asclepius, although there are many other possible interpretations – see Antonios Sakellariou's dissertation thesis for more information. The serpent-and-tree motif often incorporates the hunting motifs, i.e. a hound and/or the game animals underneath the horse.

Large marble hero horseman relief from Thessaloniki, Greece, ?
Large marble hero horseman relief from Thessaloniki, Greece,
?
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A bas-relief showing a Thracian horseman, 2nd century AD
A bas-relief showing a Thracian horseman,
2nd century AD
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Votive tablet showing Thracian horseman, 1st quarter of the 3rd century AD (?)
Votive tablet showing Thracian horseman,
1st quarter of the 3rd century AD (?)
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A bas-relief showing a Thracian horseman, 3rd century AD
A bas-relief showing a Thracian horseman,
3rd century AD
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A votive tablet of the deity Sylvanus, end of 2nd century AD
A votive tablet of the deity Sylvanus,
end of 2nd century AD
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A votive tablet of a Thracian horseman, 2nd-3rd centuries AD
A votive tablet of a Thracian horseman,
2nd-3rd centuries AD
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The rider-and-goddess motif also occasionally incorporates the hunting motif. According to Antonios Sakellariou's dissertation thesis, the goddess could be Hygieia, the daughter of Asclepius. The bas-relief that depicts two women is dedicated to Asclepius, so one could speculatively assume that one of these two women is Hygieia.

Parthian Empire (now Iran), 247 BC – 224 AD

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The Parthian empire, that existed from 247BC to 224AD, was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran and Iraq. The Parthian rulers were claiming to be the heirs to the Achaemenid Empire, and, just as in the Achaemenid Empire, the horsemanship was one of the most valued skills.

Parthian horse archers were much feared by the Roman armies and totally destroyed a Roman army at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC.

Parthian shot, meaning a military tactic where mounted archers, while retreating at a full gallop, would turn their bodies back to shoot arrows at the pursuing enemy, was widely used but not many Parthian objects that depict it survive.

Plaque showing a heavily armoured horseman (cataphract) spearing a lion, 3rd century BC - 2nd century, Parthian or Seleucid
Plaque showing a heavily armoured horseman (cataphract) spearing a lion,
3rd century BC - 2nd century, Parthian or Seleucid
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Egyptian woven pattern, copy of an imported Sassanid silk, which itself was based on a fresco of king Khosrau I fighting against the Ethiopian forces in Yemen, ?
Egyptian woven pattern, copy of an imported Sassanid silk, which itself was based on a fresco of king Khosrau I fighting against the Ethiopian forces in Yemen, ?
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Ceramic relief plaque of a mounted Parthian archer, 1st century - 3rd century
Ceramic relief plaque of a mounted Parthian archer,
1st century - 3rd century
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Parthian horseman performing a shot, 1660-1713, Jean Chardin, French/British
Parthian horseman performing a shot,
1660-1713, Jean Chardin, French/British
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It is useful to observe that, while other nomadic people, notably Scythians, were using the same manoeuvre, it was known by Parthians before the contacts with other people who were employing this tactic, as explained in this article.

This image has become a cliché for the Persian horseman. It was used, among others, by Louis XIV‘s favourite painter Charles Le Brun. However, his use of the Parthian shot in the depiction of the Battle of Arbela is an anachronism – this battle took place in 331BC, some 84 years before the Parthian empire was established.

Ancient Rome, 2nd century BC – 6th Century AD

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Roman Republic (509 BC – 27 BC): coins and Reliefs

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Roman Reliefs that show horsemen

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Most surviving art objects of Roman Republic (509 BC – 27 BC) that show horsemen on rearing horses are on coins. Perhaps many horsemen depicted in other art forms existed, but most were lost or destroyed. Below are a few that still exist. They seem to be very much inspired by Greek art.

Reconstruction of the monument of Aemilius Paullus, shortly after 167 BC, Delphi, part of Roman Republic (now Greece)
Reconstruction of the monument of Aemilius Paullus,
shortly after 167 BC, Delphi, part of Roman Republic (now Greece)
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Reliefs from the monument of Aemilius Paullus (current state), shortly after 167 BC, Delphi, part of Roman Republic (now Greece)
Reliefs from the monument of Aemilius Paullus (current state),
shortly after 167 BC, Delphi, part of Roman Republic (now Greece)
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COMPARANDUM: West Frieze of the Parthenon, Block II, 438 BC-432 BC, Athens
COMPARANDUM: West Frieze of the Parthenon, Block II,
438 BC-432 BC, Athens
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Reconstruction of reliefs on the monument of Aemilius Paullus, shortly after 167 BC, Delphi, part of Roman Republic (now Greece)
Reconstruction of reliefs on the monument of Aemilius Paullus,
shortly after 167 BC, Delphi, part of Roman Republic (now Greece)
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Mausoleum of the Julii, cr. 40 BC, Glanum, part of Roman Republic (now Saint-Rémy de Provence, France)
Mausoleum of the Julii,
cr. 40 BC, Glanum, part of Roman Republic (now Saint-Rémy de Provence, France)
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North face relief, mausoleum of the Julii, cr. 40 BC, Glanum, part of Roman Republic (now Saint-Rémy de Provence, France)
North face relief, mausoleum of the Julii,
cr. 40 BC, Glanum, part of Roman Republic (now Saint-Rémy de Provence, France)
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Facade relief from the tomb monument of Tiberius Flavius Miccalus, 50-1 BC, Kamaradere, Perinthus, Roman
Facade relief from the tomb monument of Tiberius Flavius Miccalus,
50-1 BC, Kamaradere, Perinthus, Roman
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COMPARANDUM: Funerary stela found near Athens, 4th century BC, Attic
COMPARANDUM: Funerary stela found near Athens,
4th century BC, Attic
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The coins of Roman Republic

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Generally speaking, ancient Romans had strong value-system (see Mos maiorum); it was quite different in republican and imperial eras. We can see some of it even using as simple an analysis as the comparison of Roman coins of these two eras.

For example, Dioscuri brothers Castor and Pollux most frequently appear on coins of the Roman Republic, as horsemen galloping, with couched lances, and stars above their pilei, which was supposed to represent the remnants of the egg from which they hatched. In the imperial series, this type (which was meant to denote brotherly concord), is of rare occurrence.

The other distinction is that the choice of metals used to mint the coins. Before the time of Julius Caesar the aureus, the coin of higher denomination made of gold, was struck infrequently, probably because gold was seen as a mark of un-Roman luxury.

The reverse of the denarii minted in 56 BC shows a statue of a horseman on a rearing horse, which allows us to think that indeed there were more horsemen in the times of the Republic, but they were lost.

Denarius showing Dioscuri brothers on horseback on reverse, minted in 206 - 200 BC, Roman Republic
Denarius showing Dioscuri brothers on horseback on reverse,
minted in 206 - 200 BC, Roman Republic
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Denarius showing Dioscuri brothers on horseback and a dog on reverse, minted in 146 BC, Roman Republic
Denarius showing Dioscuri brothers on horseback and a dog on reverse,
minted in 146 BC, Roman Republic
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Denarius showing Dioscuri brothers on horseback on reverse, minted in 136 BC, Roman Republic
Denarius showing Dioscuri brothers on horseback on reverse,
minted in 136 BC, Roman Republic
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Denarius showing Dioscuri brothers on horseback on reverse, minted in 122 BC, Roman Republic
Denarius showing Dioscuri brothers on horseback on reverse,
minted in 122 BC, Roman Republic
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Denarius showing a horseman on reverse, minted in 116-115 BC, Roman Republic
Denarius showing a horseman on reverse,
minted in 116-115 BC, Roman Republic
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Denarius showing a horseman on horseback on reverse, minted in 90 BC, Roman Republic
Denarius showing a horseman on horseback on reverse,
minted in 90 BC, Roman Republic
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Denarius showing a horseman on horseback on reverse, minted in 67 BC, Roman Republic
Denarius showing a horseman on horseback on reverse,
minted in 67 BC, Roman Republic
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Denarius showing an equestrian statue on reverse, minted in 56 BC, Roman Republic
Denarius showing an equestrian statue on reverse,
minted in 56 BC, Roman Republic
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Coinage systems of both Roman republic and Roman empire were quite complex. In Roman republic, provinces and even private individuals (moneyers) could strike their own coins. Below we can see coins issued by a moneyer from Postumia family and a coin issued in the province of Samnium, now southern Italy.

Quincunx showing a rider on horseback on reverse, minted in cr. 210-175, Samnium, part of Roman Republic
Quincunx showing a rider on horseback on reverse,
minted in cr. 210-175, Samnium, part of Roman Republic
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Postumia denarius showing three horsemen over fallen warrior on reverse, minted in 96 BC, Roman Republic
Postumia denarius showing three horsemen over fallen warrior on reverse,
minted in 96 BC, Roman Republic
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Roman Empire (27 BC – 6th Century AD)

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A horseman who heralded the transformation of Rome into an empire and other coins of Roman empire

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Aureus showing Augustus on horseback on reverse, minted in 32-29 BC under Augustus, the last type to be issued before the Battle of Actium, Roman Empire
Aureus showing Augustus on horseback on reverse,
minted in 32-29 BC under Augustus, the last type to be issued before the Battle of Actium, Roman Empire
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This aureus was struck under the future emperor Augustus, probably in preparation for the inevitable confrontation with Antony, the last type to be issued before the Battle of Actium (31 BC). Augustus won this battle and became first emperor of the Roman Empire. Mark Antony and Cleopatra were defeated and committed suicide.

The Battle of Actium marks the end of the Hellenistic period with its multipolar world structure. The reign of Augustus initiated an era of the dominance of the Roman Empire known as the Pax Romana.

As showing a horseman on reverse, minted in 27 BC-14 AD under Augustus, Roman Empire
As showing a horseman on reverse,
minted in 27 BC-14 AD under Augustus, Roman Empire
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As showing a horseman on reverse, minted in 27 BC-14 AD under Augustus, Roman Empire
As showing a horseman on reverse,
minted in 27 BC-14 AD under Augustus, Roman Empire
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Aureus showing Augustus on horseback on reverse, minted in 8 BC under Augustus, Roman Empire
Aureus showing Augustus on horseback on reverse,
minted in 8 BC under Augustus, Roman Empire
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Sestertius showing an equestrian statue on reverse, minted in 42-43 AD under Claudius, Roman Empire
Sestertius showing an equestrian statue on reverse,
minted in 42-43 AD under Claudius, Roman Empire
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Sestertius showing Nero on horseback on reverse, minted in 64 AD under Nero, Roman Empire
Sestertius showing Nero on horseback on reverse,
minted in 64 AD under Nero, Roman Empire
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Sestertius showing Titus on horseback on reverse, minted in 72-73 AD under Titus, Roman Empire
Sestertius showing Titus on horseback on reverse,
minted in 72-73 AD under Titus, Roman Empire
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Aureus showing Domitian on horseback on reverse, minted in 73-75 AD under Vespasian, Roman Empire
Aureus showing Domitian on horseback on reverse,
minted in 73-75 AD under Vespasian, Roman Empire
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Sestertius showing the emperor on horseback on reverse, minted in 87 AD under Domitian, Roman Empire
Sestertius showing the emperor on horseback on reverse,
minted in 87 AD under Domitian, Roman Empire
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Sestertius showing Trajan on horseback on reverse, minted in 105 AD under Trajan, Roman Empire
Sestertius showing Trajan on horseback on reverse,
minted in 105 AD under Trajan, Roman Empire
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Aureus showing the emperor on horseback on reverse, minted in 166 AD under Lucius Verus, Roman Empire
Aureus showing the emperor on horseback on reverse,
minted in 166 AD under Lucius Verus, Roman Empire
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Aureus showing Commodus on horseback spearing a panther on reverse, minted in 184-5 under Commodus, Roman empire
Aureus showing Commodus on horseback spearing a panther on reverse,
minted in 184-5 under Commodus, Roman empire
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Solidus showing Crispus on horseback on reverse, minted in 324-325 AD under Constantine I, Roman Empire
Solidus showing Crispus on horseback on reverse,
minted in 324-325 AD under Constantine I, Roman Empire
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As showing Magnentius on horseback on reverse, minted in 350-351 under Magnentius, Roman Empire
As showing Magnentius on horseback on reverse,
minted in 350-351 under Magnentius, Roman Empire
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As showing the emperor on horseback on reverse, minted in 350-351 AD under Magnentius, Roman Empire
As showing the emperor on horseback on reverse,
minted in 350-351 AD under Magnentius, Roman Empire
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Tombstones Of Roman cavalryman, 50-100 AD

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The depiction of a horseman was encountered on the tombstones of the Roman cavalryman around 100 AD. Presumably, all these tombstones were all brightly painted when installed. The images of the horsemen represented on these tombstones vary in details but seem quite similar. The dating is not straightforward because, unlike nowadays, the standard inscriptions on the tombstones were including the age at the time of death but not the years of birth/death.

According to Wikipedia,

The most common funerary monument for Roman soldiers was that of the stelae – a humble, unadorned piece of stone, cut into the shape of a rectangle…In some unique cases, military tombstones were adorned with sculpture. These types of headstones typically belonged to members of the auxiliary units rather than legionary units. The chief difference between the two units was citizenship. Whereas legionary soldiers were citizens of Rome, auxiliary soldiers came from provinces in the Empire. Auxiliary soldiers had the opportunity to obtain Roman citizenship only after their discharge. Tombstones served to distinguish Romans from non-Romans, and to enforce the social hierarchy that existed within military legions… Reliefs on auxiliary tombstones often depict men on horseback, denoting the courage and heroism of the auxiliary’s cavalrymen. Though expensive, tombstones were likely within the means of the common soldier… These tombstones did not commemorate soldiers who died in combat, but rather soldiers who died during times of peace when generals and comrades were at ease to hold proper burials. Soldiers who died in battle were disrobed, cremated, and buried in mass graves near camp.

Tombstone for Roman cavalryman Rufus Sita, cr. 50 AD, discovered in Gloucester, UK
Tombstone for Roman cavalryman Rufus Sita,
cr. 50 AD, discovered in Gloucester, UK
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Tombstone of the cavalryman Vonatorix, 40-60 AD, discovered in Bonn, Germany
Tombstone of the cavalryman Vonatorix,
40-60 AD, discovered in Bonn, Germany
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Tombstone of the cavalryman Genialis, cr. 60 AD, discovered in Corinium, UK
Tombstone of the cavalryman Genialis,
cr. 60 AD, discovered in Corinium, UK
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Roman tombstone of the mounted archer Maris, 31–70 AD, discovered in Mainz, Germany
Roman tombstone of the mounted archer Maris,
31–70 AD, discovered in Mainz, Germany
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Roman tombstone of a standard-bearer Flavinus triumphing over an abject Briton,cr. 77-100 AD, discovered in Corbridge, UK
Roman tombstone of a standard-bearer Flavinus triumphing over an abject Briton,
cr. 77-100 AD, discovered in Corbridge, UK
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Roman cavalryman tombstone, 1st century AD, discovered in Cologne, Germany
Roman cavalryman tombstone,
1st century AD, discovered in Cologne, Germany
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Tombstone for Roman cavalryman Titus Flavius Bassus, 1st century AD, discovered in Cologne, Germany
Tombstone for Roman cavalryman Titus Flavius Bassus, 1st century AD, discovered in Cologne, Germany
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Tombstone for Roman cavalryman Comnisca, 1st century AD, discovered in Strasbourg, France
Tombstone for Roman cavalryman Comnisca, 1st century AD, discovered in Strasbourg, France
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Roman gravestone showing a cavalryman and naked barbarian lying beneath the horse's hooves, ?, discovered in Chester, UK
Roman gravestone showing a cavalryman and naked barbarian lying beneath the horse's hooves, ?, discovered in Chester, UK
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Roman gravestone showing a soldier Insus holding the severed head of a barbarian,cr. 100 AD, discovered in Lancashire, UK
Roman gravestone showing a soldier Insus holding the severed head of a barbarian,
cr. 100 AD, discovered in Lancashire, UK
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Roman gravestone showing a soldier Insus holding the severed head of a barbarian, coloured reconstruction (artist's impression),cr. 100 AD, discovered in Lancashire, UK
Roman gravestone showing a soldier Insus holding the severed head of a barbarian, coloured reconstruction (artist's impression),
cr. 100 AD, discovered in Lancashire, UK
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Tropaeum Traiani And Antonine Wall, Roman Provinces, 2nd Century AD

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Detail of a legionary tablet called Bridgeness slab showing a Roman mounted auxiliary trampling conquered Picts, cr. 142 AD, Roman
Detail of a legionary tablet called Bridgeness slab showing a Roman mounted auxiliary trampling conquered Picts,
cr. 142 AD, Roman
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Tropeum Traiani, cr. 109 AD, reconstructed in 1977, Roman/Romanian
Tropeum Traiani,
cr. 109 AD, reconstructed in 1977, Roman/Romanian
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Tropeum Traiani Metope I showing a cavalryman carrying a shafted weapon, cr. 109 AD, Roman
Tropeum Traiani Metope I showing a cavalryman carrying a shafted weapon,
cr. 109 AD, Roman
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Later on, similar depictions of the horsemen have started to appear on the waymarks. We can see the horseman on a rearing horse on one of the metopes decorating Tropaeum Traiani, the monument built on the site of modern Adamclisi, Romania, in 109 to commemorate Roman Emperor Trajan‘s victory over the Dacians, in the winter of 101-102, in the Battle of Adamclisi. The Bridgeness Slab, a Roman distance slab, marking a portion of the Antonine Wall (Scotland), created around 142 AD, also features a horseman on a rearing horse.

Trajan’s Column, Rome, 113 AD

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The other, much more famous, waymark that features horsemen on rearing horses is Trajan's Column in Rome. It was completed in 113 AD to commemorate Roman emperor Trajan‘s victory in the Dacian Wars. It is located in Trajan's Forum, built near the Quirinal Hill. The freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, which artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians (101–102 and 105–106). Its fame, influence on the architecture of the posterity and the number of the horseman on the rearing horses depicted on it makes it comparable with Parthenon in Athens.

The first battle (Scene XXIV); Trajan's Column, 113 AD, Rome
The first battle (Scene XXIV); Trajan's Column,
113 AD, Rome
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Forced march of light troops (Scene XXXVI); Cavalry battle against Sarmatians (Scene XXXVII); Trajan's Column, 113 AD, Rome
Forced march of light troops (Scene XXXVI); Cavalry battle against Sarmatians (Scene XXXVII); Trajan's Column,
113 AD, Rome
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Advance into the mountains (Scene LXIII); Light cavalry flying columns (Scene LXIV); Trajan's Column, 113 AD, Rome
Advance into the mountains (Scene LXIII); Light cavalry flying columns (Scene LXIV); Trajan's Column,
113 AD, Rome
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Light cavalry flying columns (Scene LXIV); Trajan's Column, 113 AD, Rome
Light cavalry flying columns (Scene LXIV); Trajan's Column,
113 AD, Rome
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Forced march of Trajan on horseback (Scene LXXXIX); Trajan is greeted by some barbarians (Scene XC); Trajan's Column, 113 AD, Rome
Forced march of Trajan on horseback (Scene LXXXIX); Trajan is greeted by some barbarians (Scene XC); Trajan's Column,
113 AD, Rome
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Roman cavalry in the mountains (Scene CXLII); Fight between pursuers and pursued (Scene CXLIII); Trajan's Column, 113 AD, Rome
Roman cavalry in the mountains (Scene CXLII); Fight between pursuers and pursued (Scene CXLIII); Trajan's Column,
113 AD, Rome
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Emperor Commodus As A Horseman, 161-192 AD

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The iconography of the horseman on a rearing horse will be adopted by many rulers, from antiquity to modernity. One of them was infamous Roman emperor Commodus (161-192 AD). Upon his death, the Senate declared him a public enemy (a de facto damnatio memoriae), so very few objects depicting Commodus have survived. Some are below.

Aureus showing Commodus on horseback spearing a panther on reverse, minted in 184-5 under Commodus, Roman empire
Aureus showing Commodus on horseback spearing a panther on reverse,
minted in 184-5 under Commodus, Roman empire
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Intaglio 'Emperor Commodus hunting',182-190, Rome
Intaglio 'Emperor Commodus hunting',
182-190, Rome
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Equestrian statue of Commodus, 2nd century AD, Vatican museums
Equestrian statue of Commodus,
2nd century AD, Vatican museums
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Bronze fitting from horse's breast-piece in a form of Commodus (?) on horseback, ?, Rome
Bronze fitting from horse's breast-piece in a form of Commodus (?) on horseback,
?, Rome
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Commodus on horseback in a venatio, spearing panther, 185, Rome
Commodus on horseback in a venatio, spearing panther,
185, Rome
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Roman sarcophagi, 2nd-4th Centuries AD

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The next group of objects are the sarcophagi. According to Wikipedia,

In the burial practices of ancient Rome and Roman funerary art, marble and limestone sarcophagi elaborately carved in relief were characteristic of elite inhumation burials from the 2nd to the 4th centuries AD. At least 10,000 Roman sarcophagi have survived, with fragments possibly representing as many as 20,000. Sarcophagus relief has been called the “richest single source of Roman iconography”, and may also depict the deceased’s occupation or life course, military scenes, and other subject matter.

Obviously, quite a few Roman sarcophagi featured horsemen on rearing horses. We often encounter Amazonomachy, but there are also hunting scenes and even the depiction of victorious Roman cavalry.

Sarcophagus with an Amazonomachy scene, cr. 160–170, Rome
Sarcophagus with an Amazonomachy scene,
cr. 160–170, Rome
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Sarcophagus with scenes of myth of Phaedra and Hippolytus, cr. 180 AD, Roman
Sarcophagus with scenes of myth of Phaedra and Hippolytus,
cr. 180 AD, Roman
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Portonaccio sarcophagus showing a battle scene between Roman soldiers and Germans, cr. 180–200, Rome
Portonaccio sarcophagus showing a battle scene between Roman soldiers and Germans,
cr. 180–200, Rome
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Sarcophagus with an Amazonomachy scene, 2nd century, Thessaloniki
Sarcophagus with an Amazonomachy scene,
2nd century, Thessaloniki
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Sarcophagus with relief depicting the hunt for the Calydonian boar, 201-250 AD, Roman
Sarcophagus with relief depicting the hunt for the Calydonian boar,
201-250 AD, Roman
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Sarcophagus with two lion hunting scenes, cr. 235, Rome
Sarcophagus with two lion hunting scenes,
cr. 235, Rome
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Roman sarcophagus with an Amazonomachy scene, 2nd quarter of the 3rd century, Thessaloniki
Roman sarcophagus with an Amazonomachy scene,
2nd quarter of the 3rd century, Thessaloniki
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Ludovisi Battle sarcophagus showing a battle scene between Roman soldiers and Goths, cr. 250–260, Rome
Ludovisi Battle sarcophagus showing a battle scene between Roman soldiers and Goths,
cr. 250–260, Rome
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Sarcophagus with a rider falling from his rearing horse, cr. 240-260, Athens
Sarcophagus with a rider falling from his rearing horse,
cr. 240-260, Athens
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Fragment of a sarcophagus of the type called 'Sydamara sarcophagi', 3rd century, Asia Minor
Fragment of a sarcophagus of the type called 'Sydamara sarcophagi',
3rd century, Asia Minor
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Sydamara sarcophagus, 2nd half of the 3rd century, Konya, modern Turkey
Sydamara sarcophagus,
2nd half of the 3rd century, Konya, modern Turkey
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Sarcophagus of the type called 'Sydamara sarcophagi', 2nd half of the 3rd century, ancient Middle East
Sarcophagus of the type called 'Sydamara sarcophagi',
2nd half of the 3rd century, ancient Middle East
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A piece from the front of a lenos (tub-shaped sarcophagus) with a battle between Greeks and Amazons, cr. 290-310, Rome
A piece from the front of a lenos (tub-shaped sarcophagus) with a battle between Greeks and Amazons,
cr. 290-310, Rome
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Sarcophagus with a hunting scene, 2nd quarter of the 4th century, Arles, France
Sarcophagus with a hunting scene,
2nd quarter of the 4th century, Arles, France
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Roman Mosaics, Roman Provinces, 3rd – 6th Centuries AD

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A yet another group of objects are the mosaics. Those that are preserved were found in Roman provinces (except one found in 2015 in Tuscany) and mostly feature hunting scenes.

Mosaic with a hunting scene,3rd century, House of the Laberii, Uthina, Tunisia
Mosaic with a hunting scene,
3rd century, House of the Laberii, Uthina, Tunisia
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Mosaics showing an Amazonomachy scene, 3rd-4th century, Harbiye, Turkey
Mosaics showing an Amazonomachy scene,
3rd-4th century, Harbiye, Turkey
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Mosaics showing a hunting scene, 300-25, Villa Daphne, Harbiye, Turkey
Mosaics showing a hunting scene,
300-25, Villa Daphne, Harbiye, Turkey
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Mosaics showing a hunting scene, 300-25, Villa Daphne, Harbiye, Turkey
Mosaics showing a hunting scene,
300-25, Villa Daphne, Harbiye, Turkey
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Small hunt mosaic, early 4th century AD, Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily
Small hunt mosaic,
early 4th century AD, Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily
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Mosaic with a hunting scene, early 4th century AD, Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily
Mosaic with a hunting scene,
early 4th century AD, Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily
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Mosaic with a hunting scene, early 4th century AD, Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily
Mosaic with a hunting scene,
early 4th century AD, Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily
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Mosaic with a panther hunting scene,4th century, Villa de las Tiendas, Medina, Spain
Mosaic with a panther hunting scene,
4th century, Villa de las Tiendas, Medina, Spain
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Mosaic with a hunting scene,4th century, Villa of the Nile, Lepcis Magna, Libya
Mosaic with a hunting scene,
4th century, Villa of the Nile, Lepcis Magna, Libya
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Mosaic with a hunting scene,4th century, Villa de La Olmeda, Pedrosa de la Vega, Spain
Mosaic with a hunting scene,
4th century, Villa de La Olmeda, Pedrosa de la Vega, Spain
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Mosaic showing Atalanta on horseback hunting a lion,4th century, Villa of Charidemos, Halicarnassus (Bordum), Turkey
Mosaic showing Atalanta on horseback hunting a lion,
4th century, Villa of Charidemos, Halicarnassus (Bordum), Turkey
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Mosaic showing Meleager on horseback spearing a leopard,4th century, Villa of Charidemos, Halicarnassus (Bordum), Turkey
Mosaic showing Meleager on horseback spearing a leopard,
4th century, Villa of Charidemos, Halicarnassus (Bordum), Turkey
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Mosaic with a scene of hunting Amazons, 4th or 5th century, Nile House, Tzippori (or Sepphoris, or Zippori) National Park, Palestine (modern Israel)
Mosaic with a scene of hunting Amazons,
4th or 5th century, Nile House, Tzippori (or Sepphoris, or Zippori) National Park, Palestine (modern Israel)
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Mosaic with a boar hunting scene,5th century, Villa de Capraia e Limite, Tuscany, Italy
Mosaic with a boar hunting scene,
5th century, Villa de Capraia e Limite, Tuscany, Italy
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Mosaic with hunting (?) of a Vandal, Late 5th – early 6th century, Bord-Djedid, Carthage, Tunisia
Mosaic with hunting (?) of a Vandal,
Late 5th – early 6th century, Bord-Djedid, Carthage, Tunisia
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The Battle of Milvian Bridge, 312 AD: Arch of Constantine And Art In 15th-18th Centuries

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The Battle of the Milvian Bridge took place between the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius on 28 October 312. It takes its name from the Milvian Bridge, an important route over the Tiber. Constantine won the battle and became the sole ruler of the Roman Empire.

According to chroniclers such as Eusebius of Caesarea and Lactantius, the battle marked the beginning of Constantine's conversion to Christianity. Eusebius of Caesarea recounts that Constantine and his soldiers had a vision sent by the Christian God. This was interpreted as a promise of victory if the sign of the Chi-Rho, the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek, was painted on the soldiers’ shields. The Arch of Constantine, the largest Roman triumphal arch, erected in 315 in celebration of the victory, certainly attributes Constantine’s success to divine intervention; however, the monument does not display any overtly Christian symbolism.

This battle marks the turning point in our story: the antique Roman world as we knew it is about to disappear, giving way to the Byzantine world.

The Battle of Milvian Bridge (between the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius, in 312), cr. 1452-66, Piero della Francesca, Arezzo, Italy
The Battle of Milvian Bridge (between the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius, in 312),
cr. 1452-66, Piero della Francesca, Arezzo, Italy
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The Battle of the Milvian Bridge, 1520-4, Giulio Romano, designed by Raphael, Vatican, Italy
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge,
1520-4, Giulio Romano, designed by Raphael, Vatican, Italy
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Battle scene in a landscape, after Raphael's designs for the fresco of 'The Battle of the Milvian Bridge', cr. 1520, Marco Dente, Italy
Battle scene in a landscape, after Raphael's designs for the fresco of 'The Battle of the Milvian Bridge',
cr. 1520, Marco Dente, Italy
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Tapestry showing the Triumph of Constantine over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, 1622, Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish
Tapestry showing the Triumph of Constantine over Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge,
1622, Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish
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Constantine the Great at the Milvian Bridge, cr. 1640, After Giulio Romano, Flemish
Constantine the Great at the Milvian Bridge,
cr. 1640, After Giulio Romano, Flemish
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The Battle of the Milvian Bridge, cr. 1650, Johannes Lingelbach, Dutch school
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge,
cr. 1650, Johannes Lingelbach, Dutch school
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The Battle of the Milvian Bridge, 1666, Gérard Audran after Charles Le Brun, France
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge,
1666, Gérard Audran after Charles Le Brun, France
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The Battle of the Milvian Bridge, 1755-6, Franz Joseph Aiglsdorfer, Fraunberg, Bavaria, Germany
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge,
1755-6, Franz Joseph Aiglsdorfer, Fraunberg, Bavaria, Germany
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The Battle of the Milvian Bridge, cr. 1779, Vitus Felix Rigl, Schwabhausen bei Landsberg, Bavaria, Germany
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge,
cr. 1779, Vitus Felix Rigl, Schwabhausen bei Landsberg, Bavaria, Germany
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Antique Horsemen that transcended centuries

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Bellerophon, 7th Century BC – 17th Century AD and 20th-21st Centuries AD

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Bellerophon is a hero of Greek mythology. He was the greatest hero and slayer of monsters, alongside Cadmus and Perseus, before the days of Heracles, and his greatest feat was killing the Chimera. He is depicted on a rearing horse named Pegasus.

Bellerophon On Art Objects

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This part of the exposé is, unlike the others, shows one specific character across different cultures: from the 7th century BC Greece to 21st century China, passing through Etruria, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Visigothic culture, Renaissance Siena, Baroque Venice, Prussia and the United Kingdom in World War II. As such, it serves to give the taste for the variety of cultures, styles and media we will encounter as this exposé unfolds.

Oil flask (aryballos) with Bellerophon attacking the Chimaera, cr. 650 BC, Corinth, Greece
Oil flask (aryballos) with Bellerophon attacking the Chimaera,
cr. 650 BC, Corinth, Greece
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Plate with a depiction of Chimera and Bellerophon on Pegasus, cr. 650 BC, Thasos, Ancient Greece
Plate with a depiction of Chimera and Bellerophon on Pegasus,
cr. 650 BC, Thasos, Ancient Greece
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Cup with Bellerophon riding Pegasus and attacking the Chimaera, 2nd quarter of the 6th century BC, Attic, Ancient Greece
Cup with Bellerophon riding Pegasus and attacking the Chimaera,
2nd quarter of the 6th century BC, Attic, Ancient Greece
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Bellerophon and the Chimera, edge of an epinetron (thigh-protector used by a woman when weaving), cr. 425-420 BC, Attic, Ancient Greece
Bellerophon and the Chimera, edge of an epinetron (thigh-protector used by a woman when weaving),
cr. 425-420 BC, Attic, Ancient Greece
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Carnelian scarab and gold finger engraved with Bellerophon and the Chimaera, late 5th century BC, Etruscan
Carnelian scarab and gold finger engraved with Bellerophon and the Chimaera,
late 5th century BC, Etruscan
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Bellerophon on Pegasus killing Chimaera, mosaic floor house, 432-348 BC,  Olynthos, Chalkidiki, Greece
Bellerophon on Pegasus killing Chimaera, mosaic floor house,
432-348 BC, Olynthos, Chalkidiki, Greece
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Gilt silver kylix with Bellerophon riding Pegasus and attacking the Chimaera, late 5th century BC, Greek
Gilt silver kylix with Bellerophon riding Pegasus and attacking the Chimaera,
late 5th century BC, Greek
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Scaraboid with Bellerophon riding Pegasus and attacking the Chimaera, 400–375 BC, Greek
Scaraboid with Bellerophon riding Pegasus and attacking the Chimaera,
400–375 BC, Greek
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Calyx-krater with Bellerophon, cr. 370 BC, Faliscan/Etruscan
Calyx-krater with Bellerophon,
cr. 370 BC, Faliscan/Etruscan
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Fragment of an Oinochoe with Bellerophon mounted on Pegasus (white) attacking the Chimaera, cr. 350–340 BC, Italy, Apulia (Greek culture)
Fragment of an Oinochoe with Bellerophon mounted on Pegasus (white) attacking the Chimaera,
cr. 350–340 BC, Italy, Apulia (Greek culture)
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Plate with Bellerophon and Pegasus, cr. 350-300 BC, Apulia, Italy (Greek culture)
Plate with Bellerophon and Pegasus,
cr. 350-300 BC, Apulia, Italy (Greek culture)
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Red-figure calyx krater with Bellerophon killing the Chimaera, late 4th century BC, Etruscan/Late Faliscan
Red-figure calyx krater with Bellerophon killing the Chimaera,
late 4th century BC, Etruscan/Late Faliscan
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Pebble mosaic depicting Bellerophon killing Chimaera, cr. 300-270 BC, Rhodos (Greece)
Pebble mosaic depicting Bellerophon killing Chimaera,
cr. 300-270 BC, Rhodos (Greece)
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Mosaic depicting Bellerophon on rearing Pegasus trampling Chimaera, 2nd half of 2nd century BC, Autun, France (Roman culture)
Mosaic depicting Bellerophon on rearing Pegasus trampling Chimaera,
2nd half of 2nd century BC, Autun, France (Roman culture)
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Bellerophon on Pegasus, slaying the Chimera, cr. 260 AD, Palmyra, Syria (Roman culture)
Bellerophon on Pegasus, slaying the Chimera,
cr. 260 AD, Palmyra, Syria (Roman culture)
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Bellerophon mounted on Pegasus killing the Chimera, cr. 330-360 AD, Lullingstone Villa, Kent, U.K. (Roman culture)
Bellerophon mounted on Pegasus killing the Chimera,
cr. 330-360 AD, Lullingstone Villa, Kent, U.K. (Roman culture)
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Hanging known as Sabine's shawl depicting Bellerophon trampling Chimera, 4th-5th century, Coptic
Hanging known as Sabine's shawl depicting Bellerophon trampling Chimera,
4th-5th century, Coptic
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Ivory panel depicting Bellerophon slaying the Chimaera, 5th century, Late Roman
Ivory panel depicting Bellerophon slaying the Chimaera,
5th century, Late Roman
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Silver Medallion representing Bellerophon killing a Chimera, 5th-7th century AD, European (Visigothic?)
Silver Medallion representing Bellerophon killing a Chimera,
5th-7th century AD, European (Visigothic?)
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Plaquette with Bellerophon and the Chimera, cr. 1475-80, Francesco di Giorgio, Siena (Italy)
Plaquette with Bellerophon and the Chimera,
cr. 1475-80, Francesco di Giorgio, Siena (Italy)
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Cast bronze medal with the bust of Philip II of Spain and (reverse) Bellerophon on a rearing Pegasus, spearing the Chimaera, 1556, Gianpaolo Poggini, Spain
Cast bronze medal with the bust of Philip II of Spain and (reverse) Bellerophon on a rearing Pegasus, spearing the Chimaera,
1556, Gianpaolo Poggini, Spain
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The Great Elector as Saint George and Bellerophon, 1680, Gottfried Leygebe, Prussia
The Great Elector as Saint George and Bellerophon,
1680, Gottfried Leygebe, Prussia
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The Force of Eloquence, cr. 1723, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Venice, Italy
The Force of Eloquence,
cr. 1723, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Venice, Italy
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Coat of arms of the British airborne units depicting Bellerophon on Pegasus, 1941, British, Daphne du Maurier (?)
Coat of arms of the British airborne units depicting Bellerophon on Pegasus,
1941, British, Daphne du Maurier (?)
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Bellerophon Battles Chimaera, 2011, Hermine Wang, China
Bellerophon Battles Chimaera,
2011, Hermine Wang, China
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Bellerophon On Greek And Roman Coins, 4th-3rd Centuries BC

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Bellerophon was also one of the first horsemen on rearing horses to feature on coins. According to Sam Heijnen, the myth had always been present on Corinthian coinage when Corinth, the supposed birthplace of Bellerophon, was independent, and would remain so at least until the reign of Septimius Severus (193-211 CE). We can also see him on the coins of other Greek territories and, later on, on Roman coins minted outside Greece.

Trihemidrachm with Bellerophon on Pegasus, 430-405 BC, Corinth, Greek culture
Trihemidrachm with Bellerophon on Pegasus,
430-405 BC, Corinth, Greek culture
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Didrachm with Bellerophon on Pegasus, cr. 395-390 BC, Fenserni, Campania, Italy
Didrachm with Bellerophon on Pegasus,
cr. 395-390 BC, Fenserni, Campania, Italy
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Trihemidrachm of Corinth with Bellerophon riding Pegasus, 338–280 BC, Corinth, Greek culture
Trihemidrachm of Corinth with Bellerophon riding Pegasus,
338–280 BC, Corinth, Greek culture
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Silver denarius, reverse shows Bellerophon on Pegasus brandishing spear, 74 BC, Rome, Roman Republic
Silver denarius,
reverse shows Bellerophon on Pegasus brandishing spear,
74 BC, Rome, Roman Republic
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Bronze as with Julius Caesar and Bellerophon, 44-43 BC, Corinth, Roman culture
Bronze as with Julius Caesar and Bellerophon,
44-43 BC, Corinth, Roman culture
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Coin with the head of Aphrodite, struck under Q. Caecilius Niger and C. Heius Pamphilus, 34–31 BC, Corinth, Roman culture
Coin with the head of Aphrodite, struck under Q. Caecilius Niger and C. Heius Pamphilus,
34–31 BC, Corinth, Roman culture
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Trihemidrachme with Bellerophon on Pegasus, cr. 4 BC, Corinth, Roman culture
Trihemidrachme with Bellerophon on Pegasus,
cr. 4 BC, Corinth, Roman culture
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Bronze coin with Bellerophon on Pegasus, 161-169 AD, Corinth, Roman culture
Bronze coin with Bellerophon on Pegasus,
161-169 AD, Corinth, Roman culture
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Coin with a bust of Severus Alexander, reverse shows Bellerophon on Pegasus brandishing spear, 222–235 AD, Thyatira, Lydia (modern Turkey), Roman culture
Coin with a bust of Severus Alexander, reverse shows Bellerophon on Pegasus brandishing spear,
222–235 AD, Thyatira, Lydia (modern Turkey), Roman culture
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Meleager and Atalanta, 4th century BC, 17th and 19th centuries AD

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In Greek mythology, Meleager is one of Argonauts, best known for killing the Calydonian boar. The hunting party included other Greek heroes and Atalanta, a female huntress loved by Meleager. During the hunt, two men tried to rape her, but Meleager killed them. Then Atalanta had drawn the first drop of blood of the boar, and Meleager killed. Meleager awarded Atalanta the trophy because she had drawn the first drop of boar’s blood. This angered two male hunters, and two other hunters have insulted Atalanta. Meleager has killed all four of them, but also died himself as the result… Perhaps we could view Meleager as one of the first champions of equal rights and gender equality?

According to The Walters Art Museum, during Renaissance “Hunting wild boar was a privilege reserved to the nobility and was validated and glorified in the eyes of contemporaries by representations of heroic hunts from the mythic past such as this one.” In addition, depicting antique hunters was an opportunity to depict fit semi-naked bodies, another advantage for the patrons.

Sarcophagus with relief depicting the hunt for the Calydonian boar, 201-250 AD, Roman
Sarcophagus with relief depicting the hunt for the Calydonian boar,
201-250 AD, Roman
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Mosaic showing Atalanta on horseback hunting a lion,4th century, Villa of Charidemos, Halicarnassus (Bordum), Turkey
Mosaic showing Atalanta on horseback hunting a lion,
4th century, Villa of Charidemos, Halicarnassus (Bordum), Turkey
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Mosaic showing Meleager on horseback spearing a leopard,4th century, Villa of Charidemos, Halicarnassus (Bordum), Turkey
Mosaic showing Meleager on horseback spearing a leopard,
4th century, Villa of Charidemos, Halicarnassus (Bordum), Turkey
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Meleager and Atalanta Setting Out to Hunt the Calydonian Boar, cr. 1475, Netherlandish or Flemish
Meleager and Atalanta Setting Out to Hunt the Calydonian Boar,
cr. 1475, Netherlandish or Flemish
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Meleagrus' Hunt statuette, 1583-4, Giovanni di Benedetto Bandini, Florence/Urbino, Italy
Meleagrus' Hunt statuette,
1583-4, Giovanni di Benedetto Bandini, Florence/Urbino, Italy
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Plaquette depicting Meleager on horseback hunting the Calydonian Boar, 16th century, later cast, Pseudo-Melioli, Italy
Plaquette depicting Meleager on horseback hunting the Calydonian Boar,
16th century, later cast, Pseudo-Melioli, Italy
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Vase with hunting scenes showing Meleager, 1550-75, Francesco Tortorino, Milan, Italy
Vase with hunting scenes showing Meleager,
1550-75, Francesco Tortorino, Milan, Italy
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Vase with hunting scenes (detail showing Meleager), 1550-75, Francesco Tortorino, Milan, Italy
Vase with hunting scenes (detail showing Meleager),
1550-75, Francesco Tortorino, Milan, Italy
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There were quite a few depictions of Meleager and Atalanta’s hunt in Flemish art in the 17th century. One of the possible reasons is that this subject was giving a rare opportunity to combine depiction of women and of the hunt, two very popular but usually incompatible subjects, in one painting.

Calydonian Boar Hunt, cr. 1611-2, Peter Paul Rubens
Calydonian Boar Hunt,
cr. 1611-2, Peter Paul Rubens
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The hunt of Meleagros and Atalante, 1616-20, Peter Paul Rubens, Flandres
The hunt of Meleagros and Atalante,
1616-20, Peter Paul Rubens, Flandres
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Landscape with Hunt of Meleager and Atalanta, first half of the 17th century, Jan Wildens, Flandres
Landscape with Hunt of Meleager and Atalanta,
first half of the 17th century, Jan Wildens, Flandres
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Atalanta and Meleager Hunt the Calydonian Boar, 1648, Jan Fyt and Pieter Thijs, Flemish
Atalanta and Meleager Hunt the Calydonian Boar,
1648, Jan Fyt and Pieter Thijs, Flemish
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In addition, there were two depictions of Meleager on a rearing horse in French art.

The hunt of Meleager and Atalante, cr. 1634-9, French, painted in Rome
The hunt of Meleager and Atalante,
cr. 1634-9, French, painted in Rome
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The hunt of Meleager, ?, François Rude (1784-1855), French
The hunt of Meleager,
?, François Rude (1784-1855), French
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Byzantine World

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Sasanian Empire (now Iran)

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The Battle of Nineveh (between Khosrau II and Heraclius, in 627), cr. 1452-66, Piero della Francesca, Arezzo, Italy
The Battle of Nineveh (between Khosrau II and Heraclius, in 627),
cr. 1452-66, Piero della Francesca, Arezzo, Italy
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The Sasanian Empire was the last imperial state in Persia (Iran) before the rise of Islam, from 224 to 651AD, the successor of the Parthian empire.

Sasanian Empire was the nemesis of the Byzantine empire while it existed.

The Battle of Nineveh (627) (pictured) was part of Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628. By the end of the conflict, both sides had exhausted their human and material resources and achieved very little. Consequently, they were vulnerable to the sudden emergence of the Islamic Rashidun Caliphate, whose forces invaded both empires only a few years after the war. The Muslim forces swiftly conquered the entire Sasanian Empire and deprived the Byzantine Empire of its territories in the Levant, the Caucasus, Egypt, and North Africa. Over the following centuries, much of what remained of the Byzantine Empire, and the entire Sasanian Empire, would come under Muslim rule.

This is how Sasanian Empire ended. But let us see what horsemen on rearing horses it has produced in the times of glory.

Equestrian Reliefs of Bahram II in Naqsh-e Rostam Necropolis, 3rd Century

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Equestrian reliefs of Bahram II,  necropolis of Naqsh-e Rostam, cr. 276–293, Sasanian, Naqsh-e Rostam, Persia
Equestrian reliefs of Bahram II, necropolis of Naqsh-e Rostam,
cr. 276–293, Sasanian, Naqsh-e Rostam, Persia
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Equestrian reliefs of Bahram II,  necropolis of Naqsh-e Rostam, cr. 276–293, Sasanian, Naqsh-e Rostam, Persia
Equestrian reliefs of Bahram II, necropolis of Naqsh-e Rostam,
cr. 276–293, Sasanian, Naqsh-e Rostam, Persia
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Necropolis of Naqsh-e Rostam, with two Achaemenid tombs and three Sasanian reliefs, 5th century BC and cr. 276–293, Achaemenid and Sasanian, Naqsh-e Rostam, Persia
Necropolis of Naqsh-e Rostam, with two Achaemenid tombs and three Sasanian reliefs,
5th century BC and cr. 276–293, Achaemenid and Sasanian, Naqsh-e Rostam, Persia
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Naqsh-e Rostam is the necropolis of the Achaemenid dynasty (cr. 550–330 BC) located about 12 km northwest of Persepolis, Iran, with four large tombs cut high into the cliff face.

Well below the Achaemenid tombs, near ground level, are rock reliefs with large figures of the kings, some meeting gods, others in combat, related to no less than six Sasanian kings. The placing of these reliefs clearly suggests the Sasanid intention to link themselves with the glories of the earlier Achaemenid Empire.

Two equestrian reliefs of Sasanian king Bahram II, executed in cr. 276–293, depict horsemen on rearing horses.
The first equestrian relief depicts the king battling a mounted Roman enemy. The second equestrian relief, located immediately below the tomb of Darius I, is divided into two registers, an upper and a lower one. In the upper register, the king appears to be forcing a Roman enemy, probably Roman emperor Carus from his horse. In the lower register, the king is again battling a mounted enemy wearing a headgear shaped as an animal’s head, thought to be the vanquished Indo-Sassanian ruler Hormizd I Kushanshah. Both reliefs depict a dead enemy under the hooves of the king’s horse.

Sasanian Silver Plates With Horsemen, 4th-7th Centuries

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Sasanian art objects include many silver plates decorated with the images of the hunt of Sasanian kings; of course, many of them are depicted on rearing horses. The description of the earliest of these plates, done by The Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian Art, offers a great insight into the story of these plates:

“I, Shapur, king of kings, partner with the Stars, brother of the Sun and Moon, to my brother Constantius Caesar offer most ample greeting.…”

Like Shapur’s flowery letter to the Roman emperor Constantine, this masterpiece of silverwork presents Shapur II as a ruler of the universe, the king of kings.

It was produced during the fourth century CE for Shapur II, the Sasanian king who is identified by his distinctive crown. He was one of the most powerful rulers of the Sasanian dynasty, which controlled Iran and much of the Ancient Near East from 224 to 651 CE. During Shapur’s reign, scenes depicting the king hunting gazelle, boars, bulls, and ibex were important metaphors for royal power. The plate, like several other similar examples, was presented as a gift to dignitaries or was displayed prominently in the Sasanian palace to assert Shapur’s sovereignty.”

Bowl with the depiction of a king hunting ibices, 4th-5th century
Bowl with the depiction of a king hunting ibices,
4th-5th century
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Plate with king hunting rams, cr. mid-5th – mid-6th century
Plate with king hunting rams,
cr. mid-5th – mid-6th century
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Dish with Scene of the Royal Hunt,first half of the 7th century
Dish with Scene of the Royal Hunt,
first half of the 7th century
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Silver plate with gold coating, ? (Sasanian), Azerbaijan Museum, Tabriz, Iran
Silver plate with gold coating,
? (Sasanian), Azerbaijan Museum, Tabriz, Iran
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Hephthalite, Alchon Hunnic And Himyarite Horsemen, 3rd-5th Centuries

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The following horsemen on rearing horses were created by three different people that co-existed and interacted with Sananian and Byzantine Empires. Their cultures were less developed and their states were not quite as powerful, wealthy and long-lived as Sananian and Byzantine Empires, thus much smaller artistic output. I have found only one object per each of these cultures.

Silver bowl showing four hunters, 460-479, Hephthalite
Silver bowl showing four hunters,
460-479, Hephthalite
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Sukhra's Victory over the Hephthalites in 486-8 (detail), illustration of Shahnameh, cr. 1530–35, Abu'l Qasim Firdausi, Tabriz, Persia
Sukhra's Victory over the Hephthalites in 486-8 (detail), illustration of Shahnameh,
cr. 1530–35, Abu'l Qasim Firdausi, Tabriz, Persia
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One is a bowl created by Hephthalites, sometimes called the White Huns, whose lands were to the East of Sasanian Empire in the 5th – 8th centuries. There was a long history of wars and occasional alliances between Hephthalites and Sasanian Empire, until they were crushed by Persians in 606-7. Small Hephthalite states remained. In cr. 651, during the Arab conquest, the ruler of Badghis was involved in the fall of the last Sasanian Shah Yazdegerd III.

Hephthalites were described by the 6th-century Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea.

Sculpture of a horseman on a rearing horse, end of the 5th century, Alchon Hunnic, Northern Afghanistan
Sculpture of a horseman on a rearing horse,
end of the 5th century, Alchon Hunnic, Northern Afghanistan
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Relief depicting warrior riding a rearing horse and a foot soldier, 3rd-5th centuries, Yemen
Relief depicting warrior riding a rearing horse and a foot soldier,
3rd-5th centuries, Yemen
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There is a horseman created by Alchon Huns in Northern Afghanistan in the 5th century. The Alchon Huns were a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia and South Asia in the 4th-6th centuries. The Alchons have long been considered as a sub-division of the Hephthalites, or as their eastern branch, but now tend to be considered as a separate entity. Just as Hephthalites, they had military confrontations with the Sasanian Empire.

The third object is a relief that depicts a warrior riding a rearing horse and a foot soldier. It was created in Yemen in the 3rd-5th centuries. Yemen had interactions with both Byzantine and Sasanian Empires. It was united in 275 by Himyarite king Shammar Yahri'sh. In 354, Roman Emperor Constantius II sent an embassy to convert the Himyarites to Christianity, but the mission was resisted by local Jews. However, they were considered amongst Arab allies of Byzantine Empire against Sasanian Persia.

Byzantine Empire

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Map of Byzantine and Sassanid Empires in 600 AD
Map of Byzantine and Sassanid Empires in 600 AD
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Byzantine Empire was formed as the result of the division of “too big to manage” Roman Empire into two parts, the Eastern (Byzantine Empire) and the Western Roman Empire. Perhaps the best choice for inception date of the Byzantine Empire is 330AD, when Constantinople, previously known as Byzantium, became its capital.

The new name of the city was honouring Constantine the Great, the emperor who has masterminded this transformation. Constantine was the first Roman emperor to claim conversion to Christianity. During his reign, the tolerance for Christianity was decreed in the empire.

A bowl with a scene of a triumph of Constantius II, mid-4th century AD
A bowl with a scene of a triumph of Constantius II,
mid-4th century AD
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We can see that the image of Constantius II, the son of Constantine the Great, on the bowl that was a diplomatic gift from the Byzantine Emperor to a representative of the government of Bosporan Kingdom. There are many cultural layers on this depiction. Firstly, the composition was to remind us of the Roman empire: the Emperor on horseback is piercing the enemy with a spear, an image typical of Roman coins. Secondly, we can see the pagan goddess Nike crowning the winner. Thirdly, the halo around the Emperor’s head is probably indicating the Emperor is Christian, although halo was sometimes used within pagan iconography, too.

Secular Horsemen

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Further evidence of the cultural complexity of Byzantine Empire comes to light when we examine other Byzantine depictions of the horsemen on the rearing horses. Some will be alluding to the glories and splendours of the united Roman Empire, e.g. gladiators and its cultural connections to Ancient Greece (Alexander the Great and pagan gods).

Amphora,4th century, created in Moldavia under Greek, Roman and Byzantine influences
Amphora,
4th century, created in Moldavia under Greek, Roman and Byzantine influences
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Triumphant emperor (Barberini ivory), cr.500-550
Triumphant emperor (Barberini ivory),
cr.500-550
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Ivory chest with mythological and combat scenes, 10th-11th century
Ivory chest with mythological and combat scenes,
10th-11th century
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Bowl Showing the Ascension of Alexander the Great,12th century
Bowl Showing the Ascension of Alexander the Great,
12th century
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Alexander the Great and Ptolemy I Soter attacking, 14th century, Constantine Manasses Chronicle, Byzantine empire
Alexander the Great and Ptolemy I Soter attacking,
14th century, Constantine Manasses Chronicle, Byzantine empire
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Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts

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There exists many Byzantine illuminated manuscripts. According to the British Library, the majority of these manuscripts are religious in focus, usually Gospels or Psalters, reflecting the central role played by Christianity in the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine court functioned as a theocracy, in which the Emperor was seen as God’s representative on earth, acting with divine authority. We also find some historical chronicles, e.g. Madrid Skylitzes, Byzantine military manuals, etc. We can find some horsemen on rearing horses throughout these illuminated manuscripts.

Saint Constantine the Great as warrior, illustration of 'Barberini psalter', 11th century, Constantinople (?), Byzantine Empire
Saint Constantine the Great as warrior, illustration of 'Barberini psalter',
11th century, Constantinople (?), Byzantine Empire
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Vision of Saint Procopius, illustration of 'Barberini psalter', 11th century, Constantinople (?), Byzantine Empire
Vision of Saint Procopius, illustration of 'Barberini psalter',
11th century, Constantinople (?), Byzantine Empire
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Vision of Saint Eustathius, illustration of 'Barberini psalter', 11th century, Constantinople (?), Byzantine Empire
Vision of Saint Eustathius, illustration of 'Barberini psalter',
11th century, Constantinople (?), Byzantine Empire
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The Arabs drive the Byzantines to flight at Azazion, 11th-13th centuries, illustration of Madrid Skylitzes, Sicily, Italy
The Arabs drive the Byzantines to flight at Azazion,
11th-13th centuries, illustration of Madrid Skylitzes, Sicily, Italy
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The future Leo VI the Wise offers a knife to his father, Emperor Basil I the Macedonian, 11th-13th centuries, illustration of Madrid Skylitzes, Sicily, Italy
The future Leo VI the Wise offers a knife to his father, Emperor Basil I the Macedonian,
11th-13th centuries, illustration of Madrid Skylitzes, Sicily, Italy
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Siege of Amorium (838), 11th-13th centuries, illustration of Madrid Skylitzes, Sicily, Italy
Siege of Amorium (838),
11th-13th centuries, illustration of Madrid Skylitzes, Sicily, Italy
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Alexander the Great and Ptolemy I Soter attacking, 14th century, Constantine Manasses Chronicle, Byzantine empire
Alexander the Great and Ptolemy I Soter attacking,
14th century, Constantine Manasses Chronicle, Byzantine empire
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Emperor Heraclius attacks a Persian fortress, while the Persians attack Constantinople, 14th century, Constantine Manasses Chronicle, Byzantine empire
Emperor Heraclius attacks a Persian fortress, while the Persians attack Constantinople,
14th century, Constantine Manasses Chronicle, Byzantine empire
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Tzimiskes in Preslav and Basileios in Pliska, 14th century, Constantine Manasses Chronicle, Byzantine empire
Tzimiskes in Preslav and Basileios in Pliska,
14th century, Constantine Manasses Chronicle, Byzantine empire
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Introducing Saint George

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Before proceeding any further, let me introduce Saint George, a Christian Saint, a Syrian born in cr. 280 AD who served in the army of a Roman emperor and was tortured and executed for his refusal to recant his Christian faith in 303 AD. The story of his life was not well documented and thus should be seen as a myth rather than the actual facts. The most famous episode of the life of this Saint is the story of him defeating a dragon and rescuing a princess as told in the Golden Legend.

Traditionally, Saint George is depicted on a rearing horse. Just as a prince charming, he appears on a white horse, slays the dragon and saves the princess. His images are most probably the first art objects that show a horseman on a rearing horse in the post-antique world. He has other canonical representations, too. The subject of representation in art is well researched, a few online sources (among others) are “The Legend of St. George Saving a Youth from Captivity and its Depiction in Art” by Piotr Grotowski, “In Search Of Saint George” by H.F.Rance and “The Miracle of St.George and the Dragon\Black George” by Yury Bobrov.

Iconographical Geneology Of Saint George

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Other depictions will be more representative of the Byzantine Empire with its complex multifaceted pattern, while still referencing the Ancient Roman art. In fact, as shown in the research done by Sasson Ancient Art, the representation of the Holy Rider seems to be ideal to get the drip of the cultural patterns of the Byzantine Empire. We have already seen the representation of the Emperor Constantius II with a halo around his head, which clearly indicates divinity, while the composition reminds us of his royal status through the similarity with the coins. Later in Eastern Mediterranean region, there will appear the amulets King Solomon on a rearing horse, spearing the demon Lilith, a killer of the little children: this story is part of Jewish tradition, the rider is both royal and divine. In Byzantine iconography of the 5th century, the horseman became St. Sisinios or Sisinnios or Sisinius or Sisoe, destroying the she-demon Gello, also a killer of the little children. (Another demon responsible for miscarriages is Abyzou of the Near East and Europe; both king Solomon and St. Sisinius can act as her adversaries). Later on, the rider was identified as Saint Demetrius, Saint George, Saint Mercurius and Saint Theodore of Amasea, the four saints who are considered both great martyrs and military saints.

Hematite magic gem of Solomon,3rd century, late Roman
Hematite magic gem of Solomon,
3rd century, late Roman
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Magical gem with a rider on a rearing horse (Solomon) stabbing a woman lying on the earth (Lilith), 4th century
Magical gem with a rider on a rearing horse (Solomon) stabbing a woman lying on the earth (Lilith),
4th century
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Magical gem with a rider on a rearing horse (Solomon) stabbing a woman lying on the earth (Lilith), 4th century
Magical gem with a rider on a rearing horse (Solomon) stabbing a woman lying on the earth (Lilith),
4th century
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Amulet with Holy Rider (St. Sisinios) and Virgin Enthroned, 5th-7th century, Byzantine
Amulet with Holy Rider (St. Sisinios) and Virgin Enthroned,
5th-7th century, Byzantine
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Magical pendant: Holy rider (Saint Sisinnius) trampling and spearing a woman lying on the ground, ?
Magical pendant: Holy rider (Saint Sisinnius) trampling and spearing a woman lying on the ground,
?
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Magical pendant with Holy Rider on horseback, trampling over a dragon lying on the ground, 5th century, Byzantine
Magical pendant with Holy Rider on horseback, trampling over a dragon lying on the ground,
5th century, Byzantine
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Seal-amulet with a representation of Solomon on horseback slaying a demon, 5th-6th century, Byzantine
Seal-amulet with a representation of Solomon on horseback slaying a demon,
5th-6th century, Byzantine
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Magical pendant: Holy Rider on horseback, trampling over a figure lying on the ground, 5th-6th century
Magical pendant: Holy Rider on horseback, trampling over a figure lying on the ground,
5th-6th century
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Amulet with the Evil Eye and the Holy Rider, 5th-6th century
Amulet with the Evil Eye and the Holy Rider,
5th-6th century
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Amuletic pendant with Solomon, the Holy Rider, spears Lillith, 5th-6th century
Amuletic pendant with Solomon, the Holy Rider, spears Lillith,
5th-6th century
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Bronze medallion with Saint George, 9th–12th century, Byzantine
Bronze medallion with Saint George,
9th–12th century, Byzantine
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St. George and the Dragon (small image used for personal prayer), 12th century
St. George and the Dragon (small image used for personal prayer),
12th century
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Saint George on Horseback, Slaying the Dragon, 1425 - 1450, Angelos Akotandos, Cretan School, Byzantine
Saint George on Horseback, Slaying the Dragon,
1425 - 1450, Angelos Akotandos, Cretan School, Byzantine
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Byzantine Influence

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Egypt, 4th – 8th Centuries, Textiles

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Each culture seems to be able to make the motif of the rearing horseman their own, adapting it to fit the local tradition.

Egypt became a Roman province in 30BC, and became part of Byzantine Empire upon separation of the Roman empire. According to Louvre researchers, Egyptian deities were never portrayed on horseback. However, the influence of Roman and, later, Byzantine colonisers has resulted in the adoption of Greco-Roman models and of the Christian symbolism of Good conquering Evil.

Many Egyptian textile designs that feature horsemen use the Greco-Roman mythology, but their representation reflects Egyptian traditions.

Hanging known as Sabine's shawl depicting Bellerophon trampling Chimera, 4th-5th century, Coptic
Hanging known as Sabine's shawl depicting Bellerophon trampling Chimera,
4th-5th century, Coptic
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Fabric with the Depiction of an Amazon, 5th century
Fabric with the Depiction of an Amazon,
5th century
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Textile Band with Two Figures on Horseback, 5th century, Coptic
Textile Band with Two Figures on Horseback,
5th century, Coptic
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Textile fragment depicting a horseman, 5th-6th century, Coptic
Textile fragment depicting a horseman,
5th-6th century, Coptic
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Textile fragment depicting a horseman, 5th-6th century, Coptic
Textile fragment depicting a horseman,
5th-6th century, Coptic
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Textile roundel with a holy rider killing a snake with a spear, 4th-7th century, Coptic
Textile roundel with a holy rider killing a snake with a spear,
4th-7th century, Coptic
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Tapestry roundel with horseman, 5th-7th century, Coptic
Tapestry roundel with horseman,
5th-7th century, Coptic
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Textile fragment with a hunting scene, 8th century, Egypt or Syria
Textile fragment with a hunting scene,
8th century, Egypt or Syria
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Orthodox Warrior Saints

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Two Saints Facing One Another

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The earliest surviving sculptural depictions of Orthodox warrior Saints were reliefs on the walls of churches and monasters. They are very similar in style and ought to have the same iconographical origin. They depict two military Saints on horseback facing one another, and at least one of them is on a rearing horse. Usually they are Saint George And Saint Theodore. Later, we will see similar iconography on Greek icons, except that Saint Theodore will be replaced by Saint Demetrius.

Saint George slaying Diocletian and Saint Theodore slaying a serpent, bas-relief from a 9th-10th-century Georgian monastery
Saint George slaying Diocletian and Saint Theodore slaying a serpent,
bas-relief from a 9th-10th-century Georgian monastery
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Two Horseman (George and Theodore), cr. 1062, from St.Michael's monastery in Kiev, Russia
Two Horseman (George and Theodore),
cr. 1062, from St.Michael's monastery in Kiev, Russia
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Two Horseman (Nestor and Demetrius), cr. 1062, from St.Michael's monastery in Kiev, Russia
Two Horseman (Nestor and Demetrius),
cr. 1062, from St.Michael's monastery in Kiev, Russia
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Relief showing Military Saints Theodore and George, the exterior decor of a church, 13th century, Amaseia, modern Turkey
Relief showing Military Saints Theodore and George, the exterior decor of a church,
13th century, Amaseia, modern Turkey
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Saint George and Saint Theodore of Amasea, killing the dragon, Frescoes on a wall of cave church, 12th century, Yilanli Church, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Saint George and Saint Theodore of Amasea, killing the dragon, Frescoes on a wall of cave church,
12th century, Yilanli Church, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
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Saint George and Saint Theodore of Amasea, killing the dragons, Frescoes on a wall of cave church, cr. 1212, Saint John's Church, Gülşehir, Cappadocia, Turkey
Saint George and Saint Theodore of Amasea, killing the dragons, Frescoes on a wall of cave church,
cr. 1212, Saint John's Church, Gülşehir, Cappadocia, Turkey
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COMPARANDUM: Deisis with Saint George and Saint Demetrius, 16th century (?), Greece
COMPARANDUM: Deisis with Saint George and Saint Demetrius,
16th century (?), Greece
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COMPARANDUM: Mary with Saint George and Saint Demetrius, 1754, Greece
COMPARANDUM: Mary with Saint George and Saint Demetrius,
1754, Greece
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Saint George in Georgia, 10th-21st Century, Metalworks

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According to In Search Of Saint George, Georgia has converted to Christianity in the early 4th century, at about the same time as the rest of the Roman Empire. It is unclear when Saint George has been designated as its national Patron Saint, but his cult was widespread by the 10th century.

While Georgia was remaining Christian religiously, and thus influenced by the Byzantine Empire, its powerful neighbour, it was also under the cultural influences of its many invaders: Mongols, Persians and Turks.

The iconography of Saint George that was frequently used in Georgia, showing an equestrian St. George with the horse standing or rearing over the prostrate figure of Diocletian, rather than the figure of the Dragon, was a provincial Byzantine theme, which was foreign to metropolitan Byzantine art. One of the representations of Diocletian, where his armour is made of scales, could suggest how the figure of Diocletian has transformed into a Dragon.

The choice of the iconography that features a horseman on a rearing horse, as well as the choice of metalworks repoussé as the most frequently used technique, suggests the influence of Sasanian empire where both the subject and the technique were much used and loved.

Saint George slaying Diocletian and Saint Theodore slaying a serpent, silver embossing, 10th century
Saint George slaying Diocletian and Saint Theodore slaying a serpent, silver embossing,
10th century
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St. George spearing a fallen warrior, possibly the emperor Diocletian, his prosecutor, 11th century
St. George spearing a fallen warrior, possibly the emperor Diocletian, his prosecutor,
11th century
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Icon of St. George from Likhauri (Georgia),12th century
Icon of St. George from Likhauri (Georgia),
12th century
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Silver gilt icon of St George with the prostrate figure of Diocletian, ?
Silver gilt icon of St George with the prostrate figure of Diocletian,
?
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Four scenes from the life of St George from the Chkhari Cross, 15th century
Four scenes from the life of St George from the Chkhari Cross,
15th century
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St. George slaying the Dragon, cloisonné enamel on gold, 15th century
St. George slaying the Dragon, cloisonné enamel on gold,
15th century
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The Freedom Monument (the St. George Statue), 2006, Zurab Tsereteli, Tbilisi, Georgia
The Freedom Monument (the St. George Statue),
2006, Zurab Tsereteli, Tbilisi, Georgia
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Saint Theodore And Other Horsemen In Venice (And Palermo), The 13th Century – Present

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While Venice belongs to Western Europe geographically, its horsemen show the influence of both Western European tradition and Byzantine Empire. Western European influence was obviously due to geographical proximity. Byzantine influence was due to political reasons; their dynamics was somewhat complex. In 540, Byzantine general Belisarius has conquered the city of Ravenna and nearby lands, which included Venetian Lagoon. The lagoon became part of Exarchate of Ravenna when it was created 584. Long political strife between pro- and anti-Byzantine factions has followed. In 805 the doge Obelerio degli Antenori formed an alliance with the Franks, did homage to Charlemagne in Aachen on Christmas Day 805, and placed Venice under the authority of the king Pepin of Italy (died 810) in order to free themselves from Byzantine control. Later, though a Franco-Byzantine treaty of 814, Venice gained political and juridical independence from both the Western Empire and the Byzantine Empire. Fast forward to 1204, and Venetian knights take part in the sack of Constantinople, during the Fourth Crusade. After the city is conquered, it was looted and Venetians would bring back home some art trophies, including the Horses of Saint Mark, that now decorate the porch of St Mark's Basilica.

Saint Theodore became the first patron of Venice. Initially, the chapel of the Doge was dedicated to him. He was a very popular Byzantine Saint. When, in the 9th century, Venice wished to free itself from the influence of the Byzantine Empire, it decided to change that. So, Saint Theodore was succeeded by Saint Mark when, according to tradition, the relics of Saint Mark were brought to the city in 828. He was not popular in northern Europe beyond Italy.

Cameo with a representation of St Theodoros the dragon-slayer on horseback, 13th century, produced in Venice, copy of a Byzantine prototype
Cameo with a representation of St Theodoros the dragon-slayer on horseback,
13th century, produced in Venice, copy of a Byzantine prototype
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Saint George and the Dragon with two armorial reliefs, cr. 1500, Venice
Saint George and the Dragon with two armorial reliefs,
cr. 1500, Venice
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Relief showing Theodore of Amasea (or Saint George?) fighting the dragon, ?, Campiello dell'Anconeta, Cannaregio, Venice
Relief showing Theodore of Amasea (or Saint George?) fighting the dragon,
?, Campiello dell'Anconeta, Cannaregio, Venice
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Saint George And the Dragon, 1470, Carlo Crivelli, Venice, Italy
Saint George And the Dragon,
1470, Carlo Crivelli, Venice, Italy
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There are two mosaics, both located in Italy, that depict horsemen on rearing horses and are made in Byzantine style. One shows a nameless horseman dragging the body of Isidore of Chios on the mosaic of Saint Isidore’s Chapel in St Mark's Basilica, Venice. The Basilica’s link to Byzantine culture is not limited to stylistic similarities; some of the materials used to build it were imported from Constantinople. The other one the depiction of the story of Absalom on the exterior wall of Cappella Palatina in Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo, Sicily. This is a 19th-century restoration, which style is matching the 1140-70 Byzantine-style mosaics in the interior of the Chapel.

The Martyrdom of St. Isidore, cr. 1355, Mosaic, St Mark's Basilica, Venice
The Martyrdom of St. Isidore,
cr. 1355, Mosaic, St Mark's Basilica, Venice
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The lament of King David over his son Absalom (detail), cr. 1832, Santi Cardini and Pietro Casamassima, Palermo, Sicily
The lament of King David over his son Absalom (detail),
cr. 1832, Santi Cardini and Pietro Casamassima, Palermo, Sicily
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The lament of King David over his son Absalom (detail), cr. 1832, Santi Cardini and Pietro Casamassima, Palermo, Sicily
The lament of King David over his son Absalom (detail),
cr. 1832, Santi Cardini and Pietro Casamassima, Palermo, Sicily
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Milirary Saints In Russia, 14th – 19th Centuries

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It has, in all likelihood, arrived in Russia via religious/cultural exchanges with Byzantine empire (and, probably, Georgia), because Russia has officially adopted the religion of Byzantine empire, Orthodox Christianity. The choice of the saints and the iconography clearly draws inspiration from Byzantine art.

Unlike in Europe, the style of the images of Saints was unaffected by the secular art – perhaps can call it orthodox?

Miracle of St George and the Dragon, with Scenes from his Life. 1300-50, Novgorod, Russia
Miracle of St George and the Dragon, with Scenes from his Life.
1300-50, Novgorod, Russia
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The Miracle of Saint George and the Dragon, mid-14th century, Novgorod, Russia
The Miracle of Saint George and the Dragon,
mid-14th century, Novgorod, Russia
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Saint George and the Dragon, second half of the 15th century, Moscow/Rostov, Russia
Saint George and the Dragon,
second half of the 15th century, Moscow/Rostov, Russia
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Battle between Novgorod and Suzdal in 1170 with the depiction of Saint George and other warrior saints in the bottom tier, second half of the 15th century, Novgorod, Russia
Battle between Novgorod and Suzdal in 1170 with the depiction of Saint George and other warrior saints in the bottom tier,
second half of the 15th century, Novgorod, Russia
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Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki spearing king Kaloyan of Bulgaria, 1500-50, Russia
Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki spearing king Kaloyan of Bulgaria,
1500-50, Russia
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Saint Flor and Lavr, 16th century, Novgorod, Russia
Saint Flor and Lavr,
16th century, Novgorod, Russia
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Saint Demetrius And Saint George, 1670, Nikita Pavlovec, Moscow, Russia
Saint Demetrius And Saint George,
1670, Nikita Pavlovec, Moscow, Russia
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Saint Demetrius, early 19th century, Yaroslavl, Russia
Saint Demetrius,
early 19th century, Yaroslavl, Russia
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Saint Demetrios In Eastern Europe, 15th – 19th Centuries

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Relief icon showing St George on horseback, 15th century, Thrace (?)
Relief icon showing St George on horseback,
15th century, Thrace (?)
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Saint Demetrius, 1500-50, school of Andreas Ritzos, Macedonia
Saint Demetrius,
1500-50, school of Andreas Ritzos, Macedonia
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Deisis with Saint George and Saint Demetrius, 16th century (?), Greece
Deisis with Saint George and Saint Demetrius,
16th century (?), Greece
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Icon of St George the dragon-slayer on horseback, Late 16th century, Macedonia
Icon of St George the dragon-slayer on horseback,
Late 16th century, Macedonia
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Mary with Saint George and Saint Demetrius, 1754, Greece
Mary with Saint George and Saint Demetrius,
1754, Greece
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St. Demetrios Killing Soldier and Saving Besieged City of Thessalonica, 1852, Gallipoli, modern Turkey
St. Demetrios Killing Soldier and Saving Besieged City of Thessalonica,
1852, Gallipoli, modern Turkey
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Saint George (And Saint Sisinios) In Ethiopian Empire, 15th Century – Present

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Susenyos I as Saint Sisinios, 17th century or later, Ethiopia
Susenyos I as Saint Sisinios,
17th century or later, Ethiopia
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Ethiopian king (?) as Saint George spearing the dragon, ?, Ethiopia
Ethiopian king (?) as Saint George spearing the dragon,
?, Ethiopia
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Like Georgia, the Ethiopian Empire was bordering the Byzantine Empire, has adopted Christianity at the beginning of the first millennium and was under Islamic influence. Like Georgia, Ethiopian Empire has chosen St. George to be its patron saint. The existing documents Ethiopians have started venerating Saint George later than Georgians, perhaps in the 15th century. However, according to In Search Of Saint George, it is possible that earlier evidence of the veneration of Saint George in the Ethiopian Empire has been destroyed during the invasions of 1529-43 led by Somali Muslim Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi.

Ethiopian artists have developed a very strict and idiosyncratic canon for the representation of Saint George. It certainly reflects the taste for bright colours and flatness of the image common in African art. The person in the tree directly in front of Saint George and above the horse’s head is the princess that the saint is about to save. In Ethiopian tradition, the princess’s name is Biruwit, and she is said to personify Ethiopia.

Further evidence of Byzantine influence can be seen in the image of emperor of Ethiopia Susenyos I (1572 – 1632), who is represented as Saint Sisinios spearing seductively lolling she-demon Lilith. The image next to it is a possible representation of one of Ethiopian kings as Saint George spearing the dragon.

Diptych Icon with Saint George, and Mary and the Infant Christ, early 15th century
Diptych Icon with Saint George, and Mary and the Infant Christ,
early 15th century
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An icon showing St George, 15th-16th century, Ethiopia
An icon showing St George,
15th-16th century, Ethiopia
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Triptych with Mary and Her Son, Archangels, Scenes from Life of Christ and Saints, early 16th century, Ethiopia
Triptych with Mary and Her Son, Archangels, Scenes from Life of Christ and Saints,
early 16th century, Ethiopia
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Saint George slaying a dragon painted on carved wood, 17th century
Saint George slaying a dragon painted on carved wood,
17th century
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Saint George slaying a dragon (a fresco), 17th century
Saint George slaying a dragon (a fresco),
17th century
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Ensemble of 44 leaves featuring Ethiopian saints and scenes from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament including 9 saints on rearing horses, painting on parchment,late 17th century
Ensemble of 44 leaves featuring Ethiopian saints and scenes from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament including 9 saints on rearing horses, painting on parchment,
late 17th century
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Saint George from the ensemble of 44 leaves featuring Ethiopian saints and scenes from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, painting on parchment,late 17th century
Saint George from the ensemble of 44 leaves featuring Ethiopian saints and scenes from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, painting on parchment,
late 17th century
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Saint George from the ensemble of 44 leaves featuring Ethiopian saints and scenes from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, painting on parchment,late 17th century
Saint George from the ensemble of 44 leaves featuring Ethiopian saints and scenes from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, painting on parchment,
late 17th century
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St. George slaying the dragon and Mary with the Christ child flanked by the archangels Michael and Gabriel, late 17th century
St. George slaying the dragon and Mary with the Christ child flanked by the archangels Michael and Gabriel,
late 17th century
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Great Triptych, tempera on fabric on wood, cr. 1700, Ethiopia
Great Triptych, tempera on fabric on wood,
cr. 1700, Ethiopia
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Double Diptych Icon Pendant depicting the Virgin Mary, the infant Christ, Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint George slaying a dragon, early 18th century
Double Diptych Icon Pendant depicting the Virgin Mary, the infant Christ, Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint George slaying a dragon,
early 18th century
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Triptych, showing St George, 18-19th century, Gondar school, Ethiopia
Triptych, showing St George,
18-19th century, Gondar school, Ethiopia
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Painting on parchment depicting the Virgin Mary, the infant Christ, Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint George slaying a dragon, 19th century
Painting on parchment depicting the Virgin Mary, the infant Christ, Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint George slaying a dragon,
19th century
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St. George Slaying the Dragon, church wall painting,  ?
St. George Slaying the Dragon, church wall painting,
?
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St. George Slaying the Dragon, church wall painting,  ?
St. George Slaying the Dragon, church wall painting,
?
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St. George Slaying the Dragon, church wall painting,  ?
St. George Slaying the Dragon, church wall painting,
?
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Ethiopian Coptic metal altar with the depiction of St. George,2010s, $75 off eBay
Ethiopian Coptic metal altar with the depiction of St. George,
2010s, $75 off eBay
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Saint Mercurius, Egypt, cr. 18th Century

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Later on, there appeared a very idiosyncratic representation of Saint Mercurius, a saint that seemed to be much more popular with Egyptian Copts than with other Christian denominations. The Coptic icons of Saint Mercurius I have found are of uneven artistic quality and only one is dated, but the imagery is so striking that they seem to be worth appearing in this presentation: the ability to hold two swords while piercing emperor Julian the Apostate (331 or 332 – 363) who was prosecuting Christians with his spear is truly superhuman.

Biblical Subjects Throughout Centuries, Europe

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After we have seen horsemen of Eastern Christian churches, let’s take a close loot at horsemen popular with Western Christian churches in the 10th – 19th centuries.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 10th-18th Centuries

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible.

The four riders are often seen as symbols. The 1st horseman, on a white horse, is a symbol of Conquest or Pestilence (and less frequently, the Christ or the Antichrist); the 2nd horseman, on a red horse: War; the 3rd horseman, on a black horse: Famine; on a horse). And the 4th horseman, on a pale horse, symbolizes Death.

The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the Four Horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 10th-17th centuries, Europe

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The images of four horsemen start to appear as the illuminated manuscript illustrations. The very first ones were in Valcavado Beatus. This manuscript, created by a monk called Oveco in 970 in Palencia, Spain, was a copy of Commentary on the Apocalypse written by the Spanish monk and theologian Beatus of Liébana (730–785). More illustrations and independent works of art have followed.

Four Horsemen Of Apocalypse, illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado', 970, Oveco, Palencia, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
Four Horsemen Of Apocalypse, illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado',
970, Oveco, Palencia, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
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Four Horsemen Of Apocalypse, illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado', 1047, Beato of Facundus, León, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
Four Horsemen Of Apocalypse, illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado',
1047, Beato of Facundus, León, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
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Four Horsemen Of Apocalypse (Sixth trumpet scene), illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado', 1047, Beato of Facundus, León, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
Four Horsemen Of Apocalypse (Sixth trumpet scene), illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado',
1047, Beato of Facundus, León, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
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Four Horsemen Of Heaven, illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado', 1047, Beato of Facundus, León, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
Four Horsemen Of Heaven, illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado',
1047, Beato of Facundus, León, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
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Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, illustration of Burgo de Osma, 1086, Martinus, Castille-et-León, Spain
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, illustration of Burgo de Osma,
1086, Martinus, Castille-et-León, Spain
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Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, illustration of the Apocalypse of Saint-Sever, 11th century, French
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, illustration of the Apocalypse of Saint-Sever,
11th century, French
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The Opening of the Fourth Seal: The Fourth Horseman, 1255-60, London (?), England
The Opening of the Fourth Seal: The Fourth Horseman,
1255-60, London (?), England
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Second Horseman of the Apocalypse, illustration of Douce Apocalypse, 1265-70, England
Second Horseman of the Apocalypse, illustration of Douce Apocalypse,
1265-70, England
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First Horseman of the Apocalypse, fresco in the Baptistry, 14th century, Giusto de' Menabuoi, Padua, Italy
First Horseman of the Apocalypse, fresco in the Baptistry,
14th century, Giusto de' Menabuoi, Padua, Italy
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Second Horseman of the Apocalypse, fresco in the Baptistry, 14th century, Giusto de' Menabuoi, Padua, Italy
Second Horseman of the Apocalypse, fresco in the Baptistry,
14th century, Giusto de' Menabuoi, Padua, Italy
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Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, fresco, 1420s, Santa Caterina, Galatina, Apulia, Italy
Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, fresco,
1420s, Santa Caterina, Galatina, Apulia, Italy
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Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, illustration of The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry, 1411-6, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, illustration of The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry,
1411-6, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
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Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, illustration of Liber Floridus par Lambert de Saint-Omer, 15th century, Jean Mansel, France
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, illustration of Liber Floridus par Lambert de Saint-Omer,
15th century, Jean Mansel, France
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Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, cr. 1497-8, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,
cr. 1497-8, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
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First Horseman of the Apocalypse, book of Apocalypse illustration, 1909 (print of a manuscript that dates to 1600-1650), Moscow
First Horseman of the Apocalypse, book of Apocalypse illustration,
1909 (print of a manuscript that dates to 1600-1650), Moscow
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Second Horseman of the Apocalypse, illustration of Elizabeth Day McCormick Apocalypse, 17th century, Greek
Second Horseman of the Apocalypse, illustration of Elizabeth Day McCormick Apocalypse,
17th century, Greek
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Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, illustration of the Koren Picture-Bible for poor people, 1692-6, Vasily Koren, Moscow
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, illustration of the Koren Picture-Bible for poor people,
1692-6, Vasily Koren, Moscow
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Death on the Pale Horse In England, End Of The 18th – Beginning Of The 19th Centuries

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Some illustrations appear in anticipation of great changes. For example, the end of the 18th – beginning of the 19th centuries period was marked by the beginning of industrialisation in England. William Blake and many of his contemporaries saw it in a very negative light. In his poem And did those feet in ancient time (today it is best known as the hymn “Jerusalem”, with music written by Hubert Parry in 1916), William Blake has mentioned the “dark satanic mills”, which probably meant “new industrial enterprises”, e.g. Albion Mills (completed in 1786, gutted by fire in 1791), cotton mills, and, more generally, anything other than the “green and pleasant land”.

Death on a Pale Horse (Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse), cr. 1775, John Hamilton Mortimer, England
Death on a Pale Horse (Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse),
cr. 1775, John Hamilton Mortimer, England
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Death on a Pale Horse (Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse), cr. 1800, William Blake, England
Death on a Pale Horse (Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse),
cr. 1800, William Blake, England
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Death on the Pale Horse, 1817, Benjamin West, England (artist born in the U.S.A.)
Death on the Pale Horse,
1817, Benjamin West, England (artist born in the U.S.A.)
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Absalom, 13th-19th Centuries

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Magical gem with a rider on a rearing horse (Solomon) stabbing a woman lying on the earth (Lilith), 4th century
Magical gem with a rider on a rearing horse (Solomon) stabbing a woman lying on the earth (Lilith),
4th century
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Absalom, according to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, was the third and favourite son of King David. He was described as the most handsome man in the kingdom of Israel.

When some uncertainty seems to have arisen as to the succession, Absalom organized a revolt. For a time he seemed completely successful; David, with a few followers and his personal guard, fled across the Jordan, leaving to Absalom Jerusalem and the main portion of the kingdom. The usurper pursued the fugitives with his forces but was completely defeated in the Battle of the Wood of Ephraim and killed by Joab, a nephew of King David, who found him caught by the hair in an oak tree.

On the brink of death, David told Solomon to have Joab killed citing Joab’s past betrayals and the blood that he was guilty of, and King Solomon ordered his death.

Most depictions of the last moments of Absolom feature either him or Joab on a rearing horse. As we have seen earlier, King Solomon was also depicted on a rearing horse, as a Holy Rider stubbing she-devil Lilith.

Death of Absalom, cr. 1250, Leaf from the Morgan Picture Bible, Northern France
Death of Absalom,
cr. 1250, Leaf from the Morgan Picture Bible, Northern France
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Death of Absalom, 1332, From Jacob van Maerlant's 'Rhimebible' of Utrecht, Netherlands
Death of Absalom,
1332, From Jacob van Maerlant's 'Rhimebible' of Utrecht, Netherlands
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Death of Absalom, cr. 1450-1500, Georg Lemberger and Hans Lufft, Wittenberg, Germany
Death of Absalom,
cr. 1450-1500, Georg Lemberger and Hans Lufft, Wittenberg, Germany
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Death of Absalom, 1532-40, printed in 1550, Georg Lemberger and Hans Lufft, Wittenberg, Germany
Death of Absalom,
1532-40, printed in 1550, Georg Lemberger and Hans Lufft, Wittenberg, Germany
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Death of Absalom, 1574-78, Theodosius Rihel and Tobias Stimmer, Strassbourg, Switzerland/Germany
Death of Absalom,
1574-78, Theodosius Rihel and Tobias Stimmer, Strassbourg, Switzerland/Germany
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Death of Absalom, cr. 1585, Maarten de Vos and Johannes Wierix, Netherlands
Death of Absalom,
cr. 1585, Maarten de Vos and Johannes Wierix, Netherlands
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Death of Absalom, 1613, Antonio Tempesta, Rome, Italy
Death of Absalom,
1613, Antonio Tempesta, Rome, Italy
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Death of Absalom, 1613-18, Antonio Tempesta, Antwerpen, Belgium
Death of Absalom,
1613-18, Antonio Tempesta, Antwerpen, Belgium
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Death of Absalom, 1625-30, Matthäus Merian I, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Death of Absalom,
1625-30, Matthäus Merian I, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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Death of Absalom, cr. 1645, Christoffel van Sichem III, Netherlands
Death of Absalom,
cr. 1645, Christoffel van Sichem III, Netherlands
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Death of Absalom, cr. 1652, Maarten de Vos and Johannes Wierix, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Death of Absalom,
cr. 1652, Maarten de Vos and Johannes Wierix, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Death of Absalom, 1660-61, Francois Chauveau, Paris, France
Death of Absalom,
1660-61, Francois Chauveau, Paris, France
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Death of Absalom, 1670-71, Sébastien Leclerc I, Paris, France
Death of Absalom,
1670-71, Sébastien Leclerc I, Paris, France
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Death of Absalom, cr. 1762, Corrado Giaquinto, Madrid, Spain
Death of Absalom,
cr. 1762, Corrado Giaquinto, Madrid, Spain
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Death of Absalom, 1769, illustration published in Yiddish, 'Yosippon', Fürth, Germany
Death of Absalom,
1769, illustration published in Yiddish, 'Yosippon', Fürth, Germany
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The lament of King David over his son Absalom (detail), cr. 1832, Santi Cardini and Pietro Casamassima, Palermo, Sicily
The lament of King David over his son Absalom (detail),
cr. 1832, Santi Cardini and Pietro Casamassima, Palermo, Sicily
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The lament of King David over his son Absalom (detail), cr. 1832, Santi Cardini and Pietro Casamassima, Palermo, Sicily
The lament of King David over his son Absalom (detail),
cr. 1832, Santi Cardini and Pietro Casamassima, Palermo, Sicily
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Death of Absalom, 1851-60, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, from 'Bibel in Bildern', Leipzig, Germany
Death of Absalom,
1851-60, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, from 'Bibel in Bildern', Leipzig, Germany
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Death of Absalom (painted hive ending), 1889, peasant folk culture, Slovenia
Death of Absalom (painted hive ending),
1889, peasant folk culture, Slovenia
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The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, 16th-19th Centuries

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Religious (as opposed to historical) source of the story of the Expulsion of Heliodorus is on Deuterocanonical books. These books and passages considered to be canonical books of the Old Testament by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East, but which are considered non-canonical by Protestant denominations.

According to Deuterocanonical books, around 178 BC Seleucus IV Philopator, ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, sent Heliodorus to Jerusalem to collect money to pay the Romans. Heliodorus entered the Temple in Jerusalem in order to take its treasure but was turned back by three spiritual beings who manifested themselves as human beings, and Heliodorus received “orders from God” to “proclaim to all men the majesty of God’s power”.

Raphael was the first artist to make an influential depiction of this subject, a fresco The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple in the Vatican. With it, he has started a tradition to depict one of spiritual beings on a white rearing horse.

During the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the episode of The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple was taken in Roman Catholic apologetics as a symbol of the inviolability of Church property. For some time, it became a popular subject.

Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple, 1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple,
1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
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Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple (detail), 1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple (detail),
1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
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Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, 1566, Wouter Crabeth, Bloemendaal, Gouda, Netherlands
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple,
1566, Wouter Crabeth, Bloemendaal, Gouda, Netherlands
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Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, 16th-17th centuries, Antonio Tempesta, Italy
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple,
16th-17th centuries, Antonio Tempesta, Italy
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Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, 1607-64, Jacopo Vignali, Florence, Italy
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple,
1607-64, Jacopo Vignali, Florence, Italy
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Expulsion Of Heliodorus From The Temple, cr. 1650, Bernardo Cavallino, Naples, Italy
Expulsion Of Heliodorus From The Temple,
cr. 1650, Bernardo Cavallino, Naples, Italy
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Heliodorus Driven from the Temple, cr. 1658-62, Bertholet Flemalle, Liège, Belgium
Heliodorus Driven from the Temple,
cr. 1658-62, Bertholet Flemalle, Liège, Belgium
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Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, 1674, Gerard de Lairesse, Netherlands
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple,
1674, Gerard de Lairesse, Netherlands
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Expulsion Of Heliodorus, before 1690, Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
Expulsion Of Heliodorus,
before 1690, Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
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Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple, 1700, Giuseppe Tortelli, Brescia, Italy
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple,
1700, Giuseppe Tortelli, Brescia, Italy
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Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple (fresco), cr. 1725, Francesco Solimena, Naples, Italy
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple (fresco),
cr. 1725, Francesco Solimena, Naples, Italy
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Heliodorus Driven from the Temple, cr. 1854-61, Eugène Delacroix, Paris, France
Heliodorus Driven from the Temple,
cr. 1854-61, Eugène Delacroix, Paris, France
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