Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Four Meanings of the The Four Horsemen: What Do Knut Rockne, The Bible, Ninja Turtles and a Quadriga Have in Common?

The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame
1. The Sporty Four Horsemen
Every now and then I look at the website 'Those Were The Days' (see link). www.440.com/twtd/today.html. Invariably, an interesting fact will show up and give me an idea for The Daily Suse if needed. Today was one of those days so I went to 'Those Days' and discovered that today, in an 1924 New York Herald Tribune article by columnist Grantland Rice, the term ‘The Four Horsemen’ was used. These 'modern' Four Horsemen were a winning group of American football players at the University of Notre Dame under coach Knute Rockne. They were the backfield of Notre Dame's 1924 football team and were actually named Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden. During the three-years that the Four Horsemen played, Notre Dame lost only two games and subsequently, all four players were elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Grantland Rice's inimitable, poetic style of writing caught readers imagination and 'The Horsemen' became the most fabled quartet in college football history.

Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore their names are Death, Destruction, Pestilence, and Famine. But those are aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below. —Grantland Rice
Just for fun, here's what became of the fabled 'jockeys':
Harry Stuhldreher was the head football coach at Villanova University for 11 years. After that he became the athletic director and football coach at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He died in 1965.

Jim Crowley started as an assistant coach at the University of Georgia but quickly moved to head coaching positions at Michigan State University and Fordham University where his famed line, the "Seven Blocks of Granite," included Vince Lombardi. Crowley also served as commissioner of the All-America Football Conference. He was the last surviving Horseman dying in 1986.

Don Miller coached for four years at Georgia Tech and then began practicing law in Cleveland. He was appointed U.S. District Attorney for Northern Ohio by President Roosevelt. He died in 1979.

Elmer Layden coached at Notre Dame for seven years with a 47–13–3 record. He was also athletic director at the university and later commissioner of the National Football League. He died in 1973.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, by Victor Vasnetsov.

2. The Biblical Four Horsemen
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, called the Book of Revelation. Here is described the book/scroll in God's right hand which is sealed with seven seals.  Jesus opens the first four of the seven seals, and four beings ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses. The four riders are thought to symbolize symbolizing Conquest (white horseman), War (red horseman), Famine (black horseman) and Death (pale green or greenish-yellow). The Christian vision is that the four horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment but there are many other religious interpretations of these horsemen, what the colors mean and whom they represent. 

3. The 'Literary' Four Horsemen

  • The Four Horsemen appear in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics. 
  • War appears as a play-able character in the Tournament Fighters video game.
  • In Blart: The Boy Who Didn't Want To Save The World, Blart and the gang, when facing Zoltab, have to fight the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
  • In Women of the Apocalypse (an anthology of four novellas), there are four modern heroines who face down the Four Horsemen.
  • In The Talismans of Shannara, the Four Horsemen are dispatched to kill Walker Boh.
  • In Army of Darkness comics, Ash is faced with the Four Horsemen.
  • In Scud: The Disposable Assassin, Scud fights and kills the four horsemen of the apocalypse
The Basilica of St. Mark's, Venice.

4. The Riderless Four Horses 
The Triumphal Quadriga (a four-horse carriage used for chariot racing) or Horses of St Mark's is a set of four bronze horses, originally part of a monument which have been set into the facade of St Mark's Basilica in Venice since the 13th century. These riderless horses have an interesting history.

The sculptures are attributed to the 4th century BC Greek sculptor Lysippos, though there is some dispute about this because their method of manufacture suggests a Roman style of technology. The horses are called bronze but close analysis suggests that as they are at least 96.7% copper.

The horses, along with the chariot carriage were displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople for a very long time. In 1204, they were looted by Venetian forces during the rout of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. Shortly after, the Doge of Venice sent the horses to Venice where they were installed on the terrace of the facade of St. Mark's Basilica in 1254. 

There they remained until Napoleon had them forcibly removed from the basilica in 1797 and sent them to Paris to be used in the design of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. In 1815 the horses were returned. They remained in place over the basilica until the early 1980s when growing air pollution forced the originals inside and were replaced outside with exact replicas. 

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