Horses have been important companions to mankind. Not only have horses given us transport, but they have helped build agriculture. These breeds are still with us today and are a part of many different industries. And because of our long relationship with them, they are a part of our mythologies.
Horses, then, are prominent in many belief systems. They associate with gods and heroes. They can even sometimes be villains. These are some of the most famous horses from ancient mythologies.
The Mares of Diomedes
The Ancient Greeks had a fascinating mythology. These stories were packed with ancient cities and interesting creatures. In these mythologies, the Mares of Diomedes were terrifying horses. These horses are known as Xanthos, Deimos, Podagros, and Lampon.
These beasts are also well-known in the stories for their ability to eat whole people. They are the steeds of Diomedes, a giant. On top of this, their ruthlessness in battle made them greatly feared by many. Taming these creatures was a part of the twelve labours of Heracles. Additionally, Alexander the Great’s horse was a descendent of these mares.
Another set of important horses comes from the Christian religion. Here, the apocalypse is heralded in by four horses and their riders. These horses are the harbingers of the end of the world. They have been an important part of the religion for thousands of years.
Despite this, they are not common in modern versions of the Bible. Regardless, the mythologies about these horses set them as prophetic for the end times. These four horses consist of: War, Famine, Death, and Conquest. Conquest is also known as pestilence. This is more common in newer iterations of the story. It’s interesting to note how much the stories have changed over the aeons.
Pegasus is perhaps the most well-known of them all. This was the steed of the ocean god Poseidon. This mount had wings and was capable of flying enormous distances. The Pegasus is a symbol that most people recognise. It’s seen as a symbol for everything from the business world to horse betting, to cars and more.
It’s not hard to see why – Pegasus is easy to recognise across much of the Western world. Once this stallion had performed his deeds, Zeus transformed him into a constellation. Following this, Pegasus would live in the night sky. And this is how the Greeks believed Pegasus became a popular constellation.
Norse mythology gained prominence a thousand years ago. While it’s not as popular, many of the stories remain. Among these stories, the one of Sleipnir is extremely popular. Sleipnir is the mount of the king of the gods, Odin. This was an 8-legged, massive beast that Odin would use. This included going into battle or as general transportation through the nine realms.
In fact, Sleipnir had the unique ability to travel to Hel. Hel is similar to purgatory in the Christian belief system. Also, it’s worth knowing that Sleipnir is the child of Odin’s son Loki.