Thracian horseman

The Thracian horseman (also "Thracian Rider" or "Thracian Heros") is a recurring motif depicted in reliefs of the Hellenistic and Roman periods in the Balkans—mainly Thrace, Macedonia,[1][2] Thessaly[3] and Moesia—roughly from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD. Inscriptions found in Romania identify the horseman as Heros and Eros (latin transcriptions of Ἥρως) and also Herron and Eron (latin transcriptions of Ἥρων), apparently the word heros used as a proper name.[3] He is sometimes addressed in inscriptions merely as κύριος, δεσπότης or ἥρως.[4] Inscriptions from Bulgaria give the names Salenos and Pyrmerula/Pirmerula.[5]

"Thracian horseman" votive tablet with the standard iconographic elements: the rider is holding a lance in his right hand aiming at a boar attacked by a hunting dog.
Fragment from a Thracian horseman marble relief: the hunting dog attacking the boar

The Thracian horseman is depicted as 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. Its depiction is in the tradition of the funerary steles of Roman cavalrymen, with the addition of syncretistic elements from Hellenistic and Paleo-Balkanic religious or mythological tradition.

Late Roman syncretismEdit

The Cult of the Thracian horseman was especially important in Philippi, where the Heros had the epithets of soter (saviour) and epekoos "answerer of prayers". Funerary stelae depicting the horseman belong to the middle or lower classes (while the upper classes preferred the depiction of banquet scenes).[6]

The motif most likely represents a composite figure, a Thracian heroes[clarification needed] possibly based on Rhesus, the Thracian king mentioned in the Iliad,[7] to which Scythian, Hellenistic and possibly other elements had been added.[8]

Under the Roman Emperor Gordian III the god on horseback appears on coins minted at Tlos, in neighboring Lycia, and at Istrus, in the province of Lower Moesia, between Thrace and the Danube.[9]

In the Roman era, the "Thracian horseman" iconography is further syncretised. The rider is now sometimes shown as approaching a tree entwined by a serpent, or as approaching a goddess. These motifs are partly of Greco-Roman and partly of possible Scythian origin. The motif of a horseman with his right arm raised advancing towards a seated female figure is related to Scythian iconographic tradition. It is frequently found in Bulgaria, associated with Asclepius and Hygeia.[10]

Stelai dedicated to the Thracian Heros Archegetas have been found at Selymbria.[11]

EpithetsEdit

Apart from syncretism with other deities (such as Asclepios, Apollo, Sabatius), the figure of the Thracian Horseman was also found with several epithets: Karabasmos, Keilade(i)nos, Manimazos, Aularchenos, Aulosadenos, Pyrmeroulas. One in particular was found in Avren, dating from the III century CE, with a designation that seems to refer to horsemanship: Outaspios, and variations Betespios, Ephippios and Ouetespios.[12]

Related imageryEdit

Twin horsemenEdit

Related to the Dioscuri motif is the so-called "Danubian Horsemen" motif of two horsemen flanking a standing goddess.[13][14] These "Danubian horsemen" are thus called due to their reliefs being found in the Roman province of Danube. However, some reliefs have also been found in Roman Dacia - which gives the alternate name for the motif: "Dacian Horseman".[15] Scholarship locates its diffusion across Moesia, Dacia, Pannonia and Danube, and, to a lesser degree, in Dalmatia and Thracia.[16][17]

The motif of a standing goddess flanked by two horsemen, identified as Artemis flanked by the Dioscuri, and a tree entwined by a serpent flanked by the Dioscuri on horseback was transformed into a motif of a single horseman approaching the goddess or the tree.[18]

PahoniaEdit

Pahonia, the national symbol of various Central-Eastern European states since ca. 12th century, may be related.

Other, similar figuresEdit

The motif of the Thracian horseman is not to be confused with the depiction of a rider slaying a barbarian enemy on funerary stelae, as on the Stele of Dexileos, interpreted as depictions of a heroic episode from the life of the deceased.[19]

The motif of the Thracian horseman was continued in Christianised form in the equestrian iconography of both Saint George and Saint Demetrius.[20][21][22][23][24]

GalleryEdit

Hunter motif
Serpent-and-tree
Rider and goddess
Greco-Roman comparanda
Medieval comparanda

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Samsaris, Dimitrios C. (1984). Le culte du Cavalier thrace dans la vallée du Bas-Strymon à l' époque romaine: Recherches sur la localisation de ses sanctuaires. Dritter Internationaler Thrakologischer Kongress, Wien, 2-6 Juni 1980. Sofia. Bd. II, p. 284 sqq.
  2. ^ Samsaris, Dimitrios C. (1982–1983). "Le culte du Cavalier thrace dans la colonie romaine de Philippes et dans son territoire". Ponto-Baltica. 2–3: 89–100.
  3. ^ a b Hampartumian, Nubar. (1979). Moesia Inferior (Romanian Section) and Dacia, Volume 74, Part 4, [1]
  4. ^ The Thracian Cult of Rhesus and the Heros Equitans
  5. ^ Petrova, S. et al (2015). Thrаcian, Greek, Roman And Medieval Cities, Residences & Fortresses In Bulgaria, Page 370
  6. ^ Ascough, Richard S. (2003). Paul's Macedonian Associations: The Social Context of Philippians and 1 Thessalonians p. 159.
  7. ^ West, Rebecca (21 December 2010). Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia. Open Road Media. p. 455. ISBN 978-1-4532-0746-8.
  8. ^ Hoddinott, R.F. (1963). Early Byzantine Churches in Macedonia & Southern Serbia, 58–62
  9. ^ Sabazios on coins, illustrated in the M. Halkam collection.
  10. ^ Hoddinott (1963:58)
  11. ^ Byzantium and the Bosporus: A Historical Study, from the Seventh Century BC Until the Foundation of Constantinople, p. 203
  12. ^ Petraccia, Maria Federica. "La dedica di uno stationarius all’ Heros Outaspios". In: Culti e religiosità nelle province danubiane: Atti del II Convegno Internazionale (Ferrara 20-22 Novembre 2013), a cura di Livio Zerbini. Pubblicazione del LAD (Laboratorio di studi e ricerche sulle Antiche province Danubiane) - Università degli Studi di Ferrara - Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici. Bologna: I libri di Emil. 2015. pp. 594-595, 601. ISBN 978-88-6680-130-6.
  13. ^ "Relief Of Danubian Horseman Found In Viminacium". Archeology News Network. Online: 14-12-2014. Retrieved: 08-12-2021.
  14. ^ Vladimirovich, Shchemelev Artem. "К ВОПРОСУ О КЛАССИФИКАЦИИ ИЗОБРАЖЕНИЙ ДУНАЙСКОГО ВСАДНИКА". [ON THE ISSUE OF CLASSIFYING THE DANUBIAN HORSEMAN IMAGES]. In: Historical, Philosophical, Political and Law Sciences, Culturology and Study of Art. Issues of Theory and Practice. Tambov: Gramota, 2015. № 10. Part 2. p. 216.
  15. ^ Vladimirovich, Shchemelev Artem. "ДУНАЙСКИЙ ВСАДНИК: СУЩНОСТЬ ФЕНОМЕНА И ОСОБЕННОСТИ ИКОНОГРАФИИ" [THE DANUBIAN HORSEMAN: ESSENCE OF THE PHENOMENON AND ITS ICONOGRAPHIC PECULIARITIES]. In: Historical, Philosophical, Political and Law Sciences, Culturology and Study of Art. Issues of Theory and Practice. Tambov: Gramota, 2015. № 8. Part 3. pp. 214-215.
  16. ^ Vladimirovich, Shchemelev Artem. "ДУНАЙСКИЙ ВСАДНИК: СУЩНОСТЬ ФЕНОМЕНА И ОСОБЕННОСТИ ИКОНОГРАФИИ" [THE DANUBIAN HORSEMAN: ESSENCE OF THE PHENOMENON AND ITS ICONOGRAPHIC PECULIARITIES]. In: Historical, Philosophical, Political and Law Sciences, Culturology and Study of Art. Issues of Theory and Practice. Tambov: Gramota, 2015. № 8. Part 3. p. 215.
  17. ^ Vladimirovich, Shchemelev Artem. "К ВОПРОСУ О КЛАССИФИКАЦИИ ИЗОБРАЖЕНИЙ ДУНАЙСКОГО ВСАДНИКА". [ON THE ISSUE OF CLASSIFYING THE DANUBIAN HORSEMAN IMAGES]. In: Historical, Philosophical, Political and Law Sciences, Culturology and Study of Art. Issues of Theory and Practice. Tambov: Gramota, 2015. № 10. Part 2. p. 216.
  18. ^ Hoddinott (1963:59)
  19. ^ Hoddinott (1963:60)
  20. ^ Hoddinott (1963:61)
  21. ^ de Laet, Sigfried J. (1994). History of Humanity: From the seventh to the sixteenth century. Routledge. pp. 233 ff. ISBN 978-92-3-102813-7.
  22. ^ Walter, Christopher (2003). The Warrior Saints in Byzantine Art and Tradition. Ashgate. pp. 88ff. ISBN 978-1-84014-694-3.
  23. ^ c.f. the badly damaged wall painting of St.George in the ruins of Đurđevi stupovi, Serbia (c. 1168)
  24. ^ Hoddinott (1963:61).

BibliographyEdit

Further readingEdit

On the "Danubian Horsemen" or "Danubian Riders":