Cultural Objects, Civic Identities

Written by Alana Jolley

July 17, 2014

Cultural Objects, Civic Identities

Cultural Objects, Civic Identities are connected in many ways in many places. You could live in Belgium, Germany, Russia, or the United States; and you could see cultural objects of art, which invite many of the same “civic identities.” One type of statuary used here, as an example, is the “quadriga,” (pictured above) which I encountered in Italy.

What is a quadriga? And what type of civic identity might such a cultural object portray? If you have read Dan Brown’s Inferno, you already have some answers. The dictionary defines a quadriga as a chariot, like the Roman one shown, drawn by four horses abreast. Quadrigae were raced in such places as the famous Circus Maximus in Rome.


Ancient Roman Chariot




See and hear below a short visual history of this most famous quadriga on YouTube.

Artistic quadrigae, however, have larger symbolic meanings. Therefore, they are placed in very public and high-profile places, such as the San Marcos Cathedral, where I saw these in Venice. Symbolic meanings of these great statues range from victory and conquest, to peace and prosperity, to love and unity. Where they are placed is the key to their symbolism, as Professor Langdon, of DaVinci Code fame, points out.

The horses are usually sculpted life-sized and have in the past symbolized deities or famous religious leaders such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as proclaimed in the San Marcos Museum. These particular horses have the distinction of being the most stolen art object of all time.

Here are a few pictures of quadrigae around the world.  Can you find where they are located?  Click on the photos for the optimum view.


















“Seek the treacherous doge of Venice who severed the heads from horses . . . and plucked up the bones of the blind.”  This poem introduced us to these horses in 2013.  Further research tells us that these horses heads were indeed severed – and their collars were added to cover up the restoration – but why were they beheaded in the first place?

An article by Professor Liana Bellon of Dawson University, Montreal, Canada, gives more interesting insight into the history of this particular famous quadriga, which is now conserved and protected in the St. Mark’s Cathedral Museum in the Piazza di San Marcos in Venice, Italy.

Trivia: Another way we are all interconnected throughout time.

The song in the video is “Wild Horses,” sung by Susan Boyle and written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for the Rolling Stones’ 1971 album, “Sticky Fingers.” The song became so popular that the Rolling Stones re-released it in 1996 as a single.

Return to Explore More! to learn more about artistic cultural objects and the role they play in the many Global Villages.






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