For other uses, see Quadriga (disambiguation).
The Triumphal Quadriga in Venice, a replica of the only surviving ancient quadriga

A quadriga (Latin quadri-, four, and iugum, yoke) is a car or chariot drawn by four horses abreast (the Roman Empire's equivalent of Ancient Greek tethrippon). It was raced in the Ancient Olympic Games and other contests. It is represented in profile as the chariot of gods and heroes on Greek vases and in bas-relief. The quadriga was adopted in ancient Roman chariot racing. Quadrigas were emblems of triumph; Victory and Fame often are depicted as the triumphant woman driving it. In classical mythology, the quadriga is the chariot of the gods; Apollo was depicted driving his quadriga across the heavens, delivering daylight and dispersing the night.

The word quadriga may refer to the chariot alone, the four horses without it, or the combination.

Classical sculpture

Main article: Horses of Saint Mark
Marcus Aurelius celebrating his Roman triumph in 176 AD over the enemies of the Marcomannic Wars, from his now destroyed triumphal arch in Rome, Capitoline Museums, 176-180 AD

Modern sculptural quadrigas are based on the four bronze Horses of Saint Mark or the "Triumphal Quadriga", a set of equine Roman or Greek sculptures, the only quadriga to survive from the classical world, and the pattern for all that follow.[1] Their age is disputed. Originally erected in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, possibly on a triumphal arch, they are now in St Mark's Basilica in Venice. Venetian Crusaders looted these sculptures in the Fourth Crusade (which dates them to at least 1204) and placed them on the terrace of St Mark's Basilica. In 1797, Napoleon carried the quadriga off to Paris, but in 1815 the horses were returned to Venice. Due to the effects of atmospheric pollution, the original quadriga was retired to a museum and replaced with a replica in the 1980s.

Modern quadrigas

Some of the most significant full-size free-standing sculptures of quadrigas include, in approximate chronological order:

See also


  1. Annual Report of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society to the Legislature of the State of New York, Volume 18, by American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, 1913, page 344
  2. BBC News - A Point of View: The European dream has become a nightmare
  3. Brandenburg Gate. Archived February 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Berlin - Offizielles Stadtportal der Hauptstadt Deutschlands - Berlin.de.
  4. MNHS.ORG | Minnesota State Capitol
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