Piers Plowman


William Langland

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Four Horses Symbol Analysis

Four Horses Symbol Icon

The four horses that God’s messenger, Grace, gives Piers Plowman symbolize the four Fathers of the Western Church—Saint Augustine, Saint Ambrose, Saint Gregory the Great, and Saint Jerome. The four horses are meant to build on the work of the four oxen (the four Gospels) by pulling two harrows (the Old Testament and the New Testament) to further prepare the land for planting. In other words, the four Church Fathers are to prepare the institution of the Church by using the Gospels, along with the entire Old Testament and New Testament.

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Four Horses Symbol Timeline in Piers Plowman

The timeline below shows where the symbol Four Horses appears in Piers Plowman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Passus XIX
Good Works and Salvation Theme Icon
Social Hierarchy, Community, and Selfishness Theme Icon
...ox named John, who is the most prized of them all. Grace also gives Piers four horses , named Austin, Ambrose, Gregory, and Jerome, as well as two harrows, one old and... (full context)