Fig. 71 – The apocalyptic animals in the Bible (Ezekiel/Revelations). The four beasts (a lion with eagle wings, a leopard with four heads, a bear and a beast with eleven horns) signify the four world monarchies. British Museum, London. MS Add 11695, f. 240r. Jerome, Commentary on Daniel. Daniel chapter 7, verses 2-10. Daniel’s vision of the four beasts from the sea and the Ancient of Days. In: SMALLEY, 1974.
The four monarchies in the early Christian exegesis of the first centuries are:
1. Babylonian Empire
2. Medo-persian Empire
3. Macedonian Empire
4. Roman Empire
The four primary sources of the Christian version of the myth are, according to KOCKEN (1935):
1. The first development of the idea is found by Irenaeus, in his book ‘Adversus Haereses’ (V. 26, 1). The fourth monarchy is the empire at present in force (i.e. the Roman Empire) and the fifth monarchy is due to come.
2. Hippolytus (c. 200 BC), a pupil of Irenaeus, is more important for the generation and dispersion of the theory. He confirmed, in his book ‘De Antichristo’ (19 – 28) and his commentary on the Book of Daniel (II, 12), a strong Roman Empire as the fourth monarchy, which can only delay the disaster afterwards.
3. No commentary on the Book of Daniel is known of Origines (c. 185 – c. 245), but there is a commentary on Genesis (Comm. in Gen. III, 4), which referred to the four monarchies. He did not hind to an eschatological conclusion.
4. The fourth source is Apollinaris of Laodicea, mentioned in book XV of Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 320).
Excerpt from Quadriform is Ratio, an interesting blog, we link to it here.