Horse and human
Man in harmony with horse
Dora’s information about how New World
pagans thought horse and rider was one person ..they thought it must be a god (Sc 7)
is symbolic of Alan’s obsession with horses. By achieving union with them he literally and metaphorically ‘rises above’ the constraints of his provincial and isolated life.
Alan envies the ease with which the cowboys, in the many Western films he saw, rode without constraint:
They’re free. They just swing up and then it’s miles of grass.. (Sc 13)
He feels that they share his reverence for horses. However, he is scathing about human attempts to impose human vanity on what horses can achieve and to take the credit for it, as symbolised by Dora’s grandfather ‘Indulging in equitation’.
Alan realises that a bit and bridle cannot be avoided in order to ride, but contrives one for himself too (‘the Manbit’) so that he may share in the horse’s experience. Otherwise he uses no tack, so that nothing divides him from Equus. At the climax of his ride in Scene 21 he cries, ‘Make us One Person!’ The image of Alan embracing Nugget, which is foregrounded as the first line of both acts of the play, is also symbolic of this desire for union.
Since the horses on stage are either humans or puppet/masks, the written text emphasises their physical reality. The first time Alan mounts Trojan, he recalls the physical sensations it leaves him with:
There was sweat on my legs from his neck. .. His sides were all warm.. (Sc 13)
When he rides Nugget and the other horses at night, he experiences physical discomfort (‘Little knives – all inside my legs.’ Sc 21), but this almost seems a prerequisite for the erotic excitement experienced whilst riding:
I’m stiff! Stiff in the wind! .. Mane on my legs, on my flanks, like whips! .. Feel me on you! .. I want to be in you! (Sc 21)
It is perhaps Alan’s awareness of the intense physical intimacy he has shared that makes him so alert to the physical intensity of the vengeful horses, when he bestows his affections elsewhere. The sound amplification makes their presence very real to him (if not to Jill) behind the ‘locked door’ at the back of the barn.
Horses, poetry and power
An elevated attitude towards horses is first conveyed to Alan by his mother, with her tales of Prince and the conquistadors. This is emphasised by the exalted language of references to horses in the King James Bible. Dora and Alan allude to Job 39:19-25 which passage poetically emphasises the power of horses. Dora also begins for Alan an association of horses with the risen Christ depicted in Revelation:
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. .. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations Revelation19:11-15
The elevated language and the power inherent in the imagery is deeply attractive for Alan. The horse becomes, for him, a replacement object of worship when his father’s intervention robs him of the focus on Jesus’ crucifixion.
Power - and its demise
Since his first ride Alan was also captivated by having ‘All that power going any way you wanted.’ (Sc 13). He is proud that, despite an initial struggle, and resistance from the horses, he ‘mastered’ them and overcame their harsh ‘Straw law’. The power he harnesses enables him to get a symbolic revenge against the ‘Hosts of Pifco’ and their ilk. Through riding Alan achieves freedom from his parents and their rules and narrow-mindedness, as well as from the responsibilities and consumerism of modern society.
When Dysart sets Alan free from the hold of Equus, he can only do so by filling the void with the ‘Normal’. The noble epithets for horses are replaced by derogatory terms such as ‘gee gees’ and ‘nags’. The substitution for their vivid life force is a tame ‘metal pony’ (scooter) on which Alan may ‘trot’ but no longer gallop. Devoid of Equus, Alan’s future life is described by Dysart as ‘safe’ and ‘without pain’ but at the cost of also being passionless, tethered, shrivelled and trampled (Sc 35).
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the does? 2Can you number the months that they fulfill, and do you know the time when they give birth, 3when they crouch, bring forth their offspring, and are delivered of their young? 4Their young ones become strong; they grow up in the open; they go out and do not return to them. 5Who has let the wild donkey go free? Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey, 6to whom I have given the arid plain for his home and the salt land for his dwelling place? 7He scorns the tumult of the city; he hears not the shouts of the driver. 8He ranges the mountains as his pasture, and he searches after every green thing. 9Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will he spend the night at your manger? 10Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes, or will he harrow the valleys after you? 11Will you depend on him because his strength is great, and will you leave to him your labor? 12Do you have faith in him that he will return your grain and gather it to your threshing floor? 13The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love? 14For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground, 15forgetting that a foot may crush them and that the wild beast may trample them. 16She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear, 17because God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding. 18When she rouses herself to flee, she laughs at the horse and his rider. 19Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? 20Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrifying. 21He paws in the valley and exults in his strength; he goes out to meet the weapons. 22He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; he does not turn back from the sword. 23Upon him rattle the quiver, the flashing spear, and the javelin. 24With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground; he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet. 25When the trumpet sounds, he says Aha! He smells the battle from afar, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting. 26Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south? 27Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high? 28On the rock he dwells and makes his home, on the rocky crag and stronghold. 29From there he spies out the prey; his eyes behold it from far away. 30His young ones suck up blood, and where the slain are, there is he.
1Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? 2Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? 3They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows. 4Their young ones are in good liking, they grow up with corn; they go forth, and return not unto them. 5Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? 6Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings. 7He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver. 8The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing. 9Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? 10Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? 11Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him? 12Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn? 13Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich? 14Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust, 15And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. 16She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not her's: her labour is in vain without fear; 17Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding. 18What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider. 19Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? 20Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible. 21He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. 22He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. 23The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. 24He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. 25He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting. 26Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? 27Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? 28She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. 29From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. 30Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she.
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants. 3Once more they cried out, Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever. 4And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, Amen. Hallelujah! 5And from the throne came a voice saying, Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great. 6Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure - for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9And the angel said to me, Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he said to me, These are the true words of God. 10Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. 11Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. 17Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great. 19And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
1And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: 2For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. 3And again they said, Alleluia And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. 4And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. 5And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 6And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. 11And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
A Spanish or Portuguese explorer-soldier of the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries.
The translation of the Bible in English which was produced in 1611 by a group of scholars appointed by King James I. It is the origin of many common phrases and sayings in the English language.
Title (eventually used as name) given to Jesus, refering to an anointed person set apart for a special task such as a king.
The name given to the man believed by Christians to be the Son of God. Also given the title Christ, meaning 'anointed one' or Messiah. His life is recorded most fully in the Four Gospels.
Execution by nailing or binding a person to a cross.