The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse appear in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, Revelation.
When Jesus breaks seven seals on a scroll given to him by God, the first four seals release four horseman that the Bible predicts will lead to apocalypse.
They are traditionally called War, Famine, Pestilence and Death but only Death is named in the Bible. The other names have come from their description and colours:
- War is red, from the bloodshed, and because the horseman carries a sword.
- Famine is black, representing barren land, and because the rider carries scales for unfairly trading food.
- Pestilence is white, representing false peace. The rider wearing a crown represents false religion. Carrying a bow but no arrows implies he will conquer without violence. Some have claimed this horseman is Christ himself, others say he is the Antichrist.
- Death is the pale horse – or green, as the Greek word used in the Bible means green – from illness. The rider carries a scythe and spreads disease.
Link: BBC website explanation of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (opens new window)