Since the classical myths of Pegasus and the centaurs, mankind in the Western world has shared a deep relationship with horses, and it is small wonder that the good-nature quadrupeds have also found their representations in innumerable literary texts. Rather than keeping to the traditional method of 'Motivgeschichte', however, this collection of essays for the first time traces the cultural significance of the horse as an indicator of change in systems of thought.
Taking as its starting point the so-called 'Arbor Porphyriana' (3rd century), it delineates from literary as well as linguistic perspectives how horses have been culturally employed within the dichotomy between (irrational?) horses and (rational?) humans over the centuries. In doing so, it covers a time span of about 800 years providing essays on - among others - medieval Ireland, Shakespeare, Marlowe, 'horse ballet' of the 17th century, Swift, Marvell, Sewell, Kroetsch, as well as contemporary medial representations, and modern sports such as Freestyle Dressage.