Daniel’s fourth beast is the Roman Empire.


By comparing the animals in Daniel 7 and 8, this article shows that the evil king-horn in Daniel 7 arose out of the Roman Empire.

The previous three articles gave overviews of Daniel 2, Daniel 7, and Daniel 8 respectively. The main character in both Daniel 7 and 8 is an evil horn-king. The Daniel 8 article concludes that the horn-kings in these two chapters represent the same entity. That article also describes the Preterist, Historicist, and Futurist interpretations of this evil power but does not select one.

There are four animals in Daniel 7 but that prophecy does not explain what they represent. There are only two animals in Daniel 8; the Ram and the Goat, explicitly identified as “the kings of Media and Persia” and as “the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 8:20-21). This article identifies the animals in Daniel 7 by comparing them to the animals in Daniel 8.


In the traditional view, the fourth beast in Daniel 7 signifies the Roman Empire. In the liberal view, it is the Greek Empire. 

Conservative View – Roman Empire

Conservatives (historicists and futurists) align the symbols in Daniel 2, 7, and 8 as follows:

Daniel 2 Gold (Babylon) Silver Brass Iron
Daniel 7 Lion Bear Leopard Dreadful beast
Daniel 8 Ram
Goat (Greece)

In this schema, since the Bear is Medo-Persia and the Leopard is the Greek empire, the dreadful fourth beast of Daniel 7 must represent the Roman Empire, for that was the next empire in history. Consequently, the evil horn, arising from the dreadful fourth beast, does so during the Roman period.

Liberal View – Greek Empire

The Preterist School, comprising mostly of liberal Critical Scholars, effectively reads Daniel backward. They begin by identifying the ‘despicable’ of Daniel 11:21 as Antiochus IV. Then, since the evil horns of Daniel 7 and 8 are the same as this ‘despicable’, they identify the evil horn also as Antiochus IV. Since Antiochus was one of the Greek kings, they propose that the fourth kingdom in Daniel 7 (the Dreadful Beast) symbolizes the Greek empire and that that beast’s 11 horns are 11 consecutive kings of the Greek Empire. But then, what are the previous three empires in Daniel 7 (the lion, bear, and leopard)? Daniel 2 explicitly identifies the first as Babylon, and there was only one empire between Babylon and Greece, namely Medo-Persia. To solve this problem, critical scholars divide the Mede-Persian Empire into two separate empires and align the symbols as follows:

Daniel 2 Gold (Babylon) Silver Brass Iron
Daniel 7 Lion Bear Leopard Dreadful Beast
Daniel 8 Ram (Medes) Ram (Persia) Goat (Greece)

In this schema, the Ram of Daniel 8 includes both the Bear and the Leopard of Daniel 7, and the Greek Goat of Daniel 8 is equivalent to the Dreadful Beast of Daniel 7. By comparing the properties of the animals, the next sections will determine which schema fits the text of Daniel the best.


Daniel identified the Ram as “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20). Does it agree with the Bear of Daniel 7 only, as proposed by the Conservatives, or with the Bear AND the Leopard, as proposed by the Liberals? Considered their descriptions and evaluate the similarities:

Ram  Bear Leopard
Two horns—one higher;
Higher horn came out last;
Charges to West, North, and South
(Dan 8:3-4)
Raised up on one side;
Three ribs between its teeth
(Dan 7:5)
Four heads;
Four wings
(Dan 7:6)

The Ram and the Leopard

There is no similarity between the Ram and the Leopard. In one respect they clearly differ: While the Ram has two divisions, the Leopard has four.

Daniel’s prophecies use heads and horns to indicate divisions. The Ram has two horns, which means it has two divisions (identified as the Medes and Persians – Dan 8:20), while the Leopard has four heads (four divisions).

The Ram and the Bear

The Ram and the Bear are similar. For both, one side is higher than the other and both conquer three things.

For both, their two sides are compared and one side is higher than the other. The Bear is “raised up on one side” (Dan 7:5) while the Ram has two horns; one being longer than the other.

Both conquer three things: The Ram pushes in three directions (Dan 8:4—West, North, and South) and the Bear has three ribs between its teeth (Dan 7:5). Since animals symbolize kingdoms, ribs may represent kingdoms or territories conquered.


This means that the Bear in Daniel 7, like the Ram in Daniel 8, represents “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20)

It also means that the Ram is not equivalent to both the Bear and the Leopard, as proposed by the Liberals:

The two horns of the ram and the two sides of the bear symbolize the composite nature of the kingdom formed by a fusion of “the kings of Media and Persia.”

The ram’s horn that came out last, but became longer, and the higher side of the bear, refers to the Persians. Initially, the Medes dominated Persia, but Cyrus reversed the relationship so that Persia dominated the Medes when their combined forces conquered Babylon.

The three ribs in the Bear’s mouth and the three directions into which the Ram pushes (West, North and South) may reasonably be taken as representing the three major conquests of the combined forces of the Medes and Persians in the sixth century BC: Lydia in the north in 547, Babylon in the west in 539, and Egypt in the south in 525.


Secondly, is Goat of Daniel 8 the Leopard of Daniel 7, as proposed by the Conservatives, or the fourth Dreadful Beast, as proposed by the Liberals? Compare these beasts:

Goat Leopard Dreadful Beast
From the west;
Not touching the ground;
One conspicuous horn;
Great horn was broken when strong;
Four horns to the four winds
(Dan 8:5, 8)
Four heads;
Four wings; (Dan 7:6)
Terrible & very strong;
Iron teeth;
Bronze claws;
It devoured; broke in pieces;
Stamped residue with its feet;
Different from the other beasts;
Ten horns;
(Dan 7:7, 19)

The Goat and the Dreadful Beast

Contrary to the proposal by the Critics, there is nothing in the descriptions of these two animals that imply that they represent the same entity. On the contrary, while the Goat first has only one horn and then later four, the Dreadful Beast first has ten horns and later eight.

The Dreadful Beast first has 10 horns, and then an 11th comes up which ‘plucks out’ three of the 10 horns by their “roots”, leaving 8 horns standing. Since horns symbolize the divisions of these kingdoms, the Goat and the Dreadful Beast are not related.

The Goat and the Leopard

Consistent with the conservative view, the Goat and the Leopard are similar. Both are represented as fast and both consist of four parts. This implies that the Leopard, like the Goat, represents the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 8:21)

Both are represented as fast. The Leopard has four wings while the Goat flies. The speed of its conquests refers to the speed by which Alexander the Great conquered the known world (within 10 years).

Both consist of four parts. The Leopard has four heads, while four horns grow from the Goat’s head. The four heads and four horns symbolize the four Greek Empires that came into existence after Alexander’s death at age 33.

“The kingdom of Greece” (Dan 8:21) is also known as the Macedonian Empire. 

The Horn came out of Rome.

Consequently, the Dreadful Fourth Beast of Daniel 7, must be the Roman Empire. This further means that the little horn in Daniel 7 comes out of this empire and cannot be the Greek king Antiochus IV.

This comparison above of the animals of Daniel 7 and 8 shows that:

The Bear = “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20), and
The Leopard = “the kingdom of Greece” (Dan 8:21).


To make their interpretation fit the text, critical scholars propose that the author of Daniel inserted the Medes as a separate empire. This is inconsistent with history and with Daniel itself. Daniel always refers to the Medes and Persians as a single entity (e.g., Dan 8:20).

It is also possible to assess the Critics’ scema by evaluating the validity of their separation of the Medes and Persians into two different empires. Critics propose that the author of Daniel inserted the Medes as a separate empire because of the predictions in Isaiah and Jeremiah that Babylon would fall to the Medes. They consequently propose that, according to Daniel, the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to the Medes under “Darius the Mede” (Dan 5:30-31; 6:28), preceding the reign of the Persian king, Cyrus the Great (Dan 10:1).

Historically, this would not be correct. The Medes were conquered around 550 BCE by the Persians and it was the joint forces of the Persians and the Medes that conquered Babylon eleven years later, with Cyrus the Great as their supreme king.

It is also not consistent with the Book of Daniel itself. Daniel consistently regarded the Medes and Persians as a single entity. For example:

He prophesied that Babylon would be conquered by the joint forces of the Medes and the Persians (Dan 5:28).

Daniel 6:9, 13, and 16 refer to the unchangeable law of the Medes and the Persians.

He identifies the Ram as “the kings of Media and Persia” (Dan 8:20).

Daniel never refers to a separate Median kingdom. He refers to a person (Darius) as a Mede (Dan 11:1) but that is within the context of the Persian Empire (Dan 10:1 and 11:2).

There is also no indication in Daniel of a conflict between the Medes and the Persians which resulted in the dominance of Persia.

Furthermore, the author would be inconsistent in describing both Media and Persia as a single beast in Daniel 8, but as two different beasts in Daniel 7 and as two different metals in Daniel 2.


Critics argue that the author of Daniel committed a historical blunder when he referred to Darius the Mede in Dan 5:31-6:28 and in Dan 9:1. They argue that no such figure is known from history and that Daniel mentioned Darius the Mede because he mistakenly thought that the Medes were a distinct empire between the Neo-Babylonian rulers and the Persian king, Cyrus.

A separate article on this website argues that Darius the Mede might have been the throne name for Ugbaru (Greek Gobryas), the general who conquered Babylon for Cyrus, and who was appointed by Cyrus as king over the “kingdom of the Chaldeans” (Dan 9:1)—one of the kingdoms in the Persian Empire—but who died three weeks after the conquest of Babylon. He ruled only for one week, which explains why archaeologists have not yet found him in secular history.


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