Elijah's Chariot

Detail of the "Sarcophagus of Stilico"
Basilica of St. Ambrose, Milan

In II Kings 2:11-13 Elijah is taken up to Heaven in a fiery chariot, dropping his mantle so that his disciple Elisha can make use of it. The sculpture shown here pictures Elijah in a quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses striding abreast. In classical iconography and in fact, quadrigae were for celebrations of a hero's victory. The mantle is pictured twice: once in Elijah's right hand as he is about to drop it, and once, having been already dropped, draping over Elisha's hands.

Directly to the right of the quadriga is Noah. His ark is the small chest (arca in Latin) in which he is standing, and below the ark is the water of the Great Flood. Right of Noah is Moses' water miracle: he strikes the rock face with his staff, and water gushes forth.

I have not identified the two men to the left and right of Elijah. Standing in arches as they do, they may be contemporary imperial officials of some sort.

A "t-o" map of the 12th century (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

In the border above the sculpture swastikas, symbolic of the sun, alternate with round figures that may represent the earth. They resemble the "t-o" stylized maps of the Middle Ages that represent the earth as divided horizontally by the Mediterranean and vertically (in the lower half) by the Nile, with Jerusalem at the center.

View this image in full resolution.
Read more about images of Elijah.
Read more about images of Moses.
Read more about images of Noah.

Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.