Read Daniel 7-8 at Bible Gateway.
The first beast was a winged lion. It just so happens that a winged lion is a symbol of Babylon, just as an eagle is a symbol of the United States. That the winged lion was made to stand on its feet like a man, with a man’s heart given to it, is a reference to the miracle we just read about: the sanity of King Nebuchadnezzar was restored to him.
The second beast was like a bear, and was raised up on one side. The bear represents the dual kingdom of the Medians and Persians, and that the bear was raised up on one side, refers to the fact that the Persian side of the kingdom was greater than the Median side. Cyrus, during the course of his wars, ended the great kingdoms of Lydia in Asia Minor, Media, and Babylonia, so that they did not arise again as independent kingdoms, and this may be the meaning of the three ribs in the bear’s mouth.
The third beast was like a leopard, with four wings and four heads. The leopard represents the Greek kingdom founded by Alexander the Great. The leopard was Alexander’s symbol, who wore a leopard skin- covered helmet, and always rode his horse with a leopard- skin under his saddle. His empire broke into four kingdoms after his death, from which arose four kings, to the four points of the compass — the meaning of the four wings and the four heads.
The fourth beast was so terrible it could not be compared to a symbolic animal. It was characterized by iron and bronze, by crushing and trampling in a way unknown in the earth before it. Ten horns arose from it, and then an eleventh horn after the ten, pompous and blasphemous, which made war against the saints, and prevailed against them, until the coming of the Ancient of Days.
He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
Shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
And shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand
For a time and times and half a time.
‘But the court shall be seated,
And they shall take away his dominion,
To consume and destroy it forever.
Then the kingdom and dominion,
And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven,
Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’ Dan 7:25-27
And this beast shall continue in his dominion, until his kingdom is taken away, and it is given to the people who are the saints of the Most High. If the fourth beast is Rome, which it must be if it follows on the heels of the Greek kingdom, then the Roman kingdom is continuing today. When the Roman empire of the Caesars fell in 476 ad, the Roman system of government continued, including its characteristic of crushing and trampling the residue underfoot, in the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantine Roman empire, the Caliphates of the Muslim world, and the children of these empires in today’s world, the EU and the totalitarian governments of the 20th century.
Continued in daniel 7-8, the eleventh king
For further reading:
Ancient Rome: How it Affects You Today by Richard Maybury
daniel 7-8, historical notes