This is a short (simple) explanation of the dreams and visions recoded in the Book of Daniel concerning the last days.
You need to understand these before you try understanding the book of Revelation and other prophetic writings that are about the events of the "Last Days" - the time in history we are right in the middle of, right now!!
“But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these:
This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. “This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.
This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king. You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. [Babylon] But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours [Medes and Persians - present day Iran - see Daniel 5:28]; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth [Greece, under Alexander the Great]. “And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron [Roman Empire], inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others. Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.
Conclusion: The last great empire was, and will be Rome - Rome has never been defeated, it's power and influence just faded away until the present time...
Another dream of Daniel, providing more information about the last days...:
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.
Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings [Babylon]. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it [Belshazzar was King Nebuchadnezzar's son, who ruled at the same time as his father]. And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear [Medes and the Persians]. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’ 6“After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird . The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it [Greece, under Alexander the Great, and then his four generals, who took over when he died suddenly at the young age of 32]. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet [The Roman Empire]. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.
Conclusion: The last great empire was, and will be Rome - Rome has never been defeated, it's power and influence just faded away until the present time... It will give rise to a revived empire, based on the same geographical area, but under the rule of 10 kings (horns)[see Daniel 2:40-43; 7:23-26]. Who might these 10 kings be?
The WEU, a 10 nation military and political alliance came into being as the result of the Brussels Treaty signed on 17 March 1948, just before the State of Israel was reborn (May 14, 1948) - this event being the key prophetic marker [Matthew 24:32; Mark 13:28; Luke 21:29] that the "last days" have really begun, and the countdown to the return of the Lord Jesus has started. It's manifestation was the beginning of the long and drawn out creation of todays European Union (EU). It is this group of 10 kings that now run the EU today, and provide its defense and security forces (the EU's army!).
(The Wikipedia entry for the EU shows how it came into being, out of the original Treaty of Rome agreements and its various prior incarnations as the European Economic Union (EEC) and the European Community (EC)).
The dream continues:
“I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words [The person who becomes the Antichrist].
“I watched till thrones were put in place,
And the Ancient of Days was seated;
His garment was white as snow,
And the hair of His head was like pure wool.
His throne was a fiery flame,
Its wheels a burning fire;
A fiery stream issued
And came forth from before Him.
A thousand thousands ministered to Him;
Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.
The court was seated,
And the books were opened.
[The Last Judgment - see Revelation 19-
:11-16, 20:4, 11-15]
“I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame [see Revelation 19:20]. “As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.
Here we see the final victory by Jesus over the forces of evil, under the command of the Antichrist, and His establishment of the Millennial Reign of Christ on the earth.
Daniel has yet another vision - see Daniel Ch 8 (it's too long to post here, but, in essence, it just confirms the previous two dreams, and give more specific details. about them).
v3: The ram with two horns represents the Medo-Persian kings Darius and Cyrus.
v5: the he-goat represents Alexander the Great, and the Greek empire he forged
v8: this predicts Alexander's sudden demise. He is replaced by 4 of his generals, who divided the kingdom between them (Cassander, Lysimacus, Seleucus and Ptolemy).
v9-11 Out of this situation came Antiochus Epiphanes (from Syria) - the anti-type (fore-runner) of the Antichrist, who defiled the Jewish Temple at some point during 171-164BC.
Daniel's vision then jumps forward to the days of the real Antichrist - see v11-14.
The rest of Ch 8 concerns the angelic visitation that Daniel receives, in order to help him understand the portent of the vision. The angel focuses on the very last of the last days, and describes in more detail the rise to power and rule of the Antichrist himself, giving a detailed time line of what will happen during the last 7 years before Jesus returns.
(If you are not convinced that the ram and he-goat are as represented here, you should read v20-21 of Ch 8. The angel actually tells Daniel who they will be - the ram with two horns is the Medo-Persian empire, the male goat the ruler of a Greek empire, followed by his four generals. He also shows Daniel about the the forerunner of the Antichrist, and how long Antiochus Ephinanes will remain in power after defiling the temple (2300 days)).
So, you can see there is no reason to consider any other "interpretation".
Finally, we come to Daniel's last major vision, concerning what is commonly called "Daniel's 70 Weeks" - Daniel Ch 9. Here the angel clearly explains that the vision applies to the people of Israel (NOT the whole world)- and that the Messiah would come after another 490 years (4BC?), and that the Holy City, Jerusalem would be destroyed for a season - which was just as Jesus also predicted, and which occurred in AD70, when the Romans leveled it - confirming absolutely that the "prince who is to come" (Ch 10:26), the Antichrist, would be raised up from out of this revived Roman empire at the end of days.
However, the remaining 7 years (2520 days according to the Jewish calendar, but since only years and not days are mentioned, it could be 37-8 days more than this according to our current Gregorian calendar) - would commence after Jerusalem was rebuilt - the text literally says "the squares and walls will be built again - but in troublesome times" - which we know started in 1948, but really began in earnest after 1967, when Israel took back control over Jerusalem for the first time in almost 2000 years.
The angel even says that, concerning Jerusalem and Israel, "even to the end there shall be war and desolations be decreed" - which has continued to be true ever since.
This last seven years would commence when the "prince" out of the revived Roman Empire would "confirm [or strengthen] a covenant with many" . To "confirm" or "strengthen" a covenant, it has to be already in place. It could be that this refers to the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), but it might be a peace treaty with Israel's neighbors - it's not clear. In any case both seem to be possible right now, given the situation in the ME.
The angel then explains that the "abomination of desolation" that Jesus refers to in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14, would be placed in the Temple halfway through this 7 year period - implying that the 3rd Temple will be built by then.
Daniel is very distressed by these visions, and by their explanation, so he cries our to God for more understanding.
In Ch 11 we see that Daniel receives another angelic visitor, who comes to give even more revelation concerning the dreams and visions. Much of Ch 11 is concerned with the events that lead up to the rule of Antiochus Epiphanes (the AC anti-type, who, because of Jesus' words, cannot be the AC himself, as some would have us believe), but at the end of the chapter it becomes clear that the angel is also referring to the rise (and defeat) of the Antichrist by Jesus Himself.
You need to be familiar with the history of the ME during the period from 500-4BC, to clearly understand and see how accurate the predictions given to Daniel actually were.
Lastly, according to Daniel 12:11, it would appear that Temple worship, complete with the daily sacrifice, must start some time before or just after the start of the confirming of the 7 year covenant, because the angel tells Daniel that the daily sacrifice will be "taken away" and the "abomination of desolation" set up midway through the 7 year covenant period, and that things will reach a climax 1290 days after that (that's just over 3 and half years), with a final promise that those who wait until the 1335th day will be blessed (v11-12).
So, it seems clear that the AC comes from some location that falls within the territory that was under the rule of the 4 generals that succeeded Alexander the Great, but within territory that is connected politically and economically with the revived Roman Empire - the EU (see the ENP map showing the economic and political reach of the EU at this time here).
(Note, the map does not show all the current ENP countries. The European Neighborhood Policy applies to the EU's immediate neighbors by land or sea – Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territory (aka the PLO), Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine.)
It's all very straightforward.... you don't need to be confused, or wonder about where the AC comes from, and whether the EU is the revived Roman Empire or not, it's all in the Word.