Oath of the Horatii

This passage describes a painting that helped to inspire people during the French Revolution.

Lexile Level: 870L

Categories: History Art & Music


The Oath of the Horatii is a painting by Jacques-Louis David. He painted it five years before the French Revolution. It became an icon of that movement. The Horatii were triplets in ancient Rome. The painting shows them preparing to battle against another set of triplets from a different city to defend Rome. In the painting, they have their swords raised, pledging allegiance to the state of Rome. The men and their father show no emotion. Their nearby mothers and sisters are sad and weeping. At the time depicted in the painting, Rome was a republican state. The Horatii are pledging their allegiance to the Republic, not to a church or king. Because they are headed into battle, it shows that public duty and self-sacrifice are more important than private gain. The patriotism depicted in the painting was inspiring to the people during the French Revolution, who were loyal to the French state even as they overthrew the French king.


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