Conquer or die

Jacques-Louis David’s painting, the Oath of the Horatii [1784] is depicting the Roman legend of a conflict between the Romans and a rival neighboring city of Alba Longa. Rather than continue a full-scale war, they elect representative combatants to settle their dispute. The Romans select the trio brothers from Horatii family and the Albans choose another trio of brothers, the Curatii.

Only one Horatius brother will survive the confrontation. However, it is the surviving brother who is able to kill the other three fighters from Alba Longa

The moment David chose to represent was, in his reported words, “the moment which must have preceded the battle, when the elder Horatius, gathering his sons in their family home, makes them swear to conquer or die.”