The Roman Salute (the Nazi salute or Fascist salute) was the American salute and it was made in the USA.


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<=The Oath of the Horatii   1784  Musée du Louvre at Paris
Jacques-Louis David (August 30, 1748 - December 29, 1825)

The myth that the straight-armed salute is an ancient Roman salute has been completely refuted.  The so-called "Roman" salute (Nazi salute) was the American salute and it was made in the USA.

The infamous straight-armed salute of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis) came from the USA's military salute and from the original pledge of allegiance to the flag, and not from ancient Rome.
See the Youtube video

The Roman salute myth was used (and still is used) to cover-up the fact that National Socialists in the USA inspired National Socialists in Germany (Nazis) in their salute and ideology.  The pledge of allegiance (and its original straight-arm salute) was created by Francis Bellamy, a self-proclaimed National Socialist in the USA. 

There is no evidence that the painting "The Oath of the Horatii" (Jacques-Louis David) inspired the original straight-armed salute in the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag.  Jacques-Louis David never used the term Roman salute to describe his painting nor to describe anything.

No one else described Jacques-Louis David's work as a "Roman salute." That is because the term "Roman salute" developed in the late 1930's. The Oxford English Dictionary supports Dr. Rex Curry in this regard.

The term "Roman salute" developed decades after Jacques-Louis David's life. When the term "Roman salute" developed, the straight-arm salute was a decades-old ritual in government schools in the USA where the gesture was compelled with robotic chanting of the Pledge Of Allegiance. The gesture originated in the USA from the military salute extended outward in the early Pledge.

Even so, none of those sources of the modern term "Roman salute" said a thing about artwork by Jacques-Louis David.  

The first time that Jacques-Louis David was concocted as an excuse for the "Roman salute" myth was circa 2006 on Wikipedia. It was done by a writer who was trying to cover-up work by the historian Dr. Rex Curry showing that  the gesture originated in the USA's early Pledge Of Allegiance.  It is more revisionist history air brushed at wakipedia.

In the past, people would repeat the myth that the gesture was an "ancient Roman salute."  Most modern writers now concede the discoveries of the noted historian Dr. Rex Curry, establishing that the gesture was not an ancient Roman salute. Roman Salutes from ancient Rome are a myth.  

Wikipedia has helped to spread the news about Dr. Curry's news-making work. Recent articles at report on the many references to Dr. Curry's research and discoveries on Wikipedia. Dr. Curry's work might be the most referenced historical research on Wikipedia. Even Wikipedia founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales  has publicly noted Dr. Curry's influence on Wikipedia. Wikipedia writers have reviewed and verified the work. Some Wikipedia writers use Dr. Curry's work without attribution in apparent attempts to bolster their own credibility.

After Dr. Curry's discoveries became well known, some intellectually dishonest people took it upon themselves to concoct a new myth to cover-up for the socialist gesture. After Dr. Curry's shocking discoveries about the salute's origin with the Pledge of Allegiance, some writers deliberately looked for other explanations and then those writers misrepresented neoclassical art to fabricate an alternative explanation and to cover-up Professor Curry's work.

Francis Bellamy (the author of the pledge of allegiance) and James Upham (with whom Bellamy worked) discussed the process of creating the original flag salute and the painting was not part of the process and it did not even arise in their discussion.   Further, Bellamy and Upham explicitly rejected the idea of an "oath" and specifically chose to use the word "pledge."

One would have to wildly speculate that if the painting inspired the flag salute at all, then it was subliminally.

The painting "The Oath of the Horatii" might have inspired (or enlarged) the myth of the Roman salute, not only by modern writers who use it to deliberately cover-up the truth, but also among ignorant people who do not understand the actual origins.  The myth was also  inspired by early movies that showed fictional Roman scenes using a straight-arm salute.  Those movies were inspired by the original straight-arm salute of the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag (from 1892).  The "Roman salute" myth was reinforced when the salute was adopted as the "Olympic salute" used at Olympic games on or before 1924.  

The Roman salute myth might have sprung from the fact that Francis Bellamy (the author of the pledge of allegiance and of its original straight-arm salute) was from the city of Rome (in the state of New York, not in Italy) and people and things from the city in New York state were referred to as "Roman" and still are today.  Francis Bellamy (1855-1932) was born in Mount Morris, New York, where his father, David Bellamy, was working as a pastor for the Baptist Church. In 1859, David accepted a call at the First Baptist Church in Rome, New York. He remained there until he died in 1864.

In 1872, Francis began schooling and graduated from Rome Free Academy

Rome Free Academy (RFA) is the government high school that is still there).

The RFA started as a non-government school in 1847 when a meeting of citizens established Rome Academy. The Board of Trustees accepted a land site gift from the estate of Dominick Lynch. In 1848 the RFA opened with a principal and six teachers. It was a non-government school for 20 years until, in 1869, a government school district with a Board of Education was created and Rome Academy became "Rome Free Academy."  That meant that the cost would rise dramatically because of taxation, waste, bureaucracy and a lack of competition, and that everyone (even people who did not want to) would be forced to pay for it in taxes, as they would no longer be free to do otherwise.

Francis became RFA's first president of its Alumni Association. In 1873, after RFA, Bellamy entered the University of Rochester where he studied for the Baptist ministry.

Allegiance refers to a "liege" and that is a noun referencing "a feudal lord entitled to allegiance and service."  As an adjective it means "owing primary allegiance and service to a feudal lord."  It originally referred to barbarians allowed to settle on Roman land. The liege can also be the the feudal vassal or subject.

In 1898 the New York state legislature was the first in the nation to pass a statute forcing children in government schools to robotically chant the socialist's pledge. In 1905, as many as 19 States had passed school flag laws.  To this very day New York still has a law forcing teachers to lead a recitation of the socialist pledge in socialist schools (government schools).
Fascism Roman salute myth & fascist symbols of Rome Free Academy

ROMAN SALUTE: Cinema, History, Ideology debunked. Fascism, Fascist, Pledge Allegiance, & the Oath of the Horatii, & Rome Free Academy. Nazism, fascism, socialism, communism in the original socialist salute

Francis Bellamy, the person who created/popularized the misnamed “Roman salute” was a person who admired ancient Rome and its militarism, who grew up in the city of Rome in New York, where he and his neighbors were known as “Romans,” and was educated in the Rome Academy there. To this very day, the school banner appears as it does to the right and it contains two fasces (axes through the middle of wood with binding).  The fasces actually was a symbol of government authority in ancient Rome.  The straight-arm salute was not.

There is no speculation about the fact that Francis Bellamy was a National Socialist in the USA three decades before the National Socialists in Germany, and that the USA's National Socialists promoted their dogma and their original straight-armed salute to the USA's flag for three decades ahead of the similar dogma and behavior of National Socialists in Germany.

The scene depicted in the painting "The Oath of the Horatii" was not actually an oath (other than in the artist's title), nor a pledge, nor a salute at all.  The painting depicts a scene from a story in which a father exhorts his sons to fight.  The painting shows the sons reaching for their weapons (swords) as the father hands them over.

The painting by Jacques-Louis David (8/30/1748 - 12/29/1825) is famous in the history of French painting and is exhibited at the Louvre Museum.  The story was taken from Titus-Livy.  The painter David chose to imagine the start of the story, rather than the action that followed.  David chose the idea of the oath (the oath is not mentioned in the historical accounts).  David may have been the first person to "make up" a formal oath as part of the story.  In fact the very story depicted, even without the oath, may not have actually happened. The story was inspired by the wars between Rome and Alba, in 669 B.C.  The painting depicts the three Roman brothers of the Horatii family giving their "oath" or assurance that they will fight and gesturing toward weapons held by their father who exhorts his sons to fight.

If the painting had served as inspiration for the pledge of allegiance, then the pledge of allegiance would probably have been a better pledge that more accurately describes the painting: "I pledge allegiance to my right to keep and bear arms, and to the liberty for which it stands, to defend my father, my family and myself."

Rome was represented by the triplets Horatii, and Alba also by triplets from the family of Curatii. As a result of the combat only one (Horatius) survived and Rome was declared the victor.   There may be a relationship to the names "Horatio" or "Horace" (see Horace of the Horatian Ode), and "Horatius Cocles" a hero of ancient Roman Legend, celebrated for his defense of a bridge over the Tiber against the Etruscans.

Also worth exploring the relationship of the painting to the French Revolution.

The website gives this description of the Neo-classicist painting:

The painting was inspired by the period of the wars between Rome and Alba, in 669 B.C.  It has been decided that the dispute between the two cities must be settled by an unusual form of combat to be fought by two groups of three champions each. The two groups are the three Horatii brothers and the three Curiatii brothers. The drama lay in the fact that one of the sisters of the Curiatii, Sabina, is married to one of the Horatii, while one of the sisters of the Horatii, Camilla, is betrothed to one of the Curiatii. Despite the ties between the two families, the Horatii's father exhorts his sons to fight the Curiatii and they obey, despite the lamentations of the women."

David succeeded in ennobling these passions and transforming these virtues into something sublime. Corneille and Poussin had already used this same subject and treated it as a sentimental and aristocratic game (Corneille's Horace). David himself stated: "If I owe my subject to Corneille, I owe my painting to Poussin." He referred to Poussin's "Rape of the Sabine Women" from whence David borrowed the figure of the lictor for his drawing of the youngest Horatius. Unlike these, David decided to treat the beginning, rather than the denouement of the action, seeing that initial moment as being charged with greater intensity and imbued with more grandeur. And, it was he who chose the idea of the oath (it is not mentioned in the historical accounts), transforming the event into a solemn act that bound the wills of different individuals in a single, creative gesture. He was not the first painter to do so, but certainly the first to do it in such a stirring manner.

The appeal of the elder Horatius is in the center, the reply on the left is the spontaneous vigor of the oath, upheld loudly and with a show of strength, while on the right it is a tearful anguish, movement turned in upon itself, compressed into emotion.

The decor is reduced to a more abstract order, that of architectural space--massive columns, equally massive arches, opening out onto a majestic shadow. The three archways loosely correspond to the three groups. The contemplative atmosphere is softened by shades of green, brown, pink, and red, all very discreet. Instead of opening his painting out onto a landscape or an expanse of sky, David closes it off to the outside, bathes it in shadow. As a result, the light in this setting takes on a brick-toned reflection, which encircles his figures with a mysterious halo.

Through David's rigorous and efficient arrangement, the superior harmony of the colors, and the spiritual density of the figures, this sacrifice, transfigured by the oath, becomes the founding act of a new aesthetic and moral order. He consciously intended it to be a proclamation of the new neoclassical style in which dramatic lighting, ideal forms, and gestural clarity are emphasized. Presenting a lofty moralistic (and by implication patriotic) theme, the work became the principal model for noble and heroic historical painting of the next two decades. It also launched David's personal popularity and awarded him the right to take on his own students.

by Mike B. Knight

The Oath of the Horatii as Political Discourse

Pierre Corneille's Horace presents diverse dialogues both effectively and persuasively. Numerous speeches in Horace are intended to provoke political and philosophical discussion, while maintaining a fairly straightforward meaning--there are clear motivations by the author in his writing. This style and intention is typical of not only plays during the same period, but also in multiple volumes of theatrical works. Painters of seventeenth and eighteenth century France, however, usually followed a different approach when deciding the subject and layout of their works. Jacques-Louis David, when deciding to paint a scene related to Horace, did not intend to create a clear-cut meaning as pronounced in the play. David eventually chose a scene not represented by Corneille because he wanted to construct a discourse-inducing environment by painting The Oath of the Horatii that theatrics could not foster.

David was not trying to display a set, universal interpretation with this painting. After all, he had already rejected two early sketches that focused on scenes present in Horace. Both these two portrayals would have presented a generous interpretation of established dialogue present in the play; each probably would not have had a desirable reaction considering French culture and expectations of the time. David presented his first sketch to a group of respected individuals including Charles de Wailly; they did not enjoy the work because the full meaning depended on words the spectator could never hear (Crow 34). In other words, by viewing a depiction of a scene from Horace, David realized the audience would attempt to establish ideas based not upon the action in the painting, but by the correlating events in Horace. This is one of the chief reasons David chose not to paint a scene from Horace; there was an overwhelming desire to allow room for analysis and eventual self-understanding--he wanted the audience to determine meaning.

Corneille Sedaine was also present at the presentation of David's initial sketch; he suggested David choose The Oath of the Horatii, a scene not present in Corneille's play (38). He mentioned specifically that David should avoid the climax, Camilla's death, due to various violent overtones. Although not the main factor influencing David, Sedaine was the first to suggest painting the oath and held certain significance in David's ultimate decision. By painting this scene, Sedaine argued, David could add dramatic appeal and not necessarily have as piercing a reaction that a vicious or climatic scene may create (41). Therefore, Corneille Sedaine acted as a catalyst to David's eventual embracement of the oath. The scene also allowed David the ability to limit a potentially highly divisive reaction by viewers. The final version of The Oath of the Horatii portrays three brothers ready to risk their lives for the honor of Rome (41). Although the moment never occurs in the written play it can be inferred as a real occurrence. This depiction was in sharp contrast to his second sketch which showed a definitive central character. He chose three brothers because he did not want to have a central focus on one hero, which would have not been appreciated by the audience. The conflict really arises between Roman culture where the Horace took place and French culture--the viewers of the work. Roman culture featured an established sense of near blind-faith to the nation; the Romans have often been criticized for their appeal to heroics and their fundamental lack of understanding of feeling (35). French culture had a near opposite ideology on both the concept of state and patriotism to that state. The French populace's idea of the state had a clear community feeling and was not nearly as hierarchal as Roman thought. Basically, French political culture embraced a completely different form of the idea of patriotism (35). David did not want to create a clash whenever presenting his work. The written play did not necessarily have this same immediate clash, mainly because of the differing medium and Pierre Corneille's style. Still, the painting allows a large degree of internal contrast and sharpness; while the male figures appear embraced by the task at hand, the females are torn emotionally. Even this small interpretation could be contested--and that is David's intent. Further personal interpretation would illustrate the intellectual discourse desired by David; he seemed to yield power to the spectators.

Visual art, then, seems to be less convincing overall and somewhat involuntary. In theatrics, by contrast, the playwright, director, and actor can all, to some degree, influence the audience's interpretation of actions; each dramatist maintains a certain quantity of political persuasiveness. In fact, some eighteenth century French individuals, felt certain plays were nearly as effective as classical tragedies, they thought these plays could harness the audience's emotional response and shape both civic virtues and, to a certain extent, political culture (37). And they could--Horace certainly falls into this category. The Journal des Dames, which was "published and edited in the late 1770s by Louis-Sabastien Mercier," was one of the leading advocates of this ideology (36). In some cases, this implies that a limited number of persons can control and reshape the interpretation of action. In visual arts, especially David's works, there is not necessarily a clear representation of one avenue of desired interpretation. Additionally, the artistic environment in Revolutionary France featured numerous painters who were not individually ascribing to the work--the overall idea and justification the embraced was far superior to the technique (37). Unlike the clearer meanings in plays, David wanted to provoke thought on basic political ideologies, and make sure not to portray a scene that would limit the wide array of interpretation.

David carefully chose The Oath of the Horatii in order to foster political and philosophical conversation and ongoing debate about the interpretation. David was able to craft an intellectual work by choosing a scene and medium not represented in Pierre Corneille's Horace. "To the world, this was going to be David's break-through work" and to the world, it was (31). The Oath of the Horatii had certain political repercussions in French society that heighten its importance and appeal, making it an immediate and unquestionable classic, precisely because of David's intention to provoke political discourse.

Work Cited

Crow, Thomas. "Fatherland," in Emulation; Making Artists for Revolutionary France. Yale University Press, 1995: 31-45.

by Mike Knight February 27, 2003

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