<=The Oath of the Horatii 1784 Musée du Louvre
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. http://rexcurry.net/pledgesalute.html
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
See the Youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsZxRPdDQHo
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
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
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. http://rexcurry.net/roman_salute_roman_salute_roman_salute.jpg
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 opinioneditorials.com 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. http://rexcurry.net/wikipedia-lies.html
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. http://rexcurry.net/pledgesalute.html
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" http://rexcurry.net/pledgehoratii.html
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
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.
Rome Free Academy (RFA) is the government high school that is still
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
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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsZxRPdDQHo
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
The website http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/neocl_dav_oath.html
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
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
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.
Crow, Thomas. "Fatherland," in Emulation; Making Artists for
Revolutionary France. Yale University Press, 1995: 31-45.