The Oath of
the Horatii by Jacques-Louis David, 1784
mythology, the Horatii (Horatii later became "Orazi"
in Italian) were a set of male triplets from Rome.
During a war between
Longa during the reign of Tullus
Hostilius (approx. 672-642 B.C.), it was agreed that settlement of the
war would depend on the outcome of a battle between the Horatii and the
Curiatii. The Curiatii were a set of male triplets who were from
and of the same age as the Horatii.
the battle, the three Curiatii were wounded, but two of the Horatii were
killed. The last of the Horatii turned to flee. The Curiatii chased him,
but because they were wounded, they became spread out from one another,
which allowed Horatius to slay them one by one.
the victorious Horatius returned carrying the spoils of victory, his
sister cried out in grief because she realized the Curiatius to
whom she had been engaged was dead. Then Horatius killed his sister,
proclaiming, "So perish any Roman woman who mourns the enemy." For the murder, he
was condemned to death but was saved when he appealed to the people. The
legend might have been used as the reason why the condemned in
were allowed to appeal to the populace.
main source of information regarding this tale is the "Ab urbe
condita" by Titus
Livius. Later in Roman history
Horatius was elevated to the level of Roman
god, but later lost that position.
battle of the Horatii and Curiatii is the subject of a 1797 opera by Domenico
Cimarosa, Gli Orazi
ed i Curiazi,
and of an 1846 opera of the same title by Saverio
Horatii play a major part in Patrick
Larkin's novel The Lazarus Vendetta. They were three identical
triplets working for Lazarus.
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