Sometimes when we think of art history, we see the image as the one we present today. A huge, historical scene, full of drama and tension. Oath of the Horatii is a large painting by the French artist Jacques-Louis David that immediately became a huge success with critics and the public. It remains one of the best known paintings in the Neoclassical style.
The painting depicts a scene from a Roman legend about a 7th century BCE dispute between two warring cities, Rome and Alba Longa; it stresses the importance of patriotism and masculine self-sacrifice for one's country. Instead of the two cities sending their armies to war, they agree to choose three men from each city; the victor in that fight will be the victorious city. From Rome, three brothers from a Roman family, the Horatii, agree to end the war by fighting three brothers from a family of Alba Longa, the Curiatii. The three brothers, all of whom appear willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of Rome, are shown saluting their father who holds their swords out for them. Of the three Horatii brothers, only one shall survive the confrontation. It is the surviving brother, however, who is able to kill the other three fighters from Alba Longa. He allows the three fighters to chase him, causing them to separate from each other, and then, in turn, kills each Curiatii brother.
Aside from the three brothers depicted, David also represents, in the bottom right corner, a woman crying while sitting down. She is Camilla, a sister of the Horatii brothers, who is also betrothed to one of the Curiatii fighters, and thus she weeps in the realization that, whatever happens, she will lose someone she loves.
P.S. Not to get too serious about this history, I'd recommend also paying attention to the extraordinary, classical beauty of the protagonists of this painting. Are you a true connoisseur of male beauty? Here's our little nude invasion! :D