The first painting, which incidentally the artist himself thought ignited this change in thought (and the French Revolution), is Jacques-Louis Davidís The Oath of the Horatii, 1784-5. By this time, David was already sympathetic to the revolutionary cause: liberte (liberty), egalite (equality), and fraternite (a brotherhood among all men). For this statement, he chose an episode from ancient Roman history. Rival clans, the Horatii and Curiatii, clashed over grazing rights for their herds. Rather than a long drawn out war devastating both populations, the sides agreed to send their best three men, and whoever was standing at the end would hand victory to his people.


 The painting depicts the moment when three sons from this family are about to fight for their homelands. (Incidentally, these three brothers fought against three brothers on the other side.) Poised like the three musketeers, the three vow on their swords, held by their father, ďall for one and one for all.Ē

Their mother is to the right in gray and gold, their sister is in white in the foreground, and a married brotherís wife is behind with their two young children. The battle ensues and one of the Horatii returns. After returning victorious to the ticker-tape parade, etc., he walked back into the house and saw his sister crying her eyes out. Asking her why she was so sad since they had just won the battle (never mind her other two brothers were killed), she confessed that one of the enemy soldiers he had killed had secretly been her boyfriend. Enraged at her answer, he thrusted his sword into her body; she lied dead upon the floor. A court trail ensues. Is he guilty of murdering his sister or was it justifiable homicide? The court found on the side of justifiable homicide. She deserved to die because she put her selfish desires ahead of her love of country. How does this play into the Geist of the artist? David was warning the audience that during the upcoming revolution to overthrow the absolute monarchy and ecclesiastical authority, much will be sacrificed for the common good, and it is necessary to put aside personal issues, and perhaps even many lives, in order to advance society.