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The Virtues of the Republic

To be ignorant of history is to remain always a child - Cicero
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Neoclassic artists often depicted scenes from the Roman Republic. Enlightenment philosophers believed in a equality, freedom and a republican form of government and Rome was the only model they had. The virtues of Ancient Rome were a common theme.

In Lictors Bringing Back to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons, the artist David used a story from the Roman republic to make a point.

Brutus, as a consul of Rome, condemned his own sons for treason against the state. He sacrificed his personal feelings for the good of the fatherland.

The painting portrays the consul seated beneath a statue that symbolizes the city of Rome. Behind him lictors carry into the house the bodies of Brutus’ sons, executed at the command of their father because they plotted against the state.

A similar theme is expressed in Andromache Mourning Hector and the Oath of the Horatii.


Lictors Bringing Back to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons by Jacques Louis David, 1789
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Lictors Bringing Back to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons

Andromache Mourning Hector

Oath of the Horatii

The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment Primary Sources

The French Revolution

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: The French Revolution a HistoryWiz exhibit

Part of Neoclassicism and the Enlightenment, a HistoryWiz exhibit

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