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Horatii(hōrā`shēī), in Roman legend, male triplets who represented Rome in a battle against Alba, which was represented by the Curiatii, also triplets. After two of the Horatii had been killed, the remaining brother defeated the Curiatii. When the sister of the Horatii bemoaned the death of one of the Curiatii, who had been her lover, her brother killed her. Condemned to death, he was spared when he appealed to the people. To do penance he was led, veiled, under a yoke. The battle of the Horatii is depicted in a neoclassical painting by Jacques-Louis DavidDavid, Jacques-Louis
, 1748–1825, French painter. David was the virtual art dictator of France for a generation. Extending beyond painting, his influence determined the course of fashion, furniture design, and interior decoration and was reflected in the development of
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an ancient Roman patrician family. Legendary representatives of the Horatii family include a set of triplets, who, when they were adolescents, were victorious in hand-to-hand combat over another set of triplets, also adolescents, of the Curiatii family from Alba Longa; this occurred in the seventh century B.C. at the time of Rome’s war against Alba Longa under King Tullus Hostilius. Another member of the family, M. Horatius Pulvillus, was one of the first consuls of the republic; together with his colleague P. Valerio Poplicola, he concluded a treaty between Rome and Carthage in 510–509 B.C. and consecrated the Capitoline temple. Publius Horatius Cocles (the One-Eyed) defended the pile bridge over the Tiber against the Etruscans who attacked Rome in 508 B.C.