In the Oath of the Horatii, the Horatii brothers are depicted taking an oath before their father, with their sisters mourning at the side:
I would like to know whether there is any mention or evidence of the depicted oath in Roman sources. Do our sources tell that this oath took place in the way it is displayed in this painting?
I am inclined to think that this is not the case. Several reasons come to mind:
- Livy doesn't mention that the combatants took an oath of any kind.
- Livy states that the Roman army went out to meet the Alban forces, so it might be assumed that women stayed at Rome. Thus, by the time the combat between the Horatii and the Curiatii was arranged, it wouldn't have been possible for the brothers' sisters to be there and witness (and mourn) the oath.
- In fact, Livy explains that Camilla, who had been engaged to one of the Curiatii brothers, first saw her surviving brother when he returned to Rome, thereby implying that she (and, quite possibly, all women) had stayed at the city.
It could be possible to spot mistakes here and there. Attire and architecture could be, as it often happens, good nitpick or discussion sources. For instance, the helmet crest might not have been used at the time of the combat; if I recall correctly, it is first mentioned in the period of the first wars against the Gauls, during the times of the Republic. However, such details would not contradict the represented act of the oath, in the case that it were true, so they are not relevant to my question.
I am aware that it is possible that the author of the painting based his work not on the Roman sources, but on depictions and other derivative works, like the play Les Horaces. However, I am only interested in actual sources and the painting's concordance with them.