1700 – 1800
Age of Enlightenment

David's The Intervention of the Sabine Women


Jacques-Louis David, The Intervention of the Sabine Women, 1799, Oil on canvas, 12 feet,
8 inches x 17 feet and 3/4 of an inch or 3.85 x 5.22 m (Musée du Louvre, Paris)


Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker

At this juncture the Sabine women, from the outrage on whom the war originated,
with hair dishevelled and garments rent, the timidity of their sex being overcome
by such dreadful scenes, had the courage to throw themselves amid the flying
weapons, and making a rush across, to part the incensed armies, and assuage their
fury; imploring their fathers on the one side, their husbands on the other, "that as
fathers-in-law and sons-in-law they would not contaminate each other with impious
blood, nor stain their offspring with parricide, the one their grandchildren, the other
their children. If you are dissatisfied with the affinity between you, if with our
marriages, turn your resentment against us; we are the cause of war, we of wounds
and of bloodshed to our husbands and parents. It were better that we perish than
live widowed or fatherless without one or other of you." The silence affects both the multitudes and the leaders. Silence and sudden suspension ensue. Upon this the leaders come forward in order to concert a treaty, and they not only conclude a peace, but form one state out of two.
Livy, The History of Rome tranlated by D. Spillan, London: Bohn, 1849: book 1, section 13,
page 19

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