HORATII and CURIATIL in Roman legend, two sets of three brothers born at one birth on the same day the former Roman, the latter Alban the mothers being twin sisters. During the war between Rome and Alba Longa it was agreed that the issue should depend on a combat between the two families. Two of the Horatii were soon slain; the third brother feigned flight, and when the Curiatii, who were all wounded, pursued him without concert he slew them one by one. When he entered Rome in triumph, his sister recognized a cloak which he was wearing as a trophy as one she had herself made for her lover, one of the Curiatii. She thereupon invoked a curse upon her brother, who slew her on the spot. Horatius was condemned to be scourged to death, but on his appealing to the people his life was spared (Livy i. 25, 26; Dion. Halic. iii. 13-22). Monuments of the tragic story were shown by the Romans in the time of Livy (the altar of Janus Curiatius near the sororium tigillum, the " sister's beam," or yoke under which Horatius had to pass; and the altar of Juno Sororia). The legend was probably invented to account for the origin of the provocatio (right of appeal to the people), while at the same time it points to the close connexion and final struggle for supremacy between the older city on the mountain and the younger city on the plain. Their relationship and origin from three tribes are symbolically represented by the twin sisters and the two sets of three brothers.
For a critical examination of the story, see Schwegler, Romische Geschichte, bk. xii. II. 14; Sir G. Cornewall Lewis, Credibility of Early Roman History, ch. xi. 15; W. Ihne, Hist, of Rome, i. ; E. Pais, Storia di Roma, i. ch. 3 (1898), and Ancient Legends of Roman History (Eng. trans., 1906), where the story is connected with the ceremonies performed in honour of Jupiter Tigillus and Juno Sororia; C. Pascal, Fatti e legende di Roma antica (Florence, 1903); O. Gilbert, Geschichte und Topographic der Stadt Rom im Altertum (1883-1885).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)