This article analyzes the function of the historical example of the French soldier (Poilu) of the First World War, in an discursive institutional frame. The Poilu can be considered a model because of his authority and prestige. After the presentation of our corpus, we show how the exemplary figure of the Poilu becomes a paradeigma for its strong axiological connotations. We then explain its characteristics as an historical example in order to better define its role in various discursive contexts mainly belonging to the epideictic genre. We highlight the fact that its discursive treatment mostly aims at maintaining an agreement on the ethical foundations and orientations of the nation, and at strengthening the cohesion and communion of feelings among the participants of the res publica. Thus the historical example of the Poilu serves to reinforce the orator’s ethos and build a collective ethos by sharing a sense of philia with the audience.