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SPQR, an abbreviation for (; en, "The
Roman Senate The Roman Senate ( la, Senātus Rōmānus) was a governing and advisory assembly in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the Rome, city of Rome (traditionally found ...
and
People A person (plural, : people) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of pr ...
"; or more freely "The
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
and
People A person (plural, : people) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of pr ...
of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg ...
"), is an emblematic abbreviated phrase referring to the
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Government ...
of the ancient
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization when it was run through res publica, public Representation (politics), representation of the Roman peo ...
. It appears on
Roman currency Roman currency for most of Roman history consisted of gold, silver, bronze, orichalcum#Numismatics, orichalcum and copper coinage. From its introduction to the Roman Republic, Republic, during the third century BC, well into Roman Empire, Imperial ...
, at the end of documents made public by an inscription in stone or metal, and in dedications of monuments and public and civil works. The full phrase appears in Roman political, legal, and historical literature, such as the speeches of
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher, and Academic skepticism, academic skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...
and ''
Ab Urbe Condita Libri The work called ( en, From the Founding of the City), sometimes referred to as (''Books from the Founding of the City''), is a monumental history of ancient Rome, written in Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to t ...
'' ("Books from the Founding of the City") of
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
.


Translation

In
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
, '' Senātus'' is a
nominative In grammar, the nominative case (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ), subjective case, straight case or upright case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject (grammar), subject ...
singular noun meaning "
Senate A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house An upper house is one of two Debate chamber, chambers of a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house.''Bicameralism'' (1997) by George Tseb ...
". ''
Populus ''Populus'' is a genus of 25–30 species of deciduous flowering plants in the family Salicaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. English names variously applied to different species include poplar (), aspen, and cottonwood. The we ...
que'' is compounded from the nominative noun ''
Populus ''Populus'' is a genus of 25–30 species of deciduous flowering plants in the family Salicaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. English names variously applied to different species include poplar (), aspen, and cottonwood. The we ...
'', "the People", and '' -que'', an enclitic particle meaning "and" which connects the two nominative nouns. The last word, '' Rōmānus'' ("
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter ...
") is an
adjective An adjective (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word that describes a noun or noun phrase. Its semantic role is to change information given by the noun. Traditionally, adjectives were considered one of the main part of speech, par ...
modifying the whole of '' Senātus
Populus ''Populus'' is a genus of 25–30 species of deciduous flowering plants in the family Salicaceae, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere. English names variously applied to different species include poplar (), aspen, and cottonwood. The we ...
que'': the "Roman Senate and People", taken as a whole. Thus, the phrase is translated literally as "The Roman Senate and People", or more freely as "The Senate and People of Rome".


Historical context

The title's date of establishment is unknown, but it first appears in inscriptions of the Late Republic, from c. 80 BC onwards. Previously, the official name of the Roman state, as evidenced on coins, was simply ''ROMA''. The abbreviation last appears on coins of
Constantine the Great Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor from AD 306 to 337, and the first of which to Constantine the Great and Christianity, convert to Christiani ...
(ruled 312–337 AD), the first Roman emperor to support
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...
. The two legal entities mentioned, ''Senātus'' and the ''Populus Rōmānus'', are sovereign when combined. However, where ''populus'' is sovereign alone, ''Senātus'' is not. Under the
Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom (also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome) was the earliest period of Ancient Rome, Roman history when the city and its territory were ruled by kings. According to oral accounts, the Roman Kin ...
, neither entity was sovereign. The phrase, therefore, can be dated to no earlier than the foundation of the Republic. This signature continued in use under the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
. The emperors were considered the ''
de jure In law and government, ''de jure'' ( ; , "by law") describes practices that are legally recognized, regardless of whether the practice exists in reality. In contrast, ("in fact") describes situations that exist in reality, even if not legally ...
'' representatives of the people even though the '' senātūs consulta'', or decrees of the Senate, were made at the ''
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, whether or not they are officially recognized by laws or other formal norms. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with '' de jure'' ("by l ...
'' pleasure of the emperor. ''Populus Rōmānus'' in Roman literature is a phrase meaning the government of the People. When the Romans named governments of foreign states, they used ''populus'' in the singular or plural, such as ''populī Prīscōrum Latīnōrum'', "the governments of the Old Latins". ''Rōmānus'' is the established adjective used to distinguish the Romans, as in ''cīvis Rōmānus'', "
Roman citizen Citizenship in ancient Rome (Latin language, Latin: ''civitas'') was a privileged political and legal status afforded to free individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance. Citizenship in Ancient Rome was complex and based upon many d ...
". The Roman people appear very often in law and history in such phrases as ''dignitās'', ''maiestās'', ''auctoritās'', ''lībertās populī Rōmānī'', the "dignity, majesty, authority, freedom of the Roman people". They were a ''populus līber'', "a free people". There was an ''exercitus, imperium, iudicia, honorēs, consulēs, voluntās'' of this same ''populus'': "the army, rule, judgments, offices, consuls and will of the Roman people". They appear in early Latin as ''Popolus'' and ''Poplus'', so the habit of thinking of themselves as free and sovereign was quite ingrained. The Romans believed that all authority came from the people. It could be said that similar language seen in more modern political and social revolutions directly comes from this usage. People in this sense meant the whole government. The latter, however, was essentially divided into the aristocratic Senate, whose will was executed by the
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin plural ''consules'') was the title of one of the two chief Roman magistrate, magistrates of the Roman Republic, and subsequently also an important title under the Roman Empire. The title was used in other European ...
s and
praetor Praetor ( , ), also pretor, was the title granted by the government of Ancient Rome In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the W ...
s, and the ''comitia centuriāta'', "committee of the centuries", whose will came to be safeguarded by the
Tribune Tribune () was the title of various elected officials in ancient Rome. The two most important were the Tribune of the Plebs, tribunes of the plebs and the military tribunes. For most of Roman history, a college of ten tribunes of the plebs ac ...
s. One of the ways the emperor
Commodus Commodus (; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was a Roman emperor who ruled from 177 to 192. He served jointly with his father Marcus Aurelius from 176 until the latter's death in 180, and thereafter he reigned alone until his assassination. H ...
(180–192) paid for his donatives and mass entertainments was to tax the senatorial order, and on many inscriptions, the traditional order is provocatively reversed (''Populus Senatusque...''). Beginning in 1184, the
Commune of Rome The Commune of Rome ( it, Comune di Roma) was established in 1144 after a rebellion led by Giordano Pierleoni. Pierleoni led a people's revolt due to the increasing powers of the Pope and the entrenched powers of the nobility. The goal of the r ...
struck coins in the name of the SENATVS P Q R. From 1414 until 1517, the Roman Senate struck coins with a shield inscribed SPQR. During the regime of
Benito Mussolini Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (; 29 July 188328 April 1945) was an Italian politician and journalist who founded and led the National Fascist Party. He was Prime Minister of Italy from the March on Rome in 1922 until Fall of the Fascist re ...
, SPQR was emblazoned on a number of public buildings and
manhole cover A manhole cover or maintenance hole cover is a removable plate forming the lid over the opening of a manhole, an opening large enough for a person to pass through that is used as an access point for an underground vault or pipe. It is designed to ...
s in an attempt to promote his dictatorship as a " New Roman Empire".


Modern use

Even in contemporary usage, SPQR is still used in the municipal coat of arms of Rome and as abbreviation for the
comune The (; plural: ) is a local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. It is the third-level administrative division of Italy, after regions (''Regions of Italy, regioni'') and provinces (''Provinces ...
of Rome in official documents. The Italians have long used a different and humorous expansion of this abbreviation, "''Sono Pazzi Questi Romani''" (literally: "They're crazy, these Romans"). SPQR is also part of the coat of arms of the Capital Military Command of the Italian army (Italian: ''Comando Militare Capirale''). In business, in English-speaking countries, SPQR is sometimes (humorously) used to mean "Small Profits, Quick Returns", often by people who have studied Latin at school.


Civic references

''SPQ'' is sometimes used as an assertion of municipal pride and civic rights. The Italian town of
Reggio Emilia Reggio nell'Emilia ( egl, Rèz; la, Regium Lepidi), usually referred to as Reggio Emilia, or simply Reggio by its inhabitants, and known until Unification of Italy, 1861 as Reggio di Lombardia, is a city in northern Italy, in the Emilia-Romag ...
, for instance, has SPQR in its coat of arms, standing for . There have been confirmed usages and reports of the deployment of the "SPQ" template in;


Popular culture

SPQR is often used to represent the Roman Empire and Roman Republic, such as in video games and movies. In the 2000 movie ''
Gladiator A gladiator ( la, gladiator, "swordsman", from , "sword") was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some gla ...
'', the Roman general Maximus (portrayed by
Russell Crowe Russell Ira Crowe (born 7 April 1964) is an actor. He was born in New Zealand, spent ten years of his childhood in Australia, and moved there permanently at age twenty one. He came to international attention for his role as Roman Empire, Roma ...
) has "SPQR" tattooed on his shoulder, which he removes by scraping after he is sold into slavery.


Use by white nationalists

Some members of
white nationalist White nationalism is a type of racial nationalism or pan-nationalism which espouses the belief that white people are a Race (human categorization), raceHeidi Beirich and Kevin Hicks. "Chapter 7: White nationalism in America". In Perry, Barbar ...
groups use the abbreviation SPQR on flags, on their person (such as
tattoo A tattoo is a form of body modification made by inserting tattoo ink, dyes, and/or pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to form a design. Tattoo artists create these designs using several Process of tatt ...
s) and other forms of identification. However, the
Anti-Defamation League The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), formerly known as the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, is an international Jews, Jewish non-governmental organization based in the United States specializing in civil rights law. It was founded in late ...
does not include SPQR in its hate symbol database, and the organization's
Mark Pitcavage Mark Pitcavage is a historian and analyst of far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are political beliefs and actions further to the right of the left–right political spectrum than the s ...
said that the abbreviation is used "just as much or more often by nonextremists than extremists".


Gallery

File:Arch.of.Titus-Inscription.jpg, The inscription in the
Arch of Titus The Arch of Titus ( it, Arco di Tito; la, Arcus Titi) is a 1st-century AD honorific arch, located on the Via Sacra, Rome, just to the south-east of the Roman Forum. It was constructed in 81 AD by the Emperor Domitian shortly after the death ...
File:Rome SPQR 1979-08-06.jpg, Manhole cover in Rome with SPQR inscription File:Stemma reggio emilia municipio.jpg, SPQR in the coat of arms of
Reggio Emilia Reggio nell'Emilia ( egl, Rèz; la, Regium Lepidi), usually referred to as Reggio Emilia, or simply Reggio by its inhabitants, and known until Unification of Italy, 1861 as Reggio di Lombardia, is a city in northern Italy, in the Emilia-Romag ...
File:3492 - Milano - Galleria Vittorio Emanuele - Stemma di Roma - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto, 22-June-2007.jpg, Detail from the mosaic floor in the
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II () is Italy's oldest active shopping gallery and a major landmark of Milan in Italy. Housed within a four-story double Arcade (architecture), arcade in the centre of town, the ''Galleria'' is named after Victor Em ...
in
Milan Milan ( , , Lombard language, Lombard: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. The city proper has a population of about 1.4  ...
File:Wenceslas Hollar - Superiority of the warrior class (State 2).jpg, "Superiority of the warrior class", by
Wenceslaus Hollar Wenceslaus Hollar (23 July 1607 – 25 March 1677) was a prolific and accomplished Bohemian graphic artist of the 17th century, who spent much of his life in England. He is known to German speakers as ; and to Czech speakers as . He is particu ...
File:Arch of Septimius Severus Top Inscription.JPG,
Arch of Septimius Severus The Arch of Septimius Severus ( it, Arco di Settimio Severo) at the northwestern end of the Roman Forum is a white marble triumphal arch dedicated in 203 A.D. to commemorate the Roman-Parthian Wars, Parthian victories of Emperor Septimius Severu ...
top inscription File:Fellini plaque, Via Veneto.jpg, Dedicatory plaque to
Federico Fellini Federico Fellini (; 20 January 1920 – 31 October 1993) was an Italian film director and screenwriter known for his distinctive style, which blends fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), m ...
on
Via Veneto Via Vittorio Veneto (), colloquially called Via Veneto, is one of the most famous, elegant, and expensive streets of Rome, Italy. The street is named after the Battle of Vittorio Veneto (1918), a decisive Italian victory of World War I. Federico F ...
File:20080423 Rotterdam Stadhuis Burgerzaal Pricker SPQR1.jpg, Mural in the Burgerzaal of Rotterdam City Hall


References


Further reading

* *


External links


Instances of "Roman Senate and People"
on Perseus.edu
Lewis & Short dictionary entry for populus
on Perseus.edu
Polybius on the Senate and People (6.16)
{{Ancient Rome topics , state = collapsed Ancient Roman government Latin mottos Initialisms