SPQR is an initialism of a phrase in Latin: Senātus Populusque Rōmānus ("The Roman Senate and People", or more freely as "The Senate and People of Rome"; Classical Latin: [sɛˈnaː.tʊs pɔpʊˈlʊs.kᶣɛ roːˈmaː.nʊs]), referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, and used as an official emblem of the modern-day comune (municipality) of Rome. It appears on Roman currency, at the end of documents made public by inscription in stone or metal, and in dedications of monuments and public works, and it was emblazoned on the vexilloids of the Roman legions.[citation needed]

The phrase commonly appears in Roman political, legal, and historical literature, such as the speeches of Cicero and Ab Urbe Condita Libri ("Books from the Founding of the City") of Livy.[citation needed]


SPQR: Senātus Populusque Rōmānus. In Latin, Senātus is a nominative singular noun meaning "Senate". Populusque is compounded from the nominative noun Populus, "the People", and -que, an enclitic particle meaning "and" which connects the two nominative nouns. The last word, Rōmānus ("Roman") is an adjective modifying the whole of Senātus Populusque: the "Roman Senate and People", taken as a whole.[1]

Thus, the phrase is translated literally as "The Roman Senate and People", or more freely as "The Senate and People of Rome".[1]

Historical context

The title's date of establishment is unknown, but it first appears in inscriptions of the Late Republic, from c. 80 BCE 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 (ruled 312–337 CE), the first Christian Roman emperor.[citation needed]

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, neither entity was sovereign. The phrase, therefore, can be dated to no earlier than the foundation of the Republic.[citation needed]

This signature continued in use under the Roman Empire. The emperors were considered the de jure representatives of the people even though the senātūs consulta, or decrees of the Senate, were made at the de facto pleasure of the emperor.[citation needed]

Populus Rōmānus in Roman literature is a phrase meaning the government of the People. When the Romans named governments of other countries, 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".[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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 consuls and praetors, and the comitia centuriāta, "committee of the centuries", whose will came to be safeguarded by the Tribunes.[citation needed]

One of the ways the emperor Commodus (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...).[citation needed]

Beginning in 1184, the Commune of Rome 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.[2]

During the regime of Benito Mussolini, SPQR was emblazoned on a number of public buildings and manhole covers in an attempt to promote his dictatorship as a "New Roman Empire".[citation needed]

Modern use

Modern manhole cover in Rome with SPQR inscription.

Even in contemporary usage, SPQR is still used as the municipal symbol of the city of Rome.[citation needed]

Civic references

A modern recreation of a Roman standard.

SPQx is sometimes used as an assertion of municipal pride and civic rights. The Italian town of Reggio Emilia, for instance, has SPQR in its coat of arms, standing for "Senatus Populusque Regiensis". There have been confirmed usages and reports of the deployment of the "SPQx" template in;

Popular culture

In the early twentieth century, the letters "SPQR" could sometimes be seen displayed on London market traders' stalls, meaning "Small Profits, Quick Returns".[28]

MPQN, standing for Metallica Populusque Nimus, appears on the cover of the Metallica live DVD Français Pour une Nuit, which was recorded in the Arena of Nîmes, a remodelled Roman amphiteatre.[29]

The Italians have long used a different and humorous expansion of this acronym, "Sono Pazzi Questi Romani" (literally: "They're crazy, these Romans").[30] In the Asterix and Obelix comics, Obelix often uses the French translation of this phrase, "Ils sont fous ces romains", and in the Italian editions, the original phrase is used.[citation needed]

In the cover of the Spanish Mort & Phil comic album La historia del dinero,[31] Mort is carried on a litter as a Roman emperor, while his partner Phil holds a Roman standard topped by an umbrella with the tituli SPOR and SI LLUEVE (a pun, since Es por si llueve means "Just in case it rains" in Spanish).[citation needed]

In The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, SPQR is tattooed on the arms of members of the Roman Legion. In the film Gladiator the protagonist sports a similar tattoo.[citation needed]

The SPQR series is a collection of historical mystery stories by John Maddox Roberts set in the time of the Roman Republic.[citation needed]

S.P.Q.R. Records was an American popular music record label, a subsidiary of Legrand Records, which flourished in the 1960s and included Gary U.S. Bonds among its artists. The label was founded by Frank Guida, who is believed to have adopted the name in allusion to his Italian origins.[32]

In the Internet meme Polandball, the Roman Empire is represented by SPQRball.[citation needed]

The football team A.S. Roma wore special edition shirts with SPQR on the chest for their match against city rivals S.S. Lazio on 29 April 2017.[33]

S.P.Q.R. is the fourth song on the critically acclaimed experimental rock album Deceit by This Heat. The song talks about atomic destruction and human morals using symbols of Rome.[34]



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  2. ^ Monete e Zecche Medievalli Italiane, Elio Biaggi, coins 2081 and 2141
  3. ^ Heraldic symbols of Amsterdam, Livius.org, 2 December 2006.
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  11. ^ Coinage of the European Continent, W. Carew Hazlitt, page 216.
  12. ^ (in German) Nefershapiland.de
  13. ^ (in Dutch) Gemeentearchief.nl
  14. ^ St George's HallBy Paul Coslett. "BBC.co.uk". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  15. ^ Cityoflondon.gov.uk Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Brunet, Alex. (2013). pp. 156-7. Regal Armorie of Great Britain. London: Forgotten Books. (Original work published 1839)
  17. ^ "Flickr.com". Flickr.com. 2007-03-01. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  18. ^ The Coinage of Milan, W.. J. Potter, page 19 coin 4.
  19. ^ it:File:Molfetta-Stemma.png
  20. ^ Italian Coinage Medieval to Modern, The Collection of Ercole Gnecchi, coin 3683
  21. ^ a b "Flickr.com". Flickr.com. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  22. ^ "Flickr.com". Flickr.com. 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  23. ^ O. A. W. Dilke and Margaret S. Dilke (October 1961). "Terracina and the Pomptine Marshes". Greece & Rome. Cambridge University Press. II:8 (2): 172–178. ISSN 0017-3835. OCLC 51206579. 
  24. ^ "Tibursuperbum.it". Tibursuperbum.it. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  25. ^ "Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes". Cervantesvirtual.com. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  26. ^ http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3020/2927782582_9812c8d395_s.jpg
  27. ^ (in French) Bestofverviers.be
  28. ^ Fowler, H. W.; Fowler, F. G.; Crystal, David (2011) [1911]. The Concise Oxford Dictionary: The Classic First Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 748. ISBN 978-0-19-969612-3. 
  29. ^ Cover of Français Pour Une Nuit - Live Aux Arènes De Nîmes 2009 at Discogs
  30. ^ See, e.g. von Hefner, Otto Titan (1861). Handbuch der theoretischen und praktischen Heraldik. Munich. p. 106. 
  31. ^ La historia del dinero, 1980, Editorial Bruguera/Bankunión.
  32. ^ "Biography – S.P.Q.R." 45cat.com. Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  33. ^ http://www.asroma.com/en/news/2017/4/-spqr-adds-final-touch-to-special-derby-kit
  34. ^ https://genius.com/This-heat-spqr-lyrics


External links