SPQR is everywhere!

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SPQR is everywhere!

Before I came here to Rome, Ken asked me about what SPQR stands for. He emphasized the significant of the basic meaning of SPQR. Individual letters of SPQR stands for Senātus Populusque Rōmānus and translated into English means ‘The Senate and The people of Rome”. For help your better understanding, here is the historical context of SPQR from Wikipedia.

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 I the Great (ruled AD 312-37), the first Christian Roman Emperor.

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 Monarchy 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 emperors were considered the representatives of the people even though the senātūs consulta, or decrees of the Senate, were made at the pleasure of the emperor.

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”. The locative, Rōmae, “at Rome”, was never used for that purpose.

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 consuls and praetors, and thecomitia centuriāta, “committee of the centuries”, whose will came to be safeguarded by the Tribunes.

Beginning in 1184, the Commune of Rome struck coins in the name of the SENATVS P Q R. From 1414 and 1517 the Roman Senate struck coins with a shield inscribed SPQR.

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“.

Like it says, SPQR is everywhere. It’s on the bus, on the streetlamp, on the street, on the building’s wall and so on. First two days, I had fun with finding SPQR marks as much as I can from everywhere. One more reason about the amazing Rome is, even when they grown to the empire, SPQR has continuously used in the official document and most of the government works. It is surprising that more than 2000 years ago, they already had the notion of ‘people’ of Rome. Most of all, as my understanding, the true meaning of SPQR is the power comes from roman citizens, and Rome is open to whoever has that power. I believe the SPQR fellowship also shares  meaning of it with the U students. Embrace that power, way to go!

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