A Tourist in Rome - SPQR

SPQR is an abbreviations of the latin phrase Senatus Populusque Romanus, which translates to "The Senate and People of Rome". This abbreviation is found all over the place in Rome since it is still today the municipal symbol of the city, and finding it in what I would consider unusual places (photo at right) is a fun pasttime while walking the streets between sights. OK, so I'm easily amused. The slogan first appears in inscriptions of the Late Republic, from about 80 BC onwards, but might have been used earlier since it expresses the ideals of the Roman Republic formed in 509 BC. The republic was formed when the last tyrannical king of Rome was overthrown during a revolution by the people. The slogan represents that Rome is ruled by both the Senate and the population of Rome, neither of which has total power on its own, but together having sovereign power with no higher authority. It appears on inscriptions, coins, political, legal and historical literature, and was shown on the standards of the Roman armies. Under the Roman Empire, SPQR was a sham since the emperor had absolute control over the people, and could easily ignore the senate, but the politically correct facade of SPQR was maintained. The emperor simply claimed he represented the people and governed as an equal with the senate. This pacified the senate since they could maintain at least the illusion of power even if only a very little bit, and was accepted by the people so they wouldn't lose their head to the wrath of an angry emperor. In any case, those days are long gone, and the modern city of Rome still loves a healthy dose of SPQR, some of which is captured in these photos.

SPQR on the right edge of the bottom line of the inscription of the Arch of Septimius Severus
See all SPQR photos.
SPQR shield on a trash can
See all SPQR photos.
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