Thursday, December 27, 2007

SPQR-What does it mean, anyway?

You may have noticed that the letters "SPQR" are everywhere in Rome-on tourist t-shirts, manhole covers, inscriptions on buildings old and new(er). The letters are actually an acronym dating back to the beginning of the Republican era of Rome (6th century BCE) when the government of ancient Rome changed from monarchical to representative. The acronym stands for the phrase "Senatus PopulusQue Romanus" which in Latin means "The Roman Senate and People." This was the seal of the Roman government and was used at the end of official documents, on coins, and on military standards even throughout the Imperial Era, when the senate and the people did not have as mmuch say in the business of the government as they had during the Republic. Now it is part of the coat of arms of the modern city of Rome and its official motto.

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