SPQR is an initialism from a Latin phrase, "Senātus Populusque Rōmānus" ("The Senate and the People of Rome" or "The Senate and Roman People"), referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic, and used as an official signature of the government. It appears on coins, at the end of documents made public by inscription in stone or metal, in dedications of monuments and public works, and was emblazoned on the standards of the Roman legions. The phrase appears many hundreds of times in Roman political, legal and historical literature, including the speeches of Marcus Tullius Cicero and the history of Titus Livius. Since the meaning and the words never vary, except for the spelling and inflection of "populus" in literature, Latin dictionaries classify it as a formula.

SPQR is the motto of the city of Rome and appears in the city's coat of arms, as well as on many of the city's civic buildings and manhole covers.

Historical context

The date of origin of the phrase is not known, but its meaning places it generally in the Roman Republic. The two legal entities mentioned are the "Senatus" and the "Populus Romanus." The "populus" is sovereign and the combination is so as well, but the Senate alone is not. Under the monarchy neither was sovereign. The phrase can be dated therefore 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 "senatus consulta", or decrees of the Senate, were made at the pleasure of the emperor.

"Populus Romanus" in Roman literature is a phrase meaning the government of the Republic. When the Romans named governments of other countries they used populus in the singular or plural, such as "populi Priscorum Latinorum", "the governments of the Old Latins". "Romanus" is the established adjective used to distinguish the Romans, as in "civis Romanus", "Roman citizen". The locative, "Romae", "at Rome", was never used for that purpose.The Roman people appear very often in law and history in such phrases as "dignitas", "maiestas", "auctoritas", "libertas populi Romani", the "dignity, majesty, authority, freedom of the Roman people." They were a "populus liber", "a free people." There was an "exercitus, imperium, iudicia, honores, consules, voluntas" 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 the "comitia centuriata", "committees of the hundreds", whose will came to be safeguarded by the Tribunes.

In more official contexts therefore Senatus Populusque Romanus was used for signing-off purposes. The singular was used for the nominative case. The plural could be used in other cases: "senatu populoque consentientibus", "the senate and people ratifying" (an ablative absolute construction). In society SPQR was often "bully" language, the same as threatening to report or prosecute someone today.Fact|date=September 2007

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."

Modern variants

The usage has been revived in modern times, throughout Europe and beyond. "SPQ-" is sometimes used as an assertion of municipal pride and civic rights. Reggio Emilia has SPQR in its coat of arms, standing for "Senatus Populusque Regiensis". There have been reports of "SPQ-" from:
*Amsterdam, at one of the major theatres and some of the bridges [ [http://www.livius.org/a/netherlands/amsterdam-weapon/weapon.html Heraldic symbols of Amsterdam] , [http://www.livius.org/ Livius] , 2 December 2006]
*Antwerp, on the Antwerp City Hall
*Benevento, on manhole covers [http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/it_rome.html "Rome - Historical Flags (Italy)"] , [http://www.crwflags.com/ CRW Flags] , 14 November 2003]
*Bucharest, on the Lupa Capitolina statue in the Roman Square
*Brussels, found repeatedly on the Palais de Justice, and over the main stage of La Monnaie/De Munt opera house
*Iaşi, on The Palace of Culture
*Liverpool, on various gold doors in St George's Hall
*Lübeck, on the Holstentor
*Solothurn, on the "Cathedral of St Ursus and Victor"
*Verviers, on the Grand Theatre

There is an international Roman revivalist organization, Nova Roma, whose use-protected trade mark is also the famous four letters.

Popular Culture

*At National Junior Classical League Conventions, retired sponsors wear ribbons with SPQR printed on them, indicating their status as senior statesmen.
*In the Italian translation of the Asterix comics, it means "Sono Pazzi Questi Romani" ("These Romans are crazy"). It is not in the original French version, but was created by the Italian translator of the comics.
*In the movie "Cleopatra" starring Elizabeth Taylor, S.P.Q.R. is above the main exit door to the main steps from the senate chamber interior.
*In the movie "Gladiator" starring Russell Crowe, Maximus can be seen trying to remove his army tattoo that reads S.P.Q.R.
*In the movie "Spartacus", when the character Glabrus is giving a speech to the senate, the motto can be seen on an altar in the senate chamber.
*In the movie "Titus", which merges the Roman storyline with an anachronistic setting, SPQR is the radio callsign on Saturninus' microphone.
*Native football club A.S. Roma sported the "S.P.Q.R." insignia on their jerseys during the 2007-2008 preseason.
*The Roman Senate features heavily in the computer game, Rome Total War. The symbol of the Senate during gameplay features the letters "SPQR"


External links

* [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/vor?target=en%2C1&collection=Perseus%3Acollection%3AGreco-Roman&lookup=Roman+senate+and+people&formentry=1&template=&.submit=Search&searchText=&alts=1&extern=1&group=typecat&.cgifields=alts&.cgifields=group&.cgifields=extern&.cgifields=type Instances of "Roman Senate and People"] in www.Perseus.edu
* [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0059&query=id%3D%23109621&word=people Lewis & Short dictionary entry for populus] on www.Perseus.edu
* [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0234%3Aid%3Db6c16 Polybius on the Senate and People (6.16)]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • SPQR — abbrev. 〚L S(enatus) P(opulus)q(ue) R(omanus)〛 the Senate and the Roman people * * * SPQR abbr. Latin Senatus Populusque Romanus (the Senate and the people of Rome). * * * …   Universalium

  • SPQR — es el acrónimo de la frase latina Senatus Populusque Romanus, cuya traducción es el Senado y el Pueblo Romano . Hay varias versiones acerca del correcto significado del acrónimo, dependiendo de la declinación de la última sigla, la R, que podría… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • SPQR — SPQR,   S.P.Q.R., Abkürzung für lateinisch Senatus Populusque Romanus …   Universal-Lexikon

  • SPQR — abbrev. [L S(enatus) P(opulus)q(ue) R(omanus)] the Senate and the Roman people …   English World dictionary

  • SPQR — Senatus Populusque Romanus « SPQR » redirige ici. Pour l organisme, voir Syndicat de la Presse Quotidienne Régionale …   Wikipédia en Français

  • SPQR — Para el juego de rol abreviado SPQR, véase Steve Perrin s Quest Rules …   Wikipedia Español

  • SPQR — История Древнего Рима Основание …   Википедия

  • SPQR — S.P.Q.R. römischer Kanaldeckel S.P.Q.R. ist die Abkürzung für das lateinische Senatus Populusque Romanus („Senat und Volk von Rom …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • SPQR — Senatus Populusque Romanus (Latin. En franc. = Le Sénat et le Peuple Romains). Sous la République romaine, expression qui signifiait le Sénat et les Comices (assemblées du Peuple). Ce sigle était le symbole le plus condensé de l autorité romaine …   Sigles et Acronymes francais

  • SPQR — abbreviation Etymology: Latin senatus populusque Romanus the senate and the people of Rome …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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