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SPQR, an abbreviation for Senātus Populusque Rōmānus (Classical Latin: [s̠ɛˈnäːt̪ʊs̠ pɔpʊˈɫ̪ʊs̠kʷɛ roːˈmäːnʊs̠]; English: "The Roman Senate and People"; or more freely "The Senate and People of Rome"), is an emblematic abbreviated phrase referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic. It appears on Roman currency, at the end of documents made public by an inscription in stone or metal, and in dedications of monuments and public and civil works.
The full phrase 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.
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. Thus, the phrase is translated literally as "The Roman Senate and People", or more freely as "The Senate and People of Rome".
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 the Great (ruled 312–337 AD), the first Roman emperor to support Christianity.
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.
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.
Populus Rōmānus in Roman literature is a phrase meaning the government of the People. When the Romans named governments of foreign states, 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 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 the comitia centuriāta, "committee of the centuries", whose will came to be safeguarded by the Tribunes.
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...).
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.
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".
Even in contemporary usage, SPQR is still used in the municipal coat of arms of Rome and as abbreviation for the comune of Rome in official documents. The Italians have long used a different and humorous expansion of this abbreviation, "Sono Pazzi Questi Romani" (literally: "They're crazy, these Romans").
In Spain, SPQR is also used in the flag and coat of arms of Sabiñánigo.
In business, in English-speaking countries, SPQR is sometimes (humorously) used to mean "Small Profits, Quick Returns", often by people who have studied Latin at school.
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;
|City||Country||SPQx||Latin||Where has it been used|
|Alkmaar||Netherlands||SPQA||On the facade of the Waag building.|
|Amsterdam||Netherlands||SPQA||Senatus Populusque Amstelodamensis||At one of the major theatres[which?] and some of the bridges.|
|Antwerp||Belgium||SPQA||Senatus Populusque Antverpensis||On Antwerp City Hall and other public buildings and schools.|
|Basel||Switzerland||SPQB||Senatus Populusque Basilea||On the Webern-Brunnen in Steinenvorstadt.|
|Benevento||Italy||SPQB||Senatus Populusque Beneventanus||On manhole covers.|
|Bremen||Germany||SPQB||In the Bremen City Hall.|
|Bruges||Belgium||SPQB||On its coat of arms.|
|Brussels||Belgium||SPQB||Senatus Populusque Bruxellensis (of the city) or Senatus Populusque Belgicus (of the country)||Found repeatedly on the Palais de Justice, over the main stage of La Monnaie, and on the ceiling of the hemicycle of the Belgian Senate in the Palais de la Nation.|
|Catania||Italy||SPQC||Can be found on manhole covers.|
|Chicago||United States||SPQC||Can be found on the George N. Leighton Cook County Criminal Courthouse.|
|Dublin||Ireland||SPQH||Senatus Populusque Hibernicus||On the City Hall, built in 1769.|
|Florianópolis||Brazil||SPQF||Senatus Populusque Florianopolitanus|
|Franeker||Netherlands||SPQF||At the a gate on the Westerbolwerk and Academiestraat 16.|
|Freising||Germany||SPQF||Above the door of the town hall.|
|Ghent||Belgium||SPQG||Senatus Populusque Gandavensis||On the Opera, Theater and some other major buildings. Inscribed on a shield on coins struck in Ghent in 1583, during the Dutch Revolt.|
|The Hague||Netherlands||SPQH||Above the stage in Koninklijke Schouwburg.|
|Hamburg||Germany||SPQH||On a door in the Hamburg Rathaus.|
|Haarlem||Netherlands||SPQH||On the face of the town hall at the "Grote Markt".|
|Kortrijk||Belgium||SPQC||Senatus Populusque Cortoriacum||City hall.|
|Kraków||Poland||SPQC||Senatus Populusque Cracoviensis||Over the Waza Gate in Wawel Castle.|
|La Plata||Argentina||SPQR||On a monument outside of the city's "casco urbano".|
|Leeuwarden||Netherlands||SPQL||Senatus Populusque Leovardia||On the mayor's chain of office.|
|Liverpool||United Kingdom||SPQL||Senatus Populusque Liverpudliensis||On various gold doors in St George's Hall.|
|City of London||United Kingdom||SPQL||Senatus Populusque Londiniensis||On historic variants of the City's coat of arms|
|Lübeck||Germany||SPQL||Senatus Populusque Lubecca||On the Holstentor.|
|Madrid||Spain||SPQM||Senatus Populusque Matritensis||On the Fuente de Apolo, built in 1780.|
|Milan||Italy||SPQM||The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V struck coins at Milan with the inscription S P Q Mediol Optimo Principi.|
|Modica||Italy||SPQM||On the coat of arms.|
|Molfetta||Italy||SPQM||On the coat of arms.|
|Naples||Italy||SPQN||Senatus Populusque Neāpolis||Inscribed on a shield on coins struck during Masaniello's 1647 revolt.|
|Noto||Italy||SPQN||Senatus Populusque Netum||On the coat of arms. and the façade of Noto Cathedral|
|Nuremberg||Germany||SPQN||Senatus Populusque Norimbergensis||On the Fleisch Bridge (one of the major bridges over river Pegnitz in the inner city).|
|Oudenburg||Belgium||SPQO||Senatus Populusque Odenburgensis||On its water pump next to the market square.|
|Olomouc||Czechia||SPQO||Senatus Populusque Olomucensis||On its coat of arms."Olomouc". Heraldry of the World.</ref>|
|Rieti||Italy||SPQS||Senatus Populusque Sabinus||On the coat of arms. Present also in the modern composite Lazio coat-of-arms.|
|Rotterdam||Netherlands||SPQR||On a wall painting in the Rotterdam City Hall.|
|Severn Beach||United Kingdom||SPQR||On the crest of Pilning & Severn Beach Parish Council.|
|Seville||Spain||SPQH||Senatus Populusque Hispalensis||On the historic banner of the city.|
|Siena||Italy||SPQS||On the base of a status of the Capitoline Wolf.|
|Solothurn||Switzerland||SPQS||Senatus Populusque Solodori||On the Cathedral of St Ursus and Victor.|
|Toruń||Poland||SPQT||Senatus Populusque Thorunensis||City Hall.|
|Valencia||Spain||SPQV||Senatus Populusque Valentinus||In several places and buildings, including the Silk Exchange and the University of Valencia Historic Building.|
|Verviers||Belgium||SPQV||On the Grand Theatre.|
|Vienna||Austria||SPQV||Senatus Populusque Viennensis|
SPQR is often used to represent the Roman Empire and Roman Republic, such as in video games and movies. In the 2000 movie Gladiator, the Roman general Maximus (portrayed by Russell Crowe) has "SPQR" tattooed on his shoulder, which he removes by scraping after he is sold into slavery.
Some members of white nationalist groups use the abbreviation SPQR on flags, on their person (such as tattoos) and other forms of identification. However, the Anti-Defamation League does not include SPQR in its hate symbol database, and the organization's Mark Pitcavage said that the abbreviation is used "just as much or more often by nonextremists than extremists".
The letters SPQL [Senatus Populusque Londinii – literally, The Senate and People of London] also occasionally appear in imitation of the SPQR of ancient Rome.