(Redirected from S.P.Q.R.)

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".

Historical contextEdit

A modern recreation of a Roman standard.

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.[1]

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".[citation needed]

Modern useEdit

Modern coat of arms of Rome municipality.

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.[2][3] The Italians have long used a different and humorous expansion of this abbreviation, "Sono Pazzi Questi Romani" (literally: "They're crazy, these Romans").[4]

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.[5]

Civic referencesEdit

"SPQH" in the Hamburg Rathaus
"Senatus Populusque Cracoviensis" over the Waza Gate in Wawel Castle, Kraków, Poland

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[6] At one of the major theatres[which?][citation needed] and some of the bridges.[6]
Antwerp   Belgium SPQA Senatus Populusque Antverpensis On Antwerp City Hall and other public buildings and schools.[7]
Basel    Switzerland SPQB Senatus Populusque Basilea On the Webern-Brunnen in Steinenvorstadt.[8]
Benevento   Italy SPQB[9] Senatus Populusque Beneventanus[9] On manhole covers.[9]
Bremen   Germany SPQB In the Bremen City Hall.[10]
Bruges   Belgium SPQB On its coat of arms.[11]
Brussels   Belgium SPQB Senatus Populusque Bruxellensis (of the city) or Senatus Populusque Belgicus (of the country) Found repeatedly on the Palais de Justice,[12] over the main stage of La Monnaie,[citation needed] and on the ceiling of the hemicycle of the Belgian Senate in the Palais de la Nation.
Capua   Italy SPQC
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[9] Senatus Populusque Florianopolitanus[9]
Franeker   Netherlands SPQF At the a gate on the Westerbolwerk and Academiestraat 16.[13]
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.[14]
The Hague   Netherlands SPQH Above the stage in Koninklijke Schouwburg.
Hamburg   Germany SPQH On a door in the Hamburg Rathaus.[15]
Hanover   Germany
Haarlem   Netherlands SPQH On the face of the town hall at the "Grote Markt".
Hasselt   Belgium SPQH
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.[16]
Liverpool   United Kingdom SPQL Senatus Populusque Liverpudliensis On various gold doors in St George's Hall.[17]
City of London   United Kingdom SPQL Senatus Populusque Londiniensis On historic variants of the City's coat of arms[18][19]
Lübeck   Germany SPQL Senatus Populusque Lubecca On the Holstentor.[20]
Lucerne    Switzerland
Madrid   Spain SPQM Senatus Populusque Matritensis On the Fuente de Apolo [es], 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.[21]
Modica   Italy SPQM On the coat of arms.[22]
Molfetta   Italy SPQM On the coat of arms.[23]
Naples   Italy SPQN Senatus Populusque Neāpolis Inscribed on a shield on coins struck during Masaniello's 1647 revolt.[24]
Noto   Italy SPQN Senatus Populusque Netum On the coat of arms.[25] 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.[26]
Olomouc   Czechia SPQO[9] Senatus Populusque Olomucensis On its coat of arms."Olomouc". Heraldry of the World.</ref>
Palermo   Italy SPQP [27]
Penne, Abruzzo   Italy SPQP [27]
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.[28]
Solothurn    Switzerland SPQS Senatus Populusque Solodori On the Cathedral of St Ursus and Victor.
Terracina   Italy SPQT [29]
Tivoli, Lazio   Italy SPQT [30]
Toruń   Poland SPQT Senatus Populusque Thorunensis City Hall.[31]
Valencia   Spain SPQV Senatus Populusque Valentinus In several places and buildings, including the Silk Exchange[32] and the University of Valencia Historic Building.[33]
Verviers   Belgium SPQV On the Grand Theatre.[34]
Vienna   Austria SPQV[9] Senatus Populusque Viennensis[9] Schönbrunn Palace

Popular cultureEdit

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.

Use by white nationalistsEdit

Some members of white nationalist groups use the abbreviation SPQR on flags, on their person (such as tattoos) and other forms of identification.[35][36][37][38] 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".[39]



  1. ^ Monete e Zecche Medievalli Italiane, Elio Biaggi, coins 2081 and 2141
  2. ^ "Roma Capitale - Sito Istituzionale - Home" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 18 October 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  3. ^ "OGGETTO: Revoca deleghe Consigliera Nathalie Naim" (PDF) (in Italian). S.P.Q.R. - ROMA CAPITALE - MUNICIPIO ROMA CENTRO STORICO. 2 February 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 October 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  4. ^ See, e.g. von Hefner, Otto Titan (1861). Handbuch der theoretischen und praktischen Heraldik. Munich. p. 106.
  5. ^ "Francis Spite & Co". TheGlasgowStory.com.
  6. ^ a b "Heraldic symbols of Amsterdam". Livius. 2 December 2006. Archived from the original on 10 December 2006.
  7. ^ Woesinger (5 January 2007). "SPQA". Flickr. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Webern-Brunnen" [Webern Fountain]. Basler Brunnenführer (in German). 1 January 2003. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h "Rome - Historical Flags (Italy)". Flags of the World. 14 November 2003. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2007.
  10. ^ International Council on Monuments and Sites (2003). "Evaluations of Cultural Properties" (PDF). UNESCO. pp. 39–42. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 June 2020. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  11. ^ "Crest of Brugge". Heraldry of the World. Archived from the original on 26 July 2020. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  12. ^ "SPQB sign on the court of Justice of Brussels". Eupedia. Archived from the original on 17 April 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  13. ^ "Franeker". gevelstenen.net. Archived from the original on 27 January 2018. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  14. ^ Carew Hazlitt, W. Coinage of the European Continent. p. 216.
  15. ^ "Hamburg". Nefers Hapiland (in German). Archived from the original on 3 November 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
  16. ^ "De Ambtsketen Van De Burgemeester" [The Mayor's Office]. gemeentearchief.nl (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 19 July 2011.
  17. ^ Coslett, Paul. "St George's Hall". BBC Liverpool. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  18. ^ Corporation of London Records Office. "The City Arms" (PDF). cityoflondon.gov.uk. The Corporation of the City of London. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2011. The letters SPQL [Senatus Populusque Londinii – literally, The Senate and People of London] also occasionally appear in imitation of the SPQR of ancient Rome.
  19. ^ Brunet, Alex (2013) [1839]. Regal Armorie of Great Britain. London: Forgotten Books. pp. 156–7.
  20. ^ Roberto (1 March 2007). "Holstentor - SPQL: Senatus Populusque Lubecensis". Flickr. Archived from the original on 9 December 2019. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  21. ^ Potter, W. J. The Coinage of Milan. p. 19. coin 4.
  22. ^ "Modica". Heraldry of the World. Archived from the original on 26 July 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  23. ^ "Molfetta". Heraldry of the World. Archived from the original on 26 July 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  24. ^ Italian Coinage Medieval to Modern, The Collection of Ercole Gnecchi, coin 3683
  25. ^ "Noto". Heraldry of the World. Archived from the original on 26 July 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Stadspomp, Oudenburg". Flickr. 30 May 2009. Archived from the original on 26 January 2019. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  27. ^ a b mypixbox (5 December 2007). "SPQP". Flickr. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  28. ^ Moree (17 June 2008). "SPQS". Flickr. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  29. ^ Dilke, O. A. W.; Dilke, Margaret S. (October 1961). "Terracina and the Pomptine Marshes". Greece & Rome. Cambridge University Press. II:8 (2): 172–178. doi:10.1017/S0017383500014406. ISSN 0017-3835. OCLC 51206579.
  30. ^ "Walking in Pomata". Tibursuperbum. Con il patrocinio del Comune di Tivoli Assessorato al Turismo. Archived from the original on 25 December 2008. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  31. ^ "Sala Rady (Senatu) w Ratuszu Staromiejskim - Atrakcje Torunia - Przewodnik po Toruniu | Toruń Tour Toruński Portal Turystyczny". Toruński Portal Turystyczny (in Polish). Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  32. ^ "Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes". Cervantesvirtual.com. Archived from the original on 22 September 2013. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  33. ^ Gallardo, Elena (27 September 2008). "SPQV". Flickr.
  34. ^ "Le Grand-Théâtre de Verviers". bestofverviers.be (in French). Archived from the original on 12 November 2014.
  35. ^ Bond, Sarah E. (30 August 2018). "The misuse of an ancient Roman acronym by white nationalist groups". Hyperallergic. Archived from the original on 11 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  36. ^ Angell, Ben; et al. (27 July 2018). "Scholars Respond to SPQR and White Nationalism". Pharos. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  37. ^ Angell, Ben; et al. (15 June 2018). "SPQR and White Nationalism". Pharos. Archived from the original on 16 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  38. ^ "Flags and Other Symbols Used By Far-Right Groups in Charlottesville". Southern Poverty Law Center. 12 August 2017. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  39. ^ Robertson, Gary D. (12 August 2020). "NC candidate defends posts; says he despises racism". Associated Press. Retrieved 13 August 2020.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit