SPQR is an acronym for the Latin phrase " Senatus Populusque Romanus", which means 'The Senate and the Roman People'. SPQR was symbolic of the city of Rome 's identity as a civilized, democratic state belonging to the people and the Senate. The acronym has been used continually for 23-24 centuries and is the oldest acronym in current use.
Although there are other versions and interpretations of the SPQR acronym, the above version is widely accepted today. It came into use in the early stage of the Roman republic and continued to be used during the Roman empire. For this reason, the acronym or the full phrase can be found on many famous monuments and documents. For example, the words "Senatus Populusque Romanus" appear on the Arch of Titus in Rome, built in 81 AD to honour Titus and his father, the Emperor Vespasian.
The letters SPQR are still important in the modern city of Rome. Mussolini ordered SPQR written on manhole covers and civic buildings, using the ancient symbol as propaganda for his regime. By order of the mayor of Rome, the acronym now appears on public buildings and other sites throughout the city to symbolize Rome 's historic importance as an empire, as well as its present status as a city of the people. SPQR also appears in the modern coat of arms of the city of Rome, and can be found on tourism brochures, menus and taxis.
"Roma" Photo: David Levine Collection