Fasces

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A stylized fasces.
Not to be confused with Faeces. What? It's only one letter apart.

The fasces[1] is an ancient Roman symbol of judicial power, represented by a bundle of wooden rods tied together with a ribbon (representing unity) that have an axe-blade protruding from them. For the ancient Romans, the fasces symbolized the power and authority (imperium) of the Roman state, including the power to inflict both corporal and capital punishment, represented by the rods and axe. High ranking Roman magistrates were preceded by bailiffs called lictors, who carried the fasces as symbols of their authority.

The weapons contained in these fasces weren't just for show. Once, the consul Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus, the consul left in charge by Julius Caesar during his campaign against Antony, found the rabblerouser Marcus Caelius Rufus holding forth in an unauthorized tribunal in the Forum. Publius S. then cracked open a fasces and extracts the axe, which he used to destroy Marcus C.'s curule chair, emblem of his magistracy.[2][3]

It can be found today in many heraldic symbols, including the National Guard insignia, the symbol of the United States Army's Military Police Corps, and the U.S. Senate seal.

It was also appropriated by Benito Mussolini as a symbol for his political ideology of fascism. Therefore, post-World War II adoption of the fasces, or similar-looking symbols, has generally occurred among neo-Nazi groups. So if you find it creepy, you're not alone.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Not to be confused with faeces.
  2. Cicero, Pro Caelio
  3. Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day, I can tell you.