Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Senatus Populusque

These are everywhere in Rome, but I liked this one in particular because it was wearing smooth around the manufacturers name. The old Roman initialism - I am assured it is an initialism - is on manhole covers in Rome and probably dates from the time of Mussolini, when attempts were made to identify with the Roman Empire. The Rome municipality and many other cities (including Dublin) adopted it from Senatus Populusque Romanus, which itself was everywhere for a while, most famously on the Roman legions' standards. "The Senate and the People of Rome" stood for the government of Rome, which must have been quite early to have its own typescript logo. The Dublin version is SPQH, Senatus Populusque Hibernicus, the Senate and People of Ireland - and is on the City Hall. At roughly the same time, SPQL was adopted for the City of London - Senatus Populusque Londinii. The point is, that all authority derives from the people. So Mussolini wasn't the first to associate with the glories of the Roman Empire. Psychoanalytically, to go climb down under the manhole cover is certainly to sink into the unconscious below and its labyrinthine system of caverns.