fasces (făsˈēz) [key] [Lat., = bundles], ancient Roman symbol of the regal and later the magisterial authority. The fasces were cylindrical bundles of wooden rods, tied tightly together, from which an axe projected; they were borne by guards, called lictors, before praetors, consuls, proconsuls, dictators, and emperors. The fasces, which symbolize unity as well as power, have often been used as emblems, e.g., on the arms of the French republic and on American coins. Italian Fascism derived its name and its emblem from the fasces.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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