The first letter of each Latin word creates a world-renowned acronym, S.P.Q.R. Whether it or SENATVSPOPVLVSQVEROMANVS shone on temples, triumphal arches, or government buildings, it acted as a monumental seal of approval, like “Made in the U.S.A.” It told ancient travelers and diplomats that they beheld Roman-certified, Roman-engineered, and Roman-approved marvels. It also expressed national pride, a “We the People” meets E Pluribus Unum–a guarantee that was written in stone! (What Roman Forum guidebook is going to explain all that!)
S.P.Q.R. was a die-hard logo. It was used for hundreds of years on monuments all over Rome, and it ends the inscription on the Arch of Septimius Severus (in the picture). When the city of Rome tried to free itself of its papal overlord in the 1100s, the new civic government sported a self-legitimizing S.P.Q.R. Later, erudite Renaissance artists painted crucifixions in which the Roman cavalry’s red banners sported gold S.P.Q.R.s. Still a symbol of Rome’s local government, the abbreviation is now stamped on manhole covers, office buildings, ads, and public works. Attentive movie-goers saw it in Gladiator, as Russell Crowe cut an S.P.Q.R. tattoo out of his upper arm. The logo, first coined in circa 500 B.C., has been in use off and on for 2500 years. Great marketing distinguishes a great empire!