Fasces (Latin: "bundles") were symbols of official authority and penal power in Ancient Rome. They were carried by the lictors, who were attendants of higher Roman officials. The fasces were bundles of elm or birch rods about 1.5 meters long and tied together with a red strap. Outside of Rome, they also had an ax head projecting from the rods.
The term is derived from the singular fascis ("bundle"), but fasces is both singular and plural in constructions.
The word fascism derives from the fasces, with Italian fascists using fasces as a symbol. In addition to associating with Ancient Rome, the symbolism of the fasces suggested strength through unity: a single rod is easily broken, while the bundle is difficult to break.
Another influence was "fascio", which was the name given to political organizations in Italy, such as groups similar to guilds or syndicates, with fascism being influenced by national syndicalism.
Similar symbols were developed by other movements: for example, the Falange symbol is five arrows joined together by a yoke.
- Ancient History Encyclopedia: Fasces
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Fasces
- Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 Edition: Fasces
- Encyclopedia.com: Fasces
- Fasces https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fasces
- Doordan, Dennis P (1995). In the Shadow of the Fasces: Political Design in Fascist Italy. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-299-14874-4.