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The Fasces A History of Ancient Rome's Most Dangerous Political Symbol

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2022-10-03
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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"Fascism" is a word ubiquitous in our contemporary political discourse, but few know about its roots in the ancient past or its long, strange evolution to the present.

In ancient Rome, the fasces were a bundle of wooden rods bound with a leather cord, in which an axe was placed--in essence, a mobile kit for corporal or capital punishment. Attendants typically carried fasces before Rome's higher officials, to induce feelings of respect and fear for the relevant authority. This highly performative Roman institution had a lifespan of almost two millennia, and made a deep impression on subsequent eras, from the Byzantine period to the present.

Starting in the Renaissance, we find revivals and reinterpretations of the ancient fasces, accelerating especially after 1789, the first year of the United States' Constitution and the opening volley of the French Revolution. But it was Benito Mussolini, who, beginning in 1919, propagated the fasces on an unprecedented scale. Oddly, today the emblem has grown largely unfamiliar, which in turn has offered an opening to contemporary extremist groups.

In The Fasces, T. Corey Brennan offers the first global history of the nature, development, and competing meanings of this stark symbol, from antiquity to the twenty-first century. The word "fascism" has universal awareness in contemporary political discourse, which thus makes this, the first book to trace the full arc of the fasces' almost 3,000-year history, essential reading for all who wish to understand how the past informs the present.

Author Biography

T. Corey Brennan is a Professor of Classics at Rutgers University and author of The Praetorship in the Roman Republic and Sabina Augusta: An Imperial Journey. He has appeared on television documentaries that concern the ancient world, most recently for Netflix, BBC2, and the History Channel.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Chapter 1. Introduction to The Roman Fasces
Chapter 2. Origins of The Fasces
Chapter 3. Images of The Roman Fasces
Chapter 4. Roman Fasces in Action
Chapter 5. Limits and Discontinuities of The Fasces
Chapter 6. Carrying the Fasces
Chapter 7. Medieval and Renaissance Fasces
Chapter 8. Early Modern and Neoclassical Fasces
Chapter 9. Popular and Revolutionary Fasces
Chapter 10. American Fasces
Chapter 11. Constructing Fasces in Mussolini's Italy
Chapter 12. Eradication of Fasces

Abbreviations and Note on Translations

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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