Fasces



[fas-eez] /ˈfæs iz/

noun, (usually used with a singular verb)
1.
a bundle of rods containing an ax with the blade projecting, borne before Roman magistrates as an emblem of official power.
/ˈfæsiːz/
plural noun (sing) -cis (-sɪs)
1.
(in ancient Rome) one or more bundles of rods containing an axe with its blade protruding; a symbol of a magistrate’s power
2.
(in modern Italy) such an object used as the symbol of Fascism
n.

1590s, from Latin fasces “bundle of rods containing an axe with the blade projecting” (plural of fascis “bundle” of wood, etc.), perhaps from PIE *bhasko- “band, bundle” (cf. Middle Irish basc “neckband,” Welsh baich “load, burden,” Old English bæst “inner bark of the linden tree”). Carried before a lictor, a superior Roman magistrate, as a symbol of power over life and limb: the sticks symbolized punishment by whipping, the axe head execution by beheading.

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