Fasces

While I was touring Versailles, I noticed Fasces all over the place. Fasces are bound rods or axes that represent the State’s Authority. Usually, it’s taken to mean authority over citizens. Versailles has fasces built into much of its architecture because the French king behind its construction, Louis XIV, wanted to intimidate and dominate the French nobles that he brought out to the castle from Paris. Now, what need does a Democracy like the United States have for a Roman symbol of power? Yet, there it is, on the back of the Dime. This dime is from 1944. It’s called the “Mercury Dime” because the image of Lady Liberty on the front reminded people of the god Mercury.  The modern dime has Roosevelt on the front, but it still has the fasces on the back.

The Mercury dime has always been one of my favorite coins to collect. It’s a contradiction. On one side is Liberty, a symbol of individual freedom. On the other side is the Fasces, a symbol of the State’s power. Intertwined with the Fasces is an olive branch, symbolizing peace and diplomacy. It’s a uniquely American coin, eh?

Here are some fasces from Versailles and around Paris:

6 Responses to “Fasces”

  1. glorious Says:

    I never knew that. Thanks.

  2. Nicola Says:

    Just thinking I learnt something new today 🙂 Cheers!

  3. sam Says:

    In America we used the Fasces to represent the people united against tyranny, it is not used as a fascist symbol. put the foil hats away and stop believing everything David Icke says.

  4. Kelly Rodriguez Says:

    The symbol of the “fasces” originated with the Etruscans & was a prominent symbol in the Roman republic. The basic idea is that a lone stick can be easily broken, but the sticks united (in a bundle) cannot be broken. See the Wikipedia explanation, esp. the section labeled “Antiquity.” They also explain several examples of use of the symbol in America. Versailles, of course, would have been built long before Mussolini decided to adopt the symbol (and the term) for his “fascist” regime.

  5. Kelly Rodriguez Says:

    Remember, our founding fathers would have received a “Classical Education,” with a heavy emphasis on the Greeks & Romans. If you take the literal meaning of the symbol, one may see how it seems to fit well with our motto, e pluribus unum. Other terms borrowed from the Romans: “Republic,” “Senate,” and “Veto.” See also the Statue of Cincinnatus (Cinn., OH) in the Wikipedia article, in which the general voluntarily hands over the fasces at the end of his term of service – an example of the peaceful stepping down from power (as did G. Washington at the end of his term as President – a monumentaly important moment in world history, and the true test of a Democracy & of the authority of our Constitution).


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