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Bronze figurine of a lictor (magistrate's attendant)

 

Height: 18.400 cm

GR 1983.12-29.1

Room 70: Roman Empire

    Bronze figurine of a lictor (magistrate's attendant)

    Roman, 20 BC- AD 20

    Carrying fasces, the Roman symbol of power

    The figurine shows a lictor, one of the officials who accompanied the higher magistrates of the Roman state on public and ceremonial occasions. He is dressed in a toga, the formal wear for all Roman citizens, and he wears a wreath on his head and carries laurel leaves in his right hand, a symbol of religious importance to the Greeks and Romans. In his left hand he carries the fasces, an axe bound to a bundle of rods. This was the symbol of the power of the magistrates to impose either corporal punishment (with the rods) or capital punishment (with the axe).

    The symbol of the fasces was adopted in the early part of the twentieth century by Mussolini's national socialists in Italy, who called themselves 'Fascisti'. The symbol was widely used by the authorities of the time, on buildings, monuments and publications, and examples can still be seen in Rome and other Italian cities today.

    S. Walker, Roman art (London, 1991)