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The skull was a frequent companion to ascetic desert saints in numerous Christian artworks, and was often paired with the book, a symbol of studiousness.
Most specifically, it was considered to be the sperm of the solar deity Taranis, the promise of the sun God’s rebirth.
Bundles of rods without a weapon were called bacilli, the emblem of the duumviri, magistrates without the power to pass a sentence of death. It was frequently used as a symbol of government, unity, and order.
It was adopted as an emblem by Mussolini’s Fascist party during World War two, and is the origin of the word “fascist.”Today it is as likely to be used by neo-fascist groups as normative governments.
Mary Magdalene is probably the best known example of these two emblems in art.
The fasces was a symbol of authority in ancient Rome, most often associated with magistrates.