The fasces are an important symbol of power and the authority used by the Etruscans. It was adopted by the Romans and used until modern times. Even Mussolini used it as a symbol of his government. The symbol then became associated with the term "fascism." The fasces are represented by an axe surrounded by a bundle of rods tied with a red thong. The axe represents power, and the rods represent the citizens of the state, bound together in common interest. The fasces also became an important symbol of the Roman state, and Roman consuls were always preceded by twelve lictors bearing fasces.