"Pasquino - the first talking statue of Rome" Top 5 Page for this destination Rome Off The Beaten Path Tip by icunme
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In their dual roles as both Pope and King, they were exposed to much criticism. This criticism was soon voiced by the Romans through very short compositions in verse ridiculing their behaviour and opposing their policies.
Nicholas V (1447-55) was one of the first popes whose action, the bloody repression of a conspiracy, was sharply criticized in a short poem.
Da quando è Niccolò papa e assassino,
abbonda a Roma il sangue e scarso è il vino.
Since Nicholas became pope and murderer,
blood is abundant in Rome while there is lack of wine.
The anonymous authors of the poems were often very close to the pope and had direct knowledge of confidential information.
In 1501 Cardinal Oliviero Carafa erected a small square near Piazza Navona and placed the torso of a statue representing Menelaus with the body of Patroclus. Each year on April 25 the Cardinal chaired a sort of Latin literary competition where poems were posted on the statue. Occasionally this happened outside the competition period as well. In this way Pasquino (the name given to the statue) became the first talking statue of Rome and it is still used from time to time for posting messages and claims. The little square is named after him Piazza di Pasquino and very fittingly the word "pasquinata" (pasquinade) is the word used for a short satire exhibited in a public place.
Pasquino soon became very popular and especially during the conclaves every night new gossips were posted to influence the election of the new pope. Adrianus VI (1522-23) considered throwing Pasquino into the Tiber and other popes had similar thoughts, but they feared to fall into ridicule by punishing a statue. Severe laws however were issued to stop the practice and Pasquino was put under surveillance. This led to the undesired result of multiplying the talking statues of Rome. (see tip re Marforio)
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