88. Pasquino, the Roman Voice of Satire

Updated: Mar 22

By Giulio D'Ercole - www.romephotofuntours.com

Sometime ago I wrote about a fountain of the Porter, and I mentioned Pasquino and the "Pasquinades". I then promised I would have written about this terrific typical Roman character, the epitome of satire.

The one below is a photo of its sculpture in Piazza Pasquino, close to Piazza Navona, and at the beginning of Via del Governo Vecchio.... or better yet, the photo portrays what remains of the sculpture, consumed and eroded by the unforgiving passage of time and the exposure to weather.

As a matter of fact the sculpture is 1700 years, and takes the name from the Latin name Pasquillus, used by Romans since the early modern period to describe a battered Hellenistic-style statue dating to the third century BC. This statue was unearthed in the Parione district of Rome (The same district of Campo dei Fiori, I wrote about in my previous post) in the fifteenth century.

Pasquino is very well known in the eternal city (or at least he still was when I was a teenager, in the pre-digital era) as one of the talking statues of Rome, because of the tradition of attaching anonymous funny verses to its base (a sort an unsigned lampooning). Those rhymes addressed and mocked the people governing Rome, especially under the Papacy.

If the origin of the name, "Pasquino", in reality still remains obscure, by the mid-sixteenth century somebody reported that such name referred to a nearby tailor who was renowned for his wit and intellect. Then, in a sort of unwritten tradition his legacy was carried on through the statue, in "the honor and everlasting remembrance of the poor tailor" that dared to write and speak his mind.

So the "Pasquinades" are exactly those satirical poems that using a cutting and witty sense of humor, unveil the corruption and the evil of powerful people.

The statue plays a very important role in Luigi Magni's movie "Nell'Anno del Signore" (in English "The Conspirators").The film tells of two Italian "carbonari" (revolutionaries that fought for the unification of Italy) during "Risorgimento", the political movement that brought to the birth of Italy as a Nation almost two centuries ago. To tell the truth about the misdeeds of the French army, in Rome to defend the Pope, and of the Pope himself, was a modest Roman tailor who posted his verses at the base of the Pasquino's statue.




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All photographs by Giulio D'Ercole.

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