Talking Statues of Rome: the story of Pasquino

Located in the most popular streets of Rome, the talking statues provided an outlet for criticism and witticism and were a useful means of political expression from the XVI to the XIX century: no one was spared, the Pope included.

The talking statues were six: Madama Lucrezia (probably a representation of Isis or of a priestess), Marforio (possibly representing Neptune, the Ocean or the Tiber), Il Babbuino (the Baboon, so called because ugly as a monkey), il Facchino (the Porter, representing an "acquarolo", a man who sold water) and Abate Luigi (Abbot Luigi, probably a magistrate). But the most famous was undoubtedly the statue of Pasquino, a damaged piece of sculpture that has been identified as Menelaus, the mythical king of Sparta. Pasquino was the people's voice: satirical poems and invectives were posted on it to criticize the corruption of well-known citizens of Rome, but the targets were also member of the clergy, politicians or unfair laws; the notes were posted at night and removed from the police the day after. One of the most famous "pasquinate" was addressed to Pope Urban VIII, member of the Barberini family, who removed the antique bronze of the Pantheon to realize the St. Peter's Baldachin: “Quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini” (What the barbarians did not do, the Barberini did), quipped Pasquino. 

Pasquino became so famous that his name was turned into an English word, pasquinade, which means a satirical protest in poetry.