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The talking statues of Rome


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The talking statues of Rome


In what ways did the enterprising inhabitants of Rome not ridicule the authorities - officials and the heads of the Catholic Church: they wrote poetic and satirical works, and ... created talking statues!

What is it?

The talking statues is a statue on the pedestal of which is hung a satirical composition ridiculing power and its vices. By the way, the word " lampoon " known to us comes from the Italian " pasquino ", which means "faceless torso".

For the first time such a statue was discovered during road improvement work in 1501. It was a statue from the 3rd century. BC, depicting one or two warriors. Cardinal Karaffa ordered flowers to be brought to the statue, which later changed: instead of flowers, the unfortunate warrior's neck turned into a receptacle for necklaces from satirical works. Every morning the guards removed the leaves, and overnight they accumulated a huge amount. Basically, the Roman clergy "got the nuts", among which nepotism, bribery and familiarity flourished.

Pope Nicholas V was one of the first victims of libel. It cannot be called bad, on the contrary: Nicholas became the main figure of the Roman Renaissance, through his efforts the city became a repository of art and literature. He was engaged in restoration and construction, became the initiator and ideological inspirer of the creation of St. Peter's Basilica. The Roman residents did not appreciate this: by agreement, they decided to overthrow the head of the Catholic Church. Upon learning of the conspiracy, Nicholas V gave the order to arrest and hang the ringleaders, which gave people a reason to write “Nicholas became a dad and a murderer. There is a lot of blood in Rome, but no wine".

Struggle and modernity

The fight against talking statues began with the humiliation of the satirists themselves, which did not give any result. Then the popes (there were many of them, the struggle lasted a long time) decided to take up the statues. Pope Adrian VI, Sixtus V and Clement VIII tried to put an end to the stone giants - to throw them into the Tiber, for example - but they failed: the risk of popular discontent was too high. Benedict XIII issued a decree concerning satirists: they were threatened with shame, dishonor and the death penalty. But even the death sentence on poor Niccolo Franco, brought into life in 1566, did not work - the libels did not disappear.

The lampoons have not sunk into oblivion over time: the tradition was revived in 2011. The reason is a sex scandal in which Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was implicated. The statues of Italy were adorned with the words "Italy is not a brothel" and "Italy 's body is not for sale." Agree, subtly?

The main talking statue to this day is considered Pasquino - the only "survivor" and carried this tradition through the centuries.

And a little more about subtle "trolling"

The most famous statue was the one found during road works, Pasquin. Pope Adrian VI decided to drown her in the Tiber River and end it, but with this decision, the Pope incurred even more libel. The statue was taken under round-the-clock protection, and the townspeople chose a new victim - the statue of the god of the river Marforio became it.

Once a dialogue even began between the statues: "Pasquino," they wrote in Marforio, "why did oil become so expensive?" To which Pasquino replied: "Because Napoleon needs it to fry republics and anoint kings".

Through statues, people made fun of absolutely everything. So, the sister of Pope Sixtus V, a girl from a peasant family, fell under the distribution. Marforio asked the question: “Hey Pasquino, why is your shirt so dirty? You look like a coal merchant! " To which his eternal interlocutor Pasquino replied: “What can I do? My washerwoman has become a princess!"

At different times, the speakers became:

  • The three-meter bust of Madame Lucrezia is the only female statue. It is believed that ugly noseless bust was the prototype of Lucretia d'Alano - mistress of King Alfonso V. Madame became the herald of the death of Pope Gregory XIV.
  • A headless statue of Abbot Luigi, who is not an abbot, but a minister, who received this nickname for his resemblance to a sexton from a nearby temple. Luigi got the most: the pamphlets were written directly on him, and not on pieces of paper.
  • The Il Babbuino Fountain, named for its resemblance to the body of a baboon. In 2002, the statue underwent a restoration sponsored by the Brioni fashion house.
  • Il Facchino is the youngest statue. The townspeople took her not for a water-bearer, as the authors intended, but for Luther, so poor Fakchino often got it.
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Kuban State University, Russia (World Economics); Westminster University (Business & Management).
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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