Pasquino or Pasquin (Latin: Pasquillus) is the name used by Romans to describe a battered Hellenistic-style statue dating to the 3rd century BC, which was unearthed in the Parione district of Rome in the 15th century. The statue's fame dates to the early 16th century, when Cardinal Oliviero Carafa draped the marble torso of the statue in a toga and decorated it with Latin epigrams on the occasion of Saint Mark's Day. From this incident are derived the English-language terms pasquinade and pasquil, which refer to an anonymous lampoon in verse or prose.
The Cardinal's actions led to a custom of criticizing the pope or his government by the writing of satirical poems in broad Roman dialect--called "pasquinades" from the Italian "pasquinate"--and attaching them to the statue "Pasquino". Thus Pasquino became the first "talking statue" of Rome. He spoke out about the people's dissatisfaction, denounced injustice, and assaulted misgovernment by members of the Church.
Before long, other statues appeared on the scene, forming a kind of public salon or academy, the "Congress of the Wits" (Congresso degli Arguti), with Pasquino always the leader, and the sculptures that Romans called Marphurius, Abbot Luigi, Il Facchino, Madame Lucrezia, and Il Babbuino as his outspoken colleagues. The cartelli on which the epigrams were written were quickly passed around, and copies were made, too numerous to suppress. These poems were collected and published annually by the Roman printer Giacomo Mazzocchi as early as 1509, as Carmina apposita Pasquino, and became well known all over Europe. As they became more pointed, the place of publication of Pasquillorum Tomi Duo (1544) was shifted to Basel, less squarely under papal control, disguised on the titlepage as Eleutheropolis, "freedom city".…Read More