Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Talking Statues of Rome...

Alas, this post is not about moving statues, but is inspired by this list over at the Inn at the End of the World. In it, we discover that a collector of satires and lampoons is called a pasquinader. No doubt, this word derives from the pasquinade, a custom with Roman roots. As this page explains
In 1501 Cardinal Oliviero Carafa put in a small square near Piazza Navona 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 and poems were posted on the statue and occasionally this happened outside the competition period. 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 pasquinata (pasquinade) is the word used for a short satire exhibited in a public place.
There are still several 'talking' statues in Rome (most of them listed on the linked webpage) on which are posted satircal poems (usually in Roman dialect) and cartoons of a political nature. As a foreigner, much of it goes over my head, but it can be fairly strong stuff. In addition to the historical pasquinades mentioned on the linked page many others have been passed down:
From the time of Vatican I we have:
Il Concilio è convocato
I Vescovi han decretato
che infallibili due sono:
Moscatelli e Pio Nono
(Which translates as:
The Council was convoked,
The bishops have decreed,
That only two are infallible,
Moscatelli and Pius IX.

Moscatelli was a brand of matches which were advertised as being 'infallible'.
Another satire rendered INRI as 'Io Non Riconosco Infallibilità' - 'I don't recognise Infallibility'.

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