Pasquinade a noun pronounced pæs-kwên-'neyd, is a composition intended to lampoon publicly. In order for it to be a true pasquinade not only must it be used to attack but also employ the use of one or a combination of literary devices such as irony, simile, or metaphor. The act of writing one is called pasquinading and the author of said pasquinade is called a pasquinader. While satire is generally poetical, holding up vice or folly to reprobation and a lampoon ridicules a group of people, a pasquinade is an attack upon an individual and is publicly named.

The word is a French derivative of the Italian pasquinata from a statue named Pasquino where it became a tradition to post lampoons. The statute is composed of the body of Patroclus and represented Menelaus the husband of the abducted Helen of Troy, a brother of Agamemnon and king of Sparta. Cardinal Oliviero Carafa admired it and had the Hellenistic statue put in a corner of his garden in 1501. Legend has it that from time to time the Cardinal would attach letters of praise about local papacy and theologians on other statutes around the Roman community Soon a hunchback tailor and nearby shopkeeper by the name of Pasquino possessing a sharp wit began hanging his own anti papal lampoonings from the Cardinal's statue. It quickly became a popular past time for many members of the community to post their own public criticizings of the Pope and the clergy. Soon Carafa's statue acquired Pasquino's name and naturally the authors of the lampoons took bigger and bigger risks with their pasquinades. The "speaking statue" was put under a rigorous surveillance but Pasquino had his own minions spying who skillfully began the custom of disguising the hapless Cardinal's statue during various holidays. Most often the pasquinades were epigrams and sonnets in Latin that picked on the more illustrious personages, local authorities, The Holy See and, frequently, the Pope. Sometimes even going so far as to denouncing their secrets or private lives. Spreading like wildfire, after Pasquino and his sharp tongued colleagues, other statues began to 'talk' among themselves. Pasquinades appeared in the form of rhyming dialogues between Pasquino statue and Marforio another ancient statue that can be found today in the courtyard of the Capitoline Museum. Until the 18th century many Popes punished the authors for their pasquinades with the death penalty or had their properties confiscated. Locals relate that the Pope Adriano VI grew weary of this public satire and wanted to toss the statue into the Tiber, but the Italian poet Torquato Tasso convinced him not to. Over time thousands of Pasquinades were written and by reading them it is possible to get a snap shot of history from the people's point of view of the Papal rule. A sonnet by Belli discovered on a wall that runs directly to the Vatican explained what exactly the purpose of the wall was during his lifetime:

    Lo voi sape ch'ede quel corritore
    che, cuperto qua e la da un tetterello
    da San Pietro va giu sin a Castello
    dove tira alle vorte aria mijore?

    Mo' the lo dico in du' battute: Quello
    lo tie per uso il suo Nostro Signore
    si mai pe quarche picca o bell'umore
    je criccassi de fa a nisconnarello

    Drent'a Castello po giuca a bon gioco
    er Santopadre, si je fanno spalla
    uno per parte er cantignere e er coco.
    E soto la banniera bianca e gialla
    po da comidamenti da quer loco
    binedizzione o cannonate a palla.

    What - you may well ask - is this dry sewer,
    roofed here and there, a blessed brickwork freak
    running from St Peter's like a walltop creek
    to Angel's Castel, where the sky is bluer?

    I'll tell you, if you give me time to speak:
    a private passage for our bold Monsewer
    to use in moments when he's gay or dour
    or gets a yen to play at hide-and-seek

    Up in his Castle (he need fear no spook)
    the Holy Father, wined and dined and mellow
    (he'll bring along his butler and his cook)
    ensconced beneath his banner white and yellow
    can, faith, bestow his blessing from that nook
    or cannon-balls on every mortal fellow!

    (Translated by William (Toby) Mc Cormick)

The following pasquinade was composed by the Latin poet Antonio Paleario who was subsequently burnt at the stake by the Holy Inquisition. This occurred under the papacy of Pius V and was referred to, justly so, as the pope's cruelty:
    Quasi che fosse inverno
    brucia cristiani Pio siccome legna,
    per avvezzarsi al fuoco dell'inferno.

    Pius is burning Christians
    like wood as if it was snowing,
    acclimatizing himself
    to hell fire's glowing.

    (Translation by Paul Gwynne)

By posting them under the cover of darkness to be read by an admiring public the following morning, many lives of the pasquinaders ended on the scaffold; undeterred the statue of the Greek hero continued to represent the Romans public opinions for many centuries as a vehicle of comedic repression. The most famous speaking statue is still used today from time to time through short satirical placards hung around it's neck where it is located on Piazza Navona in Rome.


Nerone - The Insider Guide: Vox Populi: Belli and Pasquino:

Pasquino's History:


Pas`quin*ade" (?), n. [F. pasquinade, It. pasquinata.]

A lampoon or satirical writing.



© Webster 1913.

Pas`quin*ade", v. t.

To lampoon, to satirize.


© Webster 1913.

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