Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Symbols of Roman vox populi to get scrubbed

I had to shake my head and smile about this article. The Romans use antiquties for this purpose while here in Eugene, Oregon, we must be content with posting complaints on telephone poles!

The Pasquino, the remnants of a statue that once depicted Menelaus cradling the slain Patroclus, but now one of the six remaining "talking statues" of Rome, is slated for a clean up. Placed near Piazza Navona by Cardinal Carafa after it was unearthed in 1501 during excavations in Rome's Orsini Palace, the worn sculpture became the focal point of local discontents who vocally expressed their dissatisfaction with various bureaucracies, both religious and political, by festooning the work with posters and messages. The practice has continued for centuries.

[Image by Peter Heeling Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

The humble statue was placed near Piazza Navona by Cardinal Carafa, who held a Latin poetry contest each year and used the statue to hang and display the poems for all to see and admire. Over the years, however, more than just poetry began appearing on the statue. The work became a platform for mocking notes from the public.

Eventually, the statue became known as "Pasquino," taking its name from a neighborhood tailor with a biting wit. The tailor's and others' satirical poems and other such postings eventually became known as "pasquinate" and, in modern English, "pasquinade" now means a satirical piece of writing posted in a public place.

Among Pasquino's earliest messages was "Quod non fecerunt Barbari fecerunt Barberini (What the Barbarians did not do, the Barberini did)."

The message was addressed to the Barberini Pope, Urban VIII, who was accused of plundering Rome's artistic heritage for his own grandiose projects.

By the mid-sixteenth century, the caustic messages on the statue carried such strong anti-papal tones that religious leaders suggested dropping the statue into the Tiber River. - More: MSNBC

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