Pasquinade

Pasquinade

[pas-kwuh-neyd]

Pasquinade refers to an anonymous lampoon, whether in verse or in prose. Pasquin (Italian Pasquino, Latin Pasquillus) was the name ordinary Romans gave to a battered ancient statue dug up in the course of paving the Parione district and erected at the corner of Piazza di Pasquino and Palazzo Braschi, on the west side of Piazza Navona in 1501, by Cardinal Oliviero Carafa, who inadvertently gave the statue its first voice, by originating an annual ceremony, the first in 1501, for Saint Mark's Day, April 25. The marble torso was draped in a toga, and epigrams in Latin were attached to it.

The decorous event quickly got out of hand when it became the custom for those who wanted to criticize the pope or individuals in his government—for a pasquinade is first and foremost a personal attack— to write satirical poems in broad Roman dialect (called "pasquinades" from the Italian "pasquinate") and attach them to this statue.

Thus Pasquino became the first talking statue of Rome. He spoke out about the people's dissatisfaction, he denounced injustice, and he assaulted misgovernment by members of the Church.

Who this "Pasquino" was remains obscure. By the mid-sixteenth century it was reported that the original Pasquino was a tailor in whose premises not far away speech tended to be quite free; after his death it became more circumspect to attribute critical witticisms to the statue. The report in 1509 of an original littérateur and master of festivities, "Pasquino Pasquillove" by name, may be a disarming ludibrium itself.

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 Marforio, Abate Luigi, il Facchino, Madama Lucrezia, and Babuino (the "Baboon") 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 thus became well known all over Europe. As they became more savagely 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".

The lampooning tradition was ancient among Romans. For a first century versified lampoon, see Domus Aurea.

Pasquinade is sometimes misidentified, appearing among synonyms of parody at WordNet. Compare also the equally unrelated pastiche.

Pasquin is the name of a play by Henry Fielding from 1736. It was a pasquinade in that it was an explicit and personalized attack on Robert Walpole and his supporters. It is one of the plays that triggered the Theatrical Licensing Act of 1737.

The Pasquinade is a small, grassroots magazine of parody and satire started in the mid-90s. The brainchild of Dallas Shelby, a college journalism student with a bent for satire and a love of pop culture, the publication featured everything from Jocelyn Elders' first post-DC interview to a review of the misunderstood horror film "The John Wayne Bobbitt Story." In 1999, the Pasquinade cut its print production, focusing on its website http://www.thepasquinade.com. In 2003, the organization developed its own film production company, Pasquinade Films.

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