When in 1501 the Cardinal Oliviero Carafa eventually found a damaged ancient statue and put it besides his palace, a few steps from Piazza Navona at the end of via del Governo Vecchio, it soon became the first of a long series of “talking statues” of Rome, used by the people to post satires against the powerful.
This statue, known as Pasquino, was a copy of an Hellenistic original one portraying Menelaus with the body of Patroclus and probably was part of the decoration of the ancient Stadium of Domitian. Pasquino became soon very popular and the most sharking remarks, called “pasquinate”, have survived until today. During the XV century they were addressed mostly to the popes: during the conclaves to elect a new pope, for instance, new satires or gossips were posted every night to influence the election, and Pope Adrianus VI was so angry for these pasquinate that he thought to throw the statue into the Tiber River! One of the favourite victim of the Pasquino was Donna Olimpia Maidalchini, the advisor of Pope Innocenzo X Pamphilj, a greedy and unscrupulous woman called by the people La Pimpaccia di Piazza Navona.
Nowadays, the Pasquino tradition is still alive in Rome, so that you can still read some satiric poems about politicians other personalities.