Abstract

In Renaissance Rome, Pasquino was the name of a curmudgeon who earned a reputation among the popolo for circulating satirical barbs about the colloquy and conduct of politico-religious officials. Commemorated and conserved in a statue that remains his namesake, Pasquino became a figure for the civic ritual of bodying forth unease with and distaste for corrupt Italian politics. Pasquinades, or anonymous squibs posted on and around the statue, represent a tradition of transgression in and on public statuary in Italy. This essay examines the age-old Roman practice of defacing so-called “talking statues” according to its communalization of oppositional politics that both defy and defile the symbols and mainstays of public space. Specifically, I approach Pasquino as a rhetorical body and the pasquinades as bodying forth tactile, visual, and verbal inscriptions of disgust. Pasquino is monumental because he evokes popular opinion and political activity by capturing satiric commentaries on Italian public culture. Ultimately, I argue that the statuary satire of Pasquino provides a traditional space of rhetorical performance through which the iterative contours of ridicule survive in “living” symbols of resistance.

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