Dotted about the centre of Rome are six statues which once had the reputation of being able to talk!
The most famous statua parlante (talking statue) stands in a small piazza, a stone's throw from Piazza Navona. Known as Pasquino, the statue may have been named after a sharp-tongued tailor, who lived nearby. The good tailor is thought to have started the practice of attaching to the statue anonymous comments critical of the papacy and the powers-that-be. The practise quickly caught on and in time gave rise to the English word pasquinade (a lampoon or satire, especially one posted in a public place).
The statue of Pasquino, which is thought to date back to the 3rd century BCE, actually depicts Menelaus, the King of Sparta and husband of Helen of Troy, holding the body of Patroclus. It was unearthed in Via Leutari and placed in the nearby piazza in 1501 by Cardinal Oliviero Carafa. The statue may once have decorated the ancient Stadium of Domitian (c. 80-86 CE), which stood on the site of today's Piazza Navona.
Rome soon had as many as six talking statues (statue parlanti). In addition to Pasquino (Piazza di Pasquino), there isMadame Lucrezia (Piazza San Marco), L'Abate Luigi (Abbot Luigi, Piazza Vidoni), the Fontana del Facchino (Fountain of the Porter, Via Lata), Marforio (Musei Capitolini) and the Fontana del Babuino (Fountain of the Baboon, Via del Babuino).
The six talking statues were also known as the Congrega degli Arguti (Congregation of Wits).