For the past five hundred years, the people of Rome have voiced their resentment against the authorities through a unique medium—short compositions and satirical verses ridiculing the government, the pope and his behavior. These humorous expressions of political discontent were posted anonymously on various prominent statues around the city where people met and discussed matters relating to their personal lives as well as the state. The prominence of the statues gave these anonymous voices exposure, and the discussion often veered towards the subject matter raised. Eventually, the people began to use these statues to talk back and forth, the same way people use bulletin boards today. These statues came to be known as the “talking statues of Rome” or the Congregation of Wits.
The Statue of Pasquin in the House of Cardinal Ursino, by Nicolas Beatrizet (1515–1565)