1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pasquinade

PASQUINADE, a variety of libel and lampoon, of which it is not easy to give an exact definition, separating it from other kinds. It should, perhaps, more especially deal with public men and public things. The distinction, however, has been rarely observed in practice, and the chief interest in the word is its curious and rather legendary origin. According to the earliest version, given by Mazocchi in 1509, Pasquino was a schoolmaster (others say a cobbler), who had a biting tongue, and lived in the 15th century at Rome. His name, at the end of that century or the beginning of the next, was transferred to a statue which had been dug up in 1501 in a mutilated condition (some say near his shop) and was set up at the corner of the Piazza Navona, opposite the palace of Cardinal Caraffa. To this statue it became the custom to affix squibs on the papal government and on prominent persons. At the beginning of the 16th century Pasquin had a partner provided for him in the shape of another statue found in the Campus Martius, said to represent a river god, and dubbed Marforio, a foro Martis. The regulation form of the pasquinade then became one of dialogue, or rather question and answer, in which Marforio usually addressed leading inquiries to his friend. The proceeding soon attained a certain European notoriety, and a printed collection of the squibs due to it (they were long written in Latin verse, with an occasional excursion into Greek) appeared in 1509. In the first of Pantagruel (1532 or thereabouts) Rabelais introduces books by Pasquillus and Marphurius in the catalogue of the library of St Victor, and later he quotes some utterances of Pasquin’s in his letters to the bishop of Maillezais. These, by the way, show that Pasquin was by no means always satirical, but dealt in grave advice and comment. The original Latin pasquinades were collected in 1544, as Pasquillorum tomi duo, edited by Caelius Secundus Curio. The vogue of these lampoons now became general, and rose to its height during the pontificate of Sixtus V. (1585–1590). These utterances were not only called pasquinades (pasquinate) but simply pasquils (pasquillus, pasquillo, pasquille), and this form was sometimes used for the mythical personage himself. It was used in English for purposes of satire by Sir Thomas Elyot, in his Pasquins the Plain (1540) and by the anonymous author of Pasquin in a Trance (1566); but it was first made popular in England by Thomas Nash, who in 1589 began to sign his violent controversial pamphlets with the pseudonym of Pasquil of England. It continues to occur through the course of the Marprelate controversy as the title of the enemy of the Puritans. These English lampoons were in prose. The French pasquils (examples of which may be found in Fournier’s Variétés historiques et littéraires) were more usually in verse. In Italy itself Pasquin is said not to have condescended to the vernacular till the 18th century. Contemporary comic periodicals, especially in Italy, still occasionally use the Marforio-Pasquino dialogue form. But this survival is purely artificial and literary, and pasquinade has, as noted above, ceased to have any precise meaning.