Rome’s talking statue “publishes” book

Sep 27, 2023 300

BY: Edward Hower

Rome’s most outspoken monument has turned author. That is the premise behind Anthony Di Renzo’s Pasquinades: Essays from Rome’s Famous Talking Statue. Published by Cayuga Lake Books, an independent press in New York State’s Finger Lakes region, this book will be released on Saturday, October 28. A launch and reading will be held that day at 3:00 PM in the Borg-Warner Room of the Tompkins County Public Library: 101 East Green Street, Ithaca, New York. 

Narrated by Pasquino, an ancient bust displayed behind the Museo di Roma, Pasquinades is an audacious guide to the Eternal City. Readers will learn the fascinating stories behind Rome’s landmarks and meet the gallant heroes and grotesque villains, humble peddlers and flamboyant nobles, whores and saints and movie stars who have dominated the city’s turbulent history. A history marked by gossip and protest, according to the book’s editor, Edward Hower. 

“Centuries before Facebook and Twitter,” Hower explains, “Romans had ‘talking statues’ on which to post humorous disgruntlements. Citizens secretly graffitied their pedestals with satiric barbs and verses mocking contemporary leaders. Everyone from the Borgias to Berlusconi has been smacked in the face with these verbal pies by anonymous members of the Roman public.” 

The most famous of these talking statues is Pasquino, Rome’s self-described “tribune of free speech.” His name inspired both the English word “pasquinade” (a lampoon posted in a public place) and the title of Anthony Di Renzo’s new book. 

Di Renzo’s essays are adapted from Le Pasquinate: a series of columns he published between August 2013 and December 2020 in L’Italo Americano, a bilingual newspaper based in Los Angeles, California. Di Renzo, whose previous works include Trinàcria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily and Bitter Greens: Essays on Food, Politics and Ethnicity from the Imperial Kitchen, teaches writing at Ithaca College. 

Advanced reviews call Pasquinades “a joyride,” “a goldmine of stories,” “a delightful feast,” “a passionate love letter to the Eternal City,” and “a must-read for anyone interested in European culture, Roman history, and writing as smooth as the finest wine.” Readers can order the book from Amazon or Cayuga Lake Books at Print editions cost $20.00, digital editions $9.99.

You may be interested