'Il Babuino' ('The Baboon') – Rome, Italy - Atlas Obscura
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Rome, Italy

'Il Babuino' ('The Baboon')

Romans decided this 16th-century "talking statue" was so ugly, they named it after a primate. 

“Il Babuino” (“The Baboon”) is one of Rome’s six famous “talking statues,” collectively also known as the “Congregation of Wits.”

Beginning in the 16th century, the people of Rome would leave criticisms and witticisms at these statues. The unfriendly remarks were often geared toward the Pope and government authorities.

Various Popes tried to stop the spread of such messages. They’d either move the statues or have them guarded, though their efforts were in vain. The people continued using the statues—named “Pasquino,” “Marforio,” “Madama Lucrezia,” “Abate Luigi,” “Il Facchino,” and “Il Babuino”—to express their discontent.

“Il Babuino” was originally meant to depict Silenus, a half-man, half-goat satyr from Roman mythology. But people decided that the statue was so ugly, it actually looked more like a baboon. It’s not hard to find this statue—it became so famous that the name of the street it is located on was actually changed from via Paolina to via del Babuino.

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