- A witty roguish character in 16th and 17th century comedy;also a name adopted by many writers of anonymous lampoons and satires.
The association of the name with satire goes back to the early16th century. In 1501 an ancient mutilated statue was dug up in Romeand placed near the Piazza Navona. Each St Mark's Day students andothers dressed it up to represent some historical figure and placedsatirical Latin verses around its base. The statue was given the namePasquino after a witty schoolmaster (in other accounts a barber ortailor) who had formerly lived nearby.
The first dramatic character to bear the name was Pasquino,one of the Zanni of the commedia dell'arte. In 17thcentury France this character developed into the valet Pasquin, whoappears in plays by Destouches (1680 - 1754) and others. The memberof a troupe who specialized in playing the satirical roles in thecomedies of Jean-François Regnard and Charles-RivièreDufresny was often referred to as the 'Pasquin of the Company'.
In the 18th-century English theater a pasquinade, pasquin,or pasquil was any lampoon or satirical piece. Henry Fielding satirizedthe government in his play Pasquin (1736) and often signedarticles and letters 'Mr Pasquin'.