The Fountain of the Baboon (Fontana del Babuino) in Rome is named for the statue of a satyr embellishing it. The Romans thought the statue resembled a baboon rather than a satyr, however, so it came to be re-baptized and even the name of the street itself changed from Via Paolina to Via del Babuino.
Fountain of the Baboon Rome
The fountain had been constructed by a merchant from Ferrara called Patrizio Grandi, who because he had paid for the construction of this public fountain, obtained the right of not having to pay for watering his own property and gardens. (Fountains of this kind, paid for by private citizens at the benefit of the public, were known as “semi-public”.)
The Satyr sculpture was meant to represent the Silenius, a mythological figure, half-man and half-goat.
In 1877 the fountain was removed from the prestigious Via del Babuino. While the basin was used for another fountain in the Via Flaminia, the sculpture was placed in the former Palazzo Buoncompagni. In 1957, after an initiative by a number of citizens of Rome, the Fontana del Babuino got its rightful place back, next to the church of Sant’Atanasio.
The Baboon was one of the notorious “talking statues” of Rome in the 16th century.