“Hidden” among the walls of the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, this magnificent reclining marble statue of a male figure is in fact not Poseidon, neither Jupiter nor Neptune! This is Marforio (Lat. Marphurius, Marforius). This statue, dating back to the 1st century AD, is thought to be the personification of Ocean or a river, perhaps the river Nera, and was perhaps part of an ancient fountain. Its name recalls the fact that it was found near the Temple of Mars in the Forum (Martis Foro) or because it was found next to a large granite basin– now part of the fountain of the Dioscuri in Piazza del Quirinale – that bore the inscription “Mare in Foro”. (http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/beni-culturali/beni-architettonici-e-storici/marforio.html )
Marforio is one of Rome’s talking statues (Statue Parlanti) on which the populace used to hang anonymous placards containing verses criticising the papal authorities, the clergy and noble families of that time. The talking statues were often made to converse with one other, and Marforio often had satirical exchanges in eternal rivalry with the most famous talking statue – Pasquino.
Part of the face, the right foot, and the left hand holding a shell were restored in 1594. Below the figure there is a sea monster with water pouring from its mouth and into the basin in front. The colossal statue has been moved several times until it was finally placed in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori (17th century).
This sculpture’s beauty and tranquility are not to be missed. Marforio lies there witnessing what the modern citizens of Rome proudly claim about their city being the most beautiful capital in Europe!