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Speaking of Rome...

The donkey is peeping out. A widely used expression in Argentina, but, in reality, it is replicated in much of the world. What does Rome have to do with it?

How we talk

In a meeting between friends, a work talk or a meeting with acquaintances, often the topic of conversation is centered on one person. Sometimes, speaking well, highlighting her virtues and remembering great anecdotes with her. Others, “taking out the leather”, focusing on defects and highlighting the negative of those who are being analyzed by us. And the weather changes, the air is cut off just by looking at it, is that , suddenly, this person, the protagonist of the conversation, has burst between us. And some of the speakers, to break the ice, say: “Speaking of Rome”, and there is no need for someone to complete it, it is a phrase that you already know what it refers to and for what purpose.

When we are talking about someone and they unexpectedly arrive and join the conversation, it is very likely that someone will mention: “Speaking of Rome...” And, mentally, each one will complete the sentence with the inevitable complement: “... the donkey peeps out”. But what does the city of Rome have to do with a donkey? Why is Rome mentioned and not London? Why a donkey and not a fox?

The complete phrase is: “Speaking of the King of Rome, out of the door he pooms”. But in reality the expression was formed by the term “Ruin of Rome”, since at its origin “king” was not used and that ruin to which the saying points was none other than the pope of Rome himself.

This had originated in the 14th century, during the period of thePapacy of Avignon (1309-1377),when, to refer to the Pontiff of Rome, the word “ruin” was used, which they considered the devil himself. With the passage of time and popular use, the rhyme ended up adding the famous “through the door looks out”.

Thus, the phrase mutated in as many ways as the countries in which it spread. In Argentina, for example, we have adopted the figure of a donkey, as to end up belittling who we are referring to with the saying. In short, it would be: “Speaking of Rome, the donkey looks out”.

Publication Date: 11/03/2020

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