The statue is an ancient depiction of a reclining Silenus: a character in Roman mythology, half man, half goat. In 1581, Patrizio Grandi, a rich merchant, built a public fountain in the former via Paolina, which he had decorated with this statue. According to the custom established by Pope Pius IV he obtained free water for his house and fields in exchange for donating the fountain to the city. The people of Rome christened the figure "babuino" because they considered it ugly and deformed, like a monkey, and the street was nicknamed the "via del Babuino" as a result, the name eventually becoming the official one. After being moved to various other locations in Rome, the statue returned to the street in 1957.