Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Who is up there?!

We were in Lisbon over half term and enjoyed glorious sunny days throughout our visit.

The city has many squares, almost all with statues in the centre.  One, particularly caught my eye, opposite the railway station.

It was a bit like Trafalgar Square with a huge column at its centre and upon the top, so the inscription said below, was King Pedro IV of Portugal. Or is it?!

The story goes that at the time this column was being erected, a bronze cast of Maximillian of Mexico, by a French sculptor, was in Lisbon en route to South America.  This brief sojourn in its passage happened at exactly the moment when, back home, Maximillian was overthrown and instantly the cast, of the now deposed King, was redundant.

The shrewd city fathers of Lisbon saw an opportunity here.  They cancelled the order for a cast of Pedro IV, bought the one of Maximillian and put that on top of the column instead.  Their rationale?  They thought the two looked rather similar, it would cost less, and hey, only the pigeons would spot the difference!!!

Who knows if this is anything other than a good story – but I love it anyway!

All of us, I suspect, have occasional admired someone a little too much, put them on a pedestal they didn’t deserve and then later we have discovered their ‘feet of clay’.

This weekend, as we recall the horror of war and all that has taken us there in days gone by, many of the reasons behind conflict has been the willingness of large numbers of people to follow and give credence to the wrong leaders.

Human nature seems to crave heroes – just a walk around central London shows us how much we also love immortalising them in statues. 

Maximillian or Pedro?  Just a reminder to us of the danger of putting the wrong people on pedestals.

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