“Le lion et les rats” is an illustration of two opposite perceptions of resistance.
For La Fontaine, the roars of the lion caught in the trap are pointless. Effective resistance is that of the rat: discreet, persistent, precise, focused and such that
By time and toil we sever
What strength and rage could never.
But two hundred years later, in 1870, when the Prussians were at the gates of Paris, the besieged population came to devour rats… and the capital capitulated.
It was then the figure of the lion that the sculptor Bartholdi chose to personify the resistance of his city, Belfort, in the face of the enemy. Was it to forget the taste of the rats that Paris, jealous, commissioned him to produce a replica of the haughty lion that refuses to kowtow?
For several months in 2001, the “Lion of Belfort”, a symbol of our neighbourhood, left his plinth in the square nearby without warning.
Piqued by the removal of the masterpiece, a brother to the Statue of Liberty, I tried to remember the other form of resistance, slight but solid, the resistance of small rodents.