THE HARE ON THE DU PONT DU GARD
The legend of the hare of the Pont du Gard is a declination of all these old stories that are told around all these bridges built boldly in impossible places and some of which have even kept the name "Pont du Diable" in France and Navarre.
This one has the advantage of being told by Frédéric Mistral himself...
The hare of the Pont du Gard:
......The Pont du Gard, with its three tiers of arches rising high overhead one above the other, is one of the finest in all the world. And yet, some say that the Devil built it in a single night.Here is the story:
Once upon a time...nobody knows how long ago... the River Gardon, which is one of the most swift and treacherous anywhere, could only be crossed by wading. So the local people decided to build a bridge, but the mastermason who was given the job could never get to the end of it. No sooner had he built his arches over the watercourse, than there came a torrent of water and slap, sperlash! ...his bridge was knocked to pieces. One evening, as he stood forlorn and dejected on the bank looking at his work ruined by the raging river, he cried out in desperation:
-That’s the third time I’ve begun again, maymy life be cursed! It’s enough to make a man call up the Devil!
At that instant, Boum! The Devil appeared beside him...
-If you wish, said Satan, I’ll build your bridge for you and I promise you, as long as the world shall last, the Gardon will never carryit away...
-Yes please, said the mason. But how much will you make me pay?
-Oh! Nothing much. The first who crosses the bridge will do for me.
-Done! said the mason, turning for home.
And from that moment, with claw and horn, the Devil began to rip huge blocks of stone from the mountain, and to build a colossus of a bridge, the like of which had never been seen before.
Meanwhile, the man had reached home and began to tell his wife of the deal he had done.
-The bridge, he told her, will be finished tomorrowat the crack of dawn. But that’s not all, for some poor wretch must go to damnation for the sake of others. Who would want to be him?
-Why, you lay-about! cried the wife, just now the dog was ahunting and brought back a young hare, still alive. Take that, and at the first ray of dawn, let it go on the bridge!
-Yes, you’re right! cried the man.
Taking up the young hare, he went back to the spot where the Devil had just finished off his work. As the bell began to tremble just before sounding the Angelus,the mason threw the little animal up on the bridge.
The Devil, who was waiting expectantly on the other end of the bridge, received the kicking and wriggling hare slap! in his bag...
When he saw it was only a hare, he grasped it in fury and threw it against the stonework of the bridge; but the angelus sounded at that moment, -the Evil One, with a thousand curses, was swallowed up by a yawning pit which opened under his hooves.To this day the hare can be seen, still stuck against the stonework of the bridgeAnd that is why some say it’s women who cheat the Devil!
... The poet says true, we can still see on the bridge, the trace of which he speaks (see medallion above this text). If you visit this masterpiece you can find it near the right bank, downstream (where the road passes), on one of the voussoirs of the third arch of the second bridge, between the fallout.
The historical truth, however, requires us to say that it is not a hare but... a phallus(!).
This sex, a doorbell on its neck and finished with three curved tails that form three other smaller phallus, however, has'ent left by a grivorous worker but a real symbol: Sex represented the vitality...like the water that this aqueduct was soon to bring to the Nimese Roman colony.