When he finished his legendary fountain in the middle of Piccadilly Circus in 1893, sculptor Alfred Gilbert thought the playful maritime-themed sculptures on its base would be celebrated. Audiences have minds of their own. They responded to the archer god on top. But they even got that bit of admiration wrong—they thought he represented Eros, god of erotic love, when Gilbert had actually intended Anteros, god of requited love. Today, even Piccadilly Circus isn’t a roundabout anymore—it’s an interchange—but the ceaseless tourist crowd photographing Gilbert’s misunderstood masterpiece at least puts the circus back into Piccadilly. Gilbert’s fabulous fountain is now dry and full of McDonald’s wrappers, but his misidentified god, ironically the one who punishes mortals for failing to return love, blesses the city as an icon.
Our Rating Transportation Tube: Piccadilly Circus
MapPiccadilly Circus London
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