Burghers can’t get cell coverage in Memorial Court

Burgher of Calais with iPhone
The Burghers of Calais were unexpectedly holding iPhones Friday morning in Memorial Court. (Photo: Kate Chesley)

Now we know why Rodin’s Burghers of Calais are really upset. They apparently can’t get a cell signal.

That became clear Friday morning to passersby in Memorial Court, where Rodin’s impressive bronze work is on display. But something new had been added: The sculptures were holding white iPhones in their oversized hands.

The work honors six of Calais’ city leaders from the Hundred Years’ War and was completed in 1889 to honor brave French citizens who surrendered themselves to King Edward III of England to save their city.

Burgher 3 smallerAt least that’s the story we’ve been told.

Friday morning, however, another possible scenario emerged. Five of the six Burghers were sporting iPhones that reported receiving no service. One was anguished because his iPhone lay on the ground before him with a smashed screen.

Actually, the iPhones were paper renditions of the popular device. But the point is that these heroes from the 14th century had suddenly been thrust into modern times by, presumably, some very clever Stanford students.

Over the years, the Burghers have been the subject of many humorous enhancements. One year, they were surrounded by tan-colored, long, thin spongy material accompanied by a sign that explained: “Burghers with Fries.” They’ve also been covered with palm fronds. Another year, they were holding Frisbees.

One can only intuit the intention of this year’s pranksters. Perhaps the anguish over the lack of iPhone service is a reflection of anxiety created by finals and end-of-the-year preparations. Perhaps the pranksters mean to imply that — in comparison to war — not getting iPhone service is a relatively small burden to bear. Or maybe someone just wanted to give us all a good laugh.