This is the gist of stories behind the hideous graffiti daubed over the base of the Discoveries monument looking over the Tagus river in downtown Lisbon.
But although the message appears to be in English, it has not been written by anyone with any great command of the language.
The words read: “Blindly sailing for monney, humanity is drowning in a scarlett sea lia”.
Who daubed it in a mix of blue and red paint, at what time, and why looks set to remain a mystery.
The monument, known as the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, goes back to 1940 when it was originally conceived for an exhibition on the ‘Portuguese world’ by architect Cottinelli Telmo and sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida.
In those days it was constructed out of perishable materials. It was only 20 years later than the work was set in concrete, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator – the prince who powered the era of Portuguese ‘discoveries’ around the world.
Stories over the weekend (when the vandalism was discovered) recall that other well-known statues and monuments have been vandalised in the recent past, including the one of a priest (Padre António Vieira) which saw President Marcelo speak out against the ‘vogue’ of the moment by certain movements to try and rewrite history (click here).
Of this incident, mayor Fernando Medina has simply said: “acts of vandalism on this city’s collective heritage are inadmissible”.
The erasing of the message will restore the monument to its former glory.