18 Jul 2013

Such is life

Having a chat with my husband recently, somehow Ned Kelly’s words on the day of his execution came up in the conversation. Although the context of the anecdote is somber, we joked about how surprised I had been the first time I had heard those words. I had expected something comparable to the famous “I would rather die standing than to live on my knees” by Emiliano Zapata and not something as casual as Ned Kelly’s “Such is life.”  Since then it’s been a bit of a joke between us to repeat the quote in different situations.

I don’t think I can remember many quotes by Spanish historical characters. As comedian Goyo Jiménez pointed out in his stand up routine a little while back, we don’t even know what Columbus said when he “discovered” America.  I know, he wasn't Spanish but the whole expedition was and you would have thought some of the words pronounced by the conquistadors that made it across the Atlantic would be remembered. Maybe Australians take their history more seriously than Spaniards do.

There was just one historic quote that I remember learning in school.  When in 1492 the Muslim king Boabdil left Granada escaping from the siege led by the Catholic Monarchs, his mother supposedly told him "You weep like a woman for what you failed to defend like a man." Today historians say Boabdil's mother never pronounced those words. Whoever came up with the anecdote though did a pretty good job at making Boabdil look like a pathetic figure. However it's now believed that he saved many lives but choosing to retreat into the North of Africa instead of staying in Granada and fighting. 

I wonder if Ned Kelly really ever said his “Such is life.” It doesn't seem to fit very well his combative character...