This fountain is an allegorical interpretation of the Sun King’s unhappy childhood. If you remember Alexander Dumas’ Twenty Years After, the novel begins with the flight of the Queen Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin. It is d’Artagnan who escorts them out of Paris. After the death of Louis XIII, the city is up in arms against the government of the Regency. The Cardinal, the Queen and the two boys go into hiding.
In Greek Mythology the mother of Apollo and Artemis is persecuted by Juno. She is fleeing with her two children, but she is lost and they are all dying of thirst. Lo! Latona meets some peasants whom she begs for water. The peasants want something in exchange, but she has nothing to give them, and so the peasants give her nothing. Once she has been refused, angry Zeus transforms the ugly humans into frogs. And it rains, oh how it rains for Latona and her children to drink copiously.
The theme of the punishment for his enemies is one of the Sun King’s favorites. It is not only about the past. The Republican Conspiracy, frequent wars, peasant rebellions, unsatisfied nobles, all this turns Louis XIV’s life into an ever-going battle. The theme of metamorphosis and transfiguration is also there. The golden frogs are spewing water. They are offering Latona that to which the law of hospitality had obliged them for they are the subjects of Zeus!
Louis XIV’s subjects serve their king out of sense of duty and not because he pays them. Quite often their effort remains unrewarded for a very long time. And some day, after years of self-less service, some of them do become rich. The idea of money shows in the parable of the devil: the devil pays witches in gold, but by day his gold transforms itself into excrement.
The exchange of values in XVII century has its own formula: Chevalier Rohan looses to the king at the cards table. He attempts to pay his debt in Spanish gold. The king refuses to accept it since all the players have agreed to play for the luisdors. Chevalier throws his money out of the window, saying, “If they are not good for Your Majesty, they are good for nothing!”