Thursday 12 December 2019


Though some academic might take exception to this bit of folk etymology, the city of Antwerp is named after a legendary practise of hand-hurling ([h]ant werpen) commemorated with a bronze figure of the Roman soldier who put an end to exorbitant tolls.
According to local lore, trade was hindered by a despotic giant called Druon Antigoon, whom exacted a high price for passage (like Three Billy Goats Gruff) and would cut off a hand of a vessel’s captain who failed to pay the fee for docking and unceremoniously toss it into the harbor. A Roman captain of the guard named Silvius Brabo slew the menace by decapitating him with his sword and for the sake of poetic justice also cut off his hand and hurled it as far as he could. The scene was executed in bronze as a fountain before the guild halls in the main market square in 1887 by sculptor Jef Lambeaux in part to celebrate the end of the revanchment policy of imposing high tariffs—though without dismemberment.