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Silvius Brabo, founder of Antwerp

Silvius Brabo is an Antwerp folklore figure. According to the legend, he would have been a Roman soldier who killed the giant Druon Antigoon, chopped off his hand, and threw it into the Scheldt. According to that same legend, Antwerp was in past centuries terrorized by the giant named Druon Antigoon, which forced all navigators to pay tolls before they were allowed to go over the Scheldt river. If they refused Antigoon cut their hands off and threw them in the river.

The Roman legionnaire Silvius Brabo came over one day and rebelled against the giant. He fought with Antigoon, killed him, then cut off his hand and threw the body into the river. By "throwing the hand" Antwerp would have come to her name. Throwing means Werpen in Flemish and Ant could refer to Antigoon or to the dialect word of Hand. Also, a 15th-century chronicle claimed that the province of Brabant would also owe its name to Brabo.

Picture by Pixabay

There are in centuries past more statues dedicated to Brabo in the city of Antwerp. At the home of Brittany, known as the Giant House, stands on top of the gate a statue of Brabo. A 16th-century ironwork of Quinten Matsys on top of the well at the Handschoenmarkt just before the Antwerp Cathedral also portrays Brabo, while he holds triumphantly Antigoons hand above his head. In the 20th century, there was on top of the façade of the pilotage house at the "Grote Markt" a statue of Brabo placed in a similar pose.

However, the most famous image of Brabo is the Brabo Fountain on Antwerp's Grote Markt in front of the town hall. It depicts Brabo on top of a fountain while disposing of Antigoons's hand. The headless corpse of Antigoon is also seen pictured underneath the platform. The statue was designed by Jef Lambeaux in 1887 and has since become the official symbol of the city of Antwerp.

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