These Roman soldiers are waiting for something… Or maybe they’re just hesitating. Could they be in fear?
To Titus Livius (aka Livy), Strabo, Pliny and Lucius Florus the river Lima (which you can see in the picture, in front of the soldiers) was the Lethe, one of the five rivers of Hades. According to the myth, the Lethe was the river of forgetfulness and souls had to drink from it in order to reincarnate – the more they drank the more they forgot.
But why did the Romans believe that what is now Ponte de Lima, in the North of Portugal, one tiny spot in the vast Roman empire, was the place of the river of forgetfulness? Well, long story short, they believed Rome was the center of the world and the farther away from Rome the more the place would be, for them, a land filled with mystery and mythological creatures.
Livy tells us that when Roman soldiers, led by general Decimus Junius Brutus, reached the margins of the river Lima they refused to cross it for fear they would forget all about their homeland and their mamma. In a good example of the Roman practical approach to things the general crossed the river alone and, already on the other margin, started calling his soldiers by name, one by one, proving them the Lima was not the Lethe.
You can find these Roman soldiers in Ponte de Lima, which also happens to be the oldest town in Portugal.
I love legends and myth! Feel like sharing one from your country? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!