Marble Statue of Milo of Croton
source: Wikimedia Commons
author: Marie-Lan Nguyen
A white marble statue depicts a nude, muscular man with short hair splitting a tree stump with his bare hands. He pulls a majority of the stump toward himself with his left hand as he pushes would the rest with his right. A piece of fabric is draped over his right arm, collapsing down to his thighs in expertly sculpted folds and wrinkles.
Artifact: 18th century AD
Photo: January 2009
This piece was crafted by French sculptor Edme Dumon (1722–1775). The figure depicted is Milo of Croton, a legendary icon of strength and athletics within ancient Greek culture. This 6th century BC athlete was an expert at palé (wrestling) and held a slew of titles from the Panhellenic games. In ascending order, he won 6 titles at the Olympic Games, 7 at the Pythian Games, 9 at the Nemean Games, and 10 at the Isthmian Games.
The scene depicted is the legendary tale of Milo’s death. First century AD writings from the Greek geographers Strabo and Pausanias relate that while walking through a forest, Milo came upon a tree trunk split by wedges and decided to test his strength. As he began to further split the trunk with his bare hands, the wedges slipped, trapping his hands. Unable to defend himself, he was left victim to wolves.
There are several other Greek legends surrounding Milo of Croton and his strength, detailed at Historical Strongmen and Weightlifters.
At the time of photograph, this statue was located at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Harris, H. A. (1979). Greek athletes and athletics. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Miller, S. G. (2004). Ancient Greek athletics. New Haven: Yale University Press.