SUVÉE, Joseph-Benoit
(b. 1743, Brugge, d. 1807, Roma)

Milo of Croton

Oil on canvas, 261 x 200 cm
Groeninge Museum, Bruges

Milo (or Milon) of Croton was a legendary Greek wrestler from the Greek settlement of Croton in southern Italy. He won the wrestling contest at five successive Olympic Games, and swept the board at all other festivals. A man of huge stature, he boasted that no one had ever brought him to his knees. It is said that he carried a live ox upon his shoulders through the stadium at Olympia, then ate it all in a single day. Tradition has it that in his old age, on seeing an oak tree partly split open with a wedge he tried to wrench it apart, but only succeeded in causing the wedge to fall out, thereby trapping his hands. He was left a helpless prey to the wild beast who soon finished him off. He is usually depicted in Baroque art as a partly naked muscular figure, his hands imprisoned by a tree trunk, and attacked by a lion.

The undated, but still baroque Milo of Croton shows the Greek athlete being devoured by wolves, his hand caught in a cleft tree trunk. Milon's pose was borrowed from the famous Hellenistic statue of Laocoön. It is an early work and a copy after the Frenchman Jean Jacques Bachelier.

You can view other depictions of Milo of Croton in the Web Gallery of Art.