Saturday, 26 April 2014

DEATH of an Ancient Wrestler by Wolves - Milo of Croton, GREECE

A man came upon a tree-trunk split with wedges. Testing his strength, he tried to rend it with his bare hands. The wedges fell, trapping his hands in the tree making him unable to defend himself from attacking wolves, which eventually devoured him.

Milo of Croton was a 6th-century BC wrestler from the Magna Graecian city of Croton in southern Italy, who enjoyed a brilliant wrestling career and won many victories in the most important athletic festivals of ancient Greece. In addition to his athletic victories, Milo is credited by the ancient commentator Diodorus Siculus with leading his fellow citizens to military triumph over neighboring Sybaris in 510 BC.

Milo was said to be an associate of Pythagoras. One story tells of the wrestler saving the philosopher's life when a roof was about to collapse upon him and another that Milo may have married the philosopher's daughter Myia. Like other successful athletes of ancient Greece, Milo was the subject of fantastic tales of strength and power, some, perhaps, based upon misinterpretations of his statues. Among other tales, he was said to have carried a bull on his shoulders and to have burst a band about his brow by simply inflating the veins of his temples.

The date of Milo's death is unknown, but he reportedly was attempting to tear a tree apart when his hands became trapped in a crevice in its trunk, and a pack of wolves surprised and devoured him. Milo has been depicted in works of art by Pierre Puget√Čtienne-Maurice Falconet and others. In literature, he has been referenced by Rabelais in Gargantua and Pantagruel and by Shakespeare in Troilus and Cressida.

The ancient Greeks typically attributed remarkable deaths to famous persons in keeping with their characters. The date of Milo's death is unknown, but according to Strabo and Pausanias, Milo was walking in a forest when he came upon a tree-trunk split with wedges. In what was probably intended as a display of strength, Milo inserted his hands into the cleft to rend the tree. The wedges fell from the cleft, and the tree closed upon his hands, trapping him. Unable to free himself, the wrestler was devoured by wolves. A modern historian has suggested it is more likely that Milo was traveling alone when attacked by wolves. Unable to escape, he was devoured and his remains found at the foot of a tree.

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