Milon of Kroton
Milo or Milon of Croton (Greek: Μίλων ο Κροτωνιάτης) (late 6th century BC) was the most famous of Greek athletes in Antiquity.
He was born in the Greek colony of Croton in Magna Graecia (southern Italy). He was a six time Olympic victor; once for Boys Wrestling in 540 BC at the 60th Olympics, and five time wrestling champion at the 62nd through 66th Olympiads. He also won first place seven times at the Pythian Games, nine times at the Nemean Games and ten times at the Isthmian Games.
Milon kept on competing, even well after what would have been considered a normal Olympic Athlete's prime: by the 67th Olympiad, he would have been over 40 years of age. Milon failed to win that particular time because, according to Pausanias, he did not want to do so as his opponent, Timasitheos, was also from Croton quite possibly a student of his.
He was most likely a historical person, as he is mentioned by many classical authors, among them Aristotle, Pausanias, Cicero and the author of the Suda, but there are many legendary stories surrounding him. It is said that the was a follower of Pythagoras and that he commanded the army which defeated the Sybarites in 511 BC.
Ancient sources report he would show off his strength by holding his arm out, with fingers outstretched, and no man could even bend his little finger. He would sometimes stand on a greased iron disk, and challenge people to push him off of it. Other sources speak of him holding a pomegranate in one hand, and daring others to take it from him. Nobody ever could, and despite him holding the fruit very tightly, it was never damaged. Another legend has it that he would train in the off years by carrying a newborn calf on his back every day until the Olympics took place. By the time the events were to take place, he was carrying a four year old cow on his back.
Milon seemed to think he was Heracles, and like Heracles he wore a lion-skin cloak and carried a club. Another legend says that he offered to cut down a large tree for a woodsman, who was grateful for the help and promised to return with food later in the day. However, the woodsman never returned, and while Milon was working the tree collapsed on his hand, trapping him. The legend says that Milon was then eaten by wolves.
- A sculpture by the French artist Pierre Puget (1620-1694)
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