Milon of Kroton, a city in southern Italy, was a famous wrestler from the sixth century BC. He is the first known periodos- victor, with an impressive number of victories. He won six victories at the Olympic games, one of which was among the boys, seven at the Pythian games, also including one among the boys, ten at the Isthmian games and nine at the Nemean games. Over a period of thirty years he was the big favourite, first among the boys, later among the men. He won several times 'without dust', which was very honourable.

In his early fourties, he lost against his younger fellow-citizen Timatheos, who did not dare to attack him, but succeeded in wearing him out. Milon retired from sports and became a politician. He is often linked to Pythagoras, the philosopher who had founded an influential commune in Kroton. In 511/510 BC, Milon was appointed general and defeated the neighbouring city Sybaris.

P253About Milon exist many legendary stories. Most tell about his tours de force, for example that he could hold a pomegranate so firm, that no one could take it from him, but that he was at the same time so careful, that the pomegranate stayed undamaged. His statue at Olympia therefore depicted him with a pomegranate in his hand. Just like other athletes he was attributed an enormous appetite. Once, he carried a full-grown bull to the stadion and ate it in a single day.

Another story concerns his death. One day Milon saw a tree, in which wedges were inserted to split the tree. Milon put his hands in the crack to split the rest of the tree with his bare hands. He was punished for his recklessness: his hands were jammed and Milon was stuck there. That night he was devoured by wolves.

© KU Leuven, 2012