The world as seen through the clarifying lens of the 9th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1875-1889).

Saturday, 2 August 2008

25. Famed, honoured, and ultimately devoured

It is that magical time again, when around the globe the human race are united by staring at television sets for hours on end, as burly young men and women clad in lycra hop from foot to foot and compete earnestly in obscure athletic challenges, hoping to win the praise and adulation of their countrymen, before suffering their scowls and approbation once they fail a test for performance-enhancing chemicals. A fitting time for us to consider the fabulous career and unfortunate demise of one of the first great Olympians.

"MILO, one of the most famous athletes of Greece, whose name became proverbial for personal strength. He lived about the end of the 6th century B.C., was six times crowned at the Olympic games and six times at the Pythian for wrestling, and was famous throughout the civilized world for his feats of strength, such as carrying an ox on his shoulders through the stadium at Olympia. In his native city of Crotona he was much honoured, and he commanded the army which defeated the people of Sybaris in 511 B.C. When Democedes, the physician of Darius, deserted the Persian service, he sent a boastful message to the king of Persia informing him of his marriage to the daughter of Milo. The traditional account of his death is often used to point a moral : he found a tree which some woodcutters had partially split with a wedge, and attempted to render it asunder, but the wedge fell out, and the tree closed on his hand, imprisoning him till wolves came and devoured him."


Georgy Riecke said...

There is also a malty chocolate drink called Milo, which I recall being served to me one morning in 1996 by a somewhat worse-for-wear writer whose name I will not mention. It was, said the writer, the 'drink of the moment'. It certainly was - for I haven't tasted it since. Nevertheless, one internet source assures me that not only was it named after said athelete, but it is widely drunk in Malaysia.

John Barleycorn said...

Thank you. Said internet also points to the website of Nestle Ghana and the inspiring slogan "MILO : The food drink of future champions."