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Art / Venus de Milo

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Why don't ya give her a hand?

Aphrodite of Milos, commonly known as Venus de Milo, is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Initially it was attributed to the sculptor Praxiteles, however from an inscription that was on its plinth, the statue is thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch. Created sometime between 130 and 100 BC, the statue is believed to depict Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love and beauty.

Ancient Romans knew her as Venus. And for some reason, it tends to be better known by the Roman translation.

It is a marble sculpture, slightly larger than life size at 203 cm (6 ft 8 in) high. Part of an arm and the original plinth were lost following its discovery. It is currently on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The statue is named after the Greek island of Milos, where it was discovered.

What happened to her arms, and what position they were originally in is a complete mystery, and is often the subject of speculation and/or comedy, often utilizing a gag of the arms having been in a compromising or whimsical pose.

The Venus de Milo provides examples of:

  • Contrapposto Pose: A dynamic and highly sexualised example. Even though her legs are heavily draped, it's clear that she's lifting her left leg to stride and resting all her weight on her right leg.
  • Dub Name Change: While the statue is Greek in origin, it mostly know for the Romantic pronunciation (French and Latin) Venus de Milo, naming it after Aphrodite's Roman equivalent.
  • Iconic Item: In her case, is the tunability of viewers to know what she was holding when freshly carved (she now lacks her arms) that makes her so iconic. It also makes it very difficult to determine her identity.
  • Love Goddess: Her assigned name suggests that it's a sculpture of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of erotic love.
  • No Name Given: While the artist's name —Alexandros of Antioch— was confirmed via a signature on its plinth, the actual identity of the figure is a mystery. Most have settled on it being a depiction of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love, some scholars believe that she is actually supposed to be Amphitrite, Goddess of the Seas, and wife of Poseidon.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Really Moves Around: After the statue was first discovered by a peasant in Milos (the name of the person debated among scholars), it was purchased by the French Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, where it was then repaired and given to King Louis XVIII, who then donated it to the Louvre Museum where it now stands.
  • Stock Unsolved Mysteries: How her arms fell off and in which pose they were originally is a mystery for the ages. It's also uncertain which goddess (if any) she's supposed to be. The stronger contenders are Aphrodite, of course, and Amphitrite.
  • The X of Y: Its name is "Venus", the person it supposedly depicts, and de Milo, French for "of Milos", the place it was discovered.

Alternative Title(s): Aphrodite Of Milos