“the ruins of an ancient theater in the vicinity of Castro, the capital of the island”, adding that Bottonis and his son “came accidentally across a small underground cave, carefully covered with a heavy slab and concealed, which contained a fine marble statue in two pieces, together with several other marble fragments.” This is a description of what happened on today’s date, April 8 in the year 1820, when a peasant named Yorgos Kentrotas accidentally discovered the statue “Venus de Milo”, one of the finest and most beautiful examples ever found of classical Greek art.
Where and by whom was “Venus” found?
There are other sources which identify the discoverers as Yorgos Bottonis and his son Antonio. The statue was found on the Aegean sea Island of Melos which is called Milo in modern Greek. It has come to be called “Venus” because Venus was the Roman goddess of love and beauty, although the ancient Greeks would have referred to her as Aphrodite who was the Greek Goddess of love and beauty. Exactly why there is conflicting accounts of who found her is something which I have not been able to determine through on-line sources, but there it is.
More Details of Venus and Her Discovery
Whatever the conflicting of WHO found her the accepted belief is that the statue was discovered in two large portions (the upper torso and a lower portion with cloth-draped legs) along with several herms (pillars topped with heads). Fragments were also found of the upper left arm and left hand which was holding an apple, and an inscribed plinth (a usually square block serving as a base). Venus de Milo is thought to have been the work of one Alexandros of Antioch, about whose life not much is known, working about 100 B.C. during a late portion of the
Hellenistic age. Originally made in two large blocks of granite, she stands 6 feet 7 inches from top to bottom. And this is where the details of WHO discovered her get a bit murky again. Apparently a French Navy Ensign with an interest in antiquities observed “a farmer” pulling rocks out off a cave for making a wall. Whether this farmer was the Bottonis and son or the peasant Kentrotas cited above, is not at all clear to me. But the ensign, Olivier Voutier noticed that the “farmer” had discovered the top half of the Venus statue. So he and his superiors bought the statue from the farmer “for a relatively modest sum.” She was then transported back to Paris as a gift to Louis XVII, who placed in the French museum, the Louvre wherein she has remained ever since.
What About Her Arms?
There has been much speculation on this subject over the years. One account has the arms being pulled off in a fight between French and Turkish military (as this part of the world was at that time ruled by the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. But most scholars believe that the arms were already missing when Venus was found and dug out of the cave where she was found.