In a move I had not seen coming--but which in retrospect makes at least a little sense--Greece has made an official request to France to return the Aphrodite/Venus de Milo to Greece. The Times has reported that as the 200-year anniversary of its discovery is swiftly approaching, the mayor of Milos, Gerasimos Damoulakis, is echoing the thoughts and sentiments of many Greeks in his request to have the statue returned to its home, on the island.

"The claim itself isn’t new. There’s not a Greek out there who hasn’t wondered why Greece’s finest piece of antiquity is sitting in France rather than in its birthplace. Our island’s treasures have been looted and we’re finally ready to fight to win them back."

It has been almost 200 years since the famous statue known to Greeks as Aphrodite of Milos was discovered by a farmer on the Greek island of Milos. The Aphrodite of Milos was discovered on 8 April 1820 by a farmer named Yorgos Kentrotas, inside a buried niche within the ancient city ruins of Milos, the current village of Tripiti, on the island of Milos in the Aegean, which was then a part of the Ottoman Empire.

The statue was found in two large pieces (the upper torso and the lower draped legs) along with several herms (pillars topped with heads), fragments of the upper left arm and left hand holding an apple, and an inscribed plinth.

Olivier Voutier, a French naval officer, was exploring the island. With the help of the young farmer, Voutier began to dig around what were clearly ancient ruins. Within a few hours Voutier had uncovered Venus de Milo. About ten days later, another French naval officer, Jules Dumont d'Urville, recognized its significance and arranged for a purchase by the French ambassador to Turkey, Charles-François de Riffardeau, marquis, later duc de Rivière.

News of the discovery took longer than normal to get to the French ambassador. The farmer grew tired of waiting for payment and was pressured into selling it to Nicholas Mourousi, Grand Dragoman of the Fleet, working as a translator for Sultan Mahmud II in Constantinople (present day Istanbul, Turkey). The French ambassador's representative, Hermes de Marcellus, arrived just as the statue was being loaded aboard a ship bound for Constantinople and seized the statue and persuaded the island's chief citizens to annul the sale. From there on, it was taken to France. The statue of Aphrodite would then end up in the Louvre in Paris and become one of the museum’s most famous items on display.

Damoulakis announced last week that the island was making a formal request to have the statue of Aphrodite returned to Milos as well as a petition to the European Union signed by 1 million individuals.

Personally, I do not see it happening that the statue will return home; too much money is involved and--like the UK when it comes to the Parthenon Marbles--there is a history of sale (wether recognized or not) which means Milos has to rely on the kindnes of the Louve and the French governement. As much as I like the French, without a good reason or trade, I do not see them handing over the marble.