A Greek tragedy with a contemporary spin to it came to life earlier this month when Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, was whisked away from a State Street gyro shack by a downtown resident who had no recollection of the incident the next day.
The statue vanished from its home in Parthenon Gyros, located on the 300 block of State Street, in the early hours of April 2. Less than an hour after the disappearance, around 2:45 a.m., police began efforts to rescue the Greek goddess, Madison Police Department Public Information Officer Joel DeSpain said in an incident report.
“Her perch was above the trash receptacles of the popular Parthenon Gyros restaurant on State St,” DeSpain said. “At 3-feet-high, the bronze statue bore witness to countless discarded tzatziki sauce laden plastic wrappers, until early one morning this month, when she disappeared.”
Surveillance cameras quickly led an investigating officer to a suspect, who was caught on video footage slipping the statue into his jacket.
Parthenon restaurateurs referred police to a credit card receipt from the time of the crime. The receipt allowed police to identify a friend of the suspect seen on camera and ultimately, the kidnapper himself.
The 22-year-old downtown resident called MPD the next day to confess he had woken up with an unexpected guest: the revered Aphrodite. He said he had no memory of how he and the statue had ended up together.
"When I woke up on Sunday morning, I had no idea it (she) was in my apartment or where it (she) had come from,” the man told MPD.
An MPD officer rescued the statue from the apartment of the thief, who said he was “very embarrassed.”
“The officer placed the goddess in his squad's passenger seat, and belted her in: ‘to ensure her safe return to the Parthenon,’” DeSpain said.
Parthenon Gyros staff told police they did not want to press charges and were only concerned for Aphrodite’s safety.
“Employees were in disbelief that Aphrodite was located and unharmed,” the police report stated. “The Greek goddess of love prevailed."
Aphrodite did not respond to a request for comment.