The key features of the Pygmalion story from Greek mythology are:
- Pygmalion was a sculptor who had never found a woman worthy of his love
- He used ivory to carve a life-size statue of his ideal woman (he called her Galatea)
- He fell in love with the statue of Galatea and prayed to the goddess Aphrodite to bring them together
- Aphrodite brought the statue of Galatea to life
- Pygmalion and Galatea loved each other and were soon married
There are also variations of the theme such as George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion (1912) which was later made into the film 'My Fair Lady' involving phonetics professor Henry Higgins transforming the working-class flower-girl Eliza Doolittle by refining her accent and conversational skills for polite society.
Shaw's version drew on on the work of W. S. Gilbert, one of his influences, who wrote a successful play based on the story in 1871, called Pygmalion and Galatea.