Galatea (/ˌɡæləˈtiːə/; Greek: Γαλάτεια; "she who is milk-white") is a name popularly applied to the statue carved of ivory by Pygmalion of Cyprus, which then came to life, in Greek mythology; in modern English the name usually alludes to that story. Galatea is also the name of Polyphemus's object of desire in Theocritus's Idylls VI and XI and is linked with Polyphemus again in the myth of Acis and Galatea in Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Though the name "Galatea" has become so firmly associated with Pygmalion's statue as to seem antique, its use in connection with Pygmalion originated with a post-classical writer. No extant ancient text mentions the statue's name, although Pausaniasmentions a statue of Calm, Galene (γαλήνης). As late as 1763, a sculpture of the subject shown by Falconet at the Paris Salon (illustration) carried the title Pygmalion aux pieds de sa statue qui s'anime ("Pygmalion at the feet of his statue that comes to life"). That sculpture, currently at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, now bears the expected modern title Pygmalion and Galatea. According to Meyer Reinhold, the name "Galatea" was first given wide circulation in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's scène lyrique of 1762, Pygmalion. The name had become a commonplace of pastoral fictions, because of the well known myth of Acis and Galatea; one of Honoré d'Urfé's characters in L'Astrée was a Galatea, though not this sculptural creation.