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Mare Nostrum

The Colossus at Rhodes

by E. S.

"To you, O Sun, the people of Dorian Rhodes set up this bronze statue reaching to Olympus when they had pacified the waves of war and crowned their city with the spoils taken from the enemy. Not only over the seas but also on land did thy kindle the lovely torch of freedom."
~The dedicatory inscription on the Colossus of Rhodes (qtd. in Ashmawy)

Important facts about the Colossus

    The Colossus was the sixth oldest Wonder and was built by Chares of Lindus in 280 BCE to celebrate the Rhodian victory over the Macedonians and to thank the god Helios for protecting them (Ashmawy, Silverberg 90). It stood on a jetty overlooking the city of Rhodes (King6). Chares supposedly used the bronze weapons that were abandoned by retreating Macedonians to sculpt the huge bronze image of Helios (Ashmawy).

    The Colossus was huge, standing 110 feet tall, nearly as high as the Statue of Liberty (Pathak). According to Pliny, "few people can make their arms meet round [sic] the thumb." (qtd. in Ashmawy)

    It was well-built, as Chares used stone blocks and 6.8 tons of iron bars to support the Colossus, which was hollow. The base was made of white marble (Silverberg 91-95).

    The Colossus took 12 years to complete. In fact, the construction took so long that Chares died before his creation was finished (Silverberg 91-95).

The destruction of the Colossus

    It survived for merely 54 years, then toppled in an earthquake in 224 BCE (King 6). The Colossus broke at its weakest point: the knee. Ptolemy III Eurgetes of Egypt offered to pay for the restoration, but an oracle forbade the repairs and the offer was turned down (Ashmawy).

    In CE 654, the remaining metal supports were sold for scrap by invading Arabs to a Jew from Syria (Ashmawy, Pathak). It was said to have taken 900 camels to transport all of the statue back to Syria (Ashmawy).

Although this Wonder disappeared long ago, it lives on in such works as the Statue of Liberty that stands in the New York Harbor of America in modern times (Ashmawy, Pathak). The word 'colossus,' which means 'a very large or important person or thing,' is derived from the Colossus of Rhodes' name (Webster 143).

History and Thought of Western Man
Rich East High School * Park Forest, IL 60466

This page was created by E.S. Last revised 05/12/00.

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