colossus of rhodes

Colossus of Rhodes

The name Colossus of Rhodes is familiar to everyone. Its history begins
with the siege of Demetrios Poliorketes, successor of Alexander the Great,
in 305 B.C. With the money they raised from the sale of Demetrios΄siege
machinery, which he had left behind when he withdrew, the Rhodians decided
to express their pride in their great victory by building a triumphal
statue of their favourite god, Helios. The dask was assigned to the
sculptor Chares of Lindos, a pupil of Lysippos himself, and twelve years
(from 304 to 292 B.C.) were needed to finish it.
The Colossus was regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world and a
masterpiece of art and engineering, but we lack reliable information about
its appearance and its site. An inscription found near the palace of the
Grand Masters allows us to calculate its height at about 31 meters. But
most people envisage it along the lines portrayed (firm imagination) by
the French traveller Rottiers in 1826.
It is said that Chares cast the bronze limbs of the statue on the spot,
one at a time, using huge heaps of earth, and moving upwards from level to
level, rather as one would build a house. The old myth, on which Rottiers
based his drawing, that the statue stood across the entrance to the
harbour and that incoming ships sailed between its legs, must,
reluctantly, be abandoned. Today we can be sure that it stood on land –
apart from anything else, the way in which it was constructed would
dictated that – and that the most likely spot for it to have stood was the
courtyard of the Temple of Helios, which lay close to the palace of the
Grand Masters.
However, the statue was only a nine-day wonder, or, to be more accurate, a
66 – year wonder. A violent earthquake in 226 B.C. broke its knees and
sent it to the ground. The Rhodians, afraid of some surse, did not dare to
replace it, and it lay where it had fallen for many centuries. At last, in
653 A.D., Arab pirates under Moabiah who were raiding in the area carried
the bronze parts to the mainland opposite and sold them to a Jewish
merchant. It is said that 900 camels were needed to transport it. But the
legend was so closely linked to the name of Rhodes that for centuries
afterwards both Greeks and Europeans referred to the people of Rhodes as
“Colossans”.
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 they kindle the lovely torch of freedom.
This is the dedicatory inscription of the Colossus. The
Colossus of Rhodes was a 30-m (100-ft) bronze.

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