Colossus of Rhodes

the colossus of rhodes 1954 by salvador dali

The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek god Helios, erected in the city of Rhodes on the Greek island of Rhodes by Greek sculptor Chares of Lindos between 292 and 280 BC. It is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was constructed to celebrate Rhodes’ victory over the ruler of Cyprus, Antigonus I Monophthalmus, who unsuccessfully besieged Rhodes in 305 BC. Before its destruction, it stood over 30 meters (107 ft) high, making it one of the tallest statues of the ancient world.

Ancient accounts, which differ to some degree, describe the structure as being built with iron tie bars to which brass plates were fixed to form the skin. Much of the iron and bronze was reforged from the various weapons the besieging army left behind, and the abandoned second siege tower was used for scaffolding around the lower levels during construction, which took twelve years.

The statue stood for only 56 years until Rhodes was hit by the 226 BC Rhodes earthquake. The statue snapped at the knees and fell over on to the land. Ptolemy III offered to pay for the reconstruction of the statue, but the oracle of Delphi made the Rhodians afraid that they had offended Helios, and they declined to rebuild it. The remains lay on the ground as described for over 800 years, and even broken, they were so impressive that many traveled to see them. In the 7th century the pieces were sold and purportedly transported away on the backs of 900 camels.

The harbor-straddling Colossus was a figment of medieval imaginations based on the dedication text’s mention of ‘over land and sea’ twice. Many older illustrations show the statue with one foot on either side of the harbor mouth with ships passing under it. The design, posture and dimensions of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor are based on what the Colossus was thought by engineers in the late 19th century to have looked like.

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