Friday, May 7, 2010

The Colossus of Rhodes


             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 Chares of Lindos between 292 and 280 BC.Before its destruction, the Colossus of Rhodes stood over 33 meters (110ft) high, making it one of the tallest statues of the ancient world.  

The island of Rhodes was an important economic center in the ancient world. It is located off the southwestern tip of Asia Minor where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean. The capitol city, also named Rhodes, was built in 408 B.C. and was designed to take advantage of the island's best natural harbor on the northern coast.



Posture


The statue was one hundred and ten feet high and stood upon a fifty-foot pedestal near the harbor mole. Although the statue has been popularly depicted with its legs spanning the harbor entrance so that ships could pass beneath, it was actually posed in a more traditional Greek manner: nude, wearing a spiked crown, shading its eyes from the rising sun with its right hand, while holding a cloak over its left.


History of the Colossus


After Alexander’s death at an early age, his generals fought bitterly among themselves for control of Alexander's vast kingdom. Three of them, Ptolemy, Seleucus, and Antigous, succeeded in dividing the kingdom among themselves. The Rhodians supported Ptolemy (who wound up ruling Egypt) in this struggle. This angered Antigous who sent his son Demetrius to capture and punish the city of Rhodes. The war was long and painful. Demetrius brought an army of 40,000 men. This was more than the entire population of Rhodes.But at last the battle was won by the Rhodians. To celebrate their victory and freedom, the Rhodians decided to build a giant statue of their patron god Helios. They melted down bronze from the many war machines Demetrius left behind.


The statue was constructed of bronze plates over an iron framework. The construction of the Colossus took 12 years and was finished in 282 BC. For 56 years, the statue stood at the harbor entrance, until a strong earthquake hit Rhodes about 226 BC. The city was badly damaged, and the Colossus was broken at its weakest point -- the knee. An Egyptian king 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. Huge pieces of the figure lay along the harbor for centuries. For almost a millennium, the statue laid broken in ruins. In AD 654, the Arabs invaded Rhodes. They disassembled the remains of the broken Colossus and sold them to a Jew from Syria. It is said that the fragments had to be transported to Syria on the backs of 900 camels. 

Some notable points

  • Out of all of the wonders, Colossus was the one that stood the least amount of time. It stood for only 56 years, but in brief time won fame throughout the entire civilized world.
  • The Colossus of Rhodes is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and was considered Chares's greatest accomplishment, until its destruction in an earthquake in 226 BC.
  • Colossus was a Latin word, meaning any statue that is larger than life size.
  • The cost of the equipment used for the construction of the statue was roughly US$360 million in today's money.
  •  This  ancient World Wonder inspired modern artists such as French sculptor, Auguste Bartholdi, best known by his famous work, the 'Statue of Liberty' in New York. Today.
 
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