Thursday, May 12, 2016


The COLOSSUS OF RHODES is a statue of the Greek titan-god of the sun Helios, erected in the city of Rhodes, on the Greek island of the same name, by Chares of Lindos in 280BC. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it was constructed to celebrate Rhodes' victory over the ruler of Cyprus, Antigonus 1 Monophthalmus, whose son unsuccessfuly beseiged Rhodes in 305BC.  Before its destruction in the earthquake of 226BC, the Colossus of Rhodes stood over 30 metres (98 feet) high, making it one of the tallest statues of the ancient world.  This is an artist's impression as depicted in 1880.

Construction began in 292BC. 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..  The interior of the structure, which stood on a 15 metre (49 foot) white marble pedestal near the Mandraki harbour entrance, was the filled with stone blocks as construction progressed.  Other sources place the Colossus on a breakwater in the harbour.  The entrance of the old harbour of Rhodes seen from the embankment inside:

The statue stood for 54 years until Rhodes was hit by the 226BC earthquake when significant damage was also done to large portions of the city. including the harbour and commercial buildings, which were destroyed.  The statue snapped at the knees and fell over onto the land.  Ptolemy 111 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 by Strabo for over 80 years, and even broken, they were so impressive that many travelled to see them.  Pliny the Elder remarked that few people could wrap their arms around the fallen thumb and that each of its fingers was larger than most statues.

In 653, an Arab force under Muslim caliph Muawiyah 1 captured Rhodes, and according to the Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor, the statue was cast down and sold to a Jewish merchant of Edessa who loaded the bronze on 900 camels.  The Arab destruction and the purported sale to a Jew possibly originated as a powerful metaphor for Nebuchadnezzer's dream of the destruction of a great statue

The same story is recorded by Bar Hebraeus, writing in Syriac in the 13th century in Edesesea. (after the Arab pillage of Rhoes) "And a great number of men hauled on strong topes which were tied round the brass Colussus which was in the city and pulled it down.  :And they weighed from it three thousand loads of Corinthian brass and they sold it to a certain Jew from Edessa" (the Syrian city of ).  Theophanes is the sole source of this account and all other sources can be traced to him

This is an artist's conception of the Colussus of Rhodes from the Grolier Society's 1911 Book of Knowledge.

Modern engineers have put forward a plausible hypothesis for the statue construction, based on the technology of those days (which was not based on the modern principles of earthquake engineering), and the accounts of Phil and Pliny who both saw and described the remains.

There is much more information, and discussion, about the Colussus on Wikipedia if you are interested in learning more about this magnificent edifice.


  1. Hari OM
    Wow that was interesting... I vaguely recall this being covered when at school. Vague I said! Thanks for this Mimsie &*> YAM xx

  2. I've not given a single thought to the Colossus, since the first day I learned of it. There's so much from school that I've forgotten.

  3. I often wonder how they built these marvels so long ago without the benefit of machinery and modern technology...