The Colossus of Rhodes - Ancient Wonder

Post a Comment
"Few men can clasp the thumb in their arms, and the fingers are larger than most statues. Where the limbs are broken asunder, vast caverns are seen yawning in the interior. The Colossus of Rhodes is one of the seven wonders of the ancien world and one of the seven wonders of the world.

This is how in the first century AD, the Roman historian Pliny described the Colossus of Rhodes as it lay broken, tumbled by an earthquake, on the ground. What he was looking at was an immense statue of Helias, or Apollo, the sun-god of the Greek island of Rhodes.

The Colossus, made of bronze, was created by a sculptor called Chares of Lindus. The work took twelve years, from 292 to 280 BC, and a story is told that when Chares had nearly finished his task, he discovered an error in his calculations and committed suicide. If this is true, Chares must have set himself impossibly high standards, for the Greeks, who were renowned for their knowledge of human sculpture, declared the Colossus to be the most perfect model ofa human form ever fashioned by man.

Chares received his commission to create the Colossus as a result of a war. In 312 BC Ptolemy, king of Egypt, was fighting Antigonus, ruler of Macedon. The people of Rhodes decided to join forces with Ptolemy, and their ships of war and trade made a significant contribution to the defeat of Antigonus. Five years later the Macedonians, still nursing revenge, sent a huge force of men and ships to lay siege to Rhodes. There were more men in this Macedonian army than there were people in Rhodes, so the odds against the Rhodians seemed fearful.

Nevertheless, for twelve months Rhodes repulsed attack after attack. At the end of that time, her cause looked lost. Then Ptolemy of Egypt, not forgetting how well the Rhodians had helped him once before, sailed to their aid and forced the Macedonians to withdraw.

Overjoyed, the Rhodians summoned Chares the sculptor, who had himself fought valiantly in defence of Rhodes, to commemorate their deliverance by building the Colossus in honour of their protecting deity, the sun-god Helias. As an extra memorial to the great siege, the statue was made wholly of metal taken from the engines of war left behind by the Macedonians.

The Colossus, however, was to prove a short-lived wonden Fifty-six years after it was erected an earthquake shook Rhodes and the bronze giant crashed on to the harbour rocks.

Still more degradation awaited it when, in AD 672, the Arabs took Rhodes. With not much more than a glance at the statue, they sold it, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, as scrap metal to a Jewish merchant. It took the merchant nine hundred camel loads 300 tonnes of bronze to carry it away.

Related Posts

Post a Comment

Subscribe Our Newsletter