Colossus of Rhodes

Public Art : Colossus of Rhodes

Sculptor: © Chares of Lindos

Description: The Colossus of Rhodes was an enormous  30 meters (107 ft) high bronze statue which once stood at the harbour entrance to the city of Rhodes. It is one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the world.

Date: The Colossus was erected between 292 and 280 BC

Location: The actual location of the Colossus has never been pinpointed. Despite it commonly believed that the enormous statue straddled the harbor entrance to Rhodes, this is purely myth. It would have been impossible to create the bronze statue with its legs apart, as it would have collapsed from its own weight.  In 2008 author Ursula Vedder wrote an article suggesting that the Colossus was never actually erected in the port but stood on a hill dedicated to Apollo within the Acropolis of Rhodes. At this site is an enormous stone foundation which no one has been able to explain.

Background To The Colossus Statue :  The statue, which depicted their patron god, Helios (Titan god of the sun), was erected between 292 and 280 BC, in celebration of Rhodes' victory over invading Macedonians in 305 BC, led by Demetrius I, son of Antigonus, a general under Alexander the Great. Much of the iron and bronze from weapons left behind by the retreating army was reforged and turned into bronze plates to create the enormous statue.

The statue took 12 years to complete but only stood for 56 years. In 226 BC Rhodes was rocked by a massive earthquake which resulted in the enormous statue snapping at the knees and falling to the ground. You would have thought it would have been rebuilt despite the offers, but no. For fear they had upset the Sun God they left the statue where it had fallen. There it remained for 800 years, just as popular as when it stood guarding the harbour. Many people who travelled to see the fallen icon would wrap their arms around the thumb.

In 654, Arab invaders sold the remains of the statue to a "Jewish merchant of Edessa". The merchant broke the statue down and transported it home on the backs of 900 camels.

Colossus Trivia : It is believed/rumored that the locally born sculptor Chares of Lindos had committed suicide before the statue was completed. There are two conflicting stories as to why. In the first it is believed that the sculptor, being a perfectionist, was horrified when someone had pointed out a flaw in the statue and as a result killed himself. The second was that he had made incorrect calculations to the cost of the statue when he was asked how much it would cost to double its size. He responded with twice as much, when in fact it would have been greatly more. It was only after he won the contract and began work on it that he realized his mistake. Having gone bankrupt he took his own life.

The design of the  Statue of liberty in New York harbor was based on the Colossus of Rhodes.

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