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Colossus of Rhodes

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Flash
54948.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:33 pm Reply with quote

Q: Where did the Colossus of Rhodes stand?

F: Astride the entrance to the harbour of Rhodes.
A: On a hill overlooking the harbour of Rhodes.

When the Colossus was erected in 290BC, Rhodes was richer and more powerful than Athens and allied to Egypt. Besieged by the Macedonian Dimitrios Poliorketes, the most famous General of his day, they engaged in a year-long war of wits as Dimitrios invented spectacular new bits of kit (such as a ten-storey siege tower), only to be foiled by the Rhodians (who, in that case, tunnelled under the tower and toppled it). When Dimitrios left, leaving his equipment behind, the Rhodians sold it and used the money to build a huge statue of Helios, their patron god. It took the sculptor Chares 12 years and 20,000lbs of silver and his life - he committed suicide just before completing it because of a miscalculation in the casting.

Built over a frame of iron and stone and covered with sheets of bronze, the Colossus was probably as tall or taller than the Statue of Liberty; Pliny wrote that the thumb alone was so big that few people could wrap their arms around it.

In spite of popular depictions, the Colossus never straddled the harbour entrance, but overlooked it, standing on the hill where the medieval Palace of the Grand Masters stands today.

In 226BC an earthquake broke the Colossus at the knee and sent it crashing to the ground. Ptolemy III of Egypt offered to fund repairs, but an oracle forbade its re-erection.

In 654AD Rhodes was conquered by Arabs, who sold the remains to a scrap merchant from Edessa, who needed 900 camels to carry the fragments home. No trace remains, anywhere.

(extracted from Tall Tales and Tittle Tattle, Pauls & Facaros)

 
Flash
54950.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:37 pm Reply with quote

A popular depiction:

 
Flash
54952.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:40 pm Reply with quote

A popular depiction in words:

Quote:
Why man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.


Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

 
Gray
55063.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 4:51 am Reply with quote

The guy in the crow's nest gets a bit of an eyeful...

 
Frederick The Monk
55527.  Sun Feb 26, 2006 5:25 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
When Dimitrios left, leaving his equipment behind, the Rhodians sold it and used the money to build a huge statue of Helios, their patron god.


I thought the statue was dedicated in thanks for Ptolemy Iís assistance in the wars of the Diadochi?

The exact location is still much in dispute and to put on my 'Flash's Patent Quibble Hat' I think the camel story is a much late tradition.

 
Flash
55536.  Sun Feb 26, 2006 7:35 am Reply with quote

Looks like we have a few caveats to enter, then. Can we at least state unequivocally that it didn't bestride the harbour entrance? That seems to be the nub of the thing in terms of its value as a Gen Ig question.

Do you mean that the 900 camels thing was dreamt up some time after the 7th century, Fred?

 
Frederick The Monk
55544.  Sun Feb 26, 2006 8:50 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Can we at least state unequivocally that it didn't bestride the harbour entrance?


Yup

Flash wrote:

Do you mean that the 900 camels thing was dreamt up some time after the 7th century, Fred?


Yup

 

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