Interesting facts about the Colossus of Rhodes

Posted on Apr 11, 2021      233

The Colossus of Rhodes was a giant statue that was erected on the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea. Now it is difficult to say exactly what it looked like, it is known only that its height reached 33 - 36 meters, and this grandiose construction was created by the sculptor Hares, a student of the famous Lysippus. The exact date of the erection of the statue is also unknown. Supposedly it was in the III century BC, and the work on the Colossus of Rhodes lasted twelve years.

In 305 BC the army of Demetrius of Macedonia landed in Rhodes. Despite the huge army, which numbered 40,000 people, and a lot of siege weapons and battering machines, the inhabitants of Rhodes could defend their island and in memory of deliverance from the enemy installed a statue of Colossus. There is even a legend that some of the money for the construction was raised from the sale of enemy battering machines abandoned by the fleeing soldiers of Demetrius of Macedonia.

It is not known when Hares completed the work, but in 281 B.C. the statue of the Colossus of Rhodes had already adorned the island. There are several descriptions of this construction, the most accurate of which is considered the testimony of the ancient Greek engineer and mathematician Philo of Byzantium. According to his data, the statue was made of a man standing on a pedestal of white marble.

It took 8 tons of iron and 13 tons of bronze to erect the statue. The base was made of iron beams to which the bronze plates were attached and which created the shape of the human body. The voids were filled with a mixture of clay and stones. The Colossus of Rhodes held a torch in his hand that was lit at night. Thus, the statue not only adorned the entrance of the harbor, but also served as a lighthouse.

For stability, the feet of the Colossus of Rhodes were huge, disproportionate to the body. Some sources even claimed that the feet were on opposite sides of the entrance to the harbor. But this was simply impossible, as the distance between the shores was about 400 meters, and the height of the statue itself was ten times less.

First Hares made the feet of the Colossus, then climbed higher and higher, joining the additional body parts to those made earlier. To hide his work from prying eyes, the sculptor ordered an earthen rampart to be built around it, which became higher and higher as the statue itself grew. The monument was originally supposed to be about 18 meters high, but then it was doubled its height.

When the works were completed, the earthwork was demolished and the admiring inhabitants of Rhodes saw the remarkable image of Colossus peering intently into the distance, as if considering the ships arriving in the port. The fame of Colossus of Rhodes spread over many countries, travelers from all over the Mediterranean came to admire it.

But the fate of the sculptor Hares, who worked for many years on the statue, was tragic. Soon after the Colossus of Rhodes adorned the port of the island, Hares himself committed suicide. What prompted him to take such a step? According to one version, the sculptor was broke and could not pay off his creditors, because the money initially allocated for all the work was not enough and Hares had to go into heavy debt. Other biographers claim cracks were seen on the statue, which caused the anger of the islanders.

However, the statue of Colossus of Rhodes did not stand on its pedestal for long either. In 226 (according to other sources - in 227) B.C., the island of Rhodes became a victim of a devastating earthquake. The harbor was completely destroyed. The Colossus of Rhodes could not resist the elements. The statue broke at the knees, the upper part of the monument collapsed to the ground. Thus, the Colossus of Rhodes was a landmark of the island for a brief time - about 50 years.

Restore the statue did not begin because of someone prophecy, according to which its restoration can cause the wrath of the god Helios, which was devoted to the structure. The Colossus of Rhodes lay for centuries on the shore of the bay, impressing eyewitnesses with its size. Pliny the Elder wrote that not everyone could even grasp the Colossus’ thumb. Only in 653, the Arabs, who conquered the island, sold the wreckage of the statue to some merchant, who melted the bronze sheets into ingots and took them out on camels. Which it took 900.

But recently, not all the statue was melted down. Archaeologists discovered at the bottom of the bay of Rhodes Island right-hand brush Colossus. This is all that remains of the grandiose structure, which rightly belonged to one wonder of the world. In recent years there have been proposals to reconstruct the ancient statue. Its size should be much larger than the original - up to 150 meters high.