The Colossus of Rhodes: The representative statue of Helios –

The Colossus of Rhodes It was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world and, along with the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the last on the list to see the light. It also enjoys the dubious honor of being, probably, the one that lasted the least, while some of its companions on the list survived for centuries (and, in the case of the Great Pyramid of Giza, even reach today), the Colossus of Rhodes only lasted a few decades. Currently, we do not have any remains of the statue and we can only imagine what it must have looked like thanks to the descriptions made of it by such well-known authors as Pliny the Elder or Strabo.

Construction of the Colossus of Rhodes

The idea of ​​building a huge statue in honor of the god Helios, patron god of Rhodes, emerged after the great siege that the island suffered in 305 BC. C. In that year, the son of Antigonus I, the successor of Alexander the Great in the area of ​​Macedonia, Syria and other areas of Asia Minor, Demetrius Poliorcetes, arrived at the island of Rhodes in command of a powerful fleet to besiege the city . The reason was the close alliance that Rhodes had with Ptolemy I of Egypt, a prominent rival and enemy of Antigonus I. Fearful that he might lend military aid or resources to Ptolemy I during their clashes, they decided to take control of Rhodes through this siege. However, Rhodes, which was well fortified and prepared for this type of problem, withstood the siege for more than a year, without Demetrius achieving his goal of dominating it. In the year 304 a. C., Demetrius signed a peace treaty with Rhodes before withdrawing with his fleet without fulfilling his objective, after Ptolemy sent a fleet to help his ally.

The inhabitants of Rhodes not only attributed their ability to resist the siege to their own precautions, but also to the help that would have been provided by their protector god, Helios, the personification of the Sun. To honor him, they decided that they would create the most magnificent statue possible in his honor, a job they commissioned from Charles, who had been a pupil of the famous artist Lysippus.

According to one of the best surviving descriptions of the Colossus of Rhodesthat of Pliny the Elder, this would measure 32 meters, although he could only see its remains after its collapse. Few certain data we have about the Colossus. would have been made of iron and bronze, although the feet were probably made of stone and had some details in other materials, such as the aforementioned marble. In addition to this, We know very few concrete details about its appearance and its construction.n, although there are many theories and deductions in this regard made by different specialists in history and architecture.

In fact, it is not even known for sure where and how it would be located. For a long time it was thought that the Colossus would have each leg resting on one of the sides of the Rhodes pier. However, it seems very complicated that, with the techniques of the time, it could have been possible for a statue of such dimensions to have remained stable in that position. Several historians suggest that it would have presided over the Rhodes dock, but on one of the sides, with a more common position according to the aesthetics and the form of construction of Greek Hellenistic art. But that’s not safe either. another theory suggests that the Colossus would not have been on the pier, but on the city’s Acropolis.

Perhaps one of the few sure things we know about the Colossus today is the certainty of its magnificence. No doubt he must have greatly impressed his contemporaries. We must remember that Pliny, as we have indicated, affirmed that the Colossus measured about 32 meters, while the Statue of Liberty in New York, which still impresses today, measures only two meters more, 34, from its feet to its crown (without count the base or the torch). If the Statue of Liberty continues to fascinate us today, we can only imagine the impression a statue the size of the Colossus would make on its contemporaries.

However, this great work lasted a very short time. Its construction began in the year 292 a. C. and was finished around 280 a. C. However, in the year 226 a. C. a huge earthquake shook the island of Rhodes, causing serious damage and collapsing the great colossus which, it seems, broke at the legs and fell to the ground, shattering as a result of the blow. The Colossus was not rebuilt and its remains remained on Rhodes for centuries, to the amazement of visitors to the island.

The remains of the Colossus did not disappear until the Muslims They conquered the island of Rhodes, already in the Middle Ages. It is known that the Caliph Muawiyah I he sold part of the statue to a dealer and smashed the rest for its material. To this day, we have no known remains of the great Colossus. Some historians have indicated several hypotheses of places where the magnificent statue could have stood, but they are far from being proven and have been answered. Therefore, to this day, we can only imagine what it would look like thanks to the amazed testimonies left by its witnesses.

Video of the Colossus of Rhodes

If you want to know more about this great construction of Antiquity, we recommend that you watch the following conference, dedicated to the Colossus and the Lighthouse of Alexandria:

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