Colossus of Rhodes
Myths and truths about the Colossus of Rhodes
Introduction. Time of construction of the statue.
Testimonies of ancient and medieval writers for a period of about nine centuries,
while the Colossus of Rhodes lay in ruins,
give us information about when it was built,
its dimensions, the reason for its construction, its fall, and its subsequent fate.
According to all evidence, the Colossus of Rhodes
was built by the sculptor Haris from Lindos.
He is mentioned as a student of one of the most
famous sculptors of the 4th century, Lysippus.
The construction of the statue is directly linked to an important
the event in the history of Rhodes, the successful solution
of the siege of the city by Demetrius (305/4[?]BC).
After the end of the siege that ensured Rhodes
its independence and honor,
the Rhodians made many tributes to the gods,
the most important of which was the famous
statue of the sun, the Colossus of Rhodes,
because mainly to the god Helios,
protector of Rhodes they claimed their victory.
The statue was probably ready around 292 BC.
Its construction cost about 300 talents, according to the historian
Pliny (23-79 AD), which came from the sale of the siege
engines that Demetrius had left when he left,
How the statue was made.
The Colossus was made of brass and had a height of 70 cubits,
that is 30-32 meters. Pliny the Elder characteristically mentions: “
…even collapsed to the ground, it remains a wonder.
Few people can wrap their arms around the thumb of this figure,
whose fingers are longer than most statues.”
The Rhodians possessed the appropriate technology to make massive,
colossal bronze statues, as has been shown by
excavations of foundries in the city of Rhodes.
The Colossus should have been constructed in sections
from brass plates up to 15 meters high which would
have been fixed internally with holes.
Inside it must have been filled with iron bars and stones.
His head is likely to have resembled the head of a colossal
statue of the Sun god that is on display today
in the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes,
which has holes for metal spokes to be attached.
(The image of the head is from the website of the
Ministry of Culture: http:// odysseus.culture.gr/h/4/gh430.jsp?obj_id=4862)
For reasons of static, the right hand of the statue was probably
attached to the head, while on the other hand,
it should have balanced the weight of a long cloak.
All the evidence shows the admiration
and impression of the ancients regarding the size.
The legend of Colossus of Rhodes
The legend of the Colossus was so great in the Middle Ages
that Rhodes was called Colossi and its inhabitants Colosseans.
Some believe that the Apostle Paul’s mission “to the Colossians”
is also addressed to the Rhodians.
This legend was the reason for calling
the church of Saint John the patron of the Knights,
which was opposite the Grand Master’s palace, S. Johannes Colossensis
and for the Latin archbishop to bear the nickname “arhiepiscopus Colossensis”.
Western chroniclers and travelers from the end of the 14th century
onwards guided by their imaginations place the statue at the entrance to
the port of Mandraki on Rhodes.
HI Papachristodoulou believes that this happened because they
misunderstood the phrase of the epigram that was at the base of the Colossus:
for they only bloomed over seas, but also
in they did not set him up above the sea only, but also over solid on the earth) (Papachristodoulou XI,
The history of Rhodes, p. 221).
Besides, as A. Mastrapas notes, these are “hypothetical representations
influenced by the Renaissance spirit of the time with
the main goal of beautification and the parallel shift to the ancient world”
(Matrapas A., The Colossus, p. 20).
The legend about the existence of the Colossus in the port
of Rhodes reaches to our days.
From time to time massive stone formations have been
recovered from the bottom of the port of Mandraki,
which many hypothesize to be related to the Colossus.