Colossus of Rhodes | A Wonder of The Ancient World

Statue of Liberty is a world famous statue in New York. However, where does the inspiration come from? Why is the statue called as ‘The New Colossus’? Travelling back to ancient time to the Greek, city of Rhodes there stood a statue of the Sun God Helios.

This statue was a colossal one, which inspired many other statues around the world including the statue of Liberty

Origin of Colossus

One of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes was a stupendous statue of a male figure built around 280 BC, which was erected on the Greek island of Rhodes.

The word Colossus derives from Greek language, which means statues. Tracing the meaning of the word Colossus in modern English has become synonymous with structures or creatures on a massive towering scale.

The Story Behind the Art

The ancient period reports that the Colossus of Rhodes was created in honoring the Sun God of Greeks, Helios and to commemorate the Rhodians (people of Rhode) and their successful defense against an army led by Macedonian leader Demetrius Poliocretes.

On their way back, Macedonians left signing peace treaty with Rhodians and left their siege equipments at Rhode islands. The Rodhians took it as an opportunity, melted the equipments, and sold, which costs around 300 talents (money) and the Rhodians decided to bankroll it for the Colossus of Rhodes

The Marvel Mighty Helios

The patron deity of Rhodes was Helios, he is the personification of the Sun that is bright and radiant. He is the guardian of Rhodes. It was Chares of Lindos, who had been chosen for sculpting their God, Helios.

Chares of Lindos

Chares was born in Rhodes and was a pupil of Lysippos, who was known for his enormous bronze statues. The colossus of Rhodes was designed using bronze and iron.

Iron beams and frames are used within the statue to support the structure of Helios to stand erect. The body of the statue was fabricated with dozens of bronzes and underneath it was designed with the framework of iron bars filled with huge stones and boulders.

Chares major concern was on the location, as well as the visibility and foundation of the statue to held high firmly on the ground. The bronze were from the gathered war machines that were used by the Demetrius in the war. After twelve long years, the statue was completed around 280 BC.

The tremendous Helios stood 33 meters or 108 feet high. The Colossus of Rhodes was considered to be Chares’ Magnum opus. This was the crowning achievement of his entire life.

The saddest part is that Chares did not view his finished works as he committed suicide.

Crumple of Colossus of Rhodes

It was warm and peaceful night in the city of Rhodes in the year 226BC. The city did not have an idea that it will get destroyed over night. There was sudden tremble in the city of Rhodes. The mightiest statue, which stood in its firm for 54 years suddenly, fell to the ground.

An earthquake shook the city of Rhodes with significant damage in the city, harbor and commercial buildings, which were destroyed.

The people of Rhodes witnessed the construction as well as the destruction during their lifetime .The colossus got snapped at the knees and fell onto the ground.

Ptolemy III came forward to pay for the reconstruction of the statue, but it was declined by the Oracle of Delphi saying that Rhodians had offended Helios, the Sun God.

Digging the History

Reading all the background of the statue and the sculptor behind the statue now one might want to know the posture of the Statue.

First hand, witness of the statue is not available. Works of Starto, Greek Geographer and Pliny the Elder, a Roman author says about Colossus of Rhodes.

Some writing and poems suggests that the statue of Helios holds a blazing torch in one hand and it stood up with a straddling pose.

Face of Helios might have been from the coinage. During the period of coinage, Rhodians had coin one side contained the face of Helios and the other side it had rose. Some insists that the Helios stood over one hand raised his head in pose of the sailor’s salute.

The figure of Helios looks like a man shading his eyes with his right hand against the glare of the sun in the ocean looking over the horizon searching for new lands to conquer.

The interesting part in this it that some claimed that the face of the Helios looks similar to the face of the Alexander. However, the exact pose or the position of the statue held while it stood hangs as one of the greatest mysteries.

Coloration like Chameleon

The coloration of the statue was well understood. There was a bronze plating which shined bright in the Sun. Then it turned to a bluish green colour, which looked similar to the colour of statue of Liberty.

When, the Statue of Liberty was completed in 1886 it shined in orange colour. After one year, it started to turn to crimson red then dark brown and later after ages, it turned to bluish green.

It is because all the copper and bronze metals will over time react or oxidize with the surrounding air and naturally builds up a covering called patina. It sounds interesting that this had happened in Rhodes before 2000 years ago.

Farewell to Colossus of Rhodes

The last remains of the statue dated in the year 653, until an Arab force under Muslim Caliph Muawiyah I captured Rhodes.

The remains were unceremoniously melted down and were auctioned to Jewish Merchants. This is how Helios got disappeared from the place of Rhodes. Over the centuries, Colossus had been forgotten from the history.

Passing the ages, even the city had forgotten about the location of the statue. The placement of the statue remains unknown.

Recreating history

The planning to reconstruct the Colossus of Rhodes is up in the air. A group of European Architects had proposed their plan to build a new Colossus at the harbor entrance.

The new statue is planned for about 150 meters (490 feet) tall. The statue will comprise a culture center, a library, lighthouse etc. The designers planned to cover the entire statue with solar panels to power up.

The update of the plan is not yet out. Will the Colossus of Rhode will be re- built again? This question is still unanswerable but let us wait for the Greek God Helios to answer.

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