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Colossus of Rhodes

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Krystal Coenen
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« on: July 14, 2007, 08:23:37 pm »


This drawing of Colossus of Rhodes, which illustrated The Grolier Society's 1911 Book of Knowledge, is probably fanciful, as it is unlikely that the statue stood astride the harbour mouth.

The Colossus of Rhodes was a huge statue of the Greek god Helios, erected on the Greek island of Rhodes (approximate coordinates 36°27'04"N, 28°13'40"E) by Chares of Lindos, a student of Lysippos, between 292 and 280 BC. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Before its destruction, the Colossus of Rhodes stood 70 cubits tall, over 30 metres (100 feet), making it the tallest statue of the ancient world
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2007, 08:25:13 pm »

Siege of Rhodes

Siege of Rhodes (305 BC/304 BC) is one of the most famous sieges in ancient history.

Demetrius, son of Antigonus I, besieged Rhodes supposedly in an attempt to break its alliance with Egypt.

The island of Rhodes was a mercantile republic with a large navy which controlled the entrance to the Aegean Sea. Rhodes maintained treaties of neutrality with other empires to protect trade, however they had a close relationship with Ptolemy I and Demetrius was worried Rhodes would supply him with ships. Demetrius also saw the possibility of using Rhodes as a base. The decision to lay siege to Rhodes was influenced by these fears but it was also a piratical enterprise by Demetrius who thought "it was a glorious thing to be a pirate king". Much of the Greek and Macedonian world, regardless of whether they were allies of Demetrius or not, apparently also viewed the siege as a pirate attack and sympathized with the Rhodians.

As well as a fighting fleet of 200 ships and 150 auxiliary vessels Demetrius also enlisted the aid of many pirate fleets. Over 1,000 private trading vessels followed his fleets in anticipation of the plunder success would bring.

The city and main harbour of Rhodes was strongly fortified and Demetrius was unable to prevent supply ships from running his blockade so capturing the harbour was his main priority.He first built his own harbour alongside and constructed a mole from which he deployed a floating spiked boom but Demetrius never succeeded in taking the harbour. At the same time his army ravaged the island and built a huge camp next to the city but just out of missile range. Early in the siege the walls were breached and a number of troops entered the city but they were all killed and Demetrius didn't press the attack. The walls were subsequently repaired.

Both sides used many technical devices during the siege such as mines and countermines and various siege engines. Demetrius even built the now famous siege tower, known as the Helepolis in his attempt to take the city.

The citizens of Rhodes were successful in resisting Demetrius; after one year he abandoned the siege and signed a peace agreement (304 BC) which Demetrius presented as a victory because Rhodes agreed to remain neutral in his war with Ptolemy (Egypt). The unpopularity of the siege may have been a factor in its abandonment after only one year.

Several years later the helepolis, which had been abandoned, had its metal plating melted down and, along with the money from selling the remains of the siege engines and equipment left behind by Demetrius, was used to erect a statue of their sun god, Helios, now known as the Colossus of Rhodes, to commemorate their heroic resistance.

L. Sprague de Camp used the siege and the building of the Colossus in one of his historical novels, The Bronze God of Rhodes.
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2007, 08:29:04 pm »

Life of the statue

Alexander the Great died at an early age in 323 BC without having time to put into place any plans for his succession. Fighting broke out among his generals, the Diadochi, with three of them eventually dividing up much of his empire in the Mediterranean area. During the fighting Rhodes had sided with Ptolemy, and when Ptolemy eventually took control of Egypt, Rhodes and Ptolemaic Egypt formed an alliance which controlled much of the trade in the eastern Mediterranean.


Another of Alexander's generals, Antigonus I Monophthalmus, was upset by this turn of events. In 305 BC he had his son Demetrius Poliorcetes, also a general, invaded Rhodes with an army of 40,000; however, the city was well defended, and Demetrius—whose name "Poliorcetes" signifies the "besieger of cities"—had to start construction of a number of massive siege towers in order to gain access to the walls. The first was mounted on six ships, but these were capsized in a storm before they could be used. He tried again with a larger, land-based tower named Helepolis, but the Rhodian defenders stopped this by flooding the land in front of the walls so that the rolling tower could not move.

In 304 BC a relief force of ships sent by Ptolemy arrived, and Demetrius's army abandoned the siege, leaving most of their siege equipment. To celebrate their victory, the Rhodians sold the equipment left behind for 300 talents[2] and decided to use the money to build a colossal statue of their patron god, Helios. Construction was left to the direction of Chares, a native of Lindos in Rhodes, who had been involved with large-scale statues before. His teacher, the sculptor Lysippos, had constructed an 18-metre high[3] bronze statue of Zeus at Tarentum.
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2007, 08:31:09 pm »



Colossus of Rhodes, imagined in a 16th-century engraving by Martin Heemskerck, part of his series of the Seven Wonders of the World
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2007, 08:31:59 pm »

Construction

Ancient accounts, which differ to some degree, describe the structure as being built around several stone columns (or towers of blocks) forming the interior of the structure, which stood on a fifteen-meter-high (fifty-foot) white marble pedestal near the Mandraki harbor entrance. Other sources place the Colossus on a breakwater in the harbor. The statue itself was over 34 meters (110 feet) tall. Iron beams were embedded in the brick towers, and bronze plates attached to the bars formed the visible skin of the sculpture. Much of the iron and bronze was reforged from the various weapons Demetrius's army left behind, and the abandoned second siege tower was used for scaffolding around the lower levels during construction. Upper portions were built with the use of a large earthen ramp. During the building the builders would pile mounds of dirt on the sides of the colossus. To an observer it may have looked like a volcano-like sculpture. Upon completion all of the dirt was moved and the colossus was left to stand alone. After twelve years, in 280 BC, the statue was completed.



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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2007, 08:33:13 pm »

Destruction

The statue stood for only fifty-six years until Rhodes was hit by an earthquake in 226 BC. The statue snapped at the knees and fell over onto the land. Ptolemy III offered to pay for the reconstruction of the statue, but the oracle of Delphi made the Rhodians afraid that they had offended Helios, and they declined to rebuild it. The remains lay on the ground as described by Strabo (xiv.2.5) for over 800 years, and even broken, they were so impressive that many traveled to see them. Pliny the Elder remarked that few people could wrap their arms around the fallen thumb and that each of its fingers was larger than most statues.

In 654 an Arab force under Muawiyah I captured Rhodes, and according to the chronicler Theophanes the Confessor,[4] the remains were sold to a traveling salesman from Edessa. The buyer had the statue broken down, and transported the bronze scrap on the backs of 900 camels to his home. Pieces continued to turn up for sale for years, after being found along the caravan route.

The harbor-straddling Colossus was a figment of later imaginations. Many older illustrations (above) show the statue with one foot on either side of the harbor mouth with ships passing under it: "… the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land …" ("The New Colossus", the poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty). Shakespeare's Cassius in Julius Caesar (I,ii,136–38) says of Caesar:

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 dishonorable graves
Shakespeare alludes to the Colossus also in Troilus and Cressida (V.5) and in Henry IV, Part 1 (V.1).

While these fanciful images from poetry feed the misconception, simple reflection on the mechanics of the situation reveal that the Colossus could not have straddled the harbor as described in Lempričre's Classical Dictionary. (a) If the completed statue straddled the harbor, the entire mouth of the harbor would have been effectively closed during the entirety of the construction, nor would the ancient Rhodian have had the means to dredge and re-open the harbor after construction. (b) The statue fell in 224 BC: if it straddled the harbor mouth, it would have entirely blocked the harbor, nor would the ancient have had the ability to remove the entire statue from the harbor so it would be visible on land for the next 800 years, as discussed above. Even neglecting these objections, the statue was made of bronze, and an engineering analysis proved that it could not have been built with its legs apart without collapsing from its own weight.
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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2007, 08:36:59 pm »

Modern times

•   Media reports in 1989 initially suggested that large stones found on the seabed off the coast of Rhodes might have been the remains of the Colossus; however this theory was later shown to be without merit.
•   There has been much debate as to whether to rebuild the Colossus. Those in favour say it would boost tourism in Rhodes greatly, but those against construction say it would cost too large an amount (over 100 million euros). This idea has been revived many times since it was first proposed in 1970 but, due to lack of funding, work has not yet started.
•   In an adventure of Asterix the Gaul, Rhodes sends "a colossus" to compete in the Olympic Games.
•   In Sergio Leone's sword and sandal film "Il Colosso di Rodi" (1961) the Colossus stands spread-legged over the only entrance to Rhodes' harbour. In this instance the statue is hollow (like the Statue of Liberty) and is armed with defensive weaponry.
•   Sylvia Plath's poem "The Colossus", refers to the Colossus of Rhodes. Perhaps the most famous reference to the Colossus, however, is in the immortal poem, "The New Colossus," by Emma Lazarus, written in 1883 and inscribed on a plaque at the Statue of Liberty in New York City's harbor.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
"

•   The Colossus is a buildable Great Wonder in the popular Civilization computer game.
•   In the book by George RR Martin, A Feast for Crows, the description of his "Titan of Braavos" is very similar to the harbour-stradling Colossus.
•   The head of the Colossus is the first trap in the thriller Seven Ancient Wonders.
•   The Colossus is brazenly brought to life in an attempt to kill Kratos, the main character in the Sony Playstation 2 video game God of War II.
•   In the film Jason and the Argonauts, the Titan that Hercules wakes up is based on this Colossus.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2007, 08:38:44 pm by Krystal » Report Spam   Logged
Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2007, 08:40:46 pm »





To you, O Sun, the people of Dorian Rhodes set up this bronze statue reaching to Olympus when they had pacified the waves of war and crowned their city with the spoils taken from the enemy. Not only over the seas but also on land did they kindle the lovely torch of freedom.

Dedicatory inscription of the Colossus



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Krystal Coenen
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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2007, 08:41:40 pm »

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From its building to its destruction lies a time span of merely 56 years. Yet the colossus earned a place in the famous list of Wonders. "But even lying on the ground, it is a marvel", said Pliny the Elder. The Colossus of Rhodes was not only a gigantic statue. It was rather a symbol of unity of the people who inhabited that beautiful Mediterranean island -- Rhodes.

Location
At the entrance of the harbor of the Mediterranean island of Rhodes in Greece.

History
Throughout most of its history, ancient Greece was comprised of city-states which had limited power beyond their boundary. On the small island of Rhodes were three of these: Ialysos, Kamiros, and Lindos. In 408 BC, the cities united to form one territory, with a unified capital, Rhodes. The city thrived commercially and had strong economic ties with their main ally, Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt. In 305 BC, the Antigonids of Macedonia who were also rivals of the Ptolemies, besieged Rhodes in an attempt to break the Rhodo-Egyptian alliance. They could never penetrate the city. When a peace agreement was reached in 304 BC, the Antagonids lifted the siege, leaving a wealth of military equipment behind. To celebrate their unity, the Rhodians sold the equipment and used the money to erect an enormous statue of their sun god, Helios.

The construction of the Colossus took 12 years and was finished in 282 BC. For years, the statue stood at the harbor entrance, until a strong earthquake hit Rhodes about 226 BC. The city was badly damaged, and the Colossus was broken at its weakest point -- the knee. The Rhodians received an immediate offer from Ptolemy III Eurgetes of Egypt to cover all restoration costs for the toppled monument. However, an oracle was consulted and forbade the re-****. Ptolemy's offer was declined.

For almost a millennium, the statue lay broken in ruins. In AD 654, the Arabs invaded Rhodes. They disassembled the remains of the broken Colossus and sold them to a Jew from Syria. It is said that the fragments had to be transported to Syria on the backs of 900 camels.

Description
Let us first clear a misconception about the appearance of the Colossus. It has long been believed that the Colossus stood in front of the Mandraki harbor, one of many in the city of Rhodes, straddling its entrance. Given the height of the statue and the width of the harbor mouth, this picture is rather impossible than improbable. Moreover, the fallen Colossus would have blocked the harbor entrance. Recent studies suggest that it was erected either on the eastern promontory of the Mandraki harbor, or even further inland. Anyway, it did never straddle the harbor entrance.

The project was commissioned by the Rhodian sculptor Chares of Lindos. To build the statue, his workers cast the outer bronze skin parts. The base was made of white marble, and the feet and ankle of the statue were first fixed. The structure was gradually erected as the bronze form was fortified with an iron and stone framework. To reach the higher parts, an earth ramp was built around the statue and was later removed. When the colossus was finished, it stood about 33 m (110 ft) high. And when it fell, "few people can make their arms meet round the thumb", wrote Pliny.

Although we do not know the true shape and appearance of the Colossus, modern reconstructions with the statue standing upright are more accurate than older drawings. Although it disappeared from existence, the ancient World Wonder inspired modern artists such as French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi best known by his famous work: The Statue of Liberty.


http://ce.eng.usf.edu/pharos/wonders/colossus.html
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