Its history begins with the siege of Demetrios Poliorketes, successor of Alexander the Great, in 305 BC. When Demetrios was defeated, he abandoned all his siege machinery on the island of Rhodes. The Rhodians decided to express their pride and gratitude by building a triumphal statue of their favorite god, Helios. The task was assigned to the sculptor Chares of Lindos, a pupil of Lysippos himself; a project that took him twelve years ( from 304 – 292 BC ) to complete.
Helios, the Sun God, was the offspring of the Titans Hyperion and Theia. While it was not specifically the subject of a widespread cult across Greece, many people, including Socrates, would greet the Sun and offer prayers each day, as we are informed by Plato’s Symposium and other works.
Helios was particularly worshiped in Rhodes. Here he was the patron god, and honored by the Halieia festival, which was the highlight of the island’s religious calendar and the Pan – Hellenic games, much like the ancient Olympic Games. As the years were passing, in between 3rd to 1st century BCE, Helios and the God Apollo , become practically synonymous and as time goes by, Apollo becomes the Sun God himself.
It has long been believed that the Colossus stood in front of the Mandraki harbor, in the city of Rhodes, straddling the entrance. Considering the height of the statue and the width of the harbor mouth, this possibility is mostly impossible. 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. In any case, it never straddled the harbor entrance.
The construction of the Colossus of Rhodes From the time of the construction, its destruction lies a time span of 56 years. Yet the Colossus of Rhodes earned a place in the famous list of Wonders. It was not only a gigantic statue, it was a symbol of unity of the people and the Symbol of Rhodes Island into eternity. To build the Colossus of Rhodes, the workers cast the outer bronze skin parts. First the base was constructed, out of white Pentelikon marble, ( the same used on the Parthenon ) followed by the construction of the feet and ankle of the statue. The structure was gradually erected as the bronze form was fortified with an iron and stone framework. In order to reach the higher parts, an earth ramp was built around the statue and was later removed. When the Colossus was finished, it stood according to archaeologists 33 meters ( 110 ft. ) high.
Round 226 BC, an earthquake hit Rhodes. The island was badly damaged, but Colossus still standing. It was much damaged at its weakest points – the knees. Offers were received by Rhodians, from Ptolemy III ( Macedonian Dynasty ) and Eurgetes of Egypt, covering all restoration costs. However, an oracle was consulted before hand and forbade the restoration, which consulted on declining Ptolemy’s III.
Finally … The plundering 880 years later, the statue was still laying broken in ruins. When in 654 AD, the Arabs invaded Rhodes, they disassembled the remains of the broken Colossus and sold them to a Jew from Syria. They say that 900 camels were used for the fragments to be transported to Syria.
And that was the end of Colossus Although we do not know the true shape and appearance of the Colossus of Rhodes, modern reconstructions, with the statue standing upright, are more accurate than older drawings. Even though it disappeared from existence, the ancient Wonder has inspired modern artists and creations such us, the Statue of Liberty in New York, sculptured by French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi. No doubt, there is a relation between the Colossus and the New York Statue of Liberty. The Statue of Liberty has been referred to as the Modern Colossus and is 34 meters tall. American poet Emma Lazarus ( 1849 – 1887 ) wrote in 1883, a sonnet titled: The New Colossus, in order to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. In 1903, the poem was cast onto a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level.
Both monuments were built as symbols of freedom. Both monuments were built at the city entrance. Today, the Colossus is regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient World and a Unique Masterpiece of Art and Engineering.