No. 204 – The Colossus of Rodium

Colossus of Rhodes image courtesy Patrimonios del Mundo

Prog 162’s (1980) one-off furturegraph The Wonders 7 of the Galaxy[1] [No. 1]: The Colossus of Rodium by Kevin O’Neill v the Colossus of Rhodes [Attic Greek: ὁ Κολοσσὸς Ῥόδιος]

Idealised but highly inaccurate 19th century engraving

Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and certainly the tallest statue of the antiquity at 33 metres (108 feet) high – approximately the height of the Statue of Liberty – the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of the Greek sun-god Helios[2], was constructed by sculptor Chares of Lindos in 280 BC in the city of Rhodes on the island of the same name, to celebrate Rhodes’ victory over Antigonus I Monophthalmus (382–301 BC), the ruler of Cyprus whose son, Demetrius I (aka “Poliorcetes”, 337–283 BC), unsuccessfully besieged Rhodes in 305 BC. The statue collapsed during an earthquake in 226 or 227 BC, and although parts of it remained it was never rebuilt[3], and the actual location of the original remains in dispute.

Popular depictions of the statue standing astride Rhodes harbour, gleaming in bronze and holding a torch are flights of medieval fancy as the size, weight and composition imagined would have certainly caused the structure to collapse under its own weight; not to mention the fact that Rhodes harbour would have had to be closed to business for several years during construction. The most accurate depictions of how it may have looked are those along the lines of that pictured at the top of this entry.

O’Neill has also incorporated another wonder of the ancient world, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, or Pharos of Alexandria [Attic Greek: ὁ Φάρος τῆς Ἀλεξανδρείας], built in Egypt during the reign Ptolemy II Philadelphus (280–247 BC).

Notes:

  1. Referring to the Seven Wonders of the Classical World: the Great Pyramid at Giza (Egypt), the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (Mesopotamia, modern Iraq), the Statue of Zeus at Olympia (Greece), the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Ancient Greek, located in modern Turkey), the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (Ancient Greek, located in modern Turkey), the Colossus of Rhodes (Rhodes, Greece) and the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Egypt)
  2. Deity and personification of the Sun in Greek mythology
  3. Following the earthquake, the statue lay in place for nearly eight centuries before being sold off by invaders. Modern plans to rebuild the statue, proposed by a group of European architects in 2015, appear to have been abandoned

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