Colossus at Rhodes
of the Ancient World
Alexander the Great conquered many places, including the Mediterranean Island of Rhodes, which was part of ancient Greece.
Alexander died quite young from an insect bite around 300 BCE. His three generals split up his empire. All wanted the island of Rhodes. Rhodes was situated perfectly to be a crossroads of trade.
The people of Rhodes supported General Ptolemy. Unfortunately, although the general was successful in taking over Egypt, most of Greece was conquered by another general. This general was angry that the people in Rhodes had not supported him. He sent his son to level the city. His son was not successful. General Ptolemy sent an army from Egypt to lend the townspeople a hand. Together, they drove the enemy army away.
With joy, the townspeople used the armor and war machinery left behind. They melted down the bronze, and used it to build a giant statue of their patron god, Helios, to thank Helios for helping them save their city.
The statue was 110 feet high and stood on a 50 foot base. Each morning, the sun glittered off the bronze plates that covered the statue. It must have been quite a sight! It only took about 15 years to build this incredible statue, and the materials mostly were free!
Only 56 years after the statue was built, it was toppled by an earthquake. Most of the pieces fell into the harbor. The statue's thumb was accessible. Many people traveled to see the statue's thumb and to try and put their arms around it. The thumb was bigger than than their arms could stretch.
The king of Egypt offered the people of Rhodes money to rebuild the statue. But the townspeople said no. They were afraid their god Helios had tossed the statue down in a fit of anger. They decided to leave the statue exactly as their god had placed it.
Many years later, around 600 CE, Arab traders finally removed the remains of the Colossus to use as scrap metal. Legend says ... it took 900 camels to ferry the pieces home.
This ancient wonder inspired other artists throughout time. A French sculptor based one of his most famous work of arts on the Colossus of Rhodes. That work of art is still in existence today. It's in New York City. It is called The Statue of Liberty!