Who knows if Frederic A. Bartholdi and Gustave Eiffel, while designing the Statue of Liberty, from beyond a century symbol of NY city, got inspired apart from the New Law from the Duomo of Milan also by the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.

Below: the Colossus of Rhodes in an ancient drawing

Below: Statue of Liberty shared via Wikipedia – licence Creative Commons

Rhodes is today one of the most popular Greek islands but back in time it was rather famous too, due to its position in the middle of two sea routes of East and West.

The island was a province of the wide Empire of Alexander the Great, but the unexpected death of the warrior in 323 BC forced its inhabitants to choose between the 3 generals who had split between themselves the conquered lands by Alexander. Rhodes sided with Ptolemy, who also took Egypt. The two countries bonded an advantageous alliance for both an economical and cultural point of view. This period lasted up until the son of the general Antigonus I, Demetrius, tried to conquer the island in the attempt of breaking up the Rhodes-Egyptian league.

The venture failed, despite the 40,000 soldiers and the 200 warships. On the contrary the invasors had to abandon all the war gears employed during the siege. All precious goods that the Rhodians sold to fund the construction of a statue in commemoration of their great victory.

To thank the protector of the island, God Helios, the Rhodes citizens decided to dedicate to him a giant bronze sculpture which would have watched over them from the mouth of the harbour of Mandraki. The work was given to Chares of Lindos, who spent 12 years to finish the monument, obviously helped by other people.

The entrance of the old harbour is where the Colossus was, according to the legend

Above: picture shared via Wikipedia – licence Creative Commons

The statue, 32 m high (105 ft) probably had a structure in stone, around which they attached slabs of bronze. It was placed on top of a marble base 15 m high (50 ft) at the entrance of the harbour and certainly not with open legs as it’s usually represented.

Recent studies questioned this location, indicating as most plausible place a hill overlooking the harbour, so that the statue might work also as a lighthouse. In fact with his right hand, God Helios was holding a torch.

The Colossus was terminated in 293 BC and for 67 years it guarded the city on the island. In 226 BC though a devastating earthquake made it fall, someone says on the water others on the the ground. The Rhodians did not rebuild it as an oracle discouraged them from doing so, however still many visitors would visit the city to admire the beauty of the piece.

The Colossus remained there, on the ground or maybe on the seabed of the Aegean Sea, for 880 years, up until 654 AD. At that point the Arabs sold the piece of art to a Jewish man from Homs, Syria.

To transport the smashed pieces it took 980 camels

Very soon all the track was lost and today it appears impossible to retrace the journey of the precious load heading to Syria. The gigantic statue, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, disappeared from the island and history as if they were little grains of sand.

Below: trailer of “The Colossus of Rhodes”, directed by Sergio Leone

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