The Goliath (sus) of Rodos or Rhodes (Ancient Greek: Ὁ Ἥλιος Ῥόδιος, Ὁ Κολοσσὸς Ῥόδιος or ὁ ἐν Ῥόδῳ κολοσσός, ho Helios Rhódios, ho Kolossos Rhódios, ho and Rhódôi Kolossos, Latin: Colossus Solis rhodium or Solis Colossus rhodium) was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Colossus was a bronze statue of the Greek sun god Helios, worshiped by the Greeks and later synthesized with Apollo, the god of light. The Colossus of Rhodes is only known from ancient texts. No archaeological material has been found that can be associated with the image with certainty.

The Dutch language has retained words such as 'colossal' and 'colossal' from this artwork.

Reason for building

When Alexander the Great in 323 BC. died, his succession was not arranged. A kind of state council was initially composed, consisting of the principal generals, his mother, his half-brother Philippus Arrhidaeus and some counselors, to take care of matters for the intended successor, Alexander's young son Alexander IV. But the most extraordinary generals, the "Diadochen", seized power. During the mutual fighting, Rhodes had allied itself with Ptolemy I Soter, who had taken over Egypt. This was not to the liking of Antigonos I Monophthalmos, who in 305 BC his son Demetrios Poliorketessent to Rhodes with a large army. Demetrios made the siege for Rhodes, but when after one year an Egyptian fleet came to set up, he concluded a peace treaty with Rhodes and withdrew his siege towers. The inhabitants of Rhodes decided to erect a monument to commemorate their victory over Demetrius and to thank the god Helios for this, this became the Colossus.


The statue was 70 cubits in size. If one takes for the Greek el, 47.4 cm, this means about 33 meters. What the image looked like remains guesswork, no images have been preserved. But it is believed that the statue dedicated to Helios, the sun god and protector of the island, will probably have looked like the ones of Helios that have been preserved. It would then have suggested a naked, beautiful young man dressed only in a short cloak (Chlamys) over a shoulder, he had wavy hair and a Helios crown with seven rays on his head. It is also assumed that the proportions of the image were adjusted to ensure that the parts that were far away from the viewer were seen in a normal ratio. The head must therefore have been relatively much larger than what might have been expected based on the proportions of the human body. Pliny the Elder stated in his text that the thumb of the statue could only be embraced by few men with arms and that the hollow spaces of the limbs looked like caves.

In art, the Colossus is often depicted with a torch or a fire bowl in hand, which would indicate its function as a lighthouse or light beacon. This theory is generally rejected by historians, and there is no antique text to mention this.

Chares van Lindos

The statue was made by Chares of Lindos, who came from Rhodes and who was a student of Lysippus of Sicyon. Apart from the Colossus of Rhodes, only a colossal bronze head is known to him that was brought to Rome by Publius Cornelius Lentulus Spinther. The legend tells that, after he had given a price for a 35-el image, he was asked what it would cost for a 70-el image. He would have answered twice as many and received the assignment. When he realized what major mistake he had made, he would have committed suicide. But one can indeed regard this as a fable, it is difficult to assume that someone who had the capacity to design and erect a 35-ounce bronze sculpture would not have known that the volume was in proportion to its length as a third power and that he should have asked eight times as much.


Also with regard to the placement of the statue, no archaeological evidence was found. The ancient writers nowhere mention where the image was exactly. What we can certainly exclude is that the image was wide-legged over the harbor entrance. This was first reported by Nicola de Martoni in the account of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1394-1395 and was then eagerly taken over in art. According to archaeological research, the old port of ancient Rhodes would have been thirty meters wide, which makes a colossus in spreading position unlikely. Moreover, after the collapse of the statue, debris would undoubtedly have ended up in the sea, and nothing has ever been recovered. The bronze casting techniques of the 3rd century BC would not have made the creation of such an image possible.

A number of researchers situate the statue close to Mandraki harbor, even at the head of the pier. Less attention is then paid to the difficulties that this would have caused by the construction.

Others assume that the statue was in the city and probably in the temple of Helios, since it was a gift to this deity. This is in line with the text of Pliny the Elder, who stated that when the Colossus collapsed, houses and part of the ramparts were also destroyed. At the top of the hill, which today is called Monte Smith, but which Vedder claims would be the site of the sanctuary of Helios, huge stone foundations were found, which would then have served as the foundation of the Colossus.

The construction

The statue is said to have been built between 305 and 292 BC. No contemporary information has been found about the construction. The only text that gives a brief description of the construction is from the Pseudo-Philon of Byzantium from the 5th century, so more than seven hundred years later, in a text that describes the seven wonders of the ancient world. According to this text, Chares is said to have departed from a stone foundation in which an iron framework was anchored. The bronze was then cast on site. To keep the top of the structure accessible, an earthen mountain was placed around the image, which grew along with the image. In this way a seamless image would be created in one piece. Some researchers assume that this may have been a correct description of building technology.

The mere making of the 35 m high and about 100 m in diameter section seems like a barely feasible exploitation for that time and incompatible with the situation on the ground. Historians assume that the statue was composed of parts cast in bronze that were placed on an iron frame and attached to each other with rivets.

Also on the construction of the Colossus all kinds of hypotheses have been formulated based on the descriptions of the Pseudo-Philon and on the description of the debris by Pliny, but here too it is all about assumptions and theories. Modern engineers believe that the statue was placed on a stone base of at least 18 m in diameter. The feet are said to be sculpted in stone and covered with riveted bronze plates. In the stone construction the heels and the ascending legs were modeled with ironwork. That construction was then covered with bent bronze plates that were attached to each other in an annular shape and that were flanged at the bottom and top for fixing the following pieces. In this way the image was then constructed from successive annular elements. Down to the knees.

The material left behind by the besiegers would have been used for the construction and it is quite conceivable that the huge siege tower that Demetrios Poliorketes had built was used as a scaffolding for the construction of the Colossus.

Pliny the Elder wrote in his Naturalis Historiae that the construction took 12 years and cost 300 talents of silver (about 7800 kg).


According to Pliny the Elder, the Colossus of Rhodes became 66 years after its construction in ca. 225 BC destroyed by an earthquake. Others post the earthquake that struck Rhodes between 226 and 227 BC. Strabo wrote that the statue had broken off at the knees. Although the Rhodians had originally planned to rebuild the statue, for which Ptolemy III Euergetes I offered his help, would not have happened. Before the reconstruction began, the Delphi oracle was consulted, which advised against the reconstruction, on which the project was not carried out.

John Malalas wrote that Emperor Hadrian would have rebuilt the Colossus, although this information is usually considered dubious. Anyway, an earthquake at the time of Antoninus Pius would have destroyed the statue again.

The fragments of the statue were left for nine centuries where the statue had crashed, until Caliph Mu'awija I, the founder of the Umayyad dynasty, conquered Rhodes in 653. According to tradition, dating back to the chronicles of Theofanes the Confessor, is said that the Arabs sold the remains of the statue to a Jewish trader in Edessa. According to legend, 900 camels were needed to transport the bronze remains of the statue.


On August 7, 1986, at the direction of the Dutch clairvoyant Anna Dankbaar, a piece of rock was uncovered off the coast of Rhodes, which may have been the fist of the statue. She had 'seen' a piece of the statue a few years before. The salvage took place under the supervision of experts and the Greek Minister of Culture, but soon it turned out to be a normal rock.

"Colossus of Rhodes" is at the 3rd Position in this list.

Colossus of Rhodes
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