The Colossus of Rhodes

Alexander the Great conquered many places, including the Mediterranean Island of Rhodes, which was part of ancient Greece.

Alexander died pretty young from an insect bite around 300 BC. His three generals split up his empire. All wanted the island of Rhodes. Rhodes was positioned perfectly to be a territory of trade.

The people of Rhodes supported General Ptolemy. Unfortunately, even though the general was successful in conquering Egypt, most of Greece was conquered by a different general. This general was infuriated that the inhabitants of Rhodes had not endorsed him. He sent his son to eradicate the city. His son was not triumphant. General Ptolemy sent an army from Egypt to give the townspeople a hand. Together, they drove the opposing army away.

With jubilation, the townspeople used the armor and war machinery left behind. They melted down the bronze, and used it to construct a colossal statue of their patron god, Helios, to show gratitude Helios for helping them save their city.

The sculpture was 110 feet tall and stood on a 50 foot foundation. Every morning, the sun glittered off the bronze plates that covered the statue. It must have been a stupendous sight! It only took about 15 years to assemble this mind-bogglingly astonishing statue, and the resources were almost completely free!

Just 56 years after the sculpture was built, it was Demolished by an earthquake. Nearly all of the pieces fell into the harbor. The statue's thumb was accessible. Many people traveled to observe the statue's thumb and to try and put their arms around it. The thumb was larger than their arms could stretch.

The ruler of Egypt offered the citizens of Rhodes funds to reconstruct the statue. But the townspeople rejected the offer. They were terrified that their god Helios had tossed the sculpture down in a fit of great rage. They decided to leave the statue exactly as their god had positioned it.

Many years later, around 600 BCE, Arab traders finally removed the remainder of the Colossus to use as scrap metal. Legend says ... it took 900 camels to transport the pieces home.

This ancient wonder encouraged other artists throughout time. A French sculptor based one of his most famous works of art on the Colossus of Rhodes. That work of art is still in existence today. It is in New York City. It is called The Statue of Liberty!

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