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Colossus of Rhodes

Colossus of Rhodes (kəlŏsˈəs) [key], large statue of Helios, the sun god, destroyed by an earthquake in antiquity. Consider one of the Seven Wonders of the World by the ancients, it was built in part by Chares of Lindus (Rhodes) between 292 and 280 B.C. Its bronze was taken from the machines and tools left behind by Demetrius I after his unsuccessful siege of Rhodes. According to legend, the 100 ft (30.5 m) statue stood astride the harbor and ships passed between its legs. In reality, it stood on a promontory overlooking the harbor, and the representational type is well known from images on coins of the same period.

Colossi also existed elsewhere in the ancient world. In Egypt, for example, there were many colossuses, 50 to 60 ft (15.2 to 18.3 m) high. The Athena Parthenos on the Acropolis at Athens and the Zeus in the temple at Olympia in Greece were other examples. In Japan, the word daibutsu describes colossal statues of Buddha, usually over 16 ft (5 m) in height. The most notable are those at Nara, Kamakura, and Kyoto. Of two colossal figures of Jesus in South America, one is at Rio de Janeiro, and the other, the Christ of the Andes, on the boundary between Argentina and Chile. An example of a modern colossus is the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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