Colossus of Rhodes: Greek Wonder of the Ancient World

The Colossus of Rhodes was an enormous statue depicting the city's patron god, Helios (the god of the sun), and stood in Mandraki Harbour. Though it stood for little more than 50 years fully intact, its grand size and imposing presence at the coastal entrance of Rhodes made it an undeniable candidate as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is also the wonder about which the least is entirely known.

Rhodes was a Greek island that was situated at an intersection of two ancient sea-trade routes, southwest of Asia Minor and near Egypt. When Alexander the Great died unexpectedly in 323 BCE, the administration of his empire and its future were uncertain. Eventually, three of his generals took control and, as a result of several wars, divided the empire into three regions. Rhodes sided with one general, Ptolemy, who eventually controlled Egypt. Together, they forged a fruitful relationship, as well as control of trade in the eastern Mediterranean. One of the other generals, Antigonus, became riled at this, and tried to convince Rhodes to side with him. Rhodes, of course, balked at this. Antigonus then called on his son Demetrius to invade Rhodes in 305 BCE. Despite an army of 40,000 men and 200 warships, Demetrius was unable to break through Rhodes' impressive defenses and the relief troops that Ptolemy had sent in.

As a result of this decisive victory, it was determined that a commemorative statue be erected to honor Helios, the patron god of Rhodes. This would prove rather uncomplicated for Rhodes, as Demetrius had left behind all of the equipment he and his army had used in his invasion attempts, and thus the Rhodians were able to finance the construction of the statue with the sale of the goods.