1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Colossus

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COLOSSUS, in antiquity a term applied generally to statues of great size (hence the adjective “colossal”), and in particular to the bronze statue of the sun-god Helios in Rhodes, one of the wonders of the world, made from the spoils left by Demetrius Poliorcetes when he raised the siege of the city. The sculptor was Chares, a native of Lindus, and of the school of Lysippus, under whose influence the art of sculpture was led to the production of colossal figures by preference. The work occupied him twelve years, it is said, and the finished statue stood 70 cubits high. It stood near the harbour (ἐπὶ λιμένι), but at what point is not certain. When, and from what grounds, the belief arose that it had stood across the entrance to the harbour, with a beacon light in its hand and ships passing between its legs, is not known, but the belief was current as early as the 16th century. The statue was thrown down by an earthquake about the year 224 B.C.; then, after lying broken for nearly 1000 years, the pieces were bought by a Jew from the Saracens, and probably reconverted into instruments of war.

Other Greek colossi were the Apollo of Calamis; the Zeus and Heracles of Lysippus; the Zeus at Olympia, the Athena in the Parthenon, and the Athena Promachos on the Acropolis—all the work of Pheidias.

The best-known Roman colossi are: a statue of Jupiter on the Capitol; a bronze statue of Apollo in the Palatine library; and the colossus of Nero in the vestibule of his Golden House, afterwards removed by Hadrian to the north of the Colosseum, where the basement upon which it stood is still visible (Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxiv. 18).