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Colossus or Colossos (Latin, Colossus)


A giant. The Rhodian Colossos was a gigantic statue of brass, 126 feet high, executed by Charēs. It is said that ships could pass full sail under the legs of this statue, but the notion of a striding statue rose in the sixteenth century, and is due to Blaise de Vigenère, who was the first to give the chef dʹœuvre of Charēs this impossible position. The Comte de Caylus has demonstrated that the Apollo of Rhodes was never planted at the mouth of the Rhodian port, that it was not a striding statue, and that ships never passed under it. Neither Strabo nor Pliny makes mention of any of these things, though both describe the gigantic statue minutely. Philo (the architect of Byzantium, third century) has a treatise on the seven wonders of the world, and says that the Colossos stood on a block of white marble, and Lucius Ampellius, in a similar treatise, says it stood in a car. Tickell out-herods Herod in the following lines:


“So, near proud Rhodes, across the raging flood,

Stupendous form! the vast Colossus stood,

While at one foot the thronging galleys ride,

A whole hour’s sail scarce reached the farther side;

Betwixt his brazen thighs, in loose array,

Ten thousand streamers on the billows play.”

On the Prospect of Peace.

“He doth bestride the narrow world

Like a Colossus.”

Shakespeare: Julius Cœsar, i. 2.

⁂ The twin Colossi of Amenophis III., on the banks of the Nile, near Thebes, are seated. The statue of Liberty, New York, is colossal.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Colossus or Colossos (Latin, Colossus)
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