Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-16-2019, 12:28 AM
Jim B. is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 1,964

Did the Colossus Bestride the Harbor?


Quote:
"Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world / Like a Colossus, and we petty men / Walk under his huge legs and peep about / To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

So Shakespeare apparently thought he did.

The Colossus at Rhodes was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. And some people claim, at least part of his claim to fame, was that he literally bestrode or straddled the harbor at Rhodes (which if true, would be an amazing accomplishment even today).

Anyways, this is a purely factual question. Did he or didn't he bestride the harbor?

Thank you in advance for all your kindly replies.

__________________
"Love takes no less than everything." (from "Love Is", a duet by Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight)
  #2  
Old 05-16-2019, 12:55 AM
Peter Morris's Avatar
Peter Morris is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The far canal
Posts: 12,428
No, impossible.

From contemporary accounts the statue was around 30 metres tall. Here's a statue that's about the same size (32 m). You aren't getting any ships in between those legs.
  #3  
Old 05-16-2019, 02:31 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 25,162
The Shakespeare quote doesn't actually read like it advocates straddling the harbour to me, or surely we would be swimming under his huge legs, not walking?
  #4  
Old 05-16-2019, 04:28 AM
bob++ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Worcestershire UK
Posts: 6,548
Is there any cite that suggests that it "straddled the harbor at Rhodes"?

According to Wikipedia, the structure stood on a 15-metre-high (49-foot) white marble pedestal near the Mandraki harbour entrance. Other sources place the Colossus on a breakwater in the harbour.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_of_Rhodes
  #5  
Old 05-16-2019, 06:56 AM
CalMeacham's Avatar
CalMeacham is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 43,922
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
Is there any cite that suggests that it "straddled the harbor at Rhodes"?

According to Wikipedia, the structure stood on a 15-metre-high (49-foot) white marble pedestal near the Mandraki harbour entrance. Other sources place the Colossus on a breakwater in the harbour.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_of_Rhodes
As the Wikipedia article observes:

Quote:
The harbour-straddling Colossus was a figment of medieval imaginations based on the dedication text's mention of "over land and sea" twice and the writings of an Italian visitor who in 1395 noted that local tradition held that the right foot had stood where the church of St John of the Colossus was then located.[16] Many later illustrations show the statue with one foot on either side of the harbour mouth with ships passing under it. References to this conception are also found in literary works.
I don't know of any ancient source that says or suggests that the statue straddled the harbor. I've seen artwork showing this, but that's all post-Medieval.

Certainly the image is striking. The 1961 Sergio Leone film Colossus of Rhodes has the statue straddling the harbor entrance (The statue also holds a bowl of burning material that it releases onto a ship passing beneath). The statue is depicted straddling the harbor on posters for the film.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Co...f_Rhodes_(film)

Ray Harryhausen echoed the colossus in Jason and the Argonauts (1963), when the bronze giant Talos straddles the harbor to block and grab the Argo.
https://www.ancient-origins.net/myth...os-crete-00157

In the HBO series Game of THrones, based on Martin's books, they depicted the Titan of Braavos straddling the harbor, as the Colossus was held to have done. They even showed it in the opening animation.


Constructing a statue on two relatively thin legs at an angle that could support the weight of the torso and even the relatively thin bronze "skin" of the Colossus really would have been beyond the capability of engineers at the time. An interesting fictional account of its construction is The Bronze God of Rhodes by L. Sprague de Camp, a historical and sf/fantasy writer who wrote the classic nonfiction book The Ancient Engineers, so he knew what he was writing about.
__________________
Who is the Calypso Singer that rides Pegasus?
Harry Bellerophonte

Last edited by CalMeacham; 05-16-2019 at 06:56 AM.
  #6  
Old 05-16-2019, 09:52 AM
Ukulele Ike is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 16,846
CalMeacham:. Thanks for the link to the very enjoyable Ancient Origins article. I was especially delighted by the author’s hypothesis that Talos really existed, and was some kind of space alien.
__________________
Uke
  #7  
Old 05-16-2019, 10:02 AM
Czarcasm's Avatar
Czarcasm is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 60,455
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris View Post
No, impossible.

From contemporary accounts the statue was around 30 metres tall. Here's a statue that's about the same size (32 m). You aren't getting any ships in between those legs.
Sounds dinghy to me, too.
  #8  
Old 05-16-2019, 10:19 AM
CalMeacham's Avatar
CalMeacham is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 43,922
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ukulele Ike View Post
CalMeacham:. Thanks for the link to the very enjoyable Ancient Origins article. I was especially delighted by the authorís hypothesis that Talos really existed, and was some kind of space alien.
There is a vast range of theories and beliefs that constantly inspire wonder.

But I was just posting for the picture.





Regarding Talos, by the way, Harryhausen's interpretation of him as a giant statue has colored our beliefs about him. I'm sure Ray took the Colossus of Rhodes as his inspiration, and he really likes those photogenic giant things. But most ancient sources about Talos don't imply that he was a giant. artwork depicts hi as human-sized:


https://www.pinterest.com/pin/476044623090462531/
https://news.stanford.edu/2019/02/28...tificial-life/
__________________
Who is the Calypso Singer that rides Pegasus?
Harry Bellerophonte
  #9  
Old 05-16-2019, 10:27 AM
Czarcasm's Avatar
Czarcasm is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 60,455
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Confirmed.
  #10  
Old 05-16-2019, 11:04 AM
CalMeacham's Avatar
CalMeacham is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 43,922
Quote:
Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
Yes, but Hi wasn't made of bronze and human-sized. Talos was.


Hi changed his appearance through the life of the strip. He started out as a slim, typical; "TV Dad". At one point he had a broken nose

http://mentalfloss.com/article/54455...is-comic-strip
__________________
Who is the Calypso Singer that rides Pegasus?
Harry Bellerophonte

Last edited by CalMeacham; 05-16-2019 at 11:08 AM.
  #11  
Old 05-16-2019, 01:33 PM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 17,542
You're wondering exactly how similar the Titan of Braavos is to the Colossus of Rhodes, aren't you?
  #12  
Old 05-16-2019, 11:24 PM
Lucas Jackson's Avatar
Lucas Jackson is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 4,035
Side question: are there any (recognizable) left over parts of the COR laying around?
  #13  
Old 05-17-2019, 12:01 AM
pool is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Inside
Posts: 4,333
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucas Jackson View Post
Side question: are there any (recognizable) left over parts of the COR laying around?
The wiki indicates that they lay on the ground after a great earthquake for many years until muslims melted the statue down and sold the bronze to "a Jew". The more things change the more they remain the same! I have my doubts about the veracity of that story.
__________________
"You can do anything you set your mind to...But money helps"

Last edited by pool; 05-17-2019 at 12:03 AM.
  #14  
Old 05-17-2019, 11:50 AM
Blue Blistering Barnacle is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 6,601
Quote:
Originally Posted by pool View Post
The wiki indicates that they lay on the ground after a great earthquake for many years until muslims melted the statue down and sold the bronze to "a Jew". The more things change the more they remain the same! I have my doubts about the veracity of that story.


It’s actually more likely that it was sold to Julius Caesar, who was looking for some kind of gift to get him in bed with Cleopatra.

SPOILER:
That’s a ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ woosh- see ‘Library of Alexandria’
  #15  
Old 05-17-2019, 08:47 PM
kaylasdad99 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Anaheim, CA
Posts: 31,459
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris View Post
No, impossible.

From contemporary accounts the statue was around 30 metres tall. Here's a statue that's about the same size (32 m). You aren't getting any ships in between those legs.
You really think not? Here's an artist's conception of the Colossus of Rhodes. As you can see, his feet are not planted in the rocks at the mouth of the harbor; he's elevated on twin towers, each about 40 feet off the ground. His crotch is an additional 40 feet above the water (so 80 feet above the water), and his legs appear to be spread at about a 40o; this places his feet at an approximate distance of 2[40 x (tan20)] which my calculator tells me is about 29 feet. Is 29 feet a particularly narrow beam for ships that sailed in the 4th century BCE? The submarines I served aboard 2400 years later only exceeded that by about 2 feet!

The engineering problems inherent to the construction of such a statue (especially at that point in history) are, admittedly, knotty.* But so are those inherent in the erection of the (somewhat) contemporaneous Pyramids in Egypt, the more contemporaneous Stonehenge and the less contemporaneous Chichen Itza. And the Jai Hanuman statue isn't even attempting to present a particularly wide stance.

Perhaps we shouldn't squabble over niggling details.

*Maybe geysers came into play in that proje-- OUCH! Who threw that?

Last edited by kaylasdad99; 05-17-2019 at 08:48 PM.
  #16  
Old 05-18-2019, 07:02 AM
ftg's Avatar
ftg is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 18,990
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 View Post
Is 29 feet a particularly narrow beam for ships that sailed in the 4th century BCE? The submarines I served aboard 2400 years later only exceeded that by about 2 feet!
Did your submarine have banks of oars?

Plus with wind and currents, the leeway needed for an unmotored ship is far higher.
  #17  
Old 05-18-2019, 07:41 AM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 82,695
The "knotty engineering problem of the Pyramids" is "There are many ways they could have done this, but we don't know which exact one of those many ways they used". The "knotty engineering problem of the bestriding Colossus" is "There's no way they could have done that". Completely different.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:07 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017