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κολοσσός). A word of rare occurrence in the Attic writers, but used by both Greeks and Romans to signify a statue larger than life (Agam. 406), and thence a person of extraordinary stature and beauty is termed colosseros by Suetonius (Calig. 35). In like manner the architectural ornaments in the upper stories of lofty buildings, which require to be of large dimensions in consequence of their remoteness, are termed colossicotera (κολοσσικώτερα, Vitruv. iii. 3).

Among the colossal statues of Greece the most celebrated, according to Pliny , was the bronze colossus at Rhodes by Chares (q.v.) of Lindus, a pupil of Lysippus, who gave twelve years (B.C. 292-280) to casting the statue. Its height is variously given as 90 and 120 feet. Fifty-six years after its erection it was thrown down by an earthquake and lay in ruins until A.D. 653, when the Arabs sold the pieces to a Jew of Edessa for old metal. In this one island there were more than 100 colossi. Pliny mentions another Greek colossus of Apollo, the work of Calamis, which cost 500 talents, and was thirty cubits high, in the city of Apollonia, whence it was transferred to the Capitol by M. Lucullus; and also those of Zeus and Heracles, at Tarentum, by Lysippus. To the list of Pliny must be added the more important colossal statues of Phidias, the most beautiful of which were his chryselephantine statues of Zeus, at Olympia (more than forty feet high, seated), and of Athené, in the Parthenon at Athens; the largest (more than seventy feet high, including the base) was his bronze statue commonly called Athené Promachos, on the Acropolis. See Athené; and the illustration in the article Athenae, p. 155.

Among the works of this description made expressly by or for the Romans, those most frequently alluded to are the following:


A statue of Iupiter upon the Capitol, made by order of Sp. Carvilius, from the armour of the Samnites, which was so large that it could be seen from the Alban Mount.


A bronze statue of Apollo at the Palatine Library, to which the bronze head now preserved in the Capitol probably belonged.


A bronze statue of Augustus in the Forum, which bore his name.


The colossus of Nero, which was executed by Zenodorus, and which is quoted by Pliny as a proof that the taste for bronze statues was lost, for this was adorned with gold and silver. Its height was 110 or 120 feet (Suet. Nero, 31). It was originally placed in the vestibule of the Domus Aurea, but was afterwards removed by Vespasian to the Via Sacra, and Hadrian again moved it to a position to the north of the Colosseum, where the basement upon which it stood is still to be seen; from it the contiguous amphitheatre is supposed to have gained the name of “Colosseum.” Vespasian had converted it into a statue of the Sun. Twenty-four elephants were employed by Hadrian to remove it, when he was about to build the Temple of Venus at Rome (Spart. Hadr. 19).


An equestrian statue of Domitian, of bronze gilt, which was placed in the centre of the Forum (Stat. Silv. i. 1.1). See Lesbazeilles, Les Colosses Anciens et Modernes (1876); Torr, Rhodes in Ancient and Modern Times (1887); and the articles Circus, p. 351, and Seven Wonders.

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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Suetonius, Nero, 31
    • Statius, Silvae, 1.1
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