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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
The island of Rhodes emerged from the sea, according to Pindar (01.
7.54-76), to be the portion of the sun god, whose cult continued throughout antiquity
more prominent there than elsewhere. Three grandsons of Helios and the nymph Rhodos,
daughter of Aphrodite, were the eponymous heroes of the three ancient cities,
Ialysos and Kameiros on the W coast and Lindos on the E. Its size, 80 km N to
S and about half as much E to W, and its situation, "near the headland of
broad Asia" (01. 7.18), with Crete about 140 km away to the SW, have always
given Rhodes a peculiar importance among the islands. The many legends, supported
by the archaeological finds, mainly from the cemeteries, suggest that in prehistoric
times it was both a stepping-stone and in itself an important center, having connections
with Minoan Crete, the Argolid and the Greek mainland, Phoenicia and Egypt. The
Telchines, fabulous craftsmen, came from Crete by way of Cyprus; Kadmos stopped
at Rhodes on his way from Phoenicia to Thebes, Danaos on his way from Egypt to
Argos; Thepolemos son of Herakles came from Argos, and led the Rhodian contingent
of nine ships to Troy.
For Homer Rhodes was already old in story (Il. 2.653-670), with three
notable cities, "Lindos, Ielyssos and shining Kameiros" (the epithet
is arginoeis in our text, but one wonders whether in fact Homer said argiloeis,
with reference to the clay used for pottery). As Hope-Simpson and Lazenby convincingly
show, the Homeric Catalogue of Ships has reference to the late Mycenaean period,
and there is no good reason to make an exception of the lines on Rhodes. The sites
of all three cities were occupied in Mycenaean times; though in each case the
acropolis has been obliterated, the cemeteries below, with their tombs containing
pottery and jewelry, have provided evidence. The major site seems to be Ialysos,
where the chamber tombs are very numerous. Lindos was relatively modest.
In course of time the Dorians arrived in large numbers, and took
over the island and its neighbors; after a comparatively obscure period, Lindos,
Kameiros, and Ialysos attained cultural and commercial prosperity, and a renown
for seamanship embodied in the saying, "Ten Rhodians, ten ships". The
Rhodians founded important and widespread colonies, notably Gela in Sicily (in
cooperation with Cretans) early in the 7th c. (Thuc. 6.4.3-4, who says that the
part of the city first fortified is called Lindioi). Together with Kos, Knidos,
and Hahikarnassos, the three cities formed a confederation called the Dorian Hexapolis
The archaic culture of Rhodes is best represented by the plentiful
pottery. The island produced fine work in the Geometric style (particularly in
the later phase, i.e., in the 8th c.), found notably at Ialysos, Kameiros, and
a cemetery at an inland site called Exochi. Certain E Greek fabrics of the 7th
c. in orientalizing style have commonly been called Rhodian, or "Camiran"--vases
of the "Wild Goat Style", so called from the friezes which run round
them, and flat plates with animal figures and occasionally human scenes, such
as the plate in the British Museum, on which Hektor and Menelaos fight over the
body of Euphorbos. The lively Fikellura style, which followed in the 6th c., is
named after a place in Rhodes, though it is spread over the S part of the E Greek
area. Recent authorities are more cautious about the indiscriminate use of the
name "Rhodian" (Samos must have been equally important), but undoubtedly
Rhodes played a major part in the production and distribution of archaic E Greek
pottery, besides importing Corinthian and other contemporary wares. A group of
6th c. cups which do indeed seem to belong to Rhodes in particular are known as
Vroulian from their principal place of discovery. As the 6th c. proceeded, local
wares at Rhodes as elsewhere succumbed to Attic competition.
Among archaic sites, Vroulia at the S end of the island is
of peculiar interest. The name is modern, and the ancient name is unknown. A wall
about 300 m long with a stone sole slightly over one m thick, no doubt originally
surmounted by an upper structure of unbaked brick, encloses a coastal strip of
land to the SW. Except for a section at the W end, the wall is perfectly straight,
and against its inner face was built a continuous row of simple houses, consisting
at most of a couple of rooms with a little court in front. At a distance of about
25 m was a second row of houses running parallel. The main gate was probably at
the point where the wall changes direction; and nearby is a walled area containing
two altars, and an adjacent enclosure which may be an agora. Pottery dates all
these structures not much later than 700 B.C. Vroulia was only a little town,
no doubt subordinate to one of the major cities, presumably Lindos, but its rectilinear
planning represents the first tentative steps, taken at a remarkably early date,
which were to lead to the sophisticated methods of Hippodamos, notably in Rhodes
To proceed to times for which we have more solid historical evidence,
in the latter part of the 6th c. and the early years of the 5th Rhodes was subject
to the Persians. After that the three cities were members of the Delian League,
until finally they broke with Athens (Thuc. 8.44), resumed their Dorian connection,
and combined in 408 B.C. to found a federal city at the N tip of the island, calling
it simply Rhodos. Lindos, Ialysos, and Kameiros were inevitably reduced and subordinate,
but by no means derelict. In the 4th c. and the Hellenistic period Rhodes became
one of the great cities of the ancient world, preeminent in commerce and culture,
in spite of vicissitudes consequent upon its choice of alliances in the great
conflicts of the age. It triumphantly withstood a furious attack by Demetrios
the Besieger in 305 B.C., vividly described by Diodoros (20.81-88, 91-100), and
quickly rose again, with assistance from many sympathetic cities and kings, after
the most disastrous of several earthquakes in 227 B.C. For a time it held control
of an extensive area on the mainland opposite, the so-called Rhodian Peraea. In
the middle of the 2d c. it incurred the displeasure of Rome, which, by developing
Delos as a major commercial center, struck a severe blow at Rhodian trade. But
though its commerce and naval power were much curtailed, Rhodes continued to be
a main center of art and literature, philosophy and rhetorical training (Cicero
and many other distinguished Romans studied there). In the Civil War after Caesar's
death, the island was ravaged and the city thoroughly pillaged by Cassius; but
Strabo still found it a city of unparalleled beauty (14.2.5, 652). The island
suffered disastrous earthquakes again in A.D. 345 and 515, and the great city
was reduced to the comparatively small mediaeval town which was eventually taken
over by the Knights of St. John, and won fresh glory by its heroic resistance
to the Turks.
The new capital was built on a new site, roughly triangular with
the apex at the extreme N tip of the island, measuring about 3,000 m N to S and
a little less E to W. The harbors were on the E side--the main harbor in the middle,
a smaller one to the N, and a more open roadstead to the SE. The moles which protect
the natural bays are ancient in origin. There was also a small harbor, now silted
up, on the W coast towards the N. From the region of the E harbors the ground
rises theater-like SW towards a plateau about 90 m high. This was the acropolis
or upper town of ancient Rhodes, though it was never a fortified citadel. The
city walls were famous for their strength and beauty. Very little has survived--the
Knights no doubt used the material to build the tremendous fortifications of their
much smaller town; but sections of the foundation or socle here and there, mostly
Hellenistic, are enough to determine the general course. The wall followed the
coast on two sides of the triangle; on the base, to the S, it took an irregular
line in search of defensible contours.
According to Strabo (14.2.9, 654), "the city was founded by
the same architect who founded Peiraeus", i.e., Hippodamos of Miletos. The
famous town-planner must have been very old by 408 B.C., but that is not a sufficient
reason for denying him the credit. The plan of Rhodes as we know it is precisely
what one has come to recognize as Hippodamian. Its general scheme has been drawn
by Kondis, Bradford, and Konstantinopoulos. Excavation has necessarily been sporadic
and largely fortuitous, since the mediaeval and modern city covers much of the
area; but many sections of streets with their adjoining buildings have been uncovered
at diverse points, revealing that the basic plan was a rectangular grid orientated
very nearly N to S and E to W. Remains of underground drains and water-channels
of various types have been found, and many of these fit into the same pattern.
Once the grid had been determined, it became clear that some of the streets of
the mediaeval town, including the famous Street of the Knights, follow the course
of ancient predecessors; and that important stretches of the great walls built
by Grand Masters Pierre d'Aubusson and Emery d'Amboise are based upon the lines
of ancient streets. In addition, air photography has revealed features which one
would hardly notice at ground level, especially in the SW region of the acropolis.
We are told by the rhetorician Aristeides (43.6) that this part of the town was
laid out in a spacious park-like manner; it is now largely rural in aspect, but
the air photographs show that terraces, field boundaries, and lanes follow a rectilinear
scheme which conforms with the ancient grid.
It is fair to assume that this master plan is the one conceived by
Hippodamos in 408 B.C. There is no trace of any which is earlier and divergent.
Admittedly the remains are mostly Hellenistic; but here and there they take us
back to the 1st c. of the city. We can imagine that the Hippodamian method of
nemesis or careful allocation of sites was applied from the beginning; but the
process of building was a long one, punctuated by destruction, by siege and earthquake.
Some of the most important elements in the plan cannot now be securely
placed. The agora, according to Bradford, probably extended W from the great harbor.
A street which has been discovered, lined with colonnades in the Roman period,
may have led into it from the S. The theater was somewhere near the wall on the
inland side (cf. Diod. Sic. 20.98.6, 8).
The Colossus, a huge bronze statue of Helios, set up to commemorate
the successful resistance to Demetrios, did not of course bestride the harbor
mouth; and Maryon has shown that it could hardly have been constructed at the
end of a mole, and more probably stood in the city center.
The most visible ancient monument in the lower city is the foundation
of a Temple of Aphrodite, built in the 3d c. B.C. just W of the great harbor;
of the superstructure only a few fragments survive. A little to the W are slight
remains of a Shrine of Dionysos, incorporated in the foundations of a chapel (Clara
Rhodos I 46; cf. Lucian Amores 8). To the N, in the neighborhood of the smaller
(N) harbor, remains of ship-sheds have recently been further investigated.
The ancient buildings most worth seeing are away to the SW, finely
placed on the E brow of the acropolis. Towards the N end are the foundations of
the Temple of Zeus and Athena. Some distance farther S is the Temenos of Pythian
Apollo, a rectangular enclosure, with a massive retaining wall on the E, where
a broad flight of steps gives access. Within the enclosure is a Doric temple,
built of limestone, in the 2d c. B.C.; several of the columns on the E facade
have been reerected. Just below this point to the E is the N end of the great
stadium, built into the hillside and extending over 183 m to its semicircular
S end. Adjoining the stadium on the N is a small theater, which has been reconstructed,
and to the E are remains which may belong to a gymnasium.
Beyond the S cross wall lie the extensive cemeteries. Southeast of
the city are remains of an ancient (probably late Hellenistic) bridge, crossing
a ravine. Not far from the park of Rodini is the most impressive of a number of
rock-cut tombs, fancifully known as the Tomb of the Ptolemies, with a main chamber
and an antechamber and a facade of half-columns.
When one reflects on the glories of the ancient city, the extant
remains seem meager and disappointing, all the more so in comparison with the
splendid medieaval walls and houses. Even the known temples are not particularly
grand. Apparently it was the general harmonious effect which impressed ancient
writers. Aristeides (43.6) says that with all its varied splendors--walls, temples,
works of sculpture, and painting--the city was like a single great house: Lucian
(Amores 8) compares its beauty to that of Helios himself.
Outside the capital the most spectacular development took place at
Lindos, in the famous Shrine of Athena Lindia. The acropolis of Lindos
falls in precipitous cliffs, undercut in places, to the sea on the E. Towards
the N is the main harbor; to the S is the inlet where St. Paul is said to have
landed. The Shrine of Athena on the summit of the acropolis was founded by Danaos,
according to legend. The extant temple had at least two shadowy predecessors;
the tyrant-sage Kleoboulos is said to have built a temple in the 6th c. B.C.,
and a rock-cut stairway probably belongs to this phase. The great architectural
development of the site took place in the 4th c. B.C., though some elements may
be later; precise dating is disputed. The 4th c. temple, built after a disastrous
fire which is recorded in the inscription known as the "Lindian temple-chronicle",
is modest in size and appearance compared with its setting, both natural and architectural.
It is a rather narrow building, nearly 22 x 8 m, orientated NE and SW, with its
SE side close to the cliff edge. It had a porch of four Doric columns at either
end, and like the other buildings of the shrine, it was constructed of a local
limestone. Some of the terracottas found on the site may give an idea of the cult
statue. Not far from the NW corner of the temple have been found traces of what
may be an altar; Athena Lindia was traditionally worshiped with fireless sacrifices.
According to the scholia in Pindar, Gorgon, historian of Rhodes, said that the
magnificent ode (Ol. 7) in honor of Diagoras, greatest of boxers, was inscribed
in letters of gold in the Temple of Lindian Athena, but one might expect this
monument to be set up rather at Diagoras' native town Ialysos. The temple-chronicle
gives a list of notable offerings in the shrine.
The so-called propylaia are in fact a complex consisting of colonnades
bordering three sides of the court in front of the temple, with rooms on the NW
side (another small colonnade was added later on the SW side adjoining the temple);
and an outer colonnade facing down the hill to the NE, with projecting temple-like
wings at either end. A broad stair leads on down to another stoa, of great length
(about 87 m) similarly facing outwards and downwards, and making a short return
at either end. This was the latest element in the grand scheme. Portions of stoa,
propylaia, and temple have been not very effectively or securely restored.
The great stoa opened onto a spacious terrace, reached from below
by a stairway in the middle. In late Hellenistic times the terrace was extended
to about double its original width, by means of vaulted substructures, and the
stair was rebuilt in narrower form. Lower down the slope, to the NE, was a temple
of Roman date, built on a podium, about 9 x 16 m, with a porch of four columns
facing back up the hill. The shrine is assigned by some to a hero called Psithyros
(Whisperer), known from an inscription, but by Dyggve to a deified emperor, possibly
Remains of the ancient wall of the acropolis are slight, Hellenistic
in date, and mainly on the N. The whole site was eventually enclosed within the
great fortifications of the Knights. At the foot of the stairway which leads up
to the entrance on the N is a large Hellenistic rock-cut relief representing the
elegant up-curving prow of a ship; a projecting platform carried a statue of one
Agesandros, dedicated by himself.
A small theater, about 28 m in diameter, holding about 2,000, was
built into the SW slope of the hill; the middle section of the seats, cut into
the rock, is best preserved. Nearby are remains of a rectangular court with Doric
colonnades, possibly associated with the cult of Dionysos.
A fine model made under the direction of Dyggve and installed in
the National Museum at Copenhagen gives a vivid impression of the appearance of
the acropolis in Hellenistic times.
The city of Lindos stretched inland and W, a good deal farther
than the present town. Of the scanty remains outside the acropolis the most remarkable
are the monumental tombs. One of these, situated to the W of the town on Mt. Krana,
is the family mausoleum of Archokrates (late 2d c. B.C.), a chamber cut into the
rock with a two storied facade whose lower element is adorned with Doric columns.
On the N, on the farther side of the main harbor, is a circular structure 9 m
in diameter, popularly known, without any good reason, as the Tomb of Kleoboulos.
It has not yet been fully studied, and while Dyggve places it in the 2d c. B.C.,
Kondis thinks it may prove to be a good deal earlier. In the Middle Ages it was
used as a church.
At Ialysos in the NW, in contrast with the extensive and highly
productive cemeteries on the lower ground towards Trianda, structural remains
of the city are scanty. On the summit plateau of the hill of Phileremos, the ancient
acropolis, adjacent to the church of the monastery, are the foundations and column
fragments of the Temple of Athena and Zeus Polieus, a Doric structure of the 4th
c. B.C.; vestiges of a 6th c. temple and an older shrine have been found. The
most impressive ancient monument on the site is a late 4th c. fountain-house built
into the hillside lower down the slope to the S, one of the best examples of its
type. A facade of Doric columns in limestone, now partly reconstructed, stood
in front of a parapet consisting of two courses of slabs set between rectangular
pilasters, behind which was the water basin.
Several km down the coast to the SW, towards the border of the territory
of Kameiros, was a deme of Ialysos named Kastanioi. Here, near a place
now called Tholos (a corruption of Theologos), are the ruins of the Temple of
Apollo Erethimios, a Doric structure with two columns in antis, and of a theater
nearby. The shrine is identified by inscriptions, and the title is derived from
the placename Erethima. The temple was probably built at the end of the 5th c.,
but the cult existed much earlier and continued into Roman times.
At Kameiros are more extensive and imposing remains, which
show evidence of impressive planning in the Hellenistic period. Here again we
have a theater-like site, with the ground rising to E and W; to the S the hill
forms an acropolis or upper town, which does not seem to have been fortified as
a citadel. In the middle of the lower town is a large open area partially bordered
by colonnades, which may have been an agora, or perhaps a sacred temenos; on the
W side are the remains of a Doric temple, of which some columns have been reerected.
On the E is a retaining wall, behind which at a higher level runs a principal
street. To the N of this area is a large semicircular exedra, and to the E of
this a broad low flight of steps leading up to a smaller enclosure containing
a number of altars, obviously an important sacrificial area, from which the same
street could be reached by another flight of steps at the S end of its E side.
The main street ran S in the direction of the acropolis, with cross-streets joining
it, and the blocks thus formed were occupied by houses, some of which had colonnaded
courts. Along the N brow of the acropolis hill a Doric colonnade of great length
was built in the 3d c. B.C., forming an impressive background to the town as seen
from the N. The excavators reerected a few of the columns to show the effect,
only to have them flattened again by a storm. Behind the stoa, to the S, are the
ruins of a Temple of Athena, an archaic shrine rebuilt in Hellenistic times. The
city also has notable remains of cisterns, aqueducts, and drains. To the S stretch
the principal cemeteries from which the treasures of the earlier periods have
Looking in this direction one sees the peak of Mt. Atabyrion,
the highest point on the island (1,233 m), where as on many summits Zeus was worshiped.
Parts of a walled precinct have survived, but it is not clear whether or not the
confused remains within prove the existence of an ancient temple. Many dedications
to the god have been found, including small bronze bulls. The name of the mountain
seems to be of Semitic origin, being the Greek form of the Palestinian Tabor.
The cult of Zeus Atabyrios was of immemorial antiquity, founded, according to
the story told by Apollodoros (Bibl. 3.2) and Diodoros (5.59), by Althaimenes,
who, fleeing from Crete to avoid parricide, landed in Rhodes at a place which
he named Kretinia. He established the shrine on the neighboring mountain top,
from which he could survey the islands and see in the distance his native land.
Polybios reports (9.27.7) that on the summit of the acropolis of Akragas (which
was founded by Gela), "was established a Shrine of Athena and of Zeus Atabyrios,
as among the Rhodians"; this suggests but does not prove that Athena too
had a cult on the mountain. Appian (12.26) shows that in Hellenistic times Zeus
Atabyrios had a more accessible shrine near the city wall; but the dedications
prove that even then some devotees still climbed where Althaimenes stood.
The Archaeological Museum at Rhodes, now in process of reorganization, houses
finds from the various sites on the island, as well as some from neighboring islands,
though some of the material from the earlier excavations went to the British and
other museums, and some sculpture from Lindos is at Istanbul and Copenhagen. The
exhibits include archaic kouroi, fine funerary reliefs, a head of Zeus from Atabyrion,
a head of Helios, the "Aphrodite of Rhodes" (a crouching figure less
than life size) and another Hellenistic Aphrodite; Mycenaean jewelry; pottery
ranging from Mycenaean through Geometric and orientalizing (notably the "Rhodian"
fabrics, of course) to Attic black-figure and red-figure; mosaics (more can be
seen in the restored Palace of the Grand Masters); and missiles used in the great
sieges. Situated at the corner of Museum Square and the Street of the Knights,
the museum itself is a "museum piece", since it is one of the finest
and most interesting mediaeval buildings of Rhodes, the hospital in which the
Order of St. John performed its original humane and merciful task.
R. E. Wycherley, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites,
Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Sep 2002 from
Perseus Project URL below, which contains 52 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.
Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
The most easterly island of the Aegaean, or, more specifically, of
the Carpathian Sea, lying off the southern coast of Caria, due south of the promontory
of Cynossema (Cape Aloupo), at the distance of about twelve geographical miles.
Its length, from northeast to southwest, is about forty-five miles; its greatest
breadth about twenty to twenty-five. In early times it was called Aethraea and
Ophiussa, and several other names. There are various mythological stories about
its origin and peopling. Its Hellenic colonization is ascribed to Tlepolemus,
the son of Heracles, before the Trojan War, and after that war to Althaemenes.
Homer mentions the three Dorian settlements in Rhodes--namely, Lindus, Ialysus,
and Camirus; and these cities, with Cos, Cnidus, and Halicarnassus, formed the
Dorian Hexapolis, which was established, from a period of unknown antiquity, in
the southwest corner of Asia Minor. Rhodes soon became a great maritime State,
or rather confederacy, the island being parcelled out between the three cities
above mentioned. The Rhodians made distant voyages and founded numerous colonies.
At the beginning of the Peloponnesian War, Rhodes was one of those
Dorian maritime States which were subject to Athens; but in the twentieth year
of the war, B.C. 412, it joined the Spartan alliance, and the oligarchical party,
which had been depressed, and their leaders, the Eratidae, expelled, recovered
their former power under Dorieus. In 408 the new capital, called Rhodus, was built,
and peopled from the three ancient cities of Ialysus, Lindus, and Camirus. At
the Macedonian conquest the Rhodians submitted to Alexander, but upon his death
expelled the Macedonian garrison. In the ensuing wars they formed an alliance
with Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, and their city, Rhodes, successfully endured a
most famous siege by the forces of Demetrius Poliorcetes, who at length, in admiration
of the valour of the besieged, presented them with the engines he had used against
the city, from the sale of which they defrayed the cost of the celebrated Colossus.
At length they came into connection with the Romans, whose alliance they joined,
with Attalus, king of Pergamus, in the war against Philip III. of Macedon. In
the ensuing war with Antiochus the Rhodians gave the Romans great aid with their
fleet; and in the subsequent partition of the Syrian possessions of Asia Minor,
they were rewarded by the supremacy of Southern Caria, where they had had settlements
from an early period. A temporary interruption of their alliance with Rome was
caused by their espousing the cause of Perseus, for which they were severely punished
(B.C. 168); but they recovered the favour of Rome by the important naval aid they
rendered in the Mithridatic War. In the Civil Wars they took part with Caesar,
and suffered in consequence from Cassius, but were afterwards compensated for
their losses by the favour of Antonius. They were at length deprived of their
independence by Claudius; and their prosperity received its final blow from an
earthquake, which laid the city of Rhodes in ruins, in the reign of Antoninus
Pius, A.D. 155.
This text is cited Sep 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Perseus: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)
The Catholic Encyclopedia
A titular metropolitan of the Cyclades.
It is an island opposite to Lycia
and Caria, from which it
is separated by a narrow arm of the sea. It has an area of about 564 sq. miles,
is well watered by many streams and the river Candura, and is very rich in fruits
of all kinds. The climate is so genial that the sun shines ever there, as recorded
in a proverb already known to Pliny.
The island, inhabited first by the Carians and then by the Phoenicians
(about 1300 B.C.) who settled several colonies there, was occupied about 800 B.C.
by the Dorian Greeks. In 408 B.C. the inhabitants of the three chief towns, Lindus,
Ialysus, and Camirus
founded the city of Rhodes, from which the island took its name. This town, built
on the side of a hill, had a very fine port. On the breakwater, which separated
the interior from the exterior port, was the famous bronze statue, the Colossus
of Rhodes, 105 feet high, which cost 300 talants. Constructed (280) from the machines
of war which Demetrius Poliorcetes had to abandon after his defeat before the
town, it was thrown down by an earthquake in 203 B.C.; its ruins were sold in
the seventh century by Caliph Moaviah to a Jew from Emesus, who loaded them on
After the death of Alexander the Great and the expulsion of the Macedonian
garrison (323 B.C.) the island, owing to its navy manned by the best mariners
in the world, became the rival of Carthage
and Alexandria. Allied with
the Romans, and more or less under their protectorate, Rhodes became a centre
of art and science; its school of rhetoric was frequented by many Romans, including
Cato, Cicero, Caesar, and Pompey. Ravaged by Cassius in 43 B.C. it remained nominally
independent till A.D. 44, when it was incorporated with the Roman Empire by Claudius,
becoming under Diocletian the capital of the Isles or of the Cyclades,
which it long remained. St. Paul stopped there on his way from Miletus
to Jerusalem; he may even
have made converts there.
If we except some ancient inscriptions supposed to be Christian, there
is no trace of Christianity until the third century, when Bishop Euphranon is
said to have opposed the Encratites. Euphrosynus assisted at the Council of Nicaea
(325). As the religious metropolitan of the Cyclades,
Rhodes had eleven suffragan sees towards the middle of the seventh century; at
the beginning of the tenth century, it had only ten; at the close of the fifteenth,
only one, which has since disappeared. Rhodes is still a Greek metropolitan depending
on the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
On 15 August, 1310, under the leadership of Grand Master Foulques de Villaret,
the Knights of St. John captured the island in spite of the Greek emperor, Andronicus
II, and for more than two centuries, thanks to their fleet, were a solid bulwark
between Christendom and Islam.
From 1328 to 1546 Rhodes was a Latin metropolitan, having for suffragans
the sees of Melos, Nicaria,
Tinos, and Mycone.
After the death of Marco Cattaneo, the last residential archbishop, Rhodes became
a mere titular bishopric, while Naxos
inherited its metropolitan rights. On 3 March 1797 it became again a titular archbishopric
but the title was thenceforth attached to the See of Malta.
Its suffragans are Carpathos,
Samos, and Tenedos.
The most striking feature of the city, in addition to a series of
medieval towers and fortifications, is the Street of the Knights, which still
preserves their blason and the date of the erection of each house or palace; several
of the mosques are former churches.
S. Vailhe, ed.
Transcribed by: Douglas J. Potter
This extract is cited June 2003 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.
- The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908)
Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)
Rhodus (Rhodos: Eth. Rhodios: Rhodes), one of the chief islands of
the Aegean, or more properly of that part of the Aegean which is called the Carpathian
sea, about 9 or 10 miles from the coast of Caria. In the earliest times it is
said to have borne the names of Ophiussa (Steph. B. s. v. Rhodos), Stadia, Telchinis
(Strab. xvi. p. 653), Asteria, Aethraea, Trinacria, Corymbia, Poieessa, Atabyria,
Macaria, and Oloessa. (Plin. v. 36.) It extends from south to north, and is 920
stadia in circumference (Strab. xiv. p. 605), or, according to Pliny, 125 Roman
miles, though others reduced it to 103. The island is traversed from north to
south by a chain of mountains, the highest point of which was called Atabyris
or Atabyrion, and the towns were all situated on the coast. Mount Atabyris is
4560 feet above the level of the sea, and on the top of it stood a temple of Zeus
Atabyrius. Rhodes was believed to have at one time risen out of the sea, and the
Telchines, its most ancient inhabitants, are said to have immigrated from Crete.
(Pind. Olymp. vii. 23, &c.; Plin. ii. 87; Aristid. Orat. xliii. p. 653, ed. Dind.;
Strab. l. c.; Diod. v. 55.) The Telchines, about. whom many fabulous stories are
related, are said to have been nine in number, and their sister Halia or Amphitrite
became by Poseidon the mother of six sons and one daughter, Rhodos, from which
in the end the island received the name it still bears. Others, however, with
better reason, derive the name Rhodus from podon, a rose, for the rose appears
as a symbol on coins of the island, so that Rhodus would be the island of Roses.
(Eckhel, vol. ii. p. 602; Sestini, Num. Vet. p. 382.) These most ancient and fabulous
Telchines are said to have perished or been driven from the island during an inundation,
and Helios then created a new race of inhabitants, who were called after him Heliadae;
they were seven in number, and became ancestors of seven tribes, which partly
peopled Rhodus itself and partly emigrated to Lesbos, Cos, Caria, and Egypt. The
Heliadae are said to have greatly distinguished themselves by the progress they
made in the sciences of astronomy and navigation. (Pind. l. c. 160, &c.; Diod.
v. 56; Conon, Narrat. 47; Strab. xiv. p. 654.) After this various immigrations
from foreign countries are mentioned: Egyptians under Danaus, Phoenicians under
Cadmus, Thessalians and Carians, are each said to have furnished their contingent
to the population of Rhodes. Whatever we may think of these alleged immigrations,
they can have but little affected the national character of the Rhodians, which
in fact did not become fixed until a branch of the Doric race took possession
of the island, after which event the Doric character of its inhabitants became
thoroughly established. Some Dorians or Heracleidae appear to have been settled
there as early as the Trojan War, for the Heracleid Tlepolemus is described as
having sailed to Troy with nine ships. (Il. ii. 653; Diod. iv. 58, v. 59; Apollod.
ii. 8. § 2.) After the Trojan War Aethaemenes, a Heracleid from Argos, led other
settlers to Rhodus. (Strab. xiv. p 653; Diod. xv. 59; Apollod. iii. 2. § 1; comp.
Thuc. vii. 57 ; Aristid. Orat. xliv. p. 839.) After this time the Rhodians quietly
developed the resources of their island, and rose to great prosperity and affluence.
The three most ancient towns of the island were Lindus, Ialysus, and
Camirus, which were believed to have been founded by three grandsons of the Heliad
Ochimus bearing the same names, or, according to others, by the Heracleid Tlepolemus.
(Diod. iv. 58, v. 57.) These three towns, together with Cos, Cnidus, and Halicarnassus,
formed what was called the Doric hexapolis, which had its common sanctuary on
the Triopian headland on the coast of Caria, Apollo being the tutelary deity of
the confederation. (Herod. i. 144.) The rapid progress made by the Rhodian towns
at a comparatively early period is sufficiently attested by their colonies in
the distant countries of the west. Thus they founded settlements in the Balearic
islands, Rhode on the coast of Spain, Parthenope, Salapia, Siris, and Sybaris
in Italy, and Gela in Sicily; while the countries nearer home were not neglected,
for Soli in Cilicia, and Gagae and Corydalla in Lycia, were likewise Rhodian colonies.
But notwithstanding this early application to navigation and commerce, for which
Rhodes is so admirably situated between the three ancient continents, the Rhodians
were not ranked with the great maritime powers of Greece. Herodotus speaks of
them only as forming a part of the Doric confederacy, nor does Thucydides mention
their island more frequently. The Rhodians, in fact, did not attain to any political
eminence among the states of Greece until about B.C. 408, when the three ancient
towns conjointly built the city of Rhodes at the northern extremity of the island,
and raised it to the rank of a capital. During the first period of the Peloponnesian
War the towns of Rhodes paid tribute to Athens, and were reluctantly compelled
to serve against Syracuse and Gela in Sicily (Thuc. vii. 57); but in B.C. 412
they joined the Peloponnesians. The popular party being favourable to Athens,
soon afterwards attempted a reaction, but it was crushed (Diod. xiii. 38, 45).
In B.C. 396, however, when Conon appeared with his fleet in the waters of Rhodes,
the Rhodians again embraced the cause of Athens (Diod. xiv. 79; Paus. vi. 7. §
6); but the democracy which was now established was ill managed, and did not last
long; and as early as B.C. 390, the exiled aristocrats, with the assistance of
Sparta, recovered their former ascendancy. (Aristot. Polit. v. 4. 2; Xenoph. Hellen.
iv. 8. § 20, &c.; Diod. xiv. 97.) The fear of Sparta's growing power once more
threw Rhodes into the hands of the Athenians, but soon after the battle of Leuctra
a change again took place; at least the Thebans, in B.C. 364, were zealously engaged
in sowing discord for the purpose of drawing Rhodes, Chios, and Byzantium over
to their own side. During the Social War, from B.C. 357 to 355, the Rhodians were
arrayed against Athens, being instigated by the dynast of Caria and his successor
Artemisia. But as they became alarmed by the growing power of the Carian dynasty,
they solicited the protection of Athens through the eloquence of Demosthenes.
(Demos. de Libert. Rhodior.) The form of government throughout this period was
oligarchical, which accounts for the insolent conduct of Hegesilochus, as described
in Athenaeus (x. p. 444). Rhodes furnished Darius, the last king of Persia, with
one of his bravest and ablest generals in the person of Memnon, who, if he had
had the sole direction of affairs, might have checked the victorious career of
Alexander, and saved the Persian empire. But as it was, Rhodes, like the rest
of Greece, lost its independence, and received a Macedonian garrison (Curt. iv.
5). The expulsion of this garrison after the death of Alexander was the beginning
of a glorious epoch in the history of Rhodes; for during the wars against the
successors of Alexander, and especially during the memorable siege of the city
of Rhodes by Demetrius Poliorcetes, the Rhodians gained the highest esteem and
regard from all the surrounding princes and nations. During the period which then
followed, down to the overthrow of the Macedonian monarchy, Rhodus, which kept
up friendly relations with Rome, acted a very prominent part, and extended its
dominion over a portion of the opposite coasts of Carlia and Lycia - a territory
which is hence often called the Peraia ton Hpodion - and over several of the neighbouring
islands, such as Casus, Carpathus, Telos, and Chalce. After the defeat of Perseus
the Romans deprived the Rhodians of a great amount of territory and power, under
the pretext that they had supported Macedonia; but the anger of Rome was propitiated,
and in the war against Mithridates the Rhodians defended themselves manfully against
the Pontian king. During the civil war between Caesar and Pompey they sided with
the former, and their adherence to him led them, after his death, to resist Cassius;
but the republican, after defeating them in a naval engagement, entered the city
of Rhodes by force, and having put to death the leaders of the hostile party,
carried off all the public property, even the offerings and ornaments of the temples
(Appian, Bell. Civ. iv. 72; Plut. Brut. 30; Dion Cass. xlvii. 32). This calamity
in B.C. 42 broke the power of the Rhodians, but it still remained one of the great
seats of learning. Tiberius, before his accession to the imperial throne, resided
at Rhodes for several years. The emperor Claudius deprived it of all political
independence (Dion Cass. lx. 24); but although he afterwards restored its liberty,
it was at all times a very precarious possession, being taken away and given back
as circumstances or the caprices of the emperors suggested (Tac. Ann. xii. 58;
comp. Suet. Vesp. 8; Eutrop. vii. 13). In the arrangements of Constantine, Rhodus,
like other islands, belonged to the Provincia Insularum, of which it was the metropolis
(Hierocles, p. 685, &c.). During the middle ages it continued to enjoy a considerable
degree of prosperity, and was the last place in Western Asia that yielded to the
The great prosperity which the Rhodians enjoyed during the best period
of their history was owing in the first place to their extensive navigation and
commerce, and in the second to their political institutions. In respect to the
former they were particularly favoured by the situation of their island, and during
the Macedonian and Roman periods no Greek state could rival them in the extent
and organisation of their commerce; their sailors were regarded as the best, and
their laws relating to navigation were thought models worthy of being adopted
by the Romans. The form of government of the Rhodians was indeed founded upon
a popular basis, but their democracy was tempered by an admixture of oligarchy.
Such at least we find it during the Macedonian period, at a time when the ancient
Doric institutions had given way to a form of government more suited to the actual
circumstances. (Strab. xii. p. 575, xiv. p. 652; Cic. de Re Publ. i. 3. 1; Dion
Chrys. Orat. xxxi.; Aristid. Orat. xliv. p. 831.) The sovereign power belonged
to the assembly of the people, which had the final decision of everything; but
nothing was brought before it which had not previously been discussed by the senate
or boule. (Polyb. xvi. 35, xxiii. 3, xxvii. 6, xxviii. 15, xxix. 5; Cic. de Re
Publ. iii. 3. 5) The executive was in the hands of two magistrates called prutaneis,
each of whom governed for six months in the year as eponymus. Next to these, the
admirals (nauarchoi) possessed the most extensive power. Other officers are mentioned
in inscriptions, but their character and functions are often very uncertain. The
Rhodian constitution had its safest foundation in the character and habits of
the people, who, although the vicinity of Asia had a considerable influence and
created a love of splendour and luxury, yet preserved many of their ancient Doric
peculiarities, such as earnestness, perseverance, valour, and patriotism, combined
with an active zeal for literature, philosophy, and art. The intellectual activity
maintained itself in Rhodes long after it had died away in most other parts of
The island of Rhodes, which appears even in the earliest traditions
as extremely wealthy (Hom. Il. ii. 670; Pind. Olymp. vii. 49; Philostr. Imag.
ii. 27), is in many parts indeed rough and rocky, especially the coast near the
city of Rhodes, and the district about Lindus, but on the whole it was extremely
fertile: its wine, dried raisins and figs, were much esteemed, and its saffron,
oil, marble, achate, sponges, and fish, are often spoken of. The most important
productions of Rhodian industry were ships, arms, and military engines. Besides
the places already mentioned, the ancients notice Ixia and Mnasyrium, two forts
in the south, and a place called Achaia.
By far the most important place was the city of Rhodus at the north-eastern
extremity of the island. It was built in B.C. 408 upon a regular plan formed by
the architect Hippodamus, the same who built the walls of Peiraeeus. (Strab. xiv.
p. 654; Diod. xix. 45, xx. 83; Harpocrat. s. v.; Hippodameia.) It was constructed
in the form of an amphitheatre rising from the coast, and was protected by strong
walls and towers, while nature provided it with two excellent harbours. The acropolis
rose at the southwestern extremity, and on the slope of it was the theatre. According
to Strabo, Rhodus surpassed all other cities for the beauty and convenience‘ of
its ports, streets, walls, and public edifices, all of which were adorned with
a profusion of works of art both in painting and sculpture. The principal statues
were in the temple of Dionysus and the gymnasium; but the most extraordinary statue,
which is described as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was the brazen
statue of Helios, commonly called the Colossus of Rhodes. It was the work of Chares
of Lindus, who employed upon its execution twelve years. It cost 300 talents,
and was 70 cubits in height: its gigantic size may be inferred from the fact that
few men were able to encompass one of its thumbs with their arms. (Plin. xxxiv.
18; Strab. l. c.) The Colossus stood at the entrance of one of the ports, but
the statement that it stood astride over the entrance, and that the largest ships
could sail between its legs, is in all probability a mere fable. It was overthrown
by an earthquake, 56 years after its erection, that is, in B.C. 224, or according
to others a few years later. Ptolemy promised the Rhodians, among other things,
3000 talents for its restoration (Polyb. v. 89), but it is said not to have been
attempted in consequence of an oracle (Strab. l. c.). Later authorities, however,
speak of it as standing erect: the emperor Commodus is said to have ordered his
own bust to be put upon it; and Cedrenus relates that a king of the Saracens sold
the fragments to a merchant who employed upwards of 900 camels to carry them away.
Notwithstanding the great splendour of the city, the number of its inhabitants
does not appear to have been very great, for during the siege of Demetrius Poliorcetes
no more than 6000 citizens capable of bearing arms are mentioned. (Diod. xx. 84.)
But Rhodus has nevertheless produced many men of eminence in philosophy and literature,
such as Panaetius, Stratocles, Andronicus, Eudemus, Hieronymus, Peisander, Simmias,
and Aristides; while Poseidonius, Dionysius Thrax, and Apollonius, surnamed the
Rhodian, resided in the island for a considerable tine. The present town of Rhodes
contains very few remains of the ancient Greek city. (Comp. P. D. Paulsen, Descriptio
Rhodi Maced. Aetate, Gottingen, 1818 ; I. Rest, Rhodus, ein Hist. Arch. Fragment,
Altona, 1823; Th. Menge, Vorgeschichte von Rhodus, Coln, 1827; Rottier, Descript.
des Monuments de Rhodes, Bruxelles, 1828; Ross, Reisen auf den Griech. Inseln,
iii. pp. 70-113, which contains a good account of the middle-age history and the
present condition of the island and city with maps and plans; Sestini, Mon. Vet.
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited October 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD)
Rhodes, Rhodos, Rhodian, Rhodians
- Rhodes: Perseus Lookup Tool, text search
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