The Story of the Greeks

Page: 118

Demetrius, who had been very lucky in all his wars, now planned to take the Island of Rhodes from Ptolemy, King of Egypt. It proved, however, a far more difficult thing than he had expected, and, after besieging the principal city for a whole year, he gave up the attempt.

But he had invented so many machines to try to subdue the city of Rhodes, that every one thought he deserved much credit, and they therefore gave him the title of Po-li-or-ce´tes ("the city taker").

Peace was agreed upon, and Demetrius retreated, giving up to the Rho´di-ans all the mighty war engines he had brought with him. These were sold for three hundred talents (something over three hundred thousandDemetrius Poliorcetes. (Coin.) Demetrius Poliorcetes. (Coin.)

This marvelous brazen statue, which was so fine that it was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, represented the sun god, with his head surrounded by rays, and with his feet resting one on each side of the entrance of the port.

We are told that the Co-los´sus of Rhodes, as this statue was generally called, was so tall that ships under full sail easily passed under its spreading legs in and out of the harbor.

It stood there for about sixty years, when it was overthrown by an earthquake. After lying in ruins for a long time, the brass was sold as old metal. It was carried off on the backs of camels, and we are told that nine hundred of these animals were required for the work.

Thus vanished one of the much talked of wonders of the ancient world. The others were Diana's Temple at Ephesus, the Tomb of Mau-so´lus (which was so fine that any handsome tomb is sometimes called a mausoleum), the Pha´ros or Lighthouse of Alexandria or Messina, the Walls and Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Labyrinth of Crete, and the Pyramids of Egypt. To these is often added the Parthenon at Athens, which, as you have seen, was decorated by the carvings of Phidias.[Pg 265]


Demetrius, having failed to take Rhodes, now passed over into Greece, hoping to overthrow Cassander; but the other kings, growing afraid of him, agreed to help the ruler of Macedon. They therefore collected a large army, and forced Demetrius to stop and fight them all at Ip´sus, in Asia Minor.

Here, just twenty years after Alexander's death, his generals met in a great battle. Seleucus, it is said, brought a number of fighting elephants, such as Porus had used, which added much to the confusion and fierceness of the struggle.

Antigonus, the father of Demetrius, was slain, and Demetrius himself was defeated, and driven to Ephesus. The Athenians, who had been his friends and allies as long as he was prosperous, now basely deserted him. They declared themselves his enemies, and made a law whereby any one who spoke well of him, or tried to make peace with him, should be put to death.