Ancient Rhodes

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The island city-state of Rhodes was an important cultural and economic center, one of the Greek world's oldest settlements, dating to the time of Crete's Minoan civilization. Rhodes was known first and foremost for the Colossus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Rhodes is in the southeastern Aegean Sea, closer to Asia Minor than to Greece; as such, it was a frequent target for Persian occupying forces. Before that, however, Rhodes was the traget of the Mycenaeans and Dorians. According to the poet Homer, forces from Rhodes participated in the Trojan War.

The Persian Empire assumed control of Rhodes in 490 B.C., but the Rhodians threw off the Persian yoke and joined the Delian League. That organization's morphing into the Athenian Empire convinced Rhodes to revolt against Athens in 412 B.C. and join the Spartan side in the Peloponnesian War.

In 408 B.C., the cities on the island–Camirus, Ialysus, and Lindus (which had been the capital)–joined together to form what became the island city-state of Rhodes, with a capital city also named Rhodes. They became a democracy in 395 B.C. and again aligned in Athens, in 378 B.C.

Thirty years later, the Persians again ruled the island. The people of Rhodes found a more welcome conqueror in Alexander the Great, submitting to his rule and helping him conquer the island of Tyre. When Alexander died, Rhodes declared its independence and made overtures to Egypt.

Another Macedonian leader, Demetrius I, tried to regain control of Rhodes but, after a yearlong attempt at starving the population, abandoned his siege, leaving all of the equipment behind. The Rhodians sold the equipment or otherwise repurposed it, using it to fund the Colossus.

Rhodes continued as an independent entity, assuming control of a few neighboring islands and patrolling the area against pirates. Rhodes at first embraced relations with Rome but then fell out with the rising power, resulting in the Roman sacking of Rhodes in 43 B.C.

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David White