- Jun 3, 2007
The Senate and People of Rhodes
Winner of the Q2 and Q3 2009 ARRLand Choice Awards for Most Humorous EU:Rome AAR*
*Tied with Peter Ebesson's We Three Kings in Q3...with 1 vote apiece.
Rhodes. The largish, but not so largish as Crete or Cyprus, island off the coast of Anatolia had been home to a Bold and Sea-Faring People since time immemorial.
The island was inhabited in the Neolithic period, although little remains of this culture. In the 8th century BAUC the Minoans came to Rhodes, and later Greek mythology recalled a Rhodian race they called the Telchines, and associated Rhodes with Danaus; it was sometimes nicknamed Telchinis. In the 7th century BAUC the Achaeans invaded. It was, however, in the 4th century BAUC that the island started to flourish, with the coming of the Dorians. It was the Dorians who later built the three important cities of Lindos, Ialyssos and Kameiros, which together with Kos, Cnidus and Halicarnassus (on the mainland) made up the so-called Dorian Hexapolis.
In Pindar's ode, the island was said to be born of the union of Helios the sun god and the nymph Rhode, and the cities were named for their three sons. The rhoda is a pink hibiscus native to the island. Diodorus Siculus added that Actis, one of the sons of Helios and Rhode travelled to Egypt where he built the city of Heliopolis and he taught the Egyptians the science of astrology.
Invasions by the Persians eventually overran the island, but after their defeat by the forces from Athens in 276 AUC, the cities joined the Athenian League. When the Peloponnesian War broke out in 323 AUC, Rhodes remained largely neutral, although it remained a member of the League. The war lasted until 350 AUC, but by this time Rhodes had withdrawn entirely from the conflict and had decided to go her own way.
In 346 AUC the cities united to form one territory, and built a new capital on the northern end of the island, the city of Rhodes: its regular plan was superintended by the Athenian architect Hippodamus. However the Peloponnesian War had so weakened the entire Greek culture that it lay open to invasion. In 397 AUC the island was conquered by the king Mausolus of Caria, then fell to the Persians 414 AUC. But their rule was also short and to the great relief of its citizens, Rhodes became a part of the growing empire of Alexander III of Macedon in 422 AUC after he defeated the Persians.
The Acropolis of LindosFollowing the death of Alexander his generals vied for control of the kingdom. Three of them, Ptolemy, Seleucus, and Antigonus, succeeded in dividing the kingdom among themselves. Rhodes formed strong commercial and cultural ties with the Ptolemies in Alexandria, and together they formed the Rhodo-Egyptian alliance. The city developed into a maritime, commercial and cultural center and its coins were in circulation almost everywhere in the Mediterranean. Its famous schools of philosophy, science, literature and rhetoric, shared masters with Alexandria: the Athenian rhetorician Aeschines who formed a school at Rhodes; Apollonius of Rhodes; the observations and works of the astronomers Hipparchus and Geminus, the rhetorician Dionysios Trax. Its school of sculptors developed a rich, dramatic style that can be characterized as "Hellenistic Baroque".
In 449 AUC, Antigonus had his son, Demetrius besiege Rhodes in an attempt to break its alliance with Egypt. Demetrius created huge siege engines including a 180 ft (55 m) battering ram and a siege tower named Helepolis that weighed 360,000 pounds (163,293 kg). Despite this engagement, in 450 AUC, after only one year he relented and signed a peace agreement, leaving behind a huge store of military equipment. The Rhodians sold the equipment and used the money to erect a statue of their sun god, Helios, the statue now known as Colossus of Rhodes.
From here, it all went downhill. In 464, Laertes Apollonid rode a Populist Wave to power and siezed control of the Island-State as a Tyrant. He clung to power, sometimes with and sometimes without, the support of the leading citizens. Part of his control involved the slow dismantling of any competing power structures within the state, leaving him in possession of sole legal authority within the State.