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Modern perceptions of Classical Greece are almost invariably based on Athens and Sparta, but there are perhaps few areas as consistently undervalued as the island of Rhodes. Although solidly part of the Greek world for as long as there has been one, Rhodes, located just off the coast of Asia Minor, was also from its earliest times a port opening to the civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean, and Rhodes was involved in every significant moment in ancient Greek history. The island often played a key role in world events which far surpassed its small size, and at one point even stood side-by-side with much larger kingdoms as one of the main powers in the Greek world.
Rhodes would reach the zenith of its power in the Hellenistic period following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. Even as the rest of the city-states waned compared to the much larger kingdoms of Alexander’s successors in Egypt and Asia, Rhodes would come to the forefront as a main power in the Greek world, standing toe-to-toe with these Hellenistic kingdoms. Rhodes was for a time the foremost naval power in the Eastern Mediterranean, and one of the most powerful and richest cities in the world. It was during this time that the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was built on the island to celebrate Rhodes’ equally monumental triumph over the armies of Demetrius the Besieger. Rhodes also gained a foothold on other islands, and an extensive presence in Asia Minor.
With the rise of Rome, Rhodes, along with the rest of the Greek world, lost power, and it was gradually integrated into the Roman sphere of influence as an ally before finally being annexed into the empire. After the partition and collapse of the ancient Roman Empire, in the Middle Ages Rhodes would share in both the fortunes and vicissitudes of Rome’s successor state, the Byzantine Empire. Along with the Byzantines, Rhodes would face off first against the Arabs from the East, and then European Crusaders from the West.
When the Rhodian castle of the knights, still standing today, finally fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1522, Rhodes entered a long period of Turkish rule that lasted almost 400 years. It was only in 1948, after successive and brief Italian, German and British occupations, that the island was finally united with the modern Greek state, but to this day, thanks to its impressive archaeological sites, Rhodes still bears the indelible marks of its storied past.
Rhodes: The History and Legacy of the Greek Island from Ancient Times to Today examines one of the most important Greek powers throughout its long and illustrious history. You will learn about Rhodes like never before.