The Colossus of Nero: 3 Amazing Facts

title="Reconstruction of the Colossus of Nero, Rome (now destroyed). Begun AD 64.<br />(from Art: Jaime Jones. Source: Marianne Bergmann, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World,<br />New York University, CC BY-SA 4.0, www.commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41748007). <br />See “Zenodorus’s ‘Colossus of Nero,’” <i>Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome</i> 46 (2001) 95-118."
Further ReadingThe 5 Roman Emperors Of The Julio Claudian Dynasty

Almost 2,000 years ago the Roman Emperor Nero constructed one of Rome’s most famous monuments. This was the 103 foot bronze statue of Nero which was aptly named the Colossus Neronis or the Colossus of Nero.

Here are 3 amazing facts about the Colossus of Nero.

  • At its peak the sources describe the Colossus of Nero as being between the heights of 103-121 Ft or 30-37 meters in height!
  • Under the Roman Emperor Vespasian the Colossus of Nero would be given a sun crown and called Apollo.
  • Historians now know the statue was standing as late as the 7th century AD when it mysteriously disappeared.

Today we know very little about the colossus of Nero. A few ancient authors make reference to the state and we have some evidence in the form of coins the pedestal blocks of the statue. However, apart from that nobody knows what happened to the statue itself.

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Without further ado, here are 3 surprising facts about the Colossus of Nero.

1.) At Its Peak The Colossus Of Nero Was Around The Same Height As The Statue Of Liberty

One of the best facts about the Colossus of Nero was its massive height.

Shortly after the statue was finished under Emperor Vespasian the statue was between 103-130 ft. tall. This would have made it around the same height or taller than the statue of Liberty.

We know of the height of the Colossus of Nero because of several coins that were minted toward the end of Nero’s reign depicting the future statue. Initially the statue was created to turn Nero into a depiction of a living Roman god.

The act of having a living Roman emperor deified was highly controversial during the time of Nero. Undoubtedly he would have been taking after the former emperor Caligula who did a similar thing almost 10 years previously.

While this act of displaying himself as a god was controversial the statue itself was magnificent by ancient standards. Standing at nearly 103 ft. tall it would have towered over everything else around it. At the time the Flavian amphitheater was not built so this statue would have been the tallest object in the city of Rome.

As such one of the 5 amazing facts about the Colossus of Nero was that it was massive standing at nearly 103 ft. tall.

2.) Under The Emperor Vespasian The Colossus Of Nero Would Be Given A Sun Crown

Another amazing fact about the Colossus Of Nero was that two decades after its creation the emperor Vespasian would install a sun crown to make the statue resemble Apollo.

Apollo the Roman sun god was the central deity that was represented around the city of Rome. In many ways the Romans of the first century AD would draw direct resemblances between the city and Apollo.

As such Vespasian had a sun crown added to the statue of Nero. This was done for two reasons.

First, the sun crown represented Apollo. Vespasian here was cementing his new legacy by tying himself to the people of the city of Rome through a series of building projects around the Empire. One of these building projects was updating the Colossus of Nero to best resemble the people of the city of Rome.

This would have helped to cement the new Flavian dynasty.

The second reason Vespasian added a crown to the Colossus of Nero was to remove all traces of the previous emperor Nero. After Nero died the Roman senate moved to remove all traces of his reign. This included destroying his golden palace the Domus Aurea.

As such one of the amazing facts about the Colossus of Nero was that under Vespasian it was given a golden crown to resemble the sun.

3.) Historians Now Know That The Colossus Of Nero Was Standing Until The 7th Century When It Disappeared

The 3rd amazing fact about the Colossus of Nero was that it stood for far longer then historians previously thought.

Recently scholars started looking at early Christian sources depicting traveling to the city of Rome. Within the poetry of Bede, an 8th century Christian monk, there is a poem referring to a colossus of Rome.

“As long as the Colossus stands, Rome will stand,

when the Colossus falls, Rome will fall,

when Rome falls, so falls the world.”

-Bede, 672-735 AD

This was not a new discovery. The poem states the word “coliseus” which previous historians believed indicated the Coliseum of Rome.

However, recent scholarship has demonstrated that Latin from Northern Europe used the term coliseus to refer to a masculine figure instead of a building. This was astonishing. This means that the Colossus of Nero survived for almost 800 years before disappearing.

Nobody knows where the colossus went. The pedestal stood up until the 20th century when Benito Mussolini ordered its demolition.

As such one of the amazing facts about the Colossus of Nero was that it survived for nearly 800 years!

Conclusion

There you have it; 3 amazing facts about the Colossus of Nero.

Few people today know about such an amazing structure. More importantly if you can visualize it, during its completion it would have been nearly 2 times taller than any other building around. This would have made the bronze Colossus of Nero one of the tallest statues in the world during its time.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.

Further, you can check out some of the other articles below.

Sincerely,

Nick