The New International Encyclopædia/Rhodes (island)

RHODES (Lat. Rhodus, from Gk. Ῥόδος). An island now belonging to Asiatic Turkey and long an important, wealthy, and independent State of ancient Greece. It lies off the southwest coast of Asia Minor, from the nearest point of which it is distant about 12 miles. It is 49 miles long and 21 miles in greatest breadth, and is traversed in the direction of its length—from northeast to southwest—by a chain of mountains, which reach in Mount Ataÿros (the ancient Atabyrion) a height of 4070 feet. The present population is about 30,000, of whom two-thirds are Greeks. The island is governed by a Turkish pasha, but is in general neglected, and shows few traces of its ancient prosperity. Its climate is temperate and its valleys are fertile, producing oil, oranges, citrons, etc.

Rhodes rose into importance at a very early period. It is certain that Ialysus was a place of trade during the second millennium B.C., for Mycenæan vases have been found in its necropolis. When the island first appears in history it is peopled by Dorians who dwell in three cities, Lindus, near the centre of the east coast, with a good harbor, and still a town; Camirus, on the west coast; and Ialysus, also on the west coast, near the northern end of the island. These cities, with Calymna, Cos, and Halicarnassus, formed the Doric Hexapolis which later, by the expulsion or withdrawal of Halicarnassus, became a Pentapolis. During the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. the island shared in the commercial prosperity of the Greek States of Asia Minor. A colony was planted at Phaselis, on the east coast of Lyeia, and, alone of the Asiatic Greeks, the Rhodians took part in the first colonizing of Sicily, where they settled Gela, according to the tradition, about B.C. 690. A hundred years later, after an unsuccessful attempt at Lilybæum, another band settled the Lipari Islands. Secure from attack by land, and on friendly terms with the unaggressive naval powers of Phœnicia and Egypt, the island maintained its independence till the Persian conquest, and did not finally yield till after the Ionian revolt, at the beginning of the fifth century B.C. The Rhodians were among the Greeks who served with Xerxes, though their contingent was small. After the Greek victories, they joined the Delian League, thus passing ultimately into the Athenian empire. They revolted in B.C. 411, and in 408 the three cities combined to found a new capital of the island. This city, Rhodes (q.v.), henceforth represents the island. Excavations were begun on the Acropolis of Lindus in 1902 by Danish scholars, and in the first season the Propylæa and ancient Temple of Athena were discovered.