Rhodes, according to Mythology, emerges from the sea at the behest of Zeus to be a gift to Apollo. Another myth wants the first inhabitants of the island to be the Telchines. From their sister, Alia, Poseidon had a daughter, Rhodes, who became the wife of Helios and gave her name to the island. The archaeological dig proved that the island was first inhabited during the Neolithic years (third millennium BC), flourished in the Minoan period (1900 - 1450 BC), while in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. the settlement of the Achaeans took place. The 10th BC century the Dorians arrived and settled. At this point, the myth touches on history and informs us that Hercules' son, Tlipolemos, settled in Rhodes together with the Dorians and organized the three main cities of the island Lindos, Kamiros and Ialyssos, which then formed together with Kos, Knidos and Halicarnassus the famous "Doric Hexapolis".
The geopolitical position of Rhodes on the SE edge of the Aegean contributed to the rapid maritime and commercial development of the island during the Archaic era (7th - 6th centuries BC). A multitude of colonies were then founded and the influence of the Rhodians extended to the surrounding islands. The government that prevailed in those years was aristocratic and Lindos in the 6th century had the tyrant Cleoboulos, one of the 7 sages of antiquity. At the turn of the 5th c. BC Rhodes was forced to suffer the consequences of the appearance of the Persians in the Aegean. It seems that it was forced to accept some form of Persian rule, since during the naval battle of Salamis (480 BC) Rhodian ships also took part on the side of the Persians.
In 478 BC the Rhodians joined the First Athenian Alliance and despite their Dorian origin, at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War (431 - 404 BC) they were on the side of Athens. In 412, however, they revolted and, with the help of Sparta, supported the Peloponnesian Alliance. At that time (411 BC), the three Rhodian cities, Ialyssos, Lindos and Kamiros, jointly decided on the foundation of a new city, which was completed in 408 BC. The new city was built on the slope of the Acropolis hill, in accordance with the Hippodamian system. It consisted of large building blocks and had a complete sewage system. The Stadium, the Conservatory, the Library, the Gymnasium, the temple of Apollo and the other places of worship and the important public buildings were arranged in the area of the Acropolis. The new city soon became the political, economic and cultural center of the island.
At the beginning of the 4th century BC Rhodes was sometimes under the influence of Athens (Second Athenian Alliance) and sometimes of Sparta. It became independent again in 323 BC. In the so-called "successor wars" that followed, Demetrius managed to fend off Poliorkites. In memory of this victory, the "Colossus of Rhodes" was built.
Despite the exogenous shocks, the power of Rhodes increased continuously from the middle of the 4th century BC, and after the diverse decline of Athens, it emerged as the most remarkable naval power of the Aegean, while it dominated trade in the eastern Mediterranean. The "Rhodian Naval Code" was so well-studied that it was observed by both the Romans and the Byzantines. Its government in those years was a combination of democratic and "aristocratic" but with welfare and social care for all in mind. The spiritual culture of Rhodes had a corresponding development to the material. Her famous children were Cleobolus the Rhodian, one of the seven sages of ancient Greece, Eudimus the Rhodian, a well-known itinerant philosopher, Timocreon the itinerant philosopher, Timocreon the Rhodian, a famous lyric poet, the stoic philosopher Panaetius, the philologist Simmias and Apollonius the Rhodian, poet of the epic "Argonautica". The Rhetoric School of Rhodes also gained a brilliant reputation during the classical and Hellenistic periods. The athletes of Rhodes also became famous, with the Diagorides being the most prominent.
The city of Rhodes, endowed with five ports, emerged very quickly as the first city of the island. With a democratic government, it had as its authorities the Church of the Municipality, the Parliament, five Chancellors and the respective Priest of the Sun, the deity who protected the sunny island, named Archon.
The first period is for Rhodes a time of instability, frequent political changes and internal conflicts between democratic and oligarchic, supported respectively by Athens and Sparta.
The dissolution of the 2nd Athenian Alliance, in which from 378/7 BC. Rhodes had joined, favors the expansion of Mausolus and his successor Artemisias, who subordinate Rhodes to the Carian dynasty from 351 BC. until 332 BC when the Macedonian kingdom of Alexander the Great appears in the foreground of history.
Its extremely current geographical position at the crossroads between East and West, but also the historical and political conditions that are taking shape will favor Rhodes, so that it emerges as a great naval and commercial power, equal to and a competitor of Athens first, its successor in the Aegean and in the east Mediterranean later.
The foundation of Alexandria in 331 BC, controlled by the Ptolemies, favored the development of Rhodes, which maintained special commercial and political relations with it. However, the refusal of Rhodes to cooperate with Antigonus against the Ptolemies, was the cause of the rupture, which culminated in the dramatic siege of the city in 305/4 BC. by the son of Antigonus, Demetrius the Besieger.
Rhodes during the Roman Empire (from the 2nd century BC) was still a commercial and cultural center while it embraced Christianity early on. According to tradition, it is possible that the Apostle Paul himself preached in Rhodes, if we take into account the homonymous church in the port of the Apostle Paul in Lindos. During the years of Diocletian (284 - 305) Rhodes was the capital of the "Province of the Islands". In Byzantium, the institution of "Themes" was established and Rhodes joined the theme of the Kibyrraeans. The Byzantine years were, however, stormy: In 620 AD. it was attacked by the Persians with Chosroes II, while in the middle of the 7th century the Arabs attacked with Moab (perhaps then the metal of the Colossus was sold). In 717 there was an invasion by the Saracens and in 807 AD. of the Arabs with Harun al-Rashid.
In 1309, the historic baton of conquest was received by the Crusaders. After the fall of Constantinople by the Franks (1204), the commander of Rhodes, Leo Gavalas, declared himself independent ruler of the island with the help of the Venetians. In 1309 Rhodes came under the rule of the Order of the Knights of Saint John. The period of Chivalry marked Rhodes' heyday as a bridge between East and West. The John Knights planned to adequately shield the island against Turkish raids. However, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent managed to besiege the island and after six months of resistance to capture it - to surrender it - finally in 1522. The Knights of John were forced to capitulate and abandon the island to the Turks.
During the Turkish rule, Rhodes suffered as much as the rest of the enslaved Hellenism, without the overt participation of the Rhodesians in the uprising being possible. However, whether as Friends or as generous financiers of the Struggle, or as fighters in revolutionary Greece, the Rhodians made a substantial contribution. In 1830 (London protocol) the Dodecanese remained, thanks to diplomacy, to the Ottomans. With the proclamation of the Constitution in 1908, the Rhodians hoped that the end of the Sultan would bring about liberalizations but in vain, since the Young Turks pursued a policy of oppression aimed at the annihilation of the Greek element.
During the Italo-Turkish War, the Italians occupied Rhodes (1912) and held it until the capitulation of Italy in World War II (1943). For three martyr years, Rhodes was occupied by the Germans. On May 8, 1945, the Dodecanese were handed over to the allied forces, specifically to the British. In 1948, Rhodes, like the rest of the Dodecanese, was incorporated into Greece. The city of Rhodes, created in 408/7 BC. at the northernmost end of the island, from the union of the three Doric cities, Ialyssos, Kameiros and Lindos, celebrated in 1992 and 1993 the 2400th anniversary of its foundation. The official name of the new state was "Damos of Rhodians".
Editor: Fotini Anastasopoulou