- , COLOSSALColossal is an ordinary word used by ordinary people, even though it doesn't describe ordinary things. Its meaning, of course, is enormous in size, extent, or degree. Its closest synonym is gigantic. In ancient times the Colossus referred to the bronze Colossus of Rhodes, a representation of the sun god Helios, built to commemorate the successful defense of Rhodes against King Demetrius Poliorcetes of Macedonia in 305 B.C. The Colossus was a huge statue erected across the entrance of the harbor of Rhodes. Pliny, the Roman historian, tells us that the statue was 70 cubits or more high, which, according to today's measurements, means that it reached 120 feet heavenward and was so large that ships could sail between its legs. The word Colossus (Latin, from the Greek Kolossos, "large") referred only to the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. English has acquired the word colossal from this humongous figure designed in 280 B.C. by a sculptor named Chares. In 224 B.C. disaster beset this monumental artwork when an earthquake toppled it.Shakespeare's Julius Caesar immortalized this ancient statue when Cassius described the title character to Brutus: Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world Like a Colossus; and we petty men Walk under his high legs, and peep about To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.