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From The Biographical Writings and Letters of Venerable Bede, translated from the Latin, by J. A. Giles; James Bohn, London, 1845; pp. ix, 156-158.

Bede    (Bæda)

673 - 735 A. D.

[From The Publisher’s Advertisement, on page ix of the book: “ ’The Account of the Seven Wonders of the World,’ and ‘The Book of the Holy Places,’ were compiled by Bede for the use of his own monastery.” — Elf.Ed.]








Capitol of
OF the seven wonders of the world,* made by the hand of man, the first is the Capitol at Rome, the very salvation of the inhabitants, and greater than a whole city. In it were statues of the nations subdued by the Romans, or images of their gods, and on the breasts of the statues were inscribed the names of the nations which had been conquered, with bells hanging from their necks. Priests or watchmen attended on these by turns, day and night, and showed much care in watching them. If either of them should move, the bell made a noise, and so they knew what nation was rebelling against the Romans. When they knew this, they communicated the information by word of mouth or by writing to the Roman princes, that they might know against what nation they were next to turn the Roman arms.



Pharos of
The second is the Light-house of Alexandria, which was founded on four glass arches, twenty paces deep beneath the sea. The wonder is, how such large arches could be made, or how they could be conveyed without breaking; how the foundations, which are cemented together above, could adhere to them, or how the cement could stand firm under the water; and why the arches are not broken, and why the foundations cast in above do not slip off.


Colossus of
The third is the figure of the Colossus in the island of Rhodes, a hundred and thirty-six feet long, and cast of melted metal. The wonder is how such an immense mass could be cast, or how it could be set up and not fall.


Figure of
The fourth wonder is the iron figure of Belerophon on horseback, which hangs suspended in the air over the city, and has neither chains nor any thing else to support it; but great magnetic stones are placed in vaults, and so it is retained in assumption (position), and remains in balanced measure. Now the calculation of its weight is about five thousand pounds of iron.


Theatre of
The fifth wonder is the Theatre of Heraclea, carved out of one piece of marble, so that all the cells and 158 rooms of the wall, and the dens of the beasts, are made out of one solid stone. It is supported on four arches carved out of the same stone: and no one can whisper in the whole circle so low, either to himself or to another, without being heard by every one who is in the circle of the building.


Bath of
The sixth wonder is the Bath, which is such, that when Apollotaneus has lighted it with one candle of consecration, it keeps the hot baths continually burning without being attended to.


Temple of
The seventh wonder is the Temple of Diana, on four pillars. Its first foundations are arched drains;§ then it increases gradually, upper stones being placed on the former arches. Thus: upon these four are placed eight pillars and eight arches; then in the third row it increases in a like proportion, and stones still higher are placed thereon. On the eight are placed sixteen, and on the sixteen thirty-two; the fourth row of stones is on the fifth row of arches, and sixty-four pillars complete the plan of this remarkable building.



 *  The modern enumeration of the wonders of the world is thus: — I. The Pyramids of Egypt. II. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. III. The Temple of Diana. IV. The Mausoleum of Artemisia. V. The Colossus of Rhodes. VI. The Statue of Jupiter Olympius. VII. The Pharos of Alexandria.

 †  The cost of this famous tower was equal to £180,000 of our money. It was built by order of Ptolemy Philadelphus, by Sostratus, in the 124th Olympiad, who affixed this inscription: — SOSTRATVS · CNIDIVS · DEXIPHANIS · F · DIIS · SERVATORIBVS · PRO · NAVIGANTIBVS.

[The English translation of this Latin inscription, by kind Bill Thayer: “Sostratus of Cnidus (or the Cnidian), son of Dexiphanes, to the Savior Gods on behalf of those who sail the seas.” — Elf.Ed.]

 ‡  The Colossus was erected by Chares, a pupil of Leusippus, across the harbour of Rhodes. After standing fifty years, it was overthrown by an earthquake. It was of so great bulk, that when the Saracens took Rhodes A. D. 667, they loaded 900 camels with the brass that was remaining of it.

 §  The Temple of Diana was built at the foot of a mountain, in marshy ground, to secure it from earthquakes. This greatly increased the expense, as it was necessary to construct drains, to convey the water, which descended from the mountain into the Cayster. To secure the conduits which were to bear the weight of this immense edifice, beds of charcoal were laid down, firmly rammed, and upon them others of wood. The Temple was 425 feet in length and 200 in breadth, and supported by 127 pillars of Parian marble, and of the Ionic order, each 60 feet in height. Bede makes the number less by 13. The estimated weight of each pillar, with its base, was 150 tons of marble. According to Pliny, it was upwards of 400 years before it was completed. Not a vestige now remains, and even its precise site is a subject of conjecture.

[Again, Bill Thayer adds, “The passage in Pliny is XXXVI.95‑97, and Pliny states that it took 120 years to build it (i.e., no 400 years). Pliny’s text, as Mayhoff has it, gives the breadth as 225 feet rather than 200, but numbers in ancient texts are subject to every conceivable emendation.” This includes the transciptions of both the numbers in Bede and Pliny, so the correcting of Bede’s math by Giles, or anybody else, is a statement fraught with hazard. — Elf.Ed.]

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