Vol. 21 (2023)

Rhodes and Demetrius Poliorcetes at the end of the fourth century BC

Franca Landucci
The Catholic University of Milan

Published 2024-01-31


  • Demetrius the Besieger,
  • Antigonus,
  • Diodorus,
  • Rhodes,
  • siege


At the end of the 4th century, in 305 BC, Demetrius the Besieger decided to blockade the city of Rhodes: this siege is perhaps the most famous episode in the history of the island. Our principal source is a detailed narrative by Diodorus, in eighteen chapters (81-88; 91-100) of his Library’s Book 20. Most scholars believe that Diodorus employed a Rhodian source, perhaps Zeno. Diodorus’ narrative indicates a ‘Rhodocentric’ viewpoint, which focuses on the emotions of the citizens of Rhodes: their great fear, but also their extraordinary courage and the strength of their despair. The whole long tale of Diodorus tends to exalt the behaviour of the Rhodians, who resist until Antigonus orders his son Demetrius to end the siege. At the end of Diodorus’ narrative, the memory of the Rhodians’ emotions survives unforgettable in all readers. With their courage, they were able to gain well-deserved freedom.