"They landed us near the Colossus"

There are, in fact, two Colossi, both statues of the Pharoah Amenhotep III (reigned either 1386-1349 BC or 1388-1350 BC), and originally part of his mortuary temple. It is on the foot of one of these statues that Julia Balbilla's poems are inscribed. The association with Memnon (an African prince who went to the aid of the besieged Trojans, and was slain by Achilles) is a later one, and may arise from the sound which was said to issue forth from one of the statues at dawn (Memnon's name means "Ruler of the Dawn"). Strabo stated that this sound was "like a blow," whilst Pausanias compared it to the song of a lyre. It may have been caused by friction between one part of a statue and another, following earthquake damage in 27 BC.


The Colossi of Memnon
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Colossi of Memnon - Credit: Roweromaniak