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Ramses II the Great


The poem about Ozymandias is about Pharaoh Ramses (Ramesses) II. Ramses was a long-ruling pharaoh during whose reign Egypt was at its peak.
Ramses II

Ramses II

Ramses was the third pharaoh in the 19th Dynasty, an architect and military leader who restored land and fought the Libyans and Hittites. He is the greatest of the Egyptian pharaohs, and may have been the pharaoh of the Biblical Moses. According to the historian Manetho, Ramses ruled for 66 years. He was buried in the Valley of the Kings. Nefertari was Ramses' most famous Great Royal Wife.

Ramses fought the famous chariot Battle at Kadesh against the Hittites in what is now Syria. The outcome of this relatively well-recorded battle is unclear. It may have been a draw. Ramses retreated, but saved his army. Inscriptions -- at Abydos, Temple of Luxor, Karnak, Abu Simbel and the Ramesseum -- are from an Egyptian perspective. There are only bits of writing from the Hittite, including correspondence between Ramses II and the Hittite leader Hattusili III, but the Hittites also claimed victory.

There were many colossal statues of Ramses throughout Egypt. He had the Ramesseum built at Thebes as his funerary temple as well as other temples, including 6 in Nubia, two of which are at Abu Simbel. Building temples was a luxury that could be done only when Egypt was prosperous, so the large number attests to the success of his reign. Pi-Ramesse is the name of a home he had built for his family in the Nile delta. He also produced more than a hundred offspring with a suitably large number of wives.


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1819)

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