Egypt – Ramesses II & The Ozymandias Metaphor

If you are under the impression, as I was, that Tutankhamen was the greatest pharaoh of ancient Egypt, you are very mistaken. The boy king ‘Tut’ barely lived long enough to leave his mark. The fanfare around the discovery of his tomb and all its treasures remains his sole claim to fame. 

The title of the ‘Greatest Pharaoh’ in the history of Egypt goes to his descendant Ramesses II.  Brave soldier & empire builder. Son of Seti I and playmate of Moses (also subsequent enemy) and father of nearly a hundred sons.

He is omnipresent in Southern Egypt. Some of the country’s most splendid surviving monuments were built during his 66 year reign (1279 – 1213 BC) mainly to pander to his enormous vanity.

His statues tower over entrances to temples – his own and those he usurped – and are carved into hillsides. And his cartouches (an oval shape enclosing his name in hieroglyphics) are inscribed into anything worth looking at. His mortuary temple, the Ramesseum, was reputedly the most spectacular of his temples, though much of it is in ruin.

Of the colossal statue that once stood guard here and supposedly inspired Shelley’s “Ozymandias“, (Ozymandias is the Greek corruption of his throne name, User-maat-re Setep-en-re or “Chosen of Ra”), only the feet and a badly damaged head remain. Excavations near Cairo hint at the discovery of his famed capital city: Pi-Ramesses.

Three of the colossal statues lining the Great Court of Ramesses II in Luxor Temple.

Although his achievements were considerable, he appears to have been the true precursor of present day politicians. Expertly bolstering his faltering image with the help of huge painted reliefs and inscriptions all glossing over his defeats and glorifying his contribution to battles he had actually been humiliated in.

The march of the Egyptian empire was halted by the Hittites – under his watch – at the battle of Kadesh and Ramesses was forced to accept the humiliating restrictions of a peace treaty. The treaty of Kadesh (1274 BC), believed to be the first ever such treaty, survives to this day and can be viewed at the archaeological museum in Istanbul. Not surprisingly. it narrates a very different perspective. As do records maintained by the high priests of Egypt.

The palace controlled propaganda seems to have worked, however, for his name was the most favoured by nine more pharaohs after him and no one ever dared deface any of his monuments.

Shelley’s “Ozymandias“, on the transience of power, is a metaphor that possibly refers to that one broken statue. For contrary to his claim a lot remains.

The art and the written words remain, of this vain and powerful man who embellished his achievements and usurped those of his ancestors to stamp his name and his monumental presence indelibly on the face of Egypt.

Rameses remains, despite his dissembling, Rameses the Great.

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Read about the omnipresent Ramesses the Great whose fallen statue is said to have inspired Shelley's Ozymandias.

#Egypt #EgyptCulture #EgyptTravel #RamessesTheGreat
Read about the Pharaoh whose fallen statue is said to have inspired Shelley's Ozymandias.

#Egypt #EgyptCulture #EgyptTravel #RamessesTheGreat

MORE INSPIRATION/TIPS FOR YOUR TRIP TO EGYPT

EGYPT TRAVEL GUIDE – ALL YOU NEED TO PLAN A PERFECT TRIP
EGYPT ITINERARY – AN EPIC TEN DAY JOURNEY
PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT – GIZA, SAQQARA & DAHSHUR
INTO THE HEART OF HISTORIC CAIRO
NUBiAN LANDSCAPES – THINGS TO DO IN ASWAN
KHUFU’S SHIP – THE SOLAR BOAT MUSEUM
ABYDOS AND THE RAISING OF THR DJED
STAR GAZING IN DENDERA

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

60 thoughts on “Egypt – Ramesses II & The Ozymandias Metaphor

  1. And the Hittites in turn were integrated with other peoples and ceased to remain as a distinct people in modern times. Egypt was a prize to be gained throughout history but their system of religion remained through these dynasties until the Islamic absorption in the current era. Your knowledge of history and literature is impressive.

  2. Hi Madhu, May I ask how long did it take to see this much in Egypt? I feel like to plan for a future trip.

    1. I can see you aren’t done with your Egypt research πŸ™‚ Took us two weeks for all this plus four nights/five days in Jordan. You need more if you want to do the desert or Sharm al sheik or Mount Sinai. Think Alexandria can be squeezed in. We didn’t do any of these.

      1. How cool to see Alexandria! It’s not going to be the very near future though. As you can see, I’m so inspired by your virtual tour.

  3. Your blog theme looks different. Thought I had the wrong Madhu! πŸ™‚
    This comment box is still open from last night! I’m so scattered that I have to leave it open so I won’t wander off. This theme is gorgeous and the photos … well, the photos are without a doubt superb, as always. I loved this post. I thought the same thing about King Tut. Saw the exhibit in Houston last year. You would not believe how tiny that man was! My grandson would barely fit onto his bed. His shoes look like a child’s shoes. And the neck bands might fit a very large housecat! Your tour chats are just real icing on a wonderful cake. Ah, you are a talent, child! πŸ™‚

    1. And you are generous as always George πŸ™‚ Thank you for reading this. I have a particular fondness for ancient Egypt. Still have a couple more temples to chronicle. Love the new profile picture πŸ™‚

  4. Awesome pictures as always I would love to get to Egypt myself, thanks for letting me live vicariously through your lens

  5. I memorized Ozymandias in the fifth grade and still recite it. I love the photos, and I really enjoy the stories of the pictures you share.

      1. Maybe it’s because I write and tell stories for a living–I don’t think so–but the photographs strike me in a visceral way, and the story helps me retain the image in my mind’s eye.

        1. I worry that I get carried away with my enthusiasm for the story! Nice to know that people actually like to read what I write πŸ™‚

        2. Never worry about that. The human mind is built to see the world in terms of story. The stories help us make sense of the world, and imbue meaning to what we are seeing. You have a winning combination.

  6. Lovely post, Madhu! Learnt so much…and I love the last photo, really gives us an impression of the size and grandeur of the place.

  7. Reblogged this on orples and commented:
    Normally, I don’t reblog, but I though this was so interesting, it was worth sharing. “The Urge To Wander” wrote the text and submitted it the original post, so she is the proper party to thank for the content.

  8. Every time I read your post about Egypt I feel more and more urge for me to go to Egypt. Great story and pictures!

  9. Great photos! I can’t wait to go to Egypt one day. And I’ve always loved Shelly’s poem.

  10. The original king of spin! This is such an interesting aspect of Rameses that you focused on, Madhu. πŸ™‚

  11. Wow, I did not know that Ozymandias referred to Ramesses the Great! It seems like Egypt has inspired its fair share of British literary figures. Thanks for sharing yet more stories and beautiful pictures – looking forward to your take on the Big Two of China!

    1. I too thought the poem referred to the “Collosi of Memnon” (Ruined statues of Amenhotep III) in Luxor initially! Learned otherwise in Egypt!
      Many thanks for the feedback James! Will be returning to China shortly πŸ™‚

  12. Great photos indeed. I do love all of them. They bring to my memory Nile cruise which we made last November.

    BTW, did You visit in Karnak and Luxor? I have some videos from there and link to them from my page.

    Have a wonderful day!

    1. Thank you for your comment and the links Sartenada! Shall check out all your videos
      We did visit Luxor and Karnak and also Abydos and Dendera which were our favourite temples of all!

  13. This was so informative and so well written, I FaceBooked it. I would also like your permission to re-blog it since I agree with you 100% as far as your comparison of political propaganda goes. You photos and your history are appreciated as well. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you Orples! I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to politics, particularly in India! When I did a search for quotes on the subject, I was horrified to find the maximum number credited to Adolf Hitler and Goebbels!! Scary!
      You are welcome to re-blog this.

  14. Fabulous photos! What a a magnificent empire it must have been back in the days when we gallivanted around the courtyard and gardens, sipping fine teas and having warm perfumed oil massages… Ok Madhu, just a creative moment and visit in my mind’s eye to that era… Which like all great eras, came to an end. Love the post. TY! πŸ™‚

      1. Oh you crack me up… Plus I didn’t mention the snake oil or shark’s tooth powder! πŸ˜†

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