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. 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 🙂

        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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

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