Is the Ozymandias referred to in Shelley's poem the pharoah referred to in the Bible and the Quran?

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lynnebh's profile pic

lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Ozymandias was another name for the pharoah Ramesses the Great of Egypt. Ramesses (or Ramses) is considered one of the most famous pharoah's of Egypt. He is, indeed, the pharoah from whom Moses demanded freedom for his people, the Jews.

Ramesses was considered the inspiration for Ozymandias. There was an inscription on the base of one of the sculptor Siculus' sculptures that said "King of kings am I. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works."

Ramesses is also the pharoah referred to in the Koran. This verse refers to the drowning of the pharoah in the Red Sea after chasing after the people of Israel.

 "We shall save you in your body this day, so that you may become a sign to all posterity." (Koran: 10:92)

This is explained right here on eNotes. See the link.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The poem, of course, does not state clearly whether the two kings are the same, but it is believed that they are.

By Shelley's time, the tomb and statues of Ozymandias (the historical one) were pretty much gone.  However, a Greek historian had seen these things and written of them.  He said that Ozymandias had a statue that proclaimed himself King of Kings and challenged others to try to be better, like in the poem.

It also makes sense that they would be the same person because people in Shelley's day would have known the Bible quite well and been familiar with Ozymandias's name.  They would have seen him as a tyrant and that would make the point of the poem clearer to them than to people today who do not know who Ozymandias was in the scriptures that you mention.

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