In "Ozymandias," why didn't Ozymandias, or Ramses II, know the boundaries of power?

Ozymandias, or Ramses II, didn't know the boundaries of power because he believed that he was a living god who had no limitations. Since he believed he had divinity on his side, he thought his power was endless. It would be difficult for someone who believes himself to be a god to understand the concept of limitations on power.

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In the story of Moses, Ramses believed that he could stand against the power of God. His earthly power delivered to him through his hereditary position wasn't a match for a spiritual power wielded by the Lord. Even when he saw the plagues that God brought down on Egypt, he believed that he was more powerful and continued to oppress the Israelites. It's important to understand that Ramses believed himself to be a living god and didn't see the God of Moses as anyone of importance.

Ramses's belief that he was divine meant that any choice he made was correct. Anyone who challenged him was in the wrong. Gods have boundless power, and Ramses believed himself to be a god. To him, there were no limits—at least until he had to confront the fact that he did have very human limits.

No man is immortal, and time eventually brings even large kingdoms down to nothing. That's the point that Shelley is making in "Ozymandias." Ramses ruled a large empire and put up great stone monuments so that future generations would remember. Now those monuments—in many cases, crumbling wrecks—are all that's left. One day, not even the ruins will be there to remember Ramses by.

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