Ozymandias, also known as Ramses II, is the subject of this statue. The narrator, relating what he's heard from the traveler, notes that the statue's visage (face) had a frown, a "wrinkled lip, and a sneer of cold command". He adds that the sculptor understood the passions of Ozymandias and therefore used this sculpture as an opportunity to mock him. The frown and cold sneer shows the pride and arrogance of Ozymandias. The sculptor succeeded in capturing this condescending, self-important attitude of Ozymandias. This is underscored by the motto ending with, "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair". Ozymandias wanted all rulers and powerful men who followed him to despair when looking upon all of his great monuments, this statue included. Ozymandias believed himself to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, ruler of all. Therefore, he commissioned monuments like this statue to portray his greatness for the rest of time.
The fact that the statue is in ruins illustrates the fact that power is fleeting. It is ironic that Ozymandias wanted this to be a lasting monument to his greatness because what is left only communicates his arrogance and a ruined, rather than majestic, sculpture. No one will despair as he had wished. They only see a ruin. Any notion of Ozymandias's greatness has been eroded by time, just as the statue has.