What does the partially destroyed statue symbolize in the poem "Ozymandias"?  

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It is telling that, on the pedestal of the statue that bears the great king, the sculptor has inscribed the words

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Ozymandias seems to refer to himself as the King of Kings, the most powerful of all the powerful men in the world. He declares himself, in the next line, to be even mightier than the mightiest, as he expects that these mighty and powerful rulers will look at what he has accomplished and feel despair that they can never be as great and powerful as Ozymandias was. The fact that this statue is broken and half-buried in the sand shows that even the greatest power cannot last forever. Ozymandias is represented as having never anticipated his own demise and what the passage of time would do to his accomplishments. He could not have seen, evidently, that greater and more powerful people could come along, that he could be forgotten with time. This also seems to show, then, that we lack the ability to see beyond our own time. We, and everything we have (not just power), are finite.

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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. 

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