What is the best description of the Ozymandias statue?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this poem, a traveler tells the speaker about the statue. He says that all that is left of Ozymandias are two "trunkless legs" and a "shattered visage." There are two legs with no body (no "trunk"), and beside the legs lies a broken and eroded face. The statue has faded over time as a result of erosion and maybe even defacement or destruction by some enemy. 

The eroded face shows a frown, a "wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command." The king/pharaoh (Ozymandias, also known as Ramses II) had commissioned a sculptor to create this statue to serve as a monument to his (Ozymandias's) greatness. The sculptor did well to capture the arrogant ruler's condescending frown and his self-righteous sneer. Thus, the sculptor's hand "mocked" Ozymandias by presenting him as he really was: a condescending, proud, self-righteous ruler. The sculptor has mocked the ruler by sculpting a vain look on the face (visage). This is why Shelley writes that the sculptor read the ruler's passions well. 

This ruler (Ozymandias) is long gone. All that remains is the sneering, cold (lifeless) statue, broken in an empty desert. The barren landscape surrounding the "wreck" of the statue further underscores the idea that power and domination are temporary, but the art that mocked him has survived. This is also a nod to how poetry can survive the test of time. 

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Ozymandias

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