What kind of king was Ozymandias?

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The vision depicted in the poem indicates that Ozymandias was a strong ruler.  He was probably one that ruled out of fear and conquest, and ruled with a strong sense of control.  The fact that he would have a statement such as "Look on my works, ye mighty and despair," indicates that there is a sense of ego within the ruler.  The fact that the statue is now decrepit and broken down indicates that the ruler is not one that is viewed in the modern setting with a sense of reverence of respect.  They might have ruled out of fear, but now, when there is no longer a fear of the ruler's extent, he is forgotten.  Perhaps, Shelley is making a statement here about the nature of political power and how it should be utilized.

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The poem "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysse Shelley was reputedly written about the Egyptian King Rameses 11 - Ozymandias was his Greek name. He was an Egyptian pharaoh from 1279-1213 b.c.e. and was famous for his statesmanship, architecture,military leadership, administrative abilities, and building activity. He set the benchmark by which subsequent rulers of Egypt measured themselves.His own story of his rights to power were that he was born of Egypt’s great god Amen (personified by King Seti I) and Queen Tuya, Ramses was designated “while yet in the egg” as a future Pharaoh of Egypt.This was his own story of his  birth. The time he was born under  was the New Kingdom, when Egypt was trying to keep control of a huge empire that ranged from the Fourth Cataract of the Nile in the Sudan to the provinces of North Syria.

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The Ozymandias of Shelley's poem of the same name was sculpted with a "frown," a "wrinkled lip," and a "sneer of cold command."  And the words carved on the pedestal were:

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Thus, one can assume that, since the quote uses the plural works the king must have had plenty.  So he apparently was wealthy and successful, and powerful (to be so wealthy and to be able to command multitudes of workers or slaves).  And frown and wrinkled lip and sneer suggest disdain and dominance, and despair suggests haughtiness. 

So the king was wealthy and powerful and disdainful and haughty and was a dominant ruler.

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What kind of king was Ozymandias?

Even though Ozymandias has been long dead by the time that the poem is set (this is in fact, the thematic crux of the poem—for all of his pride and arrogance and visions of everlasting fame, Ozymandias himself has been diminished by the passage of time), we do get a sense of his personality. Consider Shelley's very specific description of his monument: it's a statue of a face, of such scale as to be labeled a "colossal wreck." This specific wording brings to mind a sense of ruined grandeur. Furthermore, note how he describes himself as "king of kings" and says to all of rulers, and essentially to all of posterity, "Look upon my Works, ye Mighty, and despair." From the very text of the poem, we can get a sense of the kind of ruler Ozymandias must have been: one possessed with tremendous power and authority (at least in his own time) and deeply prideful about his power and grandeur.

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What kind of king was Ozymandias?

The traveler describes the ruins of a once great statue. The shattered face ("visage") of the statue is that of Ozymandias, also known as Ramses II. The face of the ruler is frowning, with a "wrinkled lip" and "sneer of cold command." The traveler notes that the sculptor understood the ruler's passions well. In other words, the sculptor knew how self-aggrandizing Ozymandias was in life. Therefore, the sculptor mocked him with the sneer. The sculptor endeavored to portray Ozymandias as a tyrant. The wrinkled lip suggests that Ozymandias was condescending. The sneer of cold command suggests he was an unsympathetic ruler.

The message on the statue shows that Ozymandias wanted everyone in his lifetime and in subsequent eras to marvel at the statue and thereby marvel as his greatness. "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Ozymandias was clearly a vain king, primarily concerned with solidifying his greatness in the minds of all who might come across his monument. The irony is that the statue became a ruin. Just as the monument has withered and eroded with time, so has Ozymandias' power to intimidate.

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