About This Print
It was a long dark ride to see Abu Simbel, one of the ancient temples built to honor Ramses The Great. It’s worth noting that of all the pharaohs of Egypt, Ramses II was the only one to be styled The Great. And in his nearly seven decade rule, he certainly left behind a monumental legacy. He built on such a scale that he was often also know as Ramses The Builder. And so thousands of years later, as this print illustrates, we can still gaze into the eyes of this ancient ruler.
Ramses the Great was actually the inspiration for a Percy Bysshe Shelley poem that crossed my mind as I stood and gazed up at this colossal statue.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
That poem is entitled Ozymandias, which was the Greek translation of Ramses. Shelley’s poem was inspired by the discovery in Thebes of another colossal state of Ramses The Great that was being brought to London in the early 19th century. And in incredibly circular fashion, his poem inspired the title for this piece. Although to my eyes, there’s an impressive amount to show for the rule of a king that ended thousands of year ago. So few of us will be remembered at all over such an impressive span of time as Ramses the Great has been.
This black and white print provides a real close-up of the details of one of the gigantic statues of Ramses The Great at Abu Simbel. After thousands of years of weathering isn’t it amazing how clear the features of the ancient pharaoh are? Do you think the ancient artisans who crafted this colossal image of their king imagined we’d be looking at their work so long after they were gone?
Have you also seen the colossal statues at the temple to Ramses the Great at Abu Simbel? Or do you have a fascination with ancient Egyptian history? I would love to hear what you find most captivating about this Egypt print?
Note: Abu Simbel is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site