Tamara K. H. Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was inspired to create "Ozymandias" after seeing archeological findings in Egypt as a result of Napoleon's conquest of Egypt in 1798, some 20 years before Shelley penned the poem. The final line of the poem is a reference to the statue of Ramses II built by Pharoah Nebhepetre Mentuhotep and inscribed with his own death sentence. "Ozymandias" can be interpreted as both a lament for lost greatness and as a warning to not trust politicians.
Shelley wrote the poem while living in Italy with his wife, Mary Wollstonecraft. They had just learned that their first child was still-born and it was during this time of mourning that Shelley wrote "Ozymandias".
In the poem, Ozymandias is a king who has been long dead but whose reputation continues to live on through stories told by those who have survived him. When Shelley wrote the poem, Europe was in the midst of political upheaval as nations fought for power over the continent. In 1810, when "Ozymandias" was published, Lord Byron was touring Europe giving dramatic readings from Greek texts that he had written himself. It is possible that either man may have used words or ideas from the other's work without knowing it.
Many people are familiar with the name Ozymandias because of the renowned poem "Ozymandias," written in 1818 by Percy Bysshe Shelley (who lived from 1792 to 1822), but few are aware that Ozymandias was a genuine ancient Egyptian monarch. He reigned over parts of what is now Egypt from about 1909 to 1835 B.C., when he was defeated by his nephew Sobeknefrus. Although he was technically king for only nine years, he managed to lead an incredibly full life and saw many successes during his reign.
Ozymandias' real name was not known, but he is often called "the king without a country" because he ruled such a small portion of Egypt yet still had the arrogance to think he could conquer all of it. His claim to the throne was through his father, who was also named Ozymandias, but he was never mentioned by name during Ozymandias' lifetime. When Ozymandias died in 1835 B.u. C., he was buried in a royal tomb on the west bank of the Nile near Thebes. However, due to weathering effects, his tomb was destroyed about 575 B.u. C.
In 1888, two French archaeologists made a discovery that would change everyone's understanding of history: they found a stone block with an engraved image on it.
Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem "Ozymandias" was allegedly written on Egyptian King Rameses 11; Ozymandias was his Greek name. He reigned as Pharaoh of Egypt from 1279 to 1213 BCE and was known for his statesmanship, architecture, military leadership, administrative talents, and building activities. Shelley wrote the poem in 1810 after visiting the Valley of the Kings near Luxor. The poem is about a king who builds a great monument that declares how powerful he was but that by now all is destroyed because it was built for show rather than strength and therefore could not protect him.
Shelley may have been thinking of Napoleon when writing this poem since both were famous builders who had their work cut out for them. Also, there are similarities between the two men: Both were born into noble families that were already prominent; both served as officers in the French army during the Revolutionary War (Napoleon until he was sent home in 1796 because of illness) and the Egyptian invasion (Shelley from 1795 to 1798); both were given grand titles after they led their armies successfully against other countries (Napoleon became Emperor and Ozymandias declared himself king).
However, there are also differences between them: Napoleon went on to lose many battles and be exiled from France while Ozymandias managed to defeat his enemies and live happily ever after. This shows that although they both had strong wills and knew what they wanted to achieve, they were not completely alike.