Ramesses II ascended to the throne at the young age of 20 and would go on to rule Egypt as it's most efficient and powerful Pharaoh for close to seventy years, by far the longest reign of any of the Egyptian God-Kings. He even outlived thirteen of his own heirs. He built more cities, temples and statues than any other Egyptian Pharaoh, ushered in a golden age of peace and prosperity, commissioned restoration projects on the Great Pyramids and kicked the asses of anyone who crossed his mighty empire. He also sired over one hundred children from his harem of countless wives, including the beautiful Nefertari, who such a mega-hot babe that the Egyptian priests deified her before she even died.
First off Ramesses was a military badass. As a young heir to the throne, Ramesses was commissioned to kick the asses of a group of pirates that had been terrorizing the high seas. Ramesses put an end to that shit quickly by sailing out, kicking their asses and then conscripting the survivors into the Egyptian army. He led numerous campaigns against the Libyans to the West, the Nubians in the South and the Hittites in the West. Against the Hittites, he managed to conquer lands as far as Canaan, and succeeded in strategically winning a crucial battle at Kadesh in 1258 BCE. After the battle, he also negotiated the first peace treaty in human history, when he met up with the Hittite king and they decided it was in everyone's best interests for them to quit fucking with each other. He successfully defended his borders from numerous hostile raids by building a vast network of forts across the outskirts of the empire, many of which would be unconquered for centuries.
On top of being a powerful military leader, what's probably even more badass is his ability to run a propaganda machine that would make Rupert Murdoch blush. He made every effort to prove to everyone that he was the biggest, most kickass motherfucker to ever live. Even if he lost a battle, he would still tell all of his subjects that he won the fight single-handedly and then have his artisans build a hugeass statue depicting Ramesses riding alone on a chariot firing arrows and bashing peoples' skulls with a huge club. He would go to temples and statues built by Pharaohs who came before him, cross out their names and write his own over top of it. Then he'd claim that it was HIS statue. When he built cities he named them after himself, such as Pi-Ramesses. The poem Ozymandias was written about a statue of Ramesses, of which the inscription read, "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!" Now that's fucking kickass.
He didn't fuck around when it came
to building statues of himself.
Now back in the day, if your people didn't think you were a badass they would revolt against you, so it makes sense that he would need a Maddox-sized ego and a Murdochian propaganda machine. But most of his works speak for themselves. The temple at Abu Simbel is unbelievable, and awesomely enough features like thirty different fifty-foot-tall statues of him. The Colossus of Ramesses, a fucking GIGANTOR statue of him, was one of the tallest statues ever built by the Egyptians. His temple, the Ramesseum (he originally wanted to call it the Ramesses-a-Rama), is also breathtaking. He was a builder, and he was kickass at it.
And if the sculptures of him are any indication, he also was a pretty good-looking dude with an affinity for totally kickass hats:
Ramesses II was the greatest ruler the Egyptian Empire ever saw. He built more structures than any other Egyptian king, demonstrated his power to anyone within his realm, and was a total badass. His rule was long and powerful and his name was passed on for generations, much like that of Caesar except there's no such thing as a Ramesses Salad (but there really should be). After him, TEN other rulers took the name Ramesses, trying to capitalize on his success and fame. Plus he was fucking MUMMIFIED and entombed in the Valley of the Kings, which is insanely awesome. Shit, after his death the Egyptian priests not only deified him, but they seriously went back and re-wrote their entire mythology to incorporate him as one of their foremost gods. Yet despite all of this, I think the most telling indication of the long-lasting legacy is this: Before the French completed translating the Rosetta Stone and deciphering hieroglyphics, the only Pharaoh's name known to Egyptologists was that of Ramesses.
Anatomy of a Pharaoh
Ramesses gets ready to snipe some fools.