What motivates a ruler to create a statue of himself? Or a towering statue of himself? Or dozens of towering statues of himself? In this Civilisations clip from BBC Two, English scholar Mary Beard discusses the legacy of Ramesses the Great (ca 1303–ca 1213 B.C.), the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt.
“He was the pharaoh who invested more in his image than any other and his figure is found all over Egypt but, by far, the most imposing and memorable are these great colossal statues that stand guard at his temple in Thebes…”
“It’s an assertion of the power of the Pharaoh through his huge superhuman enthroned body, however fragile that power might have been in real life. The modern world has comprehensively bought into the money mentality of the Egyptian ruler and it’s impossible not to think that when people walked past here three-and-a-half thousand years ago, that they, too, would have got what the message was intended to be.”
Were his subjects the primary audience for these monumental statues? Were the artworks meant to impress or intimidate powerful elites? Beard shares some insight in the video.
Watch these related videos next:
• Power beards, a Getty Museum 2-minute review
• Visualizing the Pyramids of Giza
• Ancient Egyptian Tombs Were Crammed Full of Snacks
• The Pyramids of Giza, a 2-hour (mostly) slow TV walking tour
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