Ramesses the Great is often regarded as ancient Egypt’s greatest pharaoh. But was he really as ‘great’ as he used to portray himself? Or was he just a clever man who knew how to curate his image?
He had been named Captain of the Army by the age of 10 and, at 14, he was appointed prince regent.
When his father, Seti I, died in 1279 BC, he inherited a vast kingdom. He was merely a boy by today’s standards, but in 1279 BC, being 14 was considered mature.
He was a virile builder and spent a fortune in spreading his image around Egypt. His monuments are found everywhere. You can’t visit any historical spot in Egypt without seeing his royal cartouche.
We know that Ramesses took part in a major battle against the Hittites in what is now called The Battle of Kadesh. He considered this victory his greatest achievement and for the rest of his life, he plastered temples, tombs and monuments with his story of military triumph.
He said of the battle “I found that my heart grew stout and my breast swelled with joy. Everything which I attempted I succeeded … I found the enemy chariots scattering before my horses. Not one of them could fight me. Their hearts quaked with fear when they saw me and their arms went limp so they could not shoot.” Now that’s confidence.