"Ozymandias" (/ˌɒziˈmændiəs/ oz-ee-MAN-dee-əs) is the title of two poems published in 1818. English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) wrote a sonnet, first published in the 11 January 1818 issue of The Examiner in London. It was included the following year in Shelley's collection Rosalind and Helen, A Modern Eclogue; with Other Poems (1819) and in a posthumous compilation of his poems published in 1826. "Ozymandias" is Shelley's most famous work and is frequently anthologised. Shelley wrote the poem in friendly competition with his friend and fellow poet Horace Smith (1779–1849), who also wrote a sonnet on the same topic with the same title. Smith's poem was published in The Examiner a few weeks after Shelley's sonnet. Both poems explore the fate of history and the ravages of time: even the greatest men and the empires they forge are impermanent, their legacies fated to decay into oblivion. In antiquity, Ozymandias (Ὀσυμανδύας) was a Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Shelley began writing his poem in 1817, soon after the announcement of the British Museum's acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Ramesses II from the thirteenth century BC, leading some scholars to believe that Shelley was inspired by this. The 7.25-ton fragment of the statue's head and torso had been removed in 1816 from the mortuary temple of Ramesses (the Ramesseum) at Thebes by Italian adventurer Giovanni Battista Belzoni. It was expected to arrive in London in 1818, but did not arrive until 1821.
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