Ramses II: Great in More Ways Than One

By: The Scribe on Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ramses II, more popularly known as Ramses the Great, was not one to rest on the laurels of such a gaudy title. As the man known to be the greatest pharaoh in Egyptian history, he earned not only a pretty nifty nickname, but also enjoyed the- ahem- “spoils” of such a position, having eight royal wives over his long life but as many as 200 concubines.

Somehow, even with all of those ladies in his life, Ramses the Great actually found time to rule over his kingdom. He did so for longer than any other Egyptian pharaoh, as he ascended to the throne in his early 20s and lived to be either 90 or 91 years old, depending on which scholar you ask. Ramses’ reign was so long that it was not his first son that would eventually take over for him, but his thirteenth, Mereneptah.

In fact, his long list of royal wives was not so much due to the fact that Ramses was a ladies’ man and more of a simple reality for a person who lived several decades longer than many people would back in ancient Egypt. Ramses the Great actually fathered over 110 children, not counting the “unofficial” children (to put it nicely) that he undoubtedly fathered with all of those concubines.

Aside from having enough children with different women to make an NBA All-Star blush, Ramses also was a part of many other historical events, possibly the most important of which was the second battle of Kadesh.

During a battle which Ramses was highly praised for (he embellished a bit on the outcome to his subjects), Ramses actually had to settle for a draw, which led to the historic agreement. Over 5,000 chariots and 10,000 soldiers fought in the huge battle in what is now Jordan, and though Ramses would prefer that we remember it as a dominant victory for his charges, Ramses still managed to set up the first recorded peace treaty in history, which is quite a groundbreaking accomplishment in its own right.

As much as Ramses wanted to be known as a great leader on the battlefield, his real passion seemed to be in architecture, as some of his works (most famously The Great Temples at Abu Simbel) astonish visitors to this day with their majesty and scope. Ramses’ signature was the large scale of his monuments and temples, as he was always concerned with ensuring that his legacy would be secure for thousands of years to come.

Unfortunately, when Ramses passed away after about 90 years of life, the riches and stature that he had helped Egypt gain could not last long without him. None of the pharaohs that followed him approached his greatness, and the Egyptian empire fell not even 150 years after the passing of Ramses the Great. Today, his mummy can be found in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.


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