History Summarized: Ramses The Great


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it another thousand times Egyptian history is long and a lot of people have been Pharaoh over the centuries, but no one quite Embodies the role like ramses ii during his rule in the 1200 s bc he fought a lot built a lot and had a lot of kids the most striking of Ramses traits and Possibly his greatest achievement is the sheer length of his reign over Egypt He ruled 466 largely internally peaceful years and lived to be 95 He also had over a hundred and fifty children, which must have made for some fantastic Father’s Day parties He was around for so long. He ended up out living many of his own kids His reign is essentially the American equivalent of if John F Kennedy Continued to serve as president all the way up until Obama’s first term But first took office during World War two That is a long time for someone to be in charge but to his credit He really made it count Ramses was born just thirty years after the appalling reign of the polytheistic party-crasher Akhenaten who tried to single-handedly conferred Egypt’s to his wonky monotheistic cult It ultimately didn’t work But he succeeded in trashing Egypt’s diplomatic partnerships and sending the economy into a downward spiral as a result of all that money He spent on himself I know it’s ludicrous to imagine such an outlandish scenario But bear with me his successors spent most of their time trying to get the kingdom back on track Rameses father said he the first campaigns in the Levant against the Anatolian Empire of the Hittites Attempting to reassemble the provinces that had largely been abandoned by Akhenaten at this point the young Rameses was serving in his father’s army learning both the tricks of the trade and the importance of Actually paying attention to Egypt’s northern territories and speaking of, a trophy that the Egyptians and Hittites regularly Captured and recaptured from each other was Kadesh a city halfway up the Levant just out of the way enough for both that neither Civilization could ever really hold on to it particularly strongly So owning Kadesh became the go-to muscle-flexing contest of the era. It offered few strategic benefits But it just happens to be at the edge of both of their frontiers and it felt really good to have above all else We’ll get back to you – in a little bit, but first we have to take care of the Pirates Oh, yeah, Egypt had pirates too. I mean dude, come on. There are always pirates So when the young Ramses ii became pharaoh in 1279, his first challenge was to protect Egypt from the cherdon sea pirates They’re often categorized as one of the many mysterious sea peoples But I do not have the time or patience for that conspiracy lated barrel of worms What matters for our story is that? Ramses used some pretty clever tricks to bait the pirates into an ambush of his own. Once Egypt was safe He incorporated the cherdon pirates into his Army’s Royal Guard because I guess he rolled a 20 on his persuasion check. In the following decade Our boy big R got to work in Canaan and Levant corralling his holdings and fighting the Hittites and the biggest thing to come out of this is Ramses battle against the Hittites at where else but Kadesh. Now, historically this is pretty neat because our source for this battle is this Gigantic relief structure commissioned by these centrally featured Ramses himself, and it paints a particularly praiseworthy picture but the truth surrounding the story of the battle isn’t quite as glorious as Ramses might have it seem so let’s take a look and See for ourselves. First off Kadesh is by far the best recorded Bronze Age battle that we have So there’s a surprising amount of detail for something this old. We even know down to the organization of his army And while there’s a lot that I could unpack here But don’t particularly want to because I’m lazy the most notable feature here was the hottest Bronze Age tech around chariots They allowed one or more dedicated archers to ride along with the horse while a driver took care of the pesky not crashing business They were essentially used to poke at both the infantry and the other chariots quickly engaging and disengaging while showering the enemy with enough arrows to make even Hawkeye get jealous. The Egyptian chariots kept it light and quick with minimal armor and only one Archer, whereas the Hittite chariots opted for the tankier double Archer heavy armor combo. The benefit was that the Hittites could tear through A formation, but they were super slow and not very maneuverable. When Ramses went about actually marching for Kadesh He happened to have some really bad Intel So he not only got ambushed and chased back towards his camp But he also almost died in the confusion The Hittite chariots were doing their job fantastically and making Swiss cheese of the egyptian infantry But then the Egyptian chariots swept in from behind the Hittites to do their job fantastically The surrounded Hittites broke and ran away in an attempt to recover in stage a comeback But the Egyptian reinforcements arrived just in time to ensure that no such shenanigans occurred. The Hittite army then got kicked all the way to the Arantes River at the edge of Kadesh where most of it was killed. Now on paper, this sounds like a pretty resounding victory for Ramses. Things went bad first, but through some clever tactics and the effective use of technology The tide of battle turned and the opposing army got made into the first recorded instance of raspberry jam but the broader picture isn’t quite as One-sidedly heroic and honestly in history it rarely is so after winning the Battle of Kadesh Ramses, well, failed to actually take Kadesh And, as it happened the Hittites with good reason Also claimed victory in the battle on account of still having the city that they set out to protect in the first place. So, despite the extensive Egyptian fanfare that we can observe, the whole exercise was kind of a total waste of time Great PR for Ramses, but it was a gigantic sham that pretty much gave him nothing of value however several years later, the Hittites and Egyptians worked out the world’s first peace treaty and that is actually pretty neat It had provisions for diplomatically settling future disputes, a mutual defense Pact and clauses for economic aid which Ramses ended up honoring when the Hittites were later hit with a famine That’s the cool thing here. Ramses formed a comprehensive alliance with a state that had been his enemy and his father’s enemy and that Alliance was honored right up until the Bronze Age collapsed when the Hittite Empire died out almost a century later I get that any Kings identity rests on a two-ton slab of solid machismo and I see why Ramses probably wanted to show his people a win early on in his career But the hype that he assigns to Kadesh and his inscriptions is so much hot air for so little substance It’s a shame that it actually obscures the real triumph here anyway The start of the Hittite Alliance more or less marks the end of Ramses large-scale military operations From there the last 45 years of his reign seemed to have been peaceful and prosperous for everyone involved Food was plentiful, Temples shot up left and right, statues and inscriptions were everywhere. Beyond being a prolific builder, Ramses was many things to his people He was an effective leader, a strong commander, a skilled diplomat, a long lasting and stable King, And he didn’t try to single-handedly overthrow the Egyptian pantheon like our old pal Akhenaten did. What more can you need? it’s probably not a stretch to say that his reign marked Egypt’s last true golden age in the dynastic period as far as building projects go, one example of his handiwork is his capital of Pi Ramses. When he was busy campaigning in the Levant He wanted to keep administration close to the front, so he made a new city in the Eastern Nile Delta This was a decent ways away from the traditional capital and Thebes, so it showed some well-placed confidence in the efficiency of his government. In other art news, all the way up and down the Nile, temples that Ramses didn’t even build Displayed his statues and name which were sculpted in deeper relief so that no one could screw with it later. Which was a recurring problem in Egyptian history Rameses actually had the opposite effect Instead of subsequent Pharaohs writing their own name over his, nine later kings cut up the middleman entirely and just named themselves Rameses. He more than probably anyone else in Egyptian history left his mark in stone Everywhere. He also carved a temple out of the side of a mountain because he’s a badass I mean think about the message that that sends Anything anywhere, even if I didn’t even build it, could be a temple to me if I wanted it to be That is awesome! After one last fateful game of duel monsters against presumably Anubis himself, Rameses died at the age of 90 after almost 70 years of rule in the millennia after his death Rameses became known by his Hellenized name Ozymandias and in 1818 He became the subject of the famous Percy Shelley poem of the same name It tells a second hand account of a colossal statue lying broken in the sand with an inscription made to hype up the kings many Accomplishments yet in every direction nothing remains But the level desert. The message here is pretty clear that no matter how grand Rameses was in life, Time undid all of his accomplishments and emptied all of his glory . and I mean on the one hand, yes time wears away all things and yes, it is very poetic But also it’s been over like three thousand years and we still know this dude’s name So I’m personally feeling Ramses on this one. But looking at what we actually have about Ramses, in a way He still stands above and apart from the rest of Egyptian history. He had a huge family, Almost 200 of them lest we forget what must have been the constant sound of smooth jazz emanating from the Royal Palace But it was never really a source of intrigue, unlike say for instance the entire rest of royal history anywhere ever Even now, we can only really ever view Ramses at a distance And that perception of him that we have is largely the same one that his subjects would have had of him Three thousand years ago. As far as we’re concerned. He might as well have actually been a seven foot tall statue He’s unique in that he completely disappears into the role of Pharaoh He’s like Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great but without all the personal drama or posthumous fanfare or endless what-ifs that came after the fact. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Ramses is that he always was and still always is the same Ramses when I look at Egyptian history, and it is a long history, Ramses isn’t just a Pharaoh. Ramses, to me, is the Pharaoh

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *