What makes a king mighty? Ramses II (ca 1303–ca 1213 B.C.) recognized that diplomacy and an exhaustive public relations campaign could mitigate any military shortcomings. His celebrated building accomplishments, including the marvels at Karnak and Abu Simbel, reflected his vision of a great nation and of himself as the “ruler of rulers.” He erected more monuments and statues—and sired more children—than any other pharaoh. As a result, he has long been regarded by Egyptians as Ramses the Great and his 66-year reign is considered to be the height of Egypt’s power and glory.
It was Ramses II’s grandfather—Ramses I—who had elevated their commoner family to the ranks of royalty through his military prowess. Ramses II’s father, Seti I, secured the