Abstract: Ramesses II: the Ultimate Pharaoh

Lecturer: Peter Brand

Warrior, mighty builder, and statesman, over the course of his 67 year long reign (1279-1212 BCE), Ramesses II achieved more than any other pharaoh in more than three millennia of Ancient Egyptian civilization. His resounding success seemed unlikely when he took the throne in his early twenties. The previous fifty years had saw Egypt in turmoil, wracked by religious upheaval, epidemic disease, political uncertainty and a long, bitter war with the mighty Hittite Empire for control of Syria. Building on the legacy of his father Seti I, young Ramesses II immediately launched an ambitious and innovative program of colossal building projects and aggressive wars. He fathered more than 100 children and had at least a dozen wives.

Drawing on the latest research, Dr. Peter brand reveals Ramesses the Great as a gifted politician, canny elder statesman and tenacious warrior. With restless energy, he fully restored the office of Pharaoh to unquestioned levels of prestige and authority, thereby bringing stability to Egypt. He built vast temples and colossal statues throughout his Empire, more than any other Pharaoh before or since. On the battlefield, he was equally relentless, even after the epic Battle of Kadesh in 1275 BCE which almost cost him his life. But Kadesh was not a crushing defeat for Ramesses, as his modern critics charge, and he soon recovered from it lunching new aggressive wars against the enemy. Ramesses II was also and visionary statesman and cunning diplomat. He ended he ended almost 7 decades of warfare between Egypt and the Hittite Empire by signing the first international peace treaty in recorded history. In his later years, even as he outlived many of his own children and grandchildren, Ramesses II became a living god and finally, an immortal legend. With authoritative knowledge and colorful details Brand paints a compelling portrait of this legendary Pharaoh who ruled over Imperial Egypt in its Golden age.

 

Short  bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

T.G.H. James, Ramesses II, (2003)

Kenneth A. Kitchen, Pharaoh Triumphant : the Life and Times of Ramesses II (Warminster, 1983)

Joyce Tyldesley, Ramesses II: Egypt’s Greatest Pharaoh (Penguin 2001)

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