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Nicholas Cicalese

5/7/15
Ancient World: Ms. Morin
Legacy Project Essay
Legacy Left and Legacy Lost: Why Leaders Care About How Their Legacy Will is
Viewed
The Ancient Egyptian civilization was one of the most successful civilizations of
the ancient world, spanning thousands of years and hundreds of pharaohs. However,
according to historian Joshua Mark, Pharaoh Ramesses II, better known as Ramses the
Great or simply Ramses, was the most successful pharaoh in the history of the Empire.
During his reign from 1279 BCE - 1212 BCE, Ramesses achievements included
expanding the Egyptian borders, undertaking successful military campaigns, ensuring
trade routes, and signing the first peace treaty in world history.1 Ramesses was likely
quite aware of how impressive his achievements were, and likely thought of how he
would be viewed later in history. There have been many pieces of art created to honor
Ramesses the Great, including the significant Jubilee Relief of Ramesses II. The Jubilee
Relief of Ramesses II shows the Eternal Truth that leaders care about how their legacy
will be viewed is true in the ancient world.
The piece itself of the Jubilee Relief of Ramesses II shows the Eternal Truth that leaders
care about how their legacy will be viewed is true in the ancient world. According to the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, the relief is carved in a 43-inch by 43-inch slab of
limestone, was created during the reign of Ramesses II, and is from the temple of
Ramesses II at Abu Simbel.2 Limestone was a very common material used in Egyptian art
1 Mark, Joshua. "Ramesses II." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Accessed May 3, 2015.
http://www.ancient.eu/Ramesses_II/.
2 "Jubilee Relief of Ramesses II | New Kingdom, Ramesside." Jubilee Relief of
Ramesses II. Accessed May 3, 2015.

and architecture during this time period because it was very common in the area. The
reign of Ramesses II was one of the strongest points in the long history of the Egyptian
Empire, meaning there was leisure time and inspiration to indulge in the luxury of art
making. Additionally, Ramesses is established as a ruler from the very onset of this piece.
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, [The relief] shows [Ramesses II]
wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt and seated within a shrine, the roof of which is
decorated with uraei.3 Uraei are sacred snakes in the Egyptian culture, and they are
symbols of royalty. Ramesses is also pictured with the crown of Lower Egypt, and
obvious symbol of royalty. These two key symbols serve to establish Ramesses II as a
respected and regal figure from the onset of this piece. The Jubilee Relief of Ramesses II
in itself proves the Eternal Truth that leaders care about how their legacy will be viewed
is true in the ancient world.
The context behind the Jubilee Relief of Ramesses II shows that the Eternal Truth that
leaders care about how their legacy will be viewed is true in the ancient world. Although
Ramesses was an incredibly popular and accomplished ruler, many artists did not make
the pieces honoring him of their own accord. According to Cengage Learning, Ramesses
II commissioned many pieces of art during his reign to be created to honor him.4
Considering the fact that this piece was made during Ramesses reign, it is likely that
Ramesses himself commissioned it. This conclusion is supported further due to the fact
that the piece is from the temple of Ramesses II. According to the Ancient History
Encyclopedia, Ramesses II ordered a temple at Abu Simbel to be built in his honor.5 This
3 Ibid.
4 "Ramses II." Galegroup.com. 2003. Accessed May 3, 2015.
5 Mark, Joshua. "Ramesses II." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Accessed May 3, 2015.
http://www.ancient.eu/Ramesses_II/.

strengthens the claim that this piece was commissioned by Ramesses II specifically to
honor him because the entire temple it was found in was built to honor him. Others in the
historical community also believe this conclusion to be correct. According to John Ray,
an Egyptologist at the University of Cambridge, Ramesses II is the most famous of the
Pharaohs, and there is no doubt that he intended this to be so.6 Ray is referring to the
fact that Ramesses commissioned these pieces of art not just to strengthen his legacy but
to also broaden his legacy. Through these pieces Ramesses is helping to cement his
reputation as one of the greatest leaders in world history. The context of The Jubilee
Relief of Ramesses II helps to prove that the Eternal Truth that leaders care about how
their legacy will be viewed is true in the ancient world.
The sacred text corresponding to the Jubilee relief of Ramesses II proves that the Eternal
Truth that leaders care about their legacy is true in the Ancient World. Although the
Jubilee Relief of Ramesses II is significant, it is not unique. According to Cengage
Learning, there are similar reliefs that contain triumphal inscriptions describing the
Battle of Kadesh as a great victory in which the pharaoh had singlehandedly destroyed
his foes.7 The Battle of Kadesh is considered to be Ramesses crowning achievement, in
part because it was so well documented. According to Mark, the Battle occurred in 1274
B.C.E, against the Hittite Empire led by King Muwatalli II.8 The most famous account of
the Battle of Kadesh is the Poem of Pentaur, which was written by Ramesses II himself.
According to the Poem of Pentaur, Behold, his majesty prepared his infantry and his
chariotry the captivity of his majesty from the victories of his word - they gave the plan
6 Ray, J. (n.d.). Ramesses the Great. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
7 Ramses II." Galegroup.com. 2003. Accessed May 3, 2015.
8 Mark, Joshua. "Ramesses II." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Accessed May 3, 2015.
http://www.ancient.eu/Ramesses_II/.

of battle.9 The poem is written as such so that it seems Ramesses II singlehandedly won
the Battle of Kadesh for the Egyptians, as evidenced by this line. This phrase, particularly
the segment of from the victories of his word implies that the Egyptians secured victory
purely not just because of the efforts of Ramesses but purely through his royal presence
on the battlefield. However, the Egyptian army winning solely due to Ramesses II is
incredibly unlikely. According to Ancient Egypt Online, The Egyptian army was 100,000
members strong.10 The sheer number of soldiers in one army in one battle was
unprecedented at this time period. As significant as leaving out the size of an army is
when recounting a battle, the outcome of an Egyptian victory is even being questioned.
According to Mark, modern historians have debated and come to the conclusion that the
Battle of Pentaur ended mostly in a draw for both sides.11 This evidence demonstrates that
Ramesses II grossly embellished the size of his feats during the Battle of Kadesh. As
widespread distribution of the Poem would have been impossible except for public
readings, this leaves only one reason why he would embellish his feats. Ramesses over
exaggerated his feats at the Battle of Pentaur to solidify his legacy as a great leader. This,
evidently, was successful as it is considered the crowning achievement of the man
considered the most successful Pharaoh ever. The Poem of Pentaur, which is the sacred
text that corresponds to the Jubilee Relief of Ramesses II, helps to prove that the Eternal
Truth that leaders care about their legacy is true in the Ancient World.
9 "Egyptian Accounts of the Battle of Kadesh." Egyptian Accounts of the Battle of
Kadesh. Accessed May 3, 2015. http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/kadeshaccounts.htm.
10 "Ramses II Aka Ramses The Great." Ramses II (Ramesses 2)| Facts, Biography,
Mummy, Statues. Accessed May 3, 2015. http://www.ancient-egypt-online.com/ramsesII.html.
11 Mark, Joshua. "Ramesses II." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Accessed May 3, 2015.
http://www.ancient.eu/Ramesses_II/.

Not only is the Eternal Truth of leaders caring about their legacy true in the
ancient world, it is also true in the twenty-first century. This is proven in examples from
modern media all the way to the Newark Academy community. Student Council
President Matt Thekkethala gave a powerful message about legacy during his farewell
address. Thekkethala said that his goal in the beginning of the year was to do something
to change NA that would change it for the better, and that would be his legacy. He also
stated that he wanted to make the year memorable for the student body.12 This Eternal
Truth is not only ever-present in the twenty-first century, but also present in the Newark
Academy community. The Newark Academy community is such a unique environment
that is difficult to leave a lasting impact upon it. However, Thekkethala has made an
impact on the community, in part due to his mindfulness on legacy. These are the
qualities that contributed to him being a successful leader. Critically acclaimed novelist
and leadership expert Robin Sharma echoes these thoughts. In his 10 things authentic
leaders do Sharma states, To live in the hearts of the people around you is to never die.
Success is wonderful but significance is even better. You were made to contribute and to
leave a mark on the people around you.13 In this piece Sharma addresses an issue that is
on a larger scale than the Newark Academy community. He addresses the issue of not just
being remembered for being a great leader, but being a great leader just to be
remembered. Due to Ramesses immense efforts to be remembered, from the artwork he
commissioned to his temples, it is clear he had a fear of being forgotten. The importance
of being remembered is present in the media of twenty-first century, especially in music.
This is expressed throughout the popular Fall Out Boy song Centuries. This is especially
12 Thekkethala, Matthew. Lecture, Livingston, April 29, 2015.
13 Sharma, R. (2009). 10 Things Authentic Leaders Do. Retrieved May 14, 2015.

present in the line that states, according to the Fall Out Boy website, Just one mistake is
all it will take, well go down in history, remember me for centuries.14 Although a leader
can be remembered for having a great legacy, they can also be remembered for a negative
legacy. The song states that it only takes one mistake to leave a legacy of failure, which is
largely accurate. Building off of Sharmas point, it is therefore critical that leaders not
ensure they have a legacy, but a positive one. The Newark Academy community,
leadership expert Robin Sharma, and modern music prove that the Eternal Truth that
leaders care about how their legacy will be viewed is true in the twenty-first century.
The Eternal Truth That leaders care about their legacy was true in the ancient
world and is true in the twenty-first century. The Jubilee Relief of Ramesses II
demonstrates that this Eternal Truth through its context, corresponding sacred text of the
Poem of Pentaur, and the piece itself. Leadership expert Robin Sharma, the impact of
Matt Thekkethala on the Newark Academy community, and modern music prove the
Eternal Truth that leaders care about how their legacy will be viewed in the twenty-first
century. Upon further examination, Ramesses II was not the most successful of leaders.
However, his legacy, which he built using pieces of art like the Jubilee Relief of
Ramesses II, is that of a tremendous leader. Commissioning the Jubilee Relief of
Ramesses II to be built is one of the things Ramesses did to cement his legacy as a great
leader even if he was possibly not one. By doing this, Ramesses not only changed how
we look at his reign, but the thousands of years the Egyptian empire spanned, and
therefore changed how we view the ancient world.
Bibliography
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