A highly non scientific evaluation by Alfred Jones, Ph.D, the oldest Egyptian scholar living today.
First of all, let begin with his name. 99.9% of the time, the world’s most immanent Egyptologists say RAM SES. If you look at his name as it appears thousands of times in Egypt it is written (sun dist pronounced RA followed by the three fox skins, pronounced M, and the shepherd’s staff pounced S) thus Ra Messes II (RA Mes Ses), not Ramesses II.
Now that we have that settled, lets move on to my reasons for saying that he was very unique. What sort of a person would travel the length and breadth of Egypt in such a massive self aggrandizing campaign? He has been referred to as the father of bill-board advertising. Although he could not be heard, he certainly could be seen. In World War 2. There was a saying “Kilroy was here” In ancient times it could have well have been “Ra Messes was here”. Apparently he wanted all and sundry to know that he was the Man. He wanted foreign people traveling north from Nubia to know that they were entering the domain of the greatest of the greats.He wanted his own people to know who he was, that he was bigger than life and that he was a force to be reckoned with. In a sense, Napoleon did this but he was motivated by the fact that he was not very tall and came from a middle class background. Today, we find many people who have a need to compensate for feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. I don’t think that Ra Messes had any reason to feel either. Look at his life from the time of his birth. He must have been coddled and assured on every hand that he was not only born for greatness, but perhaps to believe that he would be the greatest person who ever lived. Remember, this clan were not of royal blood, but usurpers via Horemheb to sit on the thrown in the first place. It is possible that this could have been a reason for his wanting substantiation to his right to rule, perhaps not the main reason for his need for greatness, but a reason none the less. “I have been told all my young life that I was the greatest, so it is incumbent upon me to prove it.”
Not only did he scour the country side for yet another site to place a larger than life image, but from his dozen or more wives and who knows how many concubines produced over 90 kids.( Wouldn’t you like to have had the diaper concession for these people?) What is this all about? I think it is a part of the same needs as the carved stones. He needed to “produce”. Apparently, he was a good family man whom, it is said, was a loving father. It would have taken an absolute genius to remember their names. Surely he must have a system for this. It is difficult to believe that he just sired this brood and then walked away.
We are beginning to see a pattern of uniqueness emerging. He was doing what no man in all of recorded history was doing in building great monuments, but in trying to get into the local equivalent of the Guinness Book Of Records for being the stud of the century. He outlived everybody. What was the secret of his longevity? There were many environmental problems in Ancient Egypt that shortened life. There was sand in the cornmeal for making bread that wrecked havoc with your teeth, There were microscopic creatures in the Nile water as well as micro organisms in the soil.
Some years ago we had a physician talk to our local Rotary Club about colon cancer. He concluded his talk by saying ” That as a doctor, I prescribe lots of sex” to which one of the members rose to his feet and said “Where do you suggest that we get your prescription filled?”
Lots of sex for medical reasons ! That’s a thought. It certainly worked for Pharaoh Ra Messes. Talk about killing two birds with one stone, but for this king it was doing even more than that. He was prolonging his life, he was producing more and more images of himself and satisfying the same needs as were being satisfied by his building campaign. This was unique.
What about Ra Messes the great military leader? He came home from the Hittite campaign with all sorts of wonderful stories which were immediately rendered in stone. Again, bigger than life. He didn’t erect just an obelisk, he used every wall space possible to illustrate his exploits. The interesting thing is that the Hittites had their own version of the battle which sharply differs from those of the Egyptians.
Always, he had to be seen to be the greatest of the great. There is really no present day diagnostic classification that fits this man. He was just unique. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to have been in his presence during his life time and listen to him. I am sure he would have been a virtual store house of misinformation as well as the occasional jewel of interesting topics of conversation.
Did he really accomplish anything of great value for Egypt during his life time? That’s hard to say. Because of him, the entire known world knew of Egypt and of the absolute greatness of their king.
The story goes that an Egyptian school teacher ask the students, ” Who was the pharaoh before Ra Messes and one little boy answered,” I didn’t think that there WAS a pharaoh before Ra Messes”.
History was of course very kind to him. E.A. Wallis Budge was one of many who see him as the greatest pharaoh who ever ruled Egypt. Today, other scholars are not all that sure. Regardless, few can dispute his uniqueness.