Looking to the situation of the colossus, Shelley’s traveler, if the poet ever met any other but Diodorus

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
January 17, 2024

The First Court is a complete ruin.

The Ancient Egypt - AMZ Newspaper

It had once a double colonnade on the south side, and was possibly connected with what appear to have been the ruins of a palace to the south

The Ancient Egypt - AMZ Newspaper

Opposite us as we cross the court to the west side lie the remains of the hugest of Egyptian colossal statues, probably the largest block of stone ever handled by man, not even excepting the famous stones at Baalbek.
The tumbled masses of granite are all that remains of the Osymandias whom Diodorus, or his informant, saw in 60 B.C. sitting in majesty above his apocryphal inscription, and without ‘the least flaw or any other blemish’. Would that he were so still ! To-day the great status is completely shattered, and it seems that the patience needed to accomplish its destruction must have been almost as great as that which originally compassed its setting up. The face has entirely disappeared, and even the legs, which were still standing when Shelley’s (Percy Bysshe Shelley ) traveler from an antique land ” saw the great figure in the early years of the nineteenth century, are now completely shattered.

The Ancient Egypt - AMZ Newspaper

Nevertheless, even in ruin, the great statue remains sufficiently imposing It stood originally between 57 and 58 feet in height; from shoulder to shoulder it measured 22½ feet, or 23½ across the breast.

The Ancient Egypt - AMZ Newspaper

And its arm at the elbow measured 17½ feet in circumference, its forefinger is 3½ feet long, the length of the nail on its middle finger is 7½ inches, and the area of this talon is 35 square inches ; its foot measures 4½ feet across the toes; its face between the ears is, or was, 634 feet ; and the length of its ear 3½ feet

The Ancient Egypt - AMZ Newspaper

Compared with such measurements, those of our aspirants to the heavyweight championship are insignificant ; and when there is added that the computed weight of the statue is over 1.000 tons, and that this “mountain” ( as Hatshepsut ridiculously called her little 323 tons shaft at Karnak temple) was floated down the Nile from Aswân, 135 miles away, dragged across the fields from the river-bank, and set up on its base by men who had never dreamed of the hydraulic jack, on any other magical engineering device save the lever and inclined place, one ought to conceive a considerable respect for Ancient Egyptian ingenuity and powers of organization.

The Ancient Egypt - AMZ Newspaper

Shelley’s famous sonnet may be quoted here to save the traveler the trouble of looking it up, though the legs of which he wrote are now shattered, and the face, with its ” frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command “, is now obliterated :

I met a traveler from an antique land

Who said : Two vast and trunkless of stone

Stand in the desert

Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed

And on the pedestal these words appear:

“My name is Osymandias, king of kings :

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away.
The Ancient Egypt - AMZ Newspaper

Looking to the situation of the colossus, Shelley’s traveler, if the poet ever met any other but Diodorus, was scarcely more accurate than the Greek himself or his informants; but poetry is not tied to mechanical accuracy.