The poem has been noted for its skillful diction, and its powerful themes and imagery. The central theme of Ozymandias is the inevitable (unavoidable) ruin of leaders and empires. The message is that all leaders and the empires they build will always end up as nothing, however mighty they are.
The name Ozymandias comes from a transliteration into Greek of the throne name of Ramesses II. The sonnet paraphrases (copies in different words) the writing on the base of a statue of Ramesses. The statue is called Younger Memnon and it is from Thebes (it is now in the British Museum). The writing on the statue was recorded by Diodorus Siculus in his Bibliotheca historica. It reads: "King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works".
- Text of the poem from Shelley, Percy Bysshe (1819). Rosalind and Helen, a modern eclogue, with other poems. London: C. and J. Ollier. OCLC 1940490..
- Wells, John C. (1990). Longman pronunciation dictionary. Harlow, England: Longman. p. 508. ISBN 0-582-05383-8. entry "Ozymandias"
- "SparkNotes: Shelley's Poetry: "Ozymandias"". SparkNotes. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
- MacEachen, Dougald B. CliffsNotes on Shelley's Poems. 18 July 2011.
- (Greek Text) Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, 1.47.4 at the Perseus Project
- RPO Editors. "Percy Bysshe Shelley : Ozymandias". University of Toronto Department of English. University of Toronto Libraries, University of Toronto Press. Retrieved 2006-09-18.
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- Audiorecording of "Ozymandias" by the BBC.
- LibriVox recording of "Ozymandias", selection 22, read by Leonard Wilson.
- Representative Poetry Online: Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), "Ozymandias" (text of poem with notes)