Ozymandias

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Ozymandias

(pop culture)
One of the title characters in writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons' epic superhero series Watchmen (DC Comics, 1986–1987), Adrian Veidt adopted the alias Ozymandias, the Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Rameses II. Moore was also invoking the poem of that name by the great English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), which describes the remains of the arrogant pharaoh's colossal statue, surrounded by the empty desert: its pedestal is inscribed, “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Veidt, “the world's smartest man,” is based on the Charlton Comics superhero Peter Cannon, aka Thunderbolt, but he also seems inspired by such genius heroes as Mr. Fantastic and Doc Savage. Born in 1939, Veidt modeled himself after Egypt's conqueror, Alexander the Great, and became a costumed crime fighter. Though Veidt had no actual superpowers, he had trained his body to near physical perfection, and was virtually invincible in hand-to-hand combat. Nevertheless, in 1975 Veidt retired as a superhero. Instead, like a capitalistic version of Alexander, Veidt built a vast corporate empire, becoming one of the world's wealthiest men. (Spoiler warning: Those who do not wish to learn the ending of Watchmen should read no further.) Veidt believed that nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union was inevitable unless he implemented an extraordinary scheme. Veidt oversaw a covert project that genetically engineered a monstrous new life form. Veidt planned to teleport the monster into Manhattan, causing it to telepathically slaughter much of the city's population. The world would assume that the creature was from outer space, and the two superpowers would lay aside their differences in order to cooperate in defending themselves against a possible alien invasion. In 1985 Edward Blake, the superhero known as the Comedian, discovered Veidt's scheme and was horrified. Hence, Veidt went to Blake's apartment, overpowered him, and hurled him to his death. Thus began the murder mystery with which the Watchmen series begins. Veidt also manipulated events so as to coerce the world's most powerful being, Dr. Manhattan, into leaving Earth. The vigilante Rorschach recognized there was a conspiracy afoot. He and the superhero Nite Owl eventually realized that Veidt was behind it and headed to his Antarctic retreat, Karnak. But by the time they finally confronted Veidt, he had already teleported his monster to Manhattan, killing half the population of New York City. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, Moore's Watchmen scenario seems grimly, unwittingly prophetic. But Veidt's horrific scheme had the effect that he intended, and the United States and Soviet Union backed away from the brink of World War III. Thus Moore confronts both his superheroes and his readers with this conundrum: was Veidt justified in perpetrating the massacre of millions in order to avert the potential deaths of billions in a nuclear war? In Watchmen's final panel Moore raises the possibility that Veidt's hoax will be exposed, setting the world back on the road to war. So this new Ozymandias' works may also end in despair.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

Ozymandias

king of ancient Egypt, evoked by Shelley as an example of the perishability of power. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 749]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Shelley's Ozymandius is not of England, and English ruins, seen as part of a picturesque landscape, can as readily signify the continuing power of wealth and privilege as they may mark the transience of human hope and ambition.
Lines from one of Shelley's best-known works, entitled, of course, Ozymandius. First published in 1818, the sonnet was inspired by the British Museum's acquisition of a large fragment of a statue of Rameses II (or Ozymandius, as the pharaoh is sometimes known).
The period covered includes some of Shelley's most important works including the Alastor volumes, Laon and Cythna and sonnets, including Ozymandius. The collection is edited by Donald Reiman of the University of Deleware, Neil Frainstat of the University of Maryland, and Nora Crook of Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.
There in the desert are "two vast and trunkless legs of stone," and a pedestal on which is carved, "My name is Ozymandius, king of kings!
The co-op board at 248 West 23rd Street was represented by Newmark Grubb Knight Frank director Trever Gallina and associate Aaron Cukier, and in the 14th Street deal, landlord Ozymandius Realty was represented in-house.
They each plan to contribute $240,000 more to fund the construction of a 53-unit condo to replace the auto shop that is there now, said seller Anthony Marano, a principal at Ozymandius Realty.
And the same could be said, mutatis mutandis, of any attempt to make our mark in the sands of this world (think of the fate of the monuments erected by dictators of every era, so memorably parodied by Percy Bysshe Shelley in his poem Ozymandius).
Unless we can make this case for carbon-based over silicon-based knowledge, of neurons and synapses over chips and circuits, we as intellectuals will become extinct, along with the rhinoceros, the blue whale, the leatherback turtle, and Ozymandius, king of kings.
(23) Norman Fruman, "Ozymandius and the Reconciliation of Opposites," in Christine Gallant, ed., 54.