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Pericles vs. Ramses as Ancient Male Rulers Essay

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Updated: May 20th, 2021

To some extent, the rulers of large territories in the remote past can be regarded as the preimages of politicians who influence decision-making today. This paper is devoted to the comparison of two famous male leaders as Pericles, a ruler of Athens who lived in the 5th century BC, and Ramses the Great who ruled Egypt in the 13th century BC. The choice of the rulers to be compared relates to these people’s unique cultural heritage. Additionally, both men chosen for the paper are widely believed to be influential and successful leaders. This fact allows analyzing the perceptions of leadership success in the context of cultural differences.

Similarities and Differences

Even though the leadership success of both rulers chosen for the assignment is recognized globally, the facts that make Ramses the Great and Pericles similar are few. However, the first important similarity that can be noticed relates to both leaders’ amount of education. Being a member of an aristocratic family, Pericles received “the best available education”, including training in “music, poetry, and gymnastics” (Samons, 2016, p. 40). As for Ramses, he also studied a lot of subjects, but special attention was paid to military training (Santillian & Thomas, 2018). The next important similarity is linked to the fact that the parents of both leaders belonged to the highest social class (Samons, 2016; Santillian & Thomas, 2018). Taking into account the peculiarities of the handout of power in the ancient world, this fact seems evident.

To identify certain differences between the two rulers, it is pivotal to focus on their personal life and the early years in politics. As for the first difference, the rulers observed dissimilar traditions related to marital relationships. Ramses II had a large harem and became a father of more than forty children, whereas Pericles had only one official wife and three sons (Samons, 2016; Santillian & Thomas, 2018). The next difference refers to their positions at the beginning of political careers. Being a twenty-year-old man, Ramses II had to perform the responsibilities of a joint leader and follow the instructions of his father, Pharaoh Seti (Santillian & Thomas, 2018). As for the second leader, having entered the world of politics, he had to oppose influential thinkers such as Kimon (Samons, 2016). It was because Kimon and his close associates did not want the spread of democratic values promoted by Pericles.

Cultural Differences

The cultures of Pericles and Ramses II are extremely dissimilar, and these differences can be found in many aspects of the life of the two leaders. The first cultural aspect that makes them different is presented by marital traditions for rulers in Greece and Egypt. According to some Athenian traditions, Pericles’ first wife was his relative, but little is known about her personality and their relationships (Samons, 2016). Ramses II married some of his daughters, but these marital unions carried only a symbolic meaning (Santillian & Thomas, 2018). Therefore, in ancient Egypt, pharaohs could also marry their relatives, but the “red lines” for rulers were different from those in Greece.

The next difference related to culture is manifested in the rulers’ dissimilar religious beliefs. Although both civilizations supported polytheistic views and beliefs in the afterlife, ancient Egyptians had over one hundred and forty gods, and the number of Greek gods was seven times smaller (Luiselli, 2014). These dissimilarities had a significant impact on the civilizations’ culture. Given that both leaders analyzed in the assignment were the pure representatives of their nations, religious differences heavily impacted their worldviews.

One more difference in the confluence of culture and politics is presented by the relationships between people in the position of power and common citizens. In Egypt, pharaohs were considered as people almost equal to gods, and this is why inequality and stratification were deeply embedded in the nation’s collective mindset (Santillian & Thomas, 2018). Despite the existence of inequality, Greek common people were less likely to renounce the ideas of democracy (Samons, 2016). These differences were closely interconnected with the two rulers’ political strategies and approaches to social stratification.

Modern Day Examples

Some people share similar features with the leaders discussed above, and providing modern-day examples of these rulers can be an important point of analysis. As for Ramses II, this person focused on territorial expansion and did a lot to support his high status. I believe that a more modern American leader who is similar to Ramses II is the thirty-seventh president, Richard Nixon. The rationale for this comparison is both people’s authoritarian approaches to leadership. As for Pericles, based on what is known about his personality, he has some common features with my uncle who is in his late fifties. Similar to Pericles, my relative is a former serviceman who is emotionally reserved but possesses a storytelling talent.


In the end, even though these leaders’ popularity is obvious, there are some differences concerning the amount of data related to their personal life and psychological features. The first important thing learnt due to the assignment is the variety of strategies used to achieve the position of a leader. Unlike Ramses II, Pericles was supposed to win in the competition with the defendants of inequality. Also, it has been learnt that the discussed individuals’ leadership success is closely aligned with their level of training.


Luiselli, M. M. (2014). Personal piety in Ancient Egypt. Religion Compass, 8(4), 105-116.

Samons, L. J. (2016). Pericles and the conquest of history: A political biography. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Santillian, B., & Thomas, S. (2018). Ramses II: The most powerful pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Pericles vs. Ramses as Ancient Male Rulers." May 20, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/pericles-vs-ramses-as-ancient-male-rulers/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Pericles vs. Ramses as Ancient Male Rulers'. 20 May.

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