The central theme of "Ozymandias" is the inevitable decline of leaders of empires and their pretensions to greatness.  "Ozymandias" represents a rendering in Greek of a part of Ramesses 's throne name , User-maat-re Setep-en-re . The sonnet paraphrases the inscription on the base of the statue , given by Diodorus Siculus in his Bibliotheca historica , as " King of Kings am I, Ozymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works."    Shelley's poem may have been inspired by the impending arrival in London in 1821 of a colossal statue of Ramesses II , acquired for the British Museum by the Italian adventurer Giovanni Belzoni in 1816. The poem was written and published before the statue arrived in Britain,  but the reports of the statue's imminent arrival may have inspired the poem.  The statue's repute in Western Europe preceded its actual arrival in Britain, and Napoleon , who at the time of the two poems was imprisoned on St. Helena (although the impact of his own rise and fall was still fresh), had previously made an unsuccessful attempt to acquire it for France.