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The Portrayal of Ancient Rulers

The Portrayal of Ancient Rulers Throughout history, the idea of what a ruler is has evolved. In ancient societies the style of leadership evolved from royal leadership to politically appointed emperors. Inheritance of a throne and kingship subsided after Alexander the Great’s world domination. Instead, leaders came to power through political and military prowess, and if their leadership was unsatisfactory they would usually be overthrown. With the evolution of leadership throughout ancient times, came the evolution of art portraying the rulers of the era. The personality and authority portrayed in portraits, employ different means of expression. In the ancient Egyptian sculpture of King Menkaure and his Queen, a tetradrachm coin of ancient Greece depicting Alexander the Great, and the portrait sculpture of the emperor Philip the Arab from Rome, it is evident that portrayal of ancient rulers in art evolves in accordance with the political climate.
King Menkaure and Queen Khamerenebty ruled during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom in ancient Egypt, circa 2533-2515 BCE. The 4th Dynasty is associated with the Great Pyramids of Giza. The increasing wealth of the ruling families of the period is reflected in their large, elaborate royal portraits. The statue of King Menkaure and his wife, standing 4’8” high, was found in the Valley Temple of the pyramid of Menkaure at Giza. It is a good example of Old Kingdom royal tomb sculpture, although it is the first known work depicting a couple. The pair statue of Menkaure and Khamerenebty exemplifies both dignity and marital affection.
The statue of King Menkaure and his Queen exhibits with clarity the Egyptian devotion of art to a cannon of proportions. Its strictly frontal view point, the rigid poses of the figures, and a faithful accordance to rules and established customs can be interpreted as manifesting the nature of the Pharaoh’s authority over his s...

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