Historical Context in Ozymandias
As a Romantic poet, Shelley emphasized the incredible power of nature and the frailty of humankind. The message he suggests is that the mighty ought to despair at how utterly forgotten Ozymandias has become. The desert and time have swallowed the vain pride of the ancient king, and the same fate awaits the powerful of today.
Shelley's use of the phrase antique land reflects the Romantics' interest in the ancient and therefore exotic. Since the title of the poem represents the Greek spelling of the name of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II, we know that Shelley is alluding to Egypt as the setting for the traveler’s tale.