According to history, Pharaoh Menkaure of the Old Kingdom, sucessor of Pharaoh Khafre in around 2532BCE, and builder of the smallest of the three pyramids at Giza, was a benevolent, generous, and just ruler. He reigned for about twenty-eight years, which is more than enough time to have built an even bigger pyramid like his predecessors. However, one reason why his pyramid was much smaller may have been because he didn’t work his people as harshly as his predecssors (especially his grandfather, Khufu) had, and actually treated them with much more compassion. This benevolence, according to Herodotus (and as always, we have to take his “Histories” with a shaker of salt), lifted the people out of their prior misery and harsh lives of labour and made their lives that much better.
Menkaure also didn’t build as many statues and monuments as did his predecessors, although more have survived. This apparently suggests that the king may have gone for quality over quantity and wasn’t as egotistic as other previous rulers (and of course later rulers we could name too. YES, Ramesses the Great, I’m looking at you!)
In addition, many of his step-brothers (Nebemakhet, Duaenre, Nikaure, and Iunmin I) also were his viziers or officials and one had to be very trusted to be one’s vizier. I like to think that Menkaure and his brothers must have been very close and really trusted each other, enough that Menkaure trusted them in the role as vizier.
There are apparently many officials’ tombs that not only have many statues of them, but also references to the king’s generosity and benevolence. He is also recalled with much more fondness by the Ancient Egyptians than his predecssors, especially Khufu, which proves that one did not have to be cruel and ruthless to be a strong link in the dynastic chain. When Menkaure died, the country kept going strong (with some ups and downs, of course), and did not collapse into ruin.
If only Seti or someone had told Rameses in Prince of Egypt about Menkaure’s strong, benevolent rulership, and that it was proof that you did not need to be cold and ruthless to be a strong, well-beloved ruler.