He survived assassination attempts and wave after wave of Mideast crises, a solid ally of the West whose stable image reassured many Egyptians.
Hosni Mubarak ended his presidency Friday as a symbol of what was wrong with Egypt: the repression, the corruption, the lost hopes of a swelling, impoverished class.
Mubarak, in power for nearly three decades, was such a fixture that his exit from power was hard to conceive for most Egyptians just a short time ago. Year after year, as the president aged and ailed, people watched his scripted appearances on television, the suit and tie, the wagging finger, the "father of the nation" aura.After protests and upheaval swept Egypt, Mubarak sought to portray himself as the only obstacle to chaos, as he had done successfully so many times in the past. Yet attacks by his supporters, who roamed downtown Cairo with impunity, suggested that violence lay at the core of his system.
As he clung to power, the status quo he personified became increasingly loathed.
And as it turns out, beneath the stern facade of authority, the 82-year-old was a figure in steep decline, unable to check boiling currents of popular fury, or harness the history unfolding in his nation of 80 million, the largest in the Arab world.
A former pilot and air force general with a combative, stubborn streak, he took tentative steps toward democratic reform early in his presidency but pulled back toward the dictatorial style that eventually propelled the protests that began on January 25 and finally turned to be the cause of his downfall.