Ancient Egyptian royal titles
The Ancient Egyptian royal titles were a standard way of naming the pharaohs, the kings of Ancient Egypt. These names and titles showed the king's worldly and religious powers. The names could provide a sort of mission statement for the king. Names and titles sometimes changed during the reign.
Horus name[change | change source]
The Horus name was usually written inside a serekh. This was a symbol of a palace façade. The name of the pharaoh was written in hieroglyphs inside the serekh. Usually there would be an image of the falcon God Horus on top or beside it.
One Egyptian ruler, the 2nd dynasty Seth-Peribsen, used an image of the god Seth instead of Horus. Perhaps this was showing there had been some kind of religious division within the country. He was succeeded by Khasekhemwy, who placed the symbols of both Set and Horus above his name. Later kings always had the image of Horus beside their name.
By the time of the New Kingdom the Horus name was often written without the enclosing serekh.
Nebty ("two ladies") name[change | change source]
- Nekhbet, goddess of Upper Egypt, represented by a vulture, and
- Wadjet, goddess of Lower Egypt, represented by a cobra.
Horus of Gold[change | change source]
This was also known as the Golden Horus Name. The pharaoh's name featured the image of a Horus falcon perched above or beside the hieroglyph for gold.
The meaning of this title has been disputed. It could show the triumph of Horus over his uncle Seth, the symbol for gold meaning that Horus was "superior to his foes". Gold also was linked with ideas of eternity, so name may show the pharaoh's eternal Horus name.
Like the Nebty name, this name was not framed by a cartouche or serekh.
Throne name (prenomen)[change | change source]
The pharaoh's throne name, the first of the two names written inside a cartouche, with the title nsw-bity (nesu-bity, nesw-bit, nswt-bjtj). It means "S/He of the Sedge and Bee". This is often translated as "King of Upper and of Lower Egypt", as the sedge and bee were symbols for Upper and Lower Egypt.
The term nsw-bity may be from the Berber word for "strong man; ruler".(Schneider 1993)
The epithet neb tawy, "Lord of the Two Lands", meaning the valley and delta regions of Egypt was also often used.
Personal name (nomen)[change | change source]
This was the name given to the pharaoh at birth. The name itself was preceded by the title "Son of Ra". This was written with the hieroglyph of a duck (za), a homonym for the word meaning "son" (za), next to an image of the sun, a hieroglyph god Ra. It was first introduced to the set of royal titles in the Fourth Dynasty and emphasizes the king's role as a representative of the solar god Ra. When the pharaoh was woman, the preceding title was interpreted as "daughter".
Modern historians usually use this name for the ancient kings of Egypt, adding ordinals (e.g. "II", "III") for different individuals with the same name.
Examples of the full titulary[change | change source]
Senusret I[change | change source]
Hatshepsut[change | change source]
- Praenomen: Maatkare, "Truth [Ma'at] is the Ka of Re"
- Nomen: Khnumt-Amun Hatshepsut, "Joined with Amun, Foremost of Noble Ladies"
- Horus name: Wesretkau, "Mighty of Kas"
- Nebty name: Wadjrenput, "She of the Two Ladies, Flourishing of years"
- Golden Horus: Netjeretkhau, "Divine of appearance" (Netjeret is the feminine form of netery meaning 'godly' or 'divine', and khau, 'appearances')
Thutmose III[change | change source]
- Horus name: Kanakht Khaemwaset, "Horus Mighty Bull, Arising in Thebes"
- Nebty name: Wahnesytmireempet, "He of the Two Ladies, Enduring in kingship like Re in heaven"
- Golden Horus: Sekhempahtydjeserkhaw, "Horus of Gold Powerful of strength, Sacred of appearance"
- Praenomen: Menkheperre, "He of the Sedge and the Bee, Enduring of form is Re"
- Nomen: Thutmose Neferkheperu, "Son of Ra, Thutmose, beautiful of forms"
Bibliography[change | change source]
- Allen, James P. (1999). Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-77483-3.
- Dodson, Aidan; Hilton, Dyan (2004). The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Cairo, London, and New York: The American University in Cairo Press and Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-977-424-878-8.
- Leprohon, Ronald J. (2013). The Great Name: Ancient Egyptian Royal Titulary. Society of Biblical Literature. ISBN 978-1-58983-735-5.
- Gardiner, Alan Henderson (1957). Egyptian Grammar; Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs (3rd ed.). Oxford: Griffith Institute.
- Quirke, Stephen G. J. (1990). Who Were the Pharaohs? A History of Their Names with a List of Cartouches. London: British Museum Publications Limited.
- Schneider, Thomas (1993). "Zur Etymologie der Bezeichnung ‘König von Ober- und Unterägypten’". Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 120: 166–181.
- Shaw, Garry J. (2012). The Pharaoh, Life at Court and on Campaign. London and New York: Thames and Hudson. pp. 20–21.
- von Beckerath, Jürgen (1999). Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen (2nd ed.). Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.