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Egyptian Royal Titulary

By the beginning of the Old Kingdom every Pharaoh had five titles including alternative personal names and short sentence – epithet.

Horus-name, enclosed in a picture of palace facade is the oldest one. It is a rectangular frame divided into two parts of different size. The king’s name was written in the smaller one while the palace’s facade was depicted in the bigger one. The whole frame, called srx (serekh - to make known), was adorned with a sign representing a falcon - symbol of the Horus-god. Horizontal illustrating of serekh on these pages, is purely conventional and in some measure constrained by an arrangement of the Web pages.

The second title is nbti [tAwi], the Two Ladies title. The title equates a king with the vulture goddess Nekhbet – patron of Upper Egypt, and cobra - goddess Wadjet from Buto in Lower Egypt. Images of vulture and cobra would represent the word nb which means Lord. Both godesses were patron Ladies of white and red crowns. Thus this title is sometimes interpreted  the Ruler of the Double Crown.

The third title represents Golden Horus, or rather – Horus on the gold (above gold) Hr nbw. This was a symbol of eternity commemorating a victory of the Horus-god (benevolence) over Seth (evil). The name was assumed during coronation.

A fourth title of a royal protocol, Prenomen, is interpreted as nsw – Belonging to the Reed (nsw) and the Bee ( Naturally reed and bee are the symbols Upper and Lower Egypt. Sometimes before Prenomen were written titles: nTr.nfr (Beautiful God) and nb-tAwi (Lord of the Two Lands). In antiquity the name swti-biti was assumed during enthronement and was enclosed in a cartouche.

Nomen sA-ra, Son of Re was the fifth of epithets. It became an element of royal titulary by the beginning of the Dynasty IV. It was positioned before the birth name, in turn enclosed in a cartouche.

During the Ptolemaic era a sixth element had been added to the royal titulary. Meantime the Alexandrians named their kings with epithets-nicknames, not necessarily complimentary. In some cases they became more popular than royal names. They had nothing to do with official titulary.

Eventually the formula di-anx (Endowed With Life) or di-anx-Dt (Endowed With Eternal Life) would be adjacent immediately to some of king-names.

To view the transcription of kings titulary properly, please download and install transliteration font.

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