Each King created a name on his ascension to the throne and it was
also a 'mandate' for this style of leadership. The royal name was comprised of 5 separate elements (although earlier
kings used less) we modern writing often used the 'Nomen' or person name, which preceded his kingship. Many Egyptian
names were translated into Greek, for example Amenhotep (Egyptian) into Amenophis (Greek)
- older books tend to use the Greek names but this is now less common and a translation from the original hieroglyphs is
This name was often written within a rectangular frame, on top of which perched the falcon-god Horus,
which probably represented the king's palace. This name represented the king as the earthly incarnation of the ancient
falcon-god Horus, who became the first divine patron of royalty.
Nbty means the 'Two Ladies', and this name emphasises
the king's special relationship with the two great goddesses, Nekhbet, the vulture goddess of Upper Egypt, and Edjo, the
cobra goddess of Lower Egypt . They ruled supreme as the two ancient capitals of Hieraconpolis and Pe, before Egypt was
unified by King Menes in c. 3100 BC. However, they continued to play an important role as royal protectress even after
unification - hence their inclusion in the royal titulary.
Golden Horus name
The meaning of this name is uncertain. It may signify the victory of Horus over his enemy Seth (in
the myth of Osiris), but it may represent the reconciled enemies, Horus and Seth, as lords of Egypt .
From the 5th Dynasty onwards (after King Sahure), the Prenomen and the Nomen were both written inside
cartouches. The prenomen was adopted as a religious name by each king when he ascended to the throne, and it was always
immediately preceded (outside the cartouche) by the title n-sw-bit 'he who belongs to the sedge and the bee'. The sedge
represented Upper Egypt, and the bee Lower Egypt, so the title meant 'King of Upper and Lower Egypt '. The prenomen
itself usually incorporates the name of the god Re (e.g. Neb-maet-re, 'Re is Lord of Truth').
The nomen, again enclosed within a cartouche, was usually the name of the king before he succeeded to
the throne (i.e. almost a family name) and therefore, it is not uncommon for several kings within a family to have the
same nomen (e.g. Thutmose, Amenhotep, Senusret). The nomen was immediately preceded (outside the cartouche) by the title
s3 R' ('son of Re').
The full titulary was only used in formal inscriptions; otherwise a king was usually identified by
his prenomen which was either written alone or accompanied by the nomen.
The prenomen and nomen are usually left in their Egyptian forms (for example, 'Thutmose' rather than
translating it into 'Thoth-is-born'). The transliteration of the kings' names vary in modern books on Egyptology. Some
retain the Graecised form of a name, as it occurred in the historical account of Manetho (e.g., Amenophis, Sesostris,
Cheops), whereas others give a translation based on the Hieroglyphs (e.g., Amenhotep, Senusret, Khufu). Pronunciations
also vary, because of the absence of vowels in the hieroglyphic writings of the names and our limited knowledge of the
pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian.
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