The Pharaon was at the same time the principal administrator, the chief of the armies, the first magistrate and the supreme priest of the ancient Egypt. He says son of Horus and favorite of Amon - Re.

According to the Egyptian Historiography, the royalty was created by the Démiurge which transmitted it to the gods its successors, then with divine creatures, the following of Horus which, in the royal lists, precede the historical kings immediately. Therefore, Pharaon had a mission to fill: to implement the rule of Maât on ground i.e. to ensure the harmony enters the men and the sky, guaranteeing being of the morals of its people, thus contributing to ensure its eternity and the prosperity of Egypt. To maintain the order of the world (Maât) and to fight the Evil (Isfet) in all its forms, it is to satisfy the divinities who “live of Maât”. Also Pharaon must it build, restore and increase the temples, ensure the wellbeing of his subjects and take care of the correct achievement of the rites. In practice, he delegates the exercise of the worship to the clergy which he supervises.

He returned to Pharaon to choose only the Politique to be carried out. As for the worship, he delegated the execution of his decisions to a troop of scribes, advisers and civils servant:

  • with (X) the vizier (S), kind of Prime Minister, to make carry out his decisions and to return justice on its behalf;

  • with the general of the armies to organize and conduct the military campaigns which it decides;
  • with the large priest to take care of the rites and to manage the goods of the clergy;
  • with the scribes to index the decrees, the transactions, harvests;
  • with the simple priest to pay homage to the gods in its place and places.


The French word “Pharaon” derives from the Greek pharaô (Φαραώ), word introduced into this language by the translation in Greek of the Bible. It derives from the former Egyptian per-aâ (in scientific transcription).

This word indicated in the beginning the royal palace (as an institution) and meant “the large ( ˁȝ ) house ( Pr )”; it took the direction of “sovereign of Egypt” only starting from the Nouvel Empire.

“that of largest of the houses”, unless the last sign is not the determinative one.

The Bible and Pharaon

In the Bible, six Egyptian kings are called Pharaon. This barbarism comes from an ignorance of the Egyptian history by the Jewish writers of this book. Flavius Josèphe, a priest and Jewish historian of the 1st century, originating in Jerusalem, wrote:

Of aucuns will have wondered why all the Egyptian kings, since Minaeos (Ménès), the founder of Memphis, which preceded by many years our Abram ancestor, to Solomon, in an interval of more than thirteen hundred years, were called Pharaon (Pharaôthès); as I considered to be necessary, to dissipate their ignorance and to clear up the origin of the name, to say here as Pharaon among Egyptians means king. I believe that with their birth they received other names, but as soon as they became kings, one gave them the title which indicates their power in the national language. Thus the kings of Alexandria, initially called other names, received with their advent with the throne the name of Ptolémée, according to that of the first king. In the same way, the Roman Emperors, after having borne other names of birth, are called César, title which they hold of their primacy and their row, and give up the names that their fathers gave them. For this reason, I suppose, Hérodote d' Halicarnasse, when he tells that after Minœos, the founder of Memphis, there were three hundred and thirty kings d' Égypte, does not indicate their names, because they were called generic name of Pharaon. The use of Pharaon as a name is found in biblical passages in the form Pharaon, king d' Égypte. The use of a capital letter and the absence of definite article (an exception) watch which the word was perceived there at the origin like a proper name and not as the title of the sovereign of Egypt.

Pharaon before Champollion

Charles Rollin published in 1730 Old story , the sovereigns of Egypt are kings there. Pharaon is absent also in the monumental work of the scientists of Bonaparte Description of Egypt (1821). For L. - P. of Ségur, old and modern Universal History p.47 (1822), Pharaon is an Egyptian king who gave his daughter in marriage to Solomon, king d' Israël.

A research in the books published in France, before the beginning of the 18th century, watch that Pharaon was only used in contexts of biblical inspiration. In French language, Pharaon was thus confined with the texts inspired of religious topics. In any other text the sovereign of Egypt was a king.

Champollion and Pharaon

Jean-François Champollion was the first to be made use of the word apart from the biblical context. Since the publication in 1814 of Champollion Egypt under the Pharaons , " Pharaon" is used by the authors like titrates kings of Egypt. In 1822, in the letter with Mr Dacier it is " roi" who is used. It will never find however equivalence between per-aâ and Pharaon, but it takes again the use of Pharaon after 1822. Champollion never gave explanation for the use of this barbarism, forgivable for the time.

Use of Pharaon among Egyptians of the dynastic time

In 1856, Emmanuel de Rougé proposed a satisfactory answer where Pharaon comes from the Egyptian word to indicate the governmental palate ( Pr-aA ). Starting from Akhénaton, Pharaon in hieroglyphic writing is used to appoint the king. Not missing titles and designations, for which Akhénaton reasons it used Pharaon to be indicated, that remains a mystery. It can be by kindness towards the army, the priesthood and the administration which used already this word in their own titles or it saw in Pr-aA the starting point of its religious teaching, of its radiation.

There the Egyptians brought closer the words having the same consonants, they saw there the sound echo of the essential energy which caused the universe. Pharaon ( Pr-aA ) and God Sun ( Pa ruffle ) have the same consonants, the word sun Ra is in the middle of Pr-aA , it is perhaps there that the answer is. The Letters of Amarna testify some, the vassal ones of Akhénaton called it “my sun”. There we find the proposals of Ippolito Rosellini and Emmanuel de Rougé for the origin of Pharaon.

During all the New Empire designation Pharaon is never followed name of the sovereign, it is an alternative less employed of majesty.

At all events, the expression per-aâ , within the meaning of “Pharaon”, is used about the year of the joint reign of the queen Hatchepsout - Maâtkaré and of its nephew, Thoutmôsis {{III}} - Menkhéperrê. It is then employed to indicate Thoutmôsis alone.

During the {{intermediate IIIe}} period and the Low Time, the kings are foreign or vassal and certain do not speak the Egyptian. At that time, Pharaon is occasionally associated in the name of birth with the king. The first will be Siamon, followed Sheshonq {{Ier}} on a purely posthumous basis. Writing Démotique takes birth, Pharaon becomes word to say “king” (many historians prefer to compare the title of Pharaon to that of emperor what, seems it, corresponds better to reality), the word Pharaonne (the title of Large Royal Wife was used more than the Pharaonne term) is invented to designate the queen his wife.

During the period of Ptolémées, the sovereign is especially a Basileus. Ptolémée {{II}} wanted that its courts know the laws governing the various ethnicities of its kingdom, to judge them according to their habits. With its imperative request, the Jews of Egypt translated into Greek their laws and would have introduced at that time the word Pharao into this language starting from Hebrew. It is this word Pharao which will become French Pharaon while passing through Christian Latin.

The Roman sovereigns, to whom it Egypt belonged into clean, were represented by a prefect and from this fact accepted the name of Pharaon in their titulature. This name, determined by the Egyptian priests, the most was adapted to define their program of reign which was left on the initiative of the local imperial institution, of which the person in charge often changed and resided at the governmental palate.

Developed at the 3rd century of our era, the Copte is the last form of the Egyptian writing. The word for king is (p) there rro , the word for Pharaon is pharaw ; the use of these two words in the same text shows that the Egyptians did not know of it any more the common origin.

Use of Pharaon among Egyptians of the modern time

In Arab language, it is especially the Coran which uses Pharaon. The necropolis thebaine is called Biban-el-Molouk which we translate by “the Valley of the Kings”.

To the 18th century, Pharaon was announced by the consul of Louis {{XIV}} in Egypt as being an abusive term. H.Fischer reports that it is still a term scorning for the Egyptians of our time, an equivalent of “devil”. The word is used since at least the 16th century in the nickname of the ichneumon: rat of Pharaon.

In the book of F. Caillaud of 1821 Voyage to the oasis of Thèbes , a type of shell found on the Red Sea is called “shell of Pharaon”. In this book the author never employs the word Pharaon, but it is true that the account does not lend itself to it; as everyone it speaks about Valley of the Kings. In its following books, Voyage in Méroé published in 1826-1827, it employment the title Pharaon in front of a name of king. Between the two publications, the Christian world knew that the key of the Egyptian writing was found.


The Pharaons carried a titulature made up of five names, complex titulature appeared during the Ancient Empire.

For the former Egyptians, the name ( Ren ) is what gives life to the thing that it indicates. One thus includes/understands easily the importance that the Pharaons to the names which indicated them and the eagerness attached with which they made hammer those of a predecessor honni. At the first times of the Pharaonic institution, whereas the royal titulature comprised one element, the name of Horus, this one was registered inside a Serekh representing the palate of the king and which can be interpreted like a magic symbol of protection. Thereafter, with the appearance of complete titulature, the last two royal names were protected by the cartridge, oval magic which represented in the beginning a cord tied with the one of the ends, the serekh being reserved in the name of Horus in the great inscriptions dédicatoires arranged in columns.

Example of titulature

Titulature of Sésostris {{Ier}}:

Horus Ânkhmessout. That of the two Ânkhmessout mistresses. Horus d' Or Ânkhmessout. The Egypt Kheperkarê and Haute King Low, endowed with life like Re. The Son of Re gifted Sésostris of any life, any capacity, any stability and any health, living eternally.


It is quite difficult to date with precision the beginnings from the Pharaonic history, so much testimonys of this period are very few and merge with the paddle of the History (and thus of the writing). The Egyptian tradition made to Ménès ( Narmer in Greek) the unifier of the country (then divided into two kingdoms) and the first of the human Pharaons after the reign of the following of Horus . Archaeological testimonys, like the Pallet of Narmer, seem to confirm the unification of the country in the neighborhoods of -3100, but the Egyptologists think that the Pharaonic institution could be to him former.

The last indigenous Pharaon is Nectanébo {{II}} (- 358/-341) of. The Roman Emperors will affirm the legitimate successors of the Pharaons, but one agrees to say that the ultimate one representing Pharaonic institution itself is the last Lagide, Césarion (Ptolémée {{XV}}), the son of César and Cléopâtre.


The first chronology was established by a hellenized Egyptian priest, Manéthon, with which Ptolémée {{II}} (- 282/-246) had required to write in Greek a history of Egypt.

There remains about it of the summaries providing a list of classified kings into thirty and one dynasties, gathered Period thinite with the Low Time. Let us note that the criteria of the classification of Manéthon are not known to us, but that in any event it examined Egyptian sources, although the concept of dynasty which it uses does not correspond to that which we practice in Occident.

In the books devoted to old Egypt, one can find some inconsistencies in the dates of reigns, had primarily with the method of dating used by the former Egyptians.

The Egyptians divided the year into three seasons: Flood ( Akhet ), Germination ( Peret ) and Heat ( Shemou ), followed by five days additional or epagomenes. Each season counted four thirty days months each one. In the beginning, the beginning of Akhet coincided with the to raise heliacal of Sothis which takes place, according to the calendar Julien, on July 19th. However, since the solar year counts 365 days and six hours - and not 365 days -, this difference in six hours involved a shift growing between the calendar year and the solar year: so that the Akhet season began on several occasions in winter. In addition the Egyptians did not employ absolute dating. The events were gone back according to the years from reign to Pharaon, p. e.g. year 2, 3rd month of Akhet, 2nd day under the Majesty of king Untel.

Fortunately for us, every 1460 years, the beginning of the year civil Egyptian woman (on July 19th in the Julien calendar) coincides with the heliacal rising of Sothis, i.e. the appearance of star to the rising of the sun. This coincidence struck the Egyptians, who consigned it, in particular in + 139. This last date is used as reference mark and thus allows an absolute dating of the reigns: in year 9 of Amenhotep 1st for example, there was also civil coincidence of the beginning of the year and the heliacal rising of Sothis; year 7 thus corresponds to -1545. Nevertheless the establishment of an absolute dating constitutes a true headache for the Egyptologists: indeed, to the Average Empire, year 1 of a king corresponded to the beginning the calendar year which followed its advent; with the New Empire year 2 of the reign began 365 days after the day of the advent; and finally, at the Low Time, it began the day of the heliacal rising of Sothis following the advent, year 1 of the reign which can be thus reduced to a few days.

Obs. : - The orthography of the names is different according to whether one transliterates the hiéroglyphes or that one uses the name given by the Greeks. For example, the Pharaon Amenhotep (transcribed name of the old Egyptian) is identical to Aménophis (Greek name). Moreover, in certain names, there is an honorary anteposition of the name of the god, but the practice makes that one also preserves the name without anteposition such as known of the first Egyptologists; thus, Raneb and Nebrê are the same character, a king of.

List Pharaons

It is impossible to draw up an exact list of the kings who followed one another on the throne of Egypt during 3000 years, so much information which came from to us are fragmentary. Moreover, there exist chronological differences between the Egyptian sources, which explains why, in the lists of the sovereigns established by the Egyptologists, certain reigns overlap instead of being followed. To finish, certain turbid periods of the history left gaps in the chronology, sometimes volunteers, the Egyptians having had a design of historiography different from ours.

In spite of that, the majority of the Pharaons, and, seem it, most important in the Pharaonic history, are rather well-known for us.

The following lists are based on the Aegyptiaca of Manéthon, updated by the recent discoveries:

Legitimacy of the Pharaon

Re, the sun of the universe and the men on ground, was withdrawn towards the sky by leaving to the gods the direction of the world, then with semi-divine kings, and finally with human monarchs, the Pharaons who are his sons and representatives on ground.

What founds the legitimacy of the Pharaon, it is the divine ascent. According to the Egyptian Mythology, in the body of the Pharaon would run a divine blood coming from its ancestor, the god Horus. The Pharaonic function is thus of divine right, and it is transmitted by blood.

This is why the heir to the crown must be born Large Royal Wife. Being itself of divine ascent, it makes it possible to the future Pharaon to be, from his mother and her father, of divine origin. If it is resulting from a concubine, it marries his half-sister born of the Large royal Wife. Mythology provides examples of inceste besides, with Geb and Nout, or Osiris and Isis. In the same way, one will announce certain marriages between blood relations between Pharaon and his daughter or his daughters. Such unions are attested in particular for Akhénaton and Ramsès {{II}}. It is thus at the same time the concern of ensuring the legitimacy of the heir to the throne and the will to underline the divine nature of Pharaon who explains the royal prerogative of the inceste: because it is well of a prerogative that it acts. Indeed, it seems certain that the marriages between brother and sister are not practiced by the common run of people and that, in the civil society, the terms “brother” and “sister”, when it is about a union, must be perceived with the second degree, like terms of affection.

Male fault of heir or when the new king is still a whole young child (Thoutmôsis), the function can fall to a woman of divine blood (Nitokris, Hatchepsout, Taousert) rather than to a man who is not it; she is thus agent until the transmission to her husband, which does not mean that monarchical legitimacy rests only on the marriage with a girl of blood.

The Pharaonic lines never succeeded with perdurer; they were regularly stopped by invaders or coups d'etat. Such Pharaon whose legitimacy doubtful or was disputed could legitimate his seizure of power by making the point that she had been wanted by the divinity. The god marked his choice by a sign, an extraordinary birth (kings of, Hatchepsout of), a dream of the lucky one (Thoutmôsis {{IV}}) to the foot of Large the Sphinx, or an oracle (Horemheb, Alexandre).

After thirty years of reign, the Pharaon celebrated its first jubilee, the Fête- '' Sed '', to regenerate his forces and to show the people which it was still able to control the country.

Birth of a Pharaon

Represented on high reliefs of the temple of Deir el-Bahari, the divine birth of the future queen Hatchepsout () corresponds to a theology of the extremely important royalty that one finds later for Amenhotep {{III}} () and Ramsès {{II}} (). When Amon wishes to generate its future terrestrial heir, he addresses himself to Thot, the god of knowledge, and in fact his scout to make sure that the queen Ahmosis, wife of Thoutmôsis {{Ier}}, is worthy to carry in her center the future Pharaon. Then Amon takes the features of the current king:

Then Amon, this splendid, main god of the thrones of the Double Country, changed and took the appearance of Its Majesty, the King de Haute and of Low-Egypt Âakhéperkarê (Thoutmosis 1st), husband of the queen. It found it as she slept in the beauty of sound palais.

The divine coupling intervenes then:

After it had approached it narrowly and that it was extasiait to contemplate its splendor (nfrw.f) divine, here that the love of Amon penetrated its body. The palate was flooded perfume of the god of which all the scents were those of Pount. Words called by Amon, Master of the thrones of the Double Country: Admittedly, Khene-puts-imen-Hatchepsout (Kid of Amon, Première of the Noble Ladies) will be the name of this girl whom I placed in your body. She will exert this beneficial royalty in this entire country.

Then Amon gives to Khnoum, the divine potter, the order to model the child and his Ka. When the royal wife is confined of the future queen, it is surrounded by a Ennéade divinities, laid out in three lines of three. The child is introduced to Amon which promises the terrestrial royalty to him; he entrusts breast feeding of it to Hathor, the divine nurse.

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