Most personal names in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt were derived from an Egyptian origin, although Greek names were very common as well. The Egyptian names, which often form complete phrases or sentences in the ancient language, can appear long and unwieldy to modern readers, and their alternative Greek forms are customarily preferred by scholars. Some equivalents are straightforward—such as versions of the name ‘Harpocrates’ derived from the Egyptian Hor-pa-khered, literally ‘Horus the child’—while others are less obvious, such as the female name ‘Sennesis’ derived from the Egyptian Ta-sheryt-en-Isis, literally ‘The daughter of Isis’. I have generally used the Greek versions of names (following the Dem. Nb.), but when doing so I have tried to indicate or discuss their Egyptian origin.
Place names in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt also refiect the layering of Egyptian, Greek, and later Coptic and Arabic terminology on the country’s landscape. I have used the place names that most commonly appear in Egyptological literature, while pointing out the ancient and modern alternatives as appropriate. Spellings conform to J. Baines and J. Malek, Cultural Atlas of Ancient Egypt, 2nd rev. edn. (New York 2000).
The transliteration of both hieroglyphic and Demotic Egyptian is another area in which different systems coexist. I have retained authors’ preferred transliteration systems when quoting their editions of ancient texts, since the transliteration is an integral part of the translator’s work. My own translations follow the ‘traditional’ transliteration system; compare J. P. Allen, Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs (Cambridge 2000), 14–15, 38.