This volume does not intend to outline an exhaustive picture of private portraiture in lagide Egypt, nor to resolve the innumerable questions that the subject raises, but only to attempt a preliminary set-up of the problem, as well as to advance food for thought and perspectives of research, which are amply susceptible to future, desirable insights. The chronological limits of the investigation coincide with the duration of the reign and therefore extend from 331 BC, the year of the foundation of Alexandria, to 30 BC, the year of the conquest of Egypt by Octavian. The theme is tackled from a global point of view, bringing together in the discussion the largest number of data possible, obtained both from written and monumental sources. The text is made up of four chapters which are closely complementary to each other. In the first, the passages of the ancient authors concerning portraits, sculpted and painted, which were found in Egypt, exclusively, as will be seen, in Alexandria are reported, translated and discussed. The second chapter consists of a catalog including 33 inscriptions, honorary, votive and funerary, engraved on the bases of statues, steles and slabs, of each of which the Greek text is transcribed, which is accompanied by a translation and a commentary. The collection is the result of the systematic examination of the epigraphic corpora relating to Ptolemaic Egypt and follows a geographical organization based on the origin of the epigraphs. Unless otherwise indicated, translations of literary and epigraphic texts are by the writer. The third chapter reviews some statues, mostly fragmentary, and a series of heads, most likely recognizable as portraits, which are selected in order to exemplify the different portrait typologies documented in the Lagide kingdom. In a concluding chapter we try to sum up what emerged from the partial analyses, comparing the information obtained from the examination of the written texts with what emerged from the examination of the monuments, in order to grasp the scope, the characteristics, the trends, links with local tradition and with the remaining Hellenistic world of Greek-style private portraiture in Egypt. In this phase it was decided to limit the search to evidence from Egypt, without taking into consideration the documentation relating to the territories subject to Lagide dominion or falling within the sphere of influence of the kingdom, where cities of ancient Greek foundation generally prevail, which they participate in a political, social, religious and cultural dimension radically different from that of Egypt, a country characterized by a very scarce presence of poleis and characterized by the coexistence, in a fruitful relationship now of opposition, now of osmosis, between Hellenic customs and the millenary pharaonic tradition.
Finally, a terminological clarification. As is well known, there is a lively debate on the meaning of the adjective "private" and on the legitimacy of its use in reference to terms such as portraiture, portraiture, statuary and the like. In our case, the use of the adjective in the proper sense turns out to be misleading because, since the contexts of discovery are almost never known, we do not know whether a portrait was intended for exhibition in a public or private sphere. Here the adjective is therefore used in a conventional way, in the sense of "non-regal", to designate a sculpture that represents an individual who does not belong to the royal family.