Antony, Plutarch wrote about Cleopatra in detail and indirectly noted that her mother tongue was Macedonian: "It was a pleasure merely to hear the sound of her voice, with which, like an instrument of many strings, she could pass from one language to another; so that there were few of the barbarian nations that she answered by an interpreter; to most of them she spoke herself, as to the Ethiopians, Troglodytes, Hebrews, Arabians, Syrians, Medes, Parthians, and many others, whose language she had learnt; which was all the more surprising, because most of the kings her predecessors scarcely gave themselves the trouble to acquire the Egyptian tongue, and several of them quite abandoned the Macedonian." ("Antony" by Plutarch, translated into English by the playwright, John Dryden, who lived from 1631 until 1700. E-version of this translation can be found on:http://classics.mit. edu/Plutarch/antony.html). This account by Plutarch discusses the mother tongue of the Ptolemies, i.e. the Macedonian language. Clearly, Plutarch believed that, some of the Ptolemies, perhaps for political reasons, neglected the Macedonian language in deference to speaking the local language. Since, Plutarch does not say that this was the case with Cleopatra, we may infer that she retained her mother tongue. Plutarch provides us with other accounts about the distinctiveness of the Macedonian language. Sometime around 76 CE, Plutarch, referencing some older works, wrote a biography of Alexander the Great of Macedon in which he describes (head 53), an argument between Alexander the Great and his friend: "Alexander... breaking from them, he called out aloud to his guards in the Macedonian language, which was a certain sign of some great disturbance in him." (Plutarch: â€œAlexander the Greatâ€?, Macedonian translation, Skopje 1994). This account refers to an incident when Alexander thought that his friend Cleitus, with whom he had argued while drunk, posed a danger to his life. At one point, Alexander thought that Cleitus, would attack him, so he summoned his guards (shield-
Published on Mar 5, 2013
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