The pampas of ennui

Being Leonardo Boiko's online Journal, featuring Long & Very Sporadic Essays on any Subject.

Cleopatra’s languages

11 March 2012

There was pleasure in the very sound of her voice. Like a many-stringed instrument, she turned her tongue easily to whatever dialect she would, and few indeed were the foreigners with whom she conversed through an interpreter, since she answered most of them in her own words, whether Ethiopian, Trogodyte, Hebrew, Arab, Syriac, Median or Parthian. The kings before her had not even had the patience to acquire Egyptian [then a dying language], and some had even been lacking in their Macedonian.

Plutarch, Antony, xvii.4–5; via Ostler, Empires of the Word, p. 131. Plutarch also says she spoke many other languages, presumably including things like Libyan, Latin and Greek.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *