Ancient polyglots-Cleopatra


Did you know that the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra was a polyglot?

Queen Cleopatra VII Philopator-Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt
Reign 51–30 BC
Origin-Greek
languages- Greek,Egyptian,Kushitic (Ethiopian),Arabian,Aramaic,Troglodyte,Parthian.It is said that she had difficulty speaking Latin,though.



According to Plutarch Egyptian queen Cleopatra had a flair for languages and she was a polyglot.She spoke many languages along with Greek-her mother tongue.

She even spoke the language of the Troglodytes (οἱ τρωγλοδύται) -the cave dwellers,literally the cave 'divers' in Ancient Greek.


Herodot wrote that their language was unique and sounded like no other:
τετρίγασι κατά περ αἱ νυκτερίδες 
They spoke like bats!
Plutarch praises her sweet voice and the easines with which she could switch from one language to another.It is mentioned that she rarely used an interpreter.


Plutarch on Cleopatra being a polyglot:
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, Assyrians, 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.

Nevertheless,most of the languages that Cleopatra spoke were related to each other-they were Afroasiatic with the exception of Parthian and Greek of course.

Still speaking many languages- even related ones-with ease is no easy feat.


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