Thursday, August 30, 2018


THE WORLD IS FULL OF HISTORY: Queen Cleopatra: Did You Know These Things About Her? (NJIDEKA AGBO, The Guardian, Nigeria). I've been reading a lot of Plutarch recently, so this story caught my eye. The list of things about Cleopatra is basically accurate. The one of greatest interest to PaleoJudaica readers is:
4. She was quick to learn languages and had in her vocabulary Ethiopian, Troglodyte, Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Syriac, Median, Parthian, Latin and Koine Greek. She is credited as the first ruler with a different heritage to learn the Egyptian language.
That's right, Cleopatra was of the Ptolemaic dynasty and does not herself seem to have had any Egyptian blood.

"Troglodyte" should be "Trogodyte," a coastal Egyptian language. And Syriac is anachronistic. She spoke "Syrian" according to Plutarch, which would have been Aramaic. But Syriac was not yet a thing in her time.

I covered all this in a post from a decade ago, but no harm repeating it now.

There was doubt in antiquity whether Caesarion was actually Caesar's son. Such things were very hard to verify in the days before genetic testing.

Also, this article seems to imply that Cleopatra's death day is today, 30 August. It is usually understood that she died on the 10th or the 12th of August (in 30 B.C.E.). But these are inferences. No ancient author actually gives a date.

Plutarch repeats the story of her asp-suicide. But he is skeptical of it. And there were other explanations of how she did it. All we really know is that after Mark Antony's death, while she was Octavian's prisoner, she managed to kill herself. But the asp story is vivid and is what people remember.

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