oxford greeks

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royal meme | facts [1/5]

An oft unknown fact is that Cleopatra VII ( she would have spelled it as ‘Kleopatra VII’, being a Greek name) was indeed a mostly Macedonian Greek woman with a pinch of Persian. Her dynasty, the Ptolemies, were descended from Ptolemy, right hand of Alexander the Great, and refused to intermingle with the Egyptian population, instead inter breeding and occasionally marrying Persian nobility; they set themselves up above the Egyptians and created Alexandria, a Greek center of learning. Indeed, none of the Ptolemies spoke Egyptian, until Cleopatra herself decided learn the language to further appeal to the people.

“Well she descends from one of the generals of Alexander the Great who are Greek Macedonians. So there is no question there that she comes from a line of Greeks. It gets a little bit more certain because they tend to…they intermarried. The 13 or 14 marriages in her dynasty, ten of them were brother-sister marriages. So there’s really no foreign blood whatsoever in this dynasty, they are truly Greek Macedonian to the hilt. There may have been a Persian princess who slipped in there somewhere, but otherwise you’re really talking about a woman who was as Greek in terms of ethnicity, in terms of culture, in terms of education, as you could be in that world.”

Historian Stacy Schiff

“Cleopatra VII was born to Ptolemy XII Auletes (80–57 BC, ruled 55–51 BC) and Cleopatra, both parents being Macedonian Greeks.”

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt

“For ten generations her family had styled themselves pharaohs. The Ptolemies were in fact Macedonian Greek, which makes Cleopatra approximately as Egyptian as Elizabeth Taylor. The word “honey skinned” recurs in descriptions of her relatives and would presumably applied to hers as well, despite the inexactitudes surrounding her mother and paternal grandmother. There was certainly Persian blood in the family, but even an Egyptian mistress is a rarity among the Ptolemies. She was not dark skinned.”

Cleopatra, A Life - Stacy Schiff

“Cleopatra (69- 30 BC), the Greek queen of Egypt, belonged to the Ptolemaic family, the Macedonian Greeks who ruled Egypt during the Hellenistic Age.”

Western civilization: ideas, Politics, and society by Marvin Perry, Margaret C Jacob, Myrna Chase, James R Jacob

(sourced compiled by @tiny-librarian here )

( pictured: fancast of the Greek actress Tonia Sotiropoulou as Cleopatra VII;  coin of Cleopatra; portraiture bust of Cleopatra; & a famous painting).

Obscure Gods: Komos/Comus

Komos/Comus: personification of festivities, revelry, and carousing.

A constant companion to Dionysos and Ariadne, Komos was often depicted as a winged youth, sleepy with drink, or as a satyr chasing the skirts of various nymphs. He was the spirit of the act of the revel itself. In some scenes he plays the double flute.

So prolific are his images and his spirit found in Greek pottery that he lends his name to a class of red-figure paintings. Sometimes he is chasing nymphs (most often when he is shown without Dionysos), and other times he is seen just outside the door to a wedding feast, beginning to fall asleep from drunkness.

At the Greater Dionysia and, possibly the Greater Eleusinia, he gave his name to a riotous procession involving drink and music at night. Philostratos mentions that this rite also involved gender swapping.

Academics debate whether he was understood as a God or spirit until late antiquity.

Komos lends his name to the terms komaso (Greek) and comessatores (Latinized Greek) meaning ‘behave like Komos,’. He also lends his name to a class of images on Greek vases depicting revelry.

By the 17th century, he had become a comedic grotesque for the use of theatre. In appearance he’s seems a young and sleepy boy instead of a satyr. Othertimes, he is a rotund and greedy figure in these plays. (See Ben Jonson’s plays.) Milton wrote a play about him titled Comus which has him the child of Bacchus and Circe, though this is unrelated to the God himself.

Sources:

Theoi.com
Birch, Samuel. History of Ancient Pottery, Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman by Samuel Birch, John Murray, 1873.
Corns, Thomas N. The Milton Encyclopedia, Yale, 2012.
Coronato, Rocco. Jonson Versus Bakhtin: Carnival and the Grotesque, Rodopi, 2003.
Erasmus, Desiderius. Colloquies, Vol. 1, University of Toronto, 1997.
Halperin, David M. Before Sexuality: The Cosntruction of Erotic Experience in the Ancient Greek World, Princeton, 1990.
Moormann, Eric M. and Vladimir Stissi. Shapes and Images: Studies on Attic Black Figure and Related Topics in Honour of Herman A.G. Brijder, Isd, 2009.
Murray, Oswyn and David Sacks, A Dictionary of the Ancient Greek World, Oxford, 1995.
Schlesier, Renate. A Different God? Dionysos and Ancient Polytheism, de Gruyter, 2012.

Image:
William Blake, “Comus and his Revellers,” from Milton’s Comus. 1815

machiavellianfictionist  asked:

Hello! Where can I read more about Cleopatra being Greek? It's the first time I've heard about it.

I’m both surprised and not surprised by that, since far too many people are under the (very mistaken) delusion that she was a black African woman. In any credible biography of her it should definitely talk about how she was almost entirely Macedonian Greek with a small amount of Persian. The Ptolemies considered themselves FAR superior and above the Native Egyptian population, and they didn’t intermarry with them. Most of the marriages in the dynasty were either brother/sister or niece/uncle or something similar. I can definitely recommend Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra biography for more research, she talks at length about her ancestry. Here’s a few quotes I keep saved in the meantime though:

The Ptolemies were in fact Macedonian Greek, which makes Cleopatra approximately as Egyptian as Elizabeth Taylor. The word ‘honey skinned’ recurs in descriptions of her relatives and would presumably applied to hers as well, despite the inexactitudes surrounding her mother and paternal grandmother. There was certainly Persian blood in the family, but even an Egyptian mistress is a rarity among the Ptolemies. She was not dark skinned.

Cleopatra, A Life - Stacy Schiff

“Cleopatra VII was born to Ptolemy XII Auletes (80–57 BC, ruled 55–51 BC) and Cleopatra, both parents being Macedonian Greeks.”

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt.

Well she descends from one of the generals of Alexander the Great who are Greek Macedonians. So there is no question there that she comes from a line of Greeks. It gets a little bit more certain because they tend to…they intermarried. The 13 or 14 marriages in her dynasty, ten of them were brother-sister marriages. So there’s really no foreign blood whatsoever in this dynasty, they are truly Greek Macedonian to the hilt. There may have been a Persian princess who slipped in there somewhere, but otherwise you’re really talking about a woman who was as Greek in terms of ethnicity, in terms of culture, in terms of education, as you could be in that world.

Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Stacy Schiff, On the ethnicity of Cleopatra VII

”Cleopatra (69- 30 BC), the Greek queen of Egypt, belonged to the Ptolemaic family, the Macedonian Greeks who ruled Egypt during the Hellenistic Age”.

Western civilization:ideas, Politics, and society by Marvin Perry, Margaret C Jacob, Myrna Chase, James R Jacob