aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Plutarch, Life of Alexander 27.9

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A slip of the tongue by the prophet of the Egyptian god Ammon reveals Alexander the Great’s descent from Zeus!

ἔνιοι δέ φασι τὸν μὲν προφήτην Ἑλληνιστὶ βουλόμενον προσειπεῖν μετά τινος φιλοφροσύνης “ὦ παιδίον”, ἐν τῷ τελευταίῳ τῶν φθόγγων ὑπὸ βαρβαρισμοῦ πρὸς τὸ σίγμ’ ἐξενεχθῆναι καὶ εἰπεῖν “ὦ παιδίος,” ἀντὶ τοῦ νῦ τῷ σίγμα χρησάμενον, ἀσμένῳ δὲ τῷ Ἀλεξάνδρῳ τὸ σφάλμα τῆς φωνῆς γενέσθαι, καὶ διαδοθῆναι λόγον ὡς παῖδα Διὸς αὐτὸν τοῦ θεοῦ προσειπόντος.

Some say that the prophet wished to address him ‘O son’ [o paidion] in Greek to be friendly, but at the end of words because of his foreign accent he pronounced a sigma and said ‘O sonzs’ [o paidios], using an S instead of an N. This fault in pronunciation pleased Alexander, and the story got around that the god had addressed him as the ‘son of Zeus’ [i.e., o pai Dios].

Written by aleatorclassicus

November 19, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Plutarch

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