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Fyrom fashionable Nonsense #1 - Greek was Lingua Franca prior to Alexander's Era

Fyrom fashionable Nonsense #1 - Greek was Lingua Franca prior to Alexander's Era

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Evidence from ancient sources proving that the Greek language was not the Lingua Franca of Meriterannean world prior to Alexander's era.
Evidence from ancient sources proving that the Greek language was not the Lingua Franca of Meriterannean world prior to Alexander's era.

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Published by: History-of-Macedonia.com on Jan 03, 2010
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01/17/2010

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Exposing FYROM’s Fashionable Nonsense #1: “Greek was the lingua francabefore Alexander the Great’s era like English is today”
 E
rroneous Claim: “Greek was the lingua franca before Alexander the Great’sera, like English is today”
 The above is a widely-used false claim promoted mainly by FYROM’s propaganda.The status of lingua franca, especially during the
Achaemenid period (539-333)
 through the vast Persian empire[1]and the Mediteranean world had the
Aramaiclanguage
.[2] Greek was not the lingua franca during the reign of Philip II. In fact, it acquired thisstatus later, solely
 
because of the conquests of Alexander
and through the numerouscolonies he founded that dispersed the Greek culture and language, around the worldof Eastern Mediterranean. In fact, after Alexander, despite the wide adoption of Greek, native languages survived and thrived and Hellenistic kingdoms erectedmultiple multilingual inscriptions.Interpreters were undoubtedly used in numerous instances without being mentionedby ancient sources. We have to percieve the notion that as a rule, an historian isconcerned with events, their possible causes and effects, while they tend to overlook certain details being usually perceived as minor. Therefore for an historian, the ideasexpressed in a speech are more important than the language(s) they are being utteredand certainly the means by which differences of language have to overcome[3] A careful examination of the available ancient sources drives us to conclude that theGreek language was unknown to most of the places, Alexander the Great conqueredthrough his
Pan-hellenic expedition in Asia
.
Persians
 Xenophon in his works refers frequently to the use of interpreters between Greeks andPersians. When Epyaxa visited Cyrus the younger, the Persian leader wished to showher his Greek mercenaries. The order of Cyrus to his Greek mercenaries since as aPersian did not speak Greek, was given through an interpreter(Anab. 1.2.17): 
[..]and sending
  his interpreter Pigres
to the generals of the Greeks, gave orders that the troops should advance arms and the phalanx move forward in a body.
 A little later, another interpreter is used by Cyrus(Anab. 1.4.16)to give a message tothe Greek troops:
 
 
When Cyrus learned that they had crossed, he was delighted and 
 sent Glus to the troops with this message:
“Soldiers, to-day I commend you; but I shall see to it that  you also shall have cause to commend me, else count me no longer Cyrus.”
 In(Anab. 1.8.12),before the battle of Cunaxa, the Persian Cyrus is accompanied byhis Interpreter Pigres
“[...]Cyrus rode along the line, attended only by Pigres,
 his interpreter
 
 ,[..]“
 The problem of communication between Persians and Greeks is highlighted onceagain in (Anab. 2.3.17)where the Persian Satrap Tissaphernis meets the Greek  generals:
When the Greek generals met them, 
Tissaphernes, through an interpreter
 
 , began thespeaking with the following words[..]
 Later we find Xenophon wishing to request from the Carduchians to give back thebodies of the Greek dead. Although Carduchians spoke Persian, there was no way tocommunicate with eachother without an interpreter.(Anab. 4.218) 
this achievement the barbarians came to a hill opposite the round hill, and 
 Xenophon, through an interpreter
 
 , held a colloquy with them in regard to a truceand asked them to give back the bodies of the Greek dead.
 We are becoming witnesses of the same story when the Greek army passes WesternArmenia. Tribazus, the governor of the area, is forced to send an interpreter to theGreeks:
 He rode up to the Greeks with a body of horsemen, and 
 sending forward aninterpreter
 
 , said that he wished to confer with their commanders.
 During
Alexander’s Pan-Hellenic expedition in Asia
, we find more instances whereit becomes explicit Persians could not understand the Greek language.
Quintus Curtius Rufus
(5.11.1)describes the incident with Patron, the commanderof the Greeks in Darius’ Service. Patron draw near the Persian king in order to talk and the Persian Bessus was afraid that his plan of assassinating Darius was going tobe exposed by Patron. Since Bessus, as a Persian, knew no Greek, hence he used aninterpreter to learn what was being said in the conversation of Patron with the King.Note here that Darius appears to be from the rare cases of Persian noblemen, beingable to converse in Greek.Alexander also had Persian troops in his service and had to address them by means of an interpreter(Curtius 10.3.5-6).The man spoke Persian to the soldiers, as theycouldnt speak Greek.
Mardians
 
 
Mardians spoke a Persian dialect and they were the ones who had stolen Alexander’shorse, Bukephalas, during his invasion in their lands. Alexander angered by thisincident, had an interpreter(Curtius 6.5.19;
Diodorus
17.76)that if the Mardians didnot restore the charger, not one of them would remain alive.
Sogdians
 Ancient sources mention Alexander’s use of interpreters in Sogdiana, since Sogdianscould not understand the Greek language. When 30 Sogdians nobles were captured byMacedonians and led before the king, they were informed in their own language(Curt. 7.10.ff)that they were condemned to death.In the aftermath of the news that Spitamenes was besieging the Macedonians inMaracanda, in Sogdiana, we are informed that Alexander used Pharnuches, aLycian, as an interpreter.(
Arrian
Anab. 4.3) 
Mossynoecians
 Mossynoecians could not communicate in Greek either. (Anab. 5.4.5)
and Xenophon spoke as follows,
Timesitheus acting as interpreter:
“Mossynoecians,we desire to make our way to Greece in safety by land, for we have no ships;
 
Indians
 Indians could not communicate in Greek as it is confirmed by ancient sources.A revealing incident is recorded(Curt. 8.12.9)between the Indian Hephaestion andAlexander. The Indian wished to surrender his forces but Alexander thought he cameas an enemy and ordered his troops to be ready for battle. An interpreter between theIndian Ruler and Alexander was needed to setle thingsout.Interpreters were used in Alexander’s dealings with the Hindu Philosophers. At thesight of Alexander and his Greek army, they stamp their feet on the earth. They wereasked through an interpreter(Arrian Anab. 7.1)what their actions meant.Interpreters are recorded also byStrabo (15.1.64)to translate the speeches of thosespeaking among the wise men of India.Nearchus Macedonian soldiers, after a tiring expedition and hard labours, burst intotears at the sight of a man dressed in Greek clothes and speaking Greek like them(Arrian Indica, 33), in a place where the Greek language was unknown.
Armenians
 In Armenia we get more examples of the Greek language being unintelligible to thenatives. A conversation between the Greek Cheirisophos and the native Armeniangirls who were drawing water outside the city walls, could not take place in Greek asthe Armenians could not understand Greek, but in Persian only through an interpreter.

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