previous | next

Anaximenes was the first to calculate accurately the size of the universe. Whereas Nepenthe, daughter of the mathematician Ptarchus, devised the constant for the weight of the sky. Her cousin Mystra proved the different weight of varying dreams. Mystra was the first to show conclusively that dreams of water are far heavier than dreams of fire. When all these great and learned calculations were presented to Sarsus the third, King of Kings and ruler of all Parthia, he remained unimpressed. After all he was a man who for the first twenty five years of his life had lived in total seclusion, speaking only the language of spells and unaware that any other languages existed. To utter a word, for him, was to make that thing happen. He had difficulty understanding the idea of a language that merely reported what was – for him all words were there to bring things into being.

(Zenobia, The Chronicles of Parthia and Palmyra)

Know then of the three great languages. Beyond the Indus developed the language uniquely capable of expressing philosophical speculation and matched to the knotted and intricately curved play of reality. In Greece the true language of poetry arose with its fusion of beauty, power and the precise contours of human endurance. And in the lands of upper Egypt and greater Parthia was born the delicate and terrifying language of magic, the language that brings about whatever is desired to happen. Whilst the languages of Greece and India remain among us and have been well recorded, the language of the Magi and the Invisible Ones never travelled across borders. It was a speech that did not survive because it did not want to survive. Yet numerous are its fragments. It speaks itself in dreams and in water. It translates stars and rivers into birdsong. Once its spells raised cities, united lovers and gave youth back to the dying. But it became a confusion on the road of warriors. It feared the powerful and warlike – so it left earth.

(Macrobius, Of the Eastern Kingdoms)

Macrobius was wrong in supposing that the language of magic disappeared. Coptic as spoken in Egypt is one of its dialects that degenerated into the acceptance of everyday life. It is also a common second speech among the Scythians, Dacians and the peoples of the great desert of Fars.

(Evander, On the folly of contemporary wisdom)