The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene: Royal Scholarship on Rome's African Frontier

The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene: Royal Scholarship on Rome's African Frontier

The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene: Royal Scholarship on Rome's African Frontier

The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene: Royal Scholarship on Rome's African Frontier

Synopsis

This book explores the complex culture and legacy of the north African kingdom of Mauretania, ruled by the scholarly client king Juba II and his wife Kleopatra, daughter of Mark Anthony and Kleopatra VII. This detailed and comprehensive study is not only the first examination in English of Juba's life and career, but the first critical analysis of the king both as an implementer of the Augustan political, artistic and intellectual programme and as a notable scholar.

Excerpt

Juba II (48BC-AD23/24) ruled Mauretania - northwestern Africa - as a Roman client king for half a century, from 25BC until his death. Moreover, he was a notable scholar, a product of the intellectual flourishing of the Augustan world. His extensive literary output exists today only in fragments, but is the basis of modern understanding of the ancient comprehen-sion of the southern half of the known world, the vast stretch from the Atlantic coast of northwest Africa to India. Juba was not alone as a scholarly king but was the exemplar of that unusual blend of talents, and was called in antiquity “rex literatissimus. ” His scholarship was found significant by successors as diverse as Pliny, Plutarch, and Athenaios.

An essential, yet enigmatic, part of Juba’s environment is the personality of his wife, Kleopatra Selene (40-ca. 5BC), the daughter of Marcus Antonius and Kleopatra VII. As queen of Mauretania (and also titular queen of the Kyrenaika) she played a crucial role at the royal court; as heiress of the Ptolemies she brought not only stature but a rich cultural inheritance that was to be a major influence on Juba’s research. Yet because of the deficiency of source material and her early death she is often hard to see, although her presence was profound.

Juba was rescued by Julius Caesar from the ruins of his father’s kingdom of Numidia and was raised in Rome in the Augustan household. He was then sent with Kleopatra Selene to uphold Roman interests in Mauretania, an outstanding example of the Augustan phenomenon of the client king, more properly the “rex socius amicusque, ” the friendly and allied king, the sympathetic monarch at the fringes of the empire who could be relied upon to uphold Roman interests, both culturally and politically. Less controver-sial than his more famous colleague Herod the Great, Juba in his reign brought a flourishing intellectual climate, and above all peace and prosperity, to his territories.

Yet this learned monarch is often remembered today merely as the son-in-law of Marcus Antonius and Kleopatra VII, and as such merely a footnote to history. There has been no extensive study of Juba II, Kleopatra Selene, and their world since French efforts at the time of the First World War.

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