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

By Duane W. Roller | Go to book overview

7

REX LITERATISSIMUS

Within half a century of Juba’s death his scholarly renown was apparent. Pliny wrote that he was “more remembered for the quality of his scholarship even than for his reign, ” 1 and Plutarch that “he came to be numbered as one of the most polymathic Greek scholars” and “the most learned of all kings. ” 2 Pliny so valued his erudition that he believed an apparent error in one of his works was the fault of copyists. 3 Even the Christian scholar Tertullian felt that Juba was one of the great pre-Christian men of learning. 4 He was compared with the famous Didymos Chalkenteros, the first century BC Alexandrian noted for his prolific erudition, 5 and was honored in the academic milieu of the Gymnasion of Ptolemaios in Athens alongside Chrysippos of Soloi, the noted Stoic philosopher of the latter third century BC. 6 At Gades in Spain, which had made Juba duovir, an inscription honored his learning. 7 The idea of a literary king was intriguing in antiquity - “rex literatissimus, ” he was called 8 - although scholarship among kings was not unusual. Archelaos of Kappadokia, Juba’s sometime father-in-law and host, wrote on natural history and the regions visited by Alexander the Great, and was a source for Pliny and perhaps Juba. 9 Artavasdes II of Armenia was a tragedian and historian of note before he fatally tangled with Antonius and

1 NH 5.16: “studiorum claritate memorabilior etiam quam regno. ” On Juba’s scholarship generally, see Stéphane Gsell, “Juba II, savant et écrivain, ” RAfr 68, 1927, 169-97.

2 Plutarch, Caesar 55.2:

and Sertorius 9.5:

3 NH 6.170.

4 Tertullian, Apologeticus 19.6.

5 Souda,

On Didymos, see Rudolf Pfeiffer, History of Classical Scholarship from the Beginnings to the End of the Hellenistic Age (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), pp. 274-9.

6 Pausanias 1.17.2.

7 Avienus, Ora maritima 275-83, and supra, pp. 156-7.

8 The phrase appears only in the Liber memorialis (38.1.2) of Lucius Ampelius, dedicated to a certain Macrinus, perhaps the emperor of AD217-18, who was a native of Mauretania. But it seems proverbial and must have been long in use, perhaps a Latin version of Plutarch’s less epigrammatic statement in the Sertorius (9.5).

9 FGrHist #123; NH 37.46, 95, 104, 107; Solinus 52.19; infra, pp. 219-20.

-163-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Juba’s Numidian Ancestry 11
  • 2 - Mauretania 39
  • 3 - Juba’s Youth and Education 59
  • 4 - Kleopatra Selene 76
  • 5 - The Mauretanian Client Kingdom 91
  • 6 - The Artistic and Cultural Program of Juba and Kleopatra Selene 119
  • 7 - Rex Literatissimus 163
  • 8 - Libyka 183
  • 9 - The Eastern Expedition with Gaius Caesar 212
  • 10 - On Arabia 227
  • 11 - The Mauretanian Dynasty 244
  • Epilogue 257
  • Appendix 1 261
  • Appendix 2 264
  • Appendix 3 267
  • Bibliography 276
  • List of Passages Cited 310
  • Index 319
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