Role in Classical Mythology
In Roman mythology, Iarbas or Hiarbas was the son of Jupiter Hammon (Hammon was a North African god associated by the Romans with Jupiter, and known for his oracle) and a Garamantian nymph. He became the king of Gaetulia. According to Virgil's Aeneid, he fell in love with the Carthaginian queen Dido, who rejected his advances in favour of Aeneas.
Variations of the story were referred to by Ovid. In Ovid's Heroides, Dido describes Iarbas as one of her suitors, to whom Aeneas would be handing her over as a captive if he should leave her. In Ovid's Fasti, Iarbas and the Numidians invade Dido's land after her suicide, resulting in his capturing her palace.
Appearances in Later Literature
Iarbas is also a character in Christopher Marlowe's play Dido, Queen of Carthage.
There was also a historical king of Numidia called Hiarbas who reigned from 84-82 BC. He was captured in battle by Pompey the Great. As all sources of the myth are from after this event, it is possible that the mythological Iarbas got his name from the historical figure.