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Juba II

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Juba II
Juba II
Portrait bust of Juba II, Louvre Museum
King of Numidia
Reign30 BC – 25 BC (5 years)
PredecessorJuba I
SuccessorAnnexed to the Roman Republic/Empire
King of Mauretania
Reign25 BC – AD 23 (47 years)
PredecessorBocchus II
SuccessorPtolemy of Mauretania
SpouseCleopatra Selene II
Glaphyra of Cappadocia
IssuePtolemy of Mauretania
Latin: Gaius Iulius Iuba
FatherJuba I

Juba II or Juba of Mauretania (Latin: Gaius Iulius Iuba;[1] Ancient Greek: Ἰóβας, Ἰóβα or Ἰούβας;[2] c. 48 BC – AD 23) was the son of Juba I and client king of Numidia (30–25 BC) and Mauretania (25 BC – AD 23). Aside from his very successful reign, he was a highly respected scholar and author. His first wife was Cleopatra Selene II, daughter of Queen Cleopatra VII of Ptolemaic Egypt and Roman Triumvir Mark Antony.



Early life and education


Juba II was a Berber prince from Numidia. He was the only child and heir of King Juba I of Numidia; his mother's identity is unknown, though Juba II claimed to be a descendant of General Hannibal (Scol. Lucan, Pharsalia 8.287). In 46 BC, his father was defeated by Julius Caesar (in Thapsus, North Africa), and in 40 BC Numidia became a Roman province.[2] His father had been an ally of the Roman General Pompey.

Several modern scholars cite his age at Caesar's triumph in 46 BC as four or six giving rises to the typically cited birth year range of 52–50 BC, which his biographer, Duane Roller, believes is incorrect. Roller instead places his birth in early 48 BC because the Greek term brephos was used for him which means infant. The word for a child of age 4 to 6 is pais which was not used for him in the ancient sources. Therefore, Roller places his age in the triumph at anywhere from 2 months to 2 years, which actually indicates a birth year range between 48 and 46 BC.[3]

Juba II was brought to Rome by Julius Caesar and he took part in Caesar's triumphal procession.[citation needed] In Rome he learned the Latin and Greek, became romanized and was granted Roman citizenship.[2] Through dedication to his studies, he is said to have become one of Rome's best educated citizens, and by age 20 he wrote one of his first works entitled Roman Archaeology.[2]

He was raised by Julius Caesar and later by his great-nephew Octavian (future Emperor Augustus). While growing up, Juba II accompanied Octavian on military campaigns, gaining valuable experience as a leader. He fought alongside Octavian in the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.

Restoration to the Numidian throne


In 30 BC, Octavian restored Juba II as king of Numidia.[4][5] Juba II established Numidia as an ally of Rome. Probably as a result of his services to Augustus in a campaign in Hispania, between 26 BC and 20 BC the Emperor arranged for him to marry Cleopatra Selene II, giving her a large dowry and appointing her queen.[6] His kingdom replaced the province of Africa Nova which included territories of both Eastern Numidia and Western Numidia. This kingdom of Numidia (except the territory of Western Numidia) was in 25 BC directly annexed to the Roman Empire as the part of the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis and Juba II received Mauretania as his kingdom, enlarged by territory of Western Numidia.[4]

Reign in Mauretania


According to Strabo, upon the death of the Mauretanian king Bocchus II, who was an ally of the Romans, his kingdom was briefly governed directly by Rome (33 BC - 25 BC), then in 25 BC Juba II received it from Augustus.[7] When Juba II and Cleopatra Selene moved to Mauretania, they named their new capital Caesaria (modern Cherchell, Algeria), in honour of Augustus. The construction and sculpture projects at Caesaria and another city, Volubilis, display a rich mixture of Egyptian, Greek and Roman architectural styles.

The tomb of Juba II and his wife in Tipaza, Algeria

Cleopatra is said to have exerted considerable influence on Juba II's policies. Juba II encouraged and supported the performing arts, research of the sciences and research of natural history. Juba II also supported Mauretanian trade. The Kingdom of Mauretania was of great importance to the Roman Empire. Mauretania engaged in trade all across the Mediterranean, particularly with Spain and Italy. Mauretania exported fish, grapes, pearls, figs, grain, wooden furniture and purple dye harvested from certain shellfish, which was used in the manufacture of purple stripes for senatorial robes. Juba II sent a contingent to Iles Purpuraires to re-establish the ancient Phoenician dye manufacturing process.[8] Tingis (modern Tangier), a town at the Pillars of Hercules (modern Strait of Gibraltar) became a major trade centre. In Gades, (modern Cádiz) and Carthago Nova (modern Cartagena) in Spain, Juba II was appointed by Augustus as an honorary Duovir (a chief magistrate of a Roman colony or town).[9]

The value and quality of the Mauretanian coinage became highly regarded. The Greek historian Plutarch describes him as 'one of the most gifted rulers of his time'. Between 2 BC and AD 2, he travelled with Gaius Caesar (a grandson of Augustus), as an advisor to the Eastern Mediterranean. In AD 21, Juba II made his son Ptolemy his co-ruler.

Juba II died in AD 23. Juba II was buried alongside his first wife in the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania. Ptolemy then became the sole ruler of Mauretania.[10]

Marriages and children

Illustration of a coin of the Numidian ruler Juba II, king of Mauretania, on the obverse, with Cleopatra Selene II on the reverse.




Coin of Juba II.

Juba wrote a number of books in Greek on history, natural history, geography, grammar, painting and theatre. He compiled a comparison of Greek and Roman institutions known as Όμοιότητες (Resemblances).[12] His guide to Arabia became a bestseller in Rome. Only fragments of his works survive. He collected a substantial library on a wide variety of topics, which no doubt complemented his own prolific output. Pliny the Elder refers to him as an authority 65 times in the Natural History and in Athens, a monument was built in the Gymnasium of Ptolemy in recognition of his writings.[13][14]

Ten works by Juba II have provisionally been identified, but all are fragmentary:

  • Roman Archaeology, in two books[15]
  • Resemblances, in at least fifteen books[15]
  • On Painting, in at least eight books[15]
  • Theatrical History, in at least seventeen books[15]
  • The Wanderings of Hanno, possibly a translation of the periplus of Hanno the Navigator[15]
  • On Euphorbion, a pamphlet[15]
  • Libyka, in at least three books[15]
  • On Arabia, which is the only work by Juba that may have been in Latin[16]
  • On Assyria, in two books[15]
  • Epigrams, of which six lines of one quoted by Athenaeus are all that survives[15]

Juba's works survive only in quotations or citations by others, in both Greek and Latin. There are around 100 of these, about half in Pliny the Elder's Natural History.[16] Others can be found in Athenaeus, Plutarch, Claudius Aelianus Harpokration, Dioscórides, Galen, Philostratus, Herodian, Tatian, Ammianus Marcellinus, Solinus, Hesychius of Miletus, Stephanos of Byzantium, Photios, the Etymologicum Magnum, the Geoponica and various scholia on classical authors.[15]

Juba may have written plays, but these are not quoted, and no titles are known. The supposition relies on a reading of a passage in Athenaeus. There are two late citations to Juba that seem to be spurious. Photios cites the otherwise unknown On the Deterioration of Words, while Fulgentius cites a certain Fisiologia. Both may have been epitomes of Juba's authentic works.[17]

A treaty on metrics was formerly ascribed to him, but is now generally thought to have been written by an homonym.[18]

Contributions to science


Juba II was a noted patron of the arts and sciences and sponsored several expeditions and biological research. According to Pliny the Younger, Juba II sent an expedition to the Canary Islands and Madeira.[19] He named them the Canary Islands for the particularly ferocious dogs (canarius – from canis – meaning of the dogs in Latin) the expedition found there.

Flavius Philostratus recalled one of his anecdotes: "And I have read in the discourse of Juba that elephants assist one another when they are being hunted, and that they will defend one that is exhausted, and if they can remove him out of danger, they anoint his wounds with the tears of the aloe tree, standing round him like physicians."[20]

Juba's Greek physician Euphorbus wrote that a succulent spurge found in the High Atlas was a powerful laxative.[21] In 12 BC, Juba named this plant Euphorbia after Euphorbus, in response to Augustus dedicating a statue to Antonius Musa, Augustus's own personal physician and Euphorbus's brother.[21] Botanist and taxonomist Carl Linnaeus assigned the name Euphorbia to the entire genus in the physician's honour.[22] Euphorbia was later called Euphorbia regis-jubae ("King Juba's euphorbia") to honour the king's contributions to natural history and his role in bringing the genus to notice. The palm tree genus Jubaea is also named after Juba.[23]



  1. ^ Braund, David (2014). Rome and the Friendly King: The Character of Client Kingship. Routledge Revivals. Routledge. p. 45. ISBN 9781317803010.
  2. ^ a b c d Roller, Duane W. (2003) The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene "Routledge (UK)". pp. 1–3. ISBN 0-415-30596-9.
  3. ^ Roller, Duane W. (2003) The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene, Routledge UK, p. 59. ISBN 0-415-30596-9.
  4. ^ a b Pomponius Mela; Frank E. Romer (1998). Pomponius Mela's Description of the World. University of Michigan Press. p. 43. ISBN 0-472-08452-6.
  5. ^ Michael Gagarin (2010). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Oxford University Press. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-19-517072-6.
  6. ^ Roller, Duane W. (2003) The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene Routledge (UK)ISBN 0-415-30596-9 p. 74
  7. ^ Strabo's Geography (Strab. 17.3)
  8. ^ C. Michael Hogan, ‘Mogador: Promontory Fort’, The Megalithic Portal, ed Andy Burnham, November 2, 2007.
  9. ^ "Juba II". Collections Online. British museum. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  10. ^ King, Arienne (2020-09-01). "Juba II". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  11. ^ a b Cleopatra Selene Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine by Chris Bennett
  12. ^ F Jacoby, Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, 1916, s.v.
  13. ^ Elder.), Pliny (the (1857). The Natural History of Pliny. H. G. Bohn.
  14. ^ Braund, David (2014-04-08). Rome and the Friendly King (Routledge Revivals): The Character of Client Kingship. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-80301-0.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Duane W. Roller, The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene (Routledge, 2003), pp. 61–63. ISBN 0-415-30596-9.
  16. ^ a b Duane W. Roller, The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene (Routledge, 2003), p. 165. ISBN 0-415-30596-9.
  17. ^ Duane W. Roller, The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene (Routledge, 2003), pp. 179–181. ISBN 0-415-30596-9.
  18. ^ Ippolito, Antonella. "Iubas [1]". Lexicon of Greek Grammarians of Antiquity. Brill. doi:10.1163/2451-9278_Iubas_1_II. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  19. ^ O'Brien, Sally and Sarah Andrews. (2004) Lonely Planet Canary Islands "Lonely Planet". p. 59. ISBN 1-74059-374-X.
  20. ^ Flavius Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Loeb Classical Library, Book II, Chapter XVI, translated by F.C. Conybeare
  21. ^ a b Flowering Plants of the Santa Monica Mountains, p 107, 1985, CNPS
  22. ^ Linnaeus (1753): p.450
  23. ^ "Chilean wine palm". Temperate House, Kew Gardens. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2 October 2022.

Further reading