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Portrait of Juba II, Louvre Museum

Juba II (Yuba in Berber, Iuba in Latin; Ιóβας (Ιóβα) or Ιουβας in Greek)[1] or Juba II of Numidia (52 BC/50 BC-23) was a king of Numidia and then later moved to Mauretania. His first wife was Cleopatra Selene II, the last Ptolemaic Monarch and daughter to Greek Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Roman triumvir Mark Antony.


Early life

Juba II was the only child and heir to King Juba I of Numidia. His mother is unknown. In 46 BC, his father committed suicide as he was defeated by Julius Caesar (in Thapsus, North Africa) and Numidia became a Roman Province.[1] His father was an ally to the Roman General Pompey. Juba II claimed to be a descendant to the sister of General Hannibal (Scol. Lucan, Pharsalia 8.287).

Juba II was brought to Rome by Julius Caesar and took part in Caesar’s triumphal procession. In Rome, he learned Latin and Greek, became romanized and was granted Roman citizenship.[1] 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.[1] He was raised by Julius Caesar and later by his great-nephew Octavius (future Emperor Caesar Augustus). Juba II while growing up, accompanied Octavius on military campaigns, gaining valuable experience as a leader. He fought alongside Octavius in the battle of Actium in 31 BC. Throughout the years, Juba II and Octavius became lifelong friends.

Restored to the Throne

Coin of Juba II.

Augustus restored Juba II as the king of Numidia between 29 BC-27 BC. Juba II established Numidia as an ally of Rome. Juba II would become one of the most loyal client kings that served Rome. Between 26 BC-20 BC, Augustus arranged for him to marry Cleopatra Selene II, giving her a large dowry and appointing her queen. Juba II and Cleopatra did not enjoy a long rule over Numidia. It was probably due to his services with Augustus in a campaign in Spain that led Augustus to make him King of Mauretania.[2]


When they moved to Mauretania, they renamed their new capital to Caesaria (modern Cherchell, Algeria). The city was named in honor of Augustus. The construction and sculpture projects at Caesaria and another city Volubilis, display a rich mixture of Egyptian, Greek and Roman architectural styles.

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 traded all over 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.[3] Tingis, 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) Spain, Juba II was appointed by Augustus as an honorary Duovir. A Duovir was a chief magistrate of a Roman colony or town, most probably involving with trade and was also a Patronus Colonaie.

The value and quality of Mauretanian coins became distinguished. The Greek historian Plutarch describes him as 'one of the most gifted rulers of his time'. Between 2 BC-2, he travelled with Gaius Caesar (a grandson of Augustus), as a member of his advisory staff to the troubled Eastern Mediterranean. In 21, Juba II made his son Ptolemy co-ruler and Juba II died in 23. Juba II was buried alongside his first wife in the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania. Ptolemy then became the sole ruler of Mauretania.

Marriages and Children


Juba II wrote a number of books in Greek and Latin on history, natural history, geography, grammar, painting and theatre. His guide to Arabia became a bestseller in Rome. Only fragments of his work survived. 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 recognition of his writings. His writings are published and translated in Roller: Scholarly Kings (Chicago 2004).


Natural history

According to Pliny the Younger, Juba II sent an expedition to the Canary Islands and Madeira.[4] Juba II had given the Canary Islands that name because he found particularly ferocious dogs (canarius - from canis - meaning of the dogs in latin) on the island.

He is also known to have written a book about a Canarian spurge which he named Euphorbia after his personal physician. It was later called Euphorbia regis-jubae (‘King Juba's euphorbia’) in his honor (it is now Euphorbia obtusifolia ssp. regis-jubae). The palm tree genus Jubaea was also named after him.


  1. ^ a b c d Roller, Duane W. (2003) The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene "Routledge (UK)". p. 1-3. ISBN 0-415-30596-9.
  2. ^ Roller, Duane W. (2003) The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene Routledge (UK)ISBN 0-415-30596-9 p. 74
  3. ^ C.Michael Hogan, Mogador: Promontory Fort, The Megalithic Portal, ed Andy Burnham, November 2, 2007 [1]
  4. ^ O'Brien, Sally and Sarah Andrews. (2004) Lonely Planet Canary Islands "Lonely Planet". p. 59. ISBN 1-74059-374-X.


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