Ptolemy of Mauretania

Ptolemy of Mauretania was the last Roman client king and ruler of Mauretania for Rome. He was a member of the Berber Massyles tribe of Numidia. Ptolemy was the son of King Juba Queen Cleopatra Selene II of Mauretania, his birth date is not known, but must have occurred before his mother's death, estimated to have taken place in 5 BC. He had a sister, evidenced by an Athenian inscription, but her name has not been preserved, she may have been called Drusilla of Mauretania. His father Juba II was the son of King Juba I of Numidia, descended from the Berbers of North Africa and was an ally to the Roman Triumvir Pompey, his mother Cleopatra Selene II was the daughter of the Ptolemaic Greek Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the Roman Triumvir Mark Antony. Ptolemy was of Berber and Roman ancestry. Ptolemy and his sister were the only known children of Juba II and Cleopatra Selene II to reach maturity and were among the younger grandchildren to Mark Antony. Through his maternal grandfather, Ptolemy was distantly related to Julius Caesar and the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

Ptolemy was a first cousin to Germanicus and the Roman Emperor Claudius and a second cousin to the Emperor Caligula, the Empress Agrippina the Younger, the Empress Valeria Messalina and the Emperor Nero. Ptolemy was most born in Caesaria, the capital of the Kingdom of Mauretania in the Roman Empire, he was named in particular the Ptolemaic dynasty. He was named in honor of the memory of Cleopatra VII, the birthplace of his mother and the birthplace of her relatives. In choosing her son's name, Cleopatra Selene II created a distinct Greek-Egyptian tone and emphasized her role as the monarch who would continue the Ptolemaic dynasty, she by-passed the ancestral names of her husband. By naming her son Ptolemy instead of a Berber ancestral name, she offers an example rare in ancient history in the case of a son, the primary male heir, of reaching into the mother's family instead of the father's for a name; this emphasized the idea that his mother was the heiress of the Ptolemies and the leader of a Ptolemaic government in exile.

Through his parents, Ptolemy had Roman citizenship and they sent him to Rome to be educated. His mother died in 5 BC and was placed in the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania, built by his parents. In Rome, Ptolemy received a good Roman education, he was part of the remarkable court of his maternal aunt Antonia Minor, an influential aristocrat who presided over a circle of various princes and princesses which assisted in the political preservation of the Roman Empire's borders and affairs of the client states. Antonia Minor, the youngest daughter of Mark Antony and the youngest niece of Emperor Augustus, was a half-sister of Ptolemy's late mother a daughter of Mark Antony. Antonia Minor's mother was Octavia Minor, Mark Antony's fourth wife and the second sister of Octavian. Ptolemy lived in Rome until the age of 21, when he returned to the court of his aging father in Mauretania; when Ptolemy returned to Mauretania, Juba II made Ptolemy his successor. Coinage has survived from Juba II's co-rule with his son.

On coinage, on one side there is a central bust of Juba II with his title in Latin ‘King Juba’. On the other side there is a central bust of Ptolemy and the inscription stating in Latin ‘King Ptolemy son of Juba’. Juba II died in 23 and was placed alongside Cleopatra Selene II in the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania. Ptolemy became the sole ruler of Mauretania. During his co-rule with Juba II, into his sole rule, like his father, appeared to be a patron of art, learning and sports. In Athens, statues were erected to Juba II and Ptolemy in a gymnasium in Athens, a statue was erected in Ptolemy's honor in reference to his taste in literature. Ptolemy dedicated statues of himself on the Acropolis; the Athenians honored Ptolemy and his family with inscriptions dedicated to them, this reveals that the Athenians had respect towards the Roman Client Monarchs and their families, common in the 1st century. In the year 17, the local Berber tribes, the Numidian Tacfarinas and Garamantes, started to revolt against the Kingdom of Mauretania and Rome.

The war had ravaged Africa and Berber forces included former slaves from Ptolemy's household who had joined in the revolt. Ptolemy through his military campaigns was unsuccessful in ending the Berber revolt; the war reached the point where Ptolemy summoned the Roman governor of Africa, Publius Cornelius Dolabella, his army to assist Ptolemy in ending the revolt. The war ended in 24. Although Ptolemy's army and the Romans won, both parties suffered considerable losses of infantry and cavalry; the Roman Senate, impressed by Ptolemy's loyal conduct, had sent a Roman senator to visit Ptolemy. The Roman senator recognized Ptolemy's loyal conduct and awarded him an ivory scepter, an embroidered triumphal robe, the senator greeted Ptolemy as king and friend; this recognition was a tradition which rewarded the allies of Rome. Ptolemy, through his military campaigns, had proven his capability and loyalty as an ally and Client King to Rome, he was a popular monarch with the Berbers and had travelled extensively throughout the Roman Empire, including Alexandria and Ostia, Italy.

In Caesaria, prayers were offered for the health of Ptolemy at the Temple of Saturn frugifer dues. Mauretania was a region, abundant in agriculture and a god considered equivalent to Saturn was the god of agriculture; this cult was an important one in t

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