Ptolemy of Mauretania

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Ptolemy of Mauretania (Greek: Πτολεμαῖος, Latin: Ptolemaeus, 1 BC-40) was a prince and the last Roman Client King of Mauretania.


Family and early life

Ptolemy was the son of King Juba II and Queen Cleopatra Selene II of Mauretania. He had a younger sister called Drusilla of Mauretania.[1] His father Juba II was the son of King Juba I of Numidia, who was descended from the Berber people 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, Greek and Roman ancestry. Ptolemy and his sister Drusilla were the only grandchildren of Juba I of Numidia and Cleopatra VII of Egypt 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 probably born in Caesaria, the capital of the Kingdom of Mauretania (modern Cherchell, Algeria) in the Roman Empire. He was named in honor of his mother’s ancestors, in particular the Ptolemaic dynasty. He was also 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, especially in the case of a son who is 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.

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