The twin sons of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene II, were sent to Rome shortly after the deaths of their parents. Along with their youngest brother, Ptolemy Philadelphus, the children were captured by Octavian, the first Roman emperor.
The twins grew up in Alexandria, where Alexander received the title of “king of kings”. After the deaths of their parents, they were captured by Octavian and sent to Rome where they were educated by Octavia the Younger, the sister of the Roman emperor and ex-wife of Mark Antony.
It is not known for certain what happened to Alexander Helios, but Cleopatra Selene II was introduced to a learned called King Juba II of Numidia – a war orphan who had grown up in Rome – and later married him.
As a wedding gift, Octavian named the young woman the queen of Numidia. However, the couple had only reigned over the territory for a short time before the people turned against the Roman values and traditions imposed by Juba II.
Later, they moved to Mauretania, where they named the capital “Caesarea” – now Cherchell in Algeria. Through her great influence on her husband’s policy, Cleopatra Selene II contributed to the prestige of the kingdom. The couple had two children, Ptolemy of Mauretania who was executed by his own cousin and a girl whose identity is unknown.
The Mysterious End of the Brothers
It is well known that Cleopatra Selene II had a great influence on the politics of Juba II, but the story of her twin remains an enigma.
The only mention made of the boy comes from Cassius Dio who stated that, after Cleopatra Selene II’s wedding, Alexander Helios and the younger brother were spared death by Octavian as a favour to the couple.
The problem is that after Alexander Helios arrived in Rome, he mysteriously disappeared from all records of the time, which raises the hypothesis that he may have died before reaching adulthood. Cleopatra Selene II died at the age of 45, but there is no record of the cause of her death.
First photo: Respectively the busts of Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios