Julia Urania, queen of Mauretania - Alternative Data After Merges

Started by Sharon Doubell on Wednesday, August 17, 2016
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8/17/2016 at 12:14 PM

Birth Location Parthia OR Syria

Private User
8/17/2016 at 12:28 PM

"Modern historians have created two theories on the origins on the wife of Ptolemy of Mauretania. Urania may have been a mistress from the lower class. Urania was a nickname given to a favorite mistress of a harem. The nickname derived from the Muses.[5] She was probably a member of the Royal Court in Mauretania.

The other theory is that Urania could have been an Assyrian Princess from the Royal family of Emesa. The Royal family of Emesa were a Roman Syrian Client Kingdom and was at the time a leading Kingdom in the Roman East."


On Geni the idea of a daughter of a Persian King is shown, which equals to Persia, or Iran if you want to use the modern state name.

8/17/2016 at 12:55 PM

So you're happy for us to keep to Parthia?

8/18/2016 at 8:21 AM

With her ancestry in doubt, I'd like to see her disconnected from her speculative parents.

8/18/2016 at 9:41 AM

She is perhaps more important than might appear. She is one of the key "links" in the path back to the fantasy descents from antiquity.

Private User
8/18/2016 at 12:04 PM

I would prefer to rather settle for adding a temporary note "speculative" in her profiles name field, until someone can either strengthen or weaken her current set of parents.

Private User
8/18/2016 at 12:16 PM

In the same moment we actually just cut of a lot of profiles, based on weak grounds, a lot of people stops investigating upwards the linkage but as long as there´s a personal interest we increases the chances for ending up with more correct profiles, it's simple logic.

A lot of noble profiles in my own lines have in similar ways been completed, later on some of this lines have been cut off, but the work remains, a work that wouldn't have been done or been delayed.

8/18/2016 at 1:13 PM

Genealogy works just one way. If there is evidence and nothing to contradict it, we can accept the connection until more evidence emerges. If it's just someone's theory or if there is conflicting evidence, we hold off making the connection.

8/19/2016 at 8:54 AM

If this is indeed the only source we have for her - there appears to be no basis for assuming any / choosing between the proposed parents.

"Urania is only known through a funeral inscription of her Freedwoman Julia Bodina found at Cherchell, Algeria.[4] Cherchell was then known as Caesaria, the capital of the Roman Client Kingdom of Mauretania in the Roman Empire. In Bodina’s funeral inscription, Bodina ascribes Urania as Queen Julia Urania. She was ascribed as Queen as a local courtesy or probably a posthumus honor as a dedication to the memory of the former ruling monarch." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Urania

I would agree that her parents should be Unknown. Private User Harald Tveit Alvestrand Jason Scott Wills - what are your thoughts?

Private User
8/19/2016 at 9:35 AM

Sharon, as for every theory you will have to look into what lies behind their conclusions, in this case, these two completely different theories, and then decide which one to favor. To just cut off her parents and set them as unknown, seems just as an easy way out of having to think and analyze, so before we know more, I do not yet see any reason for a quick fix.

8/19/2016 at 11:39 AM

Ulf - can you find contemporary sources that prove one of the two theories over the other?
If so - let's put them here & consider them.

Private User
8/19/2016 at 11:54 AM

You have already forwarded that question in your previous post to the profile managers Sharon. What I was pointing at was not too act too hastily, some profiles gains more attention in that way, that's usually positive in the long run. If they do find no strong support for any of the two theories, then they will also be able to present that in a good way.

8/19/2016 at 12:01 PM

Ulf - now is the time to find the sources that justify maintaining the present parents, if that's what you want. Let's give everyone interested - including yourself - a couple of days to research and respond. Then we can decide.

8/19/2016 at 7:37 PM

This seems a lot of drama over nothing. To anyone who is even casually familiar with these genealogies, Urania is a familiar problem.

I can appreciate the idea that someone might find new evidence some day, but I respectfully doubt that very many of Geni’s users are engaged in translating ancient Greek and Aramaic manuscripts, or that any of us are likely to discover something completely unknown to the experts.

Roman scholars have been collecting, collating, indexing, and cross-indexing inscriptions related to the Roman world for 200 years now. The modern and most complete of these collections is Prosopographia Imperii Romani (PIR). It’s almost unthinkable they’ve missed anything.

“Queen Urania” is known only from the funeral inscription of one of her freed slaves (Pir2 I 710). The inscription should be easily available, but I don’t find it online. I’d have to make a special trip to the library to find it.

I’ll see if I can pull together some accessible, online sources.

8/19/2016 at 10:04 PM

The underlying reference for the Wikipedia article on Julia Urania is here:

To summarize:

“Queen Urania” is known only from the funeral inscription of one of her freed slaves (PIR2 I 710). It does not give her ancestry, or even the name of her husband.

Jérôme Carcopino thinks the “Queen Urania” in the inscription probably had the same nomen gentilicium (surname) – Julia -- as her freed slave Julia Bodina, because that was the custom for slave names. If so, the nomen Julia tells us Urania belonged to a family who got their Roman citizenship as clients of the family of Julius Caesar (such as the client kings of Bosphorus, Commagene, Emesa, and Mauretania), or she was a freed slave who had belonged to such a family.

Julia was the nomen of the royal family of Mauretania and there is no other information about Urania, so Carcopino thinks she was probably a concubine who was a freed slave. The title “queen” means she must have been the wife or concubine of a king. The dating means her husband has to have been either Juba II or his son Ptolemy. Since Juba appears to have been monogamous, Carcopino thinks Urania must have been the concubine of Ptolemy. It’s his theory that Ptolemy might have had a harem, and further, that Urania wasn’t really a queen except in the popular imagination (“local courtesy”). (La reine Urania de Maurétanie, in Mélanges dédiés à la mémoire de Félix Grat (Paris, 1948), I:31). Other experts have mostly followed Carcopino, assigning Urania as a concubine of Ptolemy, but not without quibbling about Carcopino’s reasoning.

Urania is the name of the Greek muse of astronomy. D. W. Roller suggested it might have been a name given to a favored member of the harem. (The World of Juba II and Kleopatra Selene: Royal Scholarship on Rome's African frontier (New York & London, 2003), 252 n. 41). Before Julia Urania, the name appears for Musa, the wife or concubine of Phraates IV of Parthia. Musa was a slave who got the additional names Thea Urania (“Heavenly Urania” = the goddess Astarte) after she bore Phraates IV a son. She later poisoned him and ruled jointly with their son Phraates V. Josephus says she married her son, so the offended Parthians overthrew them.

In 2000 Christian Settipani developed a new theory. His idea was that the scattered use of the cognomen Urania in certain families might suggest a continuity of relationship. (This is always the thrust of his research.) He thought Urania might be an Emesan name and Julia Urania might have been some kind of relative of the royal family at Emesa. The Emesan royal family also had the nomen Julia. And, 200 years after Julia Urania there was a Uranius Antoninus who usurped the Emesan throne. Settipani thought Julia Urania might have been really a queen, and if so she was perhaps a wife of Juba II but more probably wife of his son Ptolemy. (Continuité gentilice et continuité familiale dans les familles sénatoriales romaines à l'époque impériale: mythe et realité (Oxford, 2000), 438f n. 11).

Since then, Internet genealogists have swept aside all academic doubt. Following Settipani’s general direction but not the details, they’ve taken Julia Urania, and changed her from an Emesan to a Parthian, definitely an otherwise unknown daughter of Phraates IV and Urania Thea Musa, definitely the wife of Ptolemy, and definitely the mother of the Drusilla who married Antonius Felix.

8/19/2016 at 10:04 PM

Some scattered, easy-to-find references:

1. Sir Anthony Wagner, Pedigree and Progress (1975), Pedigree 19 gives no wife for Ptolemy, king of Mauretania. This book was written before the theory that Julia Urania had any kind of notable ancestry. Wagner sees Drusilla, the wife of Antonius Felix, as the sister not daughter of Ptolemy.

2. The Augustan Society’s Descents from Antiquity (1986), Chart P1 comes down to Phaates IV, notes two of his sons, then follows a line down through an unnamed daughter who married Darius of Media Atropatene. No mention of a possible daughter Julia Urania. This book was also published before the theory that Julia Urania might have distinguished ancestry.

3. A biography of Thea Urania Musa, the speculative mother of Julia Urania. Musa was a slave who got the additional names Thea Urania (“Heavenly Urania” = the goddess Astarte) after she bore Phraates IV a son. This biography mentions her only known child, a son named Phraates V.

4. A summary on the prosopography of the royal family of Parthia. Thea Urania Musa is the wife of Phraates IV. She has one known child, Phraates V. Julia Urania is not named at all, either as her child or as one of the children of Phraates IV by an unknown mother.

5. A summary of the prosopography of the Antonii. Iulia Urania is the wife of Ptolemaeus. No further info, no known children.

6. Will Johnson at soc.genealogy.medieval: “The attribution of Julia Urania as daughter to King Phraates is uncertain. It is mere speculation.”

7. Discussion between David Kelley and Marshall Kirk. They support Settipani’s suggestion that Julia Urania was Emesan but think she was wife of Juba II instead of Ptolemy. Part of their argument is that Elagabalus (Roman Emperor from Emesa 200 years after Julia Urania) used the name Urania for the moon goddess in his sun cult.

8. French Wikipedia: “[Ptolémée de Maurétanie] épouse Julia Urania, dont la tradition fait soit une affranchie gréco-syrienne, soit une membre de la famille royale d' Émèse.”

9. German Wikipedia: (No mention of a wife of Ptolemy II of Mauretania). https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ptolemaeus_(Mauretanien)

10. Italian Wikipedia: “Tolomeo sposò Giulia Urania. Urania era una donna sira, probabilmente appartenente alla famiglia reale di Emesa (Homs).”

8/20/2016 at 4:32 AM


8/20/2016 at 8:32 AM

A lot of work to correct a simple and well-known error.

8/20/2016 at 9:09 AM


10/10/2016 at 8:25 AM

An interesting article to follow up on this.

"But while Wikipedia reports that Drusilla definitely married Sohaemus and had kids with him, carrying Cleopatra’s lineage on through the generations, that claim is far from proven."

Did Descendants of Cleopatra VII Survive and Produce the Legendary Queen Zenobia of Palmyra?

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