Glaphyra of Cappadocia

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Also Known As: "Glaphire"
Birthplace: Cappadocia, (Asia Minor), Turkey
Death: Died in Judea, Israel
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Archelaus Sisines, King of Cappadocia and NN mother of Archelaus & Glaphyra, Armenian Princess
Wife of Alexander III, Prince of Judaea and Herod Archelaus, Ethnarch of Samaria Judaea and Edom
Ex-wife of Juba II, King of Mauretania
Mother of Alexander II of Judaea; NN daughter of Alexander, Princess of Judaea and Tigranes V, King of Armenia
Sister of Archelaus II "Minor"

Managed by: Shmuel-Aharon Kam (Kahn / שמו...
Last Updated:

About Glaphyra of Cappadocia

Glaphyra. This Capadocian princess was related to the Herodians only by marriage. The wife of Alexander, Herod’s first son by Mariamne the Hasmonean, she bore him two sons. Josephus uses her presence in the Herodian court in order to describe how her obvious royal lineage caused jealousy among the lesser-born Herodian princesses (Ant. 16:193). With her husband’s execution in 7 B.C.E., she returned to her father’s court and married King Juba of Mauritania in North Africa. However, after his death she returned to the Herodian court when Archelaus, Herod’s son by Malthace the Samaritan, proposed to her (Ant. 17:349–351). Josephus finds it necessary to condemn this match, since Glaphyra had had children by Alexander and was thus, according to Jewish law, forbidden to his brothers. Whether Glaphyra ever bothered to endorse any aspect of Judaism is never stated. Her offspring by Alexander, however, while they served as kings of Armenia, relinquished any Jewish connection (Ant. 18:140).


Glaphyra from "Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum " Glaphyra (Greek: Γλαφύρα; born around 35 BC-died around 7) was an Anatolian Princess from Cappadocia [1] and through marriage was related to the Herodian Dynasty.

Family & Early Life

Glaphyra was a Monarch of Greek, Armenian and Persian descent. She was the daughter of the Roman Client King Archelaus of Cappadocia, while her only natural sibling was her younger brother Archelaus of Cilicia. [3] Her paternal grandfather was the Roman Client and High Priest Ruler Archelaus of the temple state of Comana, Cappadocia [4], while her paternal grandmother was Glaphya. Glaphyra was named in honor of her paternal grandmother. [5] Her paternal great, grandfather also named Archelaus claimed to be descended from King Mithridates VI of Pontus. [6] Chronologically her paternal great grandfather, may have been a maternal grandson of the Pontic King, who his father Archelaus, was the favorite high-ranking general of Mithridates VI, who may had married one of the daughters of Mithridates VI. [7]

The first wife of Archelaus who was the mother of Glaphyra was an unnamed Princess from Armenia[8], who died by 8 BC. There is a possibility that Glaphyra’s parents may have been distant relatives. Glaphyra’s mother may have been a daughter of King Artavasdes II of Armenia (reigned 53 BC-34 BC) of the Artaxiad Dynasty. Artavasdes II was a Monarch of Armenian, Persian and Greek Macedonian descent, who was the father of the future Armenian Kings Artaxias II and Tigranes III. The father of Artavasdes II was Tigranes the Great [9], who married Cleopatra of Pontus a daughter of Mithridates VI from his first wife, his sister Laodice [10], thus Artavasdes II was a maternal grandson to Mithridates VI and Laodice.

She was born and raised on the mainland and spent her later life at the harbor city of Elaiussa Sebaste. The Roman Emperor Augustus in 25 BC gave her father extra territories to govern and among them included Elaiussa Sebaste.[11] After 25 BC, Glaphyra and her family settled there, where her father developed the city. Her father built a royal residence, built a palace on the island in the harbor and renamed the city in honor of Augustus. [12] Glaphyra held the high ranking title of ‘king’s daughter’, which is reflective of her descent and high birth. [13] She was an attractive and a dynamic woman, who had a reputation of being so charming, desirable and proved to be a forced to be reckoned with.[14]

First Marriage

Roman Emperor Augustus encouraged intermarriage among the families of the client-rulers to cement peace and to assist him in governing the Roman Empire. [15] Roman Client King of Judea Herod the Great, reorganised his alliances, though usually he married his sons or daughters to other relatives in his family or to Jews. [16] However with his son Alexander (Herod’s first child with his wife Mariamne), Herod wanted to marry Alexander to a gentile princess. [17] Herod had negotiated with Archelaus a marriage alliance between their kingdoms and families. [18] Either in 18 BC or 17 BC, in Herod’s court in Jerusalem, Glaphyra married Alexander. [19] Archelaus gave as a wedding present to her daughter a dowry, which Herod later returned to her. [20] The union of Alexander and Glaphyra was a happy marriage and when she married Alexander she didn’t encounter any opposition. [21] Glaphyra became a Jew upon marriage into Herod’s family and she did adopt Judaism even though no mention of conversion was made in the account of her first marriage. [22] Glaphyra bore Alexander three children, two sons: Tigranes [23], Alexander [24] and the last child was an unnamed daughter. [25] The names that Glaphyra and Alexander gave their children are a reflection of their cultural ancestry and royal descent.

At the court of Jerusalem, Glaphyra made a nuisance of herself by genealogical pretentiousness, parading her ancestors on the paternal side the monarchs of Macedonia, on the maternal side of Persia. [26] She taunted Salome and Herod’s wives about their low birth. Glaphyra’s attitude towards Berenice was insolent, as she regarded Berenice ‘with indignation’. Berenice and Glaphyra were equally ranked. [27] This led Aristobulus IV to make a comparison to Berenice while he had married her as a ‘woman of the people’. [28] This caused Salome to spread a rumor that Herod was ‘smitten with love for Glaphyra and that his passion was difficult to assuage. [29] This anger her husband and worsened Alexander’s relationship with his father. [30] The women in Herod’s court grew to hate Glaphyra and Alexander, thus the couple became unpopular. [31] Due to Glaphyra’s unpopularity led to rumors about Alexander and Aristobulus IV, ending with Herod’s beliefs that Alexander and his brother were plotting against him. [32]

With Augustus’ permission, Herod tried and killed Alexander and Aristobulus IV in 7 BC. Herod had questioned Glaphyra to test her loyalty to him. [33] After the burials of Alexander and Aristobulus IV, Herod acted in an extreme and brutal manner returning Glaphyra to Cappadocia, forcing her to leave her children under the sole custody of Herod in Jerusalem. Glaphyra’s children remained under Herod’s guardianship so he could be able to control their fates. [34] After Glaphyra returned to Cappadocia it didn’t rupture the friendly relations between the two client kingdoms.

Life after Alexander & Second Marriage

When Glaphyra returned to Cappadocia, she lived with her father and brother. Herod died in 4 BC in Jericho. [35] After the death of Herod, her children decided to leave Jerusalem and to live in Cappadocia with Glaphyra and her family. After her children arrived in Cappadocia, they disinherited their Jewish descent, deserted their Jewish religion and embraced their Greek heritage, including the religion. [36] Her and her children’s family connections with the Herodian Dynasty were not wholly broken.

Between 2 BC-2, the African Roman Client King Juba II of Mauretania, accompanied Gaius Caesar (one of Augustus’ grandsons) as a member of his advisory staff as they travelled to the Eastern Mediterranean. It was during this period Glaphyra met Juba II. [37] Later they fell in love and Glaphyra married Juba II [38] as her second husband in the year 7. For Juba II this was his second marriage[39], as he was previously widowed in the year 6, by his first wife Queen of Mauretania, Cleopatra Selene II.

Through marriage, Glaphyra became Queen of Mauretania. Their marriage was brief as according to archaeological evidence, there is no trace of Glaphyra’s name in North African inscriptions. [40] However her union with Juba II lasted long enough to be given an honorific inscription by the Athenians [41] as shown below in Greek and translated in English:

Ή βουλή καί [ό δ]ήμος [Β]ασίλισσαν [Γλυφύραν] βασιλέω[ς] Άρχέλάου θυρ[ατέρα], βασιλέως Ίοβ[ά] γυναίκ[α άρε]τής έν[ε]κα. The Boule and Demos honors Queen Glaphyra daughter of King Archelaus and wife of King Juba on the account of her virtue. 

[edit] Third Marriage

In her second marriage, she became reacquainted and fell in love with the Roman Ethnarch of Samaria, Judea and Edom, Herod Archelaus. [42] Herod Archelaus was a half-brother to her first husband and was another son to Herod the Great from his wife Malthace. [43] Herod Archelaus was so smitten with Glaphyra, he married her. [44] For Herod Archelaus and Glaphyra to marry; Glaphyra divorced Juba II[45] and Herod Archelaus divorced his first wife, who was his cousin Mariamne. [46]

The marriage of Glaphyra and Herod Archelaus took place in the time Herod Archelaus was an Ethnarch. [47] Glaphyra left Mauretania to travel to Judea to marry Herod Archelaus. After Glaphyra arrived in Judea and married Herod Archelaus, their marriage was considered immoral by the Jews and caused a major religious scandal in Jerusalem. [48] Their marriage was a complete violation of Jewish laws of levirate marriage[49] and the Jews consider a wife to marry a former brother-in-law immoral.

The marriage of Glaphyra and Herod Archelaus unfortunately didn’t have a happy ending. Shortly after Glaphyra and Herod Archelaus married, Glaphyra had a dream which her first husband stood at her side and reproached her for not being faithful to him. She had not only made a second marriage but had even come back and married her brother-in-law. In the dream, Alexander said to Glaphyra he would now reclaim her as his own. She told her friends about the dream and died two days later. [50]

About the time of Glaphyra’s death, Augustus removed Herod Archelaus from his political position, because of his cruelty and was banished to Vienne in Gaul. [51] Its uncertain if Glaphyra died before or during the exile of Herod Archelaus. [52] The death of Glaphyra, doubtless brought sorrow to many and at least in the women of the Judean Court joy to some. [53]

Another Version of the Story

Glaphyra (died around 7) was a Princess of Cappadocia and daughter of King Archelaus of Cappadocia. Her mother is unknown, was born at an unknown date and raised in the 1st century BC. Her great grandfather King Archelaus of Cappadocia was the second husband of Greek Ptolemaic Queen Berenice IV of Egypt (they had no children).

Her first husband was prince Alexander of Judea, a son of the King of Judea Herod the Great from his wife Mariamne I. Glaphyra and Alexander had three children, two sons Alexander and Tigranes and the last child is unknown. Alexander was executed by his father in 7 BC. Glaphyra returned to her father with her children.

Her second husband was African King Juba II of Mauretania. Glaphyra and Juba met between 2 BC-2, when Juba accompanied Gaius Caesar as a member of advisory staff as they travelled to the Eastern Mediterranean. Juba’s first wife, Queen of Mauretania Cleopatra Selene II had already died when Glaphyra and Juba married by 7 AD.

Glaphyra became Queen of Mauretania and a stepmother to Juba’s children from his first marriage, Ptolemy of Mauretania and Drusilla of Mauretania. Their marriage was brief. According to archaeological evidence, there is no trace of Glaphyra’s name in North African inscriptions.

During her second marriage, she fell in love with King of Judea Herod Archelaus. Herod Archelaus was a half brother to her first husband and another son to Herod the Great from his wife Malthace.

When Archelaus and Glaphyra fell in love, they both divorced their partners. Although Archelaus and Glaphyra married, their marriage was considered immoral by the Jews. The Jews consider a wife to marry a former brother-in-law immoral. The marriage between Glaphyra and Archelaus was brief, as Glaphyra died soon after she arrived in Judea from Mauretania.

Her sons Alexander and Tigranes from her first marriage returned to Cappadocia. They disinherited their Jewish heritage. Glaphyra from her first marriage had a grandchild, the child from Alexander's marriage, who was Julius Tigranes, who would be King of Armenia under the Roman Emperor Nero. The source of Glaphyra’s life is from Roman Jewish historian Josephus

Forrás / Source:


Wagner, Sir Anthony Richard; ‘Pedigree and Progress: Essays in the Genealogical Interpretation of History’


As to Alexander, the son of Herod the king, who was slain by his father, he had two sons, Alexander and Tigranes, by the daughter of Archelaus, king of Cappadocia. Tigranes, who was king of Armenia, was accused at Rome, and died childless; Alexander had as on of the same name with his brother Tigranes, and was sent to take possession of the kingdom of Armenia by Nero; he had a son, Alexander, who married Jotape, (17) the daughter of Antiochus, the king of Commagena; Vespasian made him king of an island in Cilicia. But these descendants of Alexander, soon after their birth, deserted the Jewish religion, and went over to that of the Greeks. But for the rest of the daughters of Herod the king, it happened that they died childless. Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews XVIII Chapter 5 .

ID: I82390

Name: Glaphyra of Cappadocia

Given Name: Glaphyra

Surname: of Cappadocia

Sex: F

_UID: F4033BC7A2C341408420F53022DDC968D84C

Change Date: 26 Nov 2005

Death: Y

Marriage 1 Alexander of Judea



C. Julius Alexander of Judea

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