Sohaemus, Priest-King of Emesa

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Gaius Julius Sohaemus of Emesa, Priest-King of Emesa

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Sampsigeramus II, Priest-King of Emesa and Iotapa of Commagene
Husband of Drusilla of Mauretania
Father of Alexio II, Priest-King of Emesa; Julia Mamaea of Emesa and Iotapa of Emesa
Brother of Mamaea of Emesa; Jotapa, of Emesa and Azisus, Priest-King of Emesa

Occupation: 7th King of Emesa/Sophene 54-73 CE
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sohaemus, Priest-King of Emesa

Birth: circa 5? (his wife Drusilla b. : 38)

his birth perhaps ~35?


From Wikipedia:

Gaius Julius Sohaemus, also known as Sohaemus of Emesa and Sohaemus of Sophene (Greek: Γαίος Ιούλιος Σόαιμος Sohaemus is Arabic for little dagger), was a prince and a Roman Client Priest King from Syria who lived in the 1st century.

Sohaemus was a member of the Royal family of Emesa. He was the second born son and a child to Priest King Sampsiceramus II who ruled the Emesene Kingdom from 14 until 42 and Queen Iotapa. He had an elder brother called Gaius Julius Azizus, who was the first husband of the Herodian Princess Drusilla and had two sisters: Iotapa who married the Herodian Prince Aristobulus Minor and Mamaea.[1] Sohaemus was born, raised in Emesa and was Assyrian, Greek, Armenian and Medes ancestry. His paternal grandfather was the former Emesene Priest King Iamblichus II[2], while his maternal grandparents were the former Commagenean Monarchs Mithridates III of Commagene and his cousin-wife Iotapa.

Azizus had died in 54 and Sohaemus succeeded his brother as Priest King. He ruled from 54 until his death in 73 and was the priest of the Syrian Sun God, known in Aramaic as El-Gebal. At an unknown date in his reign, Sohaemus became the patron of Heliopolis (modern Baalbek, Lebanon). In honor of his patronage to the city, this honorary inscription was dedicated to him: [translated from Latin]

To the great king Gaius Julius Sohaemus, son of the great king Sampiceramus…patron of the colony.

In the first year of his reign, under either Roman emperor Claudius or Nero, Sohaemus received the Roman province of Sophene to rule. In 56, Sohaemus married his relative who was the Princess Drusilla of Mauretania, who was the child of the late Roman Client Monarchs Ptolemy of Mauretania and Julia Urania. Drusilla was the great grandchild of Ptolemaic Greek Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Roman Triumvir Mark Antony.[3]

In Sohaemus’ reign, Emesene’s relations with the Roman government grew closer. Under him, Emesa sent the Roman military a regular levy of archers and assisted them in their siege of Jerusalem in 70. In 72, Sohaemus supplied troops to the Roman General Lucius Caesennius Paetus who was the head of the Legio VI Ferrata, in the annexation of the Kingdom of Commagene. Drusilla was a Queen consort to Sohaemus.[4] Drusilla and Sohaemus had a child, a son called Gaius Julius Alexio[5], sometimes known as Alexio II. When Sohaemus died, he was buried in the tomb of his ancestors at Emesa and was succeeded by his son. Through his son, Sohaemus would have various descendants ruling on the Emesene throne and among those who claimed from his family’s ancestry was Queen of Palmyra, Zenobia.


  1. Levick, Julia Domna, Syrian Empress, p.xx
  2. Levick, Julia Domna, Syrian Empress, p.xx
  3. Cleopatra’s Children and Descendants: credited by Karl Leon Ciccone at Ancient History by Suite101
  4. Cleopatra’s Children and Descendants at Ancient History by Suite101
  5. Cleopatra’s Children and Descendants: credited by Karl Leon Ciccone at Ancient History by Suite101


  • S. Swain, Hellenism and Empire: Language, Classicism, and Power in the Greek World, Ad 50-250, Oxford University Press, 1996
  • J.P. Brown, Israel and Hellas, Volume 3, Walter de Gruyter, 2001
  • B. Levick, Julia Domna, Syrian Empress, Taylor & Francis, 2007
  • Kingdom of Commagene
  • Royal Egyptian Genealogy, Ptolemaic Dynasty: Cleopatra Selene
  • Cleopatra’s Children and Descendants at Ancient History by Suite101

Additional Sources