[Drawing of a coin depicting Juba II and Cleopatra Selene II, found in Smith, William, ed. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Mythology and Biography. Little, Brown, & Co.: Boston, 1867. Also on Wikimedia.]
The early years of her life were tumultuous. She and her twin brother, Alexander Helios, were born after Antony had left Cleopatra to go back to Rome, and only met their father when they were around three. It was possibly at this time that the children were given the names Helios and Selene. During the Donations of Alexandria,* when Antony symbolically divided up Roman and Parthian lands between Cleoptatra’s children, Cleopatra Selene received Cyrenaica and Libya. She would never actually rule these territories, partially because Antony didn’t actually have the power to grant them and partially because of the events that lead to her parents’ defeat and deaths when she was nine. Instead, she and her brothers were brought back to Rome by Octavian and given into the care of his sister and their father’s former wife, Octavia.
From this point on, she was raised and treated as part Octavian’s family.** She received a good education and arrangements were made for a good marriage to Juba II of Numidia.*** Though convention states that Octavian married her off, there is evidence that the match was actually at Octavia’s instigation and it proved a good one politically and perhaps personally as well.
Cleopatra and Juba only ruled Numidia briefly before it was made a province. Augustus sent them to govern the then disorganized region of Mauretania**** instead in 46 BCE. Cleopatra was as involved in governing the area as her husband and influenced many of his policies. The couple made both trade and the patronage of art a priority and under them, the region flourished. The date of Cleopatra Selene’s death is unknown and very much up for debate. She was buried in the royal mausoleum in what is now Algeria.
[Source: Wikimedia Commons]
**As were her two brothers. They, however, seem to have died before reaching adulthood, possibly of natural causes. At the very least, no further mention of them is made in the historical record.
***An ancient kingdom/Roman province that covered the northern parts of what are now Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.
****What is now the Mediterranean coast of Morocco.