South Sudan - I was so proud to be among the credentialed press at South Sudan’s first day of independence after a long and bloody civil war against Sudan on July 9, 2011. The future looked so bright. What a shame that 5 ½ years later, the world’s youngest country is home to escalating civil war, violence, poverty and famine. 


Kleopatra Selene II was born the only daughter of Kleopatra VII, the Hellenistic Queen of Egypt, via her husband, Mark Antony. She was the twin sister of Alexander Helios, older sister of Ptolemy Philadelphos, and a half-sister to many, by far most famously Caesarion, Kelopatra’s son with Julius Caesar.

Born and educated in Alexandria, Selene’s life as a Ptolemaic princess came to an end after the Battle of Actium, in which her parents lost to Octavian. In 30 BCE, her parents committed suicide. Selene, Alexander and Ptolemy were brought to Rome and paraded in golden chains during Octavian’s triumph. Later they became the wards of Octavia, sister to Octavian. In 29 BCE, Ptolemy probably died of illness. Alexander died circa 25 BCE, probably through illness or assassination.

The last Ptolemy, Selene was married in 25 BCE to Juba II, and their love story was one of the greatest to come out of Imperial Rome. They became King and Queen of Mauretania, Selene rebuilt it’s capital, Caesarea, as a new Alexandria, the city becoming a great center of learning and built with Greek, Roman, and Egyptian architecture. She ruled alongside her husband as a beloved queen until her death in 5 BCE.

Meet five-year-old Nya: she was playing with her eight-year-old sister near their home when shooting started. Sensing danger, her sister picked Nya up and together they ran to the bush. As they ran, Nya was hit by a stray bullet in her right arm. 

For two days she lay unconscious- when her grandma found her the arm was severely damaged and she had lost a lot of blood. Rushed to the local clinic and then airlifted to Juba, by the time she got to the MSF surgeon, the only thing that could be done to save her life was amputate her arm.

Nya is one of 201 patients who received surgery from Doctors Without Borders following the recent clashes in South Sudan, 54 of which were major operations.


the children and wards of caesar augustus

over the course of his life, emperor augustus took many children into his care. some were slaves or the children of defeated monarchs while others were members of his own family, as he failed to produce a male heir to succeed him. many of them stayed with his sister octavia, and among them were queen cleopatra selene and her future husband king juba, as well as the future emperor tiberius.


Kleopatra Selene II was born 40 BCE as a Ptolemaic Princess and was the only daughter to Greek Ptolemaic queen Kleopatra VII of Egypt and Roman triumvir Mark Antony. She was the fraternal twin of Alexander Helios, and was born, raised and educated in Alexandria, Egypt.

In 30 BCE, her parents committed suicide after being defeated by Octavian (later Caesar Augustus) in a naval battle. Subsequently, Octavian and his army invaded Egypt. Octavian captured Selene and her brothers and took them from Egypt to Italy. Octavian celebrated his military triumph in Rome by parading the orphans in heavy golden chains in the streets. The chains were so heavy that they could not walk, eliciting sympathy from many of the Roman onlookers. Octavian gave the siblings to Octavia Minor to be raised in her household in Rome.

In 25 BCE, Augustus arrange for Selene to marry King Juba II of Numidia in Rome. The Emperor Augustus gave to Selene as a wedding present a huge dowry and she became an ally to Rome. By then her brothers, Alexander Helios and Ptolemy Philadelphus, disappear from all known historical records and are presumed to have died, possibly from illness or assassination. When Selene married Juba, she was the only surviving member of the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Juba and Selene could not return to Numidia as it had been made a Roman province in 4 6 BCe. The couple were sent to Mauretania, an unorganized territory that needed Roman supervision. They renamed their new capital Caesarea (modern Cherchell, Algeria), in honor of the Emperor. Selene is said to have exercised great influence on policies that Juba created. Through her influence, the Mauretanian Kingdom flourished. Mauretania exported and traded well throughout the Mediterranean. When Selene died in 5 BCE, she was placed in the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania in modern Algeria, built by her and Juba east of Caesarea and still visible. A fragmentary inscription was dedicated to Juba and Selene, as the King and Queen of Mauretania.