Cypros II – The Jewish Queen who made a tapestry of the ancient world




cypros jewish queen
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Queen Cypros II was the wife of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea. Queen Cypros II was once an artist who made a map of the ancient world on a tapestry.[1] Sadly, her tapestry has been lost to us in history.[2] Queen Cypros II also had two coins made in her image.[3] Thus, she was a respected and admirable queen.

Queen Cypros II was born in circa 10 C.E.[4] She was the daughter of Salampsio (the daughter of King Herod the Great and his executed wife, Queen Mariamne I) and Phasael II (the nephew of King Herod the Great).[5] Therefore, Cypros II was descended from both the Herodian and the Hasmonean royal dynasties.[6] Cypros II was named after Cypros I, the mother of King Herod the Great.[7]

Sometime after 23 C.E., Herod Agrippa I arrived in Judea after living in Rome. He married his cousin, Cypros II.[8] According to Josephus, Herod Agrippa was often depressed because he lived in political obscurity within the Judean court and often contemplated suicide.[9] In 25 C.E., Cypros II, fearing that her husband would actually commit suicide, wrote to Herodias (her sister-in-law) for a job promotion.[10] With Herodias’s help, Herod Agrippa I was made the inspector of the markets of Tiberia.[11] However, historian Tal Ilan doubts Josephus’s story because it seemed like a network connection between women who manipulated their husbands in politics.[12] Cypros II gave birth to four children. They were Herod Agrippa II, Julia Berenice I, Mariamne, and Drusilla.

In 34 C.E., Herod Agrippa I was displeased with his post and resigned.[13] He decided to return to Rome.[14] Cypros II accompanied her husband to Alexandria while he was en route to Rome.[15] Once she arrived, she obtained a loan from Alexander, the chief magistrate of the Jewish community in Alexandria. This loan funded her husband’s living expenses in Rome.[16] In 36 C.E., Emperor Caligula made Herod Agrippa I the King of Judea.[17] Thus, Cypros II became Queen of Judea.

King Herod Agrippa I had two coins of his wife that bear the inscription, “Cypros”[18] or “Queen Cypros”[19] on them.[20] On one coin is Queen Cypros II’s bust.[21] On another coin Queen Cypros II “is standing, face forward.”[22] These coins are evidence that King Herod Agrippa I greatly respected his queen.[23] King Herod Agrippa I also erected statues of his daughters in his palace in Caesarea.[24] King Herod Agrippa I died in 44 C.E. Queen Cypros II outlived her husband.[25] She died circa 50 C.E.[26] She was said to be a great artist.[27] There is an epigram of her that is attributed to Phillip of Thessalonica.[28] It went:

“Modeling all with shuttle laboring on the loom, Cypros made a perfect copy of the harvest-bearing earth, all that the land-encircling ocean girdles, obedient to great Caesar, the grey sea too…it was a Queen’s duty to bring gifts so long due to gods.”[29]

In this epigram, Dr Tal Ilan believes that it showed Queen Cypros II was a talented artist who made a tapestry of the ancient world that was greatly admired.[30] This may have proven that Queen Cypros II may have been knowledgeable in both geography and cartography.[31] While very few facts about Queen Cypros II are known, it is clear that she was a respected queen and an artist.[32] She was deeply admired by her husband and her contemporaries. It is truly sad that her tapestry has not survived today.[33]

Sources:

M. Brann (.1906). “Agrippa I. (M. Juliius Agrippa, also known as Herod Agrippa I.)”. The Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved on April 28, 2023 from https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/912-agrippa-i.

Ilan, T. (2022). Queen Berenice: A Jewish Female Icon of the First Century CE. Netherlands: Brill.


[1] Ilan, 2022

[2] Ilan, 2022

[3] Ilan, 2022

[4] Ilan, 2022

[5] Ilan, 2022

[6] Ilan, 2022

[7] Ilan, 2022

[8] Ilan, 2022

[9] Ilan, 2022

[10] Ilan, 2022

[11] Brann, 1906, “Agrippa I. (M. Juliius Agrippa, also known as Herod Agrippa I.)”

[12] Ilan, 2022

[13] Brann, 1906, “Agrippa I. (M. Juliius Agrippa, also known as Herod Agrippa I.)”

[14] Brann, 1906, “Agrippa I. (M. Juliius Agrippa, also known as Herod Agrippa I.)”

[15] Ilan, 2022

[16] Ilan, 2022

[17] Brann, 1906, “Agrippa I. (M. Juliius Agrippa, also known as Herod Agrippa I.)”

[18] Ilan, 2022, p. 44

[19] Ilan, 2022, p. 44

[20] Ilan, 2022

[21] Ilan, 2022

[22] Ilan, 2022, p. 44

[23] Ilan, 2022

[24] Ilan, 2022

[25] Ilan, 2022

[26] Ilan, 2022

[27] Ilan, 2022

[28] Ilan, 2022

[29] Ilan, 2022, p. 45

[30] Ilan, 2022

[31] Ilan, 2022

[32] Ilan, 2022

[33] Ilan, 2022






About Lauralee Jacks 174 Articles
I am a former elementary teacher in Tennessee. I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal and Civic Studies from St. Mary’s College of California, a master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the College of Saint Mary. Because my family are from East Asia, I have a passion for historical Chinese and Korean television shows. I always wanted to separate fact from fiction in dramas. Writing articles from History of Royal Women gives me a chance to dig deeper and explore these royal women as they might have been in real life. Also, it gives me a chance to look at the history and culture of where my family originated. I love researching East Asian royalty because they rarely get enough attention in the West often being overshadowed by European royalty. I find these royal women to be just as fascinating and their stories deserve to be told. Thus, I am excited to write for History of Royal Women!

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