Amanirenas (sometimes Amanirena) was a ruling queen of the Kingdom of Kush (now Sudan). She became famous for leading her armies against the Romans in a five year war which resulted in a very favorable treaty for her people.
Historians believe that Amanirenas is the Candace described by Strabo as leading the Meroitic wars against Rome. Strabo described the queen as masculine, brave, and blind in one eye.
Amanirenas’ ruled from the city of Meroë, as Shanakdakhete had before her, and her full title was Amanirenas, Qore and Kandake. Quore was the Meroite word for king, and Kandake meant queen (the Greco-Romans spelled this Candace).
Sources suggest that she was consort to her husband, King Teriteqas until he died, and then regent for her son Akinidad, who she also outlived.
Amanirenas queen of Kush following the death of Egyptian ruler Cleopatra which had resulted in Roman occupation of Egypt. As Kush bordered Egypt and shared the Nile, the two great nations had a long history of warfare and invasion.
In 24 BCE, Aelius Gallus, the Roman Prefect in charge of Egypt left for a military campaign in Arabia. Amanirenas clearly saw an opportunity and went for it, launching an attack and defeating Roman forces in the Egyptian cities of Syene (now Aswan) and Philae.
It was a profitable venture; Amanirenas’ forces returned to Kush with prisoners and treasure, including several statues of the Emperor Augustus.
Later that year, Gallus was replaced as Prefect by Publius Petronius, who succeeded in driving the Kushites out of Syrene, establishing a Roman boarder at Primis (Qasr Ibrim).
At this point, Amanirenas chose diplomacy. She sent negotiators to visit Augustus in Samos and managed to strike a peace treaty with Rome. It was surprisingly favourable to Kush, who would keep Primis and who would be exempt from paying tribute to Augustus.
This mutually beneficial arrangement continued for three hundred years, and relations between Meroë and Roman Egypt were generally peaceful during this time.
More: This post on the Kandakes of Kush was written for Black History Month 2015
1999 short animation: Candace of Meroe
The Image of the Ordered World in Ancient Nubian Art: The Construction of the Kushite Mind (800 BCE – 300 AD) – László Török
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography – Aetheopia
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology – William Smith, Ed.
Candace of Meroe on the Black History Pages
“Nile N517266177 30554 627” by Citadelite at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia.
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