Frederick E. Brenk - S.J Filippo Canali De Rossi, «The ‘Notorious’ Felix, Procurator of Judaea, and His Many Wives (Acts 23–24)», Vol. 82 (2001) 410-417
Confusion exists over both the gentilicium and the wives of Felix. As for the name, possibly both Antonius and Claudius are correct. In any case, the attempt to assign only the name Claudius to Felix rests on rather shaky ground. As for his wives, possibly none was a descendant of Kleopatra VII. But if she were, she would be a great-granddaughter rather than a granddaughter of the famous queen. An inscription adduced to fix Felix’ name and career is beset with many problems. Finally, we should take his reputation as ‘notorious’ with a grain of salt. But whether notorious or not, his rise was remarkable, deserving of awe if not admiration.
in error, because they could choose between two possible gentilicia for Felix. There is no definitive answer, but from the Late Republic on, accumulation of names was not uncommon. It was sometimes possible to use one or the other, but often there is a reason. The Emperor Tiberius is designated by the gentilicium Claudius or Iulius. However, Tiberius used ‘Claudius’ until his adoption in 4 A.D., after which he used ‘Iulius’. Especially when presenting himself as husband of at least one ‘queen’, Felix might have been squeamish about reminding himself and everyone else that he had been a slave and was, or had been, only a freedman. However, Felix was a common name for slaves, and he does not seem reluctant to have used it.
Epigraphic evidence adduced one way or the other for his gentilicium is not decisive, since it cannot be linked specifically to the procurator of Judaea. Felix was an especially common name. Since the gentilicium Claudius was more widespread in the age of Nero and afterwards, Tacitus’ designation for Felix as ‘Antonius’ would be a lectio difficilior, less banal, and, thus, preferable. But Tacitus could be careless about unimportant matters, or even malicious.
2. Felix’ Wives
There is a problem with another statement in Rajak’s OCD entry. In the Prosopographia Imperii Romani, we learn that Drusilla was the granddaughter, not daughter (an obvious slip of Rajak) of Kleopatra VII and (M.) Antonius (the Triumvir)4. The authors also tell us that this Drusilla ‘perhaps’ was the daughter of Kleopatra Selene and Iuba (Juba), King of Mauretania, and that she became the wife of Antonius Felix (citing Suetonius, Claudius 28 and Tacitus, Histories 5.9). Moreover, the authors regard the name Drusilla as suspicious, since the other wife of Felix, who was Jewish and the sister of Agrippa, was also called Drusilla.
Some of the assertions run into chronological problems. The date of Kleopatra Selene’s birth (at Kyrene [Cyrene]) would have to be at least before 34 B.C. She was given in marriage by Augustus to Iuba around 20 B.C. Drusilla’, the wife of Felix, if she were the daughter of Kleopatra Selene, would have been born around 19-9 B.C., or slightly later (her mother died before 5 B.C.). Presumably she would have been 70-80 years old at the time of Paul’s ‘trial’ in Kaisareia (60 A.D.), and 50 or 60 years old at the time of her marriage to Felix 20 years before.
But Felix might have married a granddaughter. A granddaughter of Kleopatra Selene would have been born around 1-20 A.D., making her about 40 to 60 years old at the time of Paul’s hearing at Kaisareia. She would have been about 20-40 years old when married, if the marriage had occurred 20 years before. If Felix’ wife really were a descendant of Kleopatra and Marcus Antonius, and accordingly of Kleopatra Selene or someone of the same age, she would presumably be the great-granddaughter of Kleopatra VII and Marcus Antonius, and ‘perhaps’ the granddaughter of Kleopatra Selene and Iuba of Mauretania. The word neptis