Shepenwepet of the Leopard Clan

Birth and Death

18 August 68 AD - Unknown

Also Known As

  • Nubia
  • Flavia Nubia
  • Princess Shepenwepet (in her home country)

Hair Color






Signature colour


Family Members

Parents and siblings

  • Taharqo (brother)
  • deceased father
  • deceased mother
  • several deceased younger siblings




  • Audax (son)
  • several other children



Nubia, also known as Shepenwepet and Flavia Nubia, is Flavia Gemina's former slave-girl and one of the four detectives. Before being enslaved, she was a princess of the Leopard Clan in her home country of Nubia.

She appears in all three of Caroline Lawrence's Roman series, namely The Roman Mysteries, The Roman Scrolls and The Roman Quests.


Early HistoryEdit

Nubia was born Shepenwepet, an African princess of the Leopard Clan, in Nubia, Egypt. She has several siblings and a playful dog named Nipur. From an early age Nubia excels musically and has a great love for animals, especially camels. She is promised to her cousin Kashta as his future wife, although this is not revealed until later on in the series.


Nubia lives a peaceful life until the slave trader Venalicius and his men rampage her home. She witnesses her father and younger brothers being murdered, by the sword and in fire. Her elder brother, Taharqo, disappears. Nubia, her mother and her baby sister are enslaved along with many other women, to be taken to Italy. Nubia's mother and sister do not survive the journey. Nubia is taken on the Vespa and arrives at the port of Ostia. By this point, she has been stripped of her clothes and name; Venalicius refers to all the women from her country as 'Nubia'.

Nubia being sold by slavers.

In an Ostian market, she is bought by a young, highborn Roman girl, named Flavia. This was to prevent Nubia forcefully becoming a wife to one of the dangerous, middle-aged men at the market.

New HomeEdit

Flavia proves to be an intelligent girl who, despite being a tad impatient and bossy at times, is kind at heart; she treats Nubia well. With the help of her new mistress, her mistress' tutor, Aristo, and her new neighbour, Jonathan, Nubia learns to speak Latin and some Greek.

Nubia doing Flavia's hair.

Nubia also meets Marcus, Flavia's father and Jonathan's father and sister, Mordecai and Miriam, respectively.

First MysteryEdit

Nubia, Flavia and Jonathan befriend a wild street boy named Lupus. When the guard dogs of the neighbourhood start to go missing. The four children investigate and discover that the dogs are being murdered to keep them quiet. After they have solved the mystery, Nubia finds two puppies in the woods. Marcus allows her to keep them. She gives one to Jonathan, as his dog had been killed by the dog murderers. Her own puppy she calls Nipur, after her dog who was killed by the slave traders in Nubia.


Flavia frees Nubia in The Pirates of Pompeii. The girls have become very close and Nubia is invited to live with Flavia as a friend, instead of a slave. She happily accepts.


Nubia is gentle, kind-hearted and intelligent. She is shown to have a great acceptance of people, especially underdogs. She has a passion for helping the needy and ensuring justice. Unlike her former mistress, Nubia is very good at listening to people and a huge amount of patience. She has a strong intuition, which helps her to quickly and astutely understand people and situations.

Her amiable nature means that she rarely gets into an argument with anyone and is the least stormy of the four detectives.


Nubia has a beautiful singing voice and is exceptionally talented at playing the flute. She is also very good with animals, being able to calm wild dogs, horses and lions.

Physical AppearanceEdit

Nubia is described as being extremely beautiful, with dusky skin and huge, golden eyes. Her exotic beauty makes her easily recognisable and attracts unwanted attention from Emperor Domitian.
Her black hair is shaved when she is enslaved and it stays short for the first few books.
Her lovely looks are acknowledged by several people during the series, including Aristo, Cartilia Poplicola, Flavia and Locusta.



Nubia falls in love with her tutor, Aristo, early on in the series, but does not confess this to anyone. Aristo is infatuated with Miriam and dozens of girls are infatuated with him. Nubia feels that she will never be able to be with the young Greek and therefore feels both miserable and delighted when near him.

Aristo is very kind to Nubia, helping her to learn Latin and is very proud when she succeeds, complimenting her efforts and improvement.
The two bond over their love for music and often play together, Nubia on the flute, Aristo on the lyre. Nubia realises that there is no one else she is so in tune with when playing; their music can bring others and themselves to tears.

When Aristo is thought an attempted-murderer by all those around her in The Fugitive from Corinth, Nubia does not doubt his innocence for a second, going out of her way to keep him safe. When Dion, Flavia, Aristo and she are trapped, suffocating in a cave, she works up the courage to tell her tutor she loves him, but faints from oxygen deprivation before she can do so.

In The Prophet of Ephesus, Aristo realises that he is in love with Nubia and has been for a long time. He tries to tell her when they are alone together in Ephesus, but she runs away before he can do so, as she mistakenly believes he was thinking of Miriam. Aristo later misunderstands something Jonathan says, which leads him to believe that Nubia loves Flaccus. Deciding not to tell her his feelings to preserve their friendship, he thinks that Nubia will never know his love for her and that he has lost his chance,

When Domitian acts inappropriately around Nubia in The Man from Pomegranate Street, Aristo attempts to get the Emperor away from her, risking his life in the process. He is captured and thrown to the floor by Domitian's guards, where, bleeding, he confesses his love to Nubia. Before she can reply, the Emperor orders him away, to fight in the arena.
Nubia is a mixture of ecstasy and despair, the former because Aristo loves her, the latter because she believes he is about to die. She is forced to sit in the Emperor's box to watch Aristo fight. She decides that, if Aristo dies, she would commit suicide either by stabbing herself with a sharp hairpin, or throwing herself in front of the beast Aristo was to fight. Nubia feels that she would rather be with her love in Paradise than live without him. Just before the animal gate opens, she stands up and calls down to Aristo that she loves him, much to Domitian glee. Fortunately, Aristo is faced against a rabbit instead of a bull, for the amusement of the crowd. Afterwards, Domitian has Nubia and Aristo marry each other in the arena.

In The Roman Quests, ten years on, it is revealed that she has had several children with Aristo.

Flavia GeminaEdit


Although Flavia and Nubia become extremely close, especially after Flavia frees Nubia, their relationship does go through rough patches. Flavia's bossy nature annoys Nubia, who is a lot more gentle. When Flavia is influenced by Pulchra and starts to treat Nubia horribly, the African girl runs away, extremely miserable.
However, it is clear that they love each other a lot and consider the other their sister, as the series progresses. They put their lives at risk for each other multiple times, with Nubia facing ferocious beasts to save her friend.

Nubia feels inferior to confident, analytically-minded Flavia for several of their adventures; it is only nearer the end of the series that she acknowledges her worth. She also comes to the realisation that she is in fact braver than Flavia, which surprises her.

When Flavia marries, Nubia is one of her bridesmaids.

Jonathan ben MordecaiEdit


Nubia and Jonathan play music together.

Jonathan and Nubia get on very well, being the two calmer members of the four detectives. Jonathan reaches out to her when she first arrives by teaching her Latin and Nubia gives him a puppy, which becomes his dearest possession. In the will she writes, Nubia leaves her own dog to Jonathan and says that he makes her laugh.

When Jonathan disappears in the Fire and Nubia thinks him dead, she is distraught. After she discovers that he is alive and is now a gladiator, Nubia rushes to find him. However, she finds that he has changed his identity and is now bound to being a gladiator. She fights fiercely to get him back and is overjoyed when she wins the opportunity to free a gladiator. When she discovers that her only-surviving sibling, Taharqo, is also a gladiator, the dilemma she experiences in who to choose is testimony to her love for Jonathan. It becomes clear that she views him on a parr to her real family.

Jonathan appears to be more comfortable showing his emotions in front of Nubia than in front of most of his family and other friends, including Flavia and Lupus. He lets his guard down and cries in front of her, expressing his despair over his mother and sister's fates.


Nubia and Lupus have a very good relationship; her gentleness helps to heal some of Lupus' wounds from the past. They both lost their families because of Venalicius and share a hatred for him. However, they are also able to comfort each other, due to their similar circumstances.

The two children are protective of each other and both risk their life for the other person.
Nubia acts a little like a mother or older sister towards Lupus and they rarely fight.


Nubia and her brother Taharqo grew up together in Nubia, Egypt and Nubia is greatly distressed when they are separated. This leads her to be overjoyed when she finds him again in the Roman arena, fighting as a gladiator. She has the opportunity to free him, but he refuses, prizing the fame, money and admirers his life as a gladiator gives him. This implies that he does not love Nubia as much as she loves him. She is hurt and confused by his decision and appears less close to him when he is mentioned throughout the rest of the series.


  • Shepenwepet is a female given name of Egyptian origin. The meaning is unknown.
  • Nubia is a female given name of Egyptian origin and means 'of Nubia (the region)'.


  • Nubia's favourite food is dates.
  • She is the eldest of the four detectives.
  • Both she and Lupus are known throughout the series by a name that is not their birth name.
  • She is one of the three extroverts of the four detectives, Jonathan being the sole introvert.
  • Her signature colour is yellow.
  • She feels more confident when around animals.
  • She is the first of the four detectives to marry.