"Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra" by Howard David Johnson

Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra (circa 278 A.D.) is one of the grandest & most underrated heroines of antiquity! She come from a long line of fabulous Syrian & Abyssinian queens, including the Legendary Queen of Sheba. 

Queen Zenobia of Palmyra (c) 2007 Howard David Johnson

 

  She adored & emulated Cleopatra & ironically met a similar fate. Assyrian records speak of Arab warrior queens like Zabibi, who revolted but was finally subdued in 738 B.C. Here she is at the end of her career, her city in flames, betrayed by the Romans she had served faithfully all her life .

Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, born Septima Bath-shabbi, consort of Odaenathus, the Dux Orientus succeeded his throne as his widow & on behalf of her son, the lawful successor. She ruled with very capable hands and was determined to surpass his excellence and make Palmyra mistress of the Roman Empire in the east.

 She was a scholar in her own right and was instructed in the sciences by the celebrated Longinus. Besides her native tongue, she spoke the Latin, Greek, Coptic and Syrian languages. She patronized learned men and herself formed an epitome of Egyptian history.

 The Talmud speaks of her goodness to rabbis. She was a conqueror and commanded a fine army, protecting the Roman flank from the Persians and subduing Egypt. In spite of her loyalty and capable leadership Zenobia was betrayed when the new emperor Aurelius took the throne because of gender prejudice. 

Zenobia then stood up to the tyranny of the Romans in the grandest heroic fashion. She led her troops into Phoenicia and Palestine, conquered the land to the borders of Egypt and defeated the world-governing Roman army. Personally leading her troops into battle on horseback was an important ingredient for Zenobia's success. A woman's presence in battle is inspiring (like a mythical goddess) common among early Arabs, in a pre-Islamic tradition; called the Lady of Victory. Her hair flowing and her body partly exposed, this Lady of Victory appealed both to valor and passion. In addition to this, the fact that every man that met her fell in love with her due to her beauty and charm makes her even more fascinating. 

Life of Aurelian, by Vopiscus in Augustae Historiae Scriptores (translated into English by Bernard in 1740)

 

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