Friday, September 01, 2017

Zenobia, the "visionary queen" of Palmyra

JUDITH WEINGARTEN: Zenobia, Visionary Queen of Ancient Palmyra. In the 200s A.D. the Empress of the East turned her armies on Rome, and almost won.
Thus begins the biography of Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, in the Historia Augusta (History of the Emperors), written near the end of the fourth century A.D. And what we read there is almost all we know about the queen.

Sometimes, I think if it were not for her coins Queen Zenobia would be taken as a legendary figure. There could be a kernel of truth in the story, but it is a tale so fantastical, so gendered, with sources so unreliable, that it simply could not have historical value. Yet Zenobia did exist, and she did go to war against the Romans. And, as Empress of the East, she came within a hair’s breadth of victory.
Judith wrote this post for the Getty Research Institute’s blog, The Iris, in connection with their Palmyra exhibition (on which more here and here). She has republished it on her own blog, Zenobia: Empress of the East. Past PaleoJudaica post on the Empress Zenobia are here and links. Alas, my hope that ISIS would spare Palmyra was unfounded.

Cross-file under Palmyra Watch. Many other past posts on Palmyra, its history, the ancient Aramaic dialect spoken there (Palmyrene), and the city's tragic reversals of fortune, for now trending for the bette are here and here and links.

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