The Celebrated Queen of Palmyra
240 – 274 A.D.
Palmyra, the “City of Palms,” was situated in an oasis of the Arabian Desert at the junction of two caravan routes and was a community of merchant princes. The wealth of the city was accordingly great, and its architecture of unusual splendor.
Odenatus, the husband of Zenobia, had taken up arms for the Roman government and had defended the frontier against the aggressions [sic] of the Persian monarch. For this he was recognized as a colleague of the Roman emperor and was given the title of Augustus.
Odenatus was afterwards slain and Zenobia assumed the reins of government. She is described as “of great beauty, unblemished virtue, lofty ambition, and having the power of ruling her subjects with combined mildness and justice.” She was herself a worshiper of one God, but all forms of religion were tolerated by her; Christian, Jew, Pagan, and Mazdean lived together in Peace.
For her prime minister she chose Longinus the Greek philosopher, who was the leading literary man of the Greeks in this century.
Zenobia aspired to be a ruler independent of the Roman emperor. She already ruled Egypt and half of Asia Minor, but she was willing to be subordinate to no one. She and her subjects revolted. Aurelian marched against Palmyra. The forces of Zenobia were defeated in two battles and then the city was besieged and taken. The people were shown no mercy, but fell as the victims of their queen’s ambition.
Zenobia was taken to Rome as a captive. She was obliged to walk into the triumphai [sic] procession, her beautiful figure fettered on by ponderous mannacles [sic] of gold. She was held by chains of gold so heavy that it was necessary for a slave to walk by her side and support them. Her conqueror rode behind her in a triumphal car drawn by four elephants.
Later, by a most unusual leniency, she was allowed to have a splendid dwelling of her own, where she reared her children and sought to imitate the virtues of Cornelia, the Roman matron.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.