Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra from 266 to 272

The daughter of Antiochus, she became the wife of Odaenath and aided him in transforming Palmyra into a mighty ally of Rome. He campaigns against Persia secured Palmyran protection of Palestine, Syria, and parts of Asia Minor, with the blessing of Emperor Gallienud.

When Odaenath was murdered sometime in 266 or 267, possibly by the Queen herself, she immediately assumed control of the government, ruling in the name of their son Vaballath. She set about expanding her court, attracting the finest minds of the time, especially the Neoplatonists and Cassius Longinus, who urged her defiance of Rome.

When Emperor Claudius II Gothicus died in 270, Zenobia launched a campaign to increase her power. General Zabdas took command of the Palmyrene army and invaded the provinces of Syria-Palestine, eastern Asia Minor and even into Egypt.

Aurelian, new to the throne of Rome, was preoccupied with barbarian invasions until the summer of 271, when he marched against the Palmyrenes. Zabdas was defeated at Antioch and Emesa, and the Palmyrene acquisitions in Asia Minor and Syria were lost. Zenobia fled to Palmyra, rejecting Aurelian’s offer of peace.

She then tried to escape to the Persians but was captured and forced to walk in Aurelian’ s Triumph in Rome, where she was transported in a golden chair. She lived in Rome and on an estate at Tibur for the rest of her life, on a state subsidy.

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