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Zenobia

Zenobia (or Xenobia) is the name commonly used for the daughter of (= "bat" or "bath") Zabaai ben Selim. The widow of Septimius Odenathus, she reigned as Queen of Palmyra from 267 to 272 as regent for her infant son Vaballathus. Something of a militant, she embarked on a campaign of conquests that eventually saw her as the ruler of much of Syria and Asia Minor. By playing off Persia to the east against Rome to the west, she hoped to dominate them both.

In 269, she crushed an Egyptian who challenged Roman rule and proclaimed herself Queen of Egypt. She had always claimed to be descended from Cleopatra VII of Egypt, and many modern historians believe she was.

The Roman emperor Aurelian led a military campaign that resulted in the conquest of her kingdom in 272. Zenobia was captured and paraded wearing gold chains in Aurelian's Triumph (274). She was granted a villa in Tibur (now Tivoli, Italy), where she spent the rest of her life as a philosopher and socialite. Some historians (ancient and modern) believe she married a Roman senator and that they had children, so the line continued at least into the 4th century.


Beloved (1983) was a best-selling historical romance about Zenobia written by Bertrice Small.