Ancient Mesopotamia & Near East: Historical Figures 
10-12-2009, 08:58 PM (This post was last modified: 10-12-2009 08:58 PM by Enzo.)
RE: Ancient Mesopotamia & Near East: Historical Figures 
Out of her pride, Zenobia refused the terms: “None save yourself has ever demanded by letter what you now demand. Whatever must be accomplished in matters of war must be done by valour alone. You demand my surrender as though you were not aware that Cleopatra preferred to die a Queen rather than remain alive, however high her rank.”
While Palmyra’s defenses were capable, the situation did not look too optimistic. With the cities she originally conquered now loyal to the Romans, the Romans appeared to have an endless supply chain to maintain the siege while Palmyra’s supply diminished. Even if the city could survive the siege, the empire had already crumbled. Egypt had already been reconquered by a Roman general sent by Aurelian. In an act of desperation, Zenobia mounted on a female camel, riding toward the Euphrates in hopes of personally beseeching help from her former enemy the Persians. Unfortunately, while trying to cross the Euphrates Zenobia was overtaken and captured. She was brought before Aurelian, who was a little dismayed that “in future ages it would not redound to his honour to have conquered a woman.”
But of course, she was now a captive. Zenobia was deprived of her great city of Palmyra, which had surrendered after her flight. At Emesa, Zenobia was brought to trial where she defended herself vigorously, as if not all had been lost. But no amount pleading could excuse her from her capture. Certainly, nothing she could do could return to her the empire that she built.
In 274, Aurelian paraded in Rome in an unprecedented triumph for the reconquest of all the lands lost to Palmyra and defeat of the “Gallic Empire” rebels. Envoys from all parts of the world attended his celebration – as did Zenobia, who was paraded through the streets as Aurelian’s victory trophy. Her feet were adorned with shackles of gold and her outfit embellished with so many gems that she could hardly bear the weight to walk. Far away from the parade, Palmyra laid in much ruins, sacked by Roman soldiers after a failed rebellion to expel the Roman rule that had been asserted over the city after Zenobia’s capture.
Some say that Aurelian was lenient to Zenobia and gave her an estate on the Tiber where she spent the rest of her life. Whether or not this was the case we can never know. But at the very least, as one scholar suggests, Zenobia enjoyed almost as much fame as did Cleopatra, but without the tragic end.
Details from Queen Zenobia Before Aurelian, by Giambattista Tiepolo, c. 1717, Museo del Prado, Madrid. Both Zenobia and Aurelian are shown in anachronistic armor and clothing.
The Legacy of Zenobia
When Aurelian paraded Zenobia in his triumphal celebration, he sent a letter to the senate and people of Rome, justifying his honor in performing the unmanly deed of defeating a woman. Zenobia, he explain, was a great leader who inspired fear and won great victories, a leader who planned wisely, who had a firm grasp on her army, and knew when to use discipline and generosity.
To many, the story of Zenobia is one about the ambitious quest for power and the responsibilities that power entails. The ultimate failure of Zenobia need not undermine her fame and accomplishments. Throughout history, many have failed in the end, including Hannibal and Boudicca. But not many women in history, especially in ancient history, have had a career of conquests like that of Zenobia and a story so vivid. As Rome’s antagonist, Zenobia stands among the most prolific, and at the very least, was certainly the greatest woman who ever challenged Rome.
In history, Palmyra’s rise and fall fits into the chaotic timeframe of Rome’s crisis of the third century. Palmyra is notable in that it stood between two powerful empires: Rome and Persia, and yet it rose to threaten both. Although Zenobia’s defeat was a fall from which Palmyra never recovered, they city would have never reached its fame without her. Today, Zenobia’s rule remains a celebrated event in history in the Middle East, not only in Syria, but also in Byzantium and post-renaissance Europe..
While Zenobia’s story is vivid, it is far from complete, for a character of such a dynamic life. In her time, she enjoyed great fame, but surviving accounts are not in abundance. Today, while sources like the notoriously unreliable Historia Augusta have left us with a few exaggerated descriptions of Zenobia, the reader can easily see that each hyperbole has a basis, and in this case, behind the extravagant passages of the Historia is a figure of once great achievement and splendor.
Zosimus, Historia Nova Bk. 1, c. 500 AD. Translation: Green and Chaplin (1814), (http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/zosimus01_book1.htm). Zosimus’ account provides the most through history on the time of Zenobia. Most of what we know about Aurelian’s campaign comes from Zosimus.
Historia Augusta, sections on Aurelian and Zenobia. Translation by David Magie. (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Ro...home.html) The Historia Augusta, also known as the Scriptores Historiae Augustae, is a series of imperial biographies of uncertain origin. The Historia Augusta contains a great deal of descriptions about Zenobia along with quotations. The Historia Augusta is notorious for having fictitious content, but due to the scarcity of sources, its descriptions of Zenobia have often been retold nearly word for word, as was essentially done in this article.
Abbott, Nabia. Pre-Islamic Arab Queens. The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures > Vol. 58, No. 1 (Jan., 1941), pp. 1-22
Macurdy, Grace Harriet, Vassal-queens and some contemporary women in the Roman Empire. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1937.
G. Downey, Aurelian's Victory over Zenobia at Immae, A.D. 272
Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association > Vol. 81 (1950), pp. 57-68
Seyrig, Henri. Palmyra and the East. The Journal of Roman Studies > Vol. 40, Parts 1 and 2 (1950), pp. 1-7
Knox, George. Giambattista Tiepolo: Queen Zenobia and Ca' Zenobio: 'una delle prime sue fatture'The Burlington Magazine > Vol. 121, No. 916 (Jul., 1979), pp. 408-418 (Picture source
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Ancient Mesopotamia & Near East: Historical Figures  - Enzo - 10-12-2009, 08:42 PM
RE: Ancient Mesopotamia & Near East: Historical Figures  - Enzo - 10-12-2009 08:58 PM