because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Thursday, December 27, 2012


When Zenobia's husband was assassinated in the year 267, she stepped into the role of ruler of Palmyra as if she was destined to play it. Indeed, she was said to be a descendant of both Cleopatra VII and Queen Dido of Carthage.

Dark complected and beautiful, with sparkling black eyes, Zenobia was, nevertheless, not as cavalier sexually as many of the nobility were at the time. Additionally, she was well educated and highly intelligent, speaking multiple languages and surrounding herself with poets and philosophers.

But her real forte became apparent when she decided to lead her armies into a string of victories as the "Warrior Queen," riding, hunting, and drinking with her officers like the military leader she obviously was.  First, she conquered Egypt (which required beheading the Roman governor). Then, in rapid succession, she added Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Asia Minor to her Palmyrene Empire, which she proceeded to rule for more than four years, awarding herself the honorific title of "Augusta" (meaning "majestic" and reserved only for the most powerful figures of the day). Rome, needless to say, was not pleased.

So, in 273, they amassed forces sufficient to take Palmyra and deliver Zenobia to Rome in golden chains. Varying accounts suggest different ends to Zenobia's story. One is that she was beheaded. Another was that she starved herself to death. But the most credible appears to be that she finessed her way into a luxurious villa in Tibur in the hills on the outskirts of Rome where she became active in society, marrying well and raising several daughters who also married well. Sometimes, in-your-face women only appear to be defeated when they're carried away in chains.

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