Page:Syria, the land of Lebanon (1914).djvu/178

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was a bold defiance and a proclamation of herself and her son as supreme rulers of the whole East.

Aurelian, however, was of different stuff from his weakling predecessors. In the year 272 he brought an immense army to Syria, defeated the forces of Zenobia at Antioch and then, following quickly after the retreating Palmyrenes, routed them again near the city of Emesa (modern Homs) and demanded of Zenobia that she surrender. The haughty answer was that her enemy had not yet even begun to test the valor and resources of Palmyra.

So the great army of Rome laid siege to the desert stronghold. The winter and spring wore on, and Zenobia was still unconquered. Whenever Aurelian summoned her to capitulate, she responded with another bold defiance. But at last it became clear that her capital was doomed; so the queen, escaping the vigilance of the Roman sentries, slipped away from the city and fled across the desert toward the Euphrates. Just as she reached the bank of the river, however, she was overtaken and brought back captive. Yet her proud spirit remained unbroken. When Aurelian reproached her for her obstinate and useless rebellion, she answered with calm dignity that the course of events had indeed proved his supremacy, but that the previous emperors had not shown themselves to be superior to her, and she had therefore been justified in opposing their authority.

In spite of the stubborn resistance of the city, Au-

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