The New International Encyclopædia/Zenobia
ZENO'BIA (Lat., from Gk. Ζηνοβία). Queen of Palmyra. She was the wife of Odenathus, lord of Palmyra, who had been recognized in A.D. 264 as king and imperator in the East by the Roman Emperor Gallienus (q.v.), and whose sway extended over almost all the eastern provinces. In 207 Odenathus and his son Herodes were murdered, and a younger son, Vahballathus, succeeded his father, though the actual government was in the hands of Zenobia, who ruled as an independent sovereign, caring little for the Roman emperors, with whose armies she repeatedly came into conflict. She even attempted to establish her dominion in Egypt, but in this she failed. When Aurelian came to the throne in 270, he at first continued to recognize the title and rights of Vahballathus, and even permitted Zenobia to assume the title of Augusta. In 271 Vahballathus died, and Zenobia continued to rule, in the name of her two younger sons. Attempting to extend her power over Asia Minor, she drew upon herself the anger of Aurelian, who marched against her with a large army and, after twice defeating her troops, besieged her in Palmyra (early in 272). Her hopes of being relieved by the Persians and Arabians being disappointed, she attempted to escape by flight, but was captured (spring of 272). Before the conqueror her courage failed, and she saved her own life by imputing the blame of the war to her counselors, especially the celebrated Longinus (q.v.), who was accordingly put to death. Zenobia was led in triumphal procession at Rome, and was presented by her conqueror with large possessions in the Villa of Hadrian, near Tibur (Tivoli), where in the society of her two sons she passed the rest of her life. She was a woman of great courage, high spirit, and striking beauty. With purity of morals in private life, she combined prudence, justice, and liberality in her administration. Her literary acquirements were considerable; she spoke Latin and Greek, as well as Syriac and Coptic.