History for the Rest of Us

Zenobia – Queen of Palmyra

Zenobia – Queen of Palmyra

Sep 21, 2012

REIGNED 267-273 A.D. Of the government and manners of the Arabians before the time of Mahomet, we have few and imperfect accounts; but from the remotest ages they led the same unsettled and predatory life which they do at this day, dispersed in hordes, and dwelling under tents. It was not to those wild and wandering tribes that the superb Palmyra owed its rise and grandeur, though situated in the midst of their deserts, where it is now beheld in its melancholy beauty and ruined splendor, like an enchanted island in the midst of an ocean of sands. The merchants who trafficked between India and Europe, by the only route then known, first colonized this singular spot, which afforded them a convenient resting-place; and even in the days of Solomon it was the emporium for the gems and gold, the ivory, gums, spices, and silks of the far Eastern countries, which thus found their way to the remotest parts of Europe. The Palmyrenes were, therefore, a mixed race—their origin, and many of their customs, were Egyptian; their love of luxury and their manners were derived from Persia; their language, literature, and architecture were Greek. Thus, like Venice and Genoa, in more modern times, Palmyra owed its splendor to the opulence and public spirit of its merchants; but its chief fame and historical interest it owes to the genius and heroism of a woman. Septimia Zenobia, for such is her classical appellation, was the daughter of an Arab chief, Amrou, the son of Dharb, the son of Hassan. Of her first husband we have no account; she was left a widow at a very early age, and married, secondly, Odenathus, chief of several tribes of the desert, near Palmyra, and a prince of extraordinary valor and boundless ambition. Odenathus was the ally of the Romans in their wars against Sapor (or, more properly, Shah Poor), king of Persia; he gained several splendid victories over that powerful monarch, and twice pursued his armies even to the gates of Ctesiphon (or Ispahan), his capital. Odenathus was as fond of the chase as of war, and in all his military and hunting expeditions he was accompanied by his...