queen of Palmyra.
After the death of her husband, Odenathus, about A. D. 266, she assumed the imperial diadem and purple, as regent for her sons, and not only maintained the pomp but discharged all the active duties of a sovereign.
She appeared in martial attire at the head of the troops, she shared their toils both on horseback and on foot, she was at once liberal and prudent in the administration of the revenues, strict in dispensing justice, merciful in the exercise of power.
But not content with enjoying the dignified independence gratefully conceded by Gallienus and tolerated by Claudius, she sought to include all Syria, Asia, and Egypt within the limits of her sway, and to make good the title which she claimed of Queen of the East. We have seen elsewhere [AURELIANUS] that by this rash ambition she lost both her kingdom and her liberty. Loaded with costly jewels, fettered hand and foot with shackles of gold, she was led by a golden chain, before the chariot of Aurelian, along the Sacred Way, while all Rome gazed, with eager curiosity, on the Arabian princess. Profiting by the clemency of her conqueror, she passed the remainder of her life with her sons [HERENNIANUS ; TIMOLAUS], after the manner of a Roman matron, in the vicinity of Tivoli, nigh to the gorgeous villa of Hadrian, on an estate which still bore her name when Pollio wrote her history.
One black stain is attached to the memory of Zenobia.
It is recorded that, stimulated by the jealousy of a stepmother, she consented to the death of her husband, because he seemed to prefer Heroes his son by a former wife, to Herennianus and Timolaus, his children by herself.
This charge, not improbable in itself when we recollect the vindictive passions which so often rage in the zenana of an Eastern despot, is characterised by Gibbon as a very unjust suspicion, but he forgets that it rests upon the same authority with nearly all the particulars which he has admitted without hesitation in regard to her career, the rumours, namely, collected by the Augustan historian.
The fact that speedy vengeance was inflicted on the assassin may have been dictated by remorse and prudence. (Trebell. Pollio, Trig. Tyrann. ;
comp. Zonar. 12.27