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date: 31 January 2023



  • John Frederick Drinkwater


Zenobia (Septimia), or in *AramaicBath Zabbai, one of the great women of classical antiquity (PLRE 1. 990 f.). The second wife of *Septimius Odaenathus of *Palmyra, on his death in ce 267, in suspicious circumstances, she secured power for herself in the name of her young son, *Septimius Vaballathus. As long as Zenobia kept the east secure, *Gallienus and *Claudius (II) Gothicus were prepared to accept her regime, including its bestowal upon Vaballathus of his father's Roman titles, and hence of the claim to be more than just king of Palmyra. However, in 270 Zenobia exploited the political instability that followed the death of Claudius to expand beyond Syria by taking over Egypt and much of Asia Minor, and further to enhance Vaballathus' Roman titles, while continuing to recognize *Aurelian as emperor. When Aurelian finally moved against her in 272, her forces failed to stop him at *Antioch (1) and *Emesa, and—now calling her son Augustus and herself Augusta—she was cornered in Palmyra.


  • Gender Studies
  • Roman History and Historiography

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