Zenobia of Palmyra: History, Myth and the Neo-Classical Imagination
Queen Zenobia of Palmyra in Syria was one of the great women of classical antiquity, a romantic if tragic heroine both to Roman authors and to Chaucer, Gibbon and the neo-classical artists of the 19th century. But both the romantic image of her as a beautiful, intellectual but chaste Arab queen of the desert, and the political perception of her as a regal woman whose feminine qualities lifted her above her misfortunes, do less than justice to Palmyra's most controversial ruler. There was a dark side to her that translates her from myth into reality, into being a ruler who for better or worse did what real rulers do and should be judged as such. This book constructs a coherent political and military narrative for Zenobia's life, confirming the depth of the 'third century crisis' of the Roman Empire, choosing between rival versions of what happened to Zenobia, and examining the myths that have surrounded her ever since.