Zenobia

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Herbert Schmalz-Zenobia.jpg

Zenobia (240 – c. 275 Greek: Ζηνοβία) was a queen who ruled in the 3rd century over the Palmyrene Empire in what is today Syria. She led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire. She was the second wife of King Septimius Odaenathus. Zenobia became queen of Palmyra after Odaenathus' death in 267. By 269, Zenobia had expanded the empire, taking over Egypt from the Romans. Tenagino Probus, the Roman governor, committed suicide after his failed attempt to recapture the territory. In 272 Zenobia declared herself Empress. She ruled over Egypt until 274, when she was defeated and taken as a hostage to Rome by Emperor Aurelian.

Zenobia was Semitic. Many people think she was either Arab, Jewish or Aramean. She gave her son an Arabic name but her family spoke the Aramaic language, the language of the Arameans. She is known by other names, such as al-Zabbā’ (الزباء) in Arabic sources, Zenobius in Latin sources and Bat Zabbai (בת זבי) in Aramaic sources.