ZENOBIA (Gr. Znvotila), queen of Palmyra, one of the heroines of antiquity. Her native name was Septimia Bath zabbai, a name also borne by one of her generals, Septimius Zabbai. This remarkable woman, famed for her beauty, her masduline energy and unusual powers of mind, was well fitted to be the consort of Odainatti (see ODAENATHUS) in his proud position as Dux Orientis; during his lifetime she actively seconded his policy, and after his death in A.D. 266-267 she not only suc ceeded to his position but determined to surpass it and make Palmyra mistress of the Roman Empire in the East. Wahab allath or Athenodorus (as the name was Graecized), her son by Odainath, being still a boy, she took the reins of government into her own hands. Under her general-in-chief Zabda, the Palmyrenes occupied Egypt in A.D. 270, not without a struggle, under the pre text of restoring it to Rome; and Wahab-allath governed Egypt in the reign of Claudius as joint ruler with the title of gactXfin (king), while Zenobia herself was styled 13(2,(R.X1c(ra (queen). In Asia Minor Palmyrene garrisons were established as far west as Ancyra in Galatia and Chalcedon opposite Byzantium, and Zeno bia still professed to be acting in the interests of the Roman rule.
When Aurelian became emperor in 27o he quickly realized that the policy of the Palmyrene queen was endangering the unity of the empire. It was not long before all disguises were thrown off ; in Egypt Wahab-allath began to issue coins without the head of Aurelian and bearing the imperial title, and Zenobia's coins bear the same. The assumption marked the rejection of all allegiance to Rome. Aurelian instantly took measures; Egypt was recovered for the Empire by Probus (close of 270), and the emperor himself prepared a great expedition into Asia Minor and Syria. Towards the end of 271 he marched through Asia Minor and, overthrowing the Palmyrene garrisons in Chalcedon, Ancyra and Tyana, he reached Antioch, where the main Palmyrene army under Zabda and Zabbai, with Zenobia herself, attempted to oppose his way. The attempt, however, proved unsuccessful, and after suffering considerable losses the Palmyrenes retired in the direction of Emesa (now Homs), whence the road lay open to their native city.
The queen refused to yield to Aurelian's demand for surrender and drew up her army at Emesa for the battle which was to decide her fate. In the end she was defeated, and there was
nothing for it but to fall back upon Palmyra across the desert.
Thither Aurelian followed her in spite of the difficulties of trans port, and laid siege to the well-fortified and provisioned city. At the critical moment the queen's courage seems to have failed she and her son fled from the city to seek help from the Persian king, they were captured on the bank of the Euphrates, and the Palmyrenes, losing heart at this disaster, capitulated (A.D. 272). Aurelian seized the wealth of the city but spared the inhabitants; to Zenobia he granted life ; while her officers and advisers, among whom was the celebrated scholar Longinus, were put to death.
Zenobia figured in the conqueror's splendid triumph at Rome, and by the most probable account accepted her fall with dignity and closed her days at Tibur, where she lived with her sons the life of a Roman matron. A few months after the f all of Zenobia, Palmyra revolted again ; Aurelian unexpectedly returned, de stroyed the city, and this time showed no mercy to the population.
Among the traditions relating to Zenobia may be mentioned that of her discussions with the Archbishop Paul of Samosata on matters of religion. It is probable that she treated the Jews in Palmyra with favour; she is referred to in the Talmud, as pro tecting Jewish rabbis (Talm. Jer. Ter. viii. 46 b).
The well-known account of Zenobia by Gibbon (Decline and Fall, i. pp. 3o2-312 Bury's edition) is based upon the imperial bio graphers (Historia Augusta) and cannot be regarded as strictly historical in detail.
See A. P. Caussin de Perceval Essai sur l'hist. des Arabes, ii. 28 f., 197 f. (3 vols., 1847-48) ; Tabari, i. 757 f. See further PALMYRA. (G. A. C.; X.) ZENOBIUS, a Greek sophist, who taught rhetoric at Rome during the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 117-138). He was the author of a collection of proverbs in three books, still extant in an abridged form, compiled, according to Suidas, from Didymus of Alexandria and Lucillus of Tarrha. Zenobius is also said to have been the author of a Greek translation of Sallust and of a birthday poem (-yEv€OXtaK6v) on Hadrian.