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Palmyra, Syria (aka Tadmor)
Claiming descent from Cleopatra, Zenobia imbues Palmyra with a wild romance. She was, it seems, a woman of exceptional ability and ambition. Wife of Odenathus, king of Palmyra, she may have been involved in his murder. Fluent in Greek, Latin, Aramaic and Egyptian, she effectively turned Palmyra into an independent empire, wrestling control of Egypt from Rome and marching deep into Asia Minor - although in doing so, she also assured her city's eventual destruction.
From her actions, she was obviously headstrong and willful ... Edward Gibbon said of her in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:
She equaled in beauty her ancestor Cleopatra and far surpassed her in chastity and valor. Zenobia was esteemed the most lovely as well as the most heroic of her sex. She was of dark complexion. Her teeth were of pearly whiteness and her large black eyes sparkled with an uncommon fire, tempered by the most attractive sweetness. Her voice was strong and harmonious. Her manly understanding was strengthened and adorned by study.
Apparently, she was also a ruler with a sense of humor. A merchant was to be punished for overcharging and was summoned to the theatre to appear in front of the queen and the public audience. The merchant stood alone in the arena and shook with fear, thinking that a wild beast was to be set upon him. When the beast was released the crowd roared with laughter - the merchant turned around to be confronted by a chicken.
Zenobia was carted off to Rome in 272 CE as Aurelian's trophy and paraded in the streets, bound in gold chains. She spent the rest of her days in Rome, some say in a villa provided by the emperor, others claim she chose to starve to death rather than remain captive. [Encyclopędia Britannica says she married a Roman senator.] Her city was destroyed by the Romans in 273 CE and never regained its fortunes. [- Adapted from Lonely Planet Syria.]
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