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Zenobia (240– c. 274 AD) was a 3rd century Syrian queen of the Palmyrene Empire who led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire.

The second wife of King Septimius Odaenathus, Zenobia became queen of the Palmyrene empire following Odaenathus' death in 267. By 269, Zenobia had expanded the empire, conquering Egypt and expelling the Roman prefect, Tenagino Probus, who was beheaded after he led an attempt to recapture the territory. She ruled over Egypt until 274, when she was defeated and taken as a hostage to Rome by Emperor Aurelian.

Zenobia is said to have worn golden chains in Aurelian's military triumph parade in Rome. There are multiple alternative accounts of Zenobia's death—including illness, hunger strike or beheading. Under the most upbeat version, Aurelian was so impressed by Zenobia that he freed her, granting her an elegant villa in Tibur (modern Tivoli, Italy) where she became a prominent philosopher, socialite and Roman matron.[1]


Family, ancestry and early life

Zenobia was born and raised in Palmyra, Syria. Her Roman name is Iulia Aurelia Zenobia, while her name in Arabic is al-Zabbā’ bint ‘Amr ibn al-Ẓarib ibn Ḥassān ibn Adhīnat ibn al-Samīda‘ (Arabic: الزباء بنت عمرو بن الظرب بن حسان ابن أذينة بن السميدع‎, al-Zabbā’, daughter of ‘Amr son of al-Ẓarib son of Ḥassān son of Adhīnah son of al-Samīda‘), most commonly referred to simply as al-Zabbā’. In Greek, she is known as Zēnobía (Greek: ἡ Ζηνοβία), which is cognate with Arabic Zainab (Arabic: زَينَب‎), or Septimia Zenobia, having added Septimia after marrying Septimius Odaenathus. Zenobia herself signed official documents Bat-Zabbai (daughter of al-Zabbā’). Zenobia and her mother were given the nickname al-Zabbā’, meaning 'the one with long lovely hair'.

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