From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Zenobia (around 240-after 274) was a Syrian woman who lived in the 3rd century. She was a Queen of the Palmyrene Empire and the second wife to king Septimius Odaenathus. Upon his death she became the ruler of the empire. In 269, she conquered Egypt expelling the Roman prefect of Egypt, Tenagino Probus, whom she beheaded when he attempted a recapture. She then proclaimed herself Queen of Egypt also. Ruling until 274 when she was defeated and taken as hostage to Rome by Aurelian. Zenobia appeared in golden chains in Aurelian’s military triumph parade in Rome. So impressed by her, Aurelian granted her clemency, and freed Zenobia. Further, he granted her an elegant villa in Tibur (modern Tivoli, Italy). She lived in luxury and she became a prominent philosopher, socialite, and Roman matron—and prominent Romans are counted as her descendants.
Zenobia in Literature and The Theatre
- Geoffrey Chaucer, "The Monk's Prologue and Tale", in The Canterbury Tales, vv. 359-486
- Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance features a character named Zenobia.
- Zenobia was the heroine of Alexander Baron's novel The Queen of the East pulished in paperback by Panther in 1960.A reasonably persuasive fictional account of her conflict with the Roman Emperor, Aurelian
- Louis de Wohl's The Living Wood contains many references to Zenobia.
- Beloved, by Bertrice Small, is a fictitious retelling (historical novel) of Zenobia's life. ISBN 0-345-32785-3
- Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, contains a manipulative character named Zenobia Pierce
- Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein, contains a character with the middle name Zenobia, daughter of Anne (by Valentine Michael Smith)
- "Rites of Passage," by William Golding contains an actress by the name of Zenobia
- "Hand maiden of Palmyra," by Fleur Reynolds. Erotic novel featuring Queen Zenobia.
- In the 1977 Sinbad Film, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, the main villain is a sorceress named Zenobia.
- Zenobia has been the heroine of two operas, Pasquale Anfossi's Zenobia in Palmira (1789) and Rossini's Aureliano in Palmira (1813).
- In Anthony Burgess' novel; The Doctor is Sick, a map labelled Zenobia is hanging on the wall of Mr Chasper's office.