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Septimia Zenobia, also known by her Semitic name Bath Zabbai, was a fiercely independent woman who took over power from her husband Odaenathus when he died. She had already accompanied him on his campaigns against Persia and realised the power available to her upon his death. Ruling as a regent for her infant son Vabalathus, she took on the role of ruler with alacrity.
Zenobia was a beautiful and powerful woman who was a competent ruler. She was considered even braver than her husband and actively took part in military campaigns. She rode and drank with her generals. She was ambitious, and upon securing power she expanded her realm into Mesopotamia and nearby parts of Asia Minor.
At the height of her reign, Zenobia held a significant part of the eastern territories of the Roman Empire, controlling the cities of Antioch and Alexandria (two of the three largest cities in the Roman Empire). She dined and acted and was worshipped like a King, but her greed and love for power soon became her undoing. She was well aware of the Romans' desire to eliminate her growing kingdom and the Emperor Aurelian inflicted a series of crushing defeats on the ambitious Palmyrenes, under Zenobia, and took the Queen and her son prisoner.
In 274, the Emperor paraded Zenobia through Rome as a “victory trophy” to demonstrate the triumph of the reconquest of the lands lost to Palmyra under Zenobia's reign. It is thought that the Emperor was lenient and gave her an estate on the Tiber where she was permitted to retire into private life amid a very fashionable location. During AD 270 – 272 coinage was struck with the joint names Vabalathus and Aurelian at Alexandria and Antioch. Zenobia was not involved in this coinage and the only issues in her name belong to the period subsequent to Aurelian's invasion of the East in the spring of 272.
As a consequence, Zenobia's coins are particularly rare.
Obv: S ZENOBIA AVG, bust r., crescent behind shoulders.
Rev: IVNO REGINA, Juno standing l., holding patera and sceptre, peacock at feet, star in field. (Antioch/Emesa)
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