Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Chronicle of Zenobia: The Rebel Queen by Judith Weingarten


Blogcritics.org: "Zenobia, who from her desert stronghold in Palmyra challenged and held out against the might of the Roman empire, is one of the great queens of history. Yet the fact that she was on the side of 'East' rather than 'West', that she was female, that her 'country' no longer exists (Palmyra is in the far east of modern Syria) means she's not received the attention she deserved.

It was Antonia Fraser in The Warrior Queens who first brought her to attention of English-speaking readers, but surprisingly little has been written on her since then. A search of Amazon reveals no more than half a dozen significant factual and fictional treatments. So, having visited Palmyra and soaked up its glorious atmosphere, I was delighted to sit down with Judith Weingarten's The Rebel Queen, billed as Volume One of 'The Chronicle of Zenobia'.

The author is a veteran archaeologist, with many professional publications to her credit, and the depth of her knowledge is clear from the early pages of the book, as we meet its central character, Simon, a Jewish boy who will grow up to serve the young king Odenathus, who married the young Zenobia in the multicultural city. Odenathus was bred to rule in the caravan city that is part of the Roman empire, but not subject to it, bred to be a warrior in an unstable border region facing the threat of the Persians."
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