03 January 2007

Zenobia's blog

Sylvia Plath, a poem by Anne Stevenson asks

Poor Sylvia, could you not have been
a little smaller than a queen –
a river, not a tidal wave
engulfing all you tried to save?

This is how I think of Zenobia and what she tried to do.

I originally intended to use this blog to ask for comments on my Wilkinson lecture on Zenobia, part of the Women of Power series, given on 2 May 2006 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York -- and I hope to have at least the text part of the lecture up within the next weeks. But I also hope occasionally to blog about Zenobia's world, together with like-minded enthusiasts, in thinking about Palmyra between West and East, the third century A.D., Rome and the Parthian, then Sassanian Persian Empire, their history, politics, art. And thinking, always, about the incredible but true story of Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, who united the whole of the Eastern Empire under her rule and almost succeeded in breaking free of Rome.

The lifeblood of the blog will be comments and contributions from all Zenobia enthusiasts, academic or not: you are invited to participate.


  1. Anonymous3/1/07 18:50

    Good idea (the blog) and nice Website !
    Best wishes and happy new year to you, Judith!
    By the way, I think that there is a book to be done about Late Antique women (though Zenobia is not so late...)

  2. That would be a wonderful book to write. Zenobia is not quite Late Antique, but I would really start even earlier. In my mind, the story begins with the four Julia's of the Severan dynasty (not to put too Syrian a slant on it): Julia Domna, the Syrian wife of the Emperor Septimius Severus, the first of the quartet of Julia’s -- sister, daughters, mothers of four emperors.

  3. Welcome to the Blogosphere, hope soon to read a more about Zenobia.

  4. Anonymous4/1/07 21:59

    How wonderful Judith to see you online with a blog. For the readers of this message: don't forget to visit the website www.zenobia.tv :-)

  5. A great idea! Congratulations on the book and on the blog. Not too many archaeologists blog apparently.

    Do try to put more info on Zenobia and that particular time on the blog. I'm sure it will be interesting for a lot of people.

  6. Is it politically correct to call any woman an antique?

  7. That looks like a very interesting blog. Yes, more info about Zenobia and Rome, please; I'm infected with the Roman bug, too. :)

  8. Anonymous11/1/07 02:24

    I think it fair to say that if Rome was not going through her Barracks Emperors period, the defeat and capture of P. Licinius Valerianus by the Sassanids in 260 allowed the major opening for Odenathus to seize control. Septimia Zenobia happened to be married to Odenathus and thus by default became ruler of the Palmyrene "Empire" after her husbands death. Had she not declared herself Augusta in 271, I suspect that Rome would have been glad for her to maintain a buffer state or client kingdom in the desert. But her direct defiance to the Romans with the invasion of Asia Minor left L. Domitius Aurelianus no choice but to put her down.

  9. Anonymous13/1/07 01:42

    Zenobia (and women of antiquity) has always fascinated me every since I ran across references to her while reading history in college. Wonderful blog.


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