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The story of Zenobia is a fascinating account of rebellion. Her husband, an Egyptian general named Odenathus, distinguished himself by recruiting an army, without consent nor funds from Rome. He then set out to meet the plundering army of Shapur, the King of Persia who had just defeated the army of Valerian and taken him hostage. With an intense hatred towards Shapur his small army attacked as best it could the victorious and far larger army of the Persian king. He managed to recover part of the looted treasures of various sacked cities as well as captives and, apparently, cut short their rampage. For his valor the Senate and people of Rome pressed Gallienus to recognize his patriotism. The emperor granted him no less than with the position of Augustus of the East. Together with Zenobia the two turned out to rule wisely and were beloved in the various eastern provinces. But one of the sons of Odenathus held imperial ambitions and managed to kill his father as well as a half-brother while the two were being entertained at a banquet. Zenobia, rather than simply mourn her husband's death, immediately sent for the errant son's arrest and had him executed. She thus continued to rule with the assumed title of Augusta, a title, of course, not granted her by Gallienus nor the Senate. As soon as Aurelian, who was by now emperor, heard of this usurpation he set out with a large army to depose her. Personally leading her own army the two of them met in battle and, despite her initial courage, was eventually defeated by the superior skills of Aurelian. She was forced to flee back to her palace in Palmyra. Aurelian then gave chase and besieged the city and again she fled but this time was apprehended and brought alive to Aurelian. The emperor spared her life but saw fit to raze Palmyra to the ground because its inhabitants refused to recognize him. Several months later Aurelian paraded her through the streets of Rome bound in golden chains (along with Tetricus) and was subsequently pardoned and given an estate outside of Rome. She, and her son Vabalathus, went on to live in peace and become part of the Roman nobility.
RIC 2 Antoninianus Obv: SZENOBIAAVG - Diademed, draped bust right on a crescent
Rev: IVNOREGINA - Juno standing facing, head left, holding patera in right hand, scepter in left, peacock at her feet; star in left field. $7,200 1/16/02.