Zenobia of Palmyra: History, Myth and the Neo-Classical Imagination

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9780715638538: Zenobia of Palmyra: History, Myth and the Neo-Classical Imagination

Queen Zenobia of Palmyra in Syria was one of the great women of classical antiquity, a romantic if tragic heroine both to Roman authors and to Chaucer, Gibbon and the neo-classical painters and sculptors of the nineteenth century. in her desperate search for a survival strategy for her wealthy city in the chaotic third century Ad Zenobia fell foul of Aurelian, one of the ablest soldier-emperors Rome ever produced, and the image of her paraded in golden chains in Aurelian's triumphal procession at Rome became the iconic image of her enforced submission – and that of women generally, as she was transformed in modern times into a symbol of women's struggle for emancipation. Zenobia is encrusted with legends, ancient and modern. both the romantic image of her as a beautiful, intellectual but chaste Arab queen of the desert, and the political perception of her as a regal woman whose feminine qualities lifted her above her misfortune and her captor, do less than justice to Palmyra's most controversial ruler. There was a dark side to her – wicked step-mother perhaps, accessory to murder perhaps, traitor to her friends certainly – that translates her from myth into reality, into being a ruler who for better or worse did what real rulers do and should be judged as such. This book constructs a coherent political and military narrative for Zenobia's life and her bid for empire. It confirms the depth of the 'third century crisis' of the Roman empire, chooses between rival versions of what happened to Zenobia, and examines the myths that have surrounded her ever since.

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About the Author:

Rex Winsbury has a PhD in classical studies from the University of London, UK. He has worked at the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the BBC, and as a self-employed publisher, editor and journalist. He is the author of The Roman Book – Books, Publishing and Performance in Classical Rome (2009), also published by Bloomsbury.

Review:

For a time Zenobia (c. AD 240–274) ruled a vast swathe of the Middle East, holding her own between Rome and Persia, but the actual person and her life have largely been lost to history, if not to the imagination. In this book, classicist Winsbury takes a look at what might be termed the “three Zenobias”. Separating what can be learned about the real person from the slender documentary and archaeological record, as well as the vaster body of legend about the warrior-queen, he gives us a solid account of the life and times of Zenobia, one of the few strong women in ancient history not reputed to have been a sex machine. He then goes on to show how the mythic image has influenced artists and writers throughout history, most notably in the nineteenth century. In the process, we are given a look at war, statecraft, and diplomacy in the ancient world, particularly the Middle East, during the great mid-third century crisis of the Roman Empire. A good book for students of ancient history, of women in history, and of the Romantic Movement.

Journalist and classicist Winsbury unravels the myths about the third-century Palmyran queen, Zenobia, in this compelling piece of historical detective work. The image of Zenobia as a brave and tragic figure, defeated by the Roman emperor Aurelian, has lasted for centuries but her life story rests on little hard evidence. Winsbury examines the physical evidence, such as coins from her reign, as well as the many chronicles of her life by near contemporaries. The inconsistencies of the latter are an impediment to certainty but, by taking the reader through the process of elimination, Winsbury makes a good case for his conclusions. Throughout, he discusses the afterlife of Zenobia as symbol, particularly for nineteenth-century advocates of women's rights. He also places her in the context of third-century politics in the Roman Near East. This book is for general readers and proves that solid scholarship need not be boring.

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Descripción Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Queen Zenobia of Palmyra in Syria was one of the great women of classical antiquity, a romantic if tragic heroine both to Roman authors and to Chaucer, Gibbon and the neo-classical artists of the 19th century. But both the romantic image of her as a beautiful, intellectual but chaste Arab queen of the desert, and the political perception of her as a regal woman whose feminine qualities lifted her above her misfortunes, do less than justice to Palmyra s most controversial ruler. There was a dark side to her that translates her from myth into reality, into being a ruler who for better or worse did what real rulers do and should be judged as such. This book constructs a coherent political and military narrative for Zenobia s life, confirming the depth of the third century crisis of the Roman Empire, choosing between rival versions of what happened to Zenobia, and examining the myths that have surrounded her ever since. Nº de ref. de la librería AA79780715638538

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Descripción Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, United Kingdom, 2010. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Queen Zenobia of Palmyra in Syria was one of the great women of classical antiquity, a romantic if tragic heroine both to Roman authors and to Chaucer, Gibbon and the neo-classical artists of the 19th century. But both the romantic image of her as a beautiful, intellectual but chaste Arab queen of the desert, and the political perception of her as a regal woman whose feminine qualities lifted her above her misfortunes, do less than justice to Palmyra s most controversial ruler. There was a dark side to her that translates her from myth into reality, into being a ruler who for better or worse did what real rulers do and should be judged as such. This book constructs a coherent political and military narrative for Zenobia s life, confirming the depth of the third century crisis of the Roman Empire, choosing between rival versions of what happened to Zenobia, and examining the myths that have surrounded her ever since. Nº de ref. de la librería AA79780715638538

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