Zenobia (3d Century AD) was queen of Palmyra, a city in central Syria. When her husband was murdered, perhaps through her own contrivance, she ruled in the name of her son. She was ambitious and expanded the territories in her domain to include East Asia Minor, Syria, Northern Mesopotamia and Egypt. However, when she dared to call her son emperor, the Romans under Aurelian attacked Palmyra and captured Zenobia as she was fleeing. She managed to save her life by blaming the war on her secretary Longinus. He was beheaded and Palmyra was destroyed. Zenobia was brought back to Rome and eventually pensioned and retired with large possessions near Tivoli.

Though she was respected for her intelligence and beauty, her name has become associated with ruthless arrogance and ambition (no doubt, for daring to behave like a male of the species).

Wikipedia entry

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