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EXPEDITION OF ACRELLAN AGAINST ZENOBIA.

CHAP. XI.

The expedition of Aurelian,

her merit, and was content that, while he pursued the Gothic war, she should assert the dignity of the empire in the East. The conduct, however, of Zenobia was attended with some ambiguity; nor is it unlikely that she had conceived the design of erecting an independent and hostile monarchy. She blended with the popular manners of Roman princes the stately pomp of the courts of Asia, and exacted from her subjects the same adoration that was paid to the successors of Cyrus. She bestowed on her three sons 61 a Latin education, and often showed them to the troops adorned with the Imperial purple. For herself she reserved the diadem, with the splendid but doubtful title of Queen of the East. When Aurelian passed over into Asia, against an adversary whose

sex alone could render her an object of contempt, his

presence restored obedience to the province of Bithynia, A.D. 272. already shaken by the arms and intrigues of Zenobia, 62 Advancing at the head of his legions, he accepted the submission of Ancyra, and was admitted into Tyana, after an obstinate siege, by the help of a perfidious citizen. The generous though fierce temper of Aurelian abandoned the traitor to the rage of the soldiers : a superstitious reverence induced him to treat with lenity the countrymen of Apollonius the philosopher.63 Antioch was deserted on his approach, till the emperor, by his salutary edicts, recalled the fugitives, and granted a general pardon to all who, from necessity rather than choice, had been engaged in the service of the Palmyrenian queen. The unexpected mildness of such a conduct reconciled the minds of the Syrians, and, as far as the gates of Emesa, the wishes of the people seconded the terror of his arms.64 Zenobia would have ill deserved her reputation, had she indolently

permitted the emperor of the West to approach within an defeats the hundred miles of her capital. The fate of the East was nians in the decided in two great battles; so similar in almost every Antioch and circumstance, that we can scarcely distinguish them from

each other, except by observing that the first was fought 61 Timolaus, Herennianus, and Vabalathus." It is supposed that the two former were already dead before the war. On the last, Aurelian bestowed a small province of Armenia, with the title of King; several of his medals are still extant. See Tillemont, tom. iii. p. 1190.

62 Zosimus, l. i. (c. 50] p. 44. 63 Vopiscus (in Hist. August. p. 217 [Aurel. c. 23, seq.]) gives us an authentic letter, and a doubtful vision, of Aurelian. Apollonius of Tyana was born about the same time as Jesus Christ. His life (that of the former) is related in so fabulous a manner by his disciples, that we are at a loss to discover whether he was a sage, an impostor, or a fanatic.

64 Zosimus, l. i. (c. 54] p. 46. * Vopiscus asserts (Aurel. c. 38) that extant either of Herennianus or Timolaus, Zenobia governed as regent for her son while there are several of Vabalathus, Balbatus (i. e. Vabalathus), and not for bearing the effigies and titles of Aurelian Timolaus and Herennianus, which is the on the reverse. Eckhel, vol. vii. p. 491, statement of Trebellius Pollio, XXX. seq.; Clinton, Fasti Rom. vol. i. p. 306. Tyranni, c. 29. There are no medals -S.

The emperor

Palmyre

battles of

Emesa.

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near Antioch,65 and the second near Emesa.66 In both the queen of Palmyra animated the armies by her presence, and devolved the execution of her orders on Zabdas, who had already signalised his military talents by the conquest of Egypt. The numerous forces of Zenobia consisted for the most part of light archers, and of heavy cavalry clothed in complete steel. The Moorish and Illyrian horse of Aurelian were unable to sustain the ponderous charge of their antagonists. They fled in real or affected disorder, engaged the Palmyrenians in a laborious pursuit, harassed them by a desultory combat, and at length discomfited this impenetrable but unwieldy body of cavalry. The light infantry, in the mean time, when they had exhausted their quivers, remaining without protection against a closer onset, exposed their naked sides to the swords of the legions. Aurelian had chosen these veteran troops who were usually stationed on the Upper Danube, and whose valour had been severely tried in the Alemannic war. 67 After the defeat of Emesa, Zenobia found it impossible to collect a third army. As far as the frontier of Egypt, the nations subject to her empire had joined the standard of the conqueror, who detached Probus, the bravest of his generals, to possess himself of the Egyptian provinces. Palmyra was the last resource of the widow of Odenathus. She retired within the walls of her capital, made every preparation for a vigorous resistance, and declared, with the intrepidity of a heroine, that the last moment of her reign and of her life should be the same.

Amid the barren deserts of Arabia a few cultivated spots rise like islands out of the sandy ocean. Even the name of Tadmor, The sts or Palmyra, by its signification in the Syriac as well as of Palmyra. in the Latin language, denoted the multitude of palm-trees which afforded shade and verdure to that temperate region. The air was pure, and the soil, watered by some invaluable springs, was capable of producing fruits as well as corn. A place possessed of such singular advantages, and situated at a convenient distance 68 between the Gulf of Persia and the Mediterranean, was soon frequented by

65 At a place called Immæ. Eutropius, Sextus Rufus, and Jerome, mention only this first battle.

66 Vopiscus, in Hist. August. p. 217 [Aurel. c. 25), mentions only the second.

67 Zosimus, 1. i. (c. 50, 899.] p. 44-48. His account of the two battles is clear and circumstantial.

68 It was five hundred and thirty-seven miles from Seleucia, and two hundred and three from the nearest coast of Syria, according to the reckoning of Pliny, who, in a few words (Hist. Natur. v. 25), gives an excellent description of Palmyra.

* Tadmor, or Palmyra, was probably at 125. Tadmor was probably built by a very early period the connecting link Solomon as a commercial station. Hist. between the commerce of Tyre and of Jews, i, p. 271.-M. Babylon. Heeren, Ideen, v. i. p. ii. p.

24

SIEGE OF PALATRA.

CHAP. XI.

the caravans which conveyed to the nations of Europe a considerable part of the rich commodities of India. Palmyra insensibly increased into an opulent and independent city, and, connecting the Roman and the Parthian monarchies by the mutual benefits of commerce, was suffered to observe an humble neutrality, till at length, after the victories of Trajan, the little republic sunk into the bosom of Rome, and flourished more than one hundred and fifty years in the subordinate though honourable rank of a colony. It was during that peaceful period, if we may judge from a few remaining inscriptions, that the wealthy Palmyrenians constructed those temples, palaces, and porticos of Grecian architecture, whose ruins, scattered over an extent of several miles, have deserved the curiosity of our travellers. The elevation of Odenathus and Zenobia appeared to reflect new splendour on their country, and Palmyra, for a while, stood forth the rival of Rome: but the competition was fatal, and ages of prosperity were sacrificed to a moment of glory. 69

In his march over the sandy desert between Emesa and Palmyra, It is be the emperor Aurelian was perpetually harassed by the Aurelian, Arabs; nor could he always defend his army, and especially his baggage, from those flying troops of active and daring robbers, who watched the moment of surprise, and eluded the slow pursuit of the legions. The siege of Palmyra was an object far more difficult and important, and the emperor, who, with incessant vigour, pressed the attacks in person, was himself wounded with a dart. “The “ Roman people,” says Aurelian, in an original letter, “speak with " contempt of the war which I am waging against a woman. They “ are ignorant both of the character and of the power of Zenobia. “ It is impossible to enumerate her warlike preparations, of stones, of “ arrows, and of every species of missile weapons. Every part of the “ walls is provided with two or three balista, and artificial fires are “ thrown from her military engines. The fear of punishment has “ armed her with a desperate courage. Yet still I trust in the pro“ tecting deities of Rome, who have hitherto been favourable to all “ my undertakings.” 70 Doubtful, however, of the protection of the gods, and of the event of the siege, Aurelian judged it more prudent to offer terms of an advantageous capitulation; to the queen, a splendid retreat ; to the citizens, their ancient privileges. His proposals were obstinately rejected, and the refusal was accompanied with insult.

sieged by

& Some English travellers from Aleppo discorered the ruins of Palmyra about the end of the last century. Our curiosity has since been gratified in a more splendid manner by Monsieurs Wood and Dawkins. For the history of Palmyra we may conault the masterly dissertation of Dr. Halley in the Philosophical Transactions: Lowthorp's Abridgment, vol, ill. p. 318.

* Vopiscus in list. August. p. 218. (Aurol, c. 20.]

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cand by the reacularly the Personally. B

who becomes master of Zenobia

city.

The firmness of Zenobia was supported by the hope that in a very short time famine would compel the Roman army to repass the desert; and by the reasonable expectation that the master of kings of the East, and particularly the Persian monarch, and of the would arm in the defence of their most natural ally. But fortune and the perseverance of Aurelian overcame every obstacle. The death of Şapor, which happened about this time," distracted the councils of Persia, and the inconsiderable succours that attempted to relieve Palmyra were easily intercepted either by the arms or the liberality of the emperor. From every part of Syria a regular succession of convoys safely arrived in the camp, which was increased by the return of Probus with his victorious troops from the conquest of Egypt. It was then that Zenobia resolved to fly. She mounted the fleetest of her dromedaries, 72 and had already reached the banks of the Euphrates, about sixty miles from Palmyra, when she was overtaken by the pursuit of Aurelian's light horse, seized and brought back a captive to the feet of the emperor. Her capital

A.D. 273. soon afterwards surrendered, and was treated with unex- ** pected lenity. The arms, horses, and camels, with an immense treasure of gold, silver, silk, and precious stones, were all delivered to the conqueror, who, leaving only a garrison of six hundred archers, returned to Emesa, and employed some time in the distribution of rewards and punishments at the end of so memorable a war, which restored to the obedience of Rome those provinces that had renounced their allegiance since the captivity of Valerian.

When the Syrian queen was brought into the presence of Aurelian, he sternly asked her, How she had presumed to rise in arms Behaviour against the emperors of Rome? The answer of Zenobia of Zenobia. was a prudent mixture of respect and firmness. “Because I dis66 dained to consider as Roman emperors an Aureolus or a Gallienus. “ You alone I acknowledge as my conqueror and my sovereign." 73 But as female fortitude is commonly artificial, so it is seldom steady or consistent. The courage of Zenobia deserted her in the hour of trial; she trembled at the angry clamours of the soldiers, who called aloud for her immediate execution, forgot the generous despair of Cleopatra, which she had proposed as her model, and ignominiously

71 From a very doubtful chronology I have endeavoured to extract the most probable date.

72 Hist. August. p. 218. (Vopisc. Aurel. c. 28.] Zosimus, l. i. (c. 55] p. 50. Though the camel is a heavy beast of burden, the dromedary, which is either of the same or of a kindred species, is used by the natives of Asia and Africa on all occasions which require celerity. The Arabs affirm that he will run over as much ground in one day as their fleetest horses can perform in eight or ten. See Buffon, Hist. Naturelle, tom. xi. p. 222; and Shaw's Travels, p. 167.

73 Pollio in Hist. August. p. 199. [xxx, Tyranni, de Zenobia, c. 29.]

26

REBELLION AND RUIN OF PALMYRA.

CHAP. XI.

and ruin of

purchased life by the sacrifice of her fame and her friends. It was to their counsels, which governed the weakness of her sex, that she imputed the guilt of her obstinate resistance; it was on their heads that she directed the vengeance of the cruel Aurelian. The fame of Longinus, who was included among the numerous and perhaps innocent victims of her fear, will survive that of the queen who betrayed, or the tyrant who condemned him. Genius and learning were incapable of moving a fierce unlettered soldier, but they had served to elevate and harmonise the soul of Longinus. Without uttering a complaint, he calmly followed the executioner, pitying his unhappy mistress, and bestowing comfort on his afflicted friends. 74

Returning from the conquest of the East, Aurelian had already Rebellion crossed the Streights which divide Europe from Asia, when Palmyra. he was provoked by the intelligence that the Palmyrenians had massacred the governor and garrison which he had left among them, and again erected the standard of revolt. Without a moment's deliberation, he once more turned his face towards Syria. Antioch was alarmed by his rapid approach, and the helpless city of Palmyra felt the irresistible weight of his resentment. We have a letter of Aurelian himself, in which he acknowledges 75 that old men, women, children, and peasants, had been involved in that dreadful execution, which should have been confined to armed rebellion; and although his principal concern seems directed to the re-establishment of a temple of the Sun, he discovers some pity for the remnant of the Palmyrenians, to whom he grants the permission of rebuilding and inhabiting their city. But it is easier to destroy than to restore. The seat of commerce, of arts, and of Zenobia, gradually sunk into an obscure town, a trifling fortress, and at length a miserable village. The present citizens of Palmyra, consisting of thirty or forty families, have erected their mud-cottages within the spacious court of a magnificent temple. Another and a last labour still awaited the indefatigable Aurelian;

to suppress a dangerous though obscure rebel, who, during suppresses the revolt of Palmyra, had arisen on the banks of the Nile. of Firmus Firmus, the friend and ally, as he proudly styled himself,

• of Odenathus and Zenobia, was no more than a wealthy merchant of Egypt. In the course of his trade to India he had formed very intimate connexions with the Saracens and the Blemmyes, whose situation, on either coast of the Red Sea, gave them an easy introduction into the Upper Egypt. The Egyptians he inflamed with the hope of freedom, and, at the head of their furious multitude,

Aurelian

the rebellion

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