Zenobia Answers Proust Questionnaire

There are no certain images of Zenobia, other than coins, but there is this little known mosaic which seems to depict her husband - and given how often she mentions him in her Proust Questionnaire, I thought I might as well post it.

Judith Weingarten is valiantly answering on behalf of Zenobia, the eastern queen who rose against the might of Rome, and saw off several emperors - as a woman warrior, she's one of my favorites. Weingarten has a solid academic background, and that's why I enjoy her blog Zenobia: Empress of the East - the posts are quality rather than quantity. She's also the author of a series of historical novels based on Zenobia (I have not read them, but if the research is anything like her blog, then it's very solid - but also with some innovation).

Proust’s Questionnaire

1. My Principal virtue is: ambition:
Sometimes I believe that I shall win glory enough, and sometimes that mine shall be a great history, sometimes an incredible tale and the subject of poems.  ‘ Lady Allat,’ I whispered, ‘may I be the conqueror among them all, that I may write my name above the great story of those deeds.’

2. The qualities a man should have are: courage, a noble mind.

3. The qualities a woman should have are: to conduct herself with the pride and courage befitting a man.

4. What I appreciate most about my friends is: loyalty and wit.

5. My main fault is: stubbornness

6. My favourite thing to do is:  horse-riding (riding camels come second) .

7. My idea of happiness is: my country.

8. My idea of misery is: quarrelling with my husband.

9. If not myself, I would like to be ... Julia Mamea

10.         The country I’d like to live in is: Palmyra

11.         My favourite prose author is: Callinicus who wrote the History of Alexandria, 10 vols, dedicated to me, ‘the New Cleopatra’. 
12.         My favourite poet is: the Syrian poet (all of whose work, alas, has disappeared)
13.         My favourite hero in fiction or myth is:  Simon, son of Barabas, my closest friend.
14.         My favourite heroine in fiction or myth is: Semiramis

15.         My hero in real life is: Odenathus, my husband.

16.         My heroine in real life is: Julia Mamaea.

17.         The character from history I despise the most is: the Emperor Gallienus, who gave a secret order to Maeonius to murder his cousin, Odenathus.

18.         My heroine from history is: Julia Domna

19.         What I hate the most is: informers.

20.         The military event that I admire most is: the first battle of Emesa, when Odenathus rescued Syria from the Persians, killed the Persian prince, and drove their army back across the Euphrates.

21.         The gift of nature that I would like to have is: testicles.

22.         This is how I’d like to die: like a philosopher, and having my statue in the family’s tower tomb

23.         My present state of mind is:  tumultuous; still waiting for J. Weingarten to finish my story.

24.         The faults for which I have the most indulgence are: flattery.

25.         My motto is: Kiss the hand you cannot bite, and pray for it to be broken.

The Chronicle of Zenobia: The Rebel Queen - Amazon.co.uk

The Chronicle of Zenobia: The Rebel Queen - Amazon.com


  1. The book is out of print. Although available at list price in the UK, I just clicked on amazon.com, and find the USA prices completely insane: my book at $184 and even $230!!! I have some copies available at if anyone is interested: judith@judithweingarten.com


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