Billeder på siden
[graphic][merged small][merged small]

nia, his widow added the inheritance of her ancestors, the populous and fertile kingdom of Egypt.

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, already shaken by the arms and intrigues of Zenobia. 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.

Zenobia would have ill deserved her reputation, had she indolently permitted the emperor of the west to approach within 100 miles of her capital. The fate of the east was decided in two great battles; so similar in almost every

circumstance, that we can scarcely distinguish them from each other. 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.

Zenobia made a most desperate defence; but fortune, and the perseverance of Aurelian, overcame every obstacle. 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; and bad already reached the banks of the Euphrates, about sixty miles from Palmyra, when she was overtaken by the pursuit of Aurelian's lighthorse, seized, and brought back to the feet of the emperor. Her capital soon after surrendered, and was treated with unexpected lenity. However, 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 purchased life by the sacrifice of her fame and her friends. It was to their councils, which governed the weakness of her sex, that she imputed the Vol. IV.

3 M

guilt of her obstinate resistance ; it was on their heads that she directed the vengeance of the cruel Aurelian.

Shortly after, the Palmyrenians revolted and suffered most severely from the rage of the Romans. 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 company with whom Mr. Wood, the publisher of the Ruins of Palmyra, travelled, arrived at length at the end of plain, where a ridge of barren hills, by which it was divided on the right and left, seemed to meet; between them there was a vale, through which an aqueduct formerly conveyed water to Palmyra On each side of this vale they remarked several sepulchres of the ancient Palmyrenes, which they had scarce passed, when the hills opening on a sudden, they discovered such piles of ruin as they had never seen. They were all of white marble; and beyond them, towards the Euphrates, was a wide level, stretching farther than the eye could reach, totally desolate, without variety, and without bounds. After having gazed some time upon this prospect, which rather exceeded than fell short of their expectations, they were conducted to one of the huts of the Arabs, of which there are about thirty in the court of the temple. The inhabitants of both sexes were well shaped, and the women, though very swarthy, had good features. They were veiled, but did not so scrupulously conceal their faces as the eastern women generally do. They paint the ends of their fingers red, their lips blue, and their eyebrows and eyelashes black. They had large rings of gold or brass in their ears and nostrils, and appeared to be healthy and robust. The walls of the city are flanked by square towers, into which some ancient funeral monuments have been converted; but the walls are in most places level with the ground, and sometimes not to be traced. It is, however, probable, by their general direction, that they included the great temple, and are three miles in circumference. The Arabs showed a tract which was near ten miles in circumference, the soil of which was raised a little above the level of the desert: this, they said, was the extent of the old city; and that by digging in any part of it ruins were discovered.


The of inhinoer inse the Trapple of the Tro in Alanino. pom the Eras

[ocr errors]

rublished by Mackenzie xDant

« ForrigeFortsæt »